Round Thailand Ride Report - Part 2

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by phuah, Feb 4, 2004.

  1. phuah

    phuah Active Member

    Day 9 ( Nan ) (3/1/2004)
    After breakfast, went across the hotel to a motorcycles shop, which had a workshop area as well, to look for brake pads for John’s bike.
    The mechanic dismantled the brake assembly and as expected he said no spare.
    Then one of the stuff rode his bike and lead us to a workshop that do repairing of big bikes. But the shop was closed. From those resident that staying behind the workshop building, the mechanic is out of town with his family and will only be back in the evening. We only found out later that those peoples that we talked to were all the mechanic family members. Thanks for the stuff that bring us to the workshop.
    We found some used tires on the side of the workshop, which were big bike’s tires. So we were sure that this workshop do deals with big bikes.
    As we were told that the mechanics only returned in the evening, we have no choice but to extend one more day of stay in Nan. We need to think of something to do for the day as for sure we will not be using our bike.
    At last, through the hotel reception, we managed to get a car and a driver to bring us for a one-day tour around Nan. Not really interesting as the driver cannot speak English.
    On our way back to town, we decide to look for the Italian restaurant that has been recommended by David. Da Darios. We went to the Nan riverside, but cannot find it. As it is Italian restaurant, high chances that foreigner will have been there. So saw a foreigner, and asked him about the restaurant. When I asked him about Italian restaurant, immediately he mentioned Da Darios and said he had he made his dinner almost every night there. With his direction, and the sign placed by the restaurant, we managed to find the restaurant and had our dinner there. It was in the residential area. The food there really value for money.
    On our way back, then we realized that it was quite near to our hotel if travel by another way.
    Out of the rear car park of Dhevaraj hotel, turn right, all the way straight, hit a junction with statues of elephant, turned right. The road will have a canal on the right. Continue straight down the road, will see a lighted signboard for the Da Darios restaurant. Turned left into the small lane will lead to the restaurant.
    After reaching the hotel, went to the car park to look at our bike, saw a African Twin parked next to our bike. I suspect could it be David? Then saw David’s name card on the tank. So David is in Nan.
    Then we met David at the entrance of the hotel. Tell him the problem we encountered, and will look for him if the mechanic cannot resolve problem. And also roughly tell him about the road condition around Doi Phu Ka area.
    Went back to the workshop, but the mechanic is not back yet. His family members were kind enough to called him to asked where is he now, offering drinks to us, and chit with us.
    Finally the mechanic is back. Without shower and dinner, the time he is back is around 7.30pm, he attended to John’s bike. He said that he do not have the correct type of brake pad and told us to came back the next day. But we said that we needed to proceed to Chiang Rai on the next day. So with the worn out brake pad, he hoped on to a bike and off to look for brake pads. When he is backed, he had with him two sets of new brake pads. As the end of the original pad have holes, but the one he get is not. He saw out the section with hole from the original pad and saw out the same section from the newly brake pad. And welded the section from the original pad to the newly pad. And after some grinding, it fitted nicely into the brake assembly.
    As the brake pad on the left side of the front brake is also quite thin already, he replaced the left side as well. And all these sawing, welding, filing and grinding only take him one hour to get the job done.
    As the mechanic was working on the pads, almost his whole family was out looking at his work and chatting with us. At least, he charged 1300 bath for the repair. But John gave him 2000 baht, as the extra as tip.
    So problem resolved and we should be able to move off to Chiang Rai on the next day. Back to hotel and leave a message for David at the reception telling him problem solved.

    Day 10 ( Nan to Chiang Rai – approx 430km ) (4/1/2004)
    The plan for the day was not to ride directly to Chaing Rai, but to do some detour on the way to Chiang Rai. We will be riding to route 1148, which David claimed to be one of the best motorcycling road in the North.
    Saw David having his breakfast, when I was checking out. Chat with him for a while and then we were out for Chiang Rai.
    Again on route 1080 heading north. Then we turned left into route 1148. It is a really nice winding road, and good surfaced. While we were still enjoying the bent, we were already at the junction with 1021. 1148 is really nice, but it is a little too short.
    On route 1121, we saw the sign showing turn left to Phu Chi Fa. As John had a bad experience at Phu Chi Fa when he was there on Jan 2002, I asked him if he would like to go to Phu Chi Fa.
    Since he said no problem, so we turned towards Phu Chi Fa. Then we realized that we have turned earlier. We should turn to route 1155 which is further down the road. But the road is quite alright.
    We did not go all the way up to Phu Chi Fa, but turned into 1155 to continue north.
    On route 1155, passed by many villages, some of them believed to be hill tribe villages. Observed that some of the houses were built at the side of the road, which is a bend or a slope. Wonder did they ever came across cars or bikes going into their houses.
    We have also observed that more camp site were being set up along route 1155. There was one place where you see many colourful camps being setup on the side of the mountain.
    When we reached Wang Kaen, did not see any road sign showing turn right to route 1020. From the map, we should turned right into 1020 to get to Chiang Khong. But only have road sign showing Chiang Khong turn right.
    So, following the road sign heading to Chiang Khong.
    Riding throught Chiang Khong, saw quite a number of guest house and restaurant for backpackers. Saw Mekong river again and we stopped at a scenic point for a rest and photo taking. The air is getting cool and the place is beautiful.
    Then we hit route 1290. As it is getting late, so never take the alternate road, which is on the side of the river. Rode passed Chiang Saen. As it is getting late, so never continue to Golden Triangle, but to go directly to Chiang Rai. So turned left to 1016 and hit route 1. From route 1, we traveled south heading for Chiang Rai. As it is evening time, the traffic was heavy. When we reached Chiang Rai town, it was already dark.
    Initially I planned to stay in Wiang Inn hotel. But after asking the room rate found it to be too expensive. Went back to Wiang Come hotel, where I have stayed there during last year ride. Room rate was 800 baht per night.
    Have pizza for dinner and went to the night market. On the way back to hotel, went for 1 hour of foot massage.

    Day 11 ( Chiang Rai ) (5/1/2004)
    After breakfast, went out for a walk. The morning is cooling. Passed by one of those touring company and saw those one day tour to hill tribe. So sign up for a day tour to hill tribe village and waterfall.
    End up it was an interesting day. The driver was an interesting guy that could speak English.
    After picking us up, he brought us to a supermarket to buy some candy and balloons for those kids in the villages. We only spend less than 200 baht on those stuffs and it last him almost the whole day giving to kids that we came across.
    Went to several villages and visit a waterfall. One thing good about having a guide was that they could tell us more about the life, customs and tradition of the peoples. It was quite an eventful day for us.

    Day 12 ( Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai – approx 450km ) (6/1/2004)

    As per plan, we will not ride directly from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. We will be going up north again, continue from where we have leave out on the other day.
    We went up north again on route 1, then turned to route 1016 and visited a temple before Chiang Saen town. After that, continue to Chiang Sean, and turned to route 1290.
    Went to pay a visit to the opium museum. After that, went up the road next to the opium museum, to take picture of the Golden Triangle. It looks like this is a MUST location for Singapore Biker to take picture of the biker with the bike to tell peoples that they have been to the Golden Triangle. So it is no exception for us.
    After that, we continued on route 1290 until it hit route 1. As both of us have been to Mae Sai, so we do not turned right to Mae Sai, but turned left heading south on route 1.
    We supposed to take route 1089 to go to Thaton. But when we reached a junction having a signboard showing turn right to Thaton. As I do not see the road sign showing route 1089, so I thought that route 1089 is further south, so continue straight. But after a few kilometers, I still do not see sign for 1089, so decided to make a U turn to go back to the junction that have a sign showing direction to Thaton.
    So get to that junction and followed the sign turned right. Saw those stone on the side of the road, and saw 1089 written on the stone.
    On route 1089, saw road sign showing Mae Salong. Have to skip Doi Mae Salong due to the one extra day wasted in Nan. Anyway, have been there before, so it is alright.
    Will be visiting Wat Thaton as it is on the side of route 1089. Saw a huge Buddha statue on the top of a mountain from quite a distance while riding on route 1089. I think that must be Wat Thaton.
    As I am behind a tourist van, it turned into a small road, and from those gate on the small road, I am quite sure that the van must have tourist in it and they are going to visit Wat Thaton. So followed the van, and we reaches Wat Thaton. The whole temple has a few levels, and we rode up to visit the top 2 levels. Spend some times enjoyed the scenery and of course photo taking.
    From route 1089, we continue south to route 107, and all the way to Chiang Mai. Again it was evening time when we reached Chiang Mai, and it was jammed before we get into Chiang Mai. Based on my available map of Chiang Mai city, from route 107, go all the way down will reached the gate and old city wall. But it is not. Somewhere before reaching the town, the road did not continue straight but it turned left and it was where we lost our way. After wondering around for sometimes, and still cannot orientate ourselves, we stopped at a petrol station, and look for tuk tuk to bring us to a hotel.
    Lucky that we managed to get a tuk tuk, where the driver could speak good English, and he lead us to look for hotel. Later then we know that we were very close to the night market area already.
    We finally check into Chiang Inn hotel at the night market area with a room rate of 1200 baht per night.
    As usual, after settling down, we were out for dinner and explore the place.
    As we walked out to the main road which was just around 20 meters, stalls were on both side of the road and it stretched almost on the whole road.
    After a while, you will see that most of the stalls were selling similar things. Clothing, fake watches, handicraft, CDs, snacks, etc. And the place was packed with tourist.
    Back to hotel and give David a call, and will meet him on the next day at Kafe.

    Day 13 ( Chiang Mai ) (7/1/2004)
    The plan for the day was to went up to Doi Suthep, visit the zoo to see the Panda on the way up to Doi Suthep.
    As I managed to get a more detail Chiang Mai city map from the hotel, and more oriented with the city, no problems for us to get out of the city and headed to Doi Suthep.
    Went to the Chiang Mai Zoo. Intention was to see the Panda. But both the Pandas were sleeping and only can see the buttocks. After standing for around 15 minutes, and did not know how much longer we have to wait for the Pandas to wake up, we decide to leave. Wasted our 100 baht to see the panda sleeping.
    We continued to proceed up to Phra That Doi Suthep. We have go up by the so call cable car.
    Walked around the temple, and some photo taking. Too bad it was very foggy, so cannot see much of Chiang Mai.
    After the temple, we continue rode up the mountain. The road had just resurfaced, and it was beautiful. We make a turn planning to go up to the top, but the road was getting from bad to worst. Saw a lady walking down and she said the road was closed and we make a u-turn and continue on the main road.
    As we approached the end of the road, the area opened up. There was a car park and there were shops. Later we found out it was supposed to be a hill tribe village. But the whole place to me was like a market selling hill tribe product.
    Since we were already there, so walked around the place for a while, and went back on the same road that we have came. Enjoy the newly surfaced curvy road again on the way back down the mountain. Saw many soldiers station around the area. Wondering why so many sentries around as it was not near the border.
    On the way back to the hotel, lose the way again due to many one way street. Went around in loop for few times then managed to get back to the hotel from the back lane.
    In the night, went to the Kafe to meet David, and John say he wanted to go to KFC for dinner. So we went different direction. As I worried that I might get lost again while coming back to hotel, so I hopped on to a tuk tuk to get to Kafe.
    Nice evening at the Kafe, with BobS, Dave, and David Uwas late, giving excuses that he has overslept.
    Thanks to Bobs for give me a ride back to the hotel after the meeting.
    As John did not like the place due to too many tourists around, we will move off to our next destination, which was Mae Hong Son on the next day.

    Day 14 ( Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son – approx 250km) (8/1/2004)
    No problems for us to get from the hotel out of the town to hit route 107. We moved off around 9am, so traffic was heavy in the town.
    On route 107 heading north. We turned right when we saw the signboard for Mae Hong Son which was route 1095, which will lead us all the way to Mae Hong Son.
    The road before Pai was a bit bumpy, but after Pai, the road was much better.
    We stopped for a coffee break at Pai, just before the left turn into the town. While having our break, saw some interesting stuff. We were relaxing, and then we saw those policemen came out of the police post, with their helmets and gloves on, started to direct the traffic, blowing their whistle and pointing here and there. Saw a lady in a small bike make a detour before the junction with the police, think she must be guilty of something. John said that there must be some VIP or something that are coming. But just a few minutes after he has said that, all the policemen went backed to their post, and the whole place was back to normal.
    Continued our ride after observing the interesting scene put up by the policemen. Stopped at a scenic area, 84km before Mae Hong Son. Looks like everywhere in the north, you will see hill tribe souvenir stalls. We saw them in the town of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, we saw them on the side of the roads, like the scenic area that we have just stopped, and even saw them at remote places like up in the waterfall area.
    Before reaching the Mae Hong Son town, I think should be 15km before the town, there was a stretch of just surfaced asphalt road. There was newly constructed T-junction. The new road that was on the right was beautiful. It cut through some paddy field and the road will lead all the way to the area at the rear of Rooks hotel.
    Reached the town, and managed to get a room at Mountain Inn hotel for a rate of 1200 baht per night from Rose Garden tour co. Have stayed there last year, and so far, it is a nice place.
    After washed up, we took our bike out to look for food. Have our late lunch at Fern restaurant. It was a nice place, and we have our dinner there on the next day too. Found out on the next day, that many tour groups had their dinner there too.
    After lunch, we rode up the small mountain to visit Wat Phra Tart Doi Kongmu. Nice view of the Mae Hong Son town and the mountain range. It was a little foggy when we were up there, if not it will be more beautiful.
    Had pizza for dinner at an Italian restaurant and went to look for Nitti, the tour guide from Rose Garden Tour that has being us around during our last year ride. We have a chat with him and get him to bring us for a one day tour on the next day, to some off beaten place that not much tourist have been to.
    This is the second time that I have visited Mae Hong Son, and I wondered where to explore if I will to come again.

    Day 15 ( Mae Hong Son) (9/1/2004)
    Early morning went to take a look at the morning market, nothing special. Then went to get the certificate and bought the Mae Hong Son sticker like the other Singapore Biker that have visited Mae Hong Son.
    Then we were away for a one-day tour to visit some hill tribe villages and do some trekking.
    In the evening, have dinner at Fern restaurant. Surprised to around five to six tour groups having dinner there. We saw a new massage parlor that was within the hotel premises, so we sent to try it out. Understand from the lady owner that she only setup the place on the 15th of December. The setup was beautiful, but the massage was just average.

    Day 16 ( Mae Hong Son to Mae Sot – approx 420km) (10/1/2004)
    The whole place was in a mist when we leave. It was an experience to ride in the thick morning fog. ON route 108, we rode all the way south to Mae Sariang. From Mae Sariang, we missed the turn to route 105. We realized it when we asked about directions while topping up petrol at an ESSO petrol station just a few hundred meters away from the junction. The road sign was huge, but the route 105 at the junction was so small that look like a back lane. That was why we missed the turn.
    I remembered Bob and David had mentioned about the roadwork after Mae Sariang. So has always on the look out. Was on a stretch of road under re-surfacing 30km after Mae Sariang. At 60km after Mae Sariang, saw a section of dirt road, which was a down slope left turn. Get into the dirt road section in first gear, where the bike was already very slow. Found the road was rocky covered with a layer of dust. When I was almost clear the dirt road section, which was just 20 to 30 meters more to go, I dropped my bike. Until now, I am still not very clear how I have dropped the bike. I believed that I have tapped the front brake to slow down the bike that has caused the front wheel to skid. Anyway, the bike landed on the right. But the left side of the road was higher than the right, so I have a problem to lift up the bike. So I have to wait for John to help me. Before John arrived, one truck, which is the so-called Taxi, from the opposite direction saw me and stopped. A few guys jump off the truck and help me to lift up the bike. Thanks for the help, Thai…
    Not much damages, scratches on the right fairing and right side pannier, and a broken right signal cover.
    The road condition only gets better when we were around 100km away from Mae Sariang.
    While riding along route 105, saw a refugee’s camp, stopped for some photo taking. Kids get to crowd around the bike. I think this must be the Myanmar’s refugee’s camp. After moving off, discovered that the whole area was quite large, all the same type of houses, made from wooden planks and leaves. Some of them were built at a higher ground.
    Reached the junction where turned right will be Mae Sot. There was roadwork carried out at the junction to widen the roads. So the whole place was quite messy and dusty. Never turned right into Mae Sot, but turned left instead. I was looking for Mae Sot hill resort, which was along route 105, just a one to two kilometer away from the junction.
    Found Mae Sot Hill resort and check into the room with the rate of 1400baht per night.
    After settle down, we did not take our bike to Mae Sot town, which was a mistake, but took the hotel van to the town as the hotel stuff told us that it is possible to take a tuk tuk from the town back to the hotel.
    We went to the market and walked around the town. There you see many Myanmar people, which look like Indian to me, wearing Sarong.
    When it was dark, and all the stalls have closed, the whole place was very quiet, and we do not know where else to go but to return back to the hotel. But we did not see any tuk tuk on the roads. After walking for quite some times and back to the market area, we saw a motorcycle taxi, and he said can take 2 of us on his bike back to the hotel. I still remembered he keep on saying “ Dai! Dai!”, while adjusting his rear shocks to hard position.
    So the three of us was on the tiny bike back to the hotel. We were laughing all the way back. John was more than 80kg and me 76kg, and with the taxi rider should be more than 50kg, the tiny bike actually carried more than 200kg of load.

    End of part 2

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