The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/186151447 (90km – total: 4951km) Good road, VERY steep (20% in parts) but mainly downhill – make sure your brakes are in good working order
The chat: Good Yunnanese noodles, great coffee, and a damp but exhilarating ride down from the ridge Mae Salong is perched on was the order of the morning.
Average, run of the mill, nondescript; superlatives fail me as I attempt to describe the sheer mediocrity of Fang, exceptional in name alone. A quick turn around at the friendly and clean Phumanee Home hotel (NB other cyclists – great food too), and off we cycled to the Ban Pin hot springs, a leisurely 10km spin out of town. Sulphurous, steamy and a little prehistoric, they brought back memories of my year in Rotorua, NZ. The park’s main attraction was a spectacular geyser that we were told would blow every half an hour for three minutes. The metronomic precision of this assurance prompted a little detective work. Risking third degree burns, we captured never-seen-before photographic evidence of the truth behind this famous Thai attraction (see below) which has been sent to the Ministry of Domestic Tourism Fraud.
We rewarded our sleuthing with a soak in the purportedly medicinal outdoor spa – the single sex pools in a leafy garden cost us 20 baht (about 30pence) and until a monk joined the soak, we had the place to ourselves – the joys of travelling in the off season. Despite five years at a Catholic boys’ school, I’d never shared bath with a monk before – and now I have. There was no monk-ey business – in fact he was a top geyser.