It didn’t get colder during the night. We tossed and turned but got no real good sleep. We’re still ready for day 2 though.
A simple breakfast at the hotel and we’re off. We planned on taking a cup of coffee at a little place we found last night, but despite the lady’s assurance that they opened at eight it’s closed when we drove by. Then it’s us and the open road again.
The roads are very good. Even asphalt with a minimum of humps. It quickly turns into twists and turns and climbs steeply up towards the mountains. We’re almost alone on the road and can take it easy and slow.
We have driven around twenty kilometres from Pai when we make our first stop. It’s on top of the and a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. It’s jungle and farmland side by side.
We enjoyed a cup of coffee on the top and spoke briefly with a German girl who is on the same track as us. She’ll use six days in stead if three and will stop more frequently than us.
The northern region of Thailand is not lawless, but I have heard it’s not under strict government control. There are big areas where there are little to no healthcare, education or other welfare. We’re close to the Myanmar border and like a lot of situations like this the tribes doesn’t really respect any borders. They’ve been roaming these hills for generations and continue to do so at present day. We passed through a checkpoint I first thought was police control. Turned out it was military add they check the locals ID and just waved us farangs through.
We had planned to stop by the three caves at Tham Lod today. It’s eight km off the main road, and we found the sign and turned. It took us through housing and into the forest. There we found a school before we finally got to the caves.
We paid our entrance fee and got a guide to takes us along. It’s mandatory to go with a guide and we found out why a little later.
It’s a short walk from the entrance of the park to the cave. There’s a little stream flowing into the cave and were transported on as bamboo raft. The entrance is filed with birds flying catching insects. Birds poop. A lot. We got through the first part and then darkness fell upon us. Our guide has a kerosene lamp that she uses to guide us. We’re let of the raft and start walking into that darkness. The guide, a little lady that’s so little she barely keep the lamp off the floor, tells us in on word the different things to see. ” Elephant”, “Snake” and so forth. It’s only one source of light, the kerosene lamp. If that were to go out it would be pitch black. Luckily it doesn’t and we walk through a loop, cross the river on a bridge and move into cave two. The most exiting element there is a 2-3000 year old painting of a deer, and a bow and arrow. Back down to the river and back on the raft.
I bought a little bag of fish food at the entrance and the guide tells me to use it. The little stream boils with fish swimming to catch the food I throw in. It’s enough fish for me not to put my hand in to wash off the stink of the fish food.
Then we heard the bats. The other opening comes into view and there’s insanely many bats flying around. Bats poop more than birds. At least it feels that way. Everything at the entrance to cave three is covered in bat droppings. A walk up lot of stairs and the railings and steps are all covered in shit. Aiaiai. And it smells.
We go up and see a coffin also presumably 2000 years old. That’s twice the age of our viking ships in Norway. I’m skeptical to what I see versus what I hear, but why ruin a good story with facts?
Back down to the raft luckily without any tripping our falling and we get back up the way we came. Bat droppings fall in the water on all sides of us and it’s clearly the reason for the fish to stay in the cave. It’s eaten as soon as it lands. We don’t get that much on us, but we don’t go free either. Urgh.
Back out in the sunshine we walk back to the bike and take off. Food in places like this is usually not worth the charge. We drive a little down their main road and find a village. We eat noodle soup there, maybe the most spicy dish I’ve had on this tour. My sinuses are now clean from the inside out.
It’s another 65 kilometers to Mae Hong Son and it’s up and down with turns going every which way. We stop at a view point to take pictures and I enjoy the road trip feeling.
Ten kilometres before Mae Hong Son we get rain. Jackets and pants on and we drive the rest of the way. When putting on the jackets a little branch with nuts on it falls on Katja. Well, sort of. It falls on the bike, but it’s close enough for her to be absolutely sure it’s a sign. “Tre nøtter til Askepott”. Need I say more?
Relatively dry we find our hotel and check in. Not a word if English seems to be had between the two ladies, but we’re now in a large room with lots of windows and natural light. We missed a little regarding town center, but not so much it’ll be a bother.
We go out for dinner around five. We walk through town and find a little restaurant that’s been given good reviews on Tripadvisor. It delivered. Good food, good service and splendid company.
It poured down outside while we ate, but cleared up before we left. There’s a little pond in town and we walked around it looking at people, buildings and the local fauna. At one point we commented on a nice house to a guy sitting on his terrace. That rewarded us with instructions for how to find the local street food in town. As little late, but still.
We had to stop by a bar to grab a beer to get out off the rain again, before we came to the street food street. They were just about too close up shop all of them when we arrived. It’s clearly nothing much happening after the sun goes down here.
We walk back to the hotel and feel we’ve missed out on something. First there’s a huge firework going on, now there’s music playing like it’s a party nearby. We’ve got 360 km to cover on the bike tomorrow otherwise I would have gone out to find the party. The alarm is set for 6:30, departure at 7. We’ll visit Thailand’s highest mountain tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll be in Chiang Mai before dark.
“When you’re the most happening person at the party, it’s time to leave”
― Kelly Cutrone, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You