Pai is a small village which lies between two fairly high mountain ranges. I’m not sure exactly how high, but by my approximation at least 1500m. The valley is filled with farms. The main crop here seems to be rice. To get there, we had to traverse a mountain road (route 1095 Chiang Mai - Pai) full of steep climbs, descents, sharp curves and switchbacks; in all 134 km and 762 curves.
The bus ride there took about 4 hours and cost us a whopping $2.33 each. The bus was an old beat up diesel. On a few hills the driver had to stop, put in the lowest gear, and inch up very slowly. At one point I thought that we would all have to get out and push.
During this whole ride all I could think was: “I wish I had a motorbike here.”
As we arrived in Pai I was delighted to discover that they rented all kinds of bikes here, from small to medium to “Big”. We decided that the following day we would rent a “big” bike and go for a ride.
Unfortunately, the following day I got sick and came down with a fever. I spent the next two days in bed recuperating. Margaret would run errands on a little Honda click we rented. It seemed that she was coming up with reasons to go out; just she could ride the little motorbike. I think the idea of doing route 1095 on a motorbike was growing on her too.
Our Thailand visa was running out, we had to leave and re-enter the country within the next day. After a quick 14h visa run to Myanmar and back, we decided it was time to hit the pavement.
To the people here the word “NO” just doesn’t exist. They will nod, smile and say “Yes” to everything. Here’s an idea of what I had to deal with:
-“Do you have big bikes?” I ask at the bike rental shop.
-“Yes” - hands me a brochure with pictures of the bikes
I point to the cb400: “Do you have this one?”
I point to the xr250 “How about this one?”
-“Can I rent these tomorrow morning?”
Satisfied that I could get the bikes I wanted, we went to sleep.
The following morning we showed up to get the bikes:
-“Do you Still have the big bikes?”
-“And the cb400?”
-“Ok, I’ll take the xr250.”
-“Oh so sorry, 250 is broken.”
-“Ok then, I’ll take the cb400.”
-“Oh so sorry 400 no good.”
-“What do you mean no good?”
-“Oh so sorry its broken too.”
-“I though you said that these were available?”
On the walk over I saw a bunch of other rental places. I figured one of them should have a working XR250
Turns out no one else had anything close to a “big” bike.
We opted for the biggest bikes they had; 125cc Suzuki. They were relatively new, mine was brand new and was fuel injected. We saw people on much crappier bikes doing the ride so we figured these would be fine.
The ride was everything we expected and more. Even though we had relatively small bikes they handled most of the hills with ease. Only slowing down at the crests of some really steep climbs. We rode them for almost 3 hours stopping briefly to enjoy the mountain views and of course take some photos. Let’s just say that it’s not that often that you get to see Margaret so satisfied on a motorcycle. I had to capture it, so that one day I can frame it on a wall. Along the way we passed other travelers experiencing the same route. Some were on motorbikes similar to ours, some on much bigger 600s or 1000s and even a few on bicycles. (I felt sorry for those guys)
We made it to just outside of Chiang Mai, that’s half way. We reached the end of route 1095. We filled up our bikes at a gas station and headed back. The route back seemed much easier and time went by more quickly. I was amazed at how good Margaret got and how confident she felt on the bike. She was taking the corners fast and steady. In about two hours we were back in Pai. Mission accomplished.
Click here for some photos on Facebook
Novemer 14 was the final race of F1 in Abu Dhabi. I really wanted to watch it live. We scouted all of the local bars but they were all playing premier league soccer. F1 was of no interest to them. They said that they would put it on for about an hour, but once the soccer game started they would switch to the game.
Finally we came to a bar with a big screen outside of course with a soccer game on.
I asked the waitress:
-“There is an F1 race on tonight at 8 o’clock do you think you could switch the channel and put it on?”
-“Yes, what is F1?”
-“Formula one” I said very slowly.
-“So if we come back at 8 you will switch the channel?”
So we went home changed and came back at 8. We sat down, the same waitress came over and took our drink order. 8 o’clock came but the TV was still tuned to the soccer game.
I asked the waitress:
-“can you put on the F1 race?”
-“Yes” as she left for the back.
5 minutes later she emerged but still no F1.
-“I asked again”
-“oh so sorry only 1 channel,. Only soccer”
-“so you can’t change the channel?” I asked
At this point I had enough, the race had already started and I was missing it. Further down the road we found another bar with a projector. I managed to convince the bar owner to forget the soccer game tonight as the F1 championship was more important. Reluctantly he obliged and brought us some cold Changs. I watched the majority of the race in Thai. To my satisfaction Alonso did not win and Vettel took the championship.