Pineapple Fields and Lakeside Views

(34 km)

Saturday, 19 Jan, 2019

Mae Chan - Chiang Saen

There were some weird noises in the night and we weren't quite sure what strange local animal was generating such a sound. Georgia thought it was a dying chook but if so, it suffered a long and painful death. We were all so tired anyway that we slept well enough despite the background noise and rock hard beds.

We were at breakfast at 8am with a reasonable choice of options though no fresh coffee. Simon and I had omelettes whilst the kids had fried rice. We knew it was an easy, flat ride to Chiang Saen though I had found an alternative back route that we decided might be worth trying.

Either way, we started on the highway. It was three lanes wide with a shoulder almost the size of a lane. Every so often there would be a turning lane as well, making a five lane highway. Except there were very few cars. We made great time, stopping to change maps right next to a sign for a coffee shop. It was 200 metres off the main road so we detoured for our morning coffee hit. There was a sign indicating it was open and a lady was there but she was unable to make coffee. She indicated that we should wait. The wi-fi was strong so the kids were more than happy.

Eventually the barista turned up and we enjoyed our drinks in the tranquil spot. It seemed to be a family run business with Mum doing the food and the daughters making the coffee. It was set up in the front of a house. They wanted to take our photo and we asked them to take one on our camera as well. Lots of laughing and smiles all round.

The next stop was a bike shop that Jonno had found in search of chain lube. The shop mainly sold cycling jerseys. Jonno tried one on but decided it was the wrong shape for him. We did manage to buy the chain lube so it was a good find.

A few more Kms and we turned off to follow the back route to our accommodation. The road was mainly tarmacked though dirt in parts. It was a beautiful ride as we passed pineapple fields and rubber plantations with the lake appearing from time to time. We passed a beautiful wat in the middle of nowhere with some monks working in the garden.

By this time we were cycling round the edge of the lake and it was gorgeous. We hoped to find somewhere selling food but the tiny villages were almost deserted. Viang Yonok, our accommodation, was right on the lake. It was a little early to check in, but the owners greeted us warmly and showed us to our little bungalows. There was some discussion as to which one Simon and I should have, and we ended up in Kingfisher with a view across the pool to the lake. Lovely. The kids had their own bungalow looking over the garden.

We dropped off our bags and headed into Chiang Saen for lunch, back along the highway. We cycled through town to the Mekong River and found a little restaurant overlooking the Mekong. Its specialty was a steamed chicken dish (like Hunan chicken) and a roast pork served with rice and vegetable soup. There was a Thai family eating there already and they ordered for us so we had the same meal as they were enjoying. It was very good but not enough for Jonno.

There were a number of food stalls set up along the river front so we wandered past them in search of more food options. We found some pastries that looked like samosas and some that looked like sweet donuts. We bought some of each and ate them on some steps that led down to the river. Turned out they were filled with the same sweet paste. They were quite nice but not the savoury samosas we had been expecting.

We then walked through a market in search of some fresh fruit and picked up some cut pineapple. Jonno also found some spring rolls and waffles so we bought them as well. Back at the river again, we had our third snack. By this time there were more stalls setting up along the river front in readiness for the Saturday night market. The road was closed and there were stalls on both sides and in the middle. Jonno had eaten enough so we left the riverfront and headed off to pick up some water from the Tesco express, in the hope of also finding the little jam biscuits that Jonno liked. Jackpot! They had a big container of them so Jonno was happy.

I had been left in charge of the bikes and whilst I was waiting spotted a shop that looked to be selling coconut ice cream. Whilst Simon loaded the water on the bikes, we checked it out and for less than 50 cents each returned with comes of two scoops of delicious coconut ice cream.

Back at the hotel, three of us went for a swim whilst Georgia wrote up her Instagram post. Then Simon and Jonno fixed Jonno's pedal which had lost its toe clip and also adjusted his stand which was rubbing on the disc brake.

The sunset over the lake was simply stunning and the kids found some reclining chairs to enjoy the view. We had arranged to eat dinner at the hotel and had no idea what would be served as they cook based on what is fresh that day.

It was a feast! All cooked by the owner's 80 year old mother. We started with Tom yum soup that was quite different to the one en route to Tha Ton. We had a tender, almost slow cooked pork served with mango sauce, stir fried vegetables and a fried snapper with a cashew and chilli sauce.

By the end of it, even Jonno was full.