THE RIDERS: DavidFl (Africa Twin) & Rhodie (Triumph Scrambler) THE WAY: ROUTE 118 THE DESTINATION: Charin Resort for a cuppa & deliver some Lao coffee. Got away from the Super at 9.40 am – “the crack of dawn” for me, but not at all for Rhodie. Fuelled up at the PTT 6 kms out & we were away & hell that Triumph Scrambler of Rhodie's sure makes a loud crack when she fires up. Sat on a sedate 110 kph for Rhodie on his naked scrambler. It was damp going over the top 53 kms out, but nothing to rate on my rain Richter scale & so most definitely no rain gear. In the downhill undulating twisties before the hot springs I lined up to overtake car coming out of left-hand corner & it moved over & slammed on the brakes. Smart arse I thought trying to block me, but nope he was slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting a small herd of cattle sauntering down the road. I enjoyed a lengthy chuckle for the next few kms savouring the moment & life on the road. It got damp again between Wiang Pa Pao & Mae Suai & I’m sure Rhodie was getting confused by my changes of pace – cracking the throttle open to ride faster as rain was incoming & then sometimes slower as I felt we were catching up to it. Knowing the lay of the land & changes in road directions ahead makes it all easier to understand after the event eh Rhodie? We arrived at the Charin Resort 140 kms out for coffee ‘n pies & unbelievably within minutes – before we were even able to enter the restaurant, David & Mike from Mae Chan arrived on “the other Triumph” & a Honda Phantom. Brekky, several cappuccinos & pies later we were back on the road; but not before 2 kgs of Lao coffee beans were presented to Tim the Charin Resort owner, and The Snail arrived on his Ducati. The Mae Chan poms headed back to Mae Chan, Rhodie & I headed south back down R118 & The Snail lingered at The Charin pondering a longer loop home via Chiang Rai & Phayao. In Mae Suai Rhodie refilled the scrambler with 95 & we continued south. We picked up on 2 short interesting side roads to the east, which I had not seen before. One ran out in the bushes & had a cute little short time motel in the middle of nowhere, & the other ran into a massive new luxury resort & spa covering a few hundred rai, named Mohn Mye Hom & supposedly owned by a doctor from Chula hospital in Bkk. Mohn Mye Hom is still incomplete, but scheduled to be open in 3 months they say. When it does open its well worth checking out as it’s seriously impressive, luxurious & H-U-G-E. In Mae Kachan we popped into the Black Canyon for yet another cappuccino top up & to fill up the coupons on my BC voucher for a free cappu next trip on R118. It was a surprise then to see the Snail calmly enter as I was scoffing down the hot coffee. He’d arrived before us & seen us ride in! Bloody hell that’s an unbelievably fast ride by the Snail: Charin – Chiang Rai – Phayao – Mae Kachan. I wonder what sort of fuel he’s using now. But the truth was he’d pottered down R118 “behind us” & must have overtaken us while we were checking out the short time joint in the bushes? I fuelled up at the MK Shell with 91, no 95, as I could not be bothered to slip down the road to the PTT where they still have 95 (most of the time.) After Mae Kachan, the Snail headed west to Phayao, with a master plan for a F-A-S-T ride into Chiang Mai on R1 via Lampang & R11. Rhodie & I headed south on R118, but not as quickly as The Snail on R120 I’m absolutely sure Now 15 kms south of Mae Kachan then I saw one of the funniest near head-on misses I’ve ever seen. You have to laugh at all these, otherwise you’d be constantly bitching & complaining about all the other drivers & how miserable life was in general. Anyway going up the long uphill sweeping (off-camber) left hander south of the hot springs. There’s a bridge at the bottom & you’ve got a clear view of the road ahead while it is fairly straight before it crests the small blind hill. There’s a long line of cars stuck behind a tour bus going up & only a small black car (probably in the wrong gear with a female driver) right up the rear of the bus not wanting to pass. But there’s a clear view of the road from behind & you can see nothing’s coming. Ah yes I thought I could do them all here before the top of the hill & while the way is clear, so I start accelerating to close up the gap, before making a nice overtaking manoeuvre. But then as I close in the lead car (the female driver in the wrong gear?) behind the bus plucks up some courage to pass. She pulls out to make a pass along with a few other cars. And what does she do - she stalls it, right in the middle of the right hand lane! Unbelievable, there’s almost total mayhem with cars going all over the place, trying to pull back in or go around the stalled car off the road to the right. Fortunately I’m still a way back on the tail & get a clear view of it all, & am able to make an overtaking manoeuvre down the left hand side of the road, while everyone else is under brakes going uphill ducking for cover. No one collided with anyone & the last I saw in my mirror was the stalled car rolling back down the hill on the wrong side of the road! It was just another great Sunday ride. Aint it great to be alive. Sorry no pictures I forgot my camera, but I think Rhodie’s got a few, plus he might have a few comments on the stalled overtaking car!