Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cycling Chiang Mai

February 1st Chiang Mai

We have covered a big distance since the last post but none of it by bike.  The flight from Phuket was painless, even our box of toy guns didn't cause any concern.  I was surprised as we have bought 2 more dog deterrents, metal cap guns which I thought may require inspection but no.  The new guns have already been tested as a Labrador sized mutt started to chase me, i let off a cap without taking the gun out of the bag and he soon scuttled off in the opposite direction.
Nice bag :-) 95kg! the bikes in boxes weighed 20kg each

The hotel in Chiang Mai is big and modern, no atmosphere but everything is clean and works.  We used Expedia to book and it cost 17gbp a night including breakfast.  The location is good next to the old town and a short walk from the night market.  More backpackers here than we have seen on the trip so far.
Old meets new

Yesterday we looked around more temples (done these to death now), the night market and walked back by accident via the bars full of ladies (probably) shall we say touting for business.  If I pictured the seedy side of Thailand in my head before I got here the walk back to the hotel was a perfect match.

A wax work but it took a while to figure that out!

Pimp my scooter! Looks like wheels out of a VFR400

There is always 1

As interesting as it all is I have had enough of wandering around or lying on beaches and want to get back on the bikes.  I built them up this morning and was happy to see they had not suffered any damage in transit.  Tomorrow we will leave for Lampang on a route yet to be confirmed but 100+km.

Saturday, 28 January 2012


January 28th Mai Khao

Early this morning we were woken by something climbing on the roof.  It sounded like a lizard to me.  The noise stopped and we fell back to sleep.  A while later Maria got up to go to the toilet and found it full of bees!  I guess they have been living in the roof and what ever got up there disturbed them and they moved into our bathroom! 

Luckily by the time we had been for a run and had breakfast the maintenance man had sorted it and we were bee free again.

Now in theory it should be easy to get your bike on the bus or a train but trying to get somebody to confirm that is hard.  If you hung around the bus station long enough somebody would take your money and throw them on but this is not so good if you are 30+km away from the station.  As for trains not all will take bikes so you need to check if the train has a baggage car and what the connections are like.  The other thing to remember is the train line stops in Surat Thani.

So we had a bit of a mission today.  Yesterday I found it was not only easier but cheaper to fly to Chaing Mai from Phuket, with the added bonus of taking 2 hours not 2 days.  Trouble is we didn't have bike boxes or a bag to but our stuff in for the flight.  So we hired the scooter again and headed for the airport, nowhere sold boxes.  So the next stop was a bike shop in Thalang where we got 2 boxes and after a bit of folding and balancing we got them on the scooter and back to the bungalow.   

Next we needed a bag and we were directed to a market back towards the airport.  Now they sold lots of random stuff but mainly very dodgy looking meat including peeled frogs!  No bags big enough though but the market stalls were all using huge stripey carrier bags with zips which would have been perfect but nobody was parting with one.  So back on the scooter and we ended up back in Thalang, with a bit of searching and 150baht later we had our own stripey bag.

We got back at sunset, booked a hotel in Chiang Mai and are now all sorted for the next leg.  Tomorrow like yesterday should be nice and relaxing, just the bikes to pack up AGAIN and we should be set. 

Chilling yesterday

Scooter park at Tescos!

Almost like the locals, they wouldn't have folded the boxes, probably had the bikes in them, been drinking a thick shake and chatting on the phone with 2 more passengers.

Peeled frogs

Some fish looked edible but the lack of ice or any kind of refridgeration puts me off.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


January 26th Mai Khao

As planned we have been touring the island on a scooter.  We managed a complete lap yesterday including phuket town, the big Budha, Patong, Surin, Kata, Karon and Kamala beaches. It was dark by the time we got back and we were both fairly saddle sore!  Today we didn't go as far but I did have a Top Gun moment riding alongside the runway of Phuket airport, well I was on a scooter and there weren't any fighter jets.
New set of wheels, the helmet almost matches my top as well!

Wat Chalong

Very calming inside

Not so much in the market outside!

Says it all

45m high, it is a big Budha

Our bungalow on the beach

Helmet hair, but a nice view

A little better than Bradwell on Sea

The island is quite hilly but not as bad as some may make you believe but the roads are quite busy so cycling would not be as much fun as the rest of the ride so far.  I am sure you can stay off the main roads to a certain extent but you will also be missing some of the main attractions.

Phuket is one beach after another, at this time of year many are packed and Patong was just mayhem.  This is not my cup of tea and much prefer the relatively quiet beach at Mai Khao where we are staying.  The place is a little remote with 4 or 5 resorts scattered over 2.5km and not much in between, you need to be a beach lover or get some transport if you stay here. Seaside cottages are the cheapest in the area but were full when we arrived but Mai Khao Beach Bungalows are nice and our air  con room cost 1300baht.

If I wanted just a bit more life my first choice would be Nai Thon Beach.

We have a couple of days left to plan where next, getting a bus is turning out to be a pain as the operators will not agree to take the bikes until they Can see how busy the bus is that day.  We might cycle back up to Surat Thani or Chumphon to get the train, we haven't decided yet.  I think we are going to forget going to Krabi though.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Cycling Khao Lak to Mai Khao

January 24th 80km

Time to move on and leave the Srichada Hotel and Khao Lak, we said goodbye to the crazy women who run the place and headed off.  If you are looking for a budget place to stay you could do a lot worse than this place.

The road climbed as we left Khao Lak but soon flattened out again.  We didn't go too far wrong today although we covered 11km more than we had to it was mainly looking around for a place to stay or eat.  We found a bungalow right on the beach for 1300baht with air con and breakfast, only a cold shower though.  We have arranged a scooter for tomorrow to have a look around the island.

Crossing the bridge to Phuket

The end of the first leg, well maybe

Wandering on the road

I hope they don't chase us the bb gun won't be much good!




Monday, 23 January 2012

Diving Khao Lak

January 23rd Khao Lak

The live aboard was great.  9 dives with a mixture of coral and marine life.  One group saw a manta ray, but we missed it.  The boat was full with 20 customers plus crew yet everything ran well, the food was great and the company good.  In between dives we had chance to visit a couple of wonderful beaches.  One of the guys in our group had an under water camera so we got some of his pictures.

Khao Lak Beach

Sea Gypsy Long Tail Boat

Jay behind Maria

Ed and Freddie in the cabin

We decided to stay one more day in Khao Lak to chill out.  I went out with Jay who we met on the boat and his mate Jeff.  It turned out to be a very late one, not rolling in until 5am considerably worse for wear!

It has been a good few days here but time to move on.  Phucket tomorrow.