Lahu New Year 2008 Mae Hong Son back via Soppong River

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    RIDERS: Silverhawk, Hoghead, Ian "Ambassador" Bungy, Sean, Rhodie, Motorbike Marcus, Pikey & DavidFL.

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    Sean was a new GT Rider guy on his Harley

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    Hoghead with his Beemer.

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    And the rest of the mob at the viewpoint between Pai & Pangmapha

    THE ROUTE ‘N WAY. Route 107- 1095 – 107.
    Chiang Mai – Mae Malai – Pai – Soppong River Inn (3 great nights) – Mae Hong Son – Chiang Mai.

    WHY: To enjoy life, ride our bikes & experience traditional hill tribe culture.

    THE BARE BONES TRIP:
    Got away from the X-Centre on time. Paced ourselves perfectly, had a drink stop at Mae Sae where we regrouped, but Sean was not too far behind at all. Then pit-stopped in Pai for a chat with Peter Pai Enduro.

    Arrived in Soppong on time for the 1st happy hour at 4.45 pm....
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    Brilliant road ‘n ride. R1095 is simple awesome now & begs to be ridden while it is in such perfect nick.

    So had a great time, even with a really diverse bunch of guys. No attitude problems, no agro. Can’t wait to go again.

    Even though it’s March & the hot season, it’s still cold at night time in the mountains. Silly me got caught out with just the mesh jacket & a couple of GT Rider shirts, but no long sleeves.

    The Soppong River Inn is a fabulous escape if you want to get away from city life & it’s associated hassles.
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    Joy & Om are fantastic hosts & cooks. Stay there for a few days & you will put on weight!
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    Anyway onto a few happy family snaps to get the ball rolling.

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    Preparing the Lahu dance hall before the show gets underway.

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    Every family with more than 10 people makes an offering to be blessed by the village shaman.

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    This is blessed in a “spirit house cubby hole” in his house.

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    Music is played by a member from the respective household, while the blessing is done. Different households = different musos.

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    The blessed offerings are then placed in the middle of the dance floor by each family
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    And the show gets underway…
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    By the end of the night there's a few more spirit offerings stacked up.....
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    As the night progresses, considerable dust gets kicked up....
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    As a show of appreciation for being able to freely observe & participate in the event, we donated exercise books, pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, to the village school.......
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    We figure this is a very small fee (500 baht a head), is always appreciated as so many people come, take photos & leave without giving anything back. Put something back in & you will always be welcome. School supplies & clothes for the kids are best. No sweets, medicines or cash.

    A special thank you also goes to Ed from ELT in Surathani, who EMS-d me a box of clothes for distribution. Ed these were delivered & given away to the villagers in Luk Khao Larm; & it was a bit of a mad frenzy once the box was opened & they saw what was inside......
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    Thank you Ed.

    The trip was so good & enjoyable that we ended up spending 3 nights (instead of 2) in Soppong, then 1 night in Mae Hong Son & then back to Chiang Mai.

    Now for more pics from the experts & some valuable tips that came out of those hilarious outrageous Soppong River Inn happy hour sessions…….it’s your turn guys.
     
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  3. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Thats what this community is all about. Sharing the sights, culture, and friendship with each other. Nice of you David to get this running to introduce a bunch of us westerners to the culture and in giving back to them. Hats off to you.
     
  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    It is Obvious that i am the Most Culturally Sensitive one Hence the Nick Name "Ambassador" Anyway Great Trip had by all i am Sure but we did happen to Deplete the Beer Supply in that Area so i am Sure a Truck is on its way to Re-supply a Thirsty Village. Some of the Funniest Things i have ever seen, Fantastic Night time entertainment!!! Thanks Pikey and you others for Providing it :D Some Legendary stories exchanged. I would love to have more Trips like this and as David said given the Diverse Backgrounds we all have everyone got on Great. Good to see some New Faces Joining in and Such a Variety of Different Bikes as well just Proving all are welcome regardless of what you Ride.
    I never Brought a Camera this Trip as Most of the other GT-Riders had theirs so can provide Professional Shots.
    One of the Highlights for me besides the Village Activities is taking a Long-Tail Boat from Mae Hon Son Resort up the River to the Long Neck and Big Ear Village. Fantastic Boat Ride and Very Scenic well worth it if anyone gets up there. Can't wait for the Next Trip!!! :wink:
     
  5. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Davidfl has done a great job in summing up the festivities and some excellent photos as well.

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    Rhodie aka The Director, made sure everything was in order for the photos

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    On Sunday, it was basically a sport day. Many villages coming together to try to preserve their old customs and traditions.

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    Some homes had ringside seats.

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    Most were dressed in their finest, note the *traditional* cap.

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    The mc gave us a warm welcome and announced to the crowd the countries we represented.

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    These guys launched a spinning top from a string attached to a stick. The object was to shoot your top and hit the spinning one. Some of these guys were deadly accurate.

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    A strictly women’s game of throwing stones to hit the other stones. It was actually somewhat complicated and they seemed to be competing in teams. Never did really figure it out. They had some tough judges and some good arguments though.

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    We were bid a warm “farewell and come back soon!”

    As for the “happy hours”; we had some really great conversations. Many war stories were told. The backgrounds of some of the GT-Riders are rather amazing. With the usual culturally sensitive comments of "The Ambassador", and some of Pikey’s real life tales, our sides were hurting from laughing so much.

    BTW: I chose to ride back by way of the Pai-Wat Chan-Samoeng Rd. Had to do this one alone as there is about 40km of mountain dirt roads and I had the only dual sport bike. Not a difficult ride and really enjoyed the slow pace back. The road is in pretty good shape and an average dirt rider should have no problems.
     
  6. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Great post & pics chaps :) As my photography skills are limited I won't add much to the visuals.

    I'd echo what the others have already said about it being a great and eclectic bunch of guys to spend a few days away with. It's been quite a while since I've had the time to combine my 3 favourite pastimes when away from "Mrs Pikey" - riding, drinking and bullsh*tting with mates. Not forgetting that it was a really good opportunity to see inside rural Thai life and we were made to feel most welcome in the hilltribe villages. For me, as always, the highlight was seeing the kids faces when we presented them with the gifts that the kitty money bought - magical.

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    It was my first time to stop in Soppong and the Soppong River Inn is a great hidey-hole and would be a brilliant place to bring a willing companion for cozy nights and laid back days and not forgetting the absolutely awesome grub dished up by Joy & Om. Fun was also had at The Border Bar on thursday night (I still have the bruises on my head from apparently collapsing in the road on the way back whilst "tired and emotional":roll:) and also Little Eden for a great lunch. If you are in the area, don't just pass through, take time out to have a little looksey around or preferrably an overnight - it's well worth it.

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  7. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice picture davidf,will try to joint next year
     
  8. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

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    There can be few things better in life than riding with like-minded mates, staying in good digs and great nosh & drink.

    This we had, thanks to the enchanting dancing Lahu, with planning & organisation [of sorts] by the Guv himself.

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    For some of us it was to be the culmination of an extended Mae Sot Loop via Umphang [report coming].
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    Quartered in the best little inn in Northern Thailand, we awoke to gorgeous views of the river
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    and childish squeals of delight as the kids took advantage of the what was available.
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    Khun Joy & her daughter K. Om did us proud putting on great dinners with a dwindling supply of Beer Lao.

    As mentioned above, we made a number of trips to both Lisu & Lahu villages to disburse school & sports kit to grateful kids.

    The GT Rider Group @ Lisu village Nong Pa Cham
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    GT Riders making their donations

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    The roads in & out of the villages were tricky and not best done at night with the aid of SangSom; however in the daytime we all managed it.
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    Hoghead was riding his Bavarian behemoth and Shaun on his “hardtail” Sportster.
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    The Israeli paratrooper’s helmet is an optional extra – only available in the Gaza Strip!

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    By the first evening the Governor thought it prescient to check out Lahu preparations.
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    Arriving just before sunset, the village was bathed in golden sunlight and the locals were just beginning their dancing ground preparations.

    It was clear that tonight was a bust on the local festivities front.

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    Back for a delicious dinner where New Zealand’s answer to Les Patterson and the so far undiscovered Kiwi cultural ambassador was in full spate .
    Why call a spade a spade? When you can call it an Isaan Shovel.

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    From thereon, it was fast downhill hill - full of verbal ethnic twisties - before ending up quaffing down copious quantities of the cold stuff, surrounded by the local guntoting constabulary in the Border Bar.

    Pikey performed in highest of GT Rider traditions, before a “hot extraction” was necessary and then being casevaced by Shaun & Marcus; despite “hitting the dirt” a number of times along the way.

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    The next morning the Lively Lad was back on his feet, displaying more than a few bruises.

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    Shaun had the breakfast for champions - liver pills and an egg buttie!

    The next night we piled into a minibus and headed out to the village arriving at nine-thirty.

    Little was happening and we thought that the evening was a bust as we noticed villagers still in everyday clothes glued to TVs watching a Thai soap.

    Kids were letting off bangers, whiz-bangs and other pyrotechnics, which appeared to put Shaun strangely at ease, whilst unnerving the rest of us.

    So we made camp at the dance ground with two iceboxes full of necessary fluids
    – I should add that our one law enforcement officer had chosen to ride and was being responsibly abstemious.

    Slowly, in dribs & drabs, the local Lahu lasses began to turn up in their cute coats.
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    A thin wailing reed sound emanated from a hut where the Shaman was blessing each family’s offering before it was placed in the earthen centre stand of the dance ground.
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    Before long the dance ground was full of joyous Lahus.
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    Our FL was ever-ready with his camera
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    Then a pied-piper character would come out of the crowd and dance
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    around the earthen mound to a stomping beat,

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    whilst the lasses swayed in unison – along with various GT Riders.
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    Photographs were a bit hit & miss as the stomped up dust would create a backscatter effect or subjects caught frozen in the headlights poses.
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    I went for slo-mo atmosphere shots.

    Afterwards we went back to the Inn and more necessary liquids as we appeared to be rather dehydrated by the experience.

    The next day Marcus, Pikey and Shaun headed home.
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    In the meantime, we were reinforced by the rest of the family Rauner and their goodfriend, and my better half, K. Jessie.

    We went to another larger Lahu village where tents had been erected and the great & the good took turns in sitting in the imitation leather chairs – first the military [who grew quickly bored and left] then the tribal leaders.
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    We were announced by our nationality by the highly inebriated Marlboro Man.

    The afternoon was a leisurely paced one with Lahu women exhausted from their night of dancing
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    whilst gaggles of others gossiped en masse
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    or played a fascinating game displaying their tossing skills.
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  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Lahu New Year 2009 is on at the "end of the month" February.
    The exact dates & days will be known in a day or two.
    Stay tuned.
     
  10. sri

    sri Member

    David - I think you may have already gotten a message to this effect, but just to get the schedule out regarding Lahu New Year:

    The Lahu village shamans have finally decided on the days for Lahu New Years. Baan Luk Khao Lam (the site for last years GTR festivities) begins on 1 March. Baan Jabo (situated on a ridge on the road over to Mae Lanna) begins on 28 March. Each of them will be slightly different, so it would be possible to catch both of them this year. Lahu New Years activities continue for four or five days.
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    David - I think you may have already gotten a message to this effect, but just to get the schedule out regarding Lahu New Year:

    The Lahu village shamans have finally decided on the days for Lahu New Years. Baan Luk Khao Lam (the site for last years GTR festivities) begins on 1 March. Baan Jabo (situated on a ridge on the road over to Mae Lanna) begins on 28 March. Each of them will be slightly different, so it would be possible to catch both of them this year. Lahu New Years activities continue for four or five days.
    Burt
    Thanks for the update. Already posted news here

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... html#30452

    I'd be extremely happy if we could luck out for the big day time show like we had in Bo Khrai last year. Otherwise a night of "wining & dining & dancing" in Luk Khao Lam will be fine by me.

    I hope you can make it this year.
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    David - I think you may have already gotten a message to this effect, but just to get the schedule out regarding Lahu New Year:

    The Lahu village shamans have finally decided on the days for Lahu New Years. Baan Luk Khao Lam (the site for last years GTR festivities) begins on 1 March. Baan Jabo (situated on a ridge on the road over to Mae Lanna) begins on 28 March. Each of them will be slightly different, so it would be possible to catch both of them this year. Lahu New Years activities continue for four or five days.

    Re the above & Burt's date of March 28, I think he means Feb 28.
    Weve got 4 guys committed so far
    1. Davidfl
    2. Moto-Rex
    3. Ben The SEO Guy
    4. Chiangmairich

    Go here to lock yourself in
    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... html#30811
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Just a reminder for those going tomorrow Sunday 1st March 2009, that it will still be chilly in the mountains at night. Bring a warm jacket!
     
  14. sri

    sri Member

    Just a reminder for those going tomorrow Sunday 1st March 2009, that it will still be chilly in the mountains at night. Bring a warm jacket!
    Maybe even a bit colder than chilly..... it was 11° in Soppong at just past 7 am this morning!
     
  15. mja34

    mja34 Ol'Timer

    sadly the xr250 has been sold and i doubt the honda wave/sidecar outfit would be up for the hills!, enjoy and maybe next year will have a new toy to join you guys on.
     

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