Updated: Nov 12, 2018
Today was a day with nature. A leisurely rise with breakfast (if you can really call it that - I won’t go into details) on our terrace, we discovered in the morning light that we were in quite a manicured environment, with a large number of bungalows & even bigger houses on an estate. They lined all the roads with carts with large wagon wheels, so I couldn’t get the Wild West theme out of my head. At any rate it was a good choice of stopover. We were heading across the hills to the western border of Thailand with Myanmar, about 400 kilometres south of where I last crossed it on elephants!
It was overall a good ride. The road was excellent in some parts, ok in others, but we certainly climbed & rounded & dove down & up again. Shortly after leaving we spotted the resting Buddha and other statues on the hill. There have been many hilltop Wats and figures on our travels & it hasn’t been possible to photograph them all, as it takes me at least 10-15 minutes to unpack & pack the bike each time! But this one looked a good photographic opportunity. Take a close look at the image. I’m not sure if you can see enough detail, but the bottom side of the Buddha’s face is covered in... something. My best guess is hornets nests, but perhaps you have a different idea?
Up in the mountains we came across a man made forest where there were a truckload (literally) of monks having some kind of communal activity. I’d love to have photographed them, but it seemed kinda rude to interrupt. So I snapped the trees instead & tried to take an image as best I could without a macro lens of the biggest ant I have ever seen! We then had one of our favourite (but this time artificial) smoothies across the road. Bad habit...
Once we reached the furthest west we could go, we turned & went south, parallel to the Myanmar border. We came across a sign for a cave that we thought we’d take a look at, but although it was pointing directly to the right, we could not see an entrance. We turned around & went back & came across another sign (about 100 metres before the one we’d first seen), pointing to the left. We found a very rough track about midway between the two signs so surmised it had to be. Whether we were right or not I don’t know because we fought our way down to a stream at the bottom & could go no further as we didn’t have waterproof boots & the other side was thick jungle. Simon was attacked by a few red ants for his trouble & I was rewarded with a solitary wild orchid :) Beautiful.
It was very strange travelling down Thailand, looking at Myanmar just over the river. I suppose because both the UK & New Zealand are islands and have no real borders, it’s a bit strange to think I couldn’t just hop in a boat & go to a different country. Well, I probably could as I’m sure most locals do all the time, but I think I would stand out! In any case it is a beautiful part of the world.
Mountainous, lush & quite soft. Riding in some parts was a strange mixture redolent of autumn in an English woodland, except with Jurassic sized leaves, stirred in with lush tropical rainforest. The people do look slightly different too & remind me more of the Myanmar people I have travelled amongst before. Not surprising really, given the location. We stopped for lunch at a small roadside shop / restaurant & I used Google translate to order two plates of chicken fried rice. I think it may have been beef, but apart from that, it was the tastiest chicken fried rice we’ve had. All cooked from scratch in front of us, it was fresh, hot & extremely welcome!
This part of the world is undoubtedly not well travelled by foreign tourists, so we opted to stay in the only accommodation for 80 Kms in either direction. Luckily it was quite reasonable. Shortly before we arrived, I discovered a sandy promontory which I could clamber to and so took a few shots almost on the river (main image included). It was quite special watching a flock (is that the right term?) of cranes take off & fly around.
All in all, a good day. Tomorrow is our second to last day & we’ll get within striking distance of Bangkok, probably around Tak or thereabouts.
You’ll find all the images from my Rovings here:
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