Arriving in Chang Mai off the overnight train from Bangkok meant that we arrived early in the morning and after a good nights sleep, not something that you can get with air travel. This puts you in a great place to start the day and I think that we will certainly look at to travel by train more in the future.
With our accommodation being a little out of town, so to make getting round a little easier and reduce our dependance on taxi’s we take the opportunity to hire a moped for a couple of days. The lady that owns and runs the place us amazing and she has someone that brings the bike to you and collects when you are done.
The quieter roads out of town provide a gentle introduction and give us chance to familiarise ourselves with our new 2 wheeled 125cc ‘beast’ before we headed into Chang Mai itself.
Roads in Asia are full of mopeds and motorcycles that weave between traffic with amazing speed and control, and the whole process seems to take place without the need for both indicators or looking what is behind you. The process seems to follow the one that exists on alpine pistes, that is it is the person behinds responsibility to watch what is going on in front and take the steps necessary to avoid collisions. Being from the UK makes this a hair-raising but ultimately enjoyable experience.
After visiting a few of the Wots (temple in Thai) and grabbing a bit of lunch we decide to head out on the open road to reach a viewpoint and temple called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. The total cycling distance was about 20km, so a round trip of around 50km including the journey home didn’t seem as though it would be too much of a challenge especially as it would take us away from the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s second largest city.
I clearly plan motorcycle rides with the same level of diligence and research that I have been known to plan bicycle rides in the UK. That is without looking at the route in any detail at all. Had I done so, I would have seen that the ride was almost totally up a steep hill with approaching 100 bends, many of them 180 degree switchbacks. Not the easiest of rides, but the view and the temple awaiting at the top made it all worth while, and were privileged enough to arrive in time to hear the monk’s evening chants as the last rays of the suns light reflected off the golden temple.
The ride back down in now complete darkness was actually good fun as we started to get used to the bike and how to best take the corners (in a smooth swinging motion, a bit like snowboarding) and arrived back on the outskirts of the city in plenty of time to have some food at one of the many markets.
After walking round many options we choose a rather unusual self-cook option. You select your raw ingredients and cook them yourself on a hot plate in front of you. We hopefully managed to avoid the food poisoning roulette of using raw chopsticks and cooked chopsticks at the right time (though we did notice that the Thai people around us seemed happy to use one pair).