Friday, December 17, 2010

Visa Run Day 7-8. Udon Thani to Loei to Uttaradit

Udon Thani is big. Bigger than I'd expected. Big enough to have it's own airport and appears to be a thriving centre for business and industry. This would explain a male dominated hotel dining room at breakfast and the availability of single beds ONLY, at the SiriGrand.

While we were in Laos we invested in a wad of sponge foam and tape it to our scooter seat. This will be our butt saviour over the next three days.
On the outskirts of town we pass a young novice monk puffing away on a cigarette. Further down the road, a Jurassic looking park whizzes by, with dinosaurs guarding the entrance. Phu Wiang National Park...I think! Just before Nha Kang we stop for coffee at a small highway intersection. As I walk closely past an older lady sitting at the edge of a very humble sala. She reaches out and takes my hand with both of hers and shakes it gently....she's just spotted the Chiang Mai number plates. She congratulates us on making such a long journey (or Thai to that effect) and continues to smile at us and chat, while we sip our coffee.
A passer by
It's cool and rain clouds start to appear, then spit. The words of my class mate come back to haunt me, "Do you have a rain dress?" No!

By the time we have Wang Saphung in our sights it's raining quite hard and we take shelter for a while. We watch pick up trucks loaded with a dozen or so saturated primary school kids drive by and eat sausages in bread.
A coin operated petrol bowser
We have no choice but to ride on to Loei. We're soaking by the time we arrive at the hotel we'd stayed at a few days prior.
The hotel neighbours yard covered in rain water.
A hot shower, change of clothes and drop off the laundry, later, we go out to by my fluorescent orange rain dress. When we return, the hotel Mum tells us that a four day rain depression is upon us...Great!

The next morning we're up fairly early, but it's been raining for most of the night. The idea of hiring a pick up truck to take the bike home, is tossed around between us and the guy at the front desk. Except the car hire company is back in Udon Thani, so we'd have to wait and pay for a driver for the trip to Chiang Mai and return. We're optomistic and hope that once we're over the small mountain range that we'll strike a change in weather. I put on my rain dress, but not my wet shoes from the previous day and only knee length pants. Sandals are not a good idea at the best of time, on a bike.

It's about 50 km to the next town, but we stop 5 km short at a Steak House. The rain and wind is bone chilling and burning. For the first time since the day I left my girls, in Australia, I want to cry...but I don't. It could be much worse, I could be Stray, my wind break.

We can hardly feel our feet and Stray's weather proof jacket is not so weather proof. I want roast lamb, pumpkin and all the trimmings, but instead we have cups of hot coffee and chillified spaghetti. Slightly defrosted we put on our wet shoes, pants over pants, cover the seat and bag with plastic and press on. The staff are very kind and provide extra plastic bags and some much needed sympathy. I buy a rain dress for Stray at the next fuel stop. He looks like a giant blue smurf.

At the next town we enquire about a bus, for me, back to Chiang Mai. I'd have to wait, at a bus shelter, with no ticket gauranteed. Stray would rather see me physically board the bus and not possibly stranded an hour and a half behind him, so we decide to ride on to Nakon Thai.

The rain stops, the roads become a little dryer and we hit pockets of less than freezing air every now and again. I decide against the bus idea. We're cold and have wet, freezing feet for the rest of the day and are a tad muddy due to a very short stretch of slippery roadworks.

At 'The Room Hotel' in Uttaradit, we're welcomed back with smiles and smirks...we look quite the sight.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai