Sunday, January 31, 2016

Scootering again Day 3 - Chiang Saen to Doi Mae Salong 100km

I woke up early hoping to catch the sunrise over the Mekong and my effort paid off. It was special to see the beginning of a new day with the sun taking its time to light up the darkness. 

Today was to be a shorter ride so we had an easy morning enjoying the hotel's complimentary breakfast. I have always found these not quite up to scratch perhaps due to "mass" cooking and the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. Anyhow, we had fun practicing "serving one another" and at 9am, the Roscoes who stayed at another hotel showed up. 

We rode a mere 30 mins to the famous Golden Triangle where the countries of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and further up, China meet together at this point of the Mekong. It was good that we were there early before the tour groups came and had the place all to ourselves. The golden Big Buddha glistened in the morning sun and made for great photos. A couple of ladies presumably from China started posing for pics but they could not beat our resident model Doreen, who was in her element!

Our next stop was Mae Sai, the border town where people go for visa run to Myanmar. We took the "must-do" group picture with the Immigration Building, had a quick lunch at Top North Hotel and headed south along Highway 1 for 36km until we made a right onto the scenic 107 where we started our climb towards Doi Mae Salong.

Climbing up meant cooler weather and a more interesting ride through many sharp hairpin bends and that got my heart pumping even though we were on small 125cc scooters. I made a wrong turn, strayed and we ended up at a crowded flower festival where we enjoyed the best coffee ever. Felt rather embarrassed! The kind policeman then redirected me back to the right and noble path and cutting through the mountain ridges were nothing more than sheer magic.

We had to stop at a scenic point to soak in the magnificent views and it was one of those "Kodak" moments which was imprinted in our memories forever. Looking down the valleys and far into the horizon, the beauty was sheer magic. Where we stopped there were village kids playing soccer happily and their carefree laughter and joy reminded me of what childhood should be. 

We reached the hamlet of Mae Salong just before sunset and this town has a rich history. A former KMT Army hideout base, it was used to stage raids against the Chinese Communist Army. But when the war was over, the soldiers were given permission by the Thai King to settle here in exchange for their protection against the Communists. The town has a distinctly Yunnan flavour and most of the hotels and businesses are Chinese owned. Mandarin is widely spoken here and it truly feels like being in China.

Our hotel was the brand new Wang Put Tan Boutique Hotel where our rooms offered amazing views of the mountain side. Everyone was thrilled with their rooms. Alastair and I sat at the balcony and broke out in praise to Him who created all these.

Dinner that night was at the hotel where we enjoyed a nice Yunnan feast. We had the famous stewed pork with buns, all sorts of fresh veggies including mushrooms, omelette, soup and enjoyed the different distinct flavor.

We all slept very well that night high up in the mountains of Doi Mae Salong, with natural air-conditioning and the freshest of air. Perhaps you could say we were all a little bit closer to God that night.

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