There are a number of checkpoints along the roads in Northern Thailand, many of which seem rather informal.
Since they are searching for illegal cargo and immigrants, we generally move through quickly, often with little more than a wave of the hand. Today, however, we come to one where we seem to sit and wait a very long time amid the local trucks.
Eventually our driver emerges from the makeshift station, clearly angry. Chris makes him tell us what happened:
Since there was such a big back-up, he tried to move ahead of the others, which is usually allowed. (The tourism is a really important part of the Thai economy, especially now, in the days immediately after the ouster of a democratically elected leader.) However, he was told to go to the back of the line and wait. Apparently he made a couple of attempts to hurry the process along, impatient with the officials who were slowly sorting through loads of livestock and building materials. In the end, he was not only made to wait, but given a lecture on his “wrong attitude” and a very large fine.
Now, able to get back on the road again, he is able to laugh as he tells us the story, finding at least a little humor in getting a fine not for a safety or legal violation, but for having the wrong attitude.
And then we are back on the road again, Chris’ “Land of Smiles” CD playing in the background, perhaps in tribute to our driver’s determination.