Saturday, 2 May 2009

brass monkey

Before I gave the scooter back I decided to have one last blast on the road.

But where to go?

The answer, for once, came from the guide book. About 100km away was Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand shooting up to just over 2500 metres above sea level.

For 60kms I was on a busy dual carriage way, weaving past pick ups, trucks and the usual badly steered bikes and scooters that appeared suicidal out of the side streets. The last 40k, after I had paid 120 baht to enter the national park, was relaxingly green and quiet.

As the road climbed upwards towards the summit, the hot air of the valley was replaced by ever increasing cooler air. Riding through the mist that slowly swirled amongst the tree canopy I arrived at the top. There was a car park, a sign proclaiming where I was and lots of cloud. So, the views were non existent but it really didn’t matter.

A while later I decided to head back down the mountain. I got about 1000 metres before it started to rain. I sought shelter under a tree on the roadside and waited. The raindrops slowly dripped down through the leaves and branches and then onto me. I was wet and I was actually starting to feel a little bit chilly!! Twenty minutes later the rain stopped so I got back on board, shuddered as my arse got wet from the seat and pressed the start button.

Going slow (the tyres weren’t what you would call “full wets”) and keeping upright around the corners I descended. A couple of miles down the road was a small café. By the time I got there I was soaked!!!! It was after all only a short gap between the downpours.

Hot coffee was being held in my cold wet hands and as small drops of water ran off the top of my bald head I was shocked to find myself with a sniffle. The café was having a BBQ outside, complete with umbrella, how very English I thought to myself. An hour later, blue sky came and said hello in a small portion of the sky. I took this as a sign it was time to leave.

Back on the bike and after 5 minutes I was having trouble keeping it under control. It wasn’t due to the tyres but due to the fact that I was shivering uncontrollably. My legs and arms weren’t under my authority. The flesh not covered by my damp t shirt and shorts were covered in goose bumps and if I went over 25kms the wind chill factor increased the shivering spasms in my arms to a point where I thought I would lose control and steer myself into the ditch. As I slowly progressed down the steep road it gradually became well not warm but definitely less cold until eons later the road became dry and the temperature was on the right side of 30!

I completely warmed up next to a pretty waterfall with another cup of Joe. Then it was an hour’s ride back to Chiang Mai, in the heat of the valley…happy days!

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