I’ve spent a night in Pai now, which wasn’t so memorable apart from the number of t-shirt and fridge magnet shops… To be honest I had a feeling it was going to be like this as I must have been passed by over 50 mini-vans on my way here, carting tourists up from Chiang Mai.
I left early once again to beat the heat, though to be honest I knew it wasn’t going to be so bad as I was climbing to over 4000 feet where it would be cooler (and then right back down again). I’m now in a wee place called Little Eden in Soppong which is a fantastic guesthouse run by an amazing woman – Pen, who along with her helpers A and Apple (they like to shorten their names to words in English) provide a really clean professional, friendly outfit. Highly recommended.
I had dinner there with 2 scientists studying insects in the region (one from Germany, one from Israel). Initially very interesting, but somehow, we ended up on politics and religion (hardly a surprise given what’s going on in Israel just now). I suggested talking about the third fo paux, money, but they weren’t that enthusiastic…
Much more fun where the 3 Thai women. One of them had just found out she had won a significant amount of money on the lottery. I heard the figure equating to 10,000 quid being banded about – the amount of noise she made certainly would make that reasonable. We ended up emptying a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky to celebrate. Much hilarity was had over how it should be called ‘Johnny Cyclist’ as I was a cyclist. Another totally random unexpected night, once again in a remote village with some wonderful people. I think remote wee villages are the way forward….
I took a trip up to Tham Lot (click here) – a huge cave system 9km from Soppong which has a river flowing through it. I opted to take a guide walking into the cave using a paraffin lamp – all very atmospheric, though I couldn’t really see where I was going, and at one point I almost fell flat on my face – cycling shoes are not made for walking in caves! Quite a remarkable experience.
I set off towards Mae Hong son this morning which is only 65km, though once again, it involves another massive climb – 2 ½ hours to be precise. Once again, I was rewarded fantastic views at the top. I ended up being a bit of a celebrity at the top with everyone and their dog wanting to take a picture with me in it. I suspect it not because they have never seen a white man before, more that they have never met a white man crazy enough to cycle up the mountains in this region!! I’m afraid I was more interested in wolfing down a packet of biscuits at the time so they might have some strange shots!!