We pick up the story in at 7-11 outside Chiang Mai, where I have stopped to buy a map and ask the staff to show me where I am along the road that runs in front. So far it is not going well. I don’t know another way to explain what I want, so I prepare to head back out into the rain, thinking I’ll ride up the road a bit and look for road signs at the next intersection. I thank the employees in Thai (using three of my 6 Thai words) and turn to go when one of the girls holds up her hand for me to wait, then disappears into the back of the store. A moment later she emerges with a young man.
I repeat my pantomime and he nods sagely, then points to a spot on the map, and points to the road outside. He then points to an intersection on the map, and then points in the direction of the last intersection I crossed. Yay! I know where I am now. It turns out that I have overshot quite a bit, but I am optimistic that I can now find my way back with minimal trouble. Again, can you hear the ominous music?
I fire up the scooter and head back whence I came. The rain really starts to come down now, and I realize that I’m not very well equipped for it, clad as I am in head to toe linen. I’m getting chilly, and I’m glad for the helmet because at least my head is staying warm.
After a mile or so, I start looking for the turnoff – I know I won’t be able to see the sign because it’s not lit and it’s getting harder and harder to see in the dark and rain, but I’m pretty sure I know where it is. So, I take a likely looking left turn down into a wide-ish lane. I go for a mile or so, thinking that at any moment things will start to seem familiar, but I gradually begin to realize that I’m in a residential neighborhood, which I don’t remember at all from the drive into town that morning.
The street is well-lit, so I pull up under a street light and pull out the map. But it’s raining so hard that the map is disintegrating as I read it. I shuffle around to try to get closer to the street light, while trying to shield the map from the rain. Cars trundle by sporadically, and I realize that it’s a weekday evening – people are probably returning from work. The map blurs and shreds before my eyes and I start to wonder if they will find my skeleton next to the scooter, and how much it will cost my friends to ship my bones back to the States.
Tune in next week for the final installment of “A Refreshing Foot Bath …”