Cycling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: part five
Saturday 5th December
As the next big city after Li was Lamphun, we decided to stop slacking off and try cycling beyond midday. Our excuse until this point was that it was too hot to cycle in the afternoon, but now we’re reaching the cool north of Thailand this isn’t true anymore (shame, haha).
After a hotel breakfast of khaow dhom (soupy boiled rice) we set off by 7.30. It was just about not raining. We spent a lot of time plodding up hills, and as the morning went on our ETA kept receding into the future.
Cloudy rice paddy.
At 11 we were hungry and stopped for some roadside sticky rice and chicken. A man by the food stall was very amused when, while ordering, I changed my mind and said “Mai ow muu, ow gai ca” (“I don’t want pork, I want chicken please”) he laughed a lot and said (in Thai): “Hey! You speak Thai! ‘No pork, chicken.’ Haha! That’s farangs for you… they don’t want pork, they want chicken! Hahaha!”
I was laughing, he was laughing, it was a beautiful moment. Maybe I’ll use the old “Actually, I’d like chicken please” gag another time.
There were some really good views today, but they were almost always half-hidden behind a screen of trees. Thailand is such a view-tease. I managed to catch a couple by taking out my camera and switching it on when I suspected that a gap in the trees was coming up. It’s not easy to do this on a moving bike (which is why this one’s a bit wonky).
For this one enough was enough, I got off the bike to take advantage of the photo-sized gap in between the leaves.
We cycled past at least six or seven beautiful temples today. And here is a solitary wonky photo to prove it.
In the afternoon we sped up as the road flattened out, though our surroundings were still mountainous.
We rolled into Lamphun at around 2.30 feeling a bit on the sore and tired side.
When we pulled up to the hotel I had booked, I was told by the owner that there was “a 60 baht booking fee” on top of the 400 we were due to pay. She was obviously trying to squeeze some more money out of us, but unfortunately I was basically powerless to her will, as I needed to pee so, so badly.
“OK, that’s fine,” I said.
“The total is 460 baht, because there is additional 60 baht booking fee,” she said (as if I hadn’t just agreed with her).
“Yep, OK,” I said.
“I don’t think you read the deal properly on booking.com,” she said knowingly.
I looked at her blankly, thinking: I really, really need to pee.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s fine.”
She finally let me pay the 460 baht. Later I had a look on booking.com again and unsurprisingly there was nothing about an extra charge. The place wasn’t too nice; on the locked balcony were old beer cans and rubbish, in the bathroom was a dead beetle being eaten by ants. Hmm. But the wifi was good, so really all is forgiven. I’d recommend the place to anyone 27 and under.
Sunday 6th December
Today we simply had to drop into Chiang Mai, where we would be meeting up with a lady called P’Aoi, who would be taking us to our accommodation in Mae Rim, a village just north of Chiang Mai. My mum’s good friends were kindly letting us stay in their holiday home there.
We had a laid-back cycle in Chiang Mai along a road lined with enormous trees, which I thought looked like a cross between a plane and a poplar (but were probably neither).
Things didn’t get off to a flying start when we arrived at Central Airport Plaza, phoned P’Aoi and realised that she had meant us to meet at Central Festival Plaza. P’Aoi roared with laughter and came to meet us where we were.
She took our luggage in her car and acted as our guide. We were soon out of Chiang Mai and heading upwards to Mae Rim, which turned out to be a beautiful, peaceful, flower-filled, hippy-ish village.
After settling in we went to the nearby Sala Cafe, which has the trendiness of Bristol (lots of vegetarian options, salads, fruit smoothies, green teas, free wifi) along with a Thai menu and the flowery decor of Mae Rim. The place is so pretty, and customers there are constantly taking photos. We were no exception.
We ordered smoothies with our lunch and I would like everyone to know that I got the best one.
We’ll be staying here for a week seeing the sights of Chiang Mai, before heading up to cycle the mountainous Mae Hon Song loop.