“That was hard!” Phrao to Chiang Rai

An account of cycling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: part two

Monday 4th January

Miles: 36

Today’s job was to cycle from one valley to another via a mountain pass. 

On the flat, approaching the mountains.

The climb started off pretty nice, with a combination of steep and shallow inclines.

Admiring the views on the way up.  

It gradually got steeper (or were we just getting tired?). At the 14 mile mark we were about halfway, so expected our downhill to begin…

Instead we were mercilessly teased: down, then up again, down, then up again. All the time with some glorious views.


The road got so steep that for some sections we had to get off and walk our bike downhill, as our brakes couldn’t take it. We did begin to wonder who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to make such steep roads. 


After one last long ascent (“Bastards!” said Eric) we were finally going down from the mountainside, and we came out onto blissfully flat fields. 


“That was hard!” was the chief review of the mountain pass. But, freed from the tree line for much of the top, we’d seen some of the best views yet (here’s a couple more).


Breaching the calorie deficit in Wiang Pa Pao.


Tuesday 5th January

Miles: 55 

Finally on the (relative) flat we could now get some miles done and make it to Chiang Rai. 

This morning we experienced something that is typically bad and something that is typically good about Thailand.

The bad: we got angrily beeped at by a car that came careering round the corner (which we were at least 20 metres from) as we were pulling out. We were in the middle of a town, but this didn’t stop him from taking a blind corner at 50-60 mph. Good thing he slowed down. Next time if we’re anywhere near a blind corner I will cross the road and guide Eric on the bike across. Thai drivers tend to go very fast and it can be dangerous. 

The good: as we pedalled out of town, two pick-up trucks full of young schoolboys passed us. When they saw us they all started cheering and waving at us. It made us laugh. Thailand is the friendliest country I have ever travelled in. 

Here is my now routine “fields and mountains in the early morning sunlight” photo. It’s always so beautiful, I can’t resist getting the camera out.


A quite nice road today with several small hills. We turned off at a village called Ban Huai San Yao onto a beautiful quieter road (the 1211) which took us into Chiang Rai. 


We arrived at 12.30 and after lunch popped into a shop to get some visa photos done for Laos. Would you believe it, they (unasked) photoshopped lipstick and eyeliner onto my face!

I laughed a lot when I realised, and then thought, actually, this is quite sexist!! “You’ll look much better with some slap on your face, love.” Thanks. 

Today’s dinner was a cook-it-yourself hot pot at the night bazaar. I saw some fried bugs for sale but I chickened out. Literally. I had chicken. 



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