From Mae Chaem and back to Chiang Mai

I didn’t actually take great notes during this period and I’m writing months later, so I’m just going to summarize what I remember about the rest of the trip.

When my back was manageable we left for Mae Chaem on the scooter. I thought this was the best option as while I could have taken a bus, they’re honestly super crammed and not very comfortable. Plus, you are stuck! No stops. With this arrangement I was able to take breaks  when I needed them to stretch or walk around for a bit. I don’t remember much about the journey but I do recall a little about Mae Chaem.

Mae Chaem is small town and unlike most everywhere else in Thailand there wasn’t the plethora of ready restaurants to greet us. We ended up staying at the Mae Chaem Hotel and eating both dinner and breakfast at the restaurant there. The hotel itself was a little bit run down. They have both a main hotel with rooms, and some private cabins in the back. The room they showed us in the hotel was horrible. It was moldy smelling and visibly dirty. We were both horrified and unsure about staying here, but the cabins in the back were much cleaner and nicer looking. Eric decided he’d had enough of looking and just took it.

I remember that I actually ordered something called “fried pork” something or other, only to get a big plate of pork rinds! The server had a good laugh at my expense, lol. Now is probably a good time to mention you should be careful of English translations as they can be pretty fast and loose.

While the cabin was reasonably comfortable it was super cold at night. In addition the pillows were really weird. Twice the size of normal pillows and desperately hard. In the morning I was ready to move on.

I remember looking around on review sights and taking a walk through the downtown, but we just weren’t able to find anything open for breakfast. We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant again to keep things simple.  I was ready to be back in Chiang Mai!

Oh Chiang Mai, how I missed thee. Actually it was pretty stressful getting back. We came back on the exact day that our rented scooters were due and had to pick up some luggage we had left behind at our long term rental place. My back was still hurting a lot too and I couldn’t help out much.

I think we made the rentals by the skin of our teeth and managed to find some Khao Soi Gai. Unfortunately this was probably the worst Khao Soi of the trip! I remember the spices weren’t quite right and they had bits of dry chicken breast instead of the traditional leg. Pretty disappointing for our last time. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant and I don’t feel like it’s really worth looking up.

Next we found an inexpensive hotel called Viraporn’s Place. Why we stayed there is kind of a funny story. Like all of Thailand there was a 1 inch step once you get out of the stairway which I did not see. I totally ate it and busted up my ankle!

The owner was pretty apologetic, but he also made a joke that we had to stay there now, lol! I actually have sort of a dark sense of humor so I thought it was pretty funny. Also true! I didn’t want to walk around looking for another place after that.

Viraporn’s Place was a nice break and I was very comfortable there. Other than that I don’t really remember much about this period. I vaguely recall walking around the downtown backpacker market, and going to eat at this restaurant where I took this picture:

I remember walking down a kind of sketchy alleyway, only to find the restaurant at the end of it.  There was a sign above the door with a weird name. It specialized it a certain type of Thai food but I don’t remember what was special about it (Isaan? Northern Thai?).

After some googling I’m pretty sure that it was at Lert Ros. Even the tabletops look similar to some of the other pictures on tripadvisor. It specializes in Northeastern Thai cuisine and is recommended on the Lonely Planet website.

I remember that we were seated right away and the food was amazing. We ordered the grilled fish, a curry in banana leaf dish, and a clay pot soup. The fish was my favorite and it was especially delicious with the red dipping sauce. Ask for seconds because you will need a lot!

After a few days of relaxation in Chiang Mai we took the sleeper train to Bangkok in order to catch our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia! On to our next adventure!

Soppong and Cave Lodge

This morning we packed up and left for Soppomg. We actually only had an hour drive ahead of us but we decided to take it slow today. We stopped at this roadside shop for some beverages and to stretch our legs. It had an amazing view!

We also stopped at this market and viewing point. It had a four person human powered Ferris wheel. Eric and Greg tried to get it working with this Norwegian couple. Seemed pretty dangerous so after a few near misses we decided to quit while we were ahead. I took a video of it but I’m tethered to my phone at the train station right now so I will have to upload it later when I get to a wifi spot.

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I thought the Cave Lodge was amazing when we first got there. It’s really up in the trees and has a spectacular view. We got a room with two beds because it was roomier and had a better view. Ate some tasty thai food though they have farang stuff as well. Did some laundry. Communal area with ping pong (guys played after lunch), books (though not a lot of English titles), hammocks and a smoking area. Really looks like a jungle bungalow.

Unfortunately I had a bad time on the only kayaking trip that we booked, the one hour trip through the Tham Lod. The guide pushed a leaky kayak on me and I ended up spending the whole trip in a pool of water unlike the other people in the group that were able to sit on the seats in the kayak. I should have asked for a working kayak but I just didn’t know enough about it to know that something was wrong until I heard air leaking out of it. Also the guide was very evasive when I asked questions about why there was so much water in the bottom of the kayak (unlike the others) or why I couldn’t sit like everyone else. I really felt taken advantage of and I can no longer recommend Cave Lodge as a place to stay or book trips.

We did end up staying the night there and eating dinner at their restaurant. Because it was raining we didn’t feel comfortable riding the scooters but I didn’t feel right about staying there after what happened. We left the next day.