26th June - 11th July 2004
From Nong Khai we headed to the Phu Phrabat Historical Park, a collection of weirdly weathered and carved rocks set amongst pleasant trees. Apparently people have been living and worshipping here for around 3000 years.
While we sweated in the heat, the local cattle knew what to do: stand in the shade and evolve flappy wattles and floppy ears to increase surface area!
Evolution takes a while to act, so we coped by getting up very early and trying to stop around lunchtime. The reward was this beautiful sunrise over the Mekong river:
And if all this talk of hot weather doesn't make you want a cold shower, how about this??!!
Although they could be busy, the surface of Thailand's roads had been a pleasant change after the "road quality lottery" of China. If it was on the map it was surfaced, and usually of a high quality. But of course to keep roads like that requires road works and one day, just after a whole night's rain, we found them. It was only a few kilometers of unsurfaced road, but bikes, bags and riders were covered with sticky red mud that took most of the afternoon to remove!
Approaching Phitsanulok we visited a waterfall which was at the bottom of a short steep hill. For the subsequent 30km into Phit' Mark really struggled to keep up and kept asking questions like "This road seems really hard work but it looks flat, do you think it's flat Ju?". Just as we came into Phit' Ju noticed that Mark's back wheel (recently and it seems excessively tightly built by Mark) was badly out of true and was rubbing on the brake blocks! It must have been pulled out of shape by the force of riding up from that waterfall in bottom gear.
Sukhothai is the location of the peaceful and beautiful remains of a 14th century Thai capital. The ruins are spread over quite a large area, making bicycles the perfect way to explore them.
ln Sukhothai we were pushing our bikes along the street when we were stopped by a Thai lady who said "My daughter cycle round the world". She invited us into her house to see countless family photos including the odd one of her daughter on a bicycle. But it's true, her daugher and boyfriend are in California now and you read about them on www.thaibikeworld.com.
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