Date: Thurs 11th March – Frid 12th March. THE WAY: (1) Chiang Mai – Mae Suai – Wawi – Mae Suai – Chiang Rai. (2) Chiang Rai – Mae Sai – Doi Tung – Mae Chan – Tha Ton – Fang – Chiang Mai. THE ROUTES: (1) 118 – 1. (2) 1 – 1149 – 1338- 1130 – 1 - 1089 – 107. DISTANCE: approx 570 kms. (And the Africa Twin’s only got 250 kms on the clock now, after ticking over the magic 99,999 kms on the super outside Mae Chan.) RIDERS: David Unk. A quick over nighter to deliver some maps & pick up some music Cds, plus a DVD player & some new GPS tracks. Got away from Cnx a bit late at 3.15 pm, right in the heat. The weather was smoky & hot, with the roads getting greasy & somewhat treacherous, especially around the Chiang Rai super highway. You’ve been warned!! Traffic was a bit heavy, the start of school holidays, but otherwise I got a nice clean run North. First stop was 140 kms out at the Charin Garden for the obligatory soda, cappuccino & cheesecake. By the time I got away from Charin, it was approaching dusk. The survey plan was to check out the amount of asphalt to Wawi, & maybe as far as Mae Saluk & the Kok River. The rumour being that the asphalt ran all the way into Wawi, plus a bit further towards the Kok River. If this were the case it would not be a problem to ride in & out, or even over to That Ton, then into Chiang Rai in the dark on asphalt. However my luck run out just after Huai Khrai & it was nice and dusty. Yeah yeah, the Akha guy said, it’s only 9 kms of dirt, then you are back on asphalt all the way to Wawi. However after 20 kms of dirt, I was finding it hard going. The light was appallingly bad; everything was dull, the smoky sky, the light itself, and the powder dust not reflecting any light from the bikes headlights even. This was no fun, plus the Africa Twin almost spat me off 3 times just to remind me that the bloody WILBERS rear shock’s gone yet again (more on this later). Shyte I thought, I could be in here for several hours groping around in the dark & bull dust, or in Chiang Rai & the bright city lights for the bulk of the night. I turned around & headed back. I was on route 118 by 7.00 pm & 40 mins later in Chiang Rai, taking the slow Den Har back way into town. The Nim See Seng Hotel is one of the best value for money joints in Chiang Rai town right now, with rooms starting from 450 baht a night. By 8.30 pm I was seated at an nice outdoor bar in downtown Chiang Rai with the day’s papers, a bottle of Ballantines, plus 2 delicious hot & spicy Thai yams & a plate of nice hot salted cashew nuts to nibble on……… By 11.30 pm I’d finished the papers & moved 100 meters down the soi to gossip with Boo the owner of Lobo bar. Boo’s not a fool & enquired where my 19 yrs old son was, as last trip to Ch Rai he had been with me to check out some dollies in her go-go bar. He was in Cnx at work for a change & had no time for holidays or tee-io with his Dad! That’s a shame she said, as her 20 yr old daughter was at work that night managing one of her outside bars, & might be interested in my son, but not me! Right I get the message, so no disco tonight either I guess. By 12.00 pm I was in bed watching the goggle box, alone! Next morning after dropping off some maps, it was a quick blast up the 4-lane & route 1 to Mae Sai. Just after leaving Chiang Rai, & still negotiating that series of terrible hot greasy asphalt intersections on the super north of town, I caught up to Scott on his ZX-10 doing a steady 110 kph. Pulled up along side him at the lights, it was funny to & see that we had the same Joe Rocket vented mesh jackets on. Scott’s was bright yellow & mine bright red! At least we acknowledged the need to wear bright colours & be seen, and need to stay cool in the heat. The lights changed & I soon left him behind, as Scott’s speed was a bit too pedestrian for me. I only saw his bike parked in Mae Sai after I came back from Tachilek. (Scott if you’re reading this mate, I hope you got back to Cnx ok; but how bout making some road & trip reports sometime?) In Mae Sai I noted that all the Thai immigration facilities are down at the bridge now, so there’s no need to check in at the office on the outside of town first. By 12.30 pm the DVD player was tightly strapped on the back of the bike & I was back on the road, heading up into the hidden smoked covered hills of Doi Tung. The smoke was so a bad I almost did not see the Doi Tung turn off, & I was looking out for it! By 1.30 pm I was back on route 1130, having GPS-ed route 1338, which runs from Mae Fah Luang over to Pa Miang. Route 1338 is a little bewdy too, tight narrow, steep, but flowing at the route 1130 end. There’s also a series of very tight, very steep switchbacks between Si Lang & Huai San Mai, just to keep your riding honest. If you’re ever in the area, need to cross from Doi Tung to Doi Mae Salong (or vice versa) & prefer a “back road,” then try this one; it’s good for the adrenalin. By 2.30 pm I was in Tha Ton at Apples having a nice iced coffee, ready for the run down 107 to Chiang Mai. Route 107 from Tha Ton – Fang – Chai Prakarn is not a lot of fun late arvo / dusk due to the amount of roadside traffic. The road’s wide, but generally 3-lane, that’s 2 + 1 for vehicles always trying to cheat & push their way through. The sooner they turn this into a 4-lane highway the better. South of Chai Prakarn you’re into the twisty hills & can really let rip an enjoy yourself. At 5.45 pm I was in Chiang Mai & by 6.25 pm sitting in a dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned. It had been another hard day at the office……………. P.S. Check out http://board.gt-rider.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=376 for the good oil on the Wilbers rear shock.