Distance: 1712 km
Daily Average: 59 km
Days in the Country: 29
Days on the Bike: 20
Altitude covered: 18400m
Daily Average: 920m
Nights in the Tent: 12
Nights in Houses: 17
Breakdowns: none! new Derailleur in Udon Thani and Extended Service in Chiang Mai
Daily Costs: 10,20€
traveling through the country of the Smile
On the other side of the Bridge we first had to be aware of the left driving traffic! Until we left the Mainroad it was tricky but afterwards it got easy cause when you always go straight without much traffic there is no problem…
We took the little rural roads through the villages and arrived in Udon Thani, the first bigger city on the road, the next afternoon. Take a deep breath and then use the next day to organize some important things.
After i got my new rear derailleur it was time for a farewell. Michael was on it´s way to cambodia while i wanted to stay a day longer before leaving westwards to North-Thailand.
I realized that the birds in the Streets were horrible loud in the evening and into the night. Sitting on the cables that wind their way chaotically through the streets they really shouted their souls out… As i learned later their are not much birds left on the countryside cause the people shoot and eat them… Strange.
On the way westwards i cycled through little villages and mostly through Sugarcane Plantations and a lot of burned down fields. After 2 days i reached the hills and after that there was more to come. As the people showed me the thumbs up i knew that there is something coming up… and there it came, the steepest Road i was ever cycling. My gear shifting (with now 4 working gears) came to it´s limits and half the way i really had to push the bike. I splitted the trip into two parts and so i continued the next morning. Three hours later i was on top, enjoyed the view and the appreciation of the locals around me…
At this time i didn´t knew the i have to pay 12€ for crossing the barrier of the national park 100m up the road. But after that hell ride, who wants to go back down? The road led me through the jungle and at the end i got a 35km horrible steep downhill into the plain again. Worths every penny!
The following day i reached Sukhothai, the first capitol of Thailand several centuries ago. the City is lively and you can feel the tourism around. But in the Middle of the hurly-burly i arrived when i entered the ruins in the historical parc of Sukhothai. But even there it was beautiful. This is what i expected from old Thailand, beautiful ruins and a lot of Buddha-Statues standing around. This place got a lot of flair and it was possible to visit it by bike… Great!
Exhilarated by this i cycled northwards. Next destination Chiang Mai. It got hilly again and that meant that i cycled up and down the whole day, without climbing in totally. So i collected the altitude of an alpine pass and ended up in the valley… First i visited Phrae, a little town that was recommended me by a guy at the ruins. But it couldn´t warm my heart and so i reached Lampang the next day. It´s a little calm city with some temples but nothing special to see. I checked in a hostel and enjoyed it to sleep in a bed for a night.
A good decision, cause the two days following until Chiang Mai were Thailand at it´s best. Landscape supergreen, crossing a lot of jungle and Streets steep as hell. I developed the theory that they build the streets straight up the hill until the asphalt stops sticking to the ground. Then they think about (an even steeper) Hairpin. 20% Ascent followed up by the same 20% Descent always repeating… In then evening i fall of the bike and was happy to check into the guesthouse in chiang mai after the second day.
In the City i had to do some repairs on the bike and i expected a parcel that i send to a warmshowers-Host near Chiang Mai.
The work on the Bike took it´s way and the Parcel (Hurra!) arrived! Yeah… a big thanks to Robert in that place!He is living in Thailand for some decades and so I visited him the next day again and got some inside views into the Thai-Society and some of the disaccords of the actual situation… enlightening!
I also got my Myanmar Visa after three days and so i went on with an (almost) new bike into the mountains of northern Thailand!
The Road to Mae Hong Son is famous, first for the curves (1864 i read up there) and also for the bad road conditions. But it led me through a beautiful part of the country, so let the fun begin.
The road was mostly fresh paved but the curves were tough.As i reached Mae Hong Son on the evening of day three i covered 4500m of Altitude after riding only 240km of distance. First time saddle-sore on this trip… The humidity and heat exacts it´s toll.
After Pai, that was totally touristic occupied and developed, Mae Hong Son was perfect. A calm little village with no real Sight to visit. made for doing nothing for a day.
From here the road led me south. Next destination Mae Sot, the Bordertown to Myanmar. The Night before I left the rain started and kept going on for three days. temperature dropped down to 15° and showed me the Thai´s struggle hardly with the cold. They are covered in thick layers when they ride a motorcycle at 30° but now it looked like Tibet for me…
The temperature and the missing tent (i send it back from udon thani to get a replacement) made me checking into guesthouses the next two nights. After the cold showers of the day i enjoyed the hot ones in the night…
The Road kept me working and after 5 tough days i arrived in Mae Sot where i am writing this words now. Mae Sot is totally different to the north. The Alleys are alive, all different religions come together, you can buy all that you can imagine or didn´t really want to… Great, now there is spice back in life…!
Four weeks ago i was skeptical towards Thailand. The Tourism i experienced in Laos made me afraid of how it would be in Thailand…!?
I was lucky cause the track i took through the country just had some touristic moments. On the other side i could enjoy the advantages of tourism, cheap accommodations (starting at 1,50€/Night) don´t let you think twice about sleeping outside. I send back my tent from Udon Thani so i had to sleep in the Hammock i got as a present from a french couple we met in Laos. This worked very well, i found a roofed platform almost every night that expose to be the perfect place to sleep.
The Thais are used to tourism and so it was difficult even as a bicyclist to arouse attention in their eyes. But the magic smile in their face is still fascinating, unique and heart opening, wow!
In the far west where i cycled along the border to Myanmar it was different. The people were reserved. here i met the „indian disease“ the first time in Thailand. Bethel nut. First you realize the red mouthes and one morning i captured a woman preparing the chewing parcels. You put them into your cheek and solve the ingredients with your saliva out of it.
Product of this chewing is mainly a red spit that sticks everywhere. Additionally you got numb in the mouth and a little bit dizzy. It´s highly addictive…
In the Northwest i cycled along my first refugee-camp in the Country. In Mae La, pressed into a long Valley-Bowl, thousands of refugees are living. The Leaf covered houses looked so beautiful in the evening sun that you almost lost the reason for this housings in the middle of nowhere in this moment…
It was an intense Month, but more from cycling than from the cultural aspect. I will come back and take a look at the Metropolis Bangkok and after that i will take some time enjoying the beaches! looking forward to that…
Tomorrow i will cross the Border to Myanmar and starting my next real adventure…
But more of this in the next story.