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Saturday, November 30, 2019

On the Other Side of the World

Well, it's been awhile. I mean, I never even finished blogging my previous tour, and here I am on another one, on the other side of the world. It's hard to pick this back up again after leaving it abandoned, like a book or a game that circumstances kept you from finishing and now when you try, you don't know where you were or how to proceed. Needless to say, Joel and I finished our last tour, made it to the coast, shipped our bikes home (boxed them ourselves and my 920 made it home safe this time!). I kept on intending to make an entry in New Orleans, then in Mobile down the line, then at the the end in Florida, then once I got home, and I just...well, I didn't. That's the important thing: I didn't do it. could try to run through it all, but like I mentioned earlier, I'm literally on the other side of the world from where I was then, and it just doesn't feel like the right use of my energy. Maybe I will at some point for the sake of posterity, but right now, let's move onto the current chapter and what I'm doing right now (you know, the new shiny thing!).

I'm in Thailand! Rachael and I got married, and we just had our honeymoon in Chiang Mai. We got a super posh hotel, we wandered the Old City, we went to an elephant sanctuary and bathed a baby elephant in mud, we climbed the steps of Doi Suthep, we took a river boat ride, we shopped for a passport book for me at the night bazaar... We had a great time. ...And then she left me, here, in Thailand, went home without me, abandoned me with nothing, but my new bike I built, and my panniers, and all my touring gear, and... So yeah, I'm that guy who goes on a honeymoon and then plans to stay and bike around for two months while my wife goes back home. Judge me how you will.I have a very understanding wife, and I am super lucky and grateful to have her.

So yeah, Rachael left on her flight back to the States this morning, and I left Chiang Mai by bike. It was a little hectic at first. Traffic here is much different from the US. Streetlights are rare, crosswalks exist but seem to serve no function, there are at least as many motorcycles and scooters as cars and they move with their own rules, traffic will sometimes go one way on a one way and this is normal, pedestrians will often be walking the side of the street because there is no sidewalk, traffic just flows through any open space. I had it described as crazy but you get used to it, and those seemed dichotomous to me, one or the other, but I think that sure enough, I am slowly getting used to it, but it's still crazy. 

I had an inauspicious start by missing my first turn, consequently making a wrong one, then briefly riding on the right (which is wrong, because here they drive on the left). But I got sorted and rode 106, the rubber tree road, which to its namesake has huge rubber trees bordering it. The road has a shoulder and that made me a lot more comfortable, even as I adjusted to having scooters and motorcyclists using it as well. I eventually got onto the Super Highway, though making the turn to get into it was not an easy one. While the traffic on it is very heavy, it has a really good shoulder (again, still watching out for the motorcyclists that use it too) and it wasn't bad riding. Going up the mountain in the 90 degree heat had me suffering more than a little because I am not in shape yet. I had to stop for a long rest break at the rest area at the top before cruising down hill and riding easy most the way to my destination tonight.

I am staying with a Warmshowers host tonight. He's an incredible guy, extremely generous and lucky for me his English is very good. He biked from here to Singapore, and his dream is to ride Australia, but right now he's taking care of his sick wife.  After I got my shower and rested, he showed me around his little town by bike, and we hit up the local market to get food. We brought back several bags full on our handlebars, which he used to make a really good, and vegetarian friendly, meal for the night.

I burned my wrists and my neck, I am feeling the fact that I neglected chamois butter, I am tired from what was a fairly short 50some mile ride, I miss my wife dearly, and I couldn't be happier I am here.

I will do my best to update this blog. But no promises.