We resume the story as I head back to the hotel after my fish pedicure. I walk out of the spa on my bloody stumps after a one-hour treatment stretches to about 2.5 hours. I fire up my scooter and go in search of the road back out-of-town. The hotel is about 3 miles outside Chiang Mai.
I go in circles for about 30 minutes and finally find the road that leads out-of-town. I stay close to the edge of the road, letting scores of more confident scooter drivers pass me, as I watch for landmarks that might help me find the turnoff to my hotel.
It starts to rain. First it’s just a light mist, but then the rain starts to fall in earnest. The face shield on my helmet fogs up and I struggle to find my way in the gathering darkness. I remember that the sign for the hotel is discreet but I also think it is farther along the road than I have gone. I come to a major intersection and try to remember whether I had passed it on the way in to town that morning, but I had been in a taxi, and apparently not paying enough attention. I continue beyond the intersection, eyes peeled (insofar as they can be peeled, behind the foggy face shield) for the turnoff, but, nothing. I come to another major intersection and now start to believe that I must have gone too far. Amazingly there is a 7-11 nearby (later I discover that they are all over Southeast Asia, but I’m surprised by this one), so I park and go in to buy a map. Fortunately they have a map in English, and, even more fortunately, my hotel is marked prominently on the map. So, if I can find out where the 7-11 is relative to the hotel, I’m golden.
I approach the counter and indicate to the two girls behind it that I have a question. I spread the map out on the counter and we all bend over it. On the map I point to the road that passes in front of the 7-11, then I point to the road outside, then to the floor and then back at the road on the map, hoping that this will be enough pantomime to make my point.
The first girl puts her finger on the map, along the road, and I think “ah ha! She understands what I’m asking.” Then, with a look of intense concentration, she traces along the road nearly to the edge of the map and runs her finger up into territory far to the north of Chiang Mai. I know I haven’t travelled that far, but it seems that she doesn’t understand what I’m asking. I repeat the pantomime and the other girl nods, then repeats the same finger motion on the map, except her finger runs to the south of Chiang Mai. Uh oh. I guess this isn’t going to work.
Next week, tune in to find out if I ever find my way out of that 7-11.