“The 3 Amigos Ride To Chiang Rai”

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by tropicaljohno, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    DATE: Wednesday/Thursday September 12/13

    THE WEATHER: Sunshine, Cloudy and Rain, Lightening, and Thunderstorms.

    THE RIDERS & BIKES: Tropicaljohno - Honda Degree 250, Ian Bungy - Yamaha Raid 250, Big And Tall (Justin) – KLX 300

    THE WAY: Chiang Mai - Mae Rim – Mae Tang – Phrao – Wiang Pa Pao – Pong Nua – Phan – Chiang Rai – Phayao – Wang Nua – Chiang Mai

    ROUTES: 107 – 1323 – 1001 – 1150 – 118 – xxx – 1 – xxx – 1 – 120 – 118

    Ian Bungy didn’t like being described as a geriatric in my last post, so this time it’s “The 3 Amigos Ride To Chiang Rai”. The plan was for us to check out some dirt roads for David’s new map.

    The 3 of us met at the X-Centre for a hearty breakfast, and check out the map. Justin and I had met up with David Unk the previous night in one of the local restaurants. David showed us his map and how he reckoned we should be able to find a track not shown on the map. Whilst getting our gear on, ready for the ride ahead, Ian mentioned that he had a spare pair of knee guards that he could lend me, which I was grateful for, as they would be coming in handy later on..

    Filling up ready for the ride Tropicaljohno and BigandTall (Justin)

    All now ready for the "Adventure" Justin and Ian Bungy

    We headed off to Doi Luang National Park, with the intention of finding a way from Pang Luang to Ban Tham then on to Phan. Looks like there may be some serious dirt we will be riding on/in, so will be interesting to see how I go on my new bike, so far all I have done on it, is ride it to the local shops here on Phuket, and the ride with David and Ian the previous week, all on sealed roads.

    I had the map and camera; Ian and Justin both had their GPS’s, so between us at least we shouldn’t be getting lost. (Famous last words….). So after waving goodbye to Miss Long (Mrs. Bungy), off we went, the weather was fine, no need for wet weather gear, we rode via Mae Tang, Phrao, Wiang Pa Pao, and soon we were at the turnoff with Pong Nua and the 118 then on to the dirt. At first the dirt was nice and easy, and just as I was enjoying looking around at the scenery, I heard a thud, and on looking behind me, noticed I was dragging my overnite bag along the track. The bungy strap had broken and the bag was being pulled along behind on the strap. So first lesson I leant when riding in the dirt is check all straps properly before leaving. I have some proper straps with buckles, but had left them at home in Phuket. Once I had gone back up the track to retrieve my wet weather gear that had fallen off, as they had just been put under the strap, I retied the bag properly and raced on to catch the other guys up.

    Soon we were at the end of the track as it appeared on the map, and as it is only 11kms as the crow flies, to join up with the other track, we thought shouldn’t be too much of a problem to find our way through. Well, we went up and down numerous tracks trying to find a way through without any luck, then we came across a Thai guy driving a 2 wheel drive Toyota Vigo pickup, and he told us that if we want to follow him, he can show us the road to go. I enjoyed following the pick up as he was driving at my pace, it’s quite amazing how the locals manage to drive their pick-ups and Honda Wave’s on some quite steep tracks. Our friendly Thai man, (actually he is the local Toyota distributor just checking up on some of his customers), stopped to show us the way we needed to take, and then headed off.

    So off the 3 of us go. Not far along the track we came to a bamboo gate, so after Justin had removed the poles for us, we rode thru’, and then Justin put the poles back behind us.

    Justin being 'gate keeper'

    What a nice day for a ride

    The track then became very steep, downhill, and ended up a dead end, on the way back up, Ian and Justin made light work of getting up the track, but I was struggling a bit, then my back wheel started slipping and it slid in a rather large ditch. I went to put my foot down, and obviously there was nothing there, so over I went. I heard the crunch of my mirror breaking, but luckily that was the only damage. Eventually I was able to pick the bike up, drag it back onto the track, but each time I tried to go forward the back wheel was just spinning and sliding back into the ditch. Even standing at the side of the bike with engine running didn’t work. So I left the bike there, and started walking up the hill, soon to be greeted by Ian who had come to see where I had got to.

    Ian jumped on my bike, a couple of wheel spins and then he was out, and roaring back up the hill to the top, making it look so easy. Once I finally managed to walk back up the hill,
    It was a bit of a slog, walking back up the hill

    to the other 2, I checked over the bike again for damage, all was okay, so off we went back up to the junction again, trying to work out which way to go. There were a number of tracks all going off in different directions, and only a couple of signs around in Thai, so no idea which way to go. We rode thru’ a small village where a couple of locals were loading up a pickup, so Justin approached them, armed with paper and pencil, and between them all, Justin was able to work out our way to Phan.
    Justin working out with the locals which way we should be going

    Further along, the track became more used so we presumed we were going the right way. On one part of the track was a rather large puddle, with a sidetrack the pick-ups would use, Ian and I decided to ride thru the puddle, whilst Justin decided to take the diversion. Justin managed to hit a hidden tree stump, with his front wheel, the impact was so strong, that his rear wheel came right off the ground, and he managed to crush his nuts on the petrol tank, he didn’t fall off, but when he joined up with Ian and I, he was rubbing his ‘crown jewels’ a lot, and we both thought he had struck it lucky with one of the locals.

    No one said it was going to be this muddy....

    The bikes will be needing a good clean when we get back...

    Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud.....

    Back on the straight and narrow

    Eventually we made it back out onto the road, and once we came across our first gas station stopped for a drink. We had only done about 50kms, but this dirt riding is pretty new to me and I would say that was the hardest 50kms I have ever done, great fun though. We rang David Unk and told him we had found the way thru’, I also asked him if I could claim for a new mirror as it was broken doing his map survey, he just gave his usual laugh, which I presume meant ‘no way’…. It was quite a small gas station, with a couple of young girls to serve us. On leaving Ian blew his horn, (his newly installed double whammy type), and the poor girls nearly jumped out of their skin. Actually Ian’s horns were a good idea as he had to use them a few times to get some dogs and chickens out of the way.

    So finally we arrived in Chiang Rai, Ian and Justin checked into a flash hotel, (900 baht a nite including brekkie), I checked into the Easy Guest House, directly opposite, (170 baht a nite, toilet/shower at end of hall). I think Ian was feeling a bit sorry for me as he had a spare breakfast coupon so invited me to join him and Justin for brekkie in the morning. Once we had all showered and got changed, we headed off for a proper foot massage. No more massage girls going out to be sick, that we had the week previous. We found a professional looking massage place, (i.e. the older more mature ladies sitting outside), and the 3 of us all indulged in a good massage.

    Nothing like a good foot massage at the end of a days riding.

    After that it was off to an Italian restaurant in the main street of Chiang Rai, then a quick drink and off to bed.

    Ian suggested meeting at 9am fro brekkie, but as I had no tv/shower/wc etc in my room, I woke early, was bored in my room, so headed across to the restaurant at 8.30am and started getting stuck into the buffet brekkie. I sent Justin an SMS to say I was already down stairs so he came down early as well, and by the time Ian arrived, at 9am, Justin and I were half way thru’ our food. After brekkie, we went to where the bikes were parked in the hotel car park. The previous nite Justin was a bit concerned about leaving his tools on the bike, and hoped they would all be there in the morning. When we got to the bikes, Justin noticed that he had left his ignition key in the bike all nite. While Ian was trying to tie his bag on, a friendly cat kept playing with the straps, and was having a great time. So now it was off to Mae Chai on route 1, and check out another track.

    Ian with a new friend

    Ian playing with the local pussy.

    We found the turnoff, thanks to David Unk SMS’ing the GPS lat/long, and as we were winding up into the mountain, still on sealed roads, the rain started. By the time we had come to where the track starts, the rain was so heavy we parked the bikes and sheltered by a disused house. Luckily all the houses have large overhanging roofs, so we managed to stay quite dry. I had parked my bike right in the middle of the tack, thinking no one will be coming along. But during the 90 minutes we waited there a steady stream of locals came down the mountain on their trusty Honda Dreams, some came past us 2 up, and one came with the guy riding it alone, and the wife walking behind. There was heaps of lightening and thunder, and the rain was so heavy, you couldn’t see the concrete road for the amount of water on it. One of the locals came along with a shovel, and started digging, trying to redirect the water, as presumably some of the houses in the village were getting flooded.

    It certainly rains over here big time

    The same track a week before

    Me parked in the middle of the track

    Any more rain and I think my bike will be floating down the road

    Here the local villager is trying to divert the water away from the houses

    Gee guys, a cup of tea would go down nice about now

    So after waiting around 90 minutes, the rain finally stopped, and then we decided to try the track out. The other 2 went on ahead and as I was trying to negotiate the slippery track, my rear wheel wend over the side of the bank, luckily I was able to stop before the front wheel followed over. I dragged the back wheel back over onto the track, and started off slowly over to the other side, where there was a large bank to stop you going over the side. (Should have gone that way to begin with). Finally after a lot of slipping and sliding I made it to the top. When I dismounted, the guys announced that it was now getting too late in the day to try and find our way through, as similar to the previous day, we have no idea how many false tracks we will go on, before finding the right track through. So it was another slipping and sliding session back down the track to where we had been waiting for the rain to stop. As the mud was so slippery, Ian walked back up the track to help me get my bike down.

    So now, it was back on the sealed road, and we headed for the waterfront restaurant in Phayao, same same one that Ian and I, along with David Unk had stopped at the previous week. Whilst having lunch the clouds were getting darker, so when we finished the meal we donned the wet weather gear on, and took the 120 and 118 back to Chiang Mai. The heavens opened up big time on the way back, with heaps of water all over the road, which made it a bit slippery in places.

    It was a shame we weren’t able to survey the track on the second day, but no doubt the boys will be back up there to check it out, preferably on a fine day. On the ride back into town, I stopped off at the X-Centre to leave my bike, as I had my trailer stored there, and got a lift into town. Will make it a bit easier in the morning as I will be driving back to Phuket then. So that night I was busy packing, and the following morning checked out of my guest house, dropped into say farewell to Pikey, bought some handlebar guards from Chiang Mai Motocross, (have a feeling they will come in handy…), and drove on up to the X-Centre, to collect my bike and trailer. Whilst there Justin and BarryBBQ turned up for lunch, Justin this time on his Yamaha xxx and BarryBBQ on his DR400. Barry had this crazy bright yellow plastic Mohican type fringe/haircut stuck to his helmet, which looked a bit strange. The guys were saying that whilst riding the tracks that morning they came across a falang walking along looking for his bike. Apparently the guy had got lost the previous day, left his bike, somewhere, and walked back down to ‘civilization’. Barry and Justin handy seen any dirt bikes where they had been, so it may be a while until the guy finds his bike,

    Ian helped me load my bike on the trailer, and showed me a different way of tieing the bike down. (Ian and Justin were like my personal guardian angels always making sure I was okay riding on the tracks…thanks guys..) So with all the chatting to the guys etc, I finally got away at 1pm. Only just over one thousand miles to Phuket, so I waved my goodbyes and it was out onto the highway. On the trip back I was getting 37mpg with my Honda Jazz, towing the bike, so that was good economy. Arrived back on Phuket 4pm Saturday to be greeted by the pouring rain, which lasted until late afternoon Monday.

    All loaded up ready to leave for Phuket.

    Looking back I had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and can’t wit to get back up there in the dry(er) season, around November.
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    1. brian_bkk

  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    TJ / Ian / Justin

    Glad you guys had a great time up there on the ridgeline between Wiang Pa Pao & Phan / Phayao, despite the mud 'n rain = if there was none of that there'd be no adventure would there.
    As for the rain I too collected it on R120, the same day you 3 Amigos were returning.

    The weather was relatively fine & sunny from Chiang Mai to Wang Nua, but after that it was torrential showers on & off all the way to Route 1.

    R120 looking west into the nice weather.

    R120 looking east Wang Nua - Phayao & what drenced both of us but hours apart. It was seriously wet!

    I was in Phayao slumming it at the restaurant when Justin called to complain about the rain & all I could do was laugh. Sorry, but I was just drying out with a nice hot cappuccino & some pork with garlic.

    On a 15 kms rice padi loop N&E of Mae Chai.

    How me missed each other on R1 between Phayao & Phan I don’t know, but we must have been close. My first GPS side trip was a 15 kms loop to the N-E of Phayao, and then another 3 short 5-10 kms loops east & north of Mae Chai, but south of Phan. Then a 15 kms loop N-W of Phan that saw me get away from Phan at 5pm & riding flat out to Chiang Rai to escape yet another huge torrential rain storm coming in & starting to lash me & the road heading north.

    The weather that day was particularly tropical with seriously heavy rain & then sunshine, to make it a real interesting day riding & dodging showers.

    Tropical weather: sunny but heavy showers ahead.

    At it great to be alive & out there riding.

    Profile Route 120 Mae Kachan - Wang Nua - Phayao. R120 is an awesome ride anytime - dry or wet.

    In Chiang Rai I crashed out at the Nim See Seng as usual, no 800 baht hotels for me, but good value for money “salesmen” hotels. Dinner was a late one with a hotel GM mate of mine, & we managed to devour considerable quantities of delicious Thai food at his hotel buffet. We also drank away until the wee hours, reminiscing about the good ol days touring the Golden Triangle when there were no maps, GPS-es or mobile phones. Ah yes those were the days, no information at your finger tips. You had to scout around and find it yourself, seeking out every nook & cranny you could find to locate the road or trail you wanted and hopefully end up in the right place…

    Two nights in Chiang Rai were enough & I ended up in Fang on the 3rd night. This was a change of plans from the original master plan, to end up in Chiang Khong to test out the arm for a 4-5 hrs ride home. But I already knew that the arm was ok – greatly improved & I even managed 2 x 5 kms easy dirt sections.

    En route to Fang I GPS-ed several side roads off R1089 & noted that the asphalt from R1089 runs in 3 kms towards the Kok River & the Akha villages mentioned on P108 “The Kok River Akha dirt loop “of the Golden Triangle guide book. I was last up in here years ago & I believe the link up still exists, but that the asphalt on the north side of the Kok river runs out as far as Pa Khwang, leaving a mere 31 kms of steep dirt. Anyone want to check it out & GPS the track? It should still be a beauty, providing magnificent panoramic views over the Kok from “Yod Doi” 5 kms in from the Kok.

    The night in Fang was a quiet one & most of the places I cruised around town only had football Premier League on the google box & crowds of drunken young guys. Not so inviting for the grey haired bearded GT Rider. By 11 pm the Cheers Pub was rocking as usual, but they too had a monster projection screen up behind the stage showing the footy. Only one stunningly outrageous singer coyote dancer caught my attention, but her break between acts was too long for me so I retired early at 12.30 am. Next time I’ll get a snap for you guys out there….

    TJ bet your drive back to Phuket was a bit uneventful compared to your little rides up here. See ya back here again soon. Ive got a couple of new places to show...
  4. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    David, a funny thing happened on the drive back. Got stopped at a police check point, there was a radar trap earlier, but the policeman started off by shaking my hand, and smiling, then he wrote 2 words on a piece of paper, followed by 500 baht. As there were no other numbers, I wasn't getting done for speeding, but had no idea what he was on about.

    As there was a dash between the 2 words I wondered if he was talking about my car and bike trailer. I have been stopped by police before with the trailer but the police never said anything, perhaps because Elle was with me then, and this time I was alone. I showed the policeman the rego and insurance stickers, and he kept showing me these 2 words and the 500 baht. I then led him to rear of trailer and showed him the number plate.

    This went on for about 15 mins, I would show him rego sticker etc, he would smile and show me writing and 500 baht. In the end I think he realised he wasn't getting anywhere with me, so he shook my hand, smiled and said goodbye, so off I went. (I presumed it was goodbye he said....)

    Amazing Thailand
  5. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Hi All,
    A pleasure having you up here John and look forward to your next Visit, You did fine with Riding Off Road considering you haven't done it before. You will be surprised how quick you will pick it up and Your next Trip will be Dry Season so no Mud to Content with although i prefer it a bit Slippery and Muddy compared to the Bloody Dust!!! Something for you to Look forward too!!! We will try and get some other Dirt sections sorted out before then. Loads of Roads to Explore. The Nim See Seng Hotel David mentions has a Great Rooftop Restaurant and good value for money specially if there is a group of you but a little out of the main action if you are by yourself. I want to do some exploring up the Fang side also as there has to be some great trails up there and sounds like some Great Nightlife as well!!! See you soon.
    Cheers Ian.
  6. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Looking forward to getting back up there Ian, have just put an order in for some knee guards... now rain has stopped here on Phuket, better get out and wash the Degree

    Thanks for a good time guys.......
  7. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Another fine ride provided by the glorious nature of Thailand. It was great travelling with you Amigos but I am jealous with Ian grabbing the available pussy on the trip. he got her into positions with the strap i never dreamed about. Copious notes were taken by TropicalJohn and I for later reference.

    Yep that second leg of the trip looks like an interesting trail and looking forward to checking it out if anybody wants. Once again Davids suggestions of routes was a good one. The road we did was nice scenery travelling along the ridgetops and down into Phan. Hats of to TJ for losing his dirt riding cherry with us. Mate you did a marvelous job and sorry for dropping you down the singletrack dead end, but as David says thats part of the adventure.

    Looking forward to the next trip with you Amigos.

    Tip for others: beware of bar tab padding in the gogo bars. A little bird told me.
  8. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Justin, blimey how did I manage to forget that episode, probably too pre occupied looking forward to getting back to my Easy Guest House And Bar.

    Thanks for reminding me about the 'fun night', what a hoot, you certainly can't say life is boring up there.
  9. mikerust

    mikerust Ol'Timer

    Now I understand the need for and enthusiasm about those adventure/endurance/trail type bikes[;)]
  10. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    I love Thailand Weather!


    DavidCK and Mai met at my house in Sansai after finishing business at the India Consulate. We had made plans for Thim and I to ride with them part of the route back to their home in Chiang Khong.

    We left around noon (midday for you true English speakers) and headed up the 118. At Doi Saket I put on my turn signal to turn left for a nice little restaurant I like and flying past us, with a slight wave, was the unmistakable red jacket of Davidfl.

    We had nice lunch as we were not in a big hurry and I sent an SMS to David "You could at least stop and say hello".

    We continued up 118 to 1252, the turnoff is now very easy to miss as there are no signs from the south but there is one overhead from the north (check your mirrors). I have written a number of trip reports on traveling the 1252 "loop", but this time we were riding all the way to the end at Chae Home, which I had never done before.

    The scenery was terrific as usual, aided by the lush green rain forest and ever present clouds. The road was dirty from all the rain and some mud being washed over it, but easily do-able on any bike and paved all the way.

    At Chae Hom we turned north on 1035 and headed for Wang Nuea. The sky was foreboding and it looked VERY dark toward our destination and out towards Phayao. 1035 was 43km of slightly twisty paved road running through a scenic valley to Wang Nuea. We hit a few stretches of road construction but the DR and BMW 650 took them with ease, and again shouldn't be any problem and will probably be completed soon.

    At Wang Neua we stopped in the PTT for a drink and a top up. I checked my messages and had one from Davidfl explaining "In a hurry and a stop would have been 20 minutes", oh the tough schedules of a busy man [;)].

    A text from Justin said they were "stuck" in the mountains for 2 hours due to the rain. We were probably no more than 15km apart.

    David and Mai broke off and headed through Phayao for Chiang Khong and Thim and I rode back to the 118 and a Black Canyon stop in Mae Kachan.

    Our ride home was very nice with only a couple of light, not worth putting on rain gear. David and Mai reported the same.

    Don't you love the rainy season? Totally unpredictable.

    This is a good half day loop for road bikes if you want a quick run through the mountains and back to Chiang Mai. About 260 km total.

    TJ, I love the photo of the water washing around your rear tire. Shows how quickly one can get caught in the mountains and that "flash floods" and mudslides come up fast. It doesn't take long.

    Pikey on a previous 1252 loop.

    Great reports guys!

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