1/12 The sightseeing today starts right after breakfast: we visit Prasat Sikoraphum, a small Khmer temple ruin right here in town. There isn't that much to see here, so we are soon off for more sightseeing. Finding the next site is a little tricky, we ride on lots of small dirt tracks, zig-zagging towards our target. Su stops often to ask for directions and we find it: a tiny brick tower, overgrown and not 200 years old. Hmmm... The next one is Prasat Muang Tam, easy to find, this one and I pay 5 times what Su has to pay as entrance fee, very common in Thailand. This is more like it, the whole complex is still there and one can imagine what it was like. But the best comes last, Phanom Rung, at the top of a hill. I let the pictures speak. We stay the night in Nang Rong.
2/12 We move to Phimai to see some more Khmer ruins, tomorrow.
I love the names they give some of the bikes sold around here. There is a Honda Wave labelled "Organic Sports". But this one takes the prize:
5/12 The Khmer ruins are more interesting than any of the ones we have seen so far, but it sure isn't Angkhor Wat... Su gets a call from a potential buyer for her car, so we have to head back to Ayutthaya.
If the spokes of your new sidecar bike can't take the load and snap - just get your local welder to make you some stronger ones.
8/12 The sale of the car is all go (third time lucky...). We head to Nakhon Sawan for the 2nd service of Su's bike. The shop is disappointing: despite me telling them that they overfilled the engine with oil the last time, they do it again, pointing out that on the engine casing it says 1.5l, so that's what they put in. I prevent them from overtightening the chain again by telling them not to touch it.
14/12 We return to Chiang Mai, where Su attends an off-road training course. She does very well and is surprised by her own achievement, but pays a price: she almost can't walk down any stairs for the next two and a half days. As the saying goes: "No pain, no gain." The third buyer of Su's car also can't find the money, as does the 4th. The 5th is a lady known to her family, so Su trusts her and does her a special deal, so she doesn't have to find a lot of money up-front. Su travels by train back to Ayutthaya to finalise the deal and hand over the car and the keys. Let's hope her trust is not misplaced. Thailand has just changed the visa rules again, so I now have to get a new visa, or I can only stay 15 days the next time, not really enough to appreciate the South.
Nop used to race enduro, but said that in Thailand it's too easy.
Escape into the greenery.
Another Thai highway meets an untimely end.
15/12 We head NE towards the Lao border and end up near Phu Chi Fa, a cliff overlooking Laos and hence popular with Thai tourists, although in the middle of the week there aren't that many. We walk to the top just after sunset and the view is not bad, although it's a little hazy, as usual, so the view isn't as spectacular as it would be on a clear day. I don't know whether they get that many clear days in Thailand...
16/12 We pass on a sunrise ascent of Phu Chi Fa. There isn't much of a sunrise anyway, as it's quite cloudy today and lousy cold. We do stop at Doi Pha Tang instead and admire the mist in the valleys below in Laos. After that the road gets quite bad in places, with one bridge gone and another bridged with a bailey bridge on top. It's a very nice ride anyway with nice hill scenery and we descend down to the Mekong, then proceed to Chiang Khong for the border crossing. Just as we arrive a truck rolls onto a ferry and the ferry leaves. It's early afternoon, so I guess there will be another one. It turns out I am right. My paperwork takes about 5 mins. and I have officially left Thailand. Su, however, has to return into the town to get a temporary export permit from customs. As she gets back another truck rolls onto the next ferry. Su still has to fill in her departure card and get stamped out, so I ask her to go to the ferry to ask them to wait 5 minutes for us. The ferry leaves under our noses. That's a bad omen. Now, what the folks on GT-Rider.com call the "Mekong boat mafia" swings into action. A woman tells us that there are no more car ferries today. This is correct, as we soon find out. But, forpaying only 40% more we can lift our bikes onto a small passenger boat. We decline this generous offer. We get our departure stamps cancelled temporarily and stay the night in town.
17/12 We turn up at the ferry ramp at 8:30, as the operators told us to do. There are now two ferries tied up side-by-side. One is being repaired, the other serves as working platform. They had a small crash yesterday and are fixing it. On the Lao side one of the two Lao ferries is being loaded with trucks, but it stays put, as on our side the two ferries block the ramp, so it can't dock. There is method in this madness: it prevents the Lao ferry from taking the waiting trucks and us. The Thai operators can complete their repairs without hurry and without their revenue being diminished. We have to wait over 3 hours before boarding the ferry. Customers? There aren't any to be seen. Only cash cows... Oh yes, at 500B each (10 Euro) for a 15 minute crossing this has to be one of the most expensive ferry trips I have done so far. No surprise that no locals use this "service".
After reversing away from the ramp the tug swings around on its hinge, so it can go forward.
As this pivot is THE vital part of the ferry it evidently has its own spirit, to which offerings must be made.