Tuesday 20 July 2010

From Nan to to Sukhothai -- the exhilaration of acceleration

From Nan, there are options to head east across to Loei (supposed to be excellent riding and beautiful countryside) and Nong Khai (Friendship Bridge and Vientiane, Laos).

We opted to head south instead, taking in Uttaradit and Sukhothai.

As we suited up once more, it struck me that we had not seen a single farang (foreigner) since we left the Golden Triangle. It was a good feeling, as I felt we were now experiencing the real Thailand, beyond the tourist map. But ... I felt it was a crime that this amazing motorcycling countryside was not being experienced by more international riders. Oh well, their loss.

We blasted on down the 101 towards Phrae, which is a bit like the Plain of Jars, there is so much pottery being churned out and for sale along all the roads leading to and from it.

Then on to Uttaradit, along amazingly wide straight roads, like airport runways, lined with tall trees either side. The countryside whizzed by in a blur. My throttle got stuck in the 'open' position and I wrestled with it as I saw my speedo climbing: 120, 130, 140 kilometres per hour ... I wrestled it more ... 150, 160 ... alas, my struggles were in vain ... 170 ... it took me about 45 minutes to work out the problem -- I was turning the throttle the wrong way, and that's my story officer. Gee, it's scary to think that an experienced motorcyclist like me could make such a simple mistake!

Oh, the exhilaration, the freedom. Money can't buy that sort of feeling. It can buy you the motorbike, but not the feeling.

Uttaradit is marked by what I call The Big Durian -- a massive ode to the famously pungent fruit which smells something like old football socks dipped in diesel, but not quite as pleasant as that sounds.

And, would you believe it, I experienced the same rotten luck with my stuck throttle all afternoon down to the ancient capital of Sukhothai. The damn thing was stuck on 160 most of the way. I really should get it fixed ... er, one day!

After a long day in the saddle, we cruised in toward Sukhothai, passing Si Satchanalai National Park and Sawankhalok, both of which figured highly in this early artistic and cultural history of Siam, and are rich in art and artifacts.

The late afternoon soon glinted like light off a mirror ball from the gilt tips of temples. Long wide ornate promenades leading into the busy provincial capital.

We followed signs to the MG Guesthouse, along the river through old brick and wood places that looked as old as Thailand itself. But MG was a new motel-style place, set in modern landscaped garden with palms and trimmed hedges. Clean, airy, spacious with TV and an aircon for the princely sum of 400 baht per night for a single.

Phil and I mustered just enough energy to saunter in to town and enjoy a  two-hour oil massage (which cost around 300 baht if I remember correctly) and I fell asleep that night dreaming of my stuck throttle.

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