Friday, August 6, 2010

Day 40 Fri 06/08 - Mae Sai via Golden Triangle to Chiang Saen

Today Distance : 62.8 km    Total : 2466.7 km
Today Temp : 26 - 40C
Time on Bike : 4 hr  06 min
Ave Speed : 15.3 kmh        Max : 68.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 4%                  Max : 16%
Trip Altitude : 200 m           Max : 507 m
Today Spend :

A short rain in the morning,did not cause much delay as I started the ride at 8.30 am. There are 2 options to choose. Highway 123 is 36 km direct to Chiang Saen bypassing the Golden Triangle, and the other is a village road 1061,not in my map , is 47 km to Golden Triangle and then another 10 km to Chiang Saen on route 1290. As I am not in a rush, I chosen the longer village road to the Golden Triangle, but this road is not that GOLDEN after all, The road surface were full of potholes with the red mud overflowing to the road surface on both directions, a clear indication of lack in proper maintenance. At one of the detour due to road sunk by earlier rain, I had to push my bike over a 250m long of red sticky mud. The worst yet to happen,I was completely lost of direction with many junctions of only Thai words written signboard.I was surrounded by a sea of padi fields and small village houses. The villagers always talked in Thai to me,as my look make no different to them,The more I enquire about direction,sort of making sure,The more confuse you get with contradict answers.At last, a police check post confirmed that I am on the correct trail, 8 km to the Golden Triangle.What a relief!! After climbing the only monster hill (16%) of the day, on the descent from the top ,I could see the Mekong River.This place is famous for its opium cultivation in the olden days, and the trading of opium is controlled by drug warlords with its very own army, from where many villagers earns their livings.But now the villagers are more inclined to padi planting since the government took control and banned the opium trade.Besides opium,the Golden Triangle also known to many where the Great Mekong River formed a natural boundary between Myanmar,Laos and Thailand.A casino over the Laos side by taking a boat and a 24 hours ferry to ZhengHong,China. I reached Chiang Saen,just in time to check into the Chiang Saen Guest House before a heavy downpour started. A nice and comfortable bed with gas heater for only 150 baht.Damn it,so cheap!!!! Tomorrow one more day in Chiang Khong and on the 8th is my last day in Thailand before crossing to Houay Xay in Laos .
Leaving the Tom's guest house

Option A: Direct 35 km to Chiang Saen,miss out the Golden Triangle

Option B: Longer,scenic and the Golden Triangle

Women are shy as they are laughing dare not show the faces

Padi planting during the wet season

I lost my direction after this detour

A cyclist's hell

Brake malfunction

Making new road

"Hall of Opium " for memory

The Mekong River

Approaching Chiang Saen

Chinese cargo ships

Chiang saen Guest House 150 baht