We knew we only had a short hop today so got up leisurely. David’s cough and cold had not been good in the night. We had had a good meal in the evening – taking the safe options (my stir fried prawns and vegetables was stuffed full of a range of delicious veggies) so we could not blame the deep fried frogs, pigs brains or blow your mouth off curries that were also on the menu for his demise. (On this note we tried some ‘street stall’ bbq chicken in a little village yesterday – it was all skin and bone….yes literally just skin and bone….it may well be a delicacy for some but unfortunately had us gagging (luckily we were eating them out of site and put them straight into a bin!)
I therefore left David to recuperate while I went to see the main site in Lamphun – the Wat Pra That Haripunjaya. The temple complex was beautiful and peaceful. Full of ornate gold and colourful paper lanterns. Most of the visitors were Thai, coming to make their devotions. Flowers were laid, candles lit, packages of food left and gongs and bells rung. People were buying bottles of liquid which were poured into a replica long boat, clearly something of great significance. I felt rather out of place as a stray western tourist.
Back at the hostel we packed up and cycled the rather tedious 28km to Chaing Mai. We checked in to Sri Pat guesthouse and we pleased that it lived up to it’s good write up in the guide book. A lovely building in a quiet back street, a large comfy bedroom and a little swimming pool. The perfect place to hole up for a few days.
Whilst we were cycling a remarkable thing happened – we were passed by someone on a two-wheeled recumbent bike. She just waved to us and carried on before we had a chance to ask “what, why or how” it felt to ride such a machine. She looked European, not Thai but cannot say more than that. So if, perchance, the rider is reading this, please contact us with some details. But we can say confidently that we are not the only recumbent riders in Chaing Mei today.
It was a shock to the system to be in a busy city full of western tourists – like ourselves of course. Chaing Mai is the second largest city in Thailand but the old city is crammed with hotels, guest houses, restaurants, an inordinate number of tattoo parlours and the occasional cannabis cafe. It was quite an adjustment strolling round and hearing numerous languages…but at least we are not the only people in the hotel!
In the evening we had a delicious meal in a Burmese restaurant, topped with deserts of sticky rice and mango and friend bananas and ice cream – a real treat.
Chiang Mei was our first target – and we made it. We have covered over 800km so far and seen far more of Thailand than on either of our two previous visits. We are now in “planning mode” to plot our way across the mountainous areas to Laos. The only thing we know for sure is that the hills get bigger from now on.