Day 238 to 245

no time for editing so apologies for typos and grammar mistakes

Day 238
Saturday 28th Nov
National Park to Lom Sac
38 miles

Slept slightly better than the previous night but we’ve both been bitten by the pesky mosquitoes so very itchy.

We had breakfast at the campsite (scrambled eggs, tinned fish, chewy mushrooms and baby onions – not the best but enough to keep us going)

I found the day challenging, I felt a little queazy and Gary had led me to believe it was going to be an easy day, but it was far from it. Although we only cycled 38 miles it was very hilly according to Gary’s garmin we climbed a further 2,000 ft and descended 4,000ft.

We stopped at a couple of viewing points, I was not impressed with the first so chose not to walk up to the second one, which depending on your point of view was a wise decision. Gary said the views were really good but he had to walk up 270 steps to view them. I chose to read my kindle in the shade, I’ve seen the pictures and to be honest they’re no better than the views we’d seen through out the day so I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anything. Whilst Gary was taking pictures at the viewing point I went for a wee in the woods, it was really spooky the trees sounded like they had uprooted and were walking through the forest very eery. Gary experienced the same feeling and had taken a video on his way back to try and capture the noise.

Gary; The first view point was “Sunrise view” (we obviously was not their at sunsrise) it was not far from the road so wasn’t anything special. But it did have a tall steel observation tower which I climbed to the top off on very dodgy ladders, the towers swayed in the wind so the vertigo experience was one I really enjoyed, it certainly got the old heart racing.
the second view point “sunset view” was far better in that you had to walk down the scary creepy lane, as Ginette points out the bamboo trees rub and squeek in the wind and it sounds really haunting. then the steps right to the top of the hill which is crowned with natural rocks on which you can climb to enhance the view. so not only do you get a view but also you get the thrill of the steep drops, the photos don’t do it justice.

We stopped for some water at the top of one hill and I came off my bike on some gravel, no harm done, just a dent to my pride.

We arrived at our destination at about 3.30pm and found a hotel, it is called the Grand Hotel and although it looks very smart from the outside it is a little dated inside (I dismissed it as being too expensive, but Gary thought it was worth a try and at £12 a night for B & B it is not bad.)
As we had been without Facebook for a few days one of the first things I did was log onto face book and i was shocked to see a friend from school had died, my thoughts are with his wife and children RIP Jason

Day 239
Sunday 29th Nov
Lom Sac to Poi Waterfalls
48 miles

Gary’s diary

We had breakfast in our ‘posh hotel’ but it was a bit of a palaver, first we had to ask reception to open the restaurant and then we needed the phone to translate what we wanted. I had the american breakfast which was ham, sausage and 2 fried eggs and Ginette had vegetables and rice.

The route was still on Route 12 but the road was bigger more like a dual carriageway. The first seven miles were relatively flat then it was uphill for the next 13 miles. The climbing alternated from 8% to flat so was not too bad and the temperature was 37 degrees so pretty hot.

We stopped at a market for a drink, there were loads of stalls with food and clothes and loads of people, which would have been ok but this market was half way up a mountain, very strange.

As we were cycling along we could see a huge buddha in the distance so when we came to the turning point we climbed the extra 2km up a 9% climb to see it (GInette was not keen at all)

Ginette – It is fair to say I wasn’t keen, it was hot and we had a long way to go and I had seen a lot of Buddha’s already but I am really pleased I went because it was amazing.

Gary
This turned out to be a great place with pretty good views, the buddha had several heads and was very well built with an observation deck. The temple next door was great too, you could climb to the top floor for even better views the temple was called ‘Phra That Pha Sorn Kaew Temple’ It is a must see place.

Ginette
we took lots of photos but they don’t do the buildings justice, the floors and walls were covered with broken shiny tiles which made them look like they were made of jewels. The site was amazingly clean, free and tranquil even though there were a number of tourists (but very few westerners). Much to my surprise many of the tourists were wearing jumpers and coats (one group of lads in mod parkers) as Gary said it was very hot. I had worn my new ‘cycle for dad’ cycle top, everyone
in Thailand is wearing clothing with this logo, they’ve been made especially for the Kings birthday next month.

Gary
after this really enjoyable break the road flattened to a high plateau which was like biking in the Swiss mountains. I had said earlier the views reminded me of Switzerland so we were not surprised to find resorts named after Switzerland along the route, this area was well built up and quite touristy. However I think the Europeans were taking the piss with some of the names ‘Poo Come resort’ and ‘Phucome Hotel.

The road from this point was very undulating but with some good downhill stretches, we had been heading for a waterfall called Kaeng Pha but when we got there we changed our minds as they wanted to charge us £9 each to enter so sadly we moved on.

We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay and agreed to stop at the next town/village, much to our surprise and delight we found ourselves staying in a bungalow right next to another waterfall (Poi). It was an up and day but the ride was really rewarding and the temple was outstanding.
Day 240
Monday 30th Nov
Poi Waterfall to Phitsanulok
38 miles

We both slept really well.

Before breakfast we went for a stroll to the waterfall, it was lovely and peaceful and for a time we had it all to ourselves.

We had breakfast on site, rice again but it is was very filling and provided enough energy for the day, well it did for me, Gary was struggling towards the end of the day and had one of those ‘feed me now moments’

We continued on route 12 which remained undulating but there appeared to be more downs than ups. We both felt a little weary from all the climbing we’d done over the previous days but I think Gary was struggling a little more than me because I over took him on more than one occasion (tee hee).

Gary
The route followed the river Khok’ and there were several other smaller waterfalls and rapids to view from the road. We stopped at one of the waterfalls for a drink. There was a wobbly bridge so we had a little play, it rocked lots so we were surprised to see a motorbike with a passenger ride over it without giving a second thought.

Ginette

As we approached Phitsanuick we saw a sign pointing one way for the next big city in Thailand, the other way for a chinese city I didn’t recognise and Kuala Lumpur. Most normal people would have thought ‘they’re a long way a way’ but no my brain has become so corrupted that instead it started working how long it would take to cycle to Kuala Lumpur which was sign posted a mere 1080 km away – bring the white men in the van now.

It was a hot, sweaty ride into Phitsanuick, we stopped at a cafe to use the internet as the wifi connection was rubbish at our previous hotel. We managed to locate a hotel within a mile of where we were enjoying our iced coffees. The reviews on line had caused us a moments hesitation as they’d said there were no restaurants within walking distance, which was a joke as we were sitting in a cafe surrounded by lots of other cafes, shops and restaurants.

Once we’d showered and changed we went in search of food for Gary who was ravenous and found a cafe on site which not only sold food but also served chocolate milkshakes. Gary was in his element, it was like watching a child, it lasted him about 1/2 hour, it arrived before our meal so he made a start on it, ate his curry when that arrived and then went back for some more milkshake. It was huge, it probably contained more calories than his meal and cost just as much.

After a couple of hours reading and catching up with Facebook and messages we went in search of some snacks. We asked the reception staff to the nearest 7 to 11 boy was it hard work, they clearly didn’t use maps on a regular basis and although we found one quite easily we’re not sure it was the one they were directing us to. On our way we got invited to join some people drinking on the street, we refused neat brandy was probably not a good idea. We have seen quite a lot of Thai people drinking spirits with their food and socially, it wouldn’t seem so bad but they actually have the bottle of spirits at the table and ask for more water or coke when needed.

Day 241
Tuesday 1st December
Phitsanuiok to Phichai

We had breakfast locally rice and eggs for me whilst Gary had rice and pig. (She is even talking like a vegetarian now, rice and pig!).
It was a pretty ride, it was very flat we went passed rivers and lovely houses with pretty gardens and lots of public buildings with picture of the King and Queen. It did however seem strange to see people cycling and riding motorbikes with full face balaclavas on, when the temperature was in the 40’s. Thailand is very different to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, there are far more cars on the roads, there are roads instead of dirt tracks and the people are generally much bigger. There are two noticeable things that remain the same, first is the number of passengers on motorbikes (with no helmets) and second is the wooden food stalls scattered down the roads and to a lesser extent the amount of rubbish as you cycle in and out of towns.

We arrived at our destination early and stopped at first hotel but the woman who greeted us spoke very little english, she seemed to indicate the hotel was not a hotel. We knew there were a further 5 in town so went off in pursuit of one of them. We passed the hospital where we’d been told there was a hotel this was only 500 meters up the road from the hotel we had first stopped in so we decided to double back. This time we were told the hotel was full, this seemed unlikely but what could we do, we decided to look for one of the other hotels but this is easier than it sounds. The big problem as we’ve mentioned previously is that everything is written in Thai and very few people speak English. We can do a good impression of we need a bed which seemed to be understood but it felt like we were directed back to the same hotel which the woman claimed was not a hotel. We cycled around and around for about 1 hour using Google maps getting more and more frustrated. Just as we were losing patience and hope I got a puncture in my front tyre (the last tyre to get a puncture). We pulled over and whilst Gary fixed the bike I went in search of drinks to cool us down, the temperature was 40c!

Gary; I am finding google maps additional information to be very inaccurate in Asia, the roads seem to be mapped well but the hotels are not where they should be. Today even the monument was 4 miles away from the maps shown location.

Once the bike was fixed we refocused and went in search of another hotel listed on Google maps and fortunately found it within 10 minutes of leaving town.

Gary; Dinner tonight was another of the cook it yourself over hot coals restaurants. This was a lucky find as we had given up on finding cooked food and stocked up on the only stuff we could find which was biscuits, crisps and cake. Ginette spotted some lights on down a track and managed to find this place which meant we got to eat a proper fish and sea food meal.
Day 242
Wednesday 2nd December.
Phichai to Si Satchanalai.

Short cycle ride today, we arrived at our destination at 1.30pm and after a lengthy conversation on the phone we managed to book ourselves in to our accommodation. We had booked on line but it was difficult to communicate this to the girl that greeted us.

Only point of any interest in the morning was another puncture, same tyre, the patch had not worked in the heat. As we were putting everything away a Thai man came to help and enquired where we were going. Gary was obviously feeling a little hot and bothered and tried to pronounce the town name which sounded like “so we wank a lot’ I looked up at him and he said ‘I don’t know what it is called but all the towns have wank in them’ I was a little bemused until I saw the town name on the next town which was Sawankalok seriously.! he wasn’t far wrong.

Gary; the temp reached 42 degrees today and the puncture repair kits glues fail, fortunately I have spare new inner tubes which Bob Hutton helped me source from the UK.

Once we’d changed we took a gentle cycle ride to a local historical park (Si Satchanalai) it cost approx £2 each and was worth every penny. It was really tranquil, we only saw three other tourists. The site was fairly big and had a number of temples and monuments. We spent 2 hours wandering and cycling around the grounds before heading back to the outside cafe for a beer. It felt like an autumnal day, there were lots of leaves on the ground, the sun was shining it was quite magical.

In the evening we went to a local restaurant and had deep fried fish (it was cremated) salad and rice, we had a lovely evening together planning the rest of the month.

We had two pets in the room with us a frog and a gecko both were well behaved and seemed to keep the mosquitoes at bay, did consider putting them in my top box and keeping them but thought better of it.

Gary; There was a huge scout jamboree on a field near us, we could hear the announcements and music through the sound system they had set up, and although they went to bed at a reasonable hour they were up playing loud music at the crack of dawn. he scout movement is huge over here, it is part of the school curriculum and in some areas a whole dat is dedicated to scouting – they have to take exams that count towards there schooling.

Day 243
Thursday 3rd December
Si Satchanalai to Wang Chin

Just as we were leaving our hotel this morning we were offered a free breakfast, what a nice way to start the day.

The road was a little bit more undulating than the past 2 days but nothing too challenging. The scenery has changed again, much more rural and poorer than the areas we have been cycling through. Lots of wooden houses, old people working their land and food stalls selling basic food i.e. a handful of melons.

For much of the day we could see forests and we followed a river into Wang Chin, our destination.

An uneventful day other than to say we got a little wet this morning in a down pour the locals thought it rather amusing that we continued to cycle whilst they sought shelter under the wooden stalls.
Gary; it was overcast and stormy and the temp had dropped to a chilly 23 degrees, we even put an extra layer on as we are not used to the lower temps (I am sure our friends at home will scoff at this as 23 is Englands summer temp).

We struggled to order lunch but eventually ordered noodles and a meat and mushroom dish for Gary whereas I had eggs and rice again all for £1.50.

Arrived in Wang Chin at 2.30pm the accommodation was really basic with very thin walls, we managed to negotiate the price down but I still felt it was a little too high for what it was especially as it was more than we’d paid the previous night £7.50 with breakfast whereas this accommodation was £8.00.

Dinner was a simple affair of rice and fish, Gary had rice and a meat meat dish, tiomorrow we’re going to be in a bigger city so I am looking forward to eating something a little more exciting than rice with eggs or veg.

Gary; For Clifford Wilder if he reads this – We stayed in Wang resort, in Wang chin.
hence my address was;
Wang Corr, Wang resort, Wang Chin – Not far from Sa Wank Alot

Day 244
Friday 4th December.
Wang Chin to Lampang

Slept badly due to the air conditioning unit throwing cold air down on us, a storm outside and a constipated tummy, plus a thunderstorm with heavy rain.

We had breakfast on route, we have learnt the words for vegetarian and in some establishments they work and others the staff look at us blankly fortunately they worked well this morning and I had a big dish of rice and veg, Gary had the same with some added meat. I have really taken a liking to cold coffee which you can buy in cans here. Breakfast with 3 cans of coffee cost £1.90

Gary; I saw some bananas and some other fruit so bought one of each, it turned out the other fruit was a lime, so to the delight of the staff I ate the lime which as pretty sharp.

We had hoped the storm the previous night would have cleared the air but unfortunately it was a grey, wet miserable day, we even had to put another layer on, come on we deserve my sympathy than that, the temperature had dropped from 40+ to 20c it felt cold.

The first 12 – 15 miles were fairly undulating but nothing too challenging, this was followed by a 5 mile up hill stretch. We stopped on the way down the hill for a lovely cup of coffee and a slice of cake. I chose a large piece of chocolate brownie which was served with ice cream and cream Gary had a bit of food envy as he’d ordered the blueberry slice which wasn’t as nice. Fortunately we’d agreed to share the cakes so he didn’t miss out.

The rest of the ride was fairly undulating and wet, Gary and i played leap frog through out the ride, I would lead on the up hills and then he would over take me on the down hills. As we set off in the morning my bike felt a little odd I thought perhaps the pedals needed a little oiling, it didn’t feel too bad so I thought I would wait until the end of the day before commenting on. When we reached the hotel I had a little play and it sounded like the brakes were binding but on closer inspection it turned out to be the mudguard rubbing on the tyre. If I didn’t know better I would say Gary was trying to sabotage my bike.

Gary; Ginette is flying up the hills and leaves me standing, I think the Alien theme has taken a new turn and she has now developed super human powers which I have attributed to the aliens having mixed her genes with Victoria Pembleton, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Frome.

It is a shame it was wet and overcast because there were lots of hills in the distance which would have made a lovely view but due to the weather they were covered in mist most of the day.

Arrived at our hotel at 3.00pm to find it was under construction, so although the room was clean and modern it came with the noise of a building site. Hopefully we will get a better deal in Chiang Mai.

Went out for dinner, it was pouring with rain so we stayed fairly local and had more rice this time with seafood.

Back at the hotel I started reading my book, I had hoped to finish it as it was spooking me out but at 11.00pm I had to concede defeat and go to sleep. I had really restless night replaying elements of the book which contained a ghost. I am sure if it had a certificate rating it would only be a 12 but I am such a scaredy cat.
Day 245
Saturday 5th December
Lampang to Chiang Mai
65 miles

Had breakfast in the hotel, what a palaver, I had to request the vegetarian option which meant paying an additional 70p (which is the equivalent of a full meal) for two fried eggs. I’m not keen on fried eggs but had one with some rice, Gary had my other one with some sweet bread, making it his 3rd breakfast. Everyone was upbeat as it was the Kings birthday so lots of people were wearing their yellow teeshirts and taking pictures of themselves.

We set off fairly early, it felt chilly but not cold and once we got going we soon warmed up. It was overcast and the temperature was in the low 20’s.

It was a challenging ride with several long climbs throughout the day (Gary; again Ginette pembleton kept disappearing up the hills in a cloud of dust). We stopped for lunch a ‘motorway’ style cafe. Although it was only 11.00am we were hungry so agreed to order some food, I thought I’d ordered the Pad Thai dish but when the meals came I had ordered two separate noodles dishes. I wasn’t keen on the food but Gary managed to finish them off for me. I am really looking forward to some tasty food, an Indian would be great.
As we reached the 40 mile mark (or there about) we saw a large buddha like statute and stopped to take some pictures it was huge, rising up and out of the trees. We decided to come off the main road and take a quieter road into Chiang Mai, hoping the views would improve. Although we occasionally got to see glimpses of the mountains, it was difficult to enjoy them as the roads were so busy. We had passed an elephant sanctuary on route and had hoped to see some in the fields but either they were hiding or they were kept well away from the main roads.

Once off the main road we passed through some towns one called Lamphun, where there was a lot of activity outside one of the temples. We stopped to take a look, but once off the bikes I felt hot and sweaty and wanted to move onto our hotel, I had been enjoying the bike ride whereas Gary wanted to look around the town. It’s not often we disagree on what we want to do, it was a lose, lose situation. I reluctantly looked around the temple with its big golden stupa and then Gary went off in search of some statutes in town whilst I read my kindle in the shade. We’d stopped for about an hour but our upbeat moods had changed and we both felt pi**ed off with each other. Fortunately these moments are very rare but it did put a bit of a downer on the day.

We had paid a little more for our hotel and it was worth it our room was lovely, it was big, clean and had all the facilities we could possibly need it even had a kettle and some beer in the fridge.

Once showered, I quickly finished my very scary book, I didn’t want a repeat of the previous evening, whilst Gary went out and found some more credit for his phone. On his return we went out to the night market. It was heaving, I have to admit I didn’t like it, I felt a little claustrophobic, you couldn’t move in any direction, which was a shame because there were lots of really lovely things for sale. As we were trying to make our way out of the market an announcement came on followed by the national anthem everyone stopped what they were doing and stood still a couple of minutes later another announcement was made declaring a minutes silence for the Kings birthday and again everyone stopped still, it was quite surreal. Some fireworks were let off but we couldn’t really see them, once the minute was over the chaos returned and we slowly made our way to the exit.

We went to a bar but was informed we had to be discreet with our beer because law said that no alcohol could be sold on the Kings Birthday, from what we could see the law was being blatantly ignored but this particular manager (ex pat) was clearly a little worried. It turned out with just cause when another pub landlord came in and told us he wasn’t opening because the army were doing spot checks and imposing fines. We only had one and went back to the hotel.