A crazy visa run and meeting Butterfly Bee

Traveling in Thailand

Just a story about a serie of events in 1999, dedicated to the lovely Butterfly Bee from Chiang Mai. I was traveling for 6 weeks in Thailand and after 
4 weeks I needed a new entry stamp to be able to stay another 2 weeks in Thailand. One way or another I did wake up at The River Side Guesthouse in Lampang. It was the morning after the night that John and I decided that I would go to Lua Prabang in Laos to see the old capital city for a second time and get a new visa on return into Thailand. That morning I woke up in my room and walked to the terrace to have breakfast in the morning sun looking over the river. This would be a great day, I pulled up the chair and … that would change not only my day but all next 2 weeks. I do not know how I slept that night. Ok, I did drink too much Mekong whisky in the Side Car cafe and I had been dreaming about that lovely girl, but why did I have some much pain in my back? I had breakfast in the sun and took a little rest on my bed. But after 15 minutes I could not get up anymore, I had to scream for help. The musician from the River Side restaurant was at home and he called the owner Lorenzo. Now I did remember that John sometimes calls her Doctor Lorenzo and now I know why. She had the right drugs for my back pain. Yesterday night I was sitting on my terrace with John, smoking cigars from Cuba and listing to old music from the USA. My visa was almost finished and I needed to make a visa-run. And I always wanted to travel over the Mekong River. So the best ways to do both was to cross the border to Laos and take the boat to Luang Prabang. The boat would take two days, and it's would be not a luxury cruise boat. But it would be a beautiful trip and full of excitement. And on returning to Thailand I would get a new visa.

But the first day with the pain in my back I could hardly walk, the second day I could walk a little bit. But not with a backpack on my back and two day's of traveling on the Mekong. So I decide that there must be another way to get a new visa for Thailand. I would just go to Chiang Mai and to the immigration office. But because I had never been in Chiang Rai, I decided that I would first go to Chiang Rai and from there to Chiang Mai. So the next day I took the bus from Lampang to Chiang Rai. It was a beautiful trip trough the country site of north-Thailand and I was talking with a Thai women in the bus. She told me were to get off in Chiang Rai but after 3 day's I decided that Chiang Rai was not the place for me and I took the bus to Chiang Mai. 

In hindsight : Bloody hell I did not know that border town Mae Sai was only 1 hr drive from Chiang Rai. 

I arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning and I took a room at Cap's Antique Guesthouse, where I stayed 3 years ago. That evening I decide to go to the night bazaar, with a lot tourists and tourists-traps. Walking along the bars, I took a drink at the Heaven Bar and that is where I did meet Bee. And she would change my next to weeks of traveling in Thailand. We went to a discotheque and I arrived at my guesthouse at 3 o'clock in the morning. The gate was closed and the guard and his dog where sleeping. I did climb over the gate took my key from the desk and watched the sleeping guard in front of the TV. I woke up at 9 o'clock, had breakfast, rented a motorbike and went to the immigration office to get a new visa. At the immigration office they were really nice, but they could only give me a visa extension for 10 day's. Which would be 8 day's short for me. The man at the office told me the only way to get a one-month visa was going to Burma, go back to Thailand and you have a new visa. It was 9:30 in the morning, at 20:00 in the evening I had a date with Bee and Burma was 300 km's away. The border closes at 18:00. If I would leave now, I could make it. So here started my crazy quest for my holy visa.

I took the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (hello again), from there I took the bus to Mae Sai, there I took a taxi to the Thai-Burma border. The border is like "telegraph road town", but then only with Thai and Burmese people, and some farangs who want a new visa. First you go to the Thai immigration to get you pass stamped for leaving Thailand, then you go to the Burmese immigration to get a one-day Burmese visa. Then you walk across the famous Thai-Burmese friendship bridge and you are in Burma. I walked around in Burma for 10 minutes and walked back to Thailand. Just walk to the Thai immigration and… yes I had my new Thai visa for one month. I took a taxi back to Mae Sai and then the bus to Chiang Rai. Not the bus to Chiang Mai as the last bus had left at 16:00. So I was in Chiang Rai and I had a room and a date with Bee in Chiang Mai. What would I do? Just take room here and take the bus tomorrow? Or should I try to take an airplane back to Chiang Mai. At 20:00 the last flight would leave and it was now 19:00. No time to think, a taxi to the airport, buy a ticket and… yes I made it. I was in the airplane to Chiang Mai and at 20:30 I was in Chiang Mai. At 21:00 I had diner with Bee at the “River Side” restaurant in Chiang Mai. And I enjoyed being with her. Yes, I enjoyed it too much.

And it promised to become a beautiful evening. I had diner at the Rivers Side Restaurant in Chiang Mai and my table companion was the most beautiful Thai girl I had ever met. Her name is Bee, she works in a bar in Chiang Mai. In the next 7 day's I would learn to know her a little bit better. Or at least I thought I would learn to know her. Sometimes I loved her, sometimes I hated her. I had seen this before with other people and I had laugh. Was this now happening to me?

In short I will tell you her story as she told it to me. True or not? Her parents are divorced, her brother is divorced and another brother of her died in a car accident (which is not so strange if you look how Thai people are driving). She is 21 and the only thing she thinks she can do is working in a bar. She had her first boyfriend when she was 15; she was almost rapped when she was 16. The only thing she is missing from her first boyfriend is fighting with him. She lives in a two room's house with her mother, brother and the child of her brother. They have no telephone, no television, no radio, no air-condition, no hot water, no washing machine, no government who takes care of them. No government to pay the education. She thinks she will never be married and that nobody can live with her because she thinks she is like a snake. But I think she is a butterfly that's why I call her Butterfly.

She told me she had never seen the sea, she had been in Bangkok once and that was all she had ever seen of Thailand. I still wanted to go to Koh Samui so I asked her if she wanted to travel with me." Why?" She asked, "Because when you are happy, I'm happy" I answered. The next day we bought (that means I paid) train tickets Chiang Mai - Bangkok (upper sleeping, air-condition, 612 bath) and Bangkok - Surat Thani. After that she took me on her motorbike to the snake farm (just outside Chiang Mai). I was surprised, it was a long way on the highway and we where not wearing a helmet. In Bangkok she would be surprised when she asked me "Why is everybody wearing a helmet?". I think she still does not understand. She loves the snakes; she tells me she thinks she is a snake, beautiful and dangerous. And she was right!

In the evening we took the night train to Bangkok. You have your own bed with sheets and all you need. It is clean and good, and the best thing is that drinks and food are sold all time. There is even a restaurant in the train, where Bee made a reservation for us. The food was good & hot. At 9 o'clock everyone starts preparing to go to sleep, as Bee and I also did. In the early morning we arrived in Bangkok. And in the evening we took the train again, but now to Surat Thani, where we would arrive at 6 o'clock in the morning. From the train station we took a bus to the car ferry, witch takes about 1 hour. The car ferry is a very big old boat that takes you to Koh Samui in about 1 hour. At the car ferry terminal at Koh Samui there are all kind of taxi drivers who love to bring us to a hotel. When we where on the boat to Koh Samui I realized that I'm so spoiled. I have seen islands all over the world and I have seen paradise on earth. But simple things like the beauty of Koh Samui can not impress me any more. Bee on the other hand was like a child looking to the sea. Although she had not been sleeping in the train but she would not miss a moment. On Koh Samui we stayed at Chaweng beach, a lot of tourists but I like it. 

As Bee is running to the sea, I realize that I'm not impressed by the beauty of the beach, but by Bee who wants to drink the seawater. After I explained to her that this is salt water, she still does not believes me. She tastes the water and had to admit that I'm right "It tastes like salt". 

Was I falling in love with that beautiful girl ? 

There I was on a romantic island in Thailand with a beautiful girl and there it was that I realized that I was still alone. People around me walking hand in hand, fake or not. I was alone. What was I for her, a walking ATM or a friend? Could I ever become her friend? Or would I stay a walking ATM forever? I thought I would be happy, but I was not. After breakfast we walked on the beach and Bee was totally shocked by what she saw. There was a young German girl topless and wearing a string bikini. That Bee was shocked surprised me. How could a bar girl be shocked by a half naked girl on the beach? Bee would like to go swimming, but first I had to buy her a swimming suit. And not the one that I would like her to buy. No, a real Thai swimming suit, so you could not see the slightest part of her beautiful body.

At the end of the day Bee became homesick, or at least she pretended to be. She wanted to go home directly and wanted me to buy flight tickets. As it costs 2000 bath from Koh Samui to Bangkok and 1500 bath from Bangkok to Chiang Mai I told her a little lie. I told her that the flights where all fully booked and that we had to go back by train. When we arrived in Bangkok my lie became true, all flight where full also to Chiang Mai. So I brought her to the train station and said goodbye to my little snake. I thought I could just turn around and walk into Bangkok. But no, I watched the train leaving and went to my empty hotel room. That night my hotel room was emptier as it could ever be. Having it filled was just a phone call away, but that was not what I needed at that moment. I needed Bee.

When I said goodbye to her she was wearing that beautiful dress I bought for her and the golden bracelet I bought for her. We were drinking tea; she asked "Can you help me? Can you send me money to live?" I said "Yes, I could but I will not". How could I say that to that nice looking girl? In her eyes I'm so rich; in my eyes I think she treats me like a walking ATM. And living in Europe I'm not used to that way of live. Now I look to her picture and think, "What's going on in your mind? Will I ever understand Thai thinking?" Well in the end we both gained a lot, she in gold and I in experience. An experience I will never forget. 

Update
September 2000: At the moment I still have contact with her. She still lives in Chiang Mai and most of the time she lives together with her France boyfriend. She tells me he is not rich and that she really loves him. She also tells me that she is still thinking of money as a very important thing in life. She wants money to take care her family, and when everything is fine with her family she needs no money anymore.

December 2003 : At New Year evening I had diner with Bee and her France boyfriend. In a few months Bee and her boyfriend will return to France and they will get married. Even as she has short hair now she still looks like a beautiful girl, but not the shy and unsure girl I did meet before anymore. Did the duck grown up to be a beautiful swan?