Winding Down - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

February 21, 2017 to February 23, 2017

Winding Down

Phayao and on to Bangkok via Night Bus

Phayao, Thailand and on to Bangkok via Night Bus

February 21 - 23

Since we had a hard day riding into strong headwinds in high heat to Phayao and because our Thai friend in Chiang Khong had told us how nice Phayao was, we planned on staying two nights.  We checked into a bed and breakfast - the Kwan Phayao Lake House - an antique Thai teak house close to the Phayao Lake.  Our room was, however, in a newer addition and was not unlike any other (much cheaper) guest house room we have stayed in. 

Our one window at Kwan Phayao Lake House.
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The dining area in the old wood house was nice but the breakfast was bleak.  It consisted of two pieces of white bread that we toasted ourselves in a toaster that only heated on one side very slowly.  After ten minutes one side of the white square browned slightly.  There was one egg that I was sure had been fried weeks earlier, frozen and then warmed up a little bit possibly in another one-sided toaster.  To top off what was called “breakfast” was one very processed, textureless wiener.   Each item lying on the plate seemed alienated from the other making for an unpleasing even depressing sight.  It was an utterly tasteless breakfast and I was hungry immediately after.  I would have felt the same after eating it had I no memory of actually experiencing it.  There was, unfortunately, memory of it. But the coffee was good.   

The dining area of Kwan Phayao Lake House
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We did sleep in a bed here but this was one sad "breakfast".
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Jeff ArnimIs this considered a traditional Thai breakfast? Because I'll be honest, this is not what I would have expected.
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10 months ago
Andrea BrownTo Jeff ArnimPretty gross, all right. We haven't stayed at many places in Thailand that include breakfast, now I see why. A traditional Thai breakfast would be rice porridge (jok) with little fried shallots and so forth on top, or noodle soup.
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10 months ago
Kwan Phayao Lake House - The "Bed and Coffee" idea was a good one they maybe should have stayed with.
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Before the disappointing breakfast we walked along the lakeshore at sunrise.  The lake was perfectly still reflecting the various pale pastel colors in the sky.  It was beautiful and we were nearly the only people there.  We watched a lone fisherman as he poled his small wood boat and worked his net.   The lake was shallow and I had read that it had nearly all dried up during a drought just a couple of years ago.  Thailand has few natural lakes and it was nice to look out over an expanse of water for a change.

Phayao Lake - Early morning.
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Phayao Lake
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Phayao Lake in the morning.
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The park beside Phayao Lake. I imagine garden club ladies making these arrangements.
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Beautiful Phayao Lake
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So, for a day and a half we walked around exploring Phayao, a nice town and a rather large one.  Twice we ate khao soi for lunch at Khao Soy Sang Pean Restaurant, famous for its khao soi.   The restaurant was buzzing at lunchtime and hard to find a seat.  It's amazing to think that such a busy and famous place would charge little more than a dollar for a bowl of delicious khao soi.  

Khao Soy Sang Pean Restaurant
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Khao Soy Sang Pean Restaurant gets quite busy at times.
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We explored the downtown area but strangely never found the central market.  We didn’t look very hard though.  Instead we wandered inside what looked as though it used to be a market street but was now covered with a metal roof (all the craze in Thailand) two or three stories above with lots of clothing vendors below on what used to be narrow streets.  It felt strange and few people were about.  It may have been the heat that prevented us from putting a lot of effort into exploring Phayao.  

A typical monk store - Every gift any monk would ever want or need. A kind of 'Monks-R-Us' store.
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It's strange how one leg really bulked up on this trip while the other atrophied.
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When the King died in October 2016 all images of him throughout the country were remade dark with no colors.
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We also felt as though we had turned a corner in our trip; a major corner.  Our four and a half month adventure was essentially finished.  We had to catch a night bus to Bangkok and then navigate from Bangkok's northern bus station to a guest house in the Sam Sen area.  Any bisecting of Bangkok on a loaded bike is an adventure in itself, but once accomplished, that would be the end of our riding.   

With that in the back of our minds we scuffed around Phayao on foot, slowly and half interested.  It was getting hot so we found some good Thai iced tea and some snacks, sat and observed Thais, but we were a bit aimless.  We found the nearby bus station and bought our tickets for the night bus and then we didn't have anything to do except avoid the heat of the day.  We did that in the dining area of our old house.  

The music they played in the dining area was the same as when we ate both breakfasts.  It was on a loop; kind of soft, a lot of harp, kind of new age, kind of not Thai, kind of etherial and it kind of sucked.  We worked on our journal on our computers all afternoon until about the 12th go around of the music and we couldn't take it anymore.  It was like a lobotomy slowly taking over our psyches.  I had to get out of there. 

Phayao Lake just before sunset.
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School is out.
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Phayao Lake late afternoon.
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Bougainvillaea next to Phayao Lake
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We ate dinner across the street at a very humble little place.  I wondered seriously if we were in someone's house instead of it being a restaurant.  It would be just like a nice older Thai woman to welcome us in and feed us if we sat down at a table in her house and ordered some food in Thai.  She might not think twice about it if she had the food we spoke of.  And, in the end, she would have gladly taken our money.  What reinforced the notion that we were in someone's house was the unique shaped pile of rice on our plates.  More unique than that was that the rice was blue!  We looked at each other quizzically.  I said it first, "Is that a sponge?" 

This was definitely someone's home. The question was if it was also a restaurant.
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Sponge Bob Blue Rice?!
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We packed up and rode to the bus station.  Bikes were stowed underneath, no problem.  I've always liked Thai night buses even though I realize I will be in a daze the next day.  It's that stop in the middle of the night that excites me the most.  To eat a big meal between 2 and 3AM is such an odd thing to do that it becomes something I very much look forward to.  Well, I suppose since there isn't much else to look forward to on a 10-hour, night, express bus one has to look somewhere.  

Everyone piles off the bus half asleep and stumbles into a vast and bright dining area where there is a huge array of foods in trays.  The meal is included with the bus ticket which means just about everyone gets off the bus to eat.  And it's good traditional Thai food.  I remember the same stops when I was in Thailand in the '70's and that's part of my fondness.  It's one thing that hasn't changed.  

Reindeer on a bus? In Thailand?
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Dinner, bleary-eyed at 3AM. I love it!
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With the highlight of the night bus behind us we blast on towards Bangkok seemingly going a thousand miles per hour through the pitch black.  We arrived at Mo Chit Station at 6AM.  The sun was not up yet.  That meant affixing our lights.  Then there was nothing else we could do but brave probably the most dangerous part of our entire trip; morning rush hour in Bangkok in the dark.  Estimates of Bangkok’s population are as high as 19 million.  I was nervous.  Andrea didn't seem to be worried but I was kind of petrified.  Part of it was due to the daze I was in from no sleep.   Maybe what kept Andrea calm was that she was constantly running the route through her brain therefore occupying more cerebral space.  My brain had no route in it at all leaving the entire space to be filled with terror.   

And it was just as I expected.  There was a lot of fast traffic.  But the streets were not congested or gridlocked which meant that the drivers had license to drive as fast as they possibly could between traffic lights.  If it had been completely gridlocked I would have been more calm.  

There were two or three places where we had to cross to the right hand lane which meant crossing many lanes of moving traffic.  One time I turned around to see how bad the racetrack was behind us and I just yelled out to Andrea, "No way am I crossing five lanes!!"  But she had already started to move over there and I wasn't going to lose her.  She had the route in her brain.   All I had was terror. 

It was a bit insane but we made it the eight miles to River Guest House down the lane from where we normally stay - Riverline Guest House.  We were able to move over to Riverline the next day.  Then began the search for boxes or cardboard that could be made into boxes for our bikes.  It was the same as our previous trip two years earlier when we found that it wasn't all that easy to come up with boxes.  Nineteen million people but no cardboard boxes?!!  But we had some time and we had been through it before.  And then there was that bit of a letdown feeling knowing it's time to go home.  At the same time we were ready.  Our cat back home was ready for us to come home too.

Bangkok - This was after all the scary parts and the sun had come up and we were nearing our guest house on back streets.
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lovebruce

Today's ride: 8 miles (13 km)
Total: 2,002 miles (3,222 km)

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