Infrastructure day 1 in Chiang Mai

(written by Dave)

It’s official, we’ve extended our stay here in Chiang Mai through the end of the week.  Today we had hoped to get some bike repairs done but had limited success.  First up we tried going to a bike shop called TCA.  We’d heard that they were the best hope in Chiang Mai for higher end parts.  Just getting to the shop was a real challenge.  Chiang Mai is a mass of one-way streets that are not often noted as one way on a map.  And to top this off they even have a couple streets that are two-way but right side drive.  You want to really mess with a foreigner, mucking the streets up like this is about as good as it gets.  Being raised in the USA, we can handle right hand drive but switching back and forth in the same day multiple times, especially while also lost, with one’s navigator wife “helping”, that’s a big challenge.  When we finally found the shop, our nerves were tattered and the shop was closed.  The sign on the door said we were there during business hours by they were not open for business and there was no one to be found.

Time for Plan B.  We headed off to the second shop on our list, Jacky’s Bikes.  We made a mandatory stop en route for an iced coffee to calm frayed nerves and then surprisingly found Jacky’s with ease.  And they were open.  Their owner/mechanic took one look at our Campy equipped bikes and told us to go to TCA.  Great, easy to find but completely unhelpful.  For the bike nerds reading this, we need help with noisy front hubs, one of Nancy’s pedal bearings and my rear cassette hub.  A competent mechanic should be able to at least offer some help regardless Campy or Shimano.  If I had brought my cone wrenches on this trip, I could at least look at the hubs.  So, we sat on the sidewalk in front of Jacky’s contemplating the next move, bummer.

I decided to purchase cone wrenches from Jacky and take a hub apart on the street.  I sort of feared “a ball bearings everywhere on the street” situation but this is a repair that is essential if our wheels are going to survive the rest of the trip.  This turned out to be a great decision as during my many trips back into the shop for wrenches, grease, a pump and advice, another shopper took interest.  It turned out that this shopper worked at TCA.  We learned that they are closed today for the holiday but will help us first thing Tuesday AM.  And just in case you were wondering, I managed to get Nancy’s hub apart and even better, back together.  It still needs some work but armed with my new tools and the hopefully helpful folks at TCA we should make progress tomorrow.  Funny,  the two cone wrenches I bought are Park Tools, made in the USA.

Today was not all about bikes.  It wad also about food and lots of it.  We used a few more of my points to purchase the breakfast buffet here at the hotel. And were we glad that we did.  We’ve had plenty an Asia hotel serve us white bread toast, jam and instant coffee – and call it good.  The food here is as extravagant as the previous is plain.  Nancy’s eyes were as big as saucers as she surveyed all that was on offer, like telling a kid in a candy store that they could eat anything they wanted with no limit on type or quantity. We ate for well over an hour, having 3 plates each.  Plus all the espresso we could drink.  I’m sure that the Food and Beverage manager thought we were feeding something or someone hiding under our table.  How could two skinny cyclists eat so much?  At least we were well fortified before we went on the bike shop search.

If breakfast was about quantity, lunch was about old favourites.  We were riding back from the bike shops and Nancy spotted a Mexican restaurant.  We’ve fallen for the non-local food trick in Asia before but figured that all the foreigners here in Chiang Mai might give this one a chance.  And boy, we were not disappointed.  I had a chorizo burrito, Nancy had a chicken burrito.  Both were fantastic. It wad too early for margaritas, though after the bike shops, they may have been in order.  The plates and serving portions were massive.  Here again, we upheld the reputations of skinny bicyclists everywhere and ate everything.

We only got lost once coming back from lunch.  And we only had to ride on one right side street.  I’d call that a successful trip if I must say.  I’m not sure how my co-traveller felt.

Now we are chilling, waiting for the nearby night market to open so that we can eat again.  At least tomorrow we hope to have better luck on the bikes, and perhaps take a slightly more conservative approach at the brekkie buffet – we are trying to get Nancy off the Food and Beverage watch list.

I didn’t take too many photos today so we threw in a few old shots from earlier in the trip just for fun.

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8 thoughts on “Infrastructure day 1 in Chiang Mai

  1. Can’t imagine how right AND left lane driving works??? Glad you survived that. Reno Gazzette Journal had a story on the flooding in Thailand saying it could last for 6 weeks in some areas, my thoughts and prayers go out to them. I like to think your fancy digs are in some small way helping to support their economy. Is the Hotel full? Good luck with your bike repairs and don’t foget to take some pictures…would love to see what the bike shop looks like.

    • You are on the mark. When we had all the floods in Oz, there was so much press that tourist stopped coming. A big part of Thailand’s economy is tourism so just being here does help. It’s not the same as filling sand bags but at least we’ve not fled or canceled as many tourists have. The hotel is busy, not full however.

  2. Nice Mexican chow looks to be the same place we at a few years ago while visiting Chiang Mai. Now asking an old colleague and friend also a cycling tourist with a factory in the area if he can supply any other recommendations on decent cycle shops in town.

  3. Love the pillow for Alyssa … Dave notes however that I am actually the “Princess” and Alyssa is the “Duchess”! Very jealous of the food you are getting to experience but do not envy the recent hotel conditions … you are certainly braver that I could ever be Nancy! All our love. xxxx

    • Thanks Stella- I thought the pillow was cute – for the Duchess or the Princess!! The food usually makes up for the sometimes questionable lodging, thank goodness. If only we could stay at places like the Le Meridien all of the time… The last few days here in Chiang Mai have been great but back to the real world now. Dave & Nancy

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