Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chiang Dao

On the 3rd morning we headed North out of Chiang Mai. After the third time that the chain came off I suspected that something was wrong. On investigation I saw that the outer chain ring was slightly bent in and as a result would sometimes throw the chain. A quick visit to a garage and a little bashing with a loaned hammer had it sufficiently 'fixed' that we could continue, with me praying that I had done more damage than I'd repaired.

We headed up the main highway North. There was quite a bit of traffic but there was a decent shoulder and traffic didn't travel either very fast or without manners. Later when the road narrowed we found that everyone gave us plenty of room when they passed or waited for an opportunity when this wasn't immediately possible.

The land intially was quite though we couldn't really see far. There was an incredible haze. The further we got from Chiang Mai the more rural it became with a lot of farmland and orchards. In the afternoon we came into coconut growing country or so it seemed by the number of stalls by the road selling them in big piles. The occasional market showed that it was good farming land, with a good variety of veges, mostly quite familiar. Every so often there was a road side restaurant. We stopped at one for lunch and had some delicious cheap food.

Later in the afternoon the surroundings became more hilly and forested. Though the haze continued. It was late in the dry season and much of the vegetation was quite brown. In places the locals had burned off the dried undergrowth, perhaps this added to the haze. At one point the whole bank of the road that we passing along was alight. Just before we got to Chiang Dao the road passed by a field with so many elephants grazing like cattle. We had been hoping to ride one at a place up the road but when we got there we realised that it was a glorified circus that neither of us felt comfortable to visit.

We stayed at a place just outside Chiang Dao called Hobby Huts. It seems to be newly opened or at least in progress with cement mixers and piles of sand. A friendly sign over a gate announced a restaurant that didn't yet exist. They had finished a couple of strawroofed huts and we rented one for the night for 250 baht. We settled inn with a beer purchased at the local corner store and watched the sun go down behind a mountain beyond the fields that surrounded the huts. Afterwards we wandered back down to town and had a nice dinner during which we learned a few words in Thai.

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