Wednesday April 28, 2004, 86 km (53 miles) – Total so far: 96 km (60 miles)

Our ride begins as we head north on smaller roads by the Ping River. We ride by the American Consulate a couple of times, looking as suspcious as we can in bright lycra, to see if their wall mounted cameras are for real. Yes, one actually moved. About half a dozen bridges span the Mae Ping and we cross them back and forth just to say the we’ve been on both banks of the river.

Two underpasses bring us even further north, our general direction, till we hit the Super Highway, make a left and connect with Route 107 that runs all 195 kms north to the towns of Fang and Thaton.

We pass by some local landmarks like a Women’s Prison, a Drug Rehab Center and some Special Forces training base. Needless to say, we didn’t stop at such illustrious institutions till Mae Malai 40 kms later. There’s a tim sum restaurant here that everyone stops by for lunch, and they sell out by mid day.

After a great lunch at Mae Malai, the hills appear and we grind up slowly, stomachs full, legs heavy and the sun becoming very hot. Traffic thins out, and the designated bicycle/motorcycle lanes that lined Highway 107 out of Chiang Mai have all but disappeared. In it’s place is dirt and grass, but the occasional car or truck gives us a wide berth. Countryside drivers never really seem to be in a hurry. Another 35 kms on, we get to Chiang Dao town proper, a narrow street with one traffic light and two rows of old wooden shop houses with a 7/11 as the only sign of modernity. A new bypass skirts the town, dissecting old farm roads and exposes previously hard to find country style resorts once hidden in dense foliage. We take a break, more like a second lunch at the busiest day time place in this sleepy town. A restaurant with a big car park next to a gas station. A lot of vehicles stop here and there’s an English menu of sorts, a pricey coffee place with a few pretty girls that hang out at such pricey coffee places. Look out for ‘Krua Chiang Dao’ opposite the Chiang Dao Inn Hotel. It’s another 7 kms on a slight incline heading west that leads us through a very shady road to an oasis of a place, the Chiang Dao Nest. It’s the low season and we’ve got the resort to ourselves. The resort website promises deep sleep on quality spring matresses and comforters. No TVs, just sounds of the forest. Sold !

Doi/mountain Chiang Dao is Thailand’s 3rd highest peak and supposedly a last vestige of the Himalayas in South East Asia. It’s very scenic around these parts and there at least 10 places to stay in and around Chiang Dao town http://www.chiangdao.com

A lot of cycling tour outfits do their tours around the trails near Chiang Dao. If like me, you’re averse to crowds and strangers, especially crowds of strangers, some with with supposedly better bikes (blonde Swedish girls on any kind of bicycle excepted) you can always buy the Chiang Dao hiking and biking trails map from Wicha at the Nest, and head out on your own.

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