Rest day in Chiang Mai
The rest day is my “me time”: I start if off with a late sleep in. Once I connect back to reality (at around 1pm) I take my bike to go to the closest market. They’re huge, vibrant, abounding with smells and colours. They’re the pumping heart of any village or city district. I don’t recognize half of the items on display and can’t figure out what the plastic bags revolving on fans are supposed to do… but I do manage to find a stand with fruit smoothies (Thai craze of the moment).
After filling up with local specialties, I decide to check-in for a foot massage. It’s so good and so cheap that I continue with a full-body herbal rub. Three hours later I roll out from the massage parlour, half-dead and half-high… I can hardly speak…
Time to work that stomach abs and get some grub! Luckily, as it gets dark just after 6pm, dinner time in Thailand is a lot earlier compared to 8-9pm in France.
I have dinner plans with my hosts, Jared and Katie, whom I met through the WarmShowers website. They’re fellow cyclists and pretty radical ones too. Katie does a ride every day at 5am for example, right before going to work. They also run, hitchhike… living machines! I’m impressed at how well organised they are: preparing all their meals in advance, taking vitamins, scheduling training sessions... Over the course of the meal, they share their insights on living in Thailand, cycling around the world, changing jobs whilst living the life of an expat… They suggest I do the Mae Hong Son loop as it boasts the most beautiful Thai sceneries. I hesitate all night as what I’ve seen over the past 4 days has been more than disappointing… The loop lies in a mountainous area and is considered one of the most challenging bike trails. Precisely what makes me finally decide against it: I have had health issues for the past year and simply do not have the strength for anything too fancy. It will be plain and simple: I’ll continue straight back down to Bangkok.