Category 2012 Cycling South East Asia

Luang Prabang to Xiang Ngeun. (26 km)

This was a short and relative flat ride. We did this to prepare for the next few days, where there are not so many guest houses. 

 As well internet access will be limited and basic so it will be a bit tricky setting up videos etc. 

Large tree

River weed drying at the roadside

A very basic room for he night

Bye for now

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A few days in Luang Prabang Laos

This is a world heritage location and is quit amazing to visit. The town is bustling with merchants and street vendors and action on the rivers.  We were here in 2012 and have loved it both trips. 

Sunset in Luang Prabang

A swim at the falls.

We spent time at the UXO Center (unexploded ordinance). This is a UN driven organization that removes unexploded bombs from rural Laos. This was a very sobering visit to this Center. 

There were two wars happening in S E Asia in the 60’s. The first one was the Vientam war.  While things started in the 50’s the first ground soldiers landed in 1965 And left defeats in 1975. This is a war that many of us were aware of rolling newspapers and Walter Cronkite.

At the same time there was a secret war going on in Laos...

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Chiang Saen to Chiang Khong (55 km)

It was a foggy day so we did not ride the coastal road. It was still 55 km with two climbs. 

Below are some photos as we left. 

Sunrise from our hotel

In town, there were many Chinese freighters. They were all empty and not moving. No new ones were coming in. That seemed a bit strange. 

Chinese freighters

The article below in the Bangkok Post may explain why the ships were stationary. 

          Article in the Bangkok Post

The Mekong River flows from China through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (Mekong delta). We have viewed it in all but China. It is so vital to the 60,000,000 people who live along it. 

Below are two articles about the Mekong. 

     A bit of Mekong history

     A life along the Mekong – National Geographic

Janis picked up a small piece of metal in her...

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Mae Sai to Chiang Saen (45 km)

Today took us past the golden triangle. This is a very historic area. It was one of the largest opium growing regions in the past. Afghanistan is now the leading grower.  India use to be a large grower and England (who colonized India) sold opium to China in trade for. Silk and spices. According to the museum we went through, 1 in 30 Chinese were addicted to Opium. This led to the first Opium war (1839-42) between China and England. The end result was that England was granted Hong Kong and held it for 155 years. The second Opium war (1856-60) was the start of modern China .

Opium was used in a lot of strange ways. They even gave it to elephants to calm them down. Last time we met an ex-CIA person who was now living at the Thai/Laos border...

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Pa Tueng to Mae Sai (60 km)

We decided to bypass the highway and bike an extra 15 km to see the countryside. First up was a hot spring where the initial water is too hot to touch. 

People boil eggs in this part

I could barely put my feet in this section, quite far from the source. 

Feels good on the sore feet

Next Up was some time spent in the rice fields. There is a brief video below. 

          Working the rice fields

Thailand produces lots of rice but Only a fraction of what China grows. 

          Global rice growth chart

It is quite easy to pass a rice field and forget just how much work there is to grow and harvest rice. Below is a link to how this happens in rural Laos. They often times don’t have tractors to use. 

          Steps to grow and harvest rice

Next we arrived in Mae Sai...

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Chai Prakan To Tha Ton (55 km)

This was a lovely downhill ride.   We stopped along the way and enjoyed the trip. Lots of temples, small villages and rice farms. 

Kids playing soccer on an island on the Kok river

Here is a brief video of fishing in the Kok river.   

       Fishing the KoK River

There is a 9 stop high up a large hill to various temples. It appeared to be a pilgrimage for many Buddists. They Re struggling to retain the young monks and many of them can be seen in the 7/11 convenience store or the cell phone stores. 

A novice Monk

Tha Ton is a lovely sleepy town where one road leads towards the golden triangle and the river flows to Chaing Rai. Tomorrow we will have to decide if we wish a 3 hour boat ride to Chaing Rai Or a 50km ride through the mountains, that passes through many Hill Tribes. 

Gat...

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End of our first stage – A few days in Chiang Mai

We completed the first leg of our Trip from Nakhon Sawan to Chiang Mai. This was 535 km riding north through Thailand. 

The last time we only rode a few days in Thailand and had a few issues. We didn’t expect much from this leg of our trip but we’re pleasantly surprised. The people were very warm and we were encouraged all along the way. We saw almost no tourists until we reached the outskirts of Chiang Mai. 

The roads were in excellent shape. A few very busy spots and some good shoulders most of the way. Accomodations were great and food/water were accessible. We averaged about $68 per day, including Internet access and all other expenses. 

Chiang Mai use to be a walled city with a moat around it. Remnants of this still exist and the old city is defined by these...

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Ban Hong to Chiang Mai (75 km)

It was a 75 km day. The rain appears to be behind us. 

Ready to go

Along the way, we stopped at a significant temple in Lanphun.

Lanphun Temple

The traffic picked up the closer we got to Chiang Mai (population 1,000,000).  

Below is a little video of our ride into Chiang Mai. 

          Ride into Chiang Mai

The city is in a bowl and in February and March when the field burns are on, the pollution is unbearable. 

The whole area is surrounded by Hill tribes. Below is a link to a summary of the tribes.  Thailand has not been colonized and appear to have not done the residential school approach and some of the hill tribes have kept some of their traditions. 

          Article on the Hill Tribes

Bye for now.

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Li to Ban Hong (65 km)

We started out expecting a 55 km day (several blogs suggested that).  It ended up being 65 km of mostly rolling hills. Very doable.

Just when we needed it, a specialty coffee shop appeared and we had all of this for $5.   

 

Latte Surprise

 A little latte video.   Enjoying a Latte

 

Every few Km’s there is another temple. We quickly realized that when people honk (cars or motor cycles) they are honking in respect to the temple and not saying hello to us. 

 

Temple 

 

Bye for now.

 

 

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Sam Ngao to Thoen. (72 km)

So it rains all day. We had our rain gear on so we were not cold but like camping eventually everything gets wet. Janis’s saddle bags kept her stuff dry. Mine let water in, but I had clothing etc in inner dry bags so all was ok. 

We try to be as visible as possible. As you can see below we wear reflective clothing and have reflective tape on bikes. Also we run with a flashing tail light and a blinking 700 lumens front light. 

Glow

Part way through the day my rear tire went flat. We changed it in the rain. We could not find an object in the tire or tube so assumed it was a bad valve. Ten km up the road another flat. Now we know it is a foreign object in the tire, but still can’t find it...

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