Just another bar on Jet Yod Road…

Sitting next to someone’s empty Leo beer bottle, I uncomfortably rest on a tree trunk stool outside a closed Rasta bar on the seediest street in Chiang Rai. When I hear my geezer neighbors talk about how much they pay for women, I know they come to this street. Old white men roost themselves in bars in the rising heat of the day; smoking, coughing, you know that gurgly cough and looking lonely. A tattoo needle is buzzing. That Thai guy strums some tunes on his guitar.

Noisy tuk tuks and blue songtaews belch by interrupting the otherwise quiet street. It’s hot, but cloudy today. Bar Chicken. Dragon Breath Bar. Peacehouse Bar. Jet Yod is a thoroughfare for busy traffic and leisurely tourists. It’s not a long street, nor a straight one. A woman talks in loud rapid fire Thai. It’s the street expats avoid, unless of course, you are one of those expats whose compass is set on bar girls, company in the comfort of crowds, and alcohol.

It feels tired because there are so many bars, but that’s what gives it its character. Bamboo is cooking. It’s a pungent and distinct smell. Ladies offer me chestnuts. I decline. Traffic piles up because someone has parked their fancy new car and old lady in one of the lanes of the two lane road and cars/motorbikes have to wait to scooter by. TRUE red satellite dishes raise their faces to the sky. I guess that’s why they are so red, they’ve get too much Thailand sun. There is a repetitive bang-clanging noise.

One of my former students drives by on a motorbike. She doesn’t see me because she’s behind an dirty white dump truck perfuming the road with its dusty contents. She shields her face. Her nickname is Gift. Cat Bar. Shawadee Bar. Non’s Bar. Paradise Bar. Coconuts Bar. R and B Bar. I’m sure I’ve missed a few bars.

Jet Yod, Chiang Rai, 2014

For Day 2 of WP’s Writing 101 course, we had to write about a place and since descriptive writing is not what normally I do, I decided I better take up the challenge (I hate this challenge). As an expat, I originally thought I’d write about a place back in the States, like Hawaii (where I am from) or the SW (which is incredibly beautiful), but since I had to go to town today, I thought, why not Jet Yod? Why go towards pretty? Why not ugly, unsavory and undesirable?

Now, I do realize the next challenge is for me to go back to Jet Yod and write about it at night…Dear god, don’t make me do it. Okay, fine, buy me a beer.

16 replies on “Just a view: Jet Yod Road Chiang Rai

  1. Hm. I wonder how your former student feels. If she chose the work she does out of circumstances, or if she was forced or trafficked into it . Sad but thought provoking post, thanks for setting the scene for us who aren’t confronted with these issues daily.


    1. Oh, no. My student was just passing through on the road. She doesn’t do anything like that! It’s a bit of a thoroughfare that connects 2 main streets.Agggg! I better see if I can make this more clear.


  2. Lani,

    You said this type of writing is not what you normally do. This is really good! When I pick up a book, read a blog post or article I need to be hooked to continue. Too many times I have forced myself to keep reading thinking it will get better. So, in a book I give myself a generous 20 pages.

    I went back and read it again to see just where you hooked me. Honestly, your post had me before the end of the first paragraph. And at the end of the second paragraph I was no longer sitting on my sofa with my mind wandering 10 different directions. I was standing on the street, looking at the traffic, smelling the smoke and diesel. I tasted the dust from the traffic and tried to pick out a word I understood in Thai from the loud woman. I was transported and as I kept reading you brought me back to reality and I sighed with disappointment. I wanted to stay and experience more.

    I didn’t get the sense that your student was working there. Just driving by as you said.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lin, that’s a high compliment! *tips hat* It was a good exercise to engage in, and I’m glad I pulled it off. (at least in your eyes, baby) I guess I don’t feel comfortable writing this way, so I was not as confident as I normally am.

      Okay, out of comfort zone and will continue! xxoo


  3. Good luck! I think I went to jet yod when I visited years and years ago. There was a cat bar (different from the one in your picture though) off that road that was run by a married couple of older Thai hippies that was a fantastic place to hang out. I wonder of it’s still there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like this is an opening to a crime novel. It’s gritty, abrupt, and explicit. I like it! You did a good job for something you don’t do much. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was some awesome writing, Lanster!
    Totally felt like I was there – you set the atmosphere wonderfully.
    And now I’m really just wanting to fly on over there and take it all in, sounds like a place with lots of character. Starting to really crave that in same ol’ Korea.
    ~Andrea ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand. Thailand is primarily a mono-culture with regional variations. I’d love to travel outside the country for some variety, but it’s not in the cards right now.

      Thanks for the compliment 🙂


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