Trang - Krabi - Chiang Mai - Frankie goes to.....the North of Thailand (2019) - CycleBlaze

October 25, 2019

Trang - Krabi - Chiang Mai

Trang is about 130 km away from Krabi where my direct flight was scheduled to depart at 9am in the morning. So when looking into my options I decided to go to Krabi a day early and spend the night in some hotel close to the airport. In the end I decided for the Nattha Waree Hot Spring Resort. The reason for my booking was the hot spring part of the name, aiming to have one last shoulder treatment before going on my trip. And was it a good choice! Despite being somewhere in the middle of nowhere, 20 minutes drive short of the airport. The 1000 Baht (30 €) are not cheap for a Thai hotel but my room and the premises with 11 (eleven!) pools were simply outstanding. Nine of those pools are hot ones with various shapes and temperatures between 39 and 44 degrees. But my absolute favourite was the fish spa. I have never done that before and really enjoyed having the fish nibbling on my feet. Somehow a tickling torture but very entertaining and hopefully useful at the same time.

Usually the short statement "AirAsia took me from Krabi up to Chiang Mai" should be enough information on the 2 hour direct flight the next morning but I wish to take the opportunity and make a swift comment on flying domestically in Thailand. Dirt-cheap whatever airline you use but as a cyclist you obviously have to look a bit closer into the excess-luggage part of it.

If serving the route I fly, my first choice is always Bangkok Airways. They have the very cycling friendly policy to take the first 15 bikes for free. Obviously you will not know how many spaces are left when you do your booking but I have never faced any problem so far and I can honestly not imagine that many bikes being on one flight. So make your normal booking, address their service center by email mentioning the booking reference and the approximate size and weight of the box and a few days later you will receive an email confirming the reservation for the bike. 

Even easier but at cost is taking it on AirAsia. You can add the bike as sporting equipment while you are booking for yourself. While choosing your normal luggage you will have the choice to add the bike as sporting equipment (20/25/30 kgs). For my flight to Chiang Mai I picked the 30 kg option and they charged me 950 Baht (less than 30€). Very fair I believe!

The third airline I have used domestically is Thai Airways. I actually used the twice. The first and the last time.... They wanted the full excess charge (70 B per kg) on my Bangkok - Krabi flight a few weeks ago and just the bike cost me 2100 Baht. No more if there is a chance to book with the other two. I cannot comment on the other low cost carriers Nok Air and Thai Lion Air. I have flown with them but not with a bike.

Already a lof of talking without having cycled one single kilometer yet but I have to have a few more words on my two nights  in Chiang Mai. And that´s not because I like the city so much. I never did and still don´t.  Chiang Mai is almost collapsing under the pressure of modern traffic and tourism. The old town is basically a square framed by a moat. My decent and very cyclist-friendly Royal Panerai Hotel is just outside that moat and only crossing the street to get into the old town is close to suicidal. And once inside you have to be careful not to be rolled over by tuk-tuks or groups of Chinese and western tourists. And the peak season has not even started yet. I am probably exaggerating  a bit but I certainly would always prefer to start my northern adventures in Chiang Rai instead. This time I only came for two reasons: The direct flight from Krabi and the Thai wedding I will attend next weekend on invitation on the Bussabongpeerapat family, my friends and regular lunch-hosts down in Trang, who originate from Lamphun, the town next to Chiang Mai.

In the end I did cycle a bit around town as I needed to buy some parts and unfortunately a repair too. More about this and the two related bike-shop recommendations tomorrow, when I hit the road....

Happy to cool down in the "normal" pool right in front of my room at the Nattha Waree Hot Spring Resort
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I was trying really hard to keep my feet still for that photo. So ticklish!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesI (Dodie) have always wondered about these fish pedicures. Still not sure if I would do it.
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2 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenTo Steve Miller/GrampiesDodie, to be honest: I only tried it because it was available for free and to satisfy my curiosity. What I did notice: After 5 minutes in there I walked back to one of the hot pools and the feet did initially hurt like little wounds. I guess the fish do actually bite you. But apart from that my feet still look the same to me....
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2 weeks ago
Well done Air Asia! Personal delivery of my bike box to the plane by the silver pick-up on the left
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The good service continued in Chiang Mai with another personal pick-up. The hotel charged 200 Baht (6 €) only and sent the van just for me
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All the padding and packing didn´t protect the bike from ending up with a broken saddle and a bend rear rack. Really strange as the cardboard box itself did hardly have any marks and I can only guess it dropped while being loaded or unloaded from one of the planes I have been on over the last 4 weeks. This photo was taken in my room as the Royal Panerai Hotel does not only allow to re-assemble the bike in there but....
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... the long corridors are ideal for the first test ride.
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One of the reasons why I am not very keen on Chiang Mai: visitors are charged to look at some of their temples
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Bruce LellmanThis must be a fairly new thing since I have never experienced it except at the very biggest temples. In my opinion, this is a terrible thing.
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2 weeks ago
Isn´t it easy to make an odd concrete bridge attractive? That´s the western crossing of the moat I talked about
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Exemplary for the many, many nice temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Chiang Man
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Bruce LellmanI love the "personal" aspect of northern Thai temples. The rooflines come down to meet the people, some of them so low you have to stoop if you are to enter from the sides. This is done intentionally to bring the religion down to earth for the people and this sort of personal touch pervades the entire north of Thailand in all aspects of life.

Very different from the soaring, impersonal, aspect of Bangkok temples.
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2 weeks ago
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The town wall near my hotel
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Wat Jet Lin
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Today's ride: 20 km (12 miles)
Total: 20 km (12 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Chris WeeFrank just avoid the big tour bus hotels like the Panerai. I had one nice quiet stay there and another horrendous noisy night. Crazy rates from 500b to 1200b for the same room.

Actually just behind the Panerai and across a small canal is Brunns Guesthouse 530b. on booking.com
Must have stayed 20 plus nights over the years. Mr Wat is the manager there.
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2 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenTo Chris WeeI was rather lucky, Chris. Actually I thoroughly enjoyed being in the Royal Panerai. Ideal conditions to get my bike rolling again, vicinity to the old town and the decent room came for 450 Baht. I got a first idea about the Chinese tour groups though but didnĀ“t bother me at night.... Thank you for the recommendation all the same!
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2 weeks ago
Henna JanieschGood luck, Franky
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2 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenTo Henna JanieschThank you, Helmut! All went well on day 1 but I am sure you will stick with me and read all about it.....
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2 weeks ago