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Greetings from Northern Thailand!


It's not actually as hot here as I was expecting! Or maybe that's because my brain is still soggy from jetlag. We have successfully arrived, intact, having herded 4 panniers, 2 small packs, and 2 large bicycle boxes through Seatac, Tokyo Narita, Bangkok, and finally Chiang Mai. Last minute packing was frantic, as is required on all long trips, with the usual bumps and hitches - such as discovering, as I was paring down the wallet for travel, that I had already simplified things by leaving my ATM card in the ATM the day previous. clever. I wasn't going to bring that ATM card anyway. And then there was the packing of bikes - destroyed a wrench trying to get one of the pedals off. Oh well, wasn't going to bring that wrench anyway. Joan gave us a lift to the airport, with Gretchen wedged in the back with the bikes and the long haul began.
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It's 9 hours Seatac to Tokyo, which is a long time in row 62 of a 747. The 3rd person in our row was a cute little 6 year old boy who wanted the window seat even though the rest of his family was in the center section (Mom who was Thai, Dad who was white, and 2 year old sister, who was even cuter). They were all from Alaska, and the boy was boggling at the number of swimming pools in Tokyo as we came in to land. 3 hours in Narita, and then on to Bangkok; another 7 hours in the 747, but we've advanced to row 59! woohoo! Landed at 12:30 am in Bangkok and were finally at the hotel by 1:30 am, which was pretty much exactly 24 hours after leaving Seattle. It was also 1:30 am on Sunday, and we had left on Friday morning. Huh. Brain says ouch. body says ouch. Brain says "sleep, it's dark" body says "errrrrrright" Sorta slept for a few hours, but wide awake before the 7am wake up call. Wide awake should not be confused with coherent however. "huhhh...blah?!" was about the mental functionality going on. A quick cold shower improved matters to where we could say "huhblah!" faster and more clearly. Breakfast was good though, as was the coffee, and higher brain functions returned.
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Back on the plane one more time, for just over an hour to reach Chiang Mai. We debated briefly about assembling bikes at the airport and starting in style, and but promptly wussed out. Finding a cab took a while though. We stood on the curb with 2 bike boxes, 4 panniers, backpack and smaller baggage and the cabbies all came over to poke at the bike boxes, point to their honda civics and laugh. Eventually one suggested that he drove a full size honda, and sure enough, we could wedge the bike boxes in the trunk - sticking up at a 45 degree angle. They stayed for the trip to the hotel though, which had one room left. Very convenient. I had stayed at the Riverview lodge on the last trip here - gratis as I was with Scott & Jeanne, and the hotel is owned by Jeanne's uncle. I figured I owed them a paying visit, despite the diggs being a bit more than the usual budget travel.


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The rest of the day was spent wandering around, re-discovering how good the fruit is here, and trying to get a visa for Laos. This proved difficult; the visa applications get sent to Bangkok, so 1 day travel, 2 days process (with rush fee), and another day back again, meaning no visas until Thursday. Bugger. The travel agent says "no visas at the northeast border to Houayxay, Lonely Planet says "15 day visas available there". Guess we'll go with Lonely Planet and give it a try. Worst case we just stay in Thailand and bike back down along the Laos Border to Vientiane. Hopefully that won't be required since it would make reaching Laung Prabang a bit more of a stretch.

It is fantastic to be back in Thailand! This is the first time I've made a second trip to a far off place and it's a neat feeling remembering and rediscovering. And of course the food! street vendors with fantastic snacks and food everywhere. and dead fish and fried bugs of course, but lots of edible stuff in between.

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I'd write more, but the brain is returning to the huhh..blah.. stage so I'll quit while ahead.

Oh, but I should point out that we have a small website now; http://mattkphoto.net not much there at the moment, rough itinerary and some higher detail maps with the anticipated route. Will try to figure out how to post the travelogues as well, but this machine at least isn't being allowed to access the admin pages to upload files. neither is the standard windows ftp client, so we'll stick with just email for now.

huhblah! .




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