Northern Thailand (March 17th - March 27th)
(Thoen - Lampang - Ngao - Phayao - Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong)
Distance biked so far: (9,608 km)
In Tak I met up with my friend Thomas Anderssen for the 3rd time on this trip. We originally met on the Turkey/Syria border and then again in Gokarna, India. We arranged to meet in Tak but upon my arrival I hadn't heard from him so just started walking in a place I would go if I were a hungry cyclist, the night market. In minutes I saw him and we had a few dinners together and swapped stories about India and Thailand. Thomas is heading south towards Bangkok and then down through Malaysia to Singapore before continuing south through Indonesia and Australia. I am heading north so this may be the last time we meet up, but who knows. I know my plans change daily.
The weather took a turn for the worse as rain and cold weather appeared for the first time since I was in Syria, just before Christmas. I managed to get out of Tak with drizzle and overcast skies but ended up an extra day in Thoen to wait out the front. It was pretty miserable riding in the dreary weather.
I had a scary moment on my ride from Thoen to Lampang. I stopped at a roadside stall and had something to drink and continued on my way. About an hour later and some 20km's up the road a utility vehicle pulled in front of me and stopped. The lady stepped out and waved something familiar, it was my wallet. I had left it behind at the stall. I can't believe I did that as it contains my passport, credit card, a bank card and some cash. They drove all that way and then had to return just to track me down and give it back. I did not even offer to repay them as it would be an insult here but I thanked them profusely and they left. The kindness and generosity of people all around the world is humbling to say the least. Maybe if we spent more time looking at the things we have in common and not focussing on the differences, we wouldn't be starting a new war every few years.
The ride heading north remained flat but the mountains are getting closer.
I arrived in the picturesque city of Lampang in mid-afternoon on Monday and found it so nice that I stayed 2 nights. In the early 20th century, the City was a centre for the domestic and international teak trade. Wooden houses are everywhere and many of the homes had nice gardens giving the city a very peaceful feel. I really enjoy guesthouses that have a quiet leafy sitting area and this fit the bill.
Lampang is situated on the Mae Wang river and I took this picture after my typical invasion of the night market food stalls.
I decided to head north and east and avoid the relatively large city of Chiang Mai. The town of Lampang reminded me that it is the smaller and more remote towns that I prefer to visit and I would pass a few if I headed directly to Chiang Rai, the last large town before the Laos border.
The road north took a decidedly uphill swing as I climbed over my first mountain in a long time. It was a beautiful day and I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. Here is the view as I headed toward the hills.
Here is a bike for the tallest cyclist in Thailand.