Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday December 21, 2015 8:02 PM

Chiang Rai

Tuesday is a transit day to Chiang Rai. I catch the 3 hour bus ride and get to my hotel. A new friend, Shalee, comes to visit and he takes me to buy a few supplies and we just hang out until he has to go to work. At 6pm I start walking into town. It is a 2 kilometer walk and I manage to not get lost from this hotel which is down a number of small streets. As I finish dinner Tree calls so I meet him and he eats his dinner as I just enjoy the conversation. And later we head back to the hotel.

On Wednesday Tree and I catch a tuk-tuk to town after breakfast and rent motorbikes. We ride for almost two hours out to a Royal Villa, and arboretum, and a new temple. We spend a lot of time walking around and taking pictures and finally head for home. Later Tree and I go to have dinner.

When I wake up on Thursday I feel a slight irritation near the back of my throat - probably due to the riding the motorbike in the dirty air for so long (even though I had a mask on). I take some Airborne and then have breakfast. Tree goes off to a marketplace to buy gifts for friends and I just relax a bit. Mr Karl arrives a bit after noon so we go to have lunch. And then drop Tree off at the hotel so that he can get back to the airport. Mr Karl and I go rent motorbikes and go to a shopping mall for some supplies and we meet up with Shalee. After relaxing a bit the three of us go out to dinner. And then the fun begins.

We go to a Thai restaurant down on the riverfront. We start talking with the cute Thai waiter Nan. When we finish dinner, Mr Karl, Shalee, and I go back to the hotel to discuss the situation and the plan. Eventually Shalee goes to pick up Nan and they come back to our hotel. (Both Shalee and Nan have their own motorbikes but its rainy and wet and cold tonight.) We get through a very lively and spirited discussion that involves translation between English and Thai and some mis-spoken English words that get everyone laughing. It is getting late - it is near 1 am - so I take to sleep.

Friday starts late but Karl and I walk into town to extend the motorbike rentals, find an ATM, and rent bicycles. There is a big tour of Myanmar going on this coming weekend, so most bicycle shops are closed for the weekend and do not have rentals. We finally find a place with old, borken down city bikes for rent: Single gear freewheel bicycles with an upright riding position and a basket on the front. We're desperate, so we grab these bicycles and start north. After getting side-tracked and passing it, we get to the Black House north of Chiang Rai, Thailand. We wander around the Black House and surrounding buildings and then ride home. Shalee comes over to my new hotel room (because the hotel owner asked me nicely to move to anothe room) and Karl and I go with his friend to dinner.

On Saturday Karl and I start out for a waterfall on the old, broken down bicycles. There are a couple of hills that would be easy with a multi-gear bicycle, but with these you have to muscle your way up and just try to keep moving forward. So this becomes a great workout even if the distance is only 30 or 40 kilometers. And I get an extra workout (in addition to yesterday's riding) because I didn't realize that my light generator was rubbing against the rim/tire to provide light. Once I move the generator away things get easier. After the ride I take two naps - one in the afternoon and another later in the evening before Karl, Shalee, Nan and I go out to a club. When I walk in there is decent EDM music playing and I am happy. But then there is a 60 minute interruption with cover bands covering Thai pop music. How come I even recognize one of the songs being covered? But then they return to EDM until we leave the club after 1am.

On Sunday the four of us (Karl, Shalee, Nan and I) take the motorbikes for a ride to a hot springs. The ride itself is fun and beautiful as we are along a lake and mountains and green fields and twisting and turning. The hot springs provides a relaxing period of time to de-stress and get rid of toxins. Later the four of us have dinner and call it an early evening.

Monday is a travel day. Both Karl and I put our bags on the rented scooters and ride them "Thai style" to return the scooters. And then we get a taxi to the airport. Karl is going home and I'm going to Yangon, Myanmar. It's a two leg journey for me: Chiang Rai to Bangkok's old airport and then from the old airport to Yangon. Both flights are a little delayed but it works out. After going though customs and changing money, I share a taxi with a Cambodian lady who speaks Khmer, French, and English. It turns out she does the booking for a Khmer circus and they performed in Long Beach back in September. We have a nice conversation until we part ways.