After spending a most enjoyable few days in Chiang Rai with Christina an old friend from my time in Krakow, my legs had sufficiently recovered from the mountains of Burma and North Lao. I feared if I enjoyed Pedro’s, Elisha’s and Christina’s great company, fantastic food and relaxed atmosphere anymore there was a strong danger I would soon be asking could I rent their spare room! It was about 135km to the Laos border and I decided to take the cross country route so that I wouldn’t be backtracking on my route from Chiang Saen. The road I was looking for wasn’t signposted from Chiang Rai but after a few conversations with the locals I was assured I was headed the right way. Great weather, little traffic and friendly locals encouraging me as I road, what could ruin this perfect day….then I came to the all too common fork in the road which wasn’t marked on my map and had no road signs. I was about to go with pot luck (100% failure rate on that method so far) when along came a friendly police man who obviously had nothing to do that day in this sleepy stretch of rural Thailand. He couldn’t believe his luck to meet a real live foreigner on these roads and after a lot of consternation and grimaces at the map he concluded I needed to cycle 15 km then turn right at the large rock with a teak tree before it and then continue 8km down that dirt track before there was a turn off at a pineapple farm and then the roads would probably have signposts after that. He seemed sure about the exact ‘s but I looked in despair at my broken bike computer. How big is a “big rock”?...and the roads were littered with teak trees and pineapple plantations, they are hardly a rarity here! The directions were not unlike saying turn left at the pothole back home!
White temple, Gaudi meets gothic in Chiang Rai.
Police escort No 1.
Well I need not have fretted as Sougong decided the best way to while away his afternoon would be to escort me the 15km on his police scooter bike and then after successfully arriving at “the rock” he radioed another police colleague to be waiting at the 8km mark for a further police escort. The overwhelming Thai hospitality (curiosity) knows no bounds and it was a beautiful memory to leave the country with!
Respect for the bike!...my own little lane for the bike. Irish transportation system take note!
On arriving in Chaing Khong a little worse for wear after the obligatory trek through red earth under construction roads, that sadly I have become all too accustomed to. Looking like a pack of blusher exploded on me I checked into a beautiful guesthouse overlooking a lake …..will I ever learn from my mistakes? lakes = mosquitoes! But I can just never resist their aesthetic qualities and left the next day like I had a case of the chicken pox. What made this guesthouse special was that I met my first cyclist in Thailand! I had seen a few bikes with front racks but never managed to actually see one in the flesh. As all cyclists do when they meet, we spent the even recalling funny incidents throughout our journeys. I was however slightly concerned at how often he mention Ak47’s in his description of Laos! Ah sure I’m a harmless, humble Irish cyclist, I’m not likely to rouse much concern among the police! Only time will tell how that transpires……
Chewing red earth...