So it's no surprise one of the first things I do in Chiang Mai is go seek out the Huey Kiaw waterfall, or "Naam Tok" as its said in Thai. I had been there once before, but I figured with all the fresh monsoon rain the waterfall must be even more impressive.
Huey Kiaw Naam Tok is part of Doi Suthep, a huge mountain with a temple and many other cultural sites. So no surprise, the trek up the road to the waterfall was filled with people hawking souviniers and sii law drivers trying to get me to pay them to take me to the mountain temple. I remember saying to one sii law driver, "Mai aw krap," which means, "I don't want, thank you." He laughed, and corrected my grammar. What I should have said was, "Mai bai!" One of the nice things about Thailand is you can disagree with somebody, or not want to buy something, and it's perfectly fine. No hurt feelings! They're still polite about it, and don't try to change your mind.
I remember the first time I was at Huey Kiaw Naam Tok it was filled with people all bathing and having fun in the sun. That was a weekend in the dry season. On a Thursday in the monsoon season, nearly nobody was around. I was happy to have peace and quiet to pray and meditate, but sad there weren't more people to enjoy it.
I remember when I finally found a place to sit down, a Thai guy about my age looked up at me and said something. I didn't know what he had said, so I went down closer. He said to me, "Come share a beer with me." So I sat down with him, and he took out a plastic cup, filled it with ice, and poured a glass of beer.
I wish I could remember his name. What I do remember was he had long black hair with a few strands of gray in it, and wasn't much onder than myself. He looked a lot like a Thai version of Steve How from Yes, and that made me happy. We talked for quite awhile, going in between Thai and English. We talked about school, how peaceful the waterfall was, about Bob Marley, and other things.
Up the waterfall were a bunch of guys in leater jackets and bandannas. I had passed by them before, and said hello, and they said hello back. After they left my friend explained to me they were gangsters. They were the nicest gangsters I had ever met.
Then two of his friends came over. One was a soldier, and the other was his girlfriend. It still surprised me how somebody who looked so young could be a soldier. The girlfriend commented on how small my face looked. I hadn't heard that one before.
The Buddhists believe in Kharma. As a Christian, I believe in a practical, not religious, version of Kharma. If you're a good person, it's going to show. We're attracted to people with similar facial features to our own. I'd like to think my friend and I both saw the looks of kindness on our faces, and that's how we knew we'd get along so well.
Unfortunately, we all had to go our seprate ways. So we had our goodbye, complete with a hug and a photograph, and then left.