1000km of fun!


Nov 18, 2003
stop daydreaming and get yourself out here.
[:D] I can't remember what made me think of hiring a motorbike in thailand you know? i think i was sat i front of the computer on a rainy british day just dreaming about "what if?" when i stumbled across this site and started reading reports like this one.
so if your reading this, you "armchair bikers" get your arse in gear, its easier than you think!
staying in chiang mai i went to hire a bike. went to "leks big bike hire" as recommended and took his tenere for a spin, nice enough engine but christ the clutch was hard. feeling a bit foolish and not nearly so hairy arsed biker i asked if he could do something about it, immediatly he changed the cable and also the front tyre that i was idley rubbing. nice chap. set off on a test run.
"the phrao - chiang dao loop" 208km
after initially getting confused (it doesn't take much) i was off up the 1001, a decent enough road with sweeping bends, had a cuppa at phrao then took the 1150 (where the fun started) to the 107 south back to chiang mai. at this point my head started hurting, it seems that the heat must have swelled my head (?) because my helmet seemed two sizes too small and my glasses were slowly but surely digging their way into my skull, bending them in the process.
i later realised that another reason was that i was not drinking enough. whenever i rode again i made sure that i had at least one bottle of water with me (i reckon on drinking at least half a litre an hour if your sweating loads).
tuesday "the mae wang loop" 172km
after dehydrating so much the day before i thought it would be a great idea to get really drunk, stagger home (forgetting to pay the bill) and fall unconcious in my hotel with no bottled water.....
after nursing a hangover for 3 hours (curse chang!) and having eaten lots of toast and drunk lots of water i decided to go for a ride, "looks easy" i thought....
at this point i should say that you should NEVER go biking alone. unfortunately with time against me and having failed to meet my prospective partners i met thru the web i decided "**** it, you only live once".
heading south on the 108 then right onto the 1013 i noticed straight away that the speedo cable had fallen off (luckily at the clock end) not wanting to stop just yet i decided to ride at a speed slightly under that which makes my head vibrate. making good time i had a drink and a fag whilst fixing the speedo then carried on riding at a much more sensible speed.....
had a break in mai hae at a lovely little shop that sold everything from sweets to umbrellas and confidant that i was on the right road i set off, and got lost...
"i know that there is a dirt track somewhere along here but this takes the piss" i thought to myself as i lumbered the huge tenere down a tiny dirt track that led to nowhere.
eventually found the right track, easy for dirt bikes but a tenere with a failing clutch? never again. whats more, it started spluttering, then misfiring, then stopping altogether. "ah! the petrol" i thought. must put it on reserve, turned the left tap, went to turn the right tap..... already on reserve......... oh shit. (not used to two petrol taps!) i'd purposefully not filled the tank because it was so ****in huge, now i was regretting this. why is it always in the most remote spot?
kangarood my way luckily to a petrol hut (thank god), fueled up with the last 150b i had in my pocket (whats that saying? "proper preparation prevents piss poor performance....) and continued to samoeng. all small interesting roads with little villages, no point rushing.
joined the 1096 to mae rim, now there's a reason for rushing! hairpin bend after hairpin bend. would've been great apart from the tenere doesn't like being low on fuel so it occaisionally hiccups, this with the fact that the clutch had now given up completely and it kept jumping out of gear made the ride interesting to say the least!
knackered and with a bleeding left toe i had a curry and went to bed.
wednesday 1km!
had to go to the opticians to fix my glasses, ended up getting contacts (1 month + solution = 500b/7 quid).
went to see lek to take the tdm for a spin, what a difference! smaller, lighter, quicker and a nice light clutch! (because i'm a whimp)
brakes work well too as i found out when i locked the front as a songthaew unexpectedly stopped. chilled out and got drunk.
thursday 176km chiang mai - tha ton
up early, packed and ready to go, got on the bike - it wouldn't start. tried bumpstarting it (850, fully laden, on my own??) inevetibly failed so pushed it to leks.
charged battery, new plugs, fettled electrics and it was as good as new.
"you must ride faster. charge the battery" he said. "i'll try me best" i answered.
so with contacts in, earplugs in (a must if your riding long distance, cuts headaches and fatigue) and the peak taken off my motocross helmet to hopefully reduce wind noise (why didn't i bring my road helmet??) i was off up the 107, surprisingly good bits for a main road, soon i was in fang and as i'd made good time i ate then carried on to tha ton, glad i did.
stayed at the apple guest house (vip room no less) for 200b, nice room with a proper bog, nice bed and hot shower (be wary of the shower when lighting it, the first time i tried i ended up on my arse with singed eyebrows!).
went across the bridge to the thaton chalet, excellent views of the mae kok and a temple up on the side of the hill (wat tha ton), happy hour too! (before 6). ate at the mae kok river village resort run by a nice chap called brian, bit pricey but excellent food and service.
friday. a most surreal day.
woke up unfeasibly early (4:30am!) couldn't sleep so thought i'd watch the sun rise from the temple, met some pretty scary dogs on the way up and wished i'd brought a stick, beware! didn't actually see the sun rise up due to it being so smokey but it was still nice, its worth it just to meet the friendly monks.
went and had breakfast at a cafe next to the river and got chatting to the nice old dear that runs it,apparently there was a motorbike convoy heading from mai ai to the ton that day to bring attention to the fact that all bikers should wear their helmets and leave their lights on. she said that not many were going to be there and could i go to make the numbers up? what the hell, might as well i thought.
"make the numbers up?" i thought as i joined the other 70+ bikers congregating outside the police station.....
being six foot three and on a bike that had the capacity of eight of theirs put together i was soon the centre of attention, which i'm not keen on!
i then amazingly found myself stood next to the government minister (?) helping him cut the ribbon to start it in front of loads of t.v cameras and press! not only that but they insisted that i led the procession of bikes to tha ton. i felt like the proud leader of the hells angels of mopeds!
when we reached tha ton it was a hive of activity, a big festival was on that day with live bands (another good reason for ear plugs...) and stalls everywhere! i hung around a while then set off on what turned out to be the best roads i'd ever ridden.
the 1089-1234-1130 pasang 1089 return
if you only ride once in thailand, this has to be it. the designer must be a biker! its like when he was thinking up the plan for the road he threw a bit of spagghetti on the floor and said "that'll do!". there is one patch on the 1089-1234 where the tarmacs so nice a racetrack would've been proud of it!
the tdm was taken to the very edge of its tyres and i grinned from ear to ear all day. FANTASTIC!
saturday 200km tha ton - mae sai
headed off bright and early along the 1089-1234 (it was on the way, honest!) and feeling more confidant and adamant that i wasn't going to use the main roads i turned north to thoed thai then east towards doi tung (got a bit lost too..) David wasn't joking when he said "beware of oncoming traffic on your side of the road" luckily i was hugging the verge when some idiot came storming around the corner, he almost took my indicators off!
saw wat phra that doi tung, would've been good views had it not been so smokey, what i did see however was two eagles not further than twenty feet away. beautiful.
feeling ever more confidant with the nice sweeping bends i aimed for the 1149 extension that runs alongside the burma border right up to mae sai. a quick check with the border guards (nice blokes) to check that it was safe and off i went (if like me you give your passport as a deposit for the bike, take a photocopy or better yet, get a spare).
i'm glad that i took that route because it has some of the best views i've seen yet not to mention some hilariously bedy roads.
stayed at chads guesthouse in mae sai (100b). check out his mini willys jeep! nice and friendly but those bloody cockerals.......
sunday chiang saen - chiang khong - chian rai 212km
took the 1290 to the golden triangle at sop ruak, had a coke and headed straight off (not a great deal to see) to chiang saen, 1129 to chiang khon where i had a relaxed lunch with views of laos.
headed south on the 1020 - 1174 - 1098 - 1173 all nice roads, tarmac was a bit sketchy in places with most of the pot holes being mid corner but some lovely bendy bits and nice views of the paddy fields and mountains.
so there it is. my week of fantastic fun.
i've three days left with the bike before i have to return to rainy old england, i wish i had more time.
so all you armchair bikers, stop dreaming and just do it!

the cost.............
flight and insurance 550
bike hire 8 days 100
accomodation 24!
food and beer 64
petrol 25p a litre

all these figures are aproximate, if you don't drink beer you can stay in posh hotels (i'd rather get pissed, alltho watch out for chang...)
the roads and mileage i covered are not for the inexperienced, saying that, if you bring your own helmet and jacket, don't ride like a loon and keep your wits about you you shouldn't have a problem.
thank you david!!
go on, you know you want to.......

lardy limey