Camping - Pong Duat Geyser, Pai

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by ianyonok, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    First camping trip with the dirt bike and new home made luggage carrying rig.

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    I travel light when staying in GHs and 1 15ltr dry bag on the back with a tank bag is enough for a week. But seem to have a lot of kit for camping.....

    I have a 1" wide flat rope harness attached on the bike with bowlines and butterfly knots. One 16ltr dry bag attached each side for camping and cooking kit and a 20ltr drybag for clothes and other camping stuff.
    The side bags are held by a rope from the passenger peg mount, up through the dry bag bottom buckle and then looped around the bag and harness like a parcel string, then up through the top buckle of the dry bag and secured tight on the rear rack.
    This worked well, nothing came loose riding offroad, through water crossings and some rough stuff. But next time, I would do a parcel string loop right at the bottom buckle to prevent any possibility of the bottom of the bag swinging out of rope. Actually, in the end the harness on the bike didn't do much. The bag was really secured between the footpeg mount and the rack. All it then needs is a way to stop the bag swinging back and forth, if riding on the rough.
    Chiang Dao is always a visual delight due to it's size.
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    I took the road north of the mountain, past the cave to Muang Khong. Paid my 20Baht entrance to the NP to ride the road.
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    Past the trail head for the hike to the summit....... still on the bucket list...... and not for rainy season. A 6.5klm hike including an ascent of about 1,000m.
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    It goes this way...
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    Light rain and great scenery.
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    Riding down to lower altitude.
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    Tarmac and concrete all the way to Muang Khong. A lovely flat valley on the Taeng River and farming community surrounded by mountains.
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    After that I headed south to the Huay Nam Dang NP.
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    After the bridge it's dirt and some good stuff.
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    Gotta be careful in the rain, but it isn't like the treacherous Chiang Rai slippery clay....
    Had to move this big fella off the path.
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    Lovely area and a great ride through the hills and mountains
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    It turned out the Huay Nam Dang NP camping area was on the top of a mountain at 1,700m. Great views but it was going to be cold at night in the rain and I had no jumper with me. So, decided to move back down to the valley and some where a bit warmer.
    Nest stop was the Mae Lao-Mae Sa NP and Pong Duet Hot Spring Geyser. It was late by now, so minimal daylight to get the hammock set-up and cook dinner.
    In the hammock with the mesh screen zipped fully open in the warm evening air. Raining pretty hard but under the Monsoon flysheet, I'm nice and dry.
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    Next morning, went for a look around in the intermittent rain.
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    The stream flowing down from the Pong Duet geyser......
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    ....... provided the morning hot mineral bath in the jungle....... and wonderful it was too.
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    There are outdoor warm pools for men and women and several walled pools as well as a mineral sauna room.
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    The campsite.
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    The hiking trail was next....
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    9.3klms hike...... ermmmmm... ok... lets try....
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    DavidFL and Oddvar like this.
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  3. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    continuing on....
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    This looks easy.....
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    This is one of the more active hot springs in the north. Not just bubbling to the surface but spurting geysers of 100 deg, water.... egg boiling area..
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    This trail later went up a mountain and became a tough hike.
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    Must have come off the trail somewhere on the way down....
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    This didn't really turn out as planned and I was quite lost.... apart from having the GPS..... a lifesaver....
    After scrambling down a steep slope and cutting my way through the jungle with a Buck knife (needed a panga really....), crossed a river and then back to the campsite completely knackered.
    It was then raining heavily and had to use the terrace of an admin building nearby to cook some breakfast.
    At this point I was beginning to question my own sanity. Most riders of retirement age like me, can't be doing with camping and prefer the comfort of GHs etc. Understandable view, but I love the natural environment. Camping in the monsoon season in Thailand is certainly questionable. I was cosy and dry in the hammock in torrential rain, but had no shelter outside the hammock. This makes everything tricky and I ended up with no dry clothes. Really need more shelter, like a big piece of plastic as a tarp for cooking, changing, packing etc under. Next time.......
    Oddvar and Cycle Wallah like this.
  4. Cycle Wallah

    Cycle Wallah Member

    Great trip. Going up North Thailand soon on my mountain bike. Will definitely visit these places. Can you ride up the hiking trails?
  5. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Well, the National Park hiking trails all seem to be close to the main office and camping area. The park rangers probably won't like you riding the hiking trails. The nature trails I have seen are not really suitable anyway for a mountain bike. You are probably better off to use the GT-Rider maps and try and follow some of the trails that go through the National parks, rather than the Hiking nature trails.
  6. Cycle Wallah

    Cycle Wallah Member

    Fair point. Picking up my GTR maps soon so will take a look.
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Ian, these chalets, is this some kind of resort?
  8. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Great report Ian.
    The Jungle bath looks like a winner.
    I haven't done a lot of riding in that area, but after reading this I'm going to head back up there.
    Great photos.

  9. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    These are part of the Pong Duet National Park. Traveling through with family about 6 years ago rented 2 houses. I think it was 1400 or 1600 baht a house (no pre booking that time), but we had the campsite, and hot springs, to ourselves, and could indulge in many beverages that evening. Expensive, compared to accommodation in Pai, or the nicer little Flintstone style cabins at the Royal Orchid garden on the 1284 near Doi Inthanon which were 900 baht a night. Every time I've rent housing at a Thai national park we've been the only guest. For example the housing at Mae Ngao park is simple, but comfortable, and a nice base to explore and fish the river from. Highly recommended if traveling with a small group.
    Goran Phuket likes this.
  10. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Thank you.
  11. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Goran, I recall you asked a while ago about this route around the north side on Chiang Dao. It is tarmac or concrete until you get to Muang Khong. Then only dirt and several water crossings.
    Goran Phuket likes this.
  12. Oddvar

    Oddvar Ol'Timer

    I agree Ian, not fun to be wet and miserable.
    I have 3 camping options.
    The Redverz Atacama tent.
    A OZTrial biker swag
    And a Siam Hammock.
    They all have theirs pros and cons.
    Here is a Youtube video of setting up the Atacama tent in 40 knots wind and rain.
  13. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer

    Thanks Ian. Looks like interesting route.
  14. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Thanks Oddvar,
    I wouldn't say miserable, but definately not as good as it could be....... hahaha.....
    The first tent option looks pretty good, having the bike inside would be a plus.

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