Photos are here.
2016-09-15, Thursday, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
- Toilet Cleaner Hannes and I took a flight from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai at 10am
- At the APEC immigration counter in Chiang Mai, the immigration lady gave Toilet Cleaner a hard time because he didn’t fill up his APEC card number on the arrival card! (Does anyone anywhere in the world actually read the “Occupation” field on this card?)
- We went walking from the airport to Tony’s Big Bikes: 2.5km but given I was navigating, it ended up being more like 3.5km and poor Toilet Cleaner was sweating like a pig
- We met Alex, our “bike keeper” and a man of few words, at around 2.30pm. 30 minutes later, we got on the bikes for a ride to Chiang Rai
- It took us about three hours to cover the 180kms it took to ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. There was some rain and I envied Hannes when he put on his rain jacket. Given my “travel light and shiver at night” philosophy, I could only watch, ride and occasionally shiver!
- Chiang Rai seemed like Tai Po district in Hong Kong. Not too busy conpared to Chiang Mai and had a distinct character
- We checked in into what looked like a really expensive hotel but only cost HKD 350/room (welcome to Thailand)
- Hannes decided to impress everyone with his piano playing skills. Next time, he should probably fill in “Piano Player” on his Arrival Card
- The next best thing about Thailand is the food. I ordered anything and everything I fancied including several “bukos” (young coconut). Cost about HKD 350 for the two of us. This also included several Singal beers
2016-09-15, Friday, Chiang Rai to Mae Sai. Mae Sai to Phayao
- The plan was to hit the border. Mae Sai is what it was called and it was about 60kms from Chiang Rai
- After a heavy breakfast, off we rode further north in the direction of Mae Sai. After about 50km, we saw a sign that read “second friendship bridge” (reminded me of a proverb: “people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges”)
- The guy at the “Customs House” forbid us from going any further so we did a U-turn and headed towards the ‘first friendship bridge’. It was a weird looking sight. A small immigration counter and two arches – one for Thailand and one for Burma
- Some lady was carrying some fish into Burma while another one was showing off the “Hello Katty” sticker on her scooter. Yes, Kitty, Katty same same. As Shakespeare famously asked “what’s in the name”
- The border was pretty much running in business as usual mode. Nothing eventful was happening there and it seemed to us that crossing the border back and forth is a daily affair for many. We spent about 10 minutes at the border and rode back to Chiang Rai
- Final destination for the day was a place called Phayao. I read somewhere about a beautiful lake and several stunning temples there. It was a 120km ride from Mae Sai and a 60km ride from Chiang Rai
- We checked ourselves into a luxurious Phayao hotel (HKD 350/night) -talk about being spoilt- and went for a ride around town
- The lake was quite a sight, very serene and scenic. But, I think the best part of the ride came when we rode up to Wat Analayo Thiphpayaram. This hard-to-pronounce place is a 15km ride from Phayao. This wooded area was a little up the hills and felt green very tranquil. The statues of Buddha and the decor of the temples built quite some spiritual energy in me
- After returning to our hotel, we switched over to the free bicycles that our luxurious hotel provided to look for a food joint. We settled on a restaurant by the night market for another sumptuous meal which cost about HKD 250. Unfortunately, it seemed like Phayao didn’t sell any young coconuts!
2016-09-16, Saturday, Phayao to Mae Rim. Mae Rim to Chiang Mai
- After another heavy breakfast we started to ride back to Chiang Mai on a hilly road. It was only 150km from Phayao and the roads were as smooth as butter. The Ninja hit 120kmh on occasion. Hannes claimed that his CRF did 138kmh but somehow I doubt the accuracy of the speedometer
- En route, it started to rain again and history repeated itself. Hannes put on his rain jacket while I told myself the usual “travel light, shiver at night”. Luckily it didn’t rain beyond 5 minutes. There was a beautiful waterfall en route
- We were making time and I thought we could detour to Mae Rim to see some elephants. There’s a place called “Thai Elephant Care” there
- The elephant place was amazing and elephants are such amazing creatures. I fed baby elephant one banana while holding the remaining 10 or so bananas in my other hand. As I was feeding Miss Baby, mama elephant snatched the rest of the bananas away from me with quite some force! Rookie mistake: never hold food in front of animals if you aren’t prepared for a snatch!
- Watching the elephants play with each other was quite a sight! The siblings were playfully stealing food from each other’s mouths! One of them was swaying her head left and right as though she was swing dancing
- We left Mae Rim at about 1pm and arrived at Tony’s Big Bikes around 2pm to return the bikes
- After checking into our luxurious 7-star hotel (Hotel Anodard) -THB 500- we took a red taxi thing (Song Thaew) for THB 500 to Doi Suthep. Another tranquil place of worship. Really had me lost in thought. Peaceful and serene
- Wake up time was a cruel 4am. (well, not that cruel – only 45 minutes ahead of my usual wake up time)
- After riding 700kms in two days and having covered some of the key places on Northern Thailand, it was time to return to Hong Kong
- Thailand is a special places. Friendly people, easy to get around and no speed cameras on the road. The food is awesome and the “bukos” are the best