Sea of Fog

(60 km)

Wednesday, 23 Jan, 2019

Pha Tang - Thoeng

The beds were rock hard and the pillows were pretty useless so when the alarm went off at 5am, getting up wasn't as hard as it could have been.

It was dark when we cycled out of the hotel for our 2km climb to the Doi Pha Tang car park, and still dark as we made our way up the ridge to a suitable look out spot. Even in the dark you could see the fog covering the Mekong Valley which makes this place so renowned for Thai tourists.

We perched on some rocks looking across the sea of fog to Laos as the sky lightened and the sun began to rise. The view was stunning as the fog blanketed the valley with dirt roads disappearing into the fog and small islands of trees emerging eerily out of the mist.

As the day brightened, Jonno and I walked up to a higher lookout, past the crevice of rocks known as the gates of Siam. There were two people dressed in onesies being interviewed on camera so we kept out of their way as we enjoyed view further along the valley.

Finally it was time to head back and we made quick time down the hill stopping at the little coffee shop. There we looked out over the valley and enjoyed the best coffee of our trip. So good, we had to buy some coffee beans.

Back at the hotel we had rice soup for breakfast together with some boiled eggs and fried donut-like things but without the sugar. Jonno particularly liked these and ate a good number of them.

It was about 9:30 as we headed down the hill to follow the ridge line towards Phu Chi Fa, the more famous viewing spot. There was only one road to follow and we arranged for the kids to wait for us at the turn off to Theong.

Not long out of town Simon and I passed a coffee roasting business and stopped to take some photos. They invited us in to taste the coffee, currently being made by a pour over method, with the whole process being filmed. We enjoyed the coffee so purchased some more beans.

Back on the bikes the road meandered along the ridge line, constantly undulating with some quite steep hills. We stopped again to buy some strawberries and the girl gave us some extra ones in a little cup which we devoured as we stood by her stall.

We met the kids as planned but there was nowhere to eat nearby so we continued up the hill for another 1.5 Kms before Jonno found a cafe and restaurant. We had the best iced cocoas of the trip and we had tried a few. We also had some pad Thai, pork mince and rice and stir fried pork. All the dishes were good. We had cooled down over lunch and decided to keep our jumpers on for the next part of the ride which was a steep descent. Our next meeting point was to be the Upcountry Bungalows some 30 Kms away.

The downhill was fast and we warmed up quickly. We shed our jumpers as we reached the town at the bottom of the hill which was fortunate as we then had a steep climb out. So it went on for the next 20kms, lots of ups and downs. Finally we reached the river valley and the road flattened out as we travelled past lush fields planted with a range of crops.

It was a relief to arrive at our accommodation, shower and relax until dinner which we had on site. We discussed possible routes to Chiang Rai with the owners who suggested we stick with the highway. That would make for a boring 75km cycle for our last day so we plan to stick with the back routes.