Mae Hon Song Loop and beyond

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by tropicaljohno, Jan 6, 2007.

  1. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    I suppose no trip to Chiang Mai (CNX), is complete without doing the MHS loop.

    My girlfriend Elle and I decided to do it in a clock wise direction as after the loop we were going to visit the Golden Triangle.

    As reported in many other reports, the scenery is awesome, and the roads good surface. We arrived in MHS late in the arvo, and being a lazy bastard that I am, couldn't be bothered in reading up in any guide books for accomadation, and just picked the first hotel in the
    main street.

    Well what a dump this hotel was, 450 baht for the nite, paint peeling off the walls, (paint also peeling off walls in reception so that was a good enuf indication of the state of the hotel), squat toilet, and check out the shower plumbing below,

    [​IMG]
    You need a set of instructions to work out what taps work what.

    Anyway that evening we checked out the nite market and they were selling t'shirts with 1864 written on them, which is the number of curves to MHS. On reading that I said to Ell, glad that's over as Elle had a chunder on the way up, then we found out that the 1864 curves refers to the way down, we still have that to go.
    so on the trip back, we found a sign which said 1548 curves to go.
    [​IMG]
    316 bends done, 1548 to go......

    Next stop Pai, we were in a bit of a rush so just stopped there for a bite to eat, and the mountain looked quite picturesque with the halo above it.
    [​IMG]

    From there we stopped the nite at Chiang Dao, we tried to check in at Kurt and Mons Guesthouse 084 173 9975, but he was full, and Kurt recommended a Dutch guy that has bungalows for rent.

    The Dutch guy, (sorry forgot his name), has about 6 bungalows to rent, all brand new, and in Chiang Dao, you turn down the side of the MP gas station and he is just down there on the left. Real friendly guy, even came out on main road to meet us, and bungalows only 250 a nite.
    086 707 7018.
    [​IMG]
    The dutch guys bungalows Chiang Dao 086 707 7018

    After checking into the bungalow, we went back to Kurts for a meal, and the picture below is taken in their restaurant, more like being in someones lounge of their home.
    [​IMG]
    (Mrs TropicalJohno at Kurts resturant, wondering if she can sneak one of the presents outside.

    After Chiang Dao, we went up to the Golden Triangle, then back to Chiang Rai to stay with an aussie friend of mine.

    Now to stop Pikey having a dig at me driving around in my Honda Jazz, (only joking Pikey), am hiring a 125cc wave/sonic tomorrow, riding up to Chiang Dao, and staying at Mon and Kurts. Have a friend here who is into road bicycles, and hasn't ridden much on motorbikes so its just going to be a nice slow ride up, taking in the scenery. My fiend here does the Someong Loop in 4 hours, (thats on a push bike).

    Travelling around the north you almost need your camera permanently switched on, some of the interesting sights we have seen are, a guy on a Honda Wave, a cane basket hanging off either side, with a live pig in each basket, on the raod north to Chiang Dao, over half of the songathews we saw had honda waves up on the roof rack, the most we saw were 3 bikes, all upright, tied on the roof rack.

    And one of the tourist buses we were behind for a while, on the straight stretch of road, it was crabbing side ways so bad, that from behind you could almost read all the writing down the side of the bus.
     
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  3. MBT

    MBT Ol'Timer

    You never mentioned the hotel T.J but I guess it was the Panorama or the equal hovel next door but one?

    Despite I have lived on the MHS loop for 6 years now I never realised that sign was saying how many bends to go! I can only read "Beer Chang" in Thai and nice to see Chang have sponsored the sign where people drive vehicles on one of the most twisting roads in Thailand!
     
  4. beattheswiss

    beattheswiss Ol'Timer

    we are renting a Honda Shadow 600 for some fun rides from chiang mai next week. i am dying to do the mae hong son loop, but my thai wife is worried about the dangers. if you have done the loop on a chopper with a pillion, let me know how she felt about the zillion bends and the not always quite perfect road surface. how's the traffic up there during daytime? would you recommend to do it on a different bike perhaps?
     
  5. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    For the benefit of non-native speakers of English like me, could you kindly explain what you mean by a "piece of piss"? Fun? Hard? Something else? I hasten to add that in asking this question I am not, to use another scatological English idiom that I do know, taking the piss. [:)]
     
  6. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Russ,

    "Piece of piss" means that it's easy. Isn't the English language wonderful with it's nuances. "Piss" like "f*ck" can be used in many contexts - "piss off!" - insult, "pissed" - drunk, "on the piss" - going out with mates to get drunk, "taking the piss" - you know that one already [;)]

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  7. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    Yep, gotta love it for that, Pikey, and cheers for the language lesson. [;)]
     
  8. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Will make pictures a little bigger when I get back to CNX, its handy having a Thai girlfriend/pillion/translator, we are currently at Kurts in Chiang Dao, and yesterday whilst riding north of here there was a sign in Tha saying 37 bends to next village, hey be good if they could put that in English, just make it a bit more interesting to the westerners travelling along the route.

    Hey Pikey... see I mention PILLION, yes Elle and I finally on a bike now, all 125cc's of grunt on a Honda Wave, great fun, just waiting for another sarky comment from you..... (now if you be nice to me, will give you some of those pinaples I promised you...)
     
  9. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Hi T.J,

    Glad you and MrsT.J are enjoying your trip - MrsPikey also has a grunty 125 Wave which I have the utmost respect for. If you want sarky comments, come to the Kafe tonight after about 8:30 as it's Tomo & co's last evening in CNX before they head south and hopefully there will be a few others there too. Russell, would be good to see you there too mate - we can get "pissed" together [;)]

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  10. globalgypsy

    globalgypsy Ol'Timer

    Hi John,
    Mon and I really enjoyed your company and talking with the three of you. It's always nice to have guys and gals from GT-Rider drop in.
    As I mentioned to you this morning, we are going on our ride, starting Wednesday the 10th - Wednesday the 17th. We will be open January 18th, again. (Wednesdays is our regular day off, for those of you who don't know yet.)
    Thanks for mentioning us in your posts. It's always nice to get the exposure, esspecially, since we won't be in the guide books until this fall, when the new Lonely Planet comes out.

    I am playing with the idea for turning the house we bought last year (about one km away from the restaurant), into a place where one can wrench on his own bike. With a few tools, a beer fridge and a small stereo. Maybe a couple of guest rooms upstairs. This will take me a few months, but so far, it sounds like a pretty good idea to me ;-) I will work on getting the wiring redone and putting a new waterpump in, when I get back. After that, i will make the doors downstairs secure, so my tools and bike won't get up and walk out by themselves ;-)
    The house it ideal for it, because it is an old Thai style house, with the big wooden doors that open up the whole downstairs. Outside is cemented with a nice roof covering the whole front yard. Perfect for parking and wrenching bikes.
    This is a work in progress, but even writing about it, I am getting more and more excited about it. What do you guys think? Are there still a few guys out there who like to wrench on their own bikes?
    Anyways, I am off and running.
    Thanks again for staying and eating with us.

    Mon and Kurt
     
  11. Rasseru

    Rasseru Ol'Timer

    Delighted to be invited, and thanks, but it ain't a happening thing with me today. Just finished my first day of two Thai language classes, two hours of spoken and two of script, and, if I may attempt to use without being misunderstood another English word that carries a dangerously broad range of nuances, I'm shagged. [;)]

    Y'all have fun.
     
  12. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Pikey... hey man I have just made Senior Member 4 stars, do I get any more privelages......

    Kurt, the 3 of us really enjoyed staying at your fine establishment, gee with everything happening up here its going to be very hard to go back to Phuket. On the ride back we stopped off at Ian Bungy and said hi to him as I new him when he had a set up on Koh Samui.

    So looks like its the Kafe tonite, and all I had planned was a trip to the laundromat, how things change....
     
  13. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    T.J,

    Hmmm, 4 stars. You'll have to double check with DavidFL but I'm [/i]pretty sure it means you get the beers in for the rest of the month! [:D]

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  14. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Oh, they called me Cheap Charlie when I lived on Koh Samui, so how about a packet of wine gums each.

    Hey the Kafe is just like a "Lock In" pub in the UK, didnt get out of there till 12.45am last nite
     
  15. beattheswiss

    beattheswiss Ol'Timer

    Hey fellas, I hate to bore you to tears, but TJ there had me promise I would post another trip report 'cause he did the one I was gonna do about the Samoeng loop. I figured I fit it under this header instead of starting a new string.
    Last week I finally got to work on my midlife crisis and took up biking again. Picked up a Shadow from Jaguar and took off. What a shame I had to return her the same night; she was swallowing water like a camel (when there was so much beer around!). Swapped her for a Steed instead and sped off to the North the next morning without so much as a solid plan. Which I guess explains why we already stopped for coffee at this cute little place on 107, right beyond the Mae Malai bypass: KHAOFFEE. Very friendly staff, strong brew and small meals, clean toilets. It's on your left, between the traffic light and the gas station. The owner suggested we head up 1095 to Pai, so we did. The road was very nice, with only little traffic. On the way we stopped at Pong Deud Hot Springs, which turned out to be a pleasant little side trip into the National Park. Back on 1095, we enjoyed the scenery and the good surface through all the twists. Until Mae Sae, that is. From there on up, the surface is in mediocre to poor shape. I'd say Captain Slash who said riding it was "a piece of piss" has a superb sense of humor, both with his use of the English language and the way he describes the ride! Some curves resemble a river bed after a crappy dredging job. What a shame - the woods are so fragrant and the road layout so lovely!
    After quite a few rest and photo stops we made it into Pai late afternoon. We just erred around checking out the town when we happened upon a brand-new bungalow place called PuraVida all the way at the Northeastern corner of town, on the road to Baan Muang Noi. Turn right just before the WW II bridge, then just follow the road until you see the PuraVida signs. The owners go by the names of Noi and Aad (Dutch). They were so friendly that we ended up staying although we had never intended to spend so much dough. They just opened early Dec 06. Nicely furnished bungalows, extremely comfy beds and very quiet surroundings. No restaurant, but a bar. A little on the pricey side, but well worth it if you want to be sure you get a good rest, man. They only have 8 bungalows. We paid 1,500 for ours. Call 089 635 7556 or www.puravidapai.com.
    Headed out at 6 the next morning, but it was so damned cold we had to take an extended congee and coffee break in town before we could handle the chill.

    It was all foggy, so riding up the mountain into the rising sun, we could enjoy the spectacular sight of the fog like an ocean beneath us. What a fantastic area!
    On the way back across the hills to Mae Sae, we encountered 5 or 6 trucks loaded with huge long pre-tensioned concrete elements for a new bridge that took up the whole two lanes through the tight twists. We sure were glad the road surface didn't allow much speed, or else we might have had to dive underneath the concrete to escape decapitation...

    Back in Mae Malai, we took a left up the 107 towards Fang. From Mae Taeng to the Chiang Dao bypass, they're still working on expanding the road to 4 lanes. It's all dirt and gravel and loads of dust. We followed a local tip and took a right into Chiang Dao. Not to Kurt's and Mon's, we didn't know their place yet, but to a local place called Pornphen. It's a blue shop on your left side, just after the 7-Eleven. You can’t miss it; even WE found it at first attempt! Tasty Khao Khaa Moo for a song and a dance, and lots of other goodies on the menu.
    The 107 was good to ride except for the relatively dense traffic, but the fun started when we turned to the 1089 after Tha Ton. Hardly any other vehicles, but heaps of sweeping bends up and down the hills towards Mae Chan.

    As expected, the 110 into Chiang Rai was boring. We got lucky again searching for a room: Right next to the Wiang Come Hotel off of Phaholyothin Road, straight across from the Edison Dept. Store we found the new Starbright Hotel, owned by Robin and Rattana Paul. Spacious, modern and extremely well appointed rooms for 1,200 baht a night in a great location, plus the best American steaks in town. Opened early Dec 06, only 8 rooms. Call 053 752960-63 or check out www.starbrighthotel.com. For tasty and inexpensive Chinese-Thai food all day and late into the night, walk 3 blocks south on Phaholyothin to Muang Thong Pattakhan Rest. (053 711162 or 755150). If you like Lao Lao near Soi Ari in BKK, you'll love this place!

    On our way out of town towards Chiang Mai, we visited Rong Khun Temple right off Route 1, about 15 km south of Chiang Rai. Don't go there so much for the spiritual experience, but for the awesome architecture! I'll stick some pix into this once i figure out how to do that, dudes... :)

    Mind you, the place is still under construction and will not be completed for a number of years yet, but it's all snow white and quite a sight on a winter day! We got our kicks out of "Hell" right at the entrance to the main temple.
    Check out the murals inside; you'd swear they were from a Sci Fi flick!

    The remainder of the trip back into Chiang Mai on 118 was pleasant, but fairly boring. We got hungry just before Wiang Pa Pao and stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant smack in the middle of town on the left hand side: Jeua Jan Pochana Restaurant. It seems to be the only restaurant in town and is doubles as a lawyer office. Boy, can this attorney cook!!
    During this trip and our subsequent visits to the GT-Rider site we have discovered a number of irresistable routes that we are dying to ride some time real soon. Thanks a lot, guys, for all the invaluable info. I promise to post reports of our future trips!
    Cheers, Beat
     

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