Only one month in Thailand, and I now have two friends named Bee. Are you jealous yet? Bee was my tour guide today.

She’s a trainee, so she came along with me for free. Little did I know that when you rent a car, you also get a driver here. This meant I got to avoid driving in Thailand one more time. So, Bee, our driver, and I set off for adventures around the Chiang Rai area. We drove up into the mountains and explored some of the nearby hill tribe villages. If I’d had more time or willingness, I could have hiked into the jungle for a few days and gotten a slightly more authentic experience. As it was, I had to endure a lot of souvenir stands, but I still managed to see some honest to goodness hill tribe people.

The hills here are insane. In Thailand, they don’t blast holes through mountains like we do. They build snaking, winding roads around them. So they’re VERY steep and VERY winding. Lots of fun to drive on! Too bad I didn’t get to. I think I’ll try when I’m in Chiangmai. We also checked out a tea plantation, and had Chinese lunch on top of the mountain overlooking the Chiang Rai area. It’s a little hard to take photos of scenery here, since everyone is burning wood and dry leaves. It makes the air very smoggy and opaque. Bee says the air is much clearer during the rainy season in August and September. Maybe I’ll try to come back at that time of year some time.

Right now I’m waiting for my bus to leave, which means sitting in an Internet cafe with my luggage for a couple of hours. I’m taking advantage of the break to burn a few CDs of my photos. I have the portable HD, but I’m feeling paranoid about losing these images, so I’m making a backup.