A Dirty Affair

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Rod Page, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    A chance for one last ride before the burn-off re-established itself dawned. My bike knows the way to Pai & we were comfortably there in under 2 hours. Down Th. Rasdamrong, over the Nam Pai then left out along the 4034 to Tan Chet Ton.

    Sometimes its not just where you are going but how you are going to get there. There's a certain freedom in taking just any track, an exhilaration in witnessing areas from other than a bitumen road.

    The plan was to head on routes variously described on the GTR map as "Dirt Trail 4WD only, Wet season impassable" or "Motorcycle Only, Wet season impassable" north past Huai Chang Tao, through Muang Noi, up to Hua Pai & down to Kong Lom then down 3 kls to Wiang Haeng before heading back on the dirt south through Sam Mun , Mae Muang & Doi Chang then re-exiting on the 1095 via Huai Nam Dang NP - the 'Wiang Haeng Loop'.

    On turning north at Tan Chet Ton I stopped roadside to reacquaint myself with the map only to be greeted by a hitherto unknown Swiss fellow, Charlie. Its sometimes fortuitous to have inside knowledge before setting out on the unknown so I include his photo below taken at the 'snack' run by his Thai girlfriend in case you speak French!

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    Heading north from Tan Chet Ton the route climbed quickly up the mountains affording wonderful views of Pai. Such views are possible at this time as the trees have shed their leaves, but the trade off is haze making quality photography difficult. It is a beautiful stretch of mature forest through which you motor on a path I feel warrants a possible upgrade on Dave's map, at least through to Muang Noi. There are some refreshing spots giving water or rustic bridge crossing options:

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    Karen villages are scattered back behind the trees away from the road. I headed into one - Ban Huai Heer - photographed below with the bridge leading to the village:

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    Its an excellent place to witness these people away from well-trodden tracks:

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    On into Muang Noi, a significant village & the first town on the way through which you actually pass. When the health centre was built at the village of Muang Noi in the early 1990's workers unearthed a mass grave of soldiers massacred in WW11. They were Japanes soldiers. It is assumed that they were killed by Karen as the Japanese withdrew from Burma back into Thailand at war's end - Karen & Karenni underground forces, organised & armed by the Britsih, killed an estimated 12,500 Japanese troops as they retreated in disarray.

    From Muang Noi the route starts to show the effects of recent rains. Passing traffic virtually disappears & there's a wonderful sense of serenity. What to do if something goes wrong crosses your mind yet on each occassion I had a choice to make - route options are many & Thai only signage is poor if at all - someone just happened to come by. Is there anything better than finding your way via hand signs & big smiles! The people out here are generous & outgoing; trips such as these demand regular contact with them - its very rewarding.

    At one stage I did, in fact, head down the wrong road. It was the turn-off just out of Muang Noi which heads around to Soppong through Ae Ko; a trip I'll be doing later in the year with Ian/Bungy. The hill-tribes are tremendous farmers & along this detour was a wonderful stretch of farming. From the shot below you can well imagine the beauty of the spot once the rice grows:

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    I retraced my track to be greeted by a young pommie, Paul, riding off-road. Interesting who you meet along the way, Paul has a doctorate in horticulture & lives & works 6 months in Canada then bases himself in Soppong & hits the off-roads of Thailand for 6 months:

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    The picture also explains the confusion one faces in road choice - I took the left fork (to Soppong) behind Paul as I like to follow 'the track most used' - wrong! Any signage?

    The road on to Hua Pai is more along the lines of what I was expecting from the GTR map description. The forest changes to an evergreen jungle which prevents drying & can make conditions treacherous. The road down from Hua Pai to Kong Lom is a fun roller coaster that could easily turn to a blood bath in the wet.

    I caught up again with Paul for a beer at 'Cowboys' mentioned in my 'Chong Loop' report then needed a police escort to help me find the way south that I was seeking:

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    (to be continued......................)

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  3. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Nice report and looks fun and interesting Rod. Sorry that I couldn't join you. I await the follow on.
     
  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Good on You Mate! The Trip Rod took is a really Nice Journey but can be a little tricky in the Wet season but no doubt the Trail has improved over the last couple of Years? Wait till You do the other Route coming out in Soppong! You will love that!
     
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    (......Continued from original post...........)

    After farewelling my policeman friend, a short stretch of cement across a fenceless rice-field filled with water buffalo took me back to the dirt. One is immediately confronted by an unmarked fork in the road, both options seemingly used in similar quantities - I took the right fork not wishing to end out near Huai Ya Sai.

    I'd already zig-zaged numerous cattle & buffalo, avoided snakes crossing in front, even under, my bike, negotiated deep ruts stemming from recent rains, narrowly missed sections where the road had totally fallen away but this one stopped me:

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    Another confusing intersection; a villager behind me equipped with nobbleys beckoned me along the less used option (I'm sure the other would be suitable for the less adventurous). It was the track marked as 'Motorcycle Only....' on the GTR map. What a total buzz - covered by dense jungle the track remains tantillisingly damp; there are ruts to catch those napping; its only 1 bike wide - heaven knows what happens if someone is coming the other way; a mountain on your right whilst to the left the odd tree to knock shoulders with or a sheer drop to the unknown. Have you ever looked at your speedo to see 40kph yet think you are flying! Even at this speed its exhilarating!

    Reaching Sam Mun you are now in Lisu country. Isolation out this way means that power is supplied other than by traditional methods:

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    I continued this most satisfying ride down to Huay Nam Dang NP taking in fantastic mountain views - especially around Aung Ngern Royal Villa & the National Park (given the haze photos would not do justice to the beauty) - whilst wrapped in wonderful mature preserved forest. The exit was via the NP back onto the 1095.

    I was pleased to be back on the tarmac - the mind is willing but the butt is weak - but only 36kms later the drive for a less trodden road, a closer contact with the people pulled me right at Pa Pae.

    There are a number of options. I took the way via Yang Nat & Mae Phae down to Pa Lan; a mostly cemented pleasant rural outing typical of the area that surrounds Samoeng. The route to follow is very confusing in these parts if you dont read
    Thai. You stop to confirm directions. Its then that you realise the importance of 'tone' to Thais - I used to run the names (as I perceived them) of every possible town along the route off before them; they'd look at me like stunned mullets until finally I'd somehow fluke one. Great excitement would erupt - I find this contact so rewarding.

    I know the area around Pa Lan well as nearby is found the wonderful Pang Kwao hot springs (a great day trip ex Chiang Mai). I took the recently refurbished road heading left from Mae Pa past a new wat still under construction:

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    then down past Hmong Lodge on the way back to Chiang Mai. The bar opposite the lodge remains its classic self:

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    In summary, the 'Wiang Haeng Loop' is a rewarding alternative for those seeking a little bit more adventure, somewhere off the beaten track, a place to have closer contact with the locals. From a technical point of view an off-road bike & nobbleys are not required (unless wet!!!), my D-Tracker with Pirelli Scorpion Trails was brilliant; on the odd occassion you slip out they bite back hard.

    Do it!!!
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Rod
    Another brilliant ride 'n report & one that's got me interested in a Wiang Haeng run again, plus it must be time to do that Pai - Wiang Haeng ride once more too.

    I've got a few happy snaps of Pai - Wiang Haeng here in the Golden Oldies if you're interested.
     
  7. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    "Interested', now that's an understatement!!!
    Brilliant are the shots that you've supplied. Its that sort of authenticity that I continue to seek. Things are changing fast in Thailand where the back routes present the best opportunities, whilst Laos is a must do now situation.
    (Your suggestions for a follow-up loop?)
     
  8. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Please disregard post - information included in the main body of the report.
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  10. angkor1

    angkor1 Ol'Timer

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    Nearly 10 km before Wiang Haeng

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  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bump for Goran Phuket
     

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