Today I cruised down 87 km southwestward to the provincial capital of Phayao, which lies on the shore of Kwan Phayao (Kwan = lake in Thai). Kwan Phayao is one of the few fresh water lake in Thailand, and one could argue that it is the remnant of a system of lakes that occupied the basins of northern Thailand 15 million years ago. During the last few million years, uplift affected all of northern Thailand, essentially draining the lakes as through-going, southward-flowing rivers developed in response to the uplift. It would have been a fantastic cycling trip in those ancient times, riding along lakes, up over mountains, and down to more lakes, with all kinds of weird Miocene mammals around like camels and small horses to chase instead of the semi-feral dogs of the Holocene.
Phayao is a pleasant, clean town but with a vastly underutilized lake front. They do have a small promenade, with a fountain and small park, but with such a fantastic view across the lake to the distant mountains, one would expect them to leverage this into a popular tourist attraction. However, the lake-front pubs and restaurants seem to be mainly populated with locals. I get the impression that Thais see so much water their whole lives that they can’t quite wrap their heads around why us westerners like to look out over water.
The ride today was uneventful. No spills or thrills, just a fast ride on smooth roads through lovely heartland. I will let the pictures do most of the talking:
Tomorrow begins the final 2-day push over the mountains to Nan.