BKK – Tak – Mae Sot – Khun Yuam – Mae Chaem – Chom Thong – Sukhothai - BKK Sunday 19th June Arrived in Tak around 2pm after setting out from BKK at 9pm. The weather had been overcast but dry all the way up here and it was only now that the clouds were starting to open. Only a few spots and nothing worth putting on the rain gear for. From Tak I declined going along the 105 and instead headed for BanTak from where the 1175 would take me towards Mae Sot. Personally, a much nicer and scenic route compared to the 105 that I’ve traveled many times recently. Also this time I was riding in the opposite direction to a few months ago and caught site of two waterfalls that I’d missed seeing previously. Along the way periodic showers dampened the gf and me but we quickly dried out again in the warm air. Road conditions were good with no roadworks, debris, potholes etc. Stayed at the DK Guesthouse for 250baht. Quiet and spacious but watch out that you don’t bang your kneecaps on the corners of the metal framed beds. Monday 20th June After doing my visa run then an AFB nearby the DK GH, set out at 8am in the direction of Khun Yuam. I was undecided whether to then head for MHS or Mae Chaem. I would have to decide that upon arriving at Khun Yuam. The sun was breaking through the clouds often enough and I hoped the days ride would be a good one. This was not to be though. After passing through Mae Ramat the first of the intermittent showers started. At first they were just drizzly, then they became light and still didn’t warrant the use of the rain gear. Big mistake. After drying out after one shower, another drizzle suddenly turned into a heavy rain and I hoped to ride out from under the clouds and under the blue sky up ahead around Tha Song Yang. We got soaked to the point whereby it wasn’t worth putting on any rain wear and we no longer had anymore real opportunities to dry out. The only bad stretch of road that we encountered was just before Ban Sop Ngao at the Tak/MHS border. David U knows and has reported this stretch before and it’s still the same. Rutted dirt with some large embedded rocks near the crest of a hill. At Ban Sop Ngao a bowl of mama noodle soup reminded me why I don’t eat this stuff when out on the road. The soggy elastic band textured noodles were largely left untouched. I ate the meat and veg and drank the soup. The rain had stopped as we were ordering but returned as we were starting to leave. Arrived in Mae Sariang in a downpour and the skies didn’t look like clearing any time soon. Left MS in a downpour too and it was only at Mae La Noi that it stopped. Briefly. I took the opportunity to pull over at the scenic spot overlooking the town and pour out half a cupful of rainwater from each boot. Can’t recall any bad road conditions from MS to Khun Yuam but noticed the northern junction to the 1337 looping road just south-west of KY had a barrier preventing access. About a year ago I tried riding this road but couldn’t get up a steep and dusty hilly section. Arrived in Khun Yuam around 4pm with the rain easing off. Should I go for MHS or Mae Chaem? There was rain clouds covering the entire eastern skies so I decided to stay the night in Khun Yuam. Stayed at a newly built place called Ban Farang (300B) expecting to see other guests, hopefully riders, but it appeared that we were the only ones there. After showering, took advantage of a burst of sunshine to ride up and down the high street to dry out a bit and to look for somewhere to eat and kill a few hours. It was a failure on both counts. The rains returned and I couldn’t find anywhere decent to sit with a beer observing passing locals. I reluctantly hit the sack around 6pm, that’s right, 6 friggin’ pm. Sleep was interrupted several times in the night by visitors inspecting rooms and was woken up at 5am by a chirping insect in the nearby trees that sounded remarkably like my mobile’s alarm. Tuesday 21st June. After breakfast, set off for Mae Chaem at 7:30am wearing rain gear covering very damp clothing. Big mistake #2 was noted by self. Don’t travel too lightly during Thai rainy seasons. i.e. take more than a spare shirt. Route 1263 to Mae Chaem was done non-stop and only had a few short muddy stretches of about 50m. Around the 160 km marker an outcropping of land and trees looked like they were being removed to straighten out the road and two small bridges around the 170 marker were being constructed or repaired. Other than that, and the drizzly showers of course, the ride to Mae Chaem was ok. Noticed a guesthouse or two around the town and started to regret not staying the night here instead of Khun Yuam. The rain had stopped and the sun blazed down instead that allowed us to air our clothes of the previous day’s rain and today’s sweat from wearing the rain gear. After a few cold drinks and a couple of ciggies headed for Chom Thong on the Doi Inthanon route, the 1192. As I expected, it started to rain and get chilly as we climbed up into the clouds and the light became gloomy until we descended and eventually joined the 1009. Route 1009 is a lovely fast and smooth road and I welcomed the chance to finally get up some steam. I thought about taking the 1284 to Mae Wang but I was enjoying the 1009 too much and carried on to Chom Thong. I was planning now on riding down to the lower north to stay the night somewhere to give me an easy run into BKK the next day so couldn’t do any side trips. Just before hitting Chom Thong on the R108 the rains stopped. So we did too, for something to eat. A lovely meal of Khow Man Khai with plenty of chicken. Finishing off our meals the rains started again. Aww! C’mon. Give me a break. It seemed that everytime I wanted to stop somewhere, the rains would stop too. And when wanting to get back on the road, back the rains did come too. After rolling my eyes heavenwards I wondered whether the Gods were playing some kind of game with me as with Jason and his Argonauts. The wet suit was staying off come heavy downpours or not. Luckily, by the time I packed everything up into the topbox the rain stopped. And remained stopped for the rest of the afternoon. I steered towards Hot/Hod further on down the road and later stopped at Doi Tao to check the map for the next leg of the journey. There was no way that I wanted to ride along the R1 at Thoern so it only left me the southerly route of R1048. Getting to Thoern along the 106 was a nice ride. The resurfacing of a long stretch around Li marred previous trips along this route. Somewhere just past Li, one half of the road was having another layer of tarmac applied. Only a couple kms of riding in the oncoming lane if I remember correctly and nothing that slowed down progress as traffic was sparse. The ride along the 106 stretch through Mae Wa would see the last of the tight twisties for me. After which, the roads would then quickly become less challenging and would be long, straight and often, monotonously boring. From Thoern the 1048 that would take me towards Sukhothai, is a pleasant enough road that initially offers a few long hilly sweeping curves followed by long straightish stretches through nice scenery. I personally found that the 1048 seemed to be gently preparing me for the up-coming not-so-scenic, long and tedious, and often heavily congested roads of northern central Thailand. From Thung Saliam and just beyond, the 1195 running parallel with the 101, took me into Sukhothai late in the afternoon. After re-fuelling and meals, I was suffering too severely from monkey butt to check out the nearby ruins. Too much time in the seat and not enough stops was taking it’s toll on my ass and the back of my upper thighs, so I planned to stay at the first mid-range hotel that I came too. Pong Petch Hotel on the R101 beaconed me with its roadside sign. 320 baht with free toothbrushes, toothpaste and a couple of ‘meechais’. I’m reluctant to stay at these short-time hotels/motels for fear of getting pubic lice etc. from the bed linen or bath towels. Explaining the passing on of something onto my wife would be nigh impossible regardless of whether I told her the truth or lies. The torrential downpour immediately after unloading the bike gave me a smug satisfaction knowing that the Gods had messed up as I wasn’t planning on going out again so they could throw as much rain down as they wanted. Wednesday 22nd June Set out for nearby Phitsanulok on the R12 around 7am. A lot of this Sukho-Phits R12 stretch is being widened but I didn’t lose hardly any time because of it. Riding through Phits I was tempted a couple of times by signs to take the R117 to Nakhon Sawan, a route that I’ve already ridden and didn’t think too much of. Instead, I continued along the R12 until I could get onto the R11 that would take me all the way down to Inburi, The only thing memorable along this route was stopping at a restaurant for a drink. I would like to have tried their ostrich or crocodile steak but wasn’t hungry enough at the time. Also along the route I caught sight of tourist destination sign for a gold mine. Seeing it made me wonder where all the gold that Thais are so fond of originates. From Inburi it was a quick run in to Don Muang and arrived home around 2pm. Funnily enough, despite the pain in my legs and butt, it felt bloody good to sit down.