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Archive for December 31st, 2018

As I mentioned in my birding post, we spent 30 days in Thailand. Well … I think it was 30 days … from 29 Nov to 29 December. That’s were we ran into a little problem with immigration on our exit … they counted from the 29th (including that day) … so … apparently … we stayed 31 days and our visa said 30 days. My mistake …

After we were in line for our exit stamp we received a little bit of a dressing down and lecture for staying “too long.” We had to go see the “big boss” but they kindly granted us a 1-day extension and allowed us to (sheepishly) depart. If only I had listened to Deb months earlier when she questioned my counting … haha. But back to biking!

When we entered Thailand from Laos I was coming down with a cold … and it jumped on me hard! I was down for the count for a couple of weeks. However, if you know me, I find it difficult to take the rest required to recover quickly. So we went on a couple of bike rides and I just kept prolonging my recovery. Regret it? Nope. I love biking, but it did keep us from doing some things the first 2 weeks in Thailand.

Our first riding was in Chiang Rai … see my previous post for that one! When we got to Chiang Mai we were in the Old Town at first but transferred out to The Opium Serviced Apartments for the final 26 days. The name is The Opium … it wasn’t “opium-serviced” … the apartment was serviced … hello. Haha.

We decided for the first week to try out the Apartment complex’s free bikes to see how they would work. Here’s a couple of photos of those wonderful contraptions.

I offered Deb the opportunity to take one bike and ride on the “back seat.” She said no.The basket came in very handy. One interesting note about these bikes … the brakes were set up UK-style … which means opposite of what I normally think — the right brake isn’t the rear … it’s the front. But, since these brakes didn’t really work, I was Ok!It only took a couple of times of nearly running into someone because I couldn’t stop for us to decide to find another biking solution. Let’s just say that we rode with them … and survived. Haha. We moved on to the bikes you can just rent with your phone. Here’s a couple of photos of those. Yeah … wasn’t really working for us either.

Obviously, these bikes are not built for tall people.

Not only were we finding it difficult to come up with a good bike solution, we were exploring the neighborhood and surrounding areas to find good riding locations. Where we were staying in the city was boxed in by the “Superhighway.” You couldn’t ride on it with your bike and there were only two places you could cross it … and those were extremely busy all the time. We eventually figured out you just had to go for it!

After about a week of this we decided we were ready for some mountain biking. So we signed up for a “Chiang Mai Mountain Biking company” tour.

What a great bunch of guys … the tour guides were excellent and good humored. Our MTB’ing trip was more a Downhill than a cross-country trip. They drove us up to 5,179 feet elevation, put us on hard tail bikes, and proceeded to lead us down the mountain. We climbed another 1,400 feet as well … so our total descent was about 5,100 feet … in about 15 miles … some of the grades were 20+% … rocks, roots, ruts, slick clay … let’s just say we kissed the ground when we made it to the bottom!

Here’s Deb descending one of the steep sections.I had to watch out for cross-bars … some of them were almost too low for me.We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.We took the opportunity to stop and enjoy looking at the plantations.You can tell by Deb’s expression that this was a great section of trail. Haha.There’s our final destination down there … that lake!This was the sign at the top of the mountain.

We liked our guides and experience so much we decided to rent a couple of bikes from them for the next week. For $64 we obtained two hard-tail MTBs for our use for one week. Here’s a photo.

The shocks were shot, the gears kind of worked, and they were completely dirty … but at least we had new seats and new tires! They were such a step up from the other bikes that we felt like we were in bike heaven. We rode the heck out of those bikes … Three or four long rides out of the city really made for a great experience. There was a great bike trail to use … you just had to get to it. Here’s a video clip of us getting to the bike path. Waiting at traffic lights here is like 10 minutes of relaxing followed by 2 minutes of sheer terror … haha.

Once on the path, it was great riding outside the city.

The path on the left was one way … you rode back on the path on the right.Here’s the entrance to the main bike path.These elephants (and some pandas) were all along the trail.It was well marked and very smooth.Our bikes are taking a rest here.Here we are out in the country enjoying the weather.I’m sure this sign says “have fun” or something like that.The end of the trail! Haha. There was another path close by that we enjoyed as well.

We signed up for another ride for Christmas Day with this tour company … however, we decided to do the country ride. So they loaded us up again and drove us out to the country. It was only Deb and I signed up for this tour so we had a nice private tour through the countryside. Our guide was great, the scenery was awesome and the weather perfect. Wow.

The light green “grass” on the right is a rice plant nursery … this will be transplanted in the fields later.Our final stop on the ride was along the Ping river … very lovely.Here’s a view toward the mountains with a “rice hay” building on the left.Deb had an opportunity to feel up some coffee beans.The end of our trip to the country!Our tour guide “A” was quite the cut up … worked great with us.Another view of the rice nursery.Looking south down the Ping river.We rode along the top of a lake dam during this nice long ride.We even made it to “Mile Marker 0.”

We reluctantly rode our rental bikes back to the shop for drop off as our adventure was coming to an end in Thailand. We thoroughly enjoyed riding in the area … I know if I hadn’t been sick for a couple of weeks we would have explored a lot more. As it was we ended up with a couple hundred miles, several thousand feet and two huge smiles! Success.

Stumblingpiper

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With a month in Thailand, we had plenty of opportunities to bird watch. We went on two organized tours … one to Doi Inthanon National Park (highest point in Thailand). The other one was around Chiang Mai (specifically to two locations: Huay Tung Tao lake and a small nature preserve southwest of Chiang Mai). Both were on the eastern slope of Doi Suthep. Apparently “Doi” means Mountain. These bird watching tours were different than other countries … we spent most of our time in the vehicle driving to see different birds on the side of the road … hence my position in this photo:

We saw approximately 70 different bird species on these two trips. Some of them were duplicates of birds we had already identified ourselves. Our final numbers in Thailand were 87 different species where 44 of those were new to us.

Thailand is a wonderful place for bird watching. There is quite a variety of habitats and these habitats attract many different birds.

Although not as prevalent as in Vietnam, the Thai people do net the birds around the rice fields. However, we found the bird life abundant in Thailand … even around our hotel. Here are a few photos of the birds around our hotel:

This is a Coppersmith Barbet … a beautiful bird easily identified by his call … and then you see him and it’s “Wow.” This is a scaly-breasted Munia … a seedeater … you can tell by the large bill.This is a black-collared Starling … a little noisy but lovely to observe.This is a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker … this guy is noisy too!

Here are a few random shots of some of our other favorite birds.

I couldn’t pass up adding one more of the Coppersmith Barbet … beautiful.This is a Green Bee Eater.This is an Indian Roller … lovely sitting … fantastic colors when flying. This is a long-tailed shrike.Here’s another picture of the Indian Roller …and one of him in flight …A very cool bird … this small dove is called a Zebra (or Peaceful) Dove.This is a female Hill Blue Flycatcher.There were so many cool “junk birds” … this is a white-vented Myna.The Kingfisher’s colors were amazing … This is a White-throated Kingfisher.Another barbet …. this time the Lineated Barbet. They loved the fruit in this tree.We’ve had the fortune of seeing three owls on this trip … we saw this one in the day-time so I was able to get a nice picture. It is an Asian Barred Owlet. Although this is called the Common Kingfisher … it doesn’t look common to me.Another barbet … a blue-eared Barbet.Hanging out down near the stream, a White-capped Water Redstart. The velvet-fronted Nuthatch …

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. Haha.

Stumblingpiper

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