Phuket To North And Back Over The Years

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Goran Phuket, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    My annual Northern Thailand ride commenced pretty late due to certain obligations and other unforeseen circumstances. In order to truly enjoy the trip I needed to free at least 14 days in my calendar. Riding in month of May is not really pleasant due to excessive heat.

    Entering Lampang. Stopped for few minutes to check my GPS and have a drink of water.

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    As I was about to mount the bike noticed this signboard to the left hidden in the bushes. Lampang - center of North Thailand

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    Calibrated my GPS to take me short cut which means some exotic routes could be in store. At the end got more than I bargained for....
    Suddenly found myself on broken tarmac/concrete road leading into lush forests and mountains. Came across this lake, actually it is Pha Phing Chu Reservoir.

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    From here started real off-road adventure through jungles of Lampang and Lamphun. Actually had no idea I was in Lamphun at all, only after reviewing saved GPS waypoints I realized I have been riding all along at the edges of Mae Phing National Park.

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    Out of sudden herd of cows showed up. Staring at me, me staring back at them....felt like Mexican stand-off lol...

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    By the way, I am lousy off-road rider, no training or experience whatsoever. But having such awesome bike and not testing my off-roading capabilities or limitations would be crime of all crimes. The only problem is weight: my panniers and top box are fully loaded. Quite heavy, not to mention almost full 31 liter capacity fuel tank and 95kg deadweight of yours truly.

    Not something I was looking forward to but upon seeing this "bridge" I didn't know should I cry or lough. I have been riding thru this forest for over 20km now and the only living creatures I've seen are those cows in pic above.

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    One wrong move both me and the bike will end up in 2 meters deep ditch and there is nobody out here to help me.

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    Took my jacket, helmet and gloves off and proceeded by using far left side of the bridge. 1km per hour speed, both feet on the ground and after what seemed like eternity managed to cross this sucker.

    And here is the proof :lolno:

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    This "Indiana Jones" :lol-sign: moment boosted my confidence and continued riding the trail at quite high speed, fishtailing all over the place (no falls) and enjoying myself like little kid. I think I am beginning to understand Tony and Brian now and their passion towards off-roading.

    After about another 10-12 kilometers GPS takes me to this junction: Route 4040.

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    As you can see at GPS device it says 106 km to destination which in this case was Ob Luang National Park in Chiang Mai.

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    Route 4040, brand new paved road, absolutely nobody around. Enjoyed riding without helmet and jacket :wtf:

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  3. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Officially crossed into Chiang Mai territory....LMAO...sounds like I just crossed major international boundary.

    Just before Doi Tao along Route 1087 spotted this cute family owned gas station. Chit-chatted a bit with owners, actually their daughter who spoke some English. She said her father build this house out of Teak Wood. It is really beautiful property, could be easily converted into guesthouse. Place can be seen on google satellite maps and street view.

    GPS: 17.87859, 98.72618 (decimal)

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    After about an hour of chat and generally being lazy due to enormous heat I was on my way towards Ob Luang National Park. I just wanted to see that Ob Luang Gorge, heard a lot about it.

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    At the counter clearly states entry fees are THB 200 but since it's low season and hardly 4-5 people around they let me in for THB 100.
    Not just that, after politely requesting they even allowed me to ride my bike all the way to the gorge itself. Nice folks here.....

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    So here I am, setting up camera to take shots of myself and the gorge :idea:

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    Yet again I was the only person around. Riding in off / green season sure has it's advantages.

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    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  4. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Next stop barely 20-30 km away is Bo Kaew, Royal Forestry Department and beautiful pine forest.
    This place begs for nice photo-shots.

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    Unfortunately this time, nobody around to help me do some nice photos. Since I carry full arsenal of cameras, lenses and even tripods this was great opportunity to test my photographing skills. Out of 3 attempts and almost 30 photos these 2 came out right.

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    GPS: 18.15680, 98.38842
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  5. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Still in day 3 of my ride, decided to overnight at Mae Sariang.
    Here I come again MHS!

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    Visited Mae Sariang few times but never over-nighted here. Small, laid back and rustic town, few backpackers around.

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    Awesome Riverside Guesthouse, owners are from Bangkok. Wouldn't even know that if they didn't approach my dinner table and asked me if everything was ok. In their own words, they prefer tranquility of this town compared to hustle and bustle madness of Bangers. Nice folks, they also told me they have another property down the road with similar name.

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    Nice river view from the terrace

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    My crib for the night

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    And tomorrow on my way to Mae Hong Son town.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2016
  6. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    The order of the day: savaging these curves, part of 1864 corners of Mae Hong Son Loop.

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    Approaching small town of Khun Yuam. But just before that I noticed this right next to the road side.

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    Thailand - Japan friendship memorial in Khun Yuam. Displays and artefacts documenting the period when the Japanese occupied Khun Yuam in the closing weeks of the WW2, as well as local history. After they had recovered, some of the Japanese soldiers stayed in Khun Yuam and married; the last Japanese soldier who settled in the area died in 2000.

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    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Hottest day so far. At Piya guesthouse, best accommodation around. Time to relax in that pool. I called management 3 days in advance to book the room. Last 2 times when I've been here place was fully booked.

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    The salty pool water was too hot....believe it or not. Had a cold shower, sat on the bike and rode 12-13 km up north to see famed Sutong Pae Bridge. This was recce ride just to make sure I got right coordinates because plan is to come here again tomorrow early morning and see monks crossing the bridge. Went all the way down to dried out river bed. Wasn't easy to pull the bike back out of slight slope.

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    Sutong Pae loosely translated from Thai Yai Burma lineage people means "successful prayer", so I've been told. Bridge was built by the Permanent Secretary Khun Jittaphat Akkhapanyo and Kung Mai Saak villagers. It stretches for 500 meters across rice fields and the Mae Sa Nga River to link the temple at one end with the village of Kung Mai Saak at the other. It is advisable to come here during raining season to capture vivid colors as seen on pic below (taken from internet)

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    From what I've found out, bridge building cost was around THB 800,000 while local farmers donated the land for bridge to be built on.
    Following morning, woke up quite early, checked out of hotel and at exactly 5:50 am captured these moments

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    It wasn't even 7am by the time I reached Huisan Ranger Station. Misty morning, wet road near intersection to Pang Aung or what some call it Switzerland of Thailand.

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    Proceeding towards beautiful OTOP village of Baan Mae Lanna. The real daily doze of adventure starts right here

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  8. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Friend told me about Thai Army helicopter crash site in mountains of Mae Hong Son some time ago. All he could do was to provide this photo, taken down somewhere from the net. He did not know exact GPS location though. After researching for few days I managed to figure out crash site location:

    GPS: 19.66398, 98.41313 - listed as Route 1226.

    I knew it was off-road but little did I know what to expect.

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    Just before climbing hills above Baan Mae Lana had to clear this Army checkpoint

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    Very steep concrete roads like these for next 10 kilometers or so. Some really dangerous hairpins too, luckily no rain so counting myself lucky.

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    Finally first sign of civilization, Karen village. This dude very friendly, invites me into his house for cup of coffee.

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    I mention to him about helicopter (wildly arm gesticulating) and he confirms. Says another 10-15 km up the mountain, no worries it is nice road. Yeah right...hahaha...While we were chatting his mother was staring at me constantly. Had to take this pic :?

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    And couple of little girls giggling around and repeatedly saying "helloo"....like 50 times lol

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    View from the house courtyard

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    No other place to park the bike but on this slope

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    Pic with local boys

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    The rest of the village and daily activities

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    Off I go and looks boy was telling the truth, road not bad at all

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    Passing another village and asking about helicopter. Nobody has a clue...

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    That porker looking at me funny :problem: I step on horn but he got mad and I had to run...

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    Oh boy....my first river crossing ever. Actually double crossing.

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    Piece of cake, thank you very much :smile1:

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    Kept riding uphill for another 10 or so kilometers, GPS shows 7km to go. Then I see this guy, guarding some sort of bamboo houses or whatever. It isn't even a village. He confirms helicopter is less than 10km ahead and after that I can descend down to Pai. Boy....I was so happy to hear that, music to my ears.

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    And after about additional 2-3 kilometers this is what happens. I am cursing my damn bad luck...:evil: almost there but there is no way for me to go through this slope littered by those rocks and boulders. I know, rest of you guys on lighter Kawasaki's etc would eat this for lunch but half a ton GSA and me just can't make it....no way.

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    I stood there 5-10 minutes thinking, no way I am turning back and riding 30km of this road again. Gotta find the way to pass this obstacle. More I look I realized in case I fall down, which was 100% certainty, I would be stuck in the jungle for the night. There is nobody to help me lift the bike. And even if I succeed in lifting it, how to turn around on that rocky slope? No freaking way!

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    Emotionally exhausted, reluctantly turn back. I was so pissed, felt like this entire trip was failure....terrible feeling.
    My concentration lapsed and bang, lost my balance. My first fall off-road ever.

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    Nothing serious, it was at low speed and no injury. It was more like poor balancing. Trying to pick the bike - no chance. Fallen at the awful spot. Tried another 2 times, my balls falling off...gonna get hernia. I noticed little scooter parked in the forrest (pic above) and blasted the horn hoping someone hears me. 30 minutes or so, nobody shows up even though I can hear in distance someone cutting wood down in the valley. Tried one last time and finaly succeded. Who needs gym excersize after this....

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    Tired and thirsty, back to that porker village and see this noodle shop

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    Friendly owners and their children. I let them climb the bike and take as many pics they like.

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    Even their cats staring at me lol....

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    Left the noodle shop and took one last pic of the village from hill above

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    And these hunters show up. I bet they hunting those wild chickens, seen lots of them in forest.

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    By 1:30 pm I was in Pai, starving. Phoned David and he was about to leave Chiang Mai by 2pm so we can meet later that evening at Doi Ang Khang.

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  9. kwon soo choi

    kwon soo choi Active Member

    Hi. Goran

    Thank you good pictures and good information.
    I envy your motorcycle trip.
    goodluck for you.

    Soo
     
    Goran Phuket likes this.
  10. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Still in Day 4 of my tour, on the way towards Doi Ang Khang. Bad traffic from Pai, David texts me, says rains heavy over there.

    Arrived just before sunset into cold and wet Doi Ang Khang. David and his pal Jameson :thumbup: were waiting. Time to wash down some dust from the trip.

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    Been a while since we've seen each other - 14 months to be exact. Pic taken in Huay Xai, Laos, February 2014. Brian, Tony and the rest of rough GTR crew :smile1:

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    Settled into nice and affordable guesthouse for the night, tomorrow going to explore the area around.
     
  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Great report Goran.

    A great trip and adventure.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
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  12. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Thanks Brian. Lots more to come though ;)
     
  13. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    This was my first time at Doi Ang Khang. Couldn't ask for better guide than David, he knows every corner of this place and surroundings.
    To get here I turned into Route 1178 from Chiang Dao instead of 107. Passed through Pha Daeng National Park and Arunothai and turned into Route 1340 all the way up. Slower than 107 but definitely more scenic even at rain.

    After breakfast we decided to check out Royal Agricultural Project and Gardens.

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    Bonsai Tree Garden

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    peekabooo....gotcha!

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  14. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    At Ban Nor-Lae Thailand / Burma border point. Soldier chased me away from Helicopter landing spot but David managed to get this pic :clap:

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    Burmese Army post in background

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    More pics of Burmese Army post

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  15. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Hilltribe women at Ban Nor Lae....can't exactly remember the name of the tribe, David knows.

    Interesting story behind this pic....she said husband left her and she is in market for new hubby. I think she got hots for David :shh:, kinda proposed to him already hahaha....he can tell you more about it.

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  16. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    My fuel tank almost dry....finding gas station here not easy. Gotta buy from sundry shop, THB 40 per liter.

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    See that road on the right? It is in Thai territory, meter to the left is Burma. Thought of using that road on my way down to Fang but David said Thai Army surely won't let me through. There is some kind of dispute going on, both sides claiming territory as theirs. Not long ago farang rider went down that road and ended up in hands of kidnappers from some Burmese rebel faction.

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    Thought of checking it out anyway....dead end, roadblock

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    Friendly Thai soldiers telling me absolutely no entry, no way.

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    That's ok, we turn back anyway to another nice viewpoint within Thai Army Camp further down the road.
    Here view of Doi Ang Kang town near camping area

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    Fantastic view of Route 1249

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    David in his usual element, taking photos

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  17. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Riding around, David taking photos. Thanks again for these great shots :thumbup:

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  18. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Time to move on towards Fang via steep fantastic route 1249.

    David rollin' down the hill....

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    Love it!

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    Bunch of Bangkok BMW riders going up....one of them lost balancing on this hairpin and fallen against that wall. David and another rider helping him back on his feet. Me taking photo 8)

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    Poor fella still in shock, taking a breather while all his pals left already

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    As we descended into the valley air temperature dramatically rises. David leading the way.

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    Stopped for a quick bite and refreshments, fish and chips special of the day. Had an awesome time on DAK, if not for David I would have missed few interesting sites. Thanks a lot buddy, see you winter next year again unless you come down to south first :happy3:

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  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Great find this spot was too eh Goran
    Maple Coffee & Bakery

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    at the Esso gas station by the Doi Ang Khang R1249 turn off.
     
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  20. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Day 5 plan as follows:

    Leaving Doi Ang Khang to Fang Hot Springs, Lao Ta Coffee Shop and overnight in Ban Thoed Thai in Chiang Rai.

    Just stopped to take a look, will spend more time here with my wife on next trip.

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    Now this is the place I really want to see, with some luck I just might meet this colorful guy: Lao Ta Saenlee.
    Former KMT fighter, heroin dealer, gun smuggler, now running his own coffee franchise shop. All that is left from his fabulous fortune is gas station on government land, coffee shop and old Chevy Monte Carlo.

    There is an extensive topic about him somewhere here on GTR. Quite interesting story but here is another link:

    http://brugerforeningen.dk/2011/01/english-heroin-and-coffee-the-saga-of-lao-ta-saenlee/?lang=en

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    I asked waitresses if he is around and they said yes, resting in house behind. Even offered to call him for me. I declined. Heard he is very frail and senile and didn't really want to bother him. But if he was in the shop I sure would engage in chat.

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    His old Chevy Monte Carlo, now chicken house :|

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    Coffee was good. Fantastic weather and I am on my way to Ban Thoed Thai, former stronghold of notorious drug dealer and Shan Army general Khun Sa. Another place brought to my attention thanks to informative posts right here on GTR.

    Along the way, few interesting things, detour due to road upgrade.

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    Arriving to Thoed Thai

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    As per David's recommendation, I settle at Rim Taan Guesthouse.

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    Resort belongs to soft spoken, mild mannered Khun John, half Chinese / half Shan, former translator for Khun Sa. This man has seen it all, speaks 5-6 languages and former operative for certain clandestine organizations during cold war and communist insurgency in northent Thailand and Laos. it was real pleasure to meet and talk to him.

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  21. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    DAY 6: Early morning, Thoed Thai wet market.

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    On my way to nearby Khun Sa's Old Camp. If not for GTR articles and posts I would never knew about this place.
    Quite an amazing story, this guy had balls of steel.

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    Personal items, clothings....bet this would catch nice value at ebay

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    What used to be his bedroom

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    I like this town, will be back next year again.
     
  22. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    What an amazing report Goran, life on the road is certainly a life worth living, and your report shows to anyone thinking about touring Thailand as well as the old hands that has been doing it for years, just what riding in Thailand is all about. The food, riding, cultural experiences are only a few of the reasons we ride here.

    I wouldn't fancy trying to pick up the BMW. How heavy would it be?

    5100 kilometres in two weeks….what a ride.

    Great photos and story telling mate.

    Moto-Rex
     
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  23. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Thanks Moto-Rex. It was an amazing trip indeed. But wait, I haven't even put the cherry on the top just yet :D, more of Chiang Rai coming up + Nan, Phayao, Uttaradit and Phetchabun.

    GSA with fully loaded panniers and top box is little bit shy of 400kg in weight.
     
  24. Daz

    Daz Member

    What a great read so far !!
     
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  25. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    DAY 7: Leaving Thoed Thai. Plan is to cover borderline road from Doi Tung to Thailand northernmost point in Mae Sai.

    Fresh morning, scenic roads....

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    Just prior to this point there was a section of 6-7 consecutive steepest hairpins I have ever seen. Didn't expect that and certainly had no chance to take a pics. Quite scary....Find them on google maps:

    https://goo.gl/2WJ0QX

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    Keep in mind this is not Route 1149 from Doi Thung Royal Villa towards Watprathat Doi Tung but another road listed also as 1149 on google maps. Here is the exact route I took from Thoed Thai to here:

    https://goo.gl/NrttKR

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    Finally reached Doi Chang Mae Fah Luang Arboretum rest stop. This guy selling rice wine, gave me a sip. Also some ridiculous tags on sale, crazy stuff :shock: People actually wear this crap?

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    Proceeded few more kilometers uphill towards Doi Tung Thailand Burma checkpoint and observation deck when heavens opened up. The first real rain storm since leaving Phuket. The previous one at Doi Ang Khang was just a *****cat compared to this.

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    And about 20 minutes later stopped just like that. This video taken in immediate aftermath...nobody around, even Thai soldiers hiding in barracks.



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    20 minutes of rain and trenches filled with water

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    Burma Army Camp few hundreds of yards away....will be going there shortly

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    Bike is in Thailand territory, 2-3 meters to the left is Burma (Myanmar). Behind bamboo fence is Burmese army border post. As I was taking this pic someone shouted "hey you no photo!" It was Burmese soldier hiding inside that bunker. I told him: kiss my ass, I am in Thailand territory and within my right to do as I please. Quiet, no response. Sat on the bike and rode another 40-50 meters and parked again. And here he comes (Burmese soldier), opens the gate and walks right into what I thought it was Thai territory all smiling and happy, asking me where I am from. The third pic, even outside the fence is actually Burma. Funny....lol....took a pic of him, had a short amicable chat and on my way to Mae Sai.

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    Steep downhill wet road. Goota be careful here....

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    And now this....storm snapped few trees. Luckily it's just a bamboo, easy to remove. There is another military check point just 100 yards around the corner but lazy soldiers wouldn't clear the road.

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    Mae Sai valley below

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    Finally in Mae Sai, short break before proceeding south towards city of Chiang Rai.

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  26. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Day 8:

    Checking out magnificent "Black Temple" or Wat Ban Si Dam, creation of Thai National Artist Thawan Duchanee. Loads of loud, bad mannered mainland Chinese tourists around....had no mood to go inside. Will spend few hours here during my next trip.

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    Just outside Chiang Rai, on my way to Phaya Phipak, big dipper route 4018. As I was taking this pic another rider on enduro bike pulls up. It is Mark Lakota, member of this forum. Nice and very cheerful guy, it was his last day in Thailand before going back to UK for 6 months.

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    We pulled up at nearest what resembled coffee shop and had a drink. He decided to accompany me on the way up to Phaya Phipak.

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