Memories of Thailand - 2012 - Part 2Dick Woods & Carolyn Myers-Woods
The fourth day was scheduled to do a cross country mountain bike adventure, but the company cancelled out on this day, primarily because Carolyn couldn't do the ride due to her painful back injury. Also, the company had conflicts with their tour leader’s schedules. That day, Dick took Carolyn to the Chiang Mai Ram hospital and we saw an orthopedic doctor. He took x-rays and said that sitting for the long flight to Thailand had compressed the vertebrae in her lower back, and were pinching nerves, mostly in the tailbone area. The total bill for doctor, hospital, x-rays and medicine was $64.00. (192 T Bhat)
The next day, we had scheduled the Golden Triangle trip. The Golden Triangle is the point where Thailand, Burma, Laos and China all meet in the Mekong River. The start of the three day trip was a drive of several hours (280 Kilometers) to get up to the White Temple in Chiang Rai Province. There, we got out and walked around. It was just beautiful, and a lot of people were there looking at the Temple. We then stopped at the Opium Museum, which was really interesting. However, the visit involved too much uphill walking for Carolyn; so we got a wheelchair. The museum had six floors and we walked up an incline to the top floor. It had a display about the Queen mother who had started programs to rehabilitate the opium addicts. Then, we went to our hotel for that night, a very upscale Imperial Hotel, left our luggage and the van took us out into the countryside to bicycle. Besides the guide and the driver, there was only one other bicyclist in the group - Helmut. Helmut, from Germany, was in Thailand for a month's holiday and had done many adventurous activities. The path that we bicycled on was a dirt path, around rice paddies and fields - with many bumps and holes - Carolyn biked for part of it, but then got in the van. We ate dinner that night at a diner across from the hotel that had really good Thai food.
The next day we toured the Golden Triangle exhibits in Chiang Rai province and looked across the Mekong River at Laos and Burma. Then, we loaded up in the van and left town - they put us on our bikes a little way out of town. We rode in some rural areas and went through small villages, also riding through the Thai police check points (the drug check road blocks). We stopped for lunch at a resort/restaurant. The front and side yards and even the back yard were devoted to vegetable and flower gardens. They raised the food that they served. Needless to say, it was awesome!
We stayed that night in a Hmong tribal village at Ban Kiewkern, the Lanjia Lodge. There was a big hill (18% grade) getting to this village, which the tour leader and one rider conquered. The village was part of the ecco tourism in which the Hmongs are participating. Asian Oasis has worked closely with local communities to create sustainable community based tourism experiences while conserving the natural surroundings. The veranda of our lodge overlooked the Mekong River. This lodge was especially uncomfortable for Carolyn - the mattress was on the floor! Getting up from and down to that mattress was especially painful. Even dinner,set up on the veranda, was a challenge, as it was set up to sit on the floor to eat.
The lodgeroom we stayed in that night was at the bottom of a hill. There were bricks steps for going down - we counted 81 steps. Each one was agony for Carolyn, but glad that she did have a cane, and Dick supported the other side! The next morning I had to go up those 81 steps! Each step pulled across those lower back muscles.
On the way back to Chiang Mai, the bikers rode through villages and fields. We rode through more Thai police check points--they were screening for drug smugglers. The bicycle guide and the van driver knew the good places to eat; so we had some great Thai food along the way.
Later, we met up with Dick's brother. He took us out to the village where they live (Pachee) and showed us the house that they had built, which was very nice - beautiful and spacious. The yard was very well kept and nicely landscaped.
Dick's brother took us around the area, showing us the sights - to the Dam which is named Mang Ghot, and is close to their house, to the orchid farm, the elephant farm, to the shopping areas, to the markets where local handmade articles are available, to the night market and the day market. Unfortunately, we were handicapped in our sightseeing, because it was so difficult for Carolyn to walk very far. We had to stop for ice cream a few times. They have Swanson ice cream stores in several places and they are a popular local place to go for special treats.
The plane ride home was painful for Carolyn. But we did get the aisle seat on each flight, and that helped. We had another layover in Seoul, Korea, but it was only 9 hours; so KALwouldn't give us a complimentary room. There was nothing open at 5:00 a.m.; so Carolyn had to wait a few hours for her coffee!! They did have a few shops in that area. Incheon is a huge airport and very spacious and nice--looks fairly new.
Thailand is a beautiful country and it was good to see the northern part, which is so interesting. It seems to be prosperous - so many new vehicles on the road, especially new pickup trucks. Many of the pickup trucks had cow catchers on the front? The villages were nice and fairly neat--the cities were trashy to a degree.
Spice Roads Bicycle Touring Company is a good company and takes good care of its clients. We would enjoy going with them again, in another area of Asia.
Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Myers-Woods