Over the Mountains
Friday, 18 Jan, 2019
Tha Ton - Mae Chan
It was spitting rain a little when we got up at 7am but it was clearly only a shower as shown by the magnificent sunrise across the valley.
As the restaurant had been closed the night before, we weren't sure what would be available for breakfast. All our accommodation except for the Airbnb in Chiang Mai and this place had included breakfast. In the end we decided to head into Tha Ton as we needed to buy some water and get money from an ATM.
As we arrived in town there was a procession gathering largely consisting of school children. There was still one lane open across the bridge so we cycled across then watched as the group made its way through town complete with marching band consisting of saxophones, a trumpet and drums but no trombone.
We were standing outside Coffee 95 which had good reviews on Tripadvisor but the owner was sweeping the stairs so we had to wait till she was finished before we could enter. She was very proud of her coffee and told us how it was the best in Tha Ton. Simon and I went for a standard breakfast of scrambled eggs and muesli and fruit whilst the kids decided on pizza. Whilst that was being made I went to the ATM and Simon bought the water.
When the coffee arrived we had to agree. It was the best coffee so far. The eggs were fine too, as was the muesli. However there was no sign of the pizzas. We decided that the 95 referred to how many minutes it took to have breakfast. Finally the owner emerged to advise that her pizza machine was not working and we would need to order something else. The kids settled for muesli and fruit.
By 9:45 we were finally moving. Our lastest start yet. We had 62 Kms to cover today Including one big hill and a second smaller one. We were also following highway 107, which we had been avoiding as much as possible.
It was a very pleasant highway 107 that we followed out of Thaton. There was a lot less traffic than we had previously experienced. There was also a decent shoulder which was maintained throughout the whole journey.
The road was lined with orchards, mainly growing oranges and we passed a 'winery' though we weren't sure about the wine growing. There were pictures of grapes but no evidence of any wine We also saw a strawberry farm.
We had arranged to meet Jonno at the foot of the climb and found him opposite a market. There were a number of hill tribe souvenir stalls together with some fresh produce and other food. We purchased some more pumpkin chips and taro chips as well as some fresh orange juice and dumplings. I drank my orange juice immediately but the others saved theirs for later, ideally at the top of the hill. The dumplings were delicious providing an additional energy source for our big climb.
Then the climbing began, gentle at first then hitting gradients of 14 -16%. We had arranged to meet Jonno at the top of the second hill and soon Georgia was also a speck in the distance. Both of them managed to ride the whole way as did Simon. I was on and off the bike, pushing from time to time. Our total elevation was 825 metres. The views from the top made it almost worthwhile.
We met Jonno and Georgia at the lunch spot as planned, which was at around 32 kms. Jonno had already had a plate of fried rice and was happy to have a second lunch of fried noodles and pork accompanied by an iced cocoa. It was delicious.
The second 30 Kms was largely downhill and we made good time. On arriving in Mae Chan we had to hop off our bikes and weave our way through the afternoon market that had closed a few streets. There were lots of school kids around as the school had just finished for the day and many of them waved and said hello as they passed us on their various forms of transport.
The Chang Garden Resort was a couple of kilometres out of town set in a big garden. We had a little two-bedroom bungalow. Once we had unloaded we wandered down to the pool and dangled our feet in the water. It didn't look quite clean enough for a swim.
We had checked that the restaurant was open and arrived there just after 6pm to be sure to be finished by its 7pm closing. We ordered a red chicken curry, green chicken curry, pork with vegetables and chicken and cashews together with a big bowl of rice from the limited menu. We ate it all, washed down with a Chang beer or two (and water for the kids). The red curry was particularly good. We chatted a while with the Dutch lady who appeared to be running the place. She had been at the Resort for four years and living in Thailand for 14.
We kept one of the beer bottles to use as a roller for sore quad muscles and headed back to our bungalow for a well earned rest. It is a much easier riding day tomorrow.