After reading about the previous year’s exploits at this festival and seeing some photos, I knew I had to go see it for myself. There were going to be three GT riders leaving from Chiang Mai to Amphur Dan Sai in Changwat Loei; myself, DavidFL and Robert H. Robert was delayed arriving from Pattaya so it was just David and I leaving from CM on Friday the 30th. Here are some “friends” I met on the way to Chiang Mai. They really did have a radar check point set up between Khampeang Phet and Tak. They pulled me over and told me that I was going 120! LIARS! I was going 140! Mai pen rai… I played dumb and didn’t speak a word of Thai until they told me “OK, you not sapeak Thai and I not sapeak Angrit so you not have to pay” After that we were the best of friends, posing for pictures and sharing photos of our kids. They only wanted B200, but 10 minutes of friendly chit chat and I was on my way. The Route: 11 to Uttaradit 1045 to 1146 1146 to 1047 1047 to Nam Pat for lunch 1239 to 1268 1268 to 1237 so FL could GPS a new road (now he can write the trip off as a business expense, right?) 1237 to Chat Trakan 1143 to Nakhon Thai 2013 to Dan Sai We stopped at the Shell for gas near Lamphang and again we stopped at the Sala view point where FL almost had the thigh meat removed from his leg when he crashed with a bus many years ago. Knock on wood, I haven’t crashed on the road in over 30 years – the odds are against me now and I know my number will be up soon – I’m just trying to postpone it as long as I can. Of course, I was looking forward to testing the watertight integrity of my newly replaced top case and side case – compliments of AON insurance here in TH. The weather was fantastic. High clouds overhead and no direct scorching sun. Just a few sprinkles along the way, not too bad. As the junior GT rider, I rode TP all the way (TP = toilet paper – cleaning up the rear). David’s AT was running well and burning clean. Not like other carbed bikes that stink when they run rich. We stopped for a short break at the Pu Soi Dao waterfalls. It was raining slightly and I remembered commenting that this would be a fantastic place to stop for a dip if the weather was hot. I used the hong nam and was pleasantly surprised to smell the mints in the bowl. More often than not, the hong nams in the national parks aren’t this clean. Farmers on the 1237. When we got to town, we checked with our local friends to confirm our room reservations. We each had a room with one bed, a squatter and dip shower, no AC (not that it was needed) or TV for B500. We cleaned up and went off to the PTK food court to witness the annual Som Tam competition. There were plenty of choices for food and our friends kept bringing more to our table. Low and behold, our friends won that night’s Som Tam contest with a tasty version of Som Tam Pala. When we arrived at the food court I was given a dual language map and event guide. The map was accurate enough but the event guide didn’t mention that the parade on Saturday morning began at 10. Saturday morning I slept in late and David called to advise me of the parade, I arrived shortly afterwards. I’m not sure how much I missed, but I did my best to photograph the event. Even though it was only 11:00, the whiskey and beer was flowing. After being given 2 different samples of Lao Khao in M-150 bottles, I decided that I should slow down and began to tell the generous people of Dan Sai that I couldn’t drink now because I was working but that I would drink with them tonight. Little ghosts waiting for their turn in the parade. Yes, it’s world cup season. Beauty And the Beast The festival has a fertility theme. Band on the run Isaan cuties Smiles everywhere Be careful with that thing! Carabao PG’s (promotion girls) Local biker gang The next generation of ghosts That afternoon, David received a call from Robert H. that he was in Chiang Mai and was bringing his KTM to join us. Saturday night, FL and I were invited to a friend’s home for beer Leo and good Isaan food. About 9:00 his phone rings and it’s Robert. He has crashed somewhere between Nakhorn Thai and Dan Sai. A local stopped to help him and David was supervising Robert’s transportation to the local hospital. Robert said he has no excuse for the crash. It was a simple, slight downhill, wide radius sweeper that he entered a little too fast. Methinks he was using a little too much spellbinding power that night. The local hospital checked him out and x-rayed and put him in a private room for B700/night. My little room was B500. I think I’ll stay at the hospital next year and enjoy the AC, TV, hot water, American Standard toilet and the nurses. Robert’s room My room Truth be told, Robert was a very lucky boy. He whacked three concrete posts with his black “death star machine” and lived to tell about it. He’s also lucky that we were traveling with a good mate like DavidFL. David supervised things at the hospital and coordinated the arrival of David Lek and Robert’s gf the next day with Robert’s pickup so they could take him and his bike back to Chiang Mai. Robert says he’s gotten a lot of shite about having a pickup but I’m happy he has it. Who knows, I could be the next GT rider to crash and might have to ask him to come and scrape up my pieces. Robert knew we were going to give him some crap for crashing his bike and that we did. We were happy that he’s alive and that we can all ride together again. If you look at Robert’s report, you’ll see that his sexy Shuberth helmet did shite to take care of his face. That cute little flip up, make you feel good, face protector didn’t do much to take of his face in the end. I have a full face Arai helmet that I hate to wear in TH coz it’s so damned hot and gets smelly so fast but I suffer along with it coz I know that sooner or later I’ll join the faceplant club and I want all of the advantages that I can have. If you can lip read… A painful ride Loading the bike At the crash site. Winner, I killed the concrete post! Barry If I wasn't doing this, I'd be doing something else.