A brilliant ride from Omkoi to Mae Ngao National Park!

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by TonyBKK, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Riding home to Bangkok today, hear some roads are blocked by anti-government mobs and pissed of farmers... Should be interesting :lolno:

    Here's a peek of the amazing scenery to be found in the mountains between Omkoi and Mae Ngao National Park-
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    More to come!!! :wave:
     
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  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Made it home just fine, a bit buggy around sunset tho!!
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    Shipping the KLX home and rode the Versys down-
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    No protesters and pretty empty roads almost the whole way back!
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    Anyway, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself! Let's back up and begin at the beginning!

    Mae Ngao National Park has been on my short list for a long time!
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    Last week I was finally on my way!!

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    Got the bike loaded on the train and we slowly worked our way north towards Chiang Mai. About 800 baht for the ticket and about 1200 baht for the bike.
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    Some other "weekend warriors" recently rode some of the trails between Omkoi and Mae Ngao and said it was spectacular. I've managed to sniff out a number of different routes that will take us west from Omkoi towards the 105 and Mae Ngao. FYI, all these trails are available for FREE on Openstreetmap and Google Maps. There's some monkey in Chiang Mai trying to sell these tracks for several thousand baht!

    Seems there are at least two ways to go. Southwest towards Sop Khong:
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    Or Northwest towards Na Kian:
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    Either way looks great and I'm hoping to do a big loop; will flip a coin to decide if we'll do it clockwise or counter clockwise.

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    Tbc!!!
     
  4. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    As always a pleasure to meet you and luckily you did not meet any roadblock, seems to be shifting more to BKK town, there were few some days ago near Pichit, Phi'loke and also K'Phet.
    Nice report & Photos of the Omkhoi ride !! Keep' em comin'.
     
  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    I was a bit apprehensive about taking the train as it's been falling off the tracks a lot lately, but I figured it goes so darn slow that even if it did derail, the chances of injury are pretty slim ;)

    If you're not in a hurry it's a great way to travel!
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    A few beers before bed and I actually got some sleep, then enjoyed the sunrise as we rolled through the mountains southeast of Lampang-
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    I enjoyed a terrible coffee and a fairly decent rice soup for breakfast-
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    I'd spent the previous day running around Bangkok getting ready for the ride, and the anti government blockades of many major intersections slowed me down quite a bit.

    Still, made it to the new 320SP shop over in Wong Wian Yai-
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    And couldn't find my bivy sack so made a run to TrekkingThai for a Siam Hammock:
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    I'd hoped to get new tires put on the bike before going to the train station but ran out of time. Current tires were well shagged...
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    I made some inquiries from the train and you all replied with some great suggestions:
    Where to get off road tires in Chiang Mai?

    Thanks again to all who replied! Owe you all a round!! [​IMG]
     
  6. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Passing through Lampang, we're almost there! :clap:
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    My camera phone and dirty window make it a bit hard to see, but there are some nice fall colors in the hills around Chiang Mai this time of year-
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    We pulled in to Chiang Mai station a little before noon. Not on time of course, but the "least late" I've ever experienced here :mrgreen:

    In all the years I've been taking the train here I've never seen them use a ramp... Seems they like to flex their muscle instead of their brains? ;)
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    The train is a great way to ship a beat up dirt bike but I don't think I'd ever trust them with a nice looking road bike...

    Loaded up the bike and rode over to the nearby SaengChai Honda on Kaew Nawarat Road:
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    Great recommendation- they have an awesome selection of tires!
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    Tons of other cool kit as well-
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    Sorted:
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    Only downside, being a Honda dealer, they wouldn't touch my Kwacka, so, I did my Michelin Man impersonation and wore the tires around my waist to Dave's house :mrgreen:
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  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Decided I could use more practice changing tires, so did them myself in Dave's nicely set up workshop-
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    Sorted!!
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    Dave is going to take his KTM super motard. Not the ideal bike for dirt with those wheels and road gearing, but Dave is tough and strong and makes it work!

    Rode over to the Kafe to catch up with David Unk; last couple times I'd been in Chiang Mai he'd been out of town riding.
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    Was good to catch up and we shut the Kafe down!
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    Tomorrow we ride to Omkoi!! :mrgreen:
     
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Looks like another epic Bangkok Weekend Warrior adventure underway..

    Looking forward to the rest..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Bags are packed, bikes are ready, let's hit the road!!
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    Dave showed me a super cool "back way" into Doi Inthanon National Park :clap:
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    Instead of battling down the congested 108 to Hang Dong, you turn west at Yu Wa and ride the 1013 west through Mae Win and then the 1284 south which brings you into Doi Inthanon National Park from the north. Brilliant roads, fantastic scenery, no traffic, and for some reason, no charge to enter the park if you go this way.

    Once inside the park we road up the 1009 less than a mile before turning left and heading up the ripper of a road which turns to dirt-
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    We reached the small village of Ban Khun Ya Sakha, also called Mae Ya Noi where we stopped for some drinks-
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    FYI- they've got fuel here, if you need it.

    The next bit was fantastic, winding through hills and valleys and passing through some small villages-
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    Quite in the middle of nowhere we came across a series of helipads. No evidence of a military base here. No idea what these are used for...
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    Some more random pics-
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    They're not burning the fields in earnest yet, but the views were a bit hazy...
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    Eventually we reached the small town of Om Lang and we made a quick fuel stop that's run by some super friendly folk-
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    After that the pavement resumes and we made good time to the 1088 south, then west on the 108 and finally south on the 1099 to Omkoi.

    Stopped at a restaurant that's on your left as you come in to town and they served up some amazing food! Sorry, can't remember the name of the place, but highly recommended!!
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    It was getting late and we were keen to camp out so we hit the 7-11 just down the street for some supplies, then road west out of town, following the Mae Ramit river until we spotted a decent looking farmer's shack in some terraced rice paddies- looked like just the place!
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    The temperature was dropping fast and it was going to be nice to have a roof over our heads tonight!

    Here's the GPS track for the day: http://www.asianconnection71.com/2014-01-30%2010.22.24%20Day.gpx
     
  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Good morning from a farmer's shack somewhere west of Omkoi, Thailand!!
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    Man it got cold last night!!
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    I've got a pretty warm down mummy bag but was still cold. Should have brought my 3/4 length thermarest as it felt like I was losing most of the heat from my back. Down doesn't insulate very well when compressed!

    Dave served up some welcome hot coffee thanks to his jet boil and I had some pastries bought from the 7-11 the day before, so a pretty civilized breakfast. The temperature climbed with the sun and soon we were packed up and ready to roll!
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    I picked up and bagged a lot of litter and we left the shack in better shape than we found it :mrgreen:

    We rode west in the direction of Na Kian and Mae Ngao National Park. Here's the route from my GPS:
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    As you can see, we did make a few wrong turns, but all in all the trail was pretty easy to figure out. Here's the GPX file should anyone want to follow our track: http://www.asianconnection71.com/2014-01-31%2008.42.54%20Day.gpx

    The trail begins as an all-weather 4wd road and gets rougher the further west you go. It's not long before we're on steep rutted unmaintained 4wd tracks that must be nearly impossible to climb in the wet season.
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    You could still get a 4wd through here but you'd certainly lose some paint!
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    These ascents and descents are a lot steeper than they look in the pictures! Good fun on the KLX and Dave did just fine on the KTM-
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    We were rocking along making good time until we reached a small "ghost town" where I made a wrong turn-
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    Interesting collection of old abandoned buildings here. Probably the road has gotten so bad that no one cares to live here anymore, but they are still tending to the fields.
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    Here comes Dave!
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    Don't think these little make shift bridges were ever built to support the weight of a KTM and Big Dave, but fortunately none of them collapsed!
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    The compass feature on the GPS is handy. I note we're headed south and conclude we must have made a wrong turn...
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    We make a u-turn and get back on the correct track heading west-
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    This "ghost town" marks the end of the 4wd road and from here on it's lovely single track. The single track is actually easier to ride than the 4wd road because it's not all torn up and rutted by pickups and tractors. Lovely riding through some real wilderness here. Can you spot the trail off in the distance?
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    A bit further on we spot a small village nestled in a valley-
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    Welcome to Ban Mae Ramadi Luang!
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    A tiny Karen village roughly half way between Omkoi and Na Kian-
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    They have no electricity but they do have generators and a solar powered phone!
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    Some cute village kids-
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    A quiet and picturesque village- Dave and I agreed- if we had more time it would be fun to spend a night here and get to know the locals.
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    Note the solar panel on the tin roof:
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    From here there is a 4wd road heading west- we passed some nicely maintained "water management" areas-
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    Expansive views as we approach Na Kian on a ridgeline road from the east-
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  11. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    We rocked up to a little village just before Na Kian where they have power, cold drinks and lots of cute kids and friendly locals-
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    The ice coffee doesn't seem to do much for Dave, but finding a bottle of whiskey put a smile on his face! :mrgreen:
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    Dave's venison jerky was a hit with the kids!
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    Mom was busy running the store and drying silk threads from which the Karen make their traditional clothing.
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    Over in another corner women were spinning the silk and winding it onto spools, I should have taken a picture! Folks here were friendly and didn't mind having their pictures taken-
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    Cute grubby kids!
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    We continued west on what appears, on the map anyway, as a "real" road: Ro Po Cho Chiang Mai 40521:
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    Well, the road signs are a nice touch, but other than that, this "road" was rough as guts and must be murder in a car or truck...

    Thank goodness they let us know there are curves coming up!
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    A bit further on I was delighted to come across a genuine working elephant! Alas the pictures didn't come out well, but still, what a magnificent creature!
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  12. yychow0812

    yychow0812 Ol'Timer

    Subscribed!!
     
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    We're making great time and continue west from Na Kian in the direction of Mae Ngao National Park.
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    We get off the main road and back into the wilderness- I'm loving it!!
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    Awesome views despite the haze-
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    Passing by another small village-
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    A junction in the middle of nowhere marked by a huge picture of Thailand's beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej-
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    Turn left here and begin a steep descent to the Mae Hong River, spot a small village on the far side of the valley-
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    Enjoying the view!
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    The road down to the river is very steep, slippery and fun! :mrgreen:
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    It occurs to me that that village, clinging to the steep slope on the opposite side of the valley, could be at serious risk from landslides the way they've clear but the mountain above them. Right now everything is nice and green, but in a few months is will be dry and brown, then the monsoon rains come in the spring and there are always stories of villages getting buried in mudslides...
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    I was quite surprised to find such a large bridge at the bottom of the valley. This road seems to get very little use...
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    Saw a sign pointing to a trail that leads up river to the Mae Kaeng Waterfall, but we were not in the mood to go hiking in all of our gear so pressed on.

    Came across a cool mountain stream where we made a brief stop to wash some of the dust from our faces.
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    The road up this side of the valley was just as steep as the road down the other side had been. Loving it, but imagine it's got to be nearly impossible to travel here during the rainy season?

    The village we had spotted from the other side of the valley is Ban Mae Hong Klang:
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    Here comes Dave!
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    This is a lot steeper than it looks!
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    Wow, they sure do have quite a view from their village!!
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  14. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Cruising along! We've crossed the Mae Hong river and are getting close to Mae Ngao National Park!
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    More gorgeous scenery and views!
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    A particularly steep and slippery slope- thought Dave might struggle here (his bike is geared for road), but he motored up just fine :thumbup:
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    A bit further on Dave is ahead of me and we're working our way down another steep slippery hill when all of a sudden I lose him in a big cloud of dust. When the air clears I see his bike on its side and Dave a ways down the hill. Ooops! :oops:
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    Can you see how deep the bull dust is? Mad respect to Dave for undertaking this ride on a road bike with 17" wheels!!

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    Dave is pissed and in pain. I yell at him to sit down and chill while I try to find a place to park my bike so I can lend him a hand. It's so steep here that I can't use my side stand. End up just putting the bike in gear and leaning it against the side of the road-
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    It's funny here, no matter where you are, locals always pop out of the bushes when you crash. We continued down the steep hill and ended up in another small village where everyone came out to stare at us. Turns out Dave had landed squarely on his head, but his Arai did it's job. What was really bothering him was his right knee...
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    We were both running low on water and replenished our hydration packs from the village's water supply. I didn't bother with my water filter, just added some iodine to my pack, shook it up, and waited a good ~15-20 minutes before drinking. Dave has a Life Straw along and put it to good use. Finally, once we'd cooled down and got our heads on straight we got back on the bikes and carried on. Dave's hydraulic clutch master cylinder was leaking and giving him trouble. That may have contributed to his crash. Well, there's no way to rebuild it here, so let's hope it holds together until we reach civilization!
     
  15. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Dave was in pain and no longer enjoying himself. Fortunately we didn't have much farther to go. Unfortunately for Dave, the trails didn't get any easier...
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    Continuing west!
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    Mae Ngao National Park directly ahead!
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    Love this Kawasaki KLX! It's not fancy, but it's cheap, super reliable and never gives me problems :thumbup:
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    Passing some Thai buffalo on the trail- with their immense size and sharp horns they look a bit menacing but are usually quite docile-
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    Finally we are in the National Park! :clap:
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    The main attraction of the park is the Mae Ngao river- clean and clear and supposedly good for fishing. The park grounds are immaculate.
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    We'd talked about camping in the park but Dave needs to get some ice on his knee asap so we decide to whack it up the 105 to Mae Sarieng.

    Bye bye Mae Ngao National Park! Hope to come explore around here again soon!
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    We check in to the lovely Riverhouse Resort and I help Dave get his gear up to his 2nd floor room. He's worried he might not be able to make it down the stairs in the morning... Well, we can worry about that when we get there! Pop some pills, get some ice on the knee and chill out dude!

    I enjoyed some sunset beers on the deck overlooking the Salaween River- nice!

    Go check on Dave and the ice and ibuprofen seem to be working so we wander over the to Beng's Sawasdee Bar for a fantastic dinner before calling it a night.
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    What a ride! Original plan had been to do a loop, returning to Omkoi via other trails to the south, but with Dave's tweaked knee and leaking clutch we both agreed he ought to head back to Chiang Mai via the most direct route, while I'd continue on my own and rendezvous with him in a couple days to watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

    This month is already booked up with rides so I'm hoping I can get back to Omkoi again some time in March. Can't wait!! :mrgreen:

    Here is the GPX file again for the trails and roads we rode from Omkoi to Mae Ngao National Park: http://www.asianconnection71.com/2014-01-31%2008.42.54%20Day.gpx
     
  16. manneke

    manneke New Member

    Great adventure :)
    I'd love to do a trip like this.
    As I'm in Bangkok now, everything is possible :)
    See u
    Fred
     
  17. mikehohman

    mikehohman Ol'Timer

    That is some good shit - what fun - thanks for sharing and posting up so we can all enjoy this great area. Appreciate mak mak.
     
  18. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Cheers guys!

    i'm looking to return to Omkoi in March to ride the southern route and perhaps sniff out this track that links Sop Khong to Na Kian:
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    Anyone interested let me know and we can meet up over beers and start planning our next adventure!
     
  19. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Great stuff Tony.

    How about some epic trails in Laos soon???

    Bangkok Weekend Warriors blazing the trails on GTR….

    Cheers
    Brian
     

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