(written by Dave)
Today was sort of our Groundhog Day in reverse. After a great week in Chiang Mai, we rode the exact reverse of the route we took to reach Chiang Mai last weekend. It ended up being 2k longer because Nancy wouldn’t let me take the short-cut that found us in the middle of the fancy dress military memorial service last week. Funny, I remembered the route, Nancy remembered the gate crashing part.
Nancy was a bit melancholy this morning about leaving our nice accommodation at the Le Meridien. We had one last go at the breakfast buffet but you can only eat so much before a longish ride so we probably didn’t do it justice. We did leave full though, with a couple of spare muffins tucked away in our handlebar bags for a snack down the road. We only took two – unlike the lady we saw yesterday filling a plastic bag with at least a dozen pastries. After all, we only just came off the F&B watch list, no point in pushing it.
A fairly uneventful ride today and not too many pictures since it was back on the same roads we had ridden. Also, for the next 1,000k’s or so, we will be riding east, into the morning sun. This is the first time on the trip where we’ve done this. I’ll have to be extra proactive to remember to look around behind us every now and then – otherwise the next month of photos will all be washed out.
When we were riding to Chiang Mai, we saw a couple roadside stands selling odd looking organic shaped hanging things. We didn’t stop at the first two stands as we’ve learned in Thailand, when there is one stand, there will probably be another dozen selling the same thing in the next 2k. Well last Sunday there were only two stands and we missed them. Luckily today, the stands going our way were open so we stopped at the first one. In fact, we stopped at all four taking photos and trying to figure out what it was that we were looking at. It was clearly some form of hive but not a single person in any of the four stands spoke English. At one stand, I think we figured out that you don’t eat the hive. But we’re not sure if you drink it. Or it could be just to hang for good luck. One hive had a rhinoceros beetle on it but I think it was for show. The rest had large cicada looking flies glued on the outside. All the bugs were dead and just for show. We are no wiser now than we were a week ago – even with all the stops. Oh well, miming with what were probably Thai hill people was fun all the same.
We also ran into another touring cyclist today – a Thai fellow even! He is from the south-east and is riding the perimeter of Thailand. We actually saw him the other day in Chiang Mai on the day we rode up the hill near town. We stopped and chatted with him at the top of today’s biggest hill. He was 60 years old and travelling pretty lite with only rear panniers. I’m sorry to say that we didn’t get his name but since he was wearing a USA national championship jersey, we nick-named him George (as in George Hincape). We hope to run into “George” again but he says that he rides 200k per day, so he may out pace us – not bad for a sixty year old riding a touring bike.
We did pretty good with the route today, even though as mentioned above, I was not allowed to take one of my short-cuts. It is nice to have a repeat route where you don’t have to check the map as often. We crossed the river here in Lampang one bridge later than I planned and we had to backtrack a bit to get to the guesthouse – riding the wrong way on a one-way street. What the heck, here in Thailand we have people driving at us (on the wrong side of the road) all the time.
We were early for check-in so we stopped by the guesthouse’s sister restaurant, the Riverside Cafe. I had a great pad ko pho, Nancy had pad thai. After our cooking course the other day, we know how to make these and appreciate that “just whipping one up” may require a little more skill than previously thought. At least we appreciate it more, and of course we enjoyed eating them as well.
We spent the afternoon hanging out on guesthouse deck where we were very entertained. First we watched a fisherman using a net in the river. He had pretty good luck, well at least he caught some fish – better luck than I normally have. Next we asked to be interviewed by three high school girls as part of their coursework. They tried very hard and did well when following the script. We struggled to talk with them much outside the script but using their limited English and the nest photo we learned that nest was a wasp nest. They confirmed that you don’t eat it. Next we got to watch a group of kids go up and down the river in a dragon boat, complete with drum for cadence. They were very focused. I am sorry to report that Nancy did not make it back into the hammock. We will work diligently tomorrow to address this error.
As it is Saturday night in Lampang, the night market is on again. We decided to try out a recommend restaurant called Aroy One Baht. The total bill was $4 and it was very tasty – and full of locals. Both of our meals were good but Nancy’s was a little small so we headed to the market for supplements. Yes, I had another one of those “terrible” fried ham sandwiches. Nancy found some slight more healthy additions for her dinner. And of course we had to get a mango and sticky rice for dessert – nothing fancy on the dessert – just as it sounds but it is one of our favourites. Sorry Dale, our dessert photo was taken after a couple bites were taken, but take that as being proof of how tasty it is.
Tomorrow we are taking a day to visit an elephant sanctuary. We debated about contributing to “elephants on show” as there is some debate as to these sanctuaries being good for the elephants or not. The owner of the guest house said that we should go as this particular one is legit. Should be interesting and we are keeping open minds…