Thailand 4
After leaving Laos we headed for north Thailand, We stopped for the night at a place called Chumphae, were we found a decent hotel for about £ 4 then the next day we rode on to Nan, we found a guesthouse, cleaned ourselves up then went for a wander about, as has become our habit, we left the camera at the guesthouse, and guess what there was a big festival of some kind going on, there were stalls everywhere, a stage, on which there seemed to be a talent contest of some kind going on, there was a band, various singers and groups of women/girls doing various local dance routines in the local costumes and also monks swinging swords and breathing fire. All this and not one picture, we decided that as there was so much going on we would return the following night and take some pictures - there were grandstands and huge stalls, including the Thai equivalent of the Sally-Ann (Salvation Army for those of us born after 1966 - Jenny :-)) with a big pool of water, almost a swimming pool, where you could win a cup or a plate or a Scooter !! We had figured that this would probably go on all week and as it was a Tuesday we thought it would still be there the following night, Oh how wrong you can be, the following night everything except the grandstands was gone. However, we wandered around like lost sheep the next day looking for electrical connectors for the bikes and just generally milling around. Cliff got fed up of being on his feet later that afternoon and took a rest (poor old soul). I wandered off to find a CD shop - had to buy a copy of the No.1 Thai Band that we had heard playing in every petrol station in Thailand. I found it easy enough - the cover stating "Karaoke" version - errrr numb nut bought it without even thinking that "this one doesn't have the words". Getting back to the room all excited I slammed it into the computer only to get a few bars of music then don't work with the computer. Then the not so well tuned brain nowadays, kicked in - twit. Back down to the record shop - nothing but Karaoke stuff there and she wasn't having any of it that this was the wrong one. Another lesson learnt. Found another shop and bought the right CD - yeah bogie till year balls fall off !!! (you ain't got no balls to boogie off Mrs - Cliff). This left me with one extra CD which I donated to the next person that cleaned or entered the guesthouse room - I could not bring myself to bring a Karaoke CD home.

The next day it was off the Chiang Mai. The road generally was extremely good - apart from the lack of it in one spot (see picture). We had found the recommended guest house but there was only one room available and the bed was rock hard so off to find another. After riding around for a while we came to the conclusion that anything within our price range meant roughing it big time so we gave up and booked into a real hotel with air conditioning, swimming pool (bloody freezing) and a soft bed - 500 Baht (£8) being expensive.

At least they put bollards out !!! This piccie really makes you realise that we have returned to civilisation, either that or there are some cones missing off the M 25
We met up with Rupert who lives here having met him in Kathmandu and Bangkok as a friend of Seans. He was doing the fatherly bit with his daughter (his wife, well, woman anyway, being Thai). We ate at wonderful seafood restaurants - Cliff opting to bring a Burger King takeaway with him one night ! We even visited the zoo with him and his daughter. Apparently Chiang Mai Zoo has been approved to take two Panda's and they are very proud of it and their care of the animals. Even so they are still wild-ish animals cooped up in a pen. Also in Chaing Mai we met the oldest overlanders in town (or perhaps on the planet???). Greg Frazier and David Unkovich and a Polish American called Arthur who set off to do around the world on a bike at the age of 71 - both Greg and David have been at this game for years now. Greg is a writer and we are not sure what David is but it pays for his biking. Both are over 50 - by quite a long way, have Thai girlfriends (sometimes) and both still have that hippy feel about them - more so Greg than David - sorry Greg but Jenny still can't get over the hair dye ;-) We had several beers with them both and good biker/traveller talk.
Grecian Greg, What a pose from the oldest biker in town........pure white hair under that Grecian :-)
Rupert - our guide for the day in his hired Suzuki Jeep. Tara (the little one) was fast asleep in the back - god know how with the driving of her dad !
Apart from doing the usual stuff we also spent a couple of days learning the basics of Thai Massage whilst we were in Chang Mai, and Cliff went to a Chiropractor to get his back put right, finally, and we even learnt all about the cure anything herbal steam bath (we now have a couple of herbal things to try for ourselves, though whether or not they actually do any good is another matter, but we will give them a try).

After spending nearly a week in Chiang Mai we headed to Pai, As it was not very far (only 100 miles) we decided that we would take a longer but hopefully more scenic route to Pai, Now according to our map this was all sealed tarmac with a short bit that could be a bit dodgy (about 8-10 miles) Well it turned out to be more dirt than tarmac, the first 50 miles or so was tarmac, but then it turned to dirt track, approximately 90 miles later we got onto the main road for the last 10 or so miles into Pai. Most of the dirt track was ok BUT some of it was Terrible, with huge channels cut by the running water on the up and down hill bits. Cliff had a bit of an OH SHIT !!! moment on one uphill as he bounced out of one channel into another and then into a large chunk of rock, at this point the only thing that was giving him any control over the situation was the forward momentum of the bike, this he lost as he hit the rock and the front wheel left the ground, he shut the throttle, this stopped the uphill wheelie but resulted in stalled bike, At this point things started to go pear shaped, as he started to come back down the hill, trying desperately to stop the bike using the engine and the front and rear brakes whilst hopping on his left leg downhill on a rough dirt track, This may have been easy on a Honda XR250 enduro bike, but on a BMW F650 with our whole life strapped to it, the situation took on nightmare proportions, thankfully he managed to keep it upright until the bike rolled back into a small hole that was enough to help him come to a stop, by this time Cliff had safely delivered a whole litter of Kittens !!!!!!!!!!

Here endith the road !! Actually this was a wrong turn but only a couple of miles later the road really did end, we don't have any pictures or the bad bits as we were to busy trying to ride the bikes through to stop and take pictures !!!!!
Jenny also had one of those OH SHIT moments when she got stuck in one of the channels and gently dropped the bike, because she was in a channel the bike ended up resting on the left pannier at about 45 degrees, picking up the bike was one thing (which she managed on her own, no mean feat I can tell you) but as she attempted to remount it turned into a comedy scene, Cliff was to busy with his own problems to help, but each time she tried to remount the bike started to fall over, after several attempts she finally managed to get back on the bike and then in a do or die manoeuvre she 'Gave It Large and blasted he way out of the channel, once we were back onto an easy bit we stopped for a break, Jenny was not a happy bunny, complaining that she should not have to ride a dirt road on her Birthday, she said quite a few other unrepeatable things as well !!!
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