Today was planned as a short riding day. This was to allow us morning time to tour the ruins at Sukhothai, established in the 13th century. The first Thai Kingdom is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Instead, Larry and I spent the morning at a motorcycle repair shop. Red Baron Motorcycles in Bangkok, where we had servicing on our bikes done, must not have understood or overlooked our request that our chains and sprockets needed inspection or possibly replacement prior to our long ride across Asia. We were sent out with Larry’s chain flopping and jerking. It just so happens that Meng’s college buddy owns a motorcycle repair shop, an easy four-mile ride from our Sukhothai hotel. Meng accompanied us to the shop and Larry’s bike now has one of the spare front sprockets and chains we had been carrying in the van. Jeff had tried to replace the parts last night but a much stronger wrench than what he carries in the support vehicle was needed to loosen the sprocket. The owner’s wife handled the store business while their two little boys played on a blanket on the floor.
Before heading for the hills, Larry & I rode to see the Elephant Stupor, a carved elephant adorned temple and a couple of buddhas. Again we’re in an area where cows can rule the road. A fisherman enjoyed a lily-filled stream.
After some green-canopied roads, we arrived on a mountain top where we had a noodle lunch and shopped the street market. The veggies were bountiful and fresh. Mountains of mushrooms of many varieties tempted passers by. A guy, who had attended Atlanta Christian School saw our Georgia license plates and struck up a conversation.
Mae Sot, our evening’s destination, is on the Myanmar (formerly Burma) border. Larry parked near the “Friendship Bridge.” It sure didn’t seem very friendly. With Myanmar now a military state, we saw no vehicles drive across the bridge. Burmese pedestrians were crossing to provide cheap labor for the Thais. They were also floating across the water and away from the decrepit buildings lining the Burmese shore on large inner tubes. There seem to be many similarities between this border and that between the US and Mexico. Burmese and Mexicans want job opportunities to better provide for their families. They cross the borders illegally, and sometimes dangerously, to get work. Many people in the USA and Thailand close their eyes since they want the cheap labor. I accidentally walked into “No Man’s Land,” an area on the Thai side of the border that is off limits to all. A local advised that I get back on the river walk since supposedly a Canadian had been arrested recently for doing the same thing. He didn’t have to tell me twice!
After our sobering visit to the border, we had a feast in the evening. Meng showed us the iced fish and seafood. For our first course, we devoured the biggest prawns we have ever seen, grilled to perfection over a coal fire. Whole fish and other treats followed. After a few shots of “Hong Thong,” a Thai whisky, inhibitions vanished. The skin of “Chia Pet” looking lychee fruit somehow found its way onto my nose.
29-May Sukhothai to Mae Sot Thailand – 96 miles
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