Mukdahan to That Phanom 50.43 km
That Phanom to Sakon Nakhon 73.58 km
Sakon Nakhon to Wanon Niwat 83.92 km
Wanon Niwat to Fao Rei 87.3 km
Fao Rei to Nong Khai 73 km
Looking at the mileage this morning as I transfer it from my journal to the blog, I realize I’d already forgotten we rode for six days in a row, not the three days I’ve been telling people, through Issan, the name for this region in Northeastern Thailand. The forgetfulness comes from having been resting in a beautiful garden for the last 5 days (we arrived in Nong Khai on Christmas Day) and the ease we both feel being in Thailand.
The cycling was perfect – mostly quiet roads and no serious problems finding places to stay. We used the Thai map we purchased at the 7/11 in Mukdahan to find back roads (roads with 4 digits are paved but not highways); we have been able to rely on the Hotel indicators on the map for all the small towns we passed through. The exception was in Fao Rei where we roughed it for a night in a hotel that consisted of a number of small cabins that had not been used in what looked like many years. Upon arriving, we met an older man who was a bit perplexed by our appearance. He figured out quickly that we couldn’t speak Thai and we struggled to try and get him to understand we wanted a room for the night. He phoned someone and a few moments later his daughter (?) showed up on a motorcycle, a middle-aged Thai woman who spoke some English. She rented to us but was very embarrassed by the condition of the room. However, once they untied the bull who was tethered to our door and kicked the giant bullfrog out of the bathroom, we managed.
The Mut Mee guesthouse is a lovely place along the Mekong close to the center of town. We are housed in a small bungalow, basic, with a king-sized bed and a ‘jungle’ bathroom (outside but private with a roof and thatch walls and hot water). The garden and restaurant are really pretty and we have spent the better part of our time here playing computer as we are wont to do and talking to other guests. We’ve ridden around town a couple of times now and have liked what we’ve seen: a number of other guesthouses and restaurants along the river which also has a long promenade that we were able to cycle along, a couple of interesting looking markets, some temples, a park – enough to keep the mind alive if you have ebooks and writing projects. We’re spending 380 baht a night for accommodation here (12.00 dollars per night) and living it up eating most of our meals here and beer or gin and tonic every night :-0 We’re averaging 50.00 a day here for the two of us all inclusive.
There are a couple of fulltime yoga teachers here as well as a Thai masseuse so we have managed to keep ourselves amused when we haven’t been cycling or playing computer…if I incorporated a yoga course (they do a 7 day intensive) I could see spending a month here.
We spent out first night here talking to a Belgian couple who had cycled from Laos. They have these fantastic little books on cycling Asia that are written in Dutch. We’ve seen them before in Europe – someone should translate and sell to Lonely Planet :-0 They are detailed and accurate – Ian sat down with the couple and mapped out our route to the north south train line which is our next destination. We plan to ride about 6 or 7 days when we leave Nong Khai and then will take the train the rest of the way to Chiang Mai, giving some of the very hilly bits a pass. We are no longer on a cycling pilgrimage – just a cycling trip ☺
Ian has begun to work on me re not coming home next summer – it is a very tempting idea right now but being ever-so-practical I am certainly weighing things out. I am putting the boat up for sale for sure as that frees up 6000 a year in moorage (plus insurance and some maintenance). With rent coming in I can probably afford to be here; however, the issue is cutting myself off from the workplace for too long. I am looking for creative solutions on that front, including investigating working remotely. So…we shall see what happens over the next few months when decisions will have to be made.
2012 has been a very busy year with some amazing travel and good times with friends. It has also been a difficult year for myself and family with the loss of my brother Mike last January.
Here’s hoping that 2013 brings joy and peace to all my friends and family.
Happy 2013 everyone!