A hard day at the office (Mae Sariang to Hot)

A record of cycling the Mae Hong Son Loop: part four

Wednesday 23rd December

Miles: 65 

  
Due to the distance between towns, today would have to be a big day both in terms of distance and ascent. We just hoped that the bike would behave itself. 

Our morning began with our biggest climb. For roughly 3 hours we ascended from 200 to 1150 metres, slow and steady.

The views are always the most beautiful in the morning light. 

   
 

Aside from the odd vehicle all we could hear was the turn of our wheels and the birds. Our experiences completely differed as we went up this hill, as I felt almost ecstatically happy (because of the natural beauty and the solitude), while Eric, burdened with being in charge of gear changes, couldn’t stop worrying that the bike was going to break. Poor Eric. 
   
 

We reached the top and stopped to buy a sugary drink, and I took a photo of a hen and her chicks.

  
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, because almost everywhere you go in Thailand there are chickens running around. 

The next 30 miles would take us up and down roughly 6 times, dipping to as low as 750 metres before climbing back up to 1150. This was hard work. 

One thing that was disappointing about today, and somewhat about the Mae Hong Son Loop in general, was the rarity of panoramic views. Fairly often I could see the mountains through gaps between the trees, but almost never in a way that could be photographed. 

A rare view of the mountains.

  

What was beautiful today was the long stretches of gleaming roads. Sounds odd, but it’s true!

  

We stopped in a small village for lunch at the only visible option, which was a filthy-looking place. At least our fried rice was cooked on the spot for us there, I think I would have been worried about eating it otherwise. 

The sun beat down on us and the breeze died as we crawled up a steep hill after lunch.

“I’M SO HOT! F****** ****S!” said Eric to the world in general. 

I couldn’t help it, I started laughing a wheezy, breathless laugh. “F****** ****S” was exactly right. 

In between the solitude we passed by schools, roadside stalls, roadside workers, villages on hills, trucks, cars and motorbikes. Almost everyone smiled, nodded, waved or gave a thumbs up. This helped a lot.

Then at around 3 we reached the top of tops: our last real incline of the day was done, and we could go down. Of course it felt good, but by this point my body just ached and ached. It was even harder for Eric, he had to actually steer the bike and press the brakes for 15 miles. 

Descending.

   
The air grew noticeably warmer as we headed back down to 250 metres. We reached some very thirsty-looking hills, and joined a rather nice river. 

    
 
We followed this river downstream, which felt good. We were shattered. 

   

We found accommodation just outside of a town called Hot. After showering, we walked to the nearest 7 eleven, and emerged 5 minutes later with two ready-meals and a bag full of junk food, which to my tired self felt like perfect happiness. 

Today we did a total climb of 2000 metres over 65 miles. I would pat myself on the back but I am too tired. 


Christmas Eve

Miles: 25 

  
A simple day of cycling today. We moved 25 miles down the road to the foot of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s tallest mountain. We plan to cycle up there tomorrow. 

Our cycle was along a main road, but aside from that was nice enough. A mountain range loomed distantly on our left-hand side, and we wondered which one we would be facing tomorrow. 

The main road.

  
The day was a little bit more eventful than we’d hoped it would be, as when Eric was unpacking the bags from the bike he suddenly realised that we’d left the bike lock at our hotel that morning. After a lot of face-palming and some help from the resort manager, we took a taxi back to our hotel in Hot and found the lock. In the end this slip-up cost us an hour and a half of our time and 500 baht in taxi fares (£10), so in retrospect it wasn’t too bad. Cars do have their uses! 

Big mountain tomorrow, time for bed. 

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