We have made it out of Central Thailand - which gave us a rude exit. We stayed at some dive of a motel in Si Satchanalai which was the only accommodation in this small town. We were in bed at our usual 8.30 but the temple down the road had other ideas about sleep and was pumping out some ungodly worshipping to a drum and bass backing. This was added to with noise competition from the local karaoke bar over the road - the duets were a particular treat with new levels of disharmony that were previously unrealised in music. Not to be out done the local scooter club held an 'up and down the drive way' rally outside out room till 4am. Just to top it off someone tried the door to our room at one stage - probably a whore we think, this place had the look of rental by the hour being norm.
The next day we were out of there before first light. Into the hills for the first time, and some great scenery. Lush forest with some tiny villages peppered about. This was a hard 6hr day but one of the better ones yet with quiet roads and plenty to look at. Have enjoyed the small towns we have been through, Kamphaeng Phet, (Si Satchanalai - see above), Phrae was really laid back which was a great relief from the hectic pace of the other towns, Lampang, and now we are in Lamphun which is about 30km south of Chiang Mai. We have done a decent amount of riding over the last few days, with plenty of hills and heat. Rashes are on the way out but other ailments are taking over.
On the way today we stopped at an elephant conservation centre for a couple of hours and watched them bathe and put on a bit of a show which included log pushing, painting, and some musical interludes. There were tourists staying for 3 days who were riding the elephants. One American woman asked one of them how old the elephant was. He said 18. "But how do you know?" "Well, someone told me". I was dying to say that you have to chop its trunk off and look for the rings but she was obviously beyond hope.
Now we are off on a wee 600km loop to the west, close to the Myanmar border. It goes through the biggest national park in the country and includes the highest mountains. Should be some cool sights (and potentially some cool temperatures), and many more hills to climb. Wish us luck!
PS we have had a few dog chases including the first uphill one, and the dog buzzer has proved ineffective at best. It does appear to work on a particularly meek dog but any hint of aggression, or even mild aliveness and it is better used as a missile.