This morning was another early start, but I confess I was a little later than I should have been.
When Ms. Chuckles calculates how long a trip will take, she doesn’t think about my heavy right foot, so I lop a bit off… the time that is! I lopped off too much. I should have looked at the route as I hadn’t realized a good chunk of it went uphill for close to an hour, on roads that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Swiss Alps. Even Bert struggled. It was mostly second gear work with hairpin bend after hairpin bend to a height of well over 1000 meters. I wasn’t late, but I should have been earlier.
I had to stop once to pretend to be a tourist. Views sadly were not great due to the early morning mist and low cloud, but there were small roadside stalls with all manner of fresh vegetables and fruits. I’m afraid I had to buy some freshly-picked strawberries, which cost next to nothing. They were also selling warm clothing, but fortunately I had my own, as the temperature was a balmy 16 degrees. The locals manning the stalls were clearly not ethnic Thais, but one of the many hill tribes, Hmong I think, from the way they were dressed. The kids were cute and didn’t seem to mind being photographed. I guess they were there to attract tourists. I also hadn’t realized that people bother to read license plates, and the fact I was from a long way south became a talking point, and then when they saw a farang driving they stared like I’d landed from Mars. Quite amusing.
Anyways, eventually I reached the point where I was to man a time control. Unfortunately some of the old rally cars didn’t. The climb was just too much for them. Not surprising really. But the 1907 Itala chugged in like it was all part of a day’s work. It’s hard to believe that thing goes anywhere at all, but it still seems healthy, although its engine is consuming slightly more oil than Saudi Arabia’s hourly production!
It was a nice morning. The control was next to a small coffee place and everyone seemed chatty after the long uphill drive. Perhaps the cool air was a factor. It seemed to make everyone more chipper … which I am not at that time of the morning. But I peeled off a few layers of clothing as the temperature hit 19 degrees and the sun made an appearance. After the cars had left I didn’t have much to do, other than enjoy the scenery on the long drive up to Phrae. I was surprised at how the temperature changed on the downhill section, going from 19 to 31 in the space of fifteen minutes.
I can’t describe Phrae because as always I needed to get to a hotel somewhere to hand in paperwork, boards and clock, and discuss the events of the day. Next thing you know, it’s dark. But I am definitely in Northern Thailand and a very long way from home. It’s not the far north, there’s still a lot of Thailand up there somewhere, but the scenery is vastly different than where I live. The mountains are many and large, but they seem to loom out of nowhere. A bit like large dollops of dough dropped on a pastry board. And everywhere is brown, like it hasn’t rained in months. Many trees have shed all leaves in order to preserve water, so the scenery is not as nice as it could be.
Of course, having confidently advised competitors they probably wouldn’t see any rain in Thailand, we had some heavy showers last night! Other than that it’s been bright sunny days which make for great driving. What I call “Good to be alive” days.
Rolling back the clock a little, I need to write about yesterday before I forget it. Come to think of it, last night’s hotel seemed like the clock had been rolled back a good fifty years. A very bizarre place that probably deserves no more mentions. Tonight’s hotel is a little better, but tomorrow it’s back to five star standard.
Anyhoo, yesterday was the Special Test I created last December at a place called Garden Hills. That’s in an area that seems to grow most of Thailand’s vegetable crops … acre upon acre. The test was well received and everyone was happy, so it was officially A GoodDay. My main task was to man a Passage Control, and with that being an early one, I was up at around 5am. I’m afraid the rest of the day is a bit of a blur.
So, that’s the story so far. Adding images takes more time than I currently have, so that task is earmarked for the day after tomorrow, which is a rest day in Chiang Mai.