Friday, 11 Jan, 2019

Chiang Mai

Despite the bright lights of the carriage , we all slept reasonably well, though Georgia woke a few times with a persistent cough. We had picked up some cough medicine at the airport but it seemed to wear off quite quickly.

Round 6am there was an announcement that we needed to get up so our beds could be out away. The attendant performed this task with much efficiency and dexterity and moved through the carriage at great speed.

We sipped on a green tea as we watched the day brighten and pulled in to Chiang Mai pretty close to the scheduled time. With no bicycles to get us to our accommodation we were at the mercy of the taxi touts who were very keen for business. We negotiated with one lady and made our way to a songtheow. Turned out Ms Pan was very keen for more business and shared tour suggestions and written references but we were not ready to commit to any tours. It took a few attempts to find the accommodation. Despite saying that we are staying in a house Ms Pan was convinced we were staying in a hotel and we experienced the one way system through Chiang Mai before finding the right stop.

In the back of Mrs Pan's taxi

Anny's cozy house was hidden behind a big gate with plenty of parking for the bikes. Behind its modest entrance it turned out to be enormous. There were three massive bedrooms upstairs each with its own en suite as well as a fourth bathroom downstairs. Whilst there was a stovetop the rules stipulated that there was to be no cooking, hence no saucepans. Nor was there to be any drinking, gambling or partied. Hence no glasses. However, given that we travelled through Tasmania with our versatile plastic cups we had no concerns about drinking beer out of plastic tumblers.

Next stop was breakfast and a wander around the local area. We found an okay cafe with surprisingly good coffee then headed off in the direction of the old town. It was still cool when we left the house but by 10am the day had warmed up considerably.

Around the old town

Back at the house we relaxed with a cup of tea before heading out again to the station. We decided to walk so we could scout the best route back on the bikes. About half way there Simon realised he had left the tickets at home so had to race back to collect them. Jonno had downloaded maps to his phone so was able to navigate Georgia and me to the station. The no 51 train arrived right on time and we could spy our bikes in the freight car. I was relieved. Simon arrived soon after looking very hot and with tickets in hand.

Bikes hiding in the freight car

We redeemed our bikes and rode back the way we came, stopping off at a street stall for lunch that we had picked out on our walk past. We didn't know what the food was but pointed to someone's lunch and asked for four of those. "Same same?" Said the cook and we nodded and held up four fingers.

It turned out to be some sort of tasty pork noodle broth and it was delicious. We finished off by buying some fresh pineapple to have back at the house. Next stop was the supermarket for breakfast supplies as we were planning an early start tomorrow to Doi Suthep to beat the crowds.

Waiting for "Same Same" surprise

We had planned an afternoon ride but decided it was more important to ship our bike bags and duffel bags to Chiang Rai. We had spotted a courier place just around the corner and for the equivalent of about $50 AUD forwarded 8kgs of gear to our hotel in Chiang Rai who I had checked was happy to accept it.

We also found somewhere to purchase SIM cards and had just about finalised the transaction when we were told that we needed to provide the phones. These were all back at the house. Fortunately Jonno was able to drop them up but misread the message and didn't bring Georgia's. I walked back to pick it up but it wouldn't accept the foreign SIM so she will have to rely on WiFi.

On our way back, Jonno and I did find a driver willing to take us on our planned trip for tomorrow so that was our last job done. Around 6pm Jonno decided he was hungry so we headed out to the night market for dinner. It was literally just around the corner. We wandered for a bit before Jonno found some street stalls that he deemed suitable for dinner. We tried some fresh spring rolls, gyozas, satay chicken, pad Thai and stir fried chicken and cashews with most dishes between $2-$3 each. We finished off with some mango sticky rice and the most sensational coconut ice cream with mangoes and lychees. A bit more expensive at $4 for a massive bowl including five scoops of ice cream. We returned home feeling well satisfied.

Wandering the night market is search of dinner