4th June : Pai to Soppong

The photo: 

The route: only 59km (total 5224km) but a massive great mountain along the way: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/186151376

The chat: Plans for an early morning start were delayed after a disagreement over whose fault it was that Andy had accidentally deleted all of the previous 4 days photos. A grumpy hill climb ensued, and our moods were not lifted with each of the 1600 rising metres above sea level. Thankfully, just as my knees were about to disintegrate, we reached the summit and rolled back down the other side at a blissful 65km/hr. After a late lunch we headed to  a remote lodge (Cave Lodge) to spend an afternoon kayaking down some rapids, an activity we had booked on the phone the previous day with the lodge owner. Unfortunately, on arriving, we were met by a deserted lodge and a note announcing that the owner had decided to go mushrooming for the afternoon, so, taking matters into our own hands we headed to Tham Lod, or “through cave”, a famous cave with hundreds of thousands of stalactites and stalagmites and home to thousands of bats, and half a million swifts who fly into the cave en masse each evening at sunset. Our guide (a 60 year old lady) nimbly led us past ancient 2000 year old coffins (their contents fortunately empty), oddly shaped stalactites ( breast rock anybody?), and onto a bamboo raft for a trip through the cave’s river – all in the pitch black lit by a single gas lamp.

2000 year old coffins

Returning to Cave Lodge at sunset, a frenzied search ensued as we tried to find a human in the still deserted lodge. After half an hour we gave up hope and rode into the next town for a night in a beautiful riverside bungalow at Riverside Inn. We spent the evening as the only guests reading on a pile of cushions on the riverside deck lit by candles and listening to the croak of bullfrogs – bliss.

Working harder than Andrew – as usual

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