Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son Return.

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Champasak, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. Champasak

    Champasak Ol'Timer

    Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son Return.
    « on: Aug 17th, 2002, 1:04am » Quote Modify Remove

    12 - 15 August.

    A later than usual start & left town at 3.45 pm, headed for Soppong for the night.
    Traffic was a little busy for the last day of the long weekend, but it was the pitch-black sky around Mae Malai that was the big worry. However with a little extra speed we managed to sneak through and get into the hills to the west before it came down.
    I was surprised and it was a fine escape, as it was a long time since I had seen the sky so black, with so much water running across the road in the Mae Malai area - obviously it had already bucketed down once & we were in between downpours.
    Needless to say the road was wet and greasy so the pace was more subdued than normal, especially with the girlfriend singer on the back (for her night off.)
    Generally R1095 is in good nick, except a short section between Papae and Pa Hin (the turn off for Tung Jaw), where there is a lot of sand that has been washed onto the road by the rain; but this was not much of a problem, as our speed was already down due the greasy nature of the road.

    First stop was at Mae Sae, 87 kms and 1 hr 30 mins ride from Cnx. This was the usual short drink stop at the Mae Sae mini store. Its always interesting here, as Mae Sae is the bus stop "half" way to Pai, with lots of odd people - farang & hill tribe - getting off the bus, and a lot of them suffering from motion sickness. I can never decide who look the weirdest - the farang backpackers or the hill tribes - either way its fun to just sit and watch, and wonder what's going on in their minds while on such an unreal bus ride with so many odd pax on board.

    After Mae Sae it is right up into the mountains and we were lucky enough to have the road half dry - (only) the corners were wet & the straights dry.
    Going down into Pai from the Huay Nam Dang turn off, I had the same problem I encountered last time, riding fairly hard in the steep spiraling downhill twisties - I ran out of rear brakes in about 15 kms. So we had to back off & just cruise down using only the gears and front brake on the wet road. Interesting stuff, and I've yet to figure out the real reason why I run out of brakes here - I stay off the rear brake as much as possible, just using it for a "hard" dab going into the corner, then back on the gas ASAP. I don't experience this problem too often riding solo, so guess the reason is the extra baggage I was carrying?

    We arrived in Pai at 6.30 pm, for a short 3 mins bum-break, then straight onto Soppong.

    Now this 46 kms section was really interesting as it was getting dark & misty rain was falling intermittently. The biggest problem in the fast fading light was not being able to pick out what road surface I was riding on. There are so many different shades that I could not confidently pick out whether it was wet, dry, sandy, gravel or oil on the road. This sort of riding really is good for the circulation and the reason why you should never age too quickly riding a motorcycle - you've gotta stay alert & on the ball. (I love it - what a challenge.)
    We got into Soppong at 7.20 pm, not bad. Had a bite to eat & a couple of ice cold Heinekens before hitting the sack at the most amazing time of 10.30 pm - a record for both the singer girlfriend & I. But there aint much else to do in Sop Pong at night I can assure you. However staying at Pen's Little Eden Ghouse in Soppong is always a delight - cute little (hot water) A-frame bungalows, a swimming pool, a pretty garden and right alongside the burbling Nam Lang River. It's a magic spot and if you're ever considering a night in the Soppong area try Pen's Little Eden, (or Burt & Joy's Soppong River Inn, just up the road.) This is one of THE spots in the North to re-charge the body's batteries in peace and quiet.

    Next morning was busy chugging around Soppong with the ol GPs. It aint much fun on the Africa Twin at 20 kph with the girlfriend on the back either, especially when you gotta turn round on a steep wet muddy slope!
    We eventually got away from Sop Pong at 12.15 pm at hit MHS around 1.30 pm. It was a nice clean dry run with clouds threatening to drown us at any moment! You can't win all the time though, and no sooner had we checked into MHS than down it came & that was it for the next couple of hrs. Eventually a faint glimmer of sunlight appeared and we were able to get out an about town for some more work. Now some of those mini sois in MHS aren't made for the Africa Twin either I can tell you, particularly when you have to do at least a 4 or 5 point turn around to get back out, all with the girlfriend on the back. I soon got tired of this & solved the problem by (1) renting a Honda Dream & (2) putting the girlfriend on the plane back to Cnx for work that night.

    Next day was a typical Mae Hong Son rainy day - intermittent showers all day. I spent the day chugging round the back sois and environs of MHS. Particularly beautiful was the ride out to Huai Sua Tao & the long neck village, on a nice new concrete road. This has to be one of the most gorgeous little roads & rides I have ever done in North Thai. Just watch out for all the stream crossings over the concrete weirs in the last 5 kms before Huay Sua Tao. The concrete is covered with algae and extremely slippery - I got caught on the very first one, right by the elephant camp - and did not even know what hit me. One minute I was sitting on the Honda Dream chugging through the stream in 2nd gear & next second I was flat on my back laying in the water, laughing & thinking what happended? Fortunately when your riding a Honda Dream it aint far to fall. Then when I tried to get up I went down again and I'm sure I heard one of the elephants have a chuckle. So if you're riding out to Huay Sua Tao, be warned, its like riding on ice through the streams, & there at least 10 of them!

    Thurs was home to Cnx and what a wonderful ride that was - wet all the way. I returned to Cnx the same way via the top & Sop Pong / Pai. I left the new Tham Pla - Pha Sua Nat Park HQs just north of MHS at 11.30 am & got into Cnx at 3.20 pm. Not bad considering.

    Oh yeah, in MHS I stayed at the Piya ghouse by the lake as usual. Ate at JiJis (opposite the Baiyoke Chalet) - big servings of food & cheap prices, plus had a couple of beers at Dennis & Rin's Beer Terrace, 2 doors down from the Ji Jis. In the afternoons had a coffee & bite to eat at the Lakeside Pub.

    « Last Edit: Oct 27th, 2002, 1:38pm by Davidfl »


    Re: Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son Return. 12-15 August
    « Reply #1 on: Aug 22nd, 2002, 1:10am » Quote Modify Remove


    Just checked in and read your trip report...good job! Sorry I missed you in Soppong...but glad you had a chance to stop by our place. By the way, about that descent into Pai from the Huay Nam Dang turn off, I have had similar problems, even in four wheelers. Actually, I nearly lost the breaks in a hired Jeep Cherokee once, and the pleasant odour of burning brake pads alone was enough to shift into low gear, not to mention the surprise of not having anything happen when applying breaks going into those steep switchbacks.

    Hope we get a chance to hook up during your next visit to Soppong, and please keep us posted on the next revision of your Mae Hong Song loop map...great work!

    Happy travels,


    Soppong River Inn


    Posts: 11
    Re: Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son Return. 12-15 August
    « Reply #2 on: Aug 29th, 2002, 12:27pm » Quote Modify Remove

    Hey David,
    Re: my email about the current weather.... you just answered my question. Full face lid w visor and full-on raingear it is then.
    see ya soon,
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