Domestic flying is cheap with the average one hour flight costing £30 but can be as little as £15 if pre-booked. I use a company called NokAir, they are very much like EasyJet with roomy comfortable seating . For some reason all aeroplanes have the noses painted to resemble a birds head and beak. Internal flights leave from the old international airport and it’s vast. I had to walk to a departure gate and was sure I could see the curvature of the earth, the next time I asked for a golf buggy and the driver obligingly drove me less than twenty feet as they had moved the gate. Laughter all round.
I now do most of my touring on a motorcycle as it hardly ever rains in the winter months plus you get to appreciate the smells of Thailand, admittedly some are rather unsavoury. I always head out to areas not on any tourist route just to figure out why and realise it’s mainly because they are too far from perceived civilisation and the road conditions certainly support this, I have seen potholes that I could hide the bike in. Sometimes what starts off as a tarmac road becomes a dirt track usually on a bend when you least expect it.
I took a seventy mile detour across some mountains near the Burma border because the terrain looked like it should be stunning scenery and after twelve miles the road became a track eventually narrowing down to two wheel tracks. I was not unduly worried because the road often becomes tarmac again and pressed on upwards. After thirty miles the front tyre blew out wrecking it so I continued on knowing I could do no further damage to the tyre until I reached a village. I arrived at a remote hilltop tribe village where they grew, of all things, cabbages and seeing my plight we arranged that they would take the wheel down to the nearest town the next day with the pick-up loaded with vegetables.
A hammock made from a single thick bamboo pole that had been split and weaved was set up between two concrete poles outside for me. I sat and had rice with the villagers and showed them pictures and videos of Cornwall until my battery ran down as they had no electricity. Interestingly most of them had never seen the sea or an airplane so my videos of huge stormy waves were met with gasps and wonderment. I wonder what they made of my pictures of NokAir planes with birds heads on them.
The next evening my wheel came back with a new tyre and tube for the princely sum of £12! I stayed on for another night of sleep under a clear sky with no back light just gazing at the stars and being gently rocked by the warm breeze coming up over the ridge thinking how lucky I was to be in Thailand.
• Read Chapter 1: The first visit
• Read Chapter 2: Bangkok and beyond
• Read Chapter 3: Kanchanaburi and getting around by train
• Read Chapter 5: The road from Nan to Chiang Rai
• Read Chapter 6: Mai Hong Son and higher mountains
• Read Chapter 7: Encounter with a monocled cobra