Out to the Burmese border

58 km, 4h 30 min

We decided to take a bit of a different route north – highway 1178 to Arunothai and then 1340 across to Chai Prakarn or if we are feeling really crazy Doi Ang Khang (reported to have spectacular views as it is the second highest mountain in Thailand). We were warned that the hills on this route are nasty, so we’ll see how we do…

The ride up to Arunothai turned out to be quite nice – several hills but none of them too steep or long and there were some great down-hills mixed in too. It was quite a bit hotter than the past few days though, and Becky was feeling hot and sore (from her falls yesterday) when we came across a nice looking guest house. It turned out to be owned by a Thai-Dutch couple, and not only had western-style toilets, but a real espresso machine! Given the heat, we decided to skip the coffee, but the cold drinks were wonderful, and the owners gave us a couple of packets of rehydration salts – good to know they’re available here! Fortified by our drinks, we rode on to Na Wai, and found a spot for lunch just as the skies opened. Our usual Khao Phat plus a second lunch of Kway Teyao and the best Phat Thai Becky has had in Thailand brought energy back into our legs, and the heavy rain cooled things off perfectly for our afternoon ride.

Just as we approached the Lin Luang checkpoint the landscape changed dramatically. We felt like we were in a totally different country. The land is all farm land, but it is not flat. It looks like a lot of it was recently reclaimed from the surrounding forest area – with many fields filled with stumps. It is clearly between crops at the moment as the fields are covered in dark red soil and not much else.

We are staying at the “Guesthouse” in Arunothai – 250 Baht per night for a fan room with no hot water – although it does look like they have hot water in some rooms (we don’t find it necessary here). There might be another place in town to stay, as we did see signs with a 24 on it (usually indicates 24 hour reception). As it was, we made a wrong turn looking for the guesthouse and ended up asking for directions and having a guy on a motorcycle lead us to it. We have not yet met anyone here who speaks more than a few words of English, so we are using our limited Thai and doing much more miming! It is nice to be away from the tourist areas again.

After checking in, we decided to go on a short ride out to the Burmese border, about 2 km away. First we arrived at a police checkpoint, which looked deserted. After stopping and talking in loud voices for a few moments, a young soldier appeared from inside a sandbagged hut. We wondered if he had been asleep? We explained through Thai and mime that we wanted to see the border, and he told us we could pass through. We weren’t sure whether the “five” he indicated was 5 minutes or 5 o’clock, for us to come back, so we made a quick turnaround once we got to the border, and the big gates across the road. Apparently the border was closed! We read that it opens for local access on special occasions, but never for foreigners. Hopefully we were allowed to take photos of the closed border…

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