South East Asia (mostly) by Bike Part 1 Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang

Fleeing the Atlantic storms in January and February, Anne and I travelled extensively in SE Asia.

Initially, we flew to Chiang Rai in NE Thailand, where we enjoyed a couple of tourist days. We had arranged to meet our friend, Jill, who joined us with two companions during a break in their course on yin yoga.

Cherie ( in large hat it was her Birthday) , Jill, Anne and Ting Ting

We shared a van and driver for the day , visiting ….

The unfinished White Temple
The Dark ( wood ) Temple which serves as an exhibition park for modern art. ( I bought the T-shirt).
The Golden Triangle where the Ruak River, separating Thailand from Myamar joins the Mekong with Laos on the far bank (Anne bought the T-shirt)
Chiang Saen, as ever in Thailand there were Wats and temples; shown a Chedi (usually built over cremation relics ) and a brick Ubosot, ordination hall

A very full day wasn’t ended, that evening we visited a marvelous flower festival and dined outside

Anne & Jill in a tunnel of orchids
Anne and me in the lovers’ bower, or whatever it says it is in Thai.

The next day ….
Ting Ting practiced her yin yoga on me, then
Anne and I borrowed bikes from the hotel to tour Chiang Rai’s Temples …

Then our ride proper, organised by Redspokes, began. We were lucky with our co-riders, the sort of Group, both diverse and interesting, you would hope to be with on a challenging and interesting trip like that, from Thailand, across Laos into Vietnam.

Bob, road racer from Yorkshire, Daniel, an English educationalist working in China, Dee, an American professor long resident in Australia, Pinki, Anne, Rico, our host that day with his cook/ companion, Jon, our guide in Thailand, Andy, plumber extraordinaire, and Hazel, a master ( mistress? ) florist, Quentin, an English journalist based in Hong Kong and me

The three countries were very different. Thailand is a prosperous kingdom. In its little populated NE we rode on goods roads with little traffic. Laos is poorer. It is a beautiful country , worth visiting at least until the Chinese have damned all its wild rivers. Vietnam is different again, green with wet bund rice between mountains, and showing clear signs of economic (and cultural) transformation, the roads often potholed.

On our first full riding day
Approaching Chiang Kham, a common temple feature a dragon -fringed flight of stairs
Oriental scene, a wooden bridge. Dee looking into the fish pond
Karst landscape , note the prayer flags. It meant there was more climbing to do …
Before the border with Laos
which seemed like a garden
We rode on to Pak Beng. Early in the morning, monks were fed sticky rice by supplicants
From where we took an all day river boat down the Mekong. Being in the dry season, mud banks are exposed, in addition the Mekong’s flow has been reduced by Chinese damning of its tributaries
Andy and Hazel with Quentin, his Fedora only lacked the card marked “Press” in its band
Anne with a blanket wrapped Dee. It was cold on the river
We stopped at the cave of a thousand Buddhas….
Then landed in the early evening at the former Royal Laos capital, Labang Prabang
We stayed at a smart hotel fringing a lily filled pond. Anne thought however it was the worst location for mosquitoes
The next day, a rest day, we toured the superb temples by Bike
Before eating out on Street Food

To be continued……

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