Over hill and dale – Lampang to Den Chai (94/9282ks)

(written by both of us)

I am happy to report that we had no repeat of the previous night’s “alarm clock giggle” girls and both of us slept well.  We had real questions about how far we had to ride before finding accommodation so we were up and off to 7-11 by 6:15 – could be a new record.  We had a very glamorous brekkie sitting on the curb at 7-11.  Our multiple espresso, all you can eat two hour breakfast buffets from the Le Meridien are nothing more than a fading luxurious memory now.

We knew the first 40k of today would be mostly uphill as we rode down the hill last week.  We also knew that the uphill would be followed by at least 7k of steep downhill.  It is always funny riding back up hills you came down as they always seem steeper going up than they did coming down.  Today was no different but some morning fog, almost mist, made the climbing cool.  And the downhill was a ripper that required an ice coffee and “cool the rims” break at the bottom.  From this point onward we were left to trying to read topo and watercourses to guess if we will be climbing or descending.

After some up and down we came to a solid 4k granny gear climb.  And by now it was getting hot – maybe it would be better knowing what is ahead.  At the top we pulled over at a fruit stand to buy bananas.  The woman working there spoke no English but we not only purchased bananas but we also learned (and promptly forgot) how to say up and down hill.  She informed us that it was downhill and flat through to Den Chai.  Either my mime skills need work or this gal had not driven 15k beyond the summit as here we encountered another 4k granny gear climb.  From the summit I am certain that the downhill was as steep as the up.  And it was straight with a great shoulder and two lanes – we may have set new trip speed record but I forgot to look – see, I am in trip, not race mode.

On the run into Den Chai we passed Wat Phrathat Suthon Mongkhon Khiri.  This Wat has the longest name and probably the biggest reclining Buddha either of us have ever seen.  It had the typical long skinny hands with the left hand being about as long as the Buddha’s thigh.  It is 89 meters (or 100 yards) long – quite an impressive sight along the roadside!

Den Chai is off the highway and we debated pulling in or not.  Hunger won out so we rode into town for some noodle soup.  No customers or staff spoke English so we had to stop at a city office to get the skinny on hotels.  We were over 90k and after so many hills, I was ready to call it a day.  Nancy was keen to push on for Uttaradit but the dark rain clouds forming overhead forced us to check out the hotels noted by the city folks.  I’ll pass the keyboard to Nancy here as the hotel picking and resulting room yielded an even bigger Le Meridien step-down and that only her words can only describe adequately.

Yes, we have ended up at a less than stellar hotel – we didn’t quite ride far enough to see the one recommended by the city staff that Dave spoke to.  Instead we were suckered in by a hotel built in the shape of a smiley face – not surprisingly it is called Smile House.  The room is a big but a bit rough and I am not sure it has been cleaned in the recent past – clearly an ‘always wear your flip flops’ hotel.  It smells a bit like smoke and mould but not too bad once you turn the A/C on.  The bedding is a bit suspect so we have already gotten our sleeping liners out.  I think we should have probably kept looking at some of the other hotels or even better kept riding on to Uttaradit but we are here now so it’s a grin and bear it kind of night I think.  Dave took some pictures but it is hard to get across the state of the rooms in pictures – you really need to be there and look at the floor, the bathroom, the sink, etc.

Rather than spend time in the room we headed out after cleaning up and ended up at a little restaurant right next to the hotel – think it might be owned by the same people.  We have spent all afternoon here doing some research on the route ahead, having iced coffees and now have had dinner.  All tasty so that’s at least something.  Best of all, today appears to be birthday of the daughter of the restaurant owner and they have shared her birthday cake with us.  We sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her – they all laughed at us.  Her name is Mhai and she turned 14 today.  (Happy Birthday Bill – sorry we didn’t get to sing to you as well)

But we must eventually return to the salubrious surroundings of our budget hotel (always wanted to say that).  I am trying hard not to think of how nice it felt going back to our room at the Le Meridien hotel in Chiang Mai – will probably start crying if I do….  Adventure travel is not always glamorous.

Tomorrow we will have a short day into Uttaradit – hopefully a bit nicer (well, actually, a whole lot nicer) than tonight’s room.

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7 thoughts on “Over hill and dale – Lampang to Den Chai (94/9282ks)

  1. I always find I enjoy the downhills more when I’ve earned them with an uphill. Of course I’ve never had to drag 50 or so lbs of stuff up those hills,,,

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