Phayao - Chiang Kham 80km
A fairly flat ride to get to Chiang Kham. This is the beginning of the hills into Nan though.
Chiang Kham - Pha Lang Kha 45km
A tough ride up and down the mountains, started okay, but lots of climbing. Finally found the hotel, 5kms further on than advertised. At least I hadn't gone past it, always a worry when there is not much up ahead. Situated at the top of a mountain overlooking a valley, with a nice view. A simple bungalow is the order of the day. At night time, some food is cooked and shared with the owner, his friend and his daughter(?). Not quite sure who she was, she couldn't speak, but was Thai with pale-blue eyes, strange. The owner and his friend guzzled a bottle of whisky that night. I just had a small shot as it would be up early tomorrow to tackle the mountains again. I can see the road winding down into the valley and then up the next ridge.
Pha Lang Kha - Tha Wang Pha 80km
Aye Carumba! A swelteringly tough ride here. At 6a.m. I was whizzing down the mountain I had spent most of yesterday climbing. After about only 4km it was all over, a short flat section through the bottom of the valley before the climbing began again. By 7a.m. I made it out the other side of the valley but I was ready to go back to bed. While it might of been cooler early morning, still sweating buckets. Down the other side of this mountain leaving Pha Lang Kha, holding on to the brakes as the road is weaving down the mountain is a series of switchbacks. Down at the bottom I narrowly avoid a rummaging pig. My wheels rims are too hot to touch from all the breaking! The day continues up and down through seemingly never ending valleys. Up, up and up for ages, lots of bike pushing. And then an all to swift journey down to the bottom of another valley. I get some more water at a shop, they are few and far between in cycling terms here. After drinking thirstily, it's on and upwards, this time along a mountain ridge, fantastic scenery! Eventually a long down hill brings me to a small town, only (a relative term when mountains are involved) 10km from Nan. I ask some locals if the road to Tha Wang Pha is flat. "Mountains!", they say. My face falls, and they dissolve into laughter. Thankfullly they were joking, it's pancake road into town. Now, I just need to find a hotel. I was cycling past the post office when I here "HELLO!". I pulled over and asked somebody about a hotel, they gave me directions written in Thai to show people. After asking many people with my piece of paper I got there. I wouldn't of found it on my own!
Tha Wang Pha - Nan 45km
Back on the flat roads, which is just as well, as my legs are having a hard time on the slightest incline. After a few hours I make it to Nan, find a hotel, and have a look around town. I duck into the museum at the skies open and it pours for an hour. After that off for some dinner. Steamed Lemon Fish, not that you would know as it was doused in chillies. Oh well, I found a pub and watched Argentina destroy somebody. I decided to push on down to Phrae, as I needed to get the bus back to Chiang Mai in a couple of days for a dentist appointment.
Nan - Paradise Resort! 40km
There wasn't much in the way of accommodation between Nan and Phrae so I stopped off here. Seemed like I was the only one here. Suprising the solitaire playing staff, by being a customer. A got a little bungalow, and some lunch before a huge storm came in for the afternoon. Not much to do here anyway. At least the food was nice.
Paradise Resort - Phrae 80km
On down to Phrae, a fairly flat ride but I was needing a rest day! Rolled into town and got a room. I tried to explain to the staff that I was going to Chiang Mai and would be back, not sure they understood but never mind, by bike was still there when I returned. I had a look around town at the tourist sights, but not much seemed opened. I went along to Prathat Chai House, a big house made out of 130 logs of 300year old teak, then filled with cheap plastic souvenirs!
Some noodles and dough balls in the night market. Fairly quiet place, only a handful of foreigners here. I went for a shave, and ending up with a haircut as well.
Phrae - Si Satchanalai 131km!!
Things didn't get off to a good start as I headed out of town on the wrong road to Lampang. Mistake number two was trying to take a short-cut back to the main road. I ended up going through small villages alongside a river on a road that had no predilection for direction or directness. Apparently it led to Den Chai though, which would get me back on track. And after 40km I did indeed arrive at Den Chai, staring at a 25km to Phrae sign.
Then it was into the hills again, not as steep as the roads at Nan, more depressingly just a dead straight road rising and rising. Back to pushing the bike! It was getting hot again. Then I got soaked in the rain, most welcome! But all too soon, the sun was burning again. On and on I made it out of the hills, and down to Si Satchanalai. Now, I just had to find the Historical Park where I wanted to stay. I doubt I took the shortest route but I made it to Wang Yom just beside the park. It was late in the day an I just wanted a shower. Of course, it took ages to get the room sorted out. After cleaning it out (many places never seemd to be prepared for guests!) they found out the air-con didn't work. So cleaned out the one next door, and the shower wouldn't work. Eventually a geezer came along and fixed the taps. Hurrah! After a shower, I rightly felt like a bit of dinner. Unfortunately the hotel restaurant had closed already (it was before 19:00). Seems like everything here is set up for bus tours. Passed big restaurants and a beer garden (both closed) presumably busy during the day. Found a small Thai restaurant for a couple of dishes to fill me up and off to bed. Zonk!
Si Satchanalai - Sukothai 75km
The next morning I had a very quick look round the ruins and then onto Sukothai. Not many days left for cycling so I wanted to push on down to Sukothai and have a rest day there. After leaving late (arround midday) I ended up getting rather toasted in the sunshine. Now I've got a big red nose. I had a look around the ruins the next day. Quite impressive not as grand as Angkor Wat, but still on a large scale. Spread out over a large area it is fulls of ruins mostly from around the 13th century. They start to look all the same after a while though. Wat Sri Chum stood out as having a buddha almost encased in a large building, approaching it you can see through just a small gap.
Tommorrow it is onwards west to Tak, then north to Thoen, Lampang and finally back to Chianh Mai.