The plan today was to hire scooters but Alex had a tummy upset and was a little nervous having not ridden before. Although I think it was just an excuse for her to spend 3 hours in a Spa!! and several hours in retail therapy!!
Anyway Keith set me up with a local guy and I rented a nice little 125cc automatic scooter and set off to experience the functional disorder that is driving in Thailand.
I'd had repeated warnings about the 400 baht (about 9 quid) fine for not wearing a helmet so I wore a rather unfetching beanie style helmet that had about as much chance of protecting me in a crash as the flip flops I was wearing! Naturally being the only person wearing one in the entire city, let alone a nervous foreigner on a scooter, I stuck out like a sore thumb!
I spent most of the day learning the city, learning the Thai riding style and getting a nice tan on my arms :)
After meeting Alex for a late lunch I decided to check out the floods. After crossing the bridge over the river I was a little disappointed as although swelled it didn't appear flooded until ...
I suddenly found myself stuck in procession of bikes in traffic heading straight into what looked like a lake! The water covered my ankles as the front wheel created a curtain of water spraying everywhere and believe me this is not water you want to be swallowing!
I nervously tried to keep the bike going at snail speed due to traffic whilst caged on all sides by other scooters and nervous at any moment I'd have to put my foot down or worse the bike would choke on water and I'd be heading for an unscheduled swim.
All bikers will tell you that rain on road paint is like ice, now imagine you can't see the road because it's 40cm under water, a little nervous to say the least.
Anyway eventually cleared the floods, took a deep breath and some pics before heading back through it to the old city.
Where next I thought as I looked up to see the Himalayas sprawled out in front of me. I pointed the scooter West and headed straight for them with no idea how far they were, if or how I could get there.
After a good while riding I found myself surrounded in lush greenery as the bike began to climb the foothills. I was presented with the most winding and thrilling road I've ever ridden. Climbing further I could see Chiang Mai beginning to shrink behind me and stopped at a view point to admire he view.
Shall I go further, hell yeah and up I went thrashing the hell out of the 125 as I leant the thing into the hair pin turns with sheer drops that would certainly ensure a quick death :)
Eventually stopped at another view point, if not just to catch my breath and was once again in ore of the even more impressive view across Chiang Mai Provence. At this point I met another Brit, Simon, who'd had the same idea as me and after some posturing we decided to go as far as we could and catch the sun set from the top so off we sped at maximum speed and tilt!
Eventually arriving at the top to find the most awesome temple hidden from the most beaten tourist trials. We climbed the 300 steps, admittedly out of breath and stood in ore of what was the ultimate view of Chiang Mai!
We realized that it was getting pretty damn dark and the road wasn't lit so we needed to get down quick so off we went at full speed overtaking everything in absolute darkness, overcooking enough of the bends to send my adrenaline through the roof and to suitably soil my pants!
After finally arriving back in town the heavens opened with monsoon style rain and I got completely soaked through whilst trying to dodge traffic and get home and dry.
A truly amazing ride and some great pics that I'll post on my return and thank you if you had the patience to read that :)