Chiang Khong / Chiang Rai return

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    An uneventful 3 night 4 day trip up to the ‘Khong & back.

    Dates: Thurs 21st July – Sun 24th July 2005

    THE WAY:
    (1) Chiang Mai – Mae Suai – Chiang Rai – Tha Khao Pluak – Chiang Saen – Chiang Khong
    (2) Chiang Khong / Huay Sai “cities”
    (3) Chiang Khong – Payamengrai – Chiang Rai
    (4) Chiang Rai – Mae Suai – Chiang Mai

    (1) 118 – 1 –1290 – 1098 – 4004 – 1016 - 1129
    (2) Chiang Khong / Huay Sai “cities.”
    (3) 1020 – 1174 – 1020 – 1174 – 1152 – 1173 - 1
    (4) 1- 118

    WEATHER: Hot ‘n dry ‘n tropical wet.

    THE RIDERS: David Unk & the Honda Africa Twin.

    Got away from the super a bit later than normal 2.30 pm & not bad for a 340 kms ride out to Chiang Khong before dark you’d think.

    R118 is in so so nick, still a bit bumpy for 15-20 kms north from Doi Saket. It seems as if they’ll never get this bit in perfect condition, as there’s been too many Mickey Mouse patch up jobs over the original (& no doubt highly paid but dodgy) Mickey Mouse job.
    Anyway I got a dry run over the top of the mountain 53 kms out & could not believe my luck.
    Down in the valley I had to stop & take a couple of photos of the seriously black weather both in front of and behind me. As luck would have it I was riding in a “weather void” - clean & dry - between two nasty black skies both ahead & behind me.

    Pic below" the rain behind

    Pic below: the rain ahead

    And somehow I managed to stay like this, in between rain, all the way to Chiang Khong – I never got wet once or needed to put on the waterproofs. How lucky can you get for this time of the year!

    I made an obligatory stop at the Charin resort for cake & cappuccino, then hit the road again.

    Looking for something new to do & GPS, north of Chiang Rai I turned right onto R1209 & headed for Tha Khao Pluak & the north side of the Kok river. R1209 turned out to be a glorious little flowing swooping road through undulating hills (& unfortunately villages, so you cant carry much speed.) But give it a go if you’re looking for something different on the way to Chiang Khong from Chiang Rai, it’s a great little ride!
    Eventually it runs into R1098 where you can turn either left towards Mae Chan / Chiang Saen, or right towards Mae Bong & “the long way” to Chiang Khong via R1174 / 1020. I opted for the quick way & turned left.
    Just a few hundred meters after turning left I saw the biggest fattest Buddha image I’ve ever seen in Thailand, perched atop a hillside watching the world go by.


    Unbelievable I thought, never knew about this one. I turned into the driveway & noted the name: Wat Muen Buddha if you want to see & find the place some time.


    It was just a quick photo stop here & back on the road again. It was getting late & I needed to put my head down & cover some distance reasonable quickly to get into Chiang Khong before dark & before I got wet. I was still dry & amazed at my good luck. So head down & away I started to go, but less than 2 kms I looked up & had a good look at the sky above & it was obvious I was going to encounter a torrential downpour. So I wimped out – I had enjoyed the dry run so far & wanted to keep it that way. I immediately turned around & headed east-south-east again, back the way I came.
    After staying on 1098 for a bit, I turned left onto 4004 which basically ran alongside the Kok river most of the way before eventually linking up with R1016 the Mae Chan – Chiang Saen road.
    R4004 was a bit too tight & winding with villages to be really enjoyed, but its nice for some good general rural back roads riding if that’s your thing.

    From Chiang Saen it was straight onto Chiang Khong. The Mekong’s up but not anymore than normal for this time of the year.
    A stop was made on the Kok river bridge (see pix below) to check the water level & whilst its high there’s way to go yet before it starts flooding.

    Pic below" the kok River looking upstream towards some more rain.

    Pic below: the Kok river bridge, looking downstream towards the Mekong & no rain!

    Around 6.45 pm I “snuck” into Chiang Khong, still dry & a bit weary.
    Showered & ‘cleaned” up I was downtown for a late happy hour with Maliwan at the Rim Ta Ling in less than an hour.
    It was a quiet night in CK being Khao Pansa, but I still managed a few drinks (my own bottle) & a nice meal at Porn’s Lomtawan in “downtown central” Chiang Khong (CK aint big!)
    But the new tip for Chiang Khong is that if you’re looking for a decent meal – Thai or farang – then go no further than the Lomtawan, Chiang Khong new smart up-market farang joint. And it’s about time CK had something decent & a bit up-market, rather than all the old regular back packer hang outs!

    The next day was a slow one over in Huay Sai checking maps. I planned to go over late morning, but mid-late morning it poured with rain, so under pressure I sat beside the river drinking coffee & reading yesterday’s newspapers, & put the pressure on for the arvo!

    Pic below: Chiang Khong view from the Huay Sai & the Lao side of the Mekong. Note the rain in the background.

    Pic below: Huay Sai immigration Iif you ever wondered what it looked like.)

    Pic below: Chiang Khong immigration (in the distance) view from Huay Sai on the Laos side of the Mekong river.

    The 2nd night was a repeat of the first, but livened up by the sudden unannounced appearance of an old riding buddy Art Halibsen on his Honda CB1300. Art crept up on from behind while I was sitting at the Lomtawan Bar, trying my luck with the Toyota saleslady (somethings never change eh BobS?) Anyway I had more luck with Art, than I did with the Toyota lady, not that it amounted to much - just a bigger bar bill?

    Awake bright an early at 9.30 am the next day I chugged around town & environs looking for new roads to GPS, without luck & eventually overdosed on coffee looking up old & not so old friends.
    By mid day I was ready to leave town & thought I’d head “north” back along the Mekong & R1129 for some nice photos to Chiang Saen & then race home to Chiang Mai before night fall.
    This grand plan never quite worked out, as 2 kms out of CK going up the big hill the sky was so dark I could not see more than a kilometre in front of me & that was before the rain! So I wimped out yet again & raced back thru town & headed south on R1020.
    R1020 was only marginally better & from then on I was busy dodging showers, whilst GPS-ing numerous roads between R1020 & 1174. Eventually I ended up on R1152 & in Payamengrai, then on R1326, which is a pig of a road, being broken asphalt & gravel (like an old Laos road), before hitting the Kok river again somehow & meandering my way onto the super at Chiang Rai around 4.30 pm.
    Not too bad I thought, I could still get into Cnx before dark.
    However not far down the super I ran out of fuel. That is a fuel line came off (Tom & Jerry Mc service – it’s a not so long story) & I ran out of petrol rather suddenly & ahead of schedule. Fortunately I was not on reserve as it would have been somewhat infuriating in the rain!
    Anyway I was able to re-attach the fuel line just) without off taking any side covers or bits & pieces & roared off down the road again.
    A quick fuel stop was done & then onto Charin Resort.
    At Charin it poured with rain, which made the cappuccino & cheesecake even more delicious, & the stop even more longer.
    During a brief break in the rain I ventured outside to check on the fuel line & thought, shyte it’s a bit loose again. You don’t want this to come off again in the dark, in the rain, on the unlit highway.
    So the soft choice of Chiang Rai city, 20 mins back down the road, won me over & Chiang Rai it was for the night. And was a good night it was. All the action in Chiang Rai is in the soi of the Inn Come Hotel / Sperm Pub/ The Womb(great name eh?) And unlike Chiang Mai, the Chiang Rai closing time is 3.00 am & a bit later......
    I got into Chiang Mai late the next day..........

    The Power On
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Oh yeah, forgot these two photos that I thought were a bit funny, but normal for amazing Thailand.

    In Chiang Khong the ramp down to the ferry landing & nice new sign that says:
    "Temporary Car Park, U-Turn Ahead"
    but with the river up, there's no real place to go - only into the Mekong!



    Keep The Power On
  4. keess

    keess Member

    Thank you David, for answering a question I didn't ask yet here.

    "Inn Come"?????

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