Tonight, after dinner (where Austin and I went to a restaurant by the river in Mae Sai, and where I had the tasty cashew chicken dish I have been craving ever since coming to Thailand), he and I decided to take a bit of a hike to see the market area of Mae Sai, in the part of town called “Chinesetown”. (I think they were trying to say Chinatown). I did not mind the hike in the least, even though it involved some fairly steep (if not very high) hills.
However, instead of finding socks, which was our aim (as I am always short of socks, it seems), what we found was a market section that was as quiet as a graveyard, and as dead as a Montgomery Ward’s. There were no open stores to be found, nothing but shuttered market stalls and litter drifting with the breeze along the streets. Austin told me he had never seen the market area of town, including the main street, closed before sunset, but it happened for us. Instead of finding socks, we found a nearly completely deserted area, with the last street vendors in a hurry to close up shop and head home with the rest of their compatriots. So we got some snacks at the 7-Eleven.
I ought to comment a bit on the phenomenon of the 7-Eleven in Thailand. There are a lot of them, almost as many in Thailand as there are in the whole United States. In fact, there are two 7-Eleven stores directly across from the main bus station in Chiang Mai, one on the south side of the station and the other on the west side of the station (and, truth be told, it’s not that large of a station either). If you tell a friend that you will meet them at the 7-Eleven in Thailand it will only be by chance (or divine providence) that you will end up meeting them at the same one.
So, why is Mae Sai so dead tonight? I wish I knew, for it would have been a good night to try some fried chicken from a street vendor, or to buy half a dozen more pairs of white cotton socks (not crew socks—which seem to be the most common type of sock one finds, when one finds socks at all). I wish the internet here worked a little better (it goes up and down about every five minutes or so), so that I could see if anything in particular was killing the normal celebratory mood (as I mentioned earlier, I did see flags flying at half mast this morning, but no one ever gave a reason why).
At any rate, I suppose there is at least some room for me to solve a mystery tonight, and plenty of time to do so, seeing as I will be holed up in my hotel room tonight with nothing to do except spend time on the computer with unsteady internet. Hopefully I can stay online long enough to figure out a reason for the premature closure of so many of Mae Sai’s shops and nightlife. It looks like Mae Sai is a border town without any action tonight, at any rate.