Friday, 4 April 2008

Day 317 - Chiang Rai

After a day chilling out in Chiang Mai which rather turned into a day of doing chores and included a trip out to the Post Office, one of my least favourite jobs, I am back on the road again.

I left Chiang Mai early, not a backpacker in sight. The road was excellent, busy, but nothing compared to Britain, and really good quality. After about an hour I stopped for breakfast, no chance of eggs on toast here, it's noodle soup or nothing, "I'll have the noodle soup then please". If you are going to have a strange breakfast you might as well go the whole hog, so I followed that up with icecream, well it was getting hot already. Breakfast was timed to perfection as the road then started to climb through the mountains and the temperature climbed through the roof. Typical isn't it, you hang around for a few days and it's cloudy and cool, then as soon as you set off again the skies are clear and it's a scorcher. By the time I hawled my way to the top at over 1000m it was 44 degrees, I had worked up a sweat. Pay back time was great, a good road with sweeping bends meant I could just go without using the brakes and I reached 76kph, the fastest I have been on the entire trip, the previous fastest being on the first day on a road heading towards London. Once through the mountains I stopped for lunch, there are no shortage of place to eat here, and what's more they have food. I lost count of the times I stopped at cafes in Myanmar where there was total inactivity and when I asked for food they just laughed. As I sat cooling down, miles away from the nearest tourists, three Brits turned up and sat with me. They were from Kirby Malham in Yorkshire and were bellringers, a few minutes later the place was empty, so we bellringers still have the knack of boring everybody out of the place. The final few kilometres to Wiang Pa Pao, where I stopped the night were nice and flat, though it looked like a storm ahead which soon turned into a very strong headwind, my fault for talking to long at the cafe. I stopped and asked about a guest house and was pointed down the road, I asked further on and a few minutes later I was at a homestay place. So easy, bliss after Myanmar. I had a very large room with just a tap for a shower. Soon bottled water and a big bunch of bananas were brought in, just the job.

I left early again this morning, but not early enough to miss the next bunch of bananas that was given to me. The road rolled along for a while and once again I was whizzing down hills at over 60kph, the trouble is it also means I have to grovel up the steep hills as well. I passed an amazing wat on the way (1st photo), near Chiang Rai but on its own. I was a pretty hideous thing really and reminded me of winter, a sort of frozen waterfall. I don't think it was finished as inside two of the walls were just plain concrete. I made good time and reached Chiang Mai before the afternoon heat, though it was still 40 when I arrived. Like Chiang Mai, there is not alot to see other than a few more wats (2nd photo), but I like the place. I am quickly aclimatizing to Thialand, the thing that I really appreciate is it's cleanliness compared with the last few countries I have travelled through, no litter beside the road or dumped in town centre, cafes and restaurants are hygenic and look safe to eat at, a welcome change.

So tomorrow is my last day in Thailand for the time being, as I cross into Laos. I don't know what facilities will be like, especially as I head through the northern mountains, so don't expect an update too soon.


Lorna said...

Hooray indeed to read that you're safely out of Myanmar! Wishing you luck in Laos. With the temperatures, distances and climbs, I'm grateful that I'm sat in a chair enjoying reading about your experiences and seeing the pictures :-)

dad said...

I don't think I could 50 mph on a bike now with just small brake blocks between me and the hereafter. I did do something like that speed on a bike down Muswell Hill, but I was only 15 or 16 then, not approachig my fifties!!