Monthly Archives January 2015

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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Chaing Khong to Luang Prabang by Boat

We spent two days on a long narrow boat from Thailand boarder to Luang Prabang Laos. We were going downstream on the Mekon River. 

 

Loading bikes on the boat


Shore view

 

Village on the riverbank

We met many nice people on the ride and all shared their adventures  

 

Bye for now. 

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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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Tha Ton to Pa Tueng (50 km)

As you saw in our Tha Ton post, we had a lovely view of the Kok River and watched the taxi boats leave for Chaing Rai. It looked quite peaceful and sane. Plan A was to do this or Plan B was to ride towards Mae Sai. Plan B would take us up another mountain and would give us the view to more hill tribes and include a lively Hill Tribe market. 

Of course we took the mountain ride. Why pick the easy way. Haha

At the market


More market


All different Hill Tribes

Below is a little video about the market. 

          Hill Tribe market video

Now, about the dogs in Thailand. There are 100’s and most are not on leashes. Some driveways have 4 or 5 dogs. I love dogs but hate the fact that some want to attack you on he bike and some on Thailand have rabies...

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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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Chaing Dao to Chai Prakan (60 km)

We climbed another mountain today (all on highway 107). It was very doable and we enjoyed the views. As always the best views cost the most energy to get to. It is just the way it is. 

There are a lot of dogs in Thailand. There are pets, strays and packs. We will update a blog later on dog strategy in Thailand. You have to have one to survive. It is worse than the ride out to Douro on the back roads. 

We met Johnathon. We believe he is fm France and decided riding the mini vp buses was not for him. He bought a bike on a whim and is now starting a cycle tour. 

Below is his spanking new bike, not a scratch o dent on it. All new panniers and a new found spirit for cycle touring. 

Jonathan’s new bike

We spent about an hour and discussed various route for him to follow...

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Chaing Mai to Chaing Dao (80 km)

Well we were back on the bikes today and it felt good. We left before 7am and beat the traffic. It was smooth sailing out of Chaing Mai. We basically got on the hwy 1001 for a few hours and than joined the busy hwy 107 into Chaing Dao. 

We came across this road sign. 

 

We were ready by none showed up

 

We came across a magical little town just before joining up to why 107. 

          Ride in Northern Thailand

 

A large Buddha

 

Bye for now.  

 

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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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