Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mae Kuang Dam Loop

Erin and I did a fun one-day ride yesterday:

We left Chiang Mai following our little rural river road that lets us avoid the highway, and then went up into the hills, where we found a very attractive and reasonably-priced (free) waterfall:

Then we proceeded to the lake, where we were going to get a boat to the other side. We should have known this wasn't exactly a high traffic route with regularly scheduled ferry service. The jungle was eating the road and nobody seemed to care.

At the lake, there was no boat and no sign of any boat, but we waited there like morons. Fortunately, we met a very nice Austrian man on a motorcycle, who helped us pass the time.

Finally, we were finished waiting, and we went back up the extremely steep road we'd just come down and stopped in the village 3 km down the road to get some noodle soup. Using our pathetically limited Thai, we tried to ask the nice lady who made soup for us how one could get a boat to the other side of the lake. This was quite challenging for us, because we didn't know the word for boat, and we hadn't brought our Thai dictionary with us.

A word of advice: if you're ever taking a bicycle trip in rural Thailand that absolutely requires you to catch a boat, unless you want to go 75km back the way you came, learn the Thai word for boat.

The word for bicycle in Thai is jak-ga-yaan. The tones for the three syllables are low, low and mid, respectively. We learned this somewhat difficult word almost immediately on arriving in Thailand.

The word for boat, according to my dictionary is rua. Mid-tone, nice and flat. That's one of the easiest words I've ever learned in Thai, but yesterday, we didn't know it. We did know how to say, "we want to go to Doi Saket", which was the name of the town on the other side of the lake, and we were able to combine this linguistic snippet with smiling ignorance and, after going through three intermediaries, we got someone to telephone the ferry man on the far side of the lake and tell him to come and get us.

So we went back down the hill to the lakeshore and waited for the boat.

Here's Snakeslayer taking his first-ever boat ride; I think he liked it:

And then we road home. Rice harvest is approaching here, and the countryside is beautiful.

And the lantern festival is underway in Chiang Mai.

Which has meant there's been so many fireworks set off that it sounds like there's a war going on every night. The festival is fun, and Erin and I intend to enjoy it tonight, but there's only so many explosions my nerves can handle.

Last night I was at a bar where a few of the patrons at the instigation of one of the Thai employees, decided that it would be hilarious if they started sneaking lit firecrackers under people's tables, or placing them between their feet while they weren't looking. Okay, it was hilarious, but there's only so much hilarity a guy can take.

Either tomorrow or the next day Erin and I are going to set off on our longest tour yet, going north through Pai to Mae Hong Son. We'll see how far we get. We've got some work we have to do in the next week or two that's will be incredibly urgent once we're able to start, but we have no idea when we're going to be able to start.

Ahh... the peaceful, contemplative life of a writer. Fucking deadlines.

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