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Thursday, 31 January 2013

NORTH THAILAND FLORAL RIDE - DAY 5


12TH DEC 2012: DOI ANGKHANG – FANG – DOI MAE SALONG – CHIANG SAEN – GOLDEN TRAINGLE – CHIANG RAI – CHIANG MAI (350KM)


It was sooo very cold this morning. The temperature was 2 degrees Celcius. My room was not heated so I was shivering when taking the wudhu for Subuh prayer. I checked out at 7am and had breakfast of porridge at the same Muslim restaurant which I had dinner last night. 


Muslim restaurant located right in front of Doi Angkhang parking lot
 

Camping ground at Doi Angkhang...I would hv camped here if not bcos of the chill winter
 


Eateries near the camping ground

I was a bit worried about descending the steep road down. I rode slowly and carefully, riding using gear 2 almost all the 10kms. Thank god that the road was clear from fog. 


The view was beautiful but theres no suitable place for me to stop for pics as it was very steep. Finally, I made it down safely and to my surprise, the main road to Fang is the one foggy this morning. It was very chilly even though I was no longer on high altitude. I hv put on my thermal wear, tshirt and riding jacket, but still, I was shivering while riding. I turned left at the intersection of route 1089 to Doi Mae Salong and rode all the way along the very picturesque road to the Flower Hill Resort.














After about 20 mins, I started to descend the same way back, stopping few times for pics. The valleys were sooo beautiful.







Then I raced on route 1016 which offered nice view of vegetable and corn fields until I met Highway 1, then I headed east to Chiang Saen, going to the Golden Triangle. 


This is the first time I’m using this road as last time I was coming from Mae Sai to GT.  The dual lane road was new and not much traffic on it. It took me about 40mins to reach Chiang Saen and the Golden Triangle. Again, memories came flooding my mind when I reached the land mark below.


 Some time spend for pics and viewing the point of the confluence of Ruak and Mekong River. This place was most famous for its extensive opium producing. While resting by the river bank, I tried to imagine how the opium trading was done way back then. 













I cant stay long as my next destination is Chiang Mai, which is about  240kms away. I was making a mind arithmetic of should I go back to Highway 1 via the same way I came, or should I proceed to Mae Sai via route 1029 as it looked nearer in the map. I choose the latter. I was doubting should or not I drop by at Mae Sai for a while, but since I hv been there last June, I cancelled the intention – something which I later regret bcos by doing this, I missed the opportunity to visit a huge sunflower field located just by the road side heading to Mae Sai. I was already at the intersection of Highway 1, and hesitating  – it was only about 4kms more to Mae Sai, but I didnt know about the existence of this sunflower field, so I took the left turn, heading south. Urghhh!!! Worst, my judgement about using this road will save me some time proven to be wrong as I took about 35 mins (compared to 40mins) to reach the same intersection to Chiang Saen which I took earlier – and more  fuel was consumed by choosing this route.  Okey, lesson learnt.

Around 2pm, I received a sms from my travel agent in Ipoh, informing me that I must submit my passport to her ASAP for Chinese visa application (I will be going to Chengdu in 10 days time, and the visa process took about 5 days, inclusive of travel time from Ipoh to KL, and back). The other day before leaving Malaysia, the agent told me that the latest, I must pass my passport to her early morning on Dec 17th, but now she’s asking for the passport much earlier (latest by Dec 14th), bcos of some ridiculous reason. Greattt!!! The best thing was I am now in North Thailand, and on a bike. How can I get back to Ipoh in such a short notice? I hv been riding long rides for five days in a row, and I am already tired. I cant do an endurance ride back home in this condition. I need at least 3 days. With this sudden situation, I hv to change my plan drastically. I hv to take a train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, and from Bangkok to Hadyai.  Damn, damn, damn!!!

I checked thru the train pamphlet which I took from Hadyai station the other day. There is a train from Chiang Mai departing south at 5.30pm today, so I must be at the station at least by 4.30pm. I raced my way to Chiang Rai (feeling sorry to myself as I dont hv the time to visit the White Wat, hopefully next time), and turned right after Pa Sak to route 118. I refuel here, and the girl at the petrol station told me that I will need at least 2.30hrs to reach Chiang Mai. OMG, I am truly late, so I rode full throttle all the way to Chiang Mai. The road was really nice, winding but with very few traffic.   At certain areas, it was quite chilly and I was shivering again. The traffic got heavy nearing to Chiang Mai, and I didnt manage to arrive on the targetted time. Never mind, I thought to myself, as there is another train departing at 9pm. However, I was very frustrated when the nice lady at the train station told me that the supposed 9pm train was no longer operating since 1 month back. I tried to work out other train routes option, but all goes to a dead end.  There is no problem if I am the only one going back home by train – I hv many alternatives to take, but the problem is DREAM. Not every train hv cargo. If I were to take the train from Bangkok to Hadyai, there is no guarantee that DREAM can be transported along as normally, trains with cargo originating from Bangkok are fully loaded, and one must make an advanced booking for the cargo at least 3 days earlier. I sat down on the floor near the entrance. My mind was blanked as I have no idea of what to do. If I didnt get back to Malaysia soon, my Chinese visa cant be ready on time and all the money which I hv spent on the flight ticket and the travel package will go down the drain. Should I leave DREAM behind, go back home alone, and return for it later? No, I cant do that. Its time constraint for me and I cant bear to leave him here. 

The nice and caring lady came to me, offering me bananas and asked me to eat first while figuring out what to do. I was actually very hungry and tired at that time. She was right. After eating the bananas, I found the solution. Instead of using the travel agent’s service, why not I go to the embassy myself to hv the visa done? It will be a lil bit troublesome, but then, it will take only 4 days. I can go to the embassy on Dec 17th, and collect it on Dec 20th. Meaning that my visa will be ready 2 days earlier before my flight is scheduled. With this decision, I can proceed with my actual itinerary and I dont hv to rush my North Thailand trip. YEAYYYY!!!

I thought my problem was solved with this decision, but I was wrong. While riding to find a place to stay for the night, DREAM started to make some noise. OMG, not now,please. I was so tired that I ignored the noise. I shall attend to it later. It was already 8.30pm when I finally checked in at Rattana GH, paying B400 for a nice aircond room with TV, fridge, wifi and a secure parking for DREAM. The GH was located near to the mosque, very convenient for me to find halal food. After resting for a while, I take a look at the famous Chiang Mai night market.










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