On Thursday, J. and I ate breakfast, talked to family on Skype, geared up and went for a drive. Our destination: uncertain. Our return date: uncertain. Originally, we planned on heading north and exploring some interconnected national parks. We weren’t sure if we could find a place to sleep up there, but we packed a change of clothes just in case.
The 200km(124mi) route.
The first leg of the drive took us up the superhighway near our apartment and then up highway 107 for about half an our before heading east on highway 1260. After another half hour, we turned north onto highway 1001. By then, the highway was really just a two lane road with a shoulder lane on each side for motorbikes, bicycles, dogs, parking, cows, peeing. Highway 1001 is where the drive became quiet and pretty. The towns became sparse, the country side became expansive, and valleys turned into winding foothill roads. The days wasn’t hot, though it look like rain would drench us at any moment.
Needless to say, the scenery was amazing. Green nature, the grounding of rustic agriculture. Every gap in the trees was to endless jungle or expansive farmland. There were little towns and dilapidated structures. Birds, bugs, and livestock wandered in and out of view. The smells were of crisp air, plants, burning wood, dung, and water. Despite being in charge of motordeathbike, avoiding potholes, switching gears, not hitting chickens, and avoiding gravel, it was a very relaxing and soul affirming ride.
View of Highway 1260 looking east.
Rice fields looking west from Highway 1001. Endless rice growing, all in various stages of planting.
Low-lying grass huts.
On the hills grew other crops such as corn and fruit.
I took an ear of corn, hoping to try it at its freshest. Unfortunately, it wasn’t ripe yet.
One of the top heavy trucks we shared the road with.
We drove down a dirt road to a stream so that I could use the restroom. I’m not sure how anyone could continue with the river that high.
Further down the way was this endless road cut into the yam colored soil. We almost went down it.
We got to the fairly large town of Phrao around lunch. On the map, this town appears to be dead center in the park grounds, but there was no indicator of being in a park for any of the drive. It seemed more like a map technicality than anything of practical concern. I suspect the park was defined long after all the towns were there. There was no apparent place to stay in Phrao, and considering it was the largest town on our route, we figured it was best to head home and sleep in our own beds. Not a lot of foreigners must pass through town because J. and I commanded curious looks. I walked through the small market area and felt like a celebrity. When we sat at the park, people would drive by and look backwards at us with the expression of “What the hell did they come to Phrao for?” We waved back.
A lamp at the park in Phrao. We watched boys swimming in a brown stream as a bucktoothed farmer picked longan from an orchard.
Rain was imminent for evening. By afternoon, some dark heavy clouds had formed along the western hills. It was time to rush home.
On the way out of town, we did have to stop at a police checkpoint. It mostly seemed like a bunch of uniformed men with nothing to do. Most were sitting around and chatting. We were asked to pull over and a man with bloodshot eyes and crooked yellow teeth took enjoyment in asking us where we were headed to. I said Chiang Mai. He cracked a joke and asked if we planned on going all the way to Bangkok. I laughed and shook my helmet no. I was sure this was all leading to some kind of bribe, but he waved us through with no money exchanging hands.
Workers planting rice.
Just planted rice.
Even more rice.
J. watching me jump across a drainage ditch after taking pictures of rice.
This cow was challenging any passerby to a mean game of one on one. I lost.
The road up the mountains.
Back on Highway 107 and heading home.
They look like huts, but are solid straw. This field had a swarm of dragonflies.
Workers harvesting tea in a valley by a stream.
The golden gates leading back into Chiang Mai.
The last 45 minutes of the drive weren’t very scenic, and due to more traffic were mentally fatiguing. We reached our neighborhood, went to some food carts and ordered right as it began to pour.
Now what should be order for dinner? Some &*@**&#@&#@ or maybe a nice plate of %&^*(@#?
This short day trip has given us a benchmark for more shorter trips by motorbike. Our next destination will be overnight, and likely to a town a few hours away called Pai.
Today was an interesting day, but for different reasons. We woke up fairly early and spent the better part of the morning working on web projects. Hunger rolled in around two and we drove into town to get some food at a vegeterian restaurant I went to 3 years ago on Ninmanhemin Road. We parked, but the bike was sort of blocking some lady’s coffee stand. She looked at me with a look of order anticipation. I decided to move my bike, grabbed the handlebars lazily, and started rolling the contraption backwards. Crunch. There was a pain in my big toe. I looked down and saw a split nail and gushing blood. The metal kickstand had cut into my toenail.
It didn’t hurt much, but the nail was gnarly looking. I walked the bike to the better spot and sat down on the curb next to 7-Eleven while J. went looking for hydrogen peroxide. She found a bottle and I dumped a liberal amount on my toe. It foamed and began to throb with pain.
Sometimes the sight of my own blood makes me a little woozy. As I sat on the curb, the world began to get darker and quieter. I think I asked J. to hold my hand because I felt like I was going to–
I woke up slouched over with my head resting on a metal barricade. J’s voice had woken me up from what I thought was the evening sleep. But nope, I was lying on a Chiang Mai sidewalk in the middle of the afternoon. I sat there in a daze until the colors of the street became normal again. We got up and walked into 7-Eleven to get a cold water. But I started blacking out again, barely able to see the snack aisle as my vision faded. I was able to get out of the store and sit against the wall. I was okay.
We got a delicious lunch and waited around to make sure I was fine before driving home.
The nail, healing.
For dinner, J. and I were feeling lazy. We decided to have pizza delivered, one of the few delivery options available here. We chose a Thai company called The Pizza Company. Their website has a convenient ordering mechanism that make it easy to pick pizzas by picture and customize orders. No-goes were any of the seafood based pies. Other rejected combos included corn, thousand island dressing, and sausage stuffed crusts. We settled on a fairly generic large meat and veggie option with a 1.25l Pepsi. The total cost was 425bht($13). This is a pretty high price for a meal here, at least the ones we’re used to. But after not eating cheese and bread for a month, sometimes cravings need to be filled. But J. misremembered the price and said that it would be 495bht. We had planned to tip anyway, so I got out 540bht. When the driver arrived, he told me all sorts of things in quick, incomprehensible Thai. I was handed the pizza and soda and then asked him how much, in Thai. He responded with some incomprehensible number. I handed him the 540bht and smiled. He looked at me dumbfounded, then joyous, then a little confused again. I walked to the elevator with the pizzas as he and the security guard greeted each other. I turned and smiled at him again as the elevator doors closed. He smiled back, still confused.
It wasn’t until I got upstairs and looked at the receipt that his expression made sense. The receipt he handed me said the total was only 250bht, the cost of our pizza at medium size without a soda. But he delivered a large(I think) and a soda, so the receipt was wrong. But he didn’t know this and must of thought I tipped him the extravagant amount of 290bht($9) when in our minds we only tipped him 45bht($1.4) due to remembering the wrong total, but in REALITY we actually tipped him 115bht($3.6).
I find this all very hilarious, in part because in American dollars these amounts are trivial. But $9 is a ridiculous tip for a pizza boy here. And for the total cost of the pizza meal, J. and I could have eaten 9 modest Thai dishes a piece. But hey, I lost a lot of blood today and I needed the food. Plus, I’m still not thinking straight.