The cheapest bus fro Bangkok to Chiang Rai was about 800 baht. We’re struggling college kids so we take that, assuming it’s going to be rock hard chairs and faulty tires. Apparently in Thailand 25 bucks get you massage chairs, dinner, and 787 kilometers. HOW IS THAILAND SO CHEAP I don’t understand.
11 hours later we reach Chiang Rai at 7 am and wait until 11 am for Mirror people to pick us up. Along comes this white person who we assume is also with Mirror. Chiang Rai doesn’t have a lot of tourists, so you know the token white guy is a volunteer. He sits down behind a cement column blocking our view of him. I’m talking to Ro and behind her I can see this guy peeking his head out from behind the column to look at us every couple of seconds. Peeks, and hides again. Finally I walk over to him and ask him if he’s with Mirror. He is.
Everyone has massive backpacks on like Ro and I’ve got my two bigass suitcases. Donovan (the peeker) later admits that he thought that there was no way that I was going to make it in the jungle for four weeks with my “Gucci Prada suitcases”. With my big suitcases and my purse I looked like a city girl that was expecting a resort (little did he know I did a three week stunt in Sri Lanka before this). I’m fully aware that that’s probably what most people thought of me, and my friends in Florida even said that there was no way I was going to make it due to my “city girl status”, but hey, I made it. Suck it.
About 11 of us cram onto the back of a songtao (imagine a truck and a taxi having a baby) where I meet Curt for the first time. He shamelessly asks why the hell I need so many bags. I find out this one’s coming to Tokyo after volunteering! I’m sure we’ll meet up and I’ll show him around my beautiful city.
Swamps, mud, brown and green. It’s all I see. When the dirt road leading up to Mirror hits, I almost vomit. It’s so bumpy and ghetto.. and we have to do this everyday to go volunteer. Great. This can’t be where we’re staying, but the sign that reads “Welcome to the Mirror Foundation!” tells me I’m wrong. It’s in the middle of grassy hills with little surrounding it. It feels like the jungle (well it is the jungle). The green is greener here and we’re fully immersed in nature. Sporadically there are these grass huts that compliment the overgrown hills perfectly.
At this point I’m hectic looking for George and asking everyone I could if they had met a George coming in. He’s not in the second batch of people to arrive so I’m starting to think that he was either lying or decided to continue traveling instead of volunteering. Post-dinner a bunch of us are sitting in the dinning area when this guy comes walking up the path and sets his backpack down. He looks at me with familiarity but to be honest, I had no idea who this kid was. In a wave of happiness I realized that this must be George!
“My name’s Blake…”
“But I thought your name was George.. Oh well I’m sure you don’t remember my name anyway”
“Oh… Well I thought you were George all this time so can I just call you George?”
My name dyslexia is off to a great start…