Strange Encounters in Chiang Mai

You seriously never know who you will meet on the road.  Sometimes, people simply blow you away with their awesome energy or their incredible story of triumph.  Some leave you in stitches with their gut-splitting sense of humor.  But some people just leave you shaking you head in total fascination wondering ‘what just actually happened?’  I had two such experiences in Chiang Mai.

Trying to find refuge from the sudden downpour, I ducked into Starbucks where I met a woman who seemed to be really enjoying watching the rain out the window.  Once I found a seat, you looked up and smiled and then came over and started talking to me.  Mimi was her name. She was French, 68, and traveling alone indefinitely since she was retired.  Cool, I thought.  She definitely didn’t look 68 and seemed to have the sweet life of a wanderlust.

As the conversation went on, I sat in awe of seeing every single stage of psychopathy unfold.  This woman was a total schizoid nutcase who was so disillusioned and paranoid it was tragically hilarious. Casually, in an unrelated bit of conversation, she dropped that she worked WITH the FBI not FOR the FBI…her emphasis, not mine.  I acknowledged her assertion without asking questions and she went on to say she worked with them as a victim of crime.  Oh, ok.  Sounds reasonable.  But every now and then during our nearly two hour conversation she would bring it up until the whole story unfolded.

As the conversation went on, I sat in awe of seeing every single stage of psychopathy unfold.

She was traveling in Tibet and met a man who started stalking her, he stole her identity and followed her everywhere.  Now, as some of you know, something similar happened to me in Poland so I didn’t find this hard to believe.  But then it kept getting deeper.  She contacted the FBI, not just the FBI, but the director of the FBI, and worked directly with him for 15 years to catch this guy.  This guy also had her three children kidnapped out of the US via her husband.  She still meets with the FBI regularly to find this guy. But since the FBI is working for him, she is convinced they are intentionally not apprehending them.  Apparently the FBI once met up with this guy, in her presence, and then acted like she was the crazy one…to throw him off the trail.  She was truly perplexed at how the FBI could catch hundreds of dangerous criminals but not catch this guy who is truly a threat to society.

She then started talking about how she couldn’t travel with just anyone because she would just sleep with them and not see anything and that would defeat the purpose of vacation before delving into spirit things and how she encountered the spirit of Moses on a trek in Tibet and how he told her that the Bible was all a conspiracy.  You know, normal folk conversation.  When I had heard about enough, I politely ended the conversation and kept it moving.

Enter my conversation in the market with Katie.  Let me preface this by saying I really hate aloof people who make no attempt to educate themselves before going to another country.  Case in point, Katie.  As I am walking through the market minding my own business, Katie walks up to me, and asks if I speak English.  I tell her that I do and she is like omg, like, shah!  She then goes on to rant about how its so good to run into someone who speaks English since no one seems to.  Um, you’re in Asia and actually just about every other person here is either an English speaking foreigner or just happens to speak at least some English.

We went through the whole where are you from, how long are you traveling, oh cool, exchange.  All this happened to take place near one of the Buddha statues in town.  At one point, she looks over and says “I wonder why some people call him Buddha and some people call him Confucious?” Thinking she was kidding, I awkwardly laughed.  Then she asked, “do you know why?”.  Using perhaps a slightly judgy tone, I responded “Perhaps because they are two entirely different entities.”  Still not getting it, she then had an epiphany and said “oh, maybe Confucious is how you say Buddha in Chinese”.  Sometimes, I just cant.

Wondering why this person was still talking to me seeing that I had not actively engaged in the conversation, Katie pulled out another good one.  “The Thai people are such an ‘industrial people’ “.  I responded with “Yes, they are real machines”.  She remained clueless and I suddenly spotted my ‘friend’ in the crowd of people and parted ways.

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