Saturday, March 01, 2008

Elephants and Flat Tires

Day 156
Si Satchanalai to Wang Chin
Time: 5:07:00
Distance: 80.75 km
Avg Speed: 15.7 kph
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 17˚ 53’ 55.4” N, 99˚ 36’ 24.5” E

There are certain things you shouldn’t think about while riding your bike: don’t wreck, no mechanicals and no flat tires. I jinxed myself today by thinking about number three. I was contemplating how nice it was that we had ridden almost 4,000 kilometers with no flats. About 2 hours later I had the first flat tire of our trip at kilometer 71. Luckily, I have kick ass tires (from Schwalble) and I was able to ride all the way to our destination without the tire going completely flat.

Papong was kind enough to have our breakfast early for us. We watched the big orange sun rise as we snacked on fruit, coffee and a little custard cake. After a couple of wai (hands together in front of your face signifying thank you) we were off. We decided to take in a few more ruins before setting off to Wang Chin. The light was really neat this morning and made for some nice pictures. The Si Satchanalai Historical Park is similar to Sukhothai but much more natural and less restored. We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed the peaceful time.
By 8:00 am we were headed to the highway. We both needed a pit stop but found the bathrooms locked. Chris looked around and saw a nice secluded, grassy area. We parked the bikes and Chris hopped the stone fence to do his thing. He chuckled as he walked toward a spot just above the river and said “Hmm, there’s an elephant”. Of course, I thought I didn’t hear him correctly and asked him to repeat himself. He said it again and then pointed in the direction of the large mammal. Sure enough, there was an elephant grazing on the banks of the Yom River. And I thought it was cool that we saw a kangaroo in Australia. There are lots of elephants in Thailand and I hope we’ll be seeing more.
We arrived in Wang Chin after riding for 5 hours. It was long and hot but we both felt strong. We found the hotel right away – it was Chris’ turn to play charades. We’re getting our hotel routine dialed in quickly here. It goes something like this: unload bikes, haul bags in room, blast a/c, shower, find cheap food and wash it down with a coke. Today the first few things were easy but the “find cheap food” wasn’t a slam dunk. You see, Wang Chin is not a town that sees many farangs (foreign tourists). We walked into a typical little street café and knew right away that the phrase book would be absolutely necessary. When that didn’t work we just let the cook make us something. Luckily, it turned out to be fried rice. We did wash it down with a coke and felt satisfied that we didn’t get frustrated and go somewhere else. We’re very thankful that Thai people are so friendly and helpful. After our meal we went searching for water and snacks. We got lots of smiles and laughs as we strolled through town. The water was a little hard to track down but I learned my third Thai word today: nam. The first two were kow pat (fried rice). The fruit was easy to spot but difficult to communicate. We were hoping to get a few oranges but we ended up with a kilo of them and four watermelons. The lady who helped us just kept putting fruit in the bag. All we could do was laugh and smile and give her the 20 baht ($0.60) we owed her. Now were just trying to figure out who’s carrying what tomorrow.
See you,

1 comment:

Neil said...

We’re very thankful that Thai people are so friendly and helpful.

When I worked at the Village Inn at Hampden and Wadsworth, the best waitress in the place was from Thailand and she insisted that Thais were some of the nicest people in the world. Glad to see she was right.

Even if she herself was abrasive.