Friday, 23 May 2014

Chiang Mai Earthquakes and Coups. Nan Loop.

Nan Loop

I finally had the pleasure of cruising through Nan Province. This 980km loop took three days. These maps both show 980km. Thailand is bigger than people think.


Here's the actual route. I slept the first night in Nan Town and the second night Chiang Kham, Payao Province. I twisted through Nan in order to experience the best roads and views after advice from locals.

Just after leaving home I stumbled across these wasp nests in Lamphun Province. I stopped to ask the lady what they were for? She said they sometimes produce honey. Wasps producing honey? I never knew they could.


Mr Tawatchai at the Nansoontaree GH in Nan Town. He's a retired music teacher and a very nice chap to boot. Highly recommended. The next morning I discovered Bangkok's sleepy cousin.

I stopped to eat when this happened. The ground was too soft. Two minutes later a bee stung my ankle. Five minutes of dreadful luck. Not much luggage to worry about though.

The views were stunning - especially along the 1148 west of Song Kwae. I rode this stretch with 21yo Puchit. He's from Nan but studying at Chiang Rai University. He prefers a Kawasaki 250.


Lush. Probably not in Lonely Planet. Few tourists get to places like this.
Global Adventurer


Back in Chiang Mai I was lucky to meet Aussie Mick who's riding his BMW from Australia to Africa, Alaska and South America. A very inspiring man and I wish him all the best. Check out his blog
  
Doi Saket

I was surprised to learn that camera-phones can do photos like this:












I was lost following an aqueduct along dirt tracks through the hills when I found this bloke selling much-needed water and making bamboo ladders. A very interesting half hour in the wilds of Samkampeng.






Chiang Mai FC

They did it again. They thrashed Pattaya 5-1. A brilliant performance. They beat Phuket 2-1 the week before. They should play sex-tourist-destinations every week.











Whores and Teds


This is Chiang Mai's red light district on Loi Kroh Street. There's a Muay Thai Boxing ring at the end.

Many Teds can be seen wooing the prostitutes here. What's a Ted? A Ted is an older Western gentleman who comes to Thailand and ends up losing his life savings to a whore. Despite the warnings there are still droves of Teds willing to hand over their hard-earned to prostitutes. It's quite a remarkable thing to see and even more amazing to hear them rationalise their actions.


Common cash extraction techniques include dodgy dowries and dubious house/land purchases. The list goes on. However, the bad news for whores (and psuedo-whores) is that Ted-exploitation may have peaked in 2008 according to this graph I produced on Excel.

And feminism's mantra is women are always victims - even when they're not.




Immigration

I had to go again to get a 90 day visa extension. CM immigration feels like a cattle shed. The Burmese have their own desks.





The hassle's worth it as you get to live in the best place on Earth. The 2014 World Cup starts soon and I left home as the 2006 World Cup was starting in Germany. Eight years? Time flies. We need to make the most of our short lives.





Samoeng Loop

One day I encountered thunder, lightening, hail and rainbows within a 20 minute period. Incredible!







Earthquake


This was my second in Asia - the  first was Taiwan in 2007. This quake, 6.3-on-the-Richter-scale, struck Chiang Mai on Monday 5th May. It caused considerable damage as you can see. It's one of the strongest Thailand has ever had. I was napping when the whole building started shaking. Everything fell off the tables and shelves - quite scary.

We've also just had a military coup and we're currently under curfew between 2200-0500. Earthquakes and coups? Thailand is anything but dull.



Mae Hong Son Loop - again

This 600km loop is now a two day jaunt. First day 250km to MHS via Pai. The second day 350km back to CM via Mae Sariang. A glorious ride. This is Pang-Ma-Pa - boasting Thailand's lowest recorded temperature.


More scenery. You could fill a book taking photos on this route. This village is called "Love Thailand". Nearby I got in a conversation with a Black Lahu woman and a Lisu man. They had to speak Thai (the lingua-franca) to understand each other as their tribal languages are mutually unintelligible. Fascinating!

How good does Mae Hong Son look?


A shot from the Temple on the hill overlooking town.

Sheep at Mae-La-Noi. You don't see many of these here.




A very high bridge overlooking some rice terraces.

Chiang Mai Province is the same size as Wales and has 25 districts. Obviously, I have to go to them all. Omkoi is remote and hard to get to but I made it. It was my 23rd.


ObLuang National Park.

Next was Doi Tao, my 24th district. It's famous for a huge natural lake when the Ping River floods. However, it was empty when I went and only the vast dry floodplain was visible.

So, I've now been to 24/25 of Chiang Mai's districts. The final one is Wiang Haeng in the extreme NW of the province bordering Mae Hong Son Province and Burma. I'll go there next weekend.

Thai classes

I'm loving going to school to learn Thai. The classes are great fun. Joss is the only other bloke on the course. Can you believe he's 50? Canny lad. My favourite Thai expression: Oh Hoooor!





On the way back from school the old rice-rocket passed 33,333km. Or 83.2% around the equator. Notice the time is 6:36 - the digits for both the time and distance add up to 15. Freaky. Each digit is also a factor of 3. 





Armin


Armin had just eaten a full English Breakfast when he sent an email about how he would describe me to aliens. Made me laugh:

1. Likes Full English Breakfasts.
2. A Newcastle Utd supporting Geordie. Does it hurt???
3. Likes hip thrusting.
4. A Maths teacher who doesn't know how long a rope is.
5. An ex-submariner.
6. Likes to stay in dorms with at least twenty others while travelling.
7. Owns less stuff than the average Buddhist monk or Hindu ascetic.
8. Likes Asian woman and showing them his hip thrust.
9. Likes to eat in restaurants that only have Thai menus. That's probably why he doesn't wanna go home anymore.
10. Likes to learn languages and show off his reading abilities, though is never able to answer anything about his own language!
11. Loves his motorbike and won't stop until he's driven it through every village in Thailand!
12. Likes to run around in shoes that are at least one size too small.
13. Likes reading books and wonders why Asian girls never stay with him long!
14. Gets the friends he deserves. Have you seen him singing the Kampot song on youtube?

I've known this fella for six years after first meeting in Malaysia. He's still nomadic whereas I'm more settled these days.

Money

My £10 investment in Bitcoin is now worth £3. I bought back in late November at the peak of this graph. I'm glad it was only a tenner!

However, despite that drawback I've found a way to save A LOT of bank fees when moving money from the UK to Thailand. If you transfer £100 from Nationwide Bank (UK) to Bangkok Bank (Thai) using a standard SWIFT transfer, you'll pay £35 in bank fees.

However, if you setup UK and Thai paypal accounts (you need two email accounts) you can reduce those fees to 0.5% or £0.50 or 50p. As a maths teacher I can tell you that 50p is a lot less than £35. You transfer from Nationwide to Paypal(UK), then to Paypal(Thai) and finally from there to Bangkok Bank.

Downsides? The Transfer from Thai Paypal to Bangkok Bank takes 5 working days. Additionally, the exchange rate Paypal uses is fractionally lower than what Nationwide uses but not enough to make much difference. I should mention that if you want to transfer amounts > £8000, then SWIFT would be the better option. However, I could only envisage Teds needing to do that.

Income

This website generated $25 through affiliate ads. I couldn't believe it! Some other folk have approached about the possibility of advertising their ladyboy dating site, mmmmm, I'll have to think about that.

I've also managed to pick up a few more hours teaching maths in a local school. Early retirement is sweet.

Lingo

itiporn - power/influence
bangkap - force someone to do something
gamjat - get rid of

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