After our short but sweet time in Pai, it was time for another nightmare four hours back to Chiang Mai in order for us to go on a couple of organised tours, which we had booked at the guesthouse we were staying at, Jay’s Guesthouse. The first of which, was a tour that we had requested in order to acquire another 30 day visa by crossing the border at Maesei and re-entering. However, we had already been suspicious of the guesthouse owner, (who went by the name of “Mama Darling” and sounded like Bubbles Devere from the Little Britain sketches) and even more so when she started arguing with our tour guide that morning outside of the minibus, just as we were about to leave. The tour guide seemed to be confused by our mention of a visa stamp but Mama Darling was quick to shout her down, shut us up and hurry us onto the bus.
After some discussion, it turned out that those types of ‘border runs’ were no longer possible and that all tourists had to apply for an extension at any immigration office - which meant we didn’t need to spend £32 nor 15 hours of our lives as we could have visited Chiang Mai’s own office, but then Mama wouldn’t have had her commission (she didn’t leave a very positive impression on us) It’s not all doom and gloom though, as I did get to visit some places I’d seen before - unfortunately for Will it was the exact same day as one he’d paid for a couple of years ago, bar a successful visa run.
Whilst visiting the locations, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit uncomfortable, there was little or no authenticity to them and it almost felt like the atmosphere at Disneyworld, where everything is so extravagant but you know it’s all make-believe. We did manage to sneak off from the tour and have a look at a temple or two on our own, as well as checking out the local architecture, which was a welcome change from the day’s itinerary.