Dan Sai to Wang Saphung - 85kms of riding
Huge hills on leaving our nightly stop from Dan Sai today. A never ending climb for 50 minutes into the Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary Park caused havoc on my bike gears that finally packed it in and required new cables at the end of the day.
The area reminded me of riding the foothills around mount Tamborine in Queensland Australia due to the strawberry fields and orchards growing on top of the plateau. Lots of roadside markets selling their wares including delicious strawberries along the route beckoned me to stop and taste those lovely little things.
Saturday today and it was noticeable that the city folk Bangkokians had ventured into the area to buy up the locally produced products but also to make it bit hairy for us out cycling from about 11.30 am onwards.
The wildlife reserve was established in 1974. In 1985 it was further enlarged by 97 km². The reserve is named after its highest mountain, which peaks at 1,571 m. The reserve covers the whole mountain plateau around the peak, which has an elevation of around 1,200 m. To west of the reserve the Loei River originates. "Phu Luang" means "large mountain" or the "mountain of the king", formed by an uplift of the earth's crust and a slide of soft soil down to lower elevations.
There are three seasons at Phu Luang. Summer runs from February to April with an average temperature of 20-24 °C. During this season, flowers such as dendrobiums, white wild orchids, white and red rhododendrons bloom.
The rainy season is from May to October, when the temperature is equal to or slightly higher than in summer. There will be tiny wild flowers in purplish pink scattered in the savanna. The temperature drops during the winter to 0-16 °C in November – January. On some days, the temperature can drop to -4°C.
During this season, kuam daeng (Acer calcaratum) will turn red and shed their leaves. Kradum ngoen (Eriocaulon henryanum Ruhle) and lady's slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum sukhakulii Schoser & Senghas) make up the undergrowth of the hill evergreen forest. On the east side of Phu Luang dinosaur footprints on the rock, aged more than 120 million years, were discovered.
There are various kinds of forests such as mixed deciduous forest, dry evergreen forest, and hill evergreen forest. The most prominent ones at Phu Luang are Pinus merkusii and Khasi pine forests, savanna on plains, mounds, and stone terraces. The wildlife sanctuary has organised the Phu Luang Nature Study Route, starting from Amphoe Phu Ruea at Khok Nok Kraba, passing Lan Suriyan, Pha Somdet, and the dinosaur footprints.
The reserve is home to an estimated 100 wild Asian elephants. The Elephants Rehabilitation Project within the wildlife reserve is under the patronage of Queen Sirikit.
The Phu Luang cliff frog (Huia aureola) was found within the reserve in 2006, notable for its ability to change color. Also more than 160 species of orchids grow in the area.
Truck Sams and crew in the wildlife and national parks Loei Isan Thailand on The Long Ride Home