Now we can breathe again and stow our breathing protection cloths at the bottom of the bags, because in Thailand it is noticeably less dusty. However, it means double concentration, because it is left traffic again and the Thais have the second most traffic accidents worldwide. The area is very nice! First, the little busy road with beautiful views over hills and then we enjoy a refreshing downhill. The lunch we make at a rest area with a little hut for us even with electricity! It is again stiflingly hot. Only at 15:30 clock we continue cycling. After shopping, we hike up the next climb, which proves to be extremely steep once more! Unfortunately we do not find a place to sleep as planned. So we fight to the very top. Only after sunset we arrive sweaty on the top. We find a nice place with a wonderful view, but we have to do without a shower.
We are exhausted! The last days and the stage in Laos were extremely tough! Fortunately, it is mostly downhill. We take it easy, have a coffee and in Bang Song Kwae we eat our beloved Pad Thai. Surprisingly, it is a hearty hamlet. When we discover a washing machine and the owner shows us her hostel, we take it with great pleasure! The owner of the hostel is also a teacher. It’s just the summer holidays. She likes to show us the school. Here English is an important subject. Several times she wishes that Judith comes to teach English at her school. Yes, who knows maybe later … In the evening, there is a party at the river. The music is extremely loud and unpleasant for our ears even with ear plugs!
We use the break to plan our trip to China more precisely. We realize that our 30-day visa is way too short! This is a big problem now. If we plan to travel from Laos to China as planned, then it will only take us two weeks to get to Dali into the region where we want to go. After only 23 days we would have to be in Shangri-La, where we could then extend the visa by 30 days. That’s just not enough time and as much stress as we had in Iran, we did not want to have it again. In travel reports from other travelers, we read that for the same reason, they did a 14-hour bus ride in a sleeper. We don’t feel like riding in a bus for such a long time, so we decide a little reluctantly for the variant aircraft. We are a bit frustrated and we feel other-directed! Once again we question whether we really want to travel to China or not. In the end, we decide to travel to China and book a flight from Chiang Mai to Kunming.
Ironically, after the second night in this hostel, Andi wakes up with red, itchy spots all over his body. He must have had nocturnal ant visit 🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜 The hostel owner drives us to the hospital, where Andi gets a soothing ointment. We continue cycling. The track is very nice, even if it is always peppered with very steep climbs. In the evening we cycle to the nearest pharmacy, as Andi’s ant bites are extremely itchy again! Once again we are allowed to spend the night in the open auditorium of the school.
The next morning, we buy vegetables and fruits from the market for the next two days. It goes up to the Pu Chi Fa and in this area we will only come to small villages. For the first time we drive past a mango plantation. The track is beautiful and the road is lonely. Only when the road turns into gravel and gets even more steep, that we have to push our steel horces in the midday heat 3/4 hours, we realise why the road is so lonely. After a lunch break with the most beautiful view we fight our last climbs to the nice, asphalted mountain trail. Now we have almost all vertical meters and with the most beautiful view we cycle to the village below the Pu Chi Fa. We camp at a campsite ⛺️, enjoy the beautiful sunset and look forward to the cooler temperatures.
The next morning we cycle up to Pu Chi Fa. Wow, this piece has it all again with these steep street! Despite asphalt, we have to push. Why build the Thai only such steep roads? Also on the downhill it has extremely steep sections in it, ski slopes are nothing in comparison! Luckily we did not come up from this direction!
We stay overnight in a cozy hostel after shopping at the Sunday market and cooking a fine dinner. The next morning, the last raindrops fall. There was heavy rain during the night. We make ourselves comfortable on the way on the nice flat road along the Mekong to Chang Kong. There we organize a bus to Chiang Mai and find a cheap accommodation. However, at night it pays off that sometimes it would be worthwhile paying a little more for an overnight stay … The mosquito net is so holey. that it does not help. It itches us all over and when we turn on the light, we see little animals crawling over the mattress. If we crush them, they leave a trail of blood. We pack our inner tent and put it next to the pool. After two hours, we wake up again, as it starts to rain. Since we only set up the inner tent, we have to move quickly under the roof. What a night! Fortunately, the next day we can just sit on the bus to Chiang Mai for 5.5 hours.
In Chiang Mai, we stay six days. At the Triplecat bike shop Andi can replace his Brooks saddle and Judith’s saddle gets for 100 baht (3.-Fri) a new leather cover. We also replace Judith’s tires and Andi’s rusty chain. The heat in Chiang Mai dampens our exploration. So we enjoy ourselves in the cool cafes and restaurants …
On April 3rd we say goodbye to Thailand and fly to Kunming. We are looking forward to the adventure China.
Conclusion: We have taken in northern Thailand one of the most beautiful routes. Unfortunately, at the end we saw much less than planned from northern Thailand, but we were somehow saturated by Thailand and it became unbearably hot. Thailand has changed a lot in the past years. The island KoLanta was a clear highlight of Thailand. Free camping in Thailand is extremely easy, as it is easy to camp in public places such as schools or border crossings. So Thailand would be the perfect cycling destination. But beware the Thais are tuning the cars, motorcycles, tuktuks and even trucks and thunder loudly over their perfectly paved roads. This can be extremely dangerous, as the traffic accident statistics show. In addition, the roads are extremely steep, which makes cycling not so attractive.