Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Phew, what a scorcher!

We picked the right day to go up into the cool of the hills. The little road wound its way across country.

And then up through the jungle. We stopped off at some waterfalls but being the end of the dry season they were pretty much, believe it or not, dry. The guy who worked there did an impression of flushing the toilet when he saw our less than impressed faces. The walk in was nice though.

Up we went to a height of about 1100m I believe. The riding was great, the little bikes making mincemeat of the twists, turns and super steep sections.

As we crested a rise, the jungle stopped and was suddenly replaced with pine forest. So this is why the area is called the 'Switzerland of Thailand'. There was a little village and then a campground by a lake (dammed reservoir actually but it doesn't fit so well with the Julie andrews theme). There was a little village and some cabins to stay in. There were even black swans on the water. The whole place was deserted and it actually felt a bit creepy. Apparently the area was done up & promoted as a project founded by the King and when in season, it's chockers.

On we went to another little village, this one's inhabitants are mainly Chinese exiles who didn't want to follow communism so came and settled here instead. There is lots of Chinese tea grown here. Fancy a cuppa?

We bumped into Herman & German again and had lunch with them. They told us we could ride up to the Burmese  border, so being 'Border Gate' fans, how could we resist?  We rode up and then walked to a lookout for a squizz at Burma from what looked like an old gun bunker. All we could see was a cronky looking village with a dirt road through it. The Germans (who are actually called Ben and Eric) told us that from their experience of riding through Burma, that was pretty much what the whole country was like.

So, it was back down to the gate for some gratuitous photo ops

That photo cost me a quid to borrow the gun from the guard who was thankfully smart enough to remove the magazine first. I did offer him some more cash so we could have a go at a few moving targets (there were some chickens around) but he said no ;-(

It did feel a bit weird being at a border gate with razor wire and gun turrets (think Checkpoint Charlie) holding a gun, standing next to 2 Germans. We have been reminded of war & human suffering throughout this whole trip, change a few details, wind the clock back 70 years....
We took a selfie to make friends. I hadn't mentioned anything to them about what was going through my head but this little photo made all the thoughts go away!

Back down the twisty, jungly road and into the valley bottom. The heat really hit us. 

We managed a couple of extra K's to Fish Cave where an underground river pops out from a mountain, revealing fresh water that is absolutely crammed with massive (2 foot long) blue carp that went mad when they were fed lettuce or papaya (go figure!) 

The 15km ride home was pretty unpleasant. What is the opposite of 'wind chill'? Whatever it's called, we were getting it. I had to blink constantly as my eyes were drying out in seconds and the blasts of hot air felt like a giant hair dryer. When we got back into town at 4pm, according to the thermometer outside the police station it was 103 degrees (40 in modern speak but 103 sounds much more impressive). On my little thermometer clipped to my bag that had been in the wind, it was 110. Yikes!

Apparently there is a festival in town tonight. It didn't exactly look like Mardi Gras when we came through just now but we'll go out a bit later and will be sure to tell you all about it.

TA ta

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