Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Chaing Mai motorbike trips

I've lived in Chiang Mai for a month already - time flies! During that time I've been on numerous motorbike trips.

Green is the 90km Sameong loop. I've done it twice as it offers a convenient escape into the surrounding countryside. This 3hr route provides great scenery along with roads as seductive as a Bangkok gogo dancer. You can observe families of elephants with their Mahouts (from the Karen tribe) while you slurp cappuccinos in a fancy restaurant.

Red is the 250km Phrao loop which is an all day endeavour. I've also done this route twice but the first time was on my 40th birthday which saw torrential rain and flooding in Chiang Mai. You can see a video of this disastrous venture on the video page. I attempted it again three days later with much more success. Glorious weather, terrific roads and sublime scenery make it a route I'm looking forward to doing again. There's also a video of this outing on the video page.

Pink is Doi Inthanon, Thailand's highest mountain standing an impressive 2565m above sea level. It's 100km from Chaing Mai to the peak. You have to pay to enter the National Park although if you learn to speak Thai you can pay the local price - it cost 40bt each for my girlfriend and I and 20bt for the motorbike. 100bt all in. Once you pass through the gate you're rewarded with a superb windy ride to the summit. The temperature drops noticeably as you ascend.

Trekking. One day Alex and I went for a massive 5km trek around the Hmong tribal village of Doi Pui. What worried us here was not the size of the insects but the fact that some people still use this sort of mobile.
We stumbled upon an ancient ruined temple deep in the jungle. It felt a bit like being on the set of Raiders of the lost Ark.
Here's Alex at Doi Pui market, full of psuedo-hill tribe folk. We saw a supposed traditional Hmong bloke driving a Mercedes around the back of this village. It seems there's no escape from the modern world.
Alasdair fea Scotland. He lives in the same apartment complex and spends his days learning metalwork from the monks at the local temple. Here he is displaying his latest effort. Pretty impressive.
I keep saying Chaing Mai (CM) is excellent.....but it really is. I was in Tesco when I noticed some escalators. I ventured up and discovered a food court within a bar! A bar complete with live music and sexy lasses serving the ale. In Tesco! Absolute paradise.
The first time I've ever had to use these. I asked the pharmacist what I was supposed to do with them? She told me to shove them up my arse! Charming!

I've had Farmers on and off for years. However, I've finally got rid of them. You have to eat a lot of fiber - something I've never done. Now I take a fiber supplement and eat AllBran for breakfast everyday. Sorted.
Down by the River Ping for Loy Kratong.
Oil gingerly releasing our heaven-bound lantern.
Many Kratongs for sale. 
You stick candles and joss sticks in your Kratong and then release it into the river where some women will make sure it goes into the river's current.
Fireworks and everything. Those aren't stars but thousands of lanterns dotting the sky. 
Earlier on in the evening. Simply beautiful.
A car flew past my parked bike and the vibrations somehow knocked it over. The clutch handle snapped and I rode around like this for a day or two as the shops were closed for Loy Kratong. It's quite difficult to ride a bike like this!
I eventually found CM's famous motorbike parts shop 'Sengchai'. I replaced the clutch handle and air filter in the car park. You can see how short the clutch handle was and how dirty the air filter was. I reckon the air filter filth was from Laos.
I passed this Loy Kratong float on the way home. All traffic was stopped.
To celebrate my new clutch I went to Phrao for my 40th birthday. I stopped at this Hot Spring on the way. Apparently they are the highest natural springs in Thailand! The water was boiling - I couldn't keep my hand in for more than a second yet there were seats around the edge for people to sit and dangle their feet in.
Next door to the springs was this huge Khmer style temple. I was reminded of the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I love the symmetry of this photo.
Then things went pear-shaped. It rained constantly until I got home. Being rained on for 6 hours is no fun on a bike. It was cold too up in the mountains. Watch the video.
Three days later I tried again and was much luckier. Watch the video. I met some Army lads, drank coconut juice and ate Farang fruit.
My next bike trip was a spin up Thailand's highest mountain Doi Inthanon with my girlfriend. At 2565m things can get chilly at 0600 - even in the tropics!
I don't know why but there's something hugely erotic about this photo. Perhaps it's the thought of her enjoying the sensation of a huge throbbing machine between her legs.
The two of us at the summit. 
Perched on the edge of the world. 
I love this photo. We've been dating for over a month now and we've already shared some special times, most noticeably Loy Kratong and this trip up Doi Inthanon. She's a reet canny lass.
I signed up for the CM half marathon on the 22nd December. I've been training for two weeks and last night managed 15km in 1h41m. Admittedly, I struggled to finish and my legs were aching at the end. At this point I'm not sure if I'll manage?

Chinese bogs. A friend of mine was working in China but decided to leave primarily because of the toilets. His photo reminded me of my time in China in 2006. What you're looking at are not urinals. This is where you take a number two. No privacy! Additionally, the shite simply piles up in the trough and ends up reeking. Oh there's no toilet paper or water either. Shudder!

Piles = kreet see duang
Lantern = korm fai
Run = wing

Interestingly, Northern Thailand has its own dialect. The Thai word for market is talad but the CM word is kad.


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