Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday December 26, 2016 8:02 PM

Northern Thailand

Karl and I meet up after our individual breakfasts to go cycling. We start northwest from the city center and ride for a long way along the river. The road continues to get narrower and more broken down as we get farther away from the city. It is finally a narrow dirt road until it ends entirely. The scenery is beautiful with green trees and grass, a running river, cows and oxen, and friendly people wondering what thes foreigners are doing riding their bicycles out here. It is also an up and down ride and gives us a good workout. It takes two hours to get to the narrow, single lane bridge across the river so that we can return home in another two hours. We both go relax a bit and have pizza for dinner at my request - this being a craving for some western food. As opposed to Monday where every club was packed, today nobody is out. We go to four clubs and they are all empty. So we call it an early evening and are back at the hotel by 11 pm.

Wednesday is a good day. After breakfast Karl and I start riding our bicycles towards the White Temple. Except that my internal odometer is off and we ride past the turnout and have to backtrack. We get back to the White Temple and only take a break and some pictures - we've both toured it before. Then we get back on the bicycles and head for the Khun Korn waterfalls. After a turn it is a good 11 kilometer climb to the base of the waterfalls - not steep but persistent. Then we hike in 1.5 kilometers to get to the top of the waterfalls. The waterfalls are beautiful and peaceful and we stay for a while. But the afternoon ir growing long so we start the ride back home. Just outside of Chiang Rai as I am pulling Karl along I hear a large crack and tree branch comes crashing down on me and my bicycle at 30 kilometers per hour. Fortunately the tree branch does not knock me off the bicycle and it kinda shatters and does not hit Karl. I just keep riding and when Karl pulls up alongside me we both start laughing hysterically nad making jokes about "Don't get in the way of Ray (the old ox) because he'll shut ram you and shatter you". Truth is stranger than fiction!

After a rest break at the hotel we eat dinner and Karl wants to go to the mall. In the truth is stranger than fiction category, we're in a sporting goods store and we run into one of Person T_U's friends, Chuck, from Los Angeles. The three of us are stunned at the coincidence and have a short conversation and move on - I can only take so much of Chuck. Since we rode so long and with the climb, Karl and I call it an early evening.

Despite the long day on Wednesday, I have difficulty sleeping. I wake up with a nasty left quad cramp and manage to relax and massage it away. But then I keep waking up with a circular dream about starting a business and getting through regulations. You can't start a business without filling out the paperwork but you can't fill out the paperwork if you don't have business income. What does this dream mean?

After breakfast Karl and I get out for another ride. At one point he tells me to slow down because we are both hungover from Wednesday's ride. Today we ride near the airport and then get into a number of small, narrow streets and keep riding and turning and have no idea where we are. We ask directions a time or two and consult the GPS phone, but have a fun ride.

On Thursday night Karl and I have dinner, then hit the night bazaar and then two clubs. The first club plays a lot of the Isaan province music to start with but gets better later with some decent EDM. We then walk over to the second club at 1 am and run into Person T_U's friend again. He was just leaving but he comes back in with us and the music is very good. But the club closes at 2 am so we grab a tuk-tuk home.

Karl leaves Chiang Rai for home in the morning. I have breakfast and go walking for 90 minutes. And then I have a relatively slow day in the room. I catch up on some web programming and some scraper scripts during the afternoon. Near 6pm I walk to a restaurant to meet up with Person Na_T. Person Na_T starts out nice but as he drinks his beer he keeps trying to push a beer on me which I don't drink at all - I've never drank beer and just don't want to drink tonight. Later we go to the night bazaar and the pushing continues, so I keep hinting at being tired from previous day's cycling and clubbing and manage to escape the situation.

Saturday is a travel day. I grab a tuk-tuk to the bus station and the 3.5 hour bus ride to Chiang Mai. As I'm waiting for the bus I note the "mountain" look of the Thai people here: the slightly darker skin, different facial features, usually longer hair, and bundled up in warm clothes. It's a look that I like. When I get to Chaing Rai I grab lunch, walk to the bicycle rental place for Sunday, and then relax. Late in the evening I go to the Chaing Mai bars and run into my acquaintance, one of the owners of the bar. He has long hair now and I don't recognize him at first. But I tell him that I like the longer hair and he appreciates it. I have a long conversation with a white guy who's lived in Thailand for 30 years and he likes to talk, so I just let him talk away. Later I meet Person Ta_T and we have a good conversation. He speaks more English than I speak Thai. Later we go walking and hang out in my hotel room for a while before he has to take leave. But we agree to have dinner on Sunday.

I have breakfast early on Sunday and walk to the bicycle rental place. I have a decent mountain bicycle and ride out and around the lake that I've gone to a few times before. It is just a two hour ride to get things rolling. I was up late again last night so the two hours is enough. I drop the bicycle off at the hotel concierge, grab a cool shower, and relax in the afternoon. Later Person Ta_T comes over and we go have a light dinner and then watch television/videos for a while. Person Ta_T goes off for a Christmas party and I call it an early night.

I wake up on Monday morning with the sniffles and a sore throat. Maybe the late nights and lack of sleep or maybe the air conditioning blowing all night. After breakfast I get on the mountain bicycle for a loop ride south of Chiang Mai. Except that I miss the loop turn so I ride out to Lamphun and turn around and go back. It's 50 kilometers of riding on a road that has large trees up against it for most of the way that provide nice shade. I relax for a bit at home and then go have food. Since I am not getting better, I have a veggie burger and salty french fries and later buy some antiobiotics and water to try and get better. I spend 3 hours laying down and watching television but the nose is still running. I hope some good sleep will get rid of most of this illness.