The people are nice, the food is nice, the scenery is nice and the road is nice.
It’s not outrageous like India, Exotic like Turkmenistan, Extreme like Tibet or Mind-blowing like Nepal.
But it’s very nice.
Especially the first few days out of Chiang May were beautiful. I cycled across a national park where I could take a break to check out a waterfall or a stupa and even the highest Mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanol. I managed to get up the 2565meter against rain and wind and had the idea to pitch my tent there. But it seemed a bit chilly and I left my sleeping bag in Bangkok so I rode down the Mountain and found a good spot near a waterfall instead. Where in the morning I discovered an army of ants, coloring my normally green tent black. I didn’t mind so much when I noticed they were cleaning up bits of insects that get stuck to the tent every time I fold it up.
In places I’ve gone up 200 meter in 1km! Impossible you think? YES! That’s what I think too! And I had to zig-zag up the road nearly falling over because I go slower than 3km/h.. it took me 2hours to cycle up 6km, only to be down the other side in 5min and start over again.
So riding around shouting SA-WAA-DI-KAAAA!!! At every men woman and child I came across I arrived at the village of Huai Bong. A small place where 200 people make a living by working in the surrounding rice fields. A friendly man invited me to stay in his brother’s house and then showed me around the village. They are building a church and have already finished the school. He told me they need a volunteer to teach the children English so if there’s someone out there looking for a place in Thailand… In the evening I fell asleep to the mumbling of prayers coming from the next room. And when I left he gave me a bible.
The really wonderful thing in Thailand is that after a day on your bicycle, you can just go and get a Thai-massage. It’s a mixture between stretching-muscles and massage where they use not only their hands, but elbows, feet and whole body to pull you lose. There are a lot of “AUCH-is-that-really-necessary?-moments” But it does make you feel good.
Near Mea Hong Son in the Northwest corner of Thailand you find a lot of Hill-tribes. One of which called the Karen-longnecks. In town I met a couple of people who’ve been working with the villagers and in a nearby refugee camp to make sure children would go to school and have a change on a better future (www.ksdp.co.uk) It’s an amazing initiative set up in 1999 by a 19-year old English girl, she tragically died at 21 in a motorcycle accident and her family now continue her work. They took me to the village and told me about the work they try to do and how the people in the village must sell handicrafts to tourists for a living. Because all the money people pay to go and see them (for a boat crossing and ‘entry-fee’ )doesn’t actually end up with the people in the village.
There are a few hot-springs around. They’re lovely, except that the ones I’ve seen were a bit too hot. So I didn’t manage to actually spend much time in them. At one place they tried to charge me 300Baht to go to a hot spring near a geyser. I only wanted to go camping so I told them they’re mad and didn’t pay. It was a lovely spot though. And funny enough there was no one else at all. So I had the springs all for myself.
It’s so easy to stop anywhere and eat some good food. In a small restaurant one afternoon I noticed a table full of real nice looking sea-food, so I pointed at one dish to order that when a crowd of men in white walked in. I started chatting to one of them, they were Buddhist on a mission. But I didn’t find out what kind of mission. I did get invited to join them at the table full of gorgeous food though! That made me very happy, and after some of them had a go on my bicycle I peddled off into the hills again.
One minor set-back is that I discovered I have become Lactose intolerant.
Apparently a parasite I’ve picked up somewhere on the road did it to me. The bad news is; no more milk, no more yoghurt, no more ice cream, no more cheese and no more CHOCOLATE!!! The good news is, it could only be temporarily…..
So across hills and through some flat land I arrived at the Mekong river. On the border with Laos. My last day in Thailand was amusing since just then a yearly festival with parades and dressed up people happened…
I’ve been looking forward to Laos because every one I’ve met who’s been here loves it.
It has been slightly disappointing so far, and not only because it’s been pouring down rain ever since I got here.
I crossed the Mekong on a scary wiggely long tail boat in the rain with a vision of my bike toppling of and disappearing into the dark brown depths of the river. Lucky that didn’t happen. We both got across safe. A bit wet though.
So after the passport hassle I stopped for a coffee and some shelter at a guest house. When I asked the way to the toilet the lady got all huffy that I was there just to use the toilet and that I ONLY ordered one coffee… So I said ‘fine, I don’t have the coffee’. Went to the toilet and left.
A moment later I wanted to have something to eat. So at a place on the side of the road, like so many in Thailand, I had some food and they asked me 8 times the price it would cost me in Thailand! I just gave them what I thought was fair and left in a bid of a bad mood. They must think I’m stupid…
Here the road goes up and down a good bit, which suggests I might’ve had good views were it not raining. Non stop. I guess that is to be expected if you’re cycling around south-east Asia in the rainy-season. And sometimes I’m really enjoying it. Not being too hot. And not caring about a big puddle ’cause I’m soaking anyway. Singing in the rain. But when nothing never gets dry it does get a bit yuk after a while.
I got to Luang Namtha two days ago. My shoes are still wet.
Funny that as soon as I stop cycling it stops raining as well..
But tomorrow it will probably rain. Tomorrow I’m on the road again.