Hot highway ride to Chiang Mai (98/9050k)

(written by Nancy)

I am writing this from our plushy room at the Le Meridien in Chiang Mai – a room that has a huge couch, a bathroom with a shower with a door AND a bathtub and a speaker so you don’t miss any of your TV program, a french press and of course a big comfortable bed with your choice of pillows….  but more on all that later.

We were up early at the Riverside Guesthouse this morning as we knew we had a decent ride today that probably would include a bit of climbing.  Breakfast service started at 7am so we had our bikes all packed and were sitting at a table in the restaurant area at 7am sharp.  Great breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and a croissant, and juice and coffee – sounds like a lot but we ate it all.  Well, Dave ate my spicy sausage as I knew that it wouldn’t be good idea to have that before a ride – he has an iron stomach I think.

We took some back roads for the first 20k or so – only one minor ‘discussion’ as we headed out of a village onto a very small road, ignoring the sign pointing to Chiang Mai.  When we finally turned left to get to the highway we ended up going through the grounds of some administrative office where there were lots of cars parked and traffic police directing folks around.  A bit further up we came upon some kind of ceremony on the expansive lawn area – looked like a memorial service of some kind, with lots of uniformed folks lined up in front of a big banner and wreaths being placed at the front.  This is a three day weekend here so we think it might be something similar to Memorial Day in the US.  Anyway, it was a bit awkward riding into the middle of it all – as Dave said, a bit like farting in church (obviously he has done that before….)!

After that embarrassing escapade we finally got onto Hwy 11, which we would follow the rest of the day to Chiang Mai.  It was a pretty busy dual carriageway road but like most of the other Thai roads we have been on it had a wide shoulder so we had lots of room to ride.  It seemed to get hot quite early today.  I think we have seen more blue sky the last two days than we have seen since Australia.  It is great to ride without rain but it gets pretty hot in the sun here, especially when you have some climbing to do.

We stopped at a big rest stop about 40k into the day for an iced coffee and we ate some banana muffins that we bought last night at the night market in Lampang.  Just after leaving the rest stop we started climbing again – it was a steep enough climb that the big trucks going over the hill were barely passing us.  There were the usual assortment of wats and shrines at the top of the hills – it is still quite funny to us to hear all the cars and trucks and motorscooters honk as they go by the shrines.  At least we know we are getting to the top of a hill when we start to hear the honks.

We stopped again for a snack and some drinks about 30k or so from Chiang Mai.  Dave put the cold water bottle to good use while we ate our pork buns and drank our iced tea, putting it under his jersey to cool off.  Looked a bit weird but he didn’t care.

We finally turned off of Hwy 11 at a little town called Seraphi, outside of Chiang Mai, and took road no. 106 the remaining 15k or so into Chiang Mai.  Road 106 is lined with very big trees and winds its way through lots of neighbourhoods.  It was nice to get off the highway but this road was pretty busy and because of the trees lining it was also pretty narrow so we really had to concentrate to avoid the cars and scooters coming from every direction.  Sort of Avenue of the Giants meets a Asia street market, fun, but a little scary at the same time.

Kudos to Dave for his navigation  as he took us right to the hotel we had booked – no wandering about today at all (see, I can express gratitude when it is due).  Now, back to the hotel…. Dave has a bunch of hotel points that he accumulated through all that business travel the last 20 years that will expire soon if we don’t use them.  When looking at accommodation options in Chiang Mai we thought we’d just check to see if we could use the points at a hotel here.  Sure enough, the Le Meridien was part of the hotel group so we figured what the heck, might as well use the points before they are gone.

The hotel is very nice – a huge contrast to the places we’ve been staying the last couple of months!  We would never have stayed here if we had to pay for the rooms – way beyond our budget.  I could really get used to travelling this way…. but of course I can’t because once we use up these points we probably won’t stay in another hotel this nice again (unless my sister comes to visit again…!!).  So I will take full advantage of all it has to offer and will use every little jar of shampoo and conditioner, shower gel, fancy soap, hand towel, washcloth, coffee, tea and anything else that comes with the room!!

Dave was in heaven when we finally got checked in and found out the Rugby World Cup final was just about to start on TV.  So we quickly cleaned up and ran out to get some lunch so we could get back to the room so he could watch it.  So see, it isn’t just me who enjoys these nice hotels…

We are currently booked into here for 4 nights but I am already feeling the gravitational pull to stay a couple more days as there is a lot to see around here (well, okay maybe the hotel has a bit to do with it…).  Anyway, first on the to-do list is to take the bikes to a bike shop tomorrow to get some work done.  We’ll make a plan for all the sight-seeing to do later tonight, after we sample the food at the night market that is supposed be right nearby.

Now I’ve got to go get the clothes that are soaking in the bathtub….  Even in a swanky hotel, chores must be done.

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6 thoughts on “Hot highway ride to Chiang Mai (98/9050k)

    • Thanks Inge, we will certainly enjoy it… I’m not sure about deserving it however. It is all a bit odd luxury travelling in a country that is suffering so much only 800ks to the south of here. The news of more and more flooding in Bangkok is very sad and it puts our trip in perspective. We are pretty lucky to have this opportunity to travel. And even luckier to have had no major weather issues, just a few days of rain but nothing life threatening. Spare a thought for all those with flooded homes and/or businesses…

  1. Nancy and Dave – I love reading your about your adventures (and eating). I look forward to reading your blogs nearly every day at lunch time and am living vicariously through your travels. Thanks for posting!!

    • Hi Anita! Nice to hear from you and glad that you are enoying the blog. Now that your kids are almost all grown up you could get out on the bike yourself – there are some great places to go for a tour in Oregon to start out….

      Take care

      Nancy

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