Fields, jungles, and elephants

92 km, 6 hours

We managed to get up at a reasonable time, but it seemed every time we tried to leave, the Gong Keuw pulled us back in. We lingered until after 9 am and even debated spending one more night in Chiang Mai so that we could enjoy the bungalow and the wonderful garden sitting area for a full day, but alas, it was time that we got back on the bikes and explored a little of northern Thailand. We’re feeling the press of time as the days count down to our next ship.

Thanks to the GPS, we were able to follow back roads out of Chiang Mai. Zigzagging back and forth across the Ping River and various irrigation canals, we saw many farmers hard at work in their fields, small villages, garbage cans made of recycled tires and community water purifiers. We saw people mostly working the fields by hand, but there have been a few tractors as well. We stayed on the back road for the first 37 km, then detoured to highway 107 in order to find a toilet and some food.

Thin cloud and a moderate headwind kept us relatively cool throughout the day. Scott had feared that riding in the north would be even hotter than the south after looking at weather reports, but the weather today was quite pleasant – Becky’s thermometer never even read over 40 C!

Shortly after Mae Taeng the scenery changed from farmers’ fields to jungle – including a few hills, but nothing too dramatic. Not long after entering the jungle area, we saw a couple of elephants lazing about. There was a working elephant camp not far, so they must have been “off duty” elephants.

After a few twists and turns in the jungle, the road opened up into a river valley, with more farmers fields. The contrasts made for a beautiful day of riding.

We decided to stay at the Chiang Dao Nest bungalow resort a couple of kilometers from the Chiang Dao caves and about 9 km from Chiang Dao town. It is in the middle of jungle and feels very rustic. We have a fan bungalow, which is quite comfortable. There is no AC available and it doesn’t really feel necessary here with lower humidity and temperatures dropping into the low 20s overnight. The bungalows are screened with windows on three sides. The cost was 595 Baht per night (under $20 CAD), which seemed a bit steep for a fan room. Scott tried to negotiate a better price, but was told “if you want cheaper, go to Malee’s Guest House next door”. Our friends Jenny and Jay stayed at Malee’s Guest House and liked it, but Chris was effusive in his praise of The Nest, so we decided to stay here anyway.

The restaurant at the resort serves Western food and is relatively expensive – 200 to 300 Baht per main course. Given that the food is gourmet western food, the price is actually very good. If you don’t want western food, both Malee’s and Chiang Dao Nest 2 bungalows serve Thai food.

Just after we arrived, we hopped in the shower and discovered something horrible. The winds and light cloud had led us astray, and we were both badly sunburnt. This is the first time in months we’ve had a bad sunburn, so we’re both feeling pretty stupid. It does explain why we were so tired as we came into Chiang Dao though. Oh well, at least we’re in a nice place to recover!

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