A few weeks back we were really blessed. Transport has always been a challenge! The towns are many miles apart and in order for you to get fresh fruits and supplies, a two hour drive to Mae Sot (the nearest big town) is the only option.
A trip by car will cost you about THB1000.00. ($33.00 or R284.00) (That’s a lot of money in missionary language). All personal trips to Mae Sot or anywhere else is for the individuals own expense. The only trips that are covered by Sunshine Orchard are “hospital runs” and any other such necessary trips. So we are very careful when deciding to go on a shopping trip. Often we try to share expenses with other missionaries.
Most people use scooters to get where they need to go. I have never seen so many scooters in all my life, as I have seen in Thailand. It seems like every single person in Thailand owns a scooter.
Although the law requires a helmet – very few people actually wear a helmet. It’s also very seldom that you will just find a scooter being used by a single person. Why drive alone when you can take the whole family and friends with you? So sights of three, four or five people on a scooter are not uncommon (babies included!)
And then of course there’s the cost! A full tank of fuel will hold under 3 liters. Easily enough to make the trip to Mae Sot and almost all the way back! WOW! That’s real economy!
We really were praying that the Lord would open the way for us to be able to purchase a second-hand scooter. Well the Lord did one-better!
Friends of ours (the Sharon’s) who stay just above us, decided to let us use their – almost brand new – scooter, for as long as we like, free of charge. What an amazing answer to prayer. A brand new scooter – free of charge! Praise the Lord!
The Sharon’s also have a small trailer which gets hooked up to the bike with a rope, and that is your storage cart (or family trailer if you so choose). The trailer can take a good load with almost no effect to the scooter. This trailer they said we can borrow anytime we needed too!
Well that time came around all too soon! . . .
Yesterday we discovered that our visa’s in our passports were due for renewal. We needed to make a “border run” in order to get our visa’s renewed. This entails driving to Mae Sot, crossing the border into Burma and then coming back again. This will buy us another 15 days stay in Thailand, costing us a whopping THB500.00 per person! But we had no other choice so we decided to go. We took the trailer with us so we could stock up on fresh food and supplies. And off we went!
Me driving, Inge sitting behind me with Kukupaw sitting in a sling around her shoulder – for the next 2.5 hrs to Mae Sot. The trip there was pretty much smooth going, as Kukupaw just loves the bike, and very soon she was off to sleep as usual.
We arrived in Mae Sot and I went first to do the border run while Inge waited with Kukupaw, and then we changed and I looked after Kukupaw while Inge did her border run. As to be expected, Inge ran into problems at the border (somehow Inge and Immigration Officials don’t get on too well 🙂 ) They forgot to stamp her passport on the Thailand side and when she reached Burma they made her go back to get her passport stamped! So back she went – got her passport stamped and back into Burma! Finally she came back after what seemed like forever (especially, having to look after a 1 year old baby in the heat of the day)!
After getting something to eat and purchasing everything that we needed we were finally ready to to make the long trip back home! The sun was just setting as we left Mae Sot, and as soon as it gets dark, every flying insect you can possibly imagine comes out to greet you (face to face literally!) I tried putting my sun-visor down on the helmet but that made things so dark that I couldn’t see anything. So I had to drive with the visor up – and my mouth closed! Insects were flying into my face from every conceivable angle, it made keeping your eye on the road a near impossibility! It was only then that I discovered a second problem . . .
I was wondering why it was so terribly dark, and I was struggling to see the road – then it dawned on me – Only my bright lights were working! My normal driving lights had fused. With the additional weight in the trailer, my brights were now shining up into the trees passing by, attracting even more flying friendlies . . . Now I was really struggling to see where I was going.
You need to understand the road system in Thailand to fully appreciate the scenario. No Moon! Potholes EVERYWHERE! Dogs, cows, chickens and friendly flying insects all share the road with you! Not to mention the dark skinned Thai people wandering around the streets at night! Suddenly the trip home was turning into a quick-thinking, dodge-em game! Trying to avoid all sorts of calamities along the road. We hadn’t gone too far when disaster really struck – The main bright beam on the bike decided it was time to die as well! Now suddenly I was left with no lights whatsoever! It was pitch black!! I could hardly make out the painted line in the middle of the road (when it existed). What to do now . . . ?
Inge said she would pray – and I should slow down to 20km/h and drive! So she prayed and I drove! Then I decided to use the only other light source available . . . my indicator (blinker)! I put on my left indicator and with strobe-light vision we proceed home. Swerving to miss the hundreds of potholes that made up the road. Eventually Inge could not take it any more, and was determined to walk the rest of the way home – This called for plan B!
I stopped and put Inge and Kukupaw in the trailer along with all our groceries. This way she would have less back pain having to carry Kukupaw in the sling for so long. Also I would be rid of my co-pilot who was continually shouting orders for me to slow down! (I kept telling her that if I went any slower we would fall over – but that didn’t seem to help!).
So driving in second gear with a single flashing light we limped home at 20km/h. What should have taken 2.5 hrs turned out to be 4.5hrs of cold night winds, and many nasty potholes to keep you awake! Finally we arrived at home, with Kukupaw sound asleep, enjoying every bit of her wonderful outing!
I hope we don’t come across as ungrateful, but we will definitely be thinking twice before venturing out to Mae Sot again.
The lights are now fixed and the scooter has been washed and cleaned, and somehow it all seems like just another day in Thailand! Certainly a day to be remembered.
We praise the Lord for his constant watch care over us on our long ride home!