After riding for hardly a kilometer in Northern Thailand, we had already beginning to realize that biking in Thailand will be a different experience.
I ceased action four times in my first kilometer biking through the trails: Hopped off my bike to gape at this monstrous banyan tree that swerved over the road. Its trunk was about five meters wide and was wrapped with numerous prayer cloths; pranced off again to ogle at this gigantic golden Buddha concealed in the darkness among the thicket of rubber trees; to avoid a clucking, fluttering rooster came screeching to a stop; jumped off again to capture a photograph a passing motor scooter with a family of four riding on it.
All these amazing views arrived before I got to witness ginormous bejeweled chickens.
Motorbiking – Best Way To Explore Thailand
Thailand is rapidly becoming a new destination for boomers on their feets and travelers on bikes wanting a flavor of the exotic cultural side of Thailand with their workout. Motorbiking trippers are increasing by scores in Thailand nowadays. Back then, bike trips were almost unimaginable. Before we set out to book our trip, biking friends of ours were not aware of the development of the hill trails around Chiang Mai. Upon seeing our interest, they inquired, ‘Isn’t it kind of hot and flat?” The hills in Northern Thailand are neither flat nor hot. To be honest, they were huge, and the weather was amazing.
My biking partner, Kathi and I decided to try a mix of mountain and road biking. We did discover a tour that presented us with comparatively easier routes, length, and difficulty-wise. Our trips consisted of riding from village to village, meetings and gear and supplies being carried by a support van and staying overnight in plush lodges. The idea sounds perfect. What we had not anticipated was going through tiger territory on our bike rides.
Your Trip Is As Good As Your Touring Agency
I met Kathi and King, our guide that morning. Our slim-like-matchstick of a guide was patiently waiting for us by the vine-covered brick wall. King is a propagandist for biking through Thailand: He takes pleasure in introducing the visitors and tourists the undivulged delights in the trails and roads of Thailand. He works for a motorbiking tours company in Thailand, this company is one of the numerous small firms serving travellers and tourists and taking them into Thai hills on motorbikes.
I found myself enthralled by the uncommon but beautiful treasures revealed during our ride. When King directed us up a hill, through a gate and said, “Very exotic temple” I was dying to find out how many more fascinating sights we will come across.
The Case Of The Bejeweled Chicken
To be fair, the word ‘exotic’ cannot do justice to what we found. It cannot even begin to cover the vision that was Wat Ban Den temple. One thing which can be said with all certainty is that Thai people know how to do ornate temples amazingly. The roofs are corkscrew-shaped, elaborate moldings and carvings and, obviously, the splash of vibrant colors. However, that is not how Wat Ban Den Temple was like. It was certainly ostentatious and buoyant but not regular Thai temple flamboyant. If you can imagine a high Disneyland, a kaleidoscope of golden-colored leafs wrapped tropical trees, sculptures of topiary beasts made of never-seen-before trees, a plethora of minuscule private prayer temples, teak and gold halls the definition of grandeur. The gorgeous ground is scattered with chiseled Thai Zodiac characters: there were tiled-scaled snakes, 12-metre long, trailing after fluorescent orange-colored tigers who are growling at gigantic chickens swathed in almost blinding countless mirrors and jewels.
Being the only Westerners present, agog and ogling, Kathi and I spent an hour absorbing all the splendour that was around us. Crestfallen to find that it was already time to head back, we realized that we still had a lot to cover according to the day’s agenda: 140 kilometers to be exact.
Losing Your Way In Labyrinth Of Trails
Our guide took us to the wall of the temple and showed us the route we had to take in the valley below us. We walked down, to the vibrantly green valley, to ride across the levees through marshes, villages, and fields for hours. After that, we climbed on our bikes up nicely by the forest-covered peak lines through the day. We took a bunch of Jeep trails, roads, and single tracks to keep our trip interesting, which it didn’t need.
What seemed perfect from a distance was even more better when we got there. We zigzagged through the mud roads in valley, rode past the rice, bok choy, and garlic fields, at times under the blistering sun, other times in the cooling shade of banana, papaya and tamarind trees. We saw a line of bamboo houses on stilts, sight of farmers up to their thighs in slurry, wearing conical hats, yelling at the buffaloes or hand pulling the crops, made us stop to watch.
I like hands-on learning and figuring my way out of things. Same goes for my biking habits. The scheduled trips with specific routes that is just not me. But I need to confess that without King’s help, navigating through crisscrossing, labyrinth-like backroads and trails would have been next to impossible. It could have been dangerous. We asked King to not just zoom past the people we come across during our ride but also tell us about them. He was happy to do so. His amazingly vast knowledge about the people and the plants made our trip even better. We stopped after every once in awhile, and he lavished us with his extensive knowledge and fascinating stories about the locals.
Origin Of Thai Delicacies
The best part of the trip was when we suspended our ride to let King take us to a mud hut where two men were sitting down by a tiny ditch in the red mud, under the scorching heat. We were confused but transfixed to the spot, watching the men quietly sanding the edges of the furrow. It was explained to us by King that these men were actually following tunnels of a specific red ant species, they were searching for their eggs in the nest. The eggs of the ants are considered a delicacy in Thailand, like caviar. King, with a sardonic smile, shared with us they have been rooted to the same spot for hours. The eggs are sold for a dollar, “Not the same life as you.”
Traveling Through The Tiger Trails
We were introduced to the cadence and the tastes of the remainder of the trip, that afternoon in our ride up to the hill. We took well-graded dirt routes. These roads were accesses for farmers to groves and thicket of fields of corn and rubber trees chiseled out of the forest. After that, we turned towards the backcountry through single-track routes. Rocky peaks with breathtaking sights down the valley, through bamboo groves, and across dingy tunnels. This trip was something I have never experienced before. To assert the just said statement, we were told we are riding through tiger country: Sri Lanna National Park. I couldn’t help looking here and there haphazardly. I was freaked out. We kept going ahead, King told us, “You really don’t want to see a tiger.”
Once burned and twice shy, the last thing I wanted was to injure myself and appoint a personal injury lawyer, again. The most crucial part of the trip is to hire the best and the most reliable touring firm. Still, you cannot foresee accidents. The worst case scenario occurs when you have held the firm or somebody else accountable for the accident and hire a personal injury lawyer: All part of the package.
Making Friends With Villagers
Two hours spent in the hills later, our long ride came to an end on a long downslope. We were out of the jungle and on asphalt. Mysteriously, our support van appeared out of nowhere. We jumped in, and we were taken to our lodge where we had a great meal, numerous Singha beers and got to witness a gorgeous sunset which turned everything a light yellow. Our nights were spent under thick duvets, and we didn’t feel cold once during the entire freezing night.
The last couple of days of your trips were spent on high hills. We covered 120 more kilometres, came across hill tribes that had come from Myanmar. We traversed through Karen and Palaung fields villages. It was time for local history lessons from King, so we stopped. We sat down among the Palaung villagers, they showed us the leaves they were crushing to make soap. Wild ginger and garlic they had pulled out from under the palm trees. The lessons include information about the spirit houses erected by every house on stilts.
Traveling on motorbikes was a good idea. Trekking could have never let us cover this much ground. The villages we visited usually never meet Westerners, but they let us. We were crowded by women, chewing betel-nut, trying to make a sale of their jewelleries and weavings. Goods they would have traveled kilometers to sell.
The Only Journey You Need To Take Is The One You Are On Right Now
Final few hours of our exploration brought us away from the hills. We were back across the valley, on the roads. Now, we were exploring the foot of the ginormous hill which bestrode the entirety of our expedition. Forest-covered, 2100 meters high, edgy black limestone called Doi Chiang Dao is popular for its famed cave favoured by tourists. Like the entire trip, King kept us away from the popular and common sights. We rode around the north of the peak to end our expedition with yet another temple. We were at a somewhat obscured, Wat Tham Pha Plong Temple. With our bikes parked below, we climbed up the mountain taking 510 steep stairs. Constructed inside a cave, we reached the monastery. The sights we experienced were magnificent: The birds, the monkeys. After every 20 or so steps, we found ourselves amazed at the hanging wooden signs with meaningful Buddhist thoughts, “Do not grumble when you suffer”; “Look and contemplate within to see the truth”; the one which seemed like it was written especially for us and couldn’t have encapsulated our trip better, “The only journey you need to take is the one you are on right now.”
Please feel free to contact us anytime.