First week in Asia
After a brutal25 hour flight from San Diego to Bangkok, I arrive around 1am into my hostel in downtown Bangkok. I decided to stay away from Kao Tao Road which is the main spot for cheap hotels and the place where “The Beach ” was transpired. I decided to to catch my bearings for two day before departing and heading north to Chiang Mai. Bangkok was big and I walked many miles before figuring out the transportation system which put me into total state of confusions and found myself completely lost. some how I found a few places and lots of temples , but mainly spending the day decompressing to the Thai’s style of life. Enjoying my first plate of Pad Thai for a dollar, enjoying many different Thai beers like Singha, Leo, Chang. Still don’t know which one I like most! Singha has been going down pretty well but is the most expensive at 60baht which is 2dollars for 24oz. I got my first TUk Tuk and things were starting to get easier by the minute.
As in any country you can take a train, plane, or bus. Problem is here is things take a long time to get places unless you fly. I tried to book a train, but it was full…..I need to get outta of Bangkok cause it was crazy. So I took a flight, which was only 40 dollars more and 12 hours faster, and this is where things start to to transpire into the best five days to start the trip.
I misread my seat assignment on the flight and sat in 41K instead of 44k. I departed out of gate A1 and think I just saw the seat and sat down. Next to me was a guy from England who lived in Chiang Mai for ten years who started giving me the pieces to my puzzle. Upon arrival …we split a taxi into town…he took me to his place where he lived and I got super cheap accommodation in the middle of town. Got my bearings and headed straight to the many massage spas for an hour thai massage for 6 bucks….I then head out to see the temples and sites which was something to get my appetite up. I then walk past a busy restaurant that evening and the second piece of the puzzle arrived.
The restaurant was packed…..one table left…..I was standing behind a beautiful blond which was by herself and she got the last table. I ask her if I could join her and she accepted. She was Danish and meeting her boyfriend in a few days but gave me such great information that lead me to another town called Pai in the following days. After Dinner she told me about a roof top bar that was a place she visited last time she was here. This bar was cool. Shoes off at the door. Short tables and people sitting in groups drinking and listening to great music. After arriving with her, my lonely wolf pack of one grew to almost 15. Meeting french, english, germans, Japeness, and swiss travelers.
The following day I was little hung over but managed to go to a few more temples and eat more great street food. Then put together a plan to get to Pai. This involved getting 250cc Kawasaki dirt bike to cover 600km of winding mountain roads and get deeper into the THai hill village tribes.
Chiang Mai to PAI is a very scenic route through the mountains which takes several hours . It’s a steep and windy drive, with lots of curves. Riding 3-4 hours on a dirt bike was a little rough on my bumm, just making it easier to stop at the waterfalls and shops along the way to give my ass a rest.
Pai is a great little hippie town….has river side bungalows in the Pai River which rent out for 3 dollars a night. the beer at the bar cost the same. At night the temp. drops and the bamboo walls did nothing to keep me warm. but still enjoyed the atmosphere of the campground setting. Meet a great guy named Fluke who ran the bar at the bungalows who help me decide my next move. Also could have stayed many more nights but my bike rental was only for three days so I needed to keep moving.
North to Sapong was only an hour but this got you deeper into the mountains and closer to the cave systems that spread across the Northern region. I stayed at a highly recommended lodge called Cave Lodge. Run by Aussie who traveled here back in the 70’s… meet Thai trekking girl ,got married, and started the Cave explorations lodge. His lodge sits with a beautiful surrounding and his bungalows are way cool. From here I checked out the he nearby THAM LOD cave with its awesome caverns, prehistoric 1,700-year-old coffins and bamboo rafting.
After exploring this amazing cave with massive chambers that lead in all directions I decided to get back on the bike. The surrounding roads go deeper and I found myself on a single track cow path that seem to go forever. This path took me by local huts for the farmers and I just felt it would never end. After having a few muddy pits to get through …..I decided to turn back to the lodge and stay the night. This was a cool place along the river I came across.
After exporing the the caves I made my way back to Chaing Mai and return my dirt bike. Time to start heading south