May 31, 2006 - Wednesday
Chiang Mai - Piang Luang - Chiang Mai

I heard Rob start his bike this morning, a "loud pipes save lives" philosophy, it was mostly right out my window. I was rolling about bed in a daze but with them hitting the road I figured I should start working at it too. Before long I was packed and moving - with the first task to replace the rear tire. I waypointed a few motorcycle shops last evening when coming into town - I'll head to them this morning.

The Honda motorcycle dealership (that I stopped at - I wonder how many are in town - a dozen+) does not have the tire but they recommended a place on Chiang Moi road. I have no clue where this is. I didn't even look it up as cycle shops are common - one must be around the corner. I poked about, and after stopping at a few other spots, found one that had a tire and could get the job done.

Chiang Mai is one of the two places I should visit for "renting" a bike in Thailand. I've seen more "standard" bikes here than all of the rest of Thailand - even more than on the rental row in Pattaya.

I had checked out of the guest house as I didn't know where I would end up today - possibly back here in town should the tire change take the better part of the day - possibly farther North. With the tire change done - by 11am - I figured I'd make it up to Chiang Rai - but such will not be. I will be foiled by a rocky dirt road and make the trek in reverse - right back to the same guest house.

There was a bit of driving from Chiang Mai - bottom right - to the left turn to head west - but it was worth it.

Between "A" and "B" - straight line it's about 16 miles. Road miles - a bit more. Good views and decent road - way more.

Honda Super Four - poor state of tune
MPG, 3.2 MB, 45 sec

The video starts out with me running along having just let out the clutch in first gear, going uphill. The bike will idle along in first, uphilll - but it will not accelerate off of idle. I have to pull the clutch in, race the engine (which takes a moment or two to move between 1000 rpm and 3000 rpm) and slip the clutch with the RPM's staying above 5,000 or 6,000. Rolling uphill the engine can be heard burbling at times. Once underway, so long as the RPM's are kept over 3000 or 5000 RPM (two key rpm's) the bike performs halfway decently.

Currently offline - too large for me to upload yet
Twisties in the hills - Road 1322 near the village of Lao Wu
MPG, 54 MB, 13 minutes

First stop - one of the Honda shops. No dice on a tire - but helpful folks nonetheless.

While driving about looking for 'big bike' shops I saw a sign for the railroad station. Why not! A static display engine. Little did I notice - but you can see the red and white awning in the back right - that's the shop that'll do the tire job.

I found a bike shop that had an un-used tire available. It hadn't been on a bike but I won't call it "new" as has some age cracks.

Work is underway - not more than 4 minutes after rolling up.
Time of this photo: 10:09 am

The shop was just what I needed. The part, the help, and a few sights to look at while the work was done - this is a "chopper" with a liquid cooled Honda V-Twin motor - a work in progress.

H-D springer front end.

A different bike - probably scavenged for parts.

The wheel and tire being loaded up for the tire change.

Ready to get to the tire shop
Time: 10:19 am

While the tire change was going on I also had an oil change done too. The gent in charge grabbed a bike and headed out to purchase the new oil. Didn't take more than 4 or 5 minutes. Things are close at hand - thought not right on site. A cash business with low inventory - a decent business model.

The new tire is mounted and has returned.
Time 10:37 am
18 minutes to ride off, arrive at some other shop, get into their work flow, get the work done, ride back.

Tipping the bike to get that last bit of oil out.

The rear of the bike was washed, the chain cleaned and oiled as well. Not asked for - but done just the same.

Job done
Time 10:59 am, 50 minutes from work start to work end. No appointment. No waiting.

The gent in the middle - the guy in charge / owner - asked about service in the U.S. I commented that it could be 1) Call to make an appointment 2) Arrive at the appointed time a week or two after the call to 3) drop the bike of for the day [or more] then 4) return to pick up the bike. He was a bit shocked and I commented that service in Thailand and Taiwan is fantastic. He has family (sister?) in San Francisco but has yet to visit - too busy working. I told him that should he make it there - do visit Yosemite National Park - a great place.

Bike ready for the road I was sitting eating a snack with the maps out - where to go? This gent, Mr. Sintavee, parked nearby and struck up a conversation. He was one of two that stopped to chat. A photo for good measure. Nice to meet you!

I've seen bikes placed just about anywhere possible when transported about. This is a good example.

I'm at the turnoff. At the intersection (which also has a checkpoint) I'll take a left and head into the hills.

A small hill village. See it??? The next pic will be a bit closer.

Another village. The road just passed through it, up on the ridge, coming to it from behind the knob, and rolled down the hill to the left of the photo.

Several switchbacks - no wide angle lens needed.

A shot of the new tire and cleaned chain.

The blue sign (left) is an icon of a cell phone - apparently it's an area the phones could work - the area is remote and hilly.

Moving the camera low to the ground has an interesting effect of "flattening" the grade.

Roadway just visible below in the trees

Turning about to get this photo I noticed a lady working on the hillside to my right. I don't know what she was doing - just working on some plants or vegetation.

Rain showers down in the valley

This village put their name (I assume) on the hillside.

I photo'd the roadside grave sites in Taiwan - here they are in Thailand. Cremation is the norm here.

A recent burial.

After the twisties section there were two or three villages large enough for fuel. Stopping at one for some hand-pumped fuel from a 55-gallon drum.

She was nice. I simply pulled out 260 Baht. She wanted to know "which fuel" and did not understand my "91" - written or verbal that most attendants understand (in larger cities with fuel pumps with "91" or "95" written on it). In the end I pointed to the "red" fuel as most of the 91 octane fuel is red in color.

Getting back to the proper intersection for my loop I find the roadway promptly changed to a rocky soil thing. 30 kph was my rate of travel - and it was 54 kilometers to the next town. Considering the roadway might stay this way for the next 54 kilometers - along with the fact that the prior hilly twisties were fun - I turned around. This would be a dead-ender type of day.

School kids walking home.

Somewhere past this corner I called it quits. Possibly having two hours of this - darkness not far down the road - with the plus of having good road behind made the decision easy.

Sitting along the roadway for some water and a snack. The older school kids were zipping by on scooters or were packed into the "transport" pickups. Sitting on top or holding on at the rear - anything to get that ride home.

It was here that I noticed the rain pants.... When wearing FroggTrog's - watch where you walk. Out at a photo spot I unknowingly walked by some plant that had knettle seeds. Here, I put my hand by a knee and was poked by one of these things. The bottom of each leg was covered in the things. It took 10 minutes of picking to get rid of'm.

One of the schools

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