Breakfast at the hotel with a long and slow morning. Katja is going for a yoga workshop today.
After breakfast we organize a few things with the hotel. We change room, as we would have to do tomorrow, today so we don’t have to bother with it tomorrow when we’ll be out hiking again.
Then we drive off looking for a big bike rental. It’s a lot of rentals here in Chiang Mai and it’s worth the time to check the different ones. Prices and insurances vary hugely and that makes it a puzzle to choose the right one. We go to one together and look at a 950 with back support for the passenger. It looks nice, will have more than enough power, but has no side bags.
I drive Katja down to the yoga workshop and go back to the hotel. I pack all our things and move to the new room. It’s a lot more natural light in it, but with the sunlight comes the heat. Can’t really win that one.
I Google and read forums to try to figure out what bike rental to use. I’m down to a few, and discard the first we visited. I drive off and visit a few to check on prices and then get a haircut. Paying less than a quarter of what Katja did yesterday I say I’m in the right place.
Then I go to the yoga place and spend twenty minutes waiting for Katja to finish while I write up today’s text so far.
Katja comes out very happy and we drive to the rental shop to return the motorbike. We walk home from there and shower before cooling down a little. Almost forty degrees with a little humidity goes a long way for taking the juice out of you. We get a few blog posts ready and Katja Skype with her mom. Then it’s time for lunch.
We go just around the corner where we have found a little cafe with spicy food. Katja order very spicy and the lady don’t want to give her before I make the universal “crazy” sign by pointing to my temple and swirling the hand. That helps and we have a nice meal. Katja don’t find it too spicy and is happy she got that dish.
We walk on to try to find the Norwegian flag, but the store we thought could have it was a bust. Night market is our only hope then.
We continue a little further to Mr. Mechanic, a motorcycle rental. We get a Honda Phantom 200cc with side bags. That narrows our need for backpack on the trip. It’s very different to go back to a decent bike again as I have only been breaking by handles for almost a year. Using the foot for break takes some getting used to, but the traffic in town rarely goes above forty km/h. We even got a couple of good helmets that actually fits us. That’s the first on the entire tour. Good thing though as we’re gonna wear them plenty of hours these upcoming days.
We take a tour around the outside of the city just to put some millage on the bike and my skills. We pop into a store or two and finally go to the night market. It’s still under “construction” so we sit down at a cafe and enjoy a mango shake. The fruit juices here makes everything at home taste like fake rubber gum.
Then the lightning and thunder starts. We get back on the bike and ride to the hotel. On that way back to the bike a American man address us. He didn’t see Katja’s helmet and wanted to warn us he’d just gotten “a fine” for riding on the back with no helmet. We cruised around two corners and got waved in by the police.
If you’ve followed tightly you know we had our run ins with police on motorbike. We’ve several times had to bribe us out in Cambodia but also in Bali.
“Here we go again”, I exclaimed to Katja. “Drivers license, please”, the policeman said. This is where it normally go wrong without a “valid” international drivers license. I show him mine, he checks the tags on the bike, hands me back my license and says:”thank you, move out.”
Katja is shocked, but quickly recovers yelling:”go go go!” I take every horsepower out of the poor 200cc we ride. We get out of there and are happy to meet real police for a change.
We just ditch the helmets at the hotel and go outside and get a tuk-tuk to take us back to the night market. It’s more alive now and it’s huge. Several streets are closed for traffic to accommodate the stalls, but there are indoors areas as well. Resembling bazaars more than a market. We get a few things, but nothing big. I look at a couple of knives, but they charge a little too much. It might not see daylight in Vietnam the way they take the knives out of my backpack once it’s checked in on a flight.
We continue our quest for a Norwegian flag. We even try to buy one from a restaurant, but return empty handed.
A tuk-tuk ride later and we’re break at the hotel. We pack bags, fill water and make ready for tomorrow’s hike.
“When things are simple, fewer mistakes are made. The most expensive part of a building is the mistakes.”
― Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth