Bangkok or Bust
Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Prelude to the Adventure
Although Chiang Mai is the Jewel of the North with the whole culture thing going on. it's a very mature city, perhaps too mature for a lot of younger expats. Sugar daddies gone to pasture whose ladies want them kept away from the naughtyness elsewhere often end up here.
It was a late night before the last adjustments and tweaks done to the bikes were finished.
This time I'd be taking no chances, toughened leather jacket and and hard armour on my elbows, gloves and padding on my knees.
Setting off from Chiang Mai
At 7:30 am I was up and ready. As I pulled away from my living quarters the trip got off to an ominous start, a gloomy, mean looking thai man I'd never seen before was sat nearby against a pillar. He just kept looking at me and wouldn't stop staring, like he was in his own place somewhere.
By about 8 I was on the superhighway heading around Chiang Mai towards Lampang.
I passed a petrol station after a while but despite the petrol prices being near rock bottom the price was still in the 23 - 29 baht range. Much higher than last year. Times are definitely tougher now and even the famous thai smile may be waning a bit.
After a while the highway took on a series of turns, it got fairly twisty for a while with some really good offsets and challenges for getting your lean-on.
These two pictures were taken at the end and after this it was pretty easy going again.
The Elephant Hospital - An Interlude
I'd completely forgotten that the much trumpeted elephant hospital, established by royalty no less, lay on my path to Lampang. Once I approached the sign I wasted no time checking it out.
As I probably wasn't going to be returning for quite some time I figured it would be worth a look, if nothing else but to say I'd visited the place.
It's actually split into two areas - The Elephant Conservation Center and the Elephant Hospital. I turned off the highway and took a right, a left then another right onto a gravel track taking me to the latter.
I didn't want to have to de kit and mooch about here though, the place was pleasantly deserted, but a free roving elephant stood gracefully nearby, by the time I'd turned around to get some photos though, a Thai lady came strolling out (see above photo). Hardly the smiling type she reeled off in gobbledygook english. When I raised my visor she then switched to machine-gun thai! From what I could gather of both ramblings she inexplicably mistook me to be looking for the other elephant center. She then suggested that only people (I think she meant farang!) as part of a tour guided party were welcome at the hospital. I replied I was just traveling and not part of any travel company. In fact I made it known by my demeanor that I was my own man and didn't do the tourist thing, but still in a polite way of course. At this she turned on her heel and skulked off.
Here's a photo of the elephants, not a very good one I'm afraid but I wasn't hanging around.
By about 9:30am I was in Lampang, a good way to describe it is a large town / small city with a bustling crossroads, from the crossroads the city spreads out along the road with smaller soi's and roads leading off. The roads aren't very wide though and you need to watch out a bit in rush hour as the traffic is fairy aggressive. I rested the for the rest of the day here. A big dilemma for any rider whose on the move somewhere is always the riddle of how far in one day you should travel. For me it's variable and depends on a few things though. As a writer I depend on getting the stories together and getting them onto a medium before they fade away and this day was no exception. The hotel I rolled into was about 450 baht a night and was just about worth it.
Some cool views in certain areas
Is this the builders wanting to give the building some dystopian edgyness or is it a fire-escape... Thai Style??? Who can tell!?
The monsoon cometh! Well, not a real monsoon this was more of a heavy shower, it lasted about 45 minutes. Then it was back to the nice and sunny weather we all know and love.
That was pretty much it for Lampang, the night scene is so-so, with the usual kareoke and cafe-restaurant-bars.
The Farang Factor : Not a single one spotted!
To continue to Part 2, click here