Saturday’s 58 mile ride from Song to Pong included almost 900 metres of climbing, with two major hills. The only other traffic, on this very quiet road was a couple of Canadian cycle tourists. They came over for a chat as we were having an orange juice and breather at the top of the second climb. We were absolutely delighted to meet Chris and Heather, whose blog of their trip down the Mexican Baja inspired and informed our 2018 ride down the peninsula. They are spending 6 months riding around SE Asia, in part to escape the Canadian winter. Their description of cycling in South Korea has planted a seed! It was extraordinary meeting up, but maybe just proves that the long distance cycle touring community is quite small
The scenery, as we venture North and into the jungle like hills, is ever more scenic. The birdsong, especially during the magical early mornings before the sun is fully up, is wonderful, with many exotic sounds alien to our English ears.
Both Song and Pong are small towns where western faces are a curiosity, clearly not on the tourist trail. However, we have been made very welcome, from the owners of our various accommodations to street restaurant owners who have kept us in either chicken, pork or shrimp fried rice. Whilst there are small supermarkets in most sizable towns most food items, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit are sold in markets which start very early in the morning and go on well into the evening. The produce invariably looks very fresh, the fish are still flapping in most we have seen.
A short 33 mile north from Pong this morning has brought us to Chiang Kham, a larger busier town than either Song or Pong. Having arrived by 10.00 am we have had plenty of time to potter about, dodging the many young teenagers riding scooters home from school, many with at least one or two younger siblings or friends on the back. Almost none wear helmets.
Ninety four percent of the Thai population are Buddhist, almost every village has a highly decorated Wat (Temple). There are many in the larger towns. Wat Nantaran here in Chiang Kham dates back to the late 18th Centuary when Burmese teak traders lived here.