I have been cycling across the north of Thailand for a week or so. I wanted to cross into Myanmar at the northern border point but I was told I wouldn't be able to cycle further into Myanmar that way due to military restrictions. So I have been cycling close to the border to a crossing further south. No need to blog in detail about Thailand. I am very much on the beaten track. Everyone has been here. The reason everyone has been here is because it's such a cool place. Of all the countries in Asia, Thailand has to be the most geared up for tourism and they do a pretty good job of it. I can't speak for the south but the mountains in the north attract a massive amount of tourists every year and the place doesn't feel at all damaged or tainted by it. The visa policy is a breath of fresh air. There isn't one. 28 days free of charge, no questions asked, no tips, in you come. It's been great cycling through the mountains. Often hard going. They don't seem to bother with hairpin bends here and the roads can go from flat to vertical in a matter of moments. It can be lung busting work and if I have a climb in the afternoon then it's astonishing how much one man can sweat. The mornings are perfect. Cool and clear but after 2 o'clock it's like cycling in a sauna. I get the bulk of my cycling done by mid afternoon and find a river to camp by. My tent poles have finally given up the ghost and I am now improvising each night. I have managed to erect my tent a couple of times using bamboo and bungee chords. Quite a proud moment for me actually. I'm not known for thinking on my feet. It's been a little challenge at the end of each day. To use what's lying around to stop your tent being nothing more than a blanket. One night I failed miserably and slept under the stars wearing my mosquito head net.
I cycled up to the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon. A climb from 300m above sea level to over 2500m. Twice as long as Alpe D'Huez with a couple of short 20% sections thrown in. Stunning panoramic views towards the top. A scenic suffer fest. The real drama happened half way up when a car lost it completely right in front of me. I don't know whether the brakes failed but the car careered across the road, smashed through the barriers, did a loop and landed upside down in the forest. I've never witnessed anything like it. I was soon joined by a local guy and we managed to get three of them out of the car unharmed. One woman was trapped in the car and clearly in a lot of pain. Eventually an ambulance arrived and they were able to get her out. A few broken bones and a heavy dose of shock but I think she will be alright. I carried on up the mountain thinking if I was 10 seconds quicker at climbing that car would've wiped me out.
I have been enjoying the Thai food but the portions are small. I have moved onto 5 meals a day. Breakfast of bread, cake and biscuits. Chicken and rice early lunch. Late lunch of chicken and rice. Chicken and rice early dinner and then the usual noodles and cake for dinner whilst camping. I fill in the gaps with bread, honey and watermelons. Still I lose weight. Met a lot of tourists and cycled to the border town of Mae Sot with a couple of seasoned cycle tourers from England. Peter from Oxford and Mark from Preston. Mark has cycled here from England and faced the same problems getting into China that I had when I did the same a few years back. He couldn't get a visa either and had to fly to Bangkok. Peter has been to the north east of India where I'm heading and has been filling me in on what to expect. They are also on 5 meals a day. I'm now resting up in Mae Sot before hopefully crossing into Burma tomorrow.