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February & March are always a little disappointing for anyone wanting to see any scenery in the Chiang Mai valley and every year it’s the same story, fires, smog and itchy eyes.

Today I took the Yamaha down the 108 to Hot, took a left towards Doi Tao. With my GPS map showing the extent of the flood plane, I made my way to it’s edge down a couple of side turns.

Amazingly, the valley below, the actual flood plane, is immense and the current low of the river that runs through here is shockingly low.

I make my way up to a temple with a fabulous look out and talk to the monk who lives there. The monk told me the view in 4 months time will be much better and the water level likewise. I made a promise to come back as this viewpoint gives you a full view across the entire valley.

At the Doi Tao ‘waterside’ market area, there were plenty of stalls selling the same thing – Fish! But the water level is the lowest I have ever seen it in 5 years. You could hardly see any water at all. The meandering river bed is sparsely covered with a few feet of water. The moored restaurant boats are on dry reed bed and it’s hard to imagine that just a year ago when I came here with Ken & Poo, the massive ferry was making it’s was across here on it’s journey to Sam Ngao.

After fighting off the pressure selling tactics of the stall holders, I continued on to Doi Tao village and then before reaching Pong Thung, I took a right turn and headed down a road I hoped would link me up with a road Colin & I said ‘we should leave for another day’ when we rode this area one time before.

This road soon deteriorated from tarmac to dust and there is evidence of some work being done to renew the surface.

Indeed it was the link I was looking for and I eventually exited near the entrance of Mae Ping National Park on the 1087.

After a stop to watch a guy thrashing the Makham from the trees like a raving lunatic, I took a break with his family having Gluay Tod & iced water. – That’s all they had !

I took the 1087 north east back towards the 106 and found the turning to take me to the massive gold chedi that dominates the skyline around here.

At Sri Wiang Chai Temple / Chedi I found the place deserted apart from a few giggling tour guides and an amazingly large area for parking. The road leading up to the front of this is lined with pillars topped with Cow’s and the beginnings of a tourist shoppers paradise in the guise of souvenir stalls.

Back on the 106, turned left and headed for Lamphun. This road was very busy with loading and conveying of garlic as were many of the roads today.

Let me digress – I had earlier stopped for lunch in Hot. The first shop I went into, ordered Khao Ka Moo & sat to wait. The shop was busy and so was the cook. The entire shop soon filled with smoke as the grilling of something out the back was forgotten and I and a few others got up & left. Across the road, another shop was selling what I had set my taste buds on and despite seeing & smelling so much garlic all day, the cook said they were out of garlic! I was so disappointed and the meal was bland without it. I had been thinking to call this post “The mystery garlic tour”

After reaching Pasang I took a left to San Patong, taking the riverside road for a while which rounded off a really nice days ride.

Total distance 320 kms.

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Doi Tok – Sri Wiang Chai Temples and itchy eyes

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