Current Location : Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia
Last entry date : 22/Feb/09
View of 3 countries from village of Sop Ruak. Myanmar on the uppper left side of the Mekong River, Laos on the right.
From 17/Jan/09 to 24/Jan/09
Friends who have been to ChiangMai say it’s a friendly place with comfortable climate and plenty of things to do while in the area. My friend Henry, who lives in Melbourne Australia (survey rate it as amongst the top place to live in the world !!), says he will later retire in ChiangMai. What’s so nice about ChiangMai ??
So I limped into CM with a broken bike on early Sat afternoon 17/Jan. To my delight, the BMW dealer’s workshop is business as usual till 5pm and the mechanics were familiar with my bike. They didn’t give me the looks, but got working on it immediately, very friendly assuring that I could ride away within a few days. Now, if same incident happened in Central Asia, I would kick myself v.hard since bike shops are almost non existent over there.
Despite the time lost due to my “slide incident”, we (Anja, Holger & myself) made it just in time that evening to the mini-meet which the biking website, Horizons Unlimited, was hosting in the city. Present were other long distance riders on their way somewhere … and other iron-butt enthusiasts. A small crowd but many kms covered on 2-wheels. Of course, helmet off to the organiser speaker rider (Greg Frazier) who rode 4x round-the-world !! To me, that sounds like a lot of riding.
I start to ♥ CM when I saw it was not really a “city” despite it being the 2nd largest city in Thailand. It’s rather slow paced and orderly, unlike Bangkok. A bit like a small town that refused to change its way. I have the impression there is everything I need “nearby”. Anja & Holger found a clean & cheap guesthouse within the charming historical city wall for 250 baht / room per night, with real hot shower, so I joined them there. Around the corner I rented an old scooter with manual gear shift for 100 baht/day – good deal. I found good food and these are reasonably priced. Its true, the people are friendly and smiling. So is the weather, friendly. What more to ask for ?? Now, I know why many foreigners are here on long term basis. Henry does have a good argument point.
A week later, the 3 of us rode north towards the Golden Triangle area (historically known for its opium trade) with intention to cross the Mekong River at the Chiang Khong border checkpoint into Laos. On my “if I had the time list” : would like to visit the hill tribes, see some real village life, but … its definitely worth another visit in the area.
Its here at Chiang Khong that I say goodbye to my riding company Anja & Holger. They decided to go back to BMW CM as Anja’s rear brake problems did not go away. Would have loved to go back with them to comfy CM, but … still got thousands of kms to cover.
Its definitely great riding company with these RTW (round-the-world) Dakar riders. I hope to see them in Nice when they’re on their way back to Germany from their world trip in 2010 ??