Thursday, 2 November 2017

LTF MR2 (7-15 August 2017), Day 7 : Chiang Khan

With Chiang Khan Cycling Club
Rolling out
With Rojana
Traditional house
Beautiful landsacpes
Resort and cafe with lambs on the left
Paddy fields
Women power
Approaching Khaeng Khut Khu
Back at Chai Kong for tea
Braised pork and egg lunch
With Fone's grandmother!
Wantan mee and banana fritters break!
On the way to visit Willie, Chai Kong
Pasar malam feel, Chai Kong
Street artists, Chai Kong
Tourist trap, Road 211.
With Willie and husband at their resort
With Willie in their resort
Truck ride back to Chai Kong
Stopover at Fair Fair Resort

Meeting downstairs for our breakfasts this morning, we had a good laugh at our own stupidity! The complimentary breakfast that comes with the room rates is actually catered from the shop opposite the hotel! Another round of Khao Tum for today...............................and tomorrow as well!!! The only saving grace was the alternative option of egg omelette, cooked and served over a small little wok!

Thankfully, with Chief Food Officer in the house, we do not have to resign ourselves totally to the hotel spread. Taking his job seriously, he returned with fried Yu Tiau and rice cakes filled with sweet corn for all to share!

As we were finishing breakfast, Fone dropped by at the hotel to guide us to the meet up place. In tow was her little girl who couldn’t take her eyes off Carolen’s blonde looks!

Arriving at the river promenade later, we received a warm welcome from Chiang Khan Cycling Club. All dressed in Airasia sponsored jersey, the group’s demographics comprised mainly of women past their forties. Only Man and Fone stood out as Millennials. It was not surprising as we were previously informed that most of their Gen Y members had gone for an MTB jamboree the very same day!

A short fun ride pre-decided since yesterday, we rode to the fringes of Phu Tok, a mountain in the hilly region of Isaan. Famous for its breathtaking sunrise with mist covered valleys, we never made it to the viewpoint as it was scorching hot by the time we got there. 

Instead, we made our way to Khaeng Khut Ku, passing by lotus ponds and stopping for cows along the way! Unfortunately, we were not there at the right season. August being a rainy month, the river was engorged covering all rocks and inlets! We did not get to view the famous rapids or colourful boulders at all!

Following a Buddhist practice, we traipsed down to the riverbank with some riders. A merit for life, they bought plastic bags of fishes from the neighbouring stalls to release them into the river. This idea of giving freedom to a creature is debatable as how the fishes got into bag in the first place is questionable!

Meanwhile, up on the river promenade, a crowd had started to gather. We soon found out the Mayor, was visiting. It was so heartwarming when he requested to take a group photo with us.

After a long photo session, Man had to leave us as he had some work to attend to. Saying their goodbyes as well were the postmaster and chief of police.

On our way out from Khaeng Khut Khu, we stopped by a cottage industry producing fried chips and preserved coconut flesh. The coconut water which are usually sold cheap to toddy makers were given to us for free with extras to fill up our water bottles.

By the time we got back to the beautiful river promenade, the rest of the Thai riders had dispersed except for Wilasinee and Koy who continued to host us till lunch time. Deciding on a cafe by the riverside, we finally caught up with The Roscoes who had been in hiding since yesterday’s lunch. They were on their way back after a late breakfast as Pete was still harboring a fever from last night!

Getting to know our new Thai friends better, we found out Wilasinee was a former English teacher trained in Maine, USA. Now retired, she owns and manage a resort in Chiang Khan. Meanwhile, Koy is an independent artist with a studio in Phuket. Currently on a long sabbatical, she is putting her energy on triathlons!

After our last 2 friend’s left us, we returned to our hotel for showers before hitting the street again for lunch. This time, we tried braised pork and eggs with rice. Not satisfied, we turned into the main road for Thai’s version of fried Kueh Tiau and later, wantan noodles. When CFO went off and returned with banana fritters and spring rolls, more than half of it had to be given away to our wantan seller and their next door’s motorcycle workshop owner who had played translator for us!

That afternoon, while most of us returned to our rooms for a siesta, Alvin and KC went to the local bus station to make enquiries for bus services to Loei. This was a back up plan for those who are unable to ride any further.

When they were done, the curious few met again to visit Wilasinee as promised. Hitting the streets after she did not pick up our calls, we bumped into Koy who was finishing an early dinner. She decided to walk us to Willie’s resort which was actually so much further than initially described, “turn left at Soi 5”.

The resort, far from Chai Kong and buried in a housing estate with just as many resort homes, it is not an easy find. The signboard written only in Thai, is a strategy to escape tourism tax but it also means escaping the attention of foreigners as well! The standard budget rooms with bare minimums, sleeps a family of four comfortably. But it is the lovely patios and landscaped gardens that you will spend most of your waking hours!

Excusing ourselves as we were late for a dinner appointment with the rest of the team, Willie was most considerate, offering to take us back on her pick up truck. She even brought out screwpine mats for those occupying the cargo area. It was totally unnecessary as we were just happy to be given a lift! 

On our way back, we dropped by at Fair Fair resort, located on Road 211. Belonging to Willie’s son, the resort’s entrance houses a veterinary clinic run by her daughter in law!!!

That night, Koy brought us to the best Thai restaurant in Chai Kong. Delicious and reasonably priced, we ate to our hearts content. Meanwhile, Pete who was still not ready for spicy food was given a bowl of Khao Tum. This went into the toilet midway through dinner!!!

After dinner, we went our separate ways. Some indulged in more street food while others continued with more Thai massages.

As usual, those who returned late found themselves locked out again. Instead of waiting for Claudine to the rescue, Uncle KC found a new way to break in! Sliding his craggy hands through the gaps of the folding sliding doors, he managed to lift up the latch!!!

Photo Credits :

1. KC
2. Ped Al

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