A Taste of China

Tuesday, 22 Jan, 2019

Chiang Khong - Pha Tang

It was a leisurely start as we enjoyed a 9am buffet breakfast beside the Mekong. We were all feeling better and having a wide range of breakfast options was ideal. The coffee was pretty bad but the fried rice and noodles were good. The pineapple and papaya were delicious. Thai papaya is so much better than any we get at home. I had even brought along the vegemite should anyone feel like white bread Vegemite toast.

After breakfast Georgia, Simon and I went for a walk along the river path whilst Jonno sorted out his university enrollment.

The driver arrived jusf before midday and we loaded the bikes in the back of the hilux. We had spoken to a tuk tuk driver the day before who had rushed off to get his mate with the car. Turned out the tuk tuk driver was also our driver today. His mate, who we assumed owned the car, hopped in the back with the bikes.

We drove along the Mekong with stunning views across to Laos and were a little sorry not to be cycling. Until we got to the hills. Up and up we went. No way could I have cycled it as it was long and steep. According to Jonno some of the comments on strava indicated it was the toughest ride these cyclists had done and they wouldn't be carrying 12 kgs of pannier weight.

We were dropped off at the Phatang Hill Resort which we had booked via email as one of the only places we could find online. According to reviews on Travelfish, it was a good option as the owners spoke English. We could only assume it had changed hands as there was no English spoken at all.

Rooms sorted, we cycled back up the hill to the little town in search of lunch. We found one sizeable place which offered Yunan cuisine. We knew that this was a previous outpost of the Kuomantang so we were expecting a strong Chinese influence.

Given our late breakfast and still tender tummies, we weren't particularly hungry so settled for some stir fried broccoli, steamed buns and rice. The steamed buns were just a big, white soft mass of dough without any real flavour. The broccoli was a little tastier.

The plan was to ride up to the viewpoint to see how long it took so we could plan our ascent for the sunrise. However, as Georgia left the restaurant her shifter came off her bike. She and Simon headed back to the hotel for some repairs whilst Jonno and I undertook the reconnaissance. It was a reasonable climb with signs showing an 8% gradient whilst my bike computer showed 15%. The views over the valley were lovely and there were cherry blossoms in bloom along the roadside.

It took just over 20 minutes for me to get to the top, of course, Jonno was a lot quicker. We worked out the best spot to leave our bikes and the route we would take to reach the viewing spots. Simon messaged to say the repairs were done but we recommended he save the climb till tomorrow.

On the way back we checked out the very few eating options and they all served exactly the same Yunan style food. So we decided we may as well eat at the hotel.

We then had a cup of tea in the common area and some of the pineapple we had purchased on our morning walk. The hotel looked out across the valley and we could watch the sunset from our rooms.

Google translate was most helpful in deciphering our limited dinner options. It seemed that one of our choices of stir fried pork was very spicy so we settled for chicken chicken with Chinese medicine, pork filled omelette and stir fried Chinese vegetables with rice. The omelette was tasty but the other two dishes were cooked in a similar sauce and the chicken chicken was full of bones. We decided that we wouldn't be visiting Yunan province any time soon.

The common area had turned into a karoake room. There was some guy singing very badly. It brought back memories for Georgia who had sung Viva la Vida in Vietnam and we joked that she had an international following. Fortunately this guy seemed to run out of energy and before long all was quiet.