At 7:20 in the morning we hopped on a bus and rode 3 and a half hours to Phrae. (Pronounced "plaaaaaghhhh", like the word you'd say if you tasted something you didn't like.) Phrae is a city with a lot of the houses built in the traditional Thai-style with teak wood. It's such a laid back city, with really friendly people. They still use pedicabs, or somlars, as opposed to tuk-tuks and motorcycles as forms of public transport. (A somlar is a tricycle with a 2-seat carriage built on the back.)
After a late lunch, we discovered "khao niaw ma-muang", a dish of fresh mango and sticky rice with a coconut sauce over it. Yuu - uum! Then we took a walk, around through the back alleys of town, taking in the sights. A man came over to his back fence and invited us in for tea (fresh ginger tea). His house was built on stilts and we sat at a table on the patio area underneath. He is fluent in English. He told us that he worked with U.S. troops in Laos at the same time that Tim was here with the Air Force ('71/'72)! His wife made the tea and prepared some snacks, and some friends of theirs who are musicians were there also. (His name is Veera and his wife's name is Ud.)
The violinist, the oldest man, is a retired forester. The other 2 men are members of a local band. The 3 of them played (and sang!) some American Folk and Country/Western for us. ("You Are My Sunshine", "This Land is Your Land", and some Hank Williams Sr. tunes, to name a few.) They also did some Thai songs. Our private concert lasted a few hours! The banjo player ended with a medly solo - "Battle of New Orleans", "Yankee Doodle", and (Tony's favorite song) "The Star Spangled Banner". WOW! What a night!
On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped at the night market. Tim noticed a street vendor who was making crepes just like he used to have when he was stationed here (crispy fried crepes rolled with sweetened condensed milk inside). Delicious!! This and the mango dish Tim hasn't had since '72!