250cc, 9 Rolls Of Film And 4 Weeks Tour Around Northern Thailand

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Tarquin Ferrets, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    An analogue motorgraphy journey through Thailand’s North.

    Recently got back from my ride around Northern Thailand and this time I decided to do something different. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, since I currently have a serious fetish for vintage rangefinder cameras, I decided to take this opportunity to shoot them around Northern Thailand. So I packed two of my vintage rangefinders – 1972 Canonet QL17 GIII with a fixed 40mm f1.7 lens and 1952 Kiev 3 with a Jupiter-8 50mm f2.0 prime lens attached. And rolls of film of course. Using fixed focal length prime lenses obviously has its limitations but so be it as those are the type of lenses I enjoy most. I did give my CRF250L an oil change and new fork seals and oils as the front-end had a little leak on the right.

    As you can see landscapes never really look that great on black and white and on film. Therefore, instead of shooting grey highways traversing through hazy barren black and white mountains I focused more photographing at destinations and rest stops. I did convert the route map screenshots into monochrome in order to have a uniform look for this ride report. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the somewhat retro look of this analogue journey through Thailand’s north on a motorcycle.

    I did not ride every day as I had planned to spend extra days in many of the destinations and I had all the time I needed. Also, as Murphy’s Law requires, by the time I reached Fang the annual flu, virus, what-have-you had gotten better of me and I had to shut down for a while. Might as well have as it was the days leading to -and over new year’s period. So cretins were gaining hand and no doubt lunatics were out in numbers along the highways.

    Accommodation used:

    Nampat: Resort 100 metres south of PTT station with an entrance right next to the pedestrian overpass (the woman with a noodle shop underneath runs the place). Bungalows 350.- Aircon. Fan cheaper. Good value.

    Pua: Hug Pua. Rooms 600.- without breakfast. Good rooms but the bed is very hard (and I don’t normally mind solid beds but this was real hard).

    Chiang Kham: Chiang Ban Resort. Bungalows 400-500.- depending the size of room. All aircon.

    Chiang Khong: Nam Khong Riverside. Rooms 950-1,100.- right by the river.

    Ban Thoed Thai: Ratti Kanchana Resort. 600.- all aircon lovely bungalows. No reception here, just honk your horn couple times and the Shan lady will come and give you a room.

    Fang: Auang Kham Hotel. 300/350.- Fan/Air basic bungalows and rooms in the centre of town.

    Pai: The Heart of Pai Resort. Rooms 600/700/800.- depending when you visit.

    Mae Hong Son: Piya Resort. 700.- bungalows right by the lake in town. Has a small pool too.

    Mae Sariang: Mitaree 1 Hotel. 450.- all aircon. Good location and parking but getting slightly old.

    Mae Sot: Werot Resort. 400.- all aircon. Very good value.

    Phitsanulok: The Village. 450.- good new rooms next to the main highway through town.


    It was good to meet some fellow bikers and other people along the way. Emmett Power, David Unkovich, Matthias U Jung, Joe Cummings and the lovely hosts of Rin Bar in Chiang Khong. Miss Lamduan’s cooking and the lovely Shan lady who always provides me with a spotless room in Ban Thoed Thai. The friendly people of Fang’s entertainment area and throughout the town. Johnson Lee (from Penang), Dave and Steve (from Northampton UK) doing the loop in Mae Hong Son. Rick Fellerhoff (Malacca/Germany), Pu Kikapu & Team Ching Ching Café and his mate Mac who fixed my gear shifter in Mae Sariang. Khun Manop and his mates in Mae Sot with a good rundown on all things Burma border and insurgency . Cheers. Ah, almost forgot, and Gery Wantens passed me twice between Na Haeo and Nam Pat without us even recognizing each other lol.

    Loei – 21 – 2113 – Na Haew – 1268 – Phu Soi Dao – 1239. All great roads. The 1239 has couple rough sections but nothing to worry about on any bike. Just slow down a bit.

    Loei - Nampat.

    Phu Soi Dao along highway 1268.

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    Resort at Nampat 350.- Aircon bungalow.

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    Nampat – 117 (1047) – Fak Tha – 117 – 1083 – Na Noi – 1026 – Wiang Sa – 101 – Nan – 1169 – Santisuk – 1169 – 1081 – Pua. All great roads and 1026 north of Na Noi has some new dual carriageway blacktop to cruise on.

    Nampat - Pua.

    Along highway 1083

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    View along highway 1083 southwest of Na Noi.

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    Pua – 101 – Tha Wang Pha – 1148 – Chiang Kham. Well, we all now this bit and it’s still great.

    Pua - Chiang Kham.

    Along highway 1148.

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    At the popular rest stop along highway 1148.

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    View along highway 1148.

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    At the 1148 rest stop.

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    Highway 1148.

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    Chiang Ban Resort in Chiang Kham. 400-500.- bungalows all aircon.

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    Chiang Kham – 1021 – 1155 – Wiang Kaen – 1020 – Chiang Khong. Very remote and scenic route over the mountains along 1155 with some serious steep switchbacks.

    Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong.

    Ban Huai Xai, Laos across the Mekong.

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    Street view at Chiang Khong.

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    Chedi at Wat Phra Kaew Chiang Khong.

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    Mekong river, long may it live.

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    Midnight Ramblers at the Chiang Khong Music Fest

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    GG Band at the Music Fest

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    Our hosts at Rin Bar, Chiang Khong

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    Matthias U Jung, Joe Cummings and David Unkovich in a festive mood.

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    Saturday street market at Chiang Khong.

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    Outside Namkhong Riverside Hotel, Chiang Khong.

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    Chiang Khong – 1290 – 1063 – 1098 – 1016 – Mae Chan – 1130 – 4052 – Ban Thoed Thai. All good roads and especially scenic along 1130 and 4052.

    Chiang Khong - Thoed Thai.

    Mae Kham river at Ban Thoet Thai.

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    Ratti Kanchana resort, 600.- all aircon bungalows.

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    Mae Kham river.

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    To be continued (part 2 still in Thoed Thai and onwards....)
     

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  2. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    PART TWO Thoed Thai and onwards

    As many of you are familiar Ban Hin Taek was originally an Akha village and Akha are still the predominant tribe in the area. On top of a myriad of hill-tribe languages such as Akha, Lahu, Lisu and Muser also Thai, Shan and Chinese are widely spoken. It also served as opium warlord and Shan freedom fighter Khun Sa'a base during late 1970's and early 1980's.
    Early morning I decided to leave the bike behind and take a stroll through the very vibrant morning market and the village in general.

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    Some special day at the school as all students assembled at towns main square dressed either traditionally or ready for sporting activities.

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    Lovely coffee shop some 30 yards from the petrol station. 30.- Baht a cup of fresh cappuccino can't beat that.

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    Khun Sa's statue outside his old camp which now acts as a museum.

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    Ban Thoed Thai – 4032 – Ban Mae Mo – Ban Phraya Phai – 4052 – Doi Hua Mae Kham – 4052 – Ban Thoed Thai. Surprisingly good roads for the area. The section from Ban Phraya Phai to highway 4052 is paved but very narrow through the hills so slow down. Great scenery.

    Thoed Thai loop.

    Christmas games at Ban Mae Mo. Across the hill and border

    here is Loi Kaw Wan Shan IDP camp.

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    Loi Kaw Wan

    Set up 2001 opposite Ban Mae Mo Thailand’s Mae Fah Luang district. The forced relocation of thousands of Wa 1999 – 2001 complicated the situation further along the Thai border. The pretext was drug eradication, to move Wa from poppy growing hills of the Chinese – Burmese border to the more fertile lands of the Thai border. This of course was textbook divide and rule and the real reason was to pit the United Wa State Army against the SSA-S and weaken the Shan resistance in southern Shan State. The relocation of the Wa was done in agreement between the Burmese military and UWSA. Soon after taking control of large areas along the Thai border the Wa started to tax the trade and got heavily involved in illicit drug trade. Large number of Wa were resettled in the Mong Karn area in eastern Mong Hsat across from Thai border. When heavy fighting broke out between the Shan State Army – South and Burmese Military and United Wa State Army the local Shan were accused of supporting the SSA – S and persecuted. Hundreds fled to the Thai border where they set up the Loi Kaw Wan IDP camp.

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    Doi Hua Mae Kham and end of highway 4052. Surrounded by Burma on three sides.

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    Ban Thoed Thai – 4052 – 1130 – Doi Mae Salong – 1130 – 107 (1089) – Thaton – 107 – Fang. All good roads and fun.

    Thoed Thai - Fang.

    Doi Mae Salong with its heavy Chinese Kuomintang influence.

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    Kok river at Thaton and highway 107.

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    Fang and Auang Kham hotel. 300/350.- fan/air in the centre of town. Basic but great base with friendly owners.

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    To be continued (PART three. Fang hot springs and onward towards the northwestern side)......
     
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  3. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    PART Three. Fang and crossing over to Northwest.

    Buddhist temples in Fang.

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    Fang hot springs.

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    Folks boiling eggs in the hot stream.

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    Gossip time at the spa.

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    General view of the hot springs area.

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    Fang – 107 – Chiang Dao – 107 – Mae Taeng – 1095 – Pai. Great roads as most of you now. Pity the traffic on parts of 107 as it’s a blast.

    Fang - Pai.

    Heart of Pai Resort. Good rooms 600-700-800.- depending when you visit.

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    Pai Memorial Bridge.

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    Photo time at Yun Lai viewpoint, Pai.

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    Tourists having fun on a swing at Yun lai viewpoint.

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    To be continued...... (PART four. Over to Mae Hong Son....)
     
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  4. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    PART FOUR

    Pai – 1095 – Mae Hong Son. We all know this one and it’s twisty fun all the way.


    Pai - Mae Hong Son.

    View over Mae Hong Son at Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu.

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    Chedi at Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu.

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    GT Rider memorial Chedi on top of hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu

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    Wat Chong Kham by the lake centre of Mae Hong Son.

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    Mae Hong Son – Ban Rak Thai – Pang Ung Lake – Mae Hong Son. Beautiful twisty rural roads in very good condition and with some serious steep switchbacks.

    Ban Rak Thai loop.

    At Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw as locals call it).

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    Ban Kong Moong Mong Shan IDP camp.

    Set up 2007 opposite Thailand’s Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw). As most of the other camps along the Thai border Kong Moong Mong is result of Burmese Military’s (Tatmadaw) massive scorched earth campaign in central Shan State 1996 – 1998 in which thousands of villagers were forced out of their homes at gun point. The camp is under the administration and protection of Restoration Council of Shan State and their armed wing Shan State Army – South and rely heavily on international assistance. The Shan State Army – South was largely formed by Gen Yawd Serk from remnants of Khun Sa’s Mong Tai Army after he gave up the fight late 1995. However, they have supposedly abandoned the drug trade. The inhabitants are Shan as well as many other ethnic minorities. RCSS/SSA-S has a ceasefire agreement with Burmese Army, however, the villages cannot return to their homes as it is far from safe. The forced relocation of thousands of Wa 1999 – 2001 has complicated the situation further along the Thai border. The pretext was drug eradication, to move Wa from poppy growing hills of the Chinese – Burmese border to the more fertile lands of the Thai border. This of course was textbook divide and rule and the real reason was to pit the United Wa State Army against the SSA-S and weaken the Shan resistance in southern Shan State. The relocation of the Wa was done in agreement between the Burmese military and UWSA. Soon after taking control of large areas along the Thai border the Wa started to tax the trade and got heavily involved in illicit drug trade.


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    Shan State Army - South guard long way from home as he is from Hsipaw Township in northern Shan State.

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    Temple at Kong Moong Mong

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    Village life at the camp.

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    Young warriors having some fun atop of a pickup truck.

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    Barbeque time Shan style.

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    Ban Rak Thai.

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    Serenity of Pang Ung Lake.

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    On the way back from Pang Ung.

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    To be continued..... PART FIVE (down to Mae Sariang and Mae Sot and back to Loei across the lower north)
     
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  5. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    PART FIVE.

    Mae Hong Son – 108 - Khun Yuam – 108 – Mae Sariang. One of my favourites and great easy ride. The was several kilometres worth rough road north of Mae La Noi. Looks like it’s been levelled by road grader in preparation to receive new asphalt. So expect a very good section in very near future.

    Mae Hong Son - Mae Sariang.

    New Ching Ching Cafe located just 5 metres across the road from the old one. Very good biker friendly bar.

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    The old Ching Ching Cafe

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    Yuam River at Mae Sariang.

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    Mae Sariang – 105 – Amphur Sob Moei – paved rural road up the hills – deep rutted logging trail – very rough and steep bull dust, potholed shoot with rocks and boulders – Karen refugee village – better dirt road with even sections of asphalt – Ban Mae Sam Laep – 1194 – Mae Sariang.

    Mae Sam Laep loop.

    Okay finally did a loop that's been on my things to do list for awhile. I've been to the area previously when I visited the Salween and Moei rivers confluence south of Ban Mae Sam Laep. This time I wanted to head south from Mae Sariang to Amphur Sob Moei and then find a trail across the hills to Ban Mae Sam Laep by the Salween and back to Mae Sariang. When you turn off highway 105 at Sob Moei district towards the mountains the road is actually covered quite ways and I knew it as I've been there once before. And then it turns to shit. After I found myself on a desperate section of logging trails I stopped in a village with concrete road and few people working about to confirm my direction as I'm not using any apps for navigation. They where surprised why I didn't go through Ban Suemu or something as it's quicker but confirmed I could also continue the way I was going but would take much longer. I didn't wish to turn back and try find the place where I should have turned. My plan was to stay what seems to be the main road through the villages and see what happens. What followed was bull dust, sharp boulders, potholes and ruts wide as the f*****g grand canyon. Somehow managed this rough section and ended up in Karen refugee camp. I didn't stop for photographs during the tough section as I was too busy breathing through my datelocker. Same question there by a camp ranger why an earth I didn't go through Ban Suemu or what have you. But they confirmed no point turning back now it'll get better after a while and a modest creek crossing. And it eventually did. Finally I reached a dirt road that was level and you could get the third gear in a cruise 45km/h or there abouts and just slow down when you hit the rutted potholed bull dust sections. And then I fucked up. Obviously tired, lack of experience etc. I got caught off guard by sudden sea of bull dust and deep potholes and couldn't slow down in time. I thought I go this way but bike went that way and bull dust bath seemed like a good idea and down I went like a pussy. 20/20 hindsight I should have fought harder to stay up but happened so fast who knows. More experienced rider would have kept it up. What bothered me was that survived the harder more technical stuff and then fell on decent section of dirt road mainly because I was tired and got caught off guard. The hand guard saved my clutch lever but I bent the gear shifter. Made it to Ban Mae Sam Laep covered in bull dust. My ride back to Mae Sariang was erratic going wide on curves couple times with the bent shifter and it just confirmed me again slow down when tired you twat. I think you can see on the map where I could have potentially cut right across the hills but I turned south instead further towards Yuam river. Oh well, chalk it up on the experience all

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    My CRF at Ban Mae Sam Laep.

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    Salween at Ban Mae Sam Laep.

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    Mae Sariang – 105 – Ban Tha Song Yang – 105 – Mae Rim – Mae Sot. Great road all the way.

    Mae Sariang - Mae Sot.

    Ban Tha Song Yang on the river Moei.

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    Some 20km north down the Moei river is Manerplaw which used to act as the headquarters of Karen National Union. It fell to Burmese Army troops 27 January 1995 after they successfully exploited the rift between mostly Christian Karen leadership and Buddhist Karen rank and file in a typical divide and rule operation. Manerplaw used to also house the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front which was founded 1988 after the protests in Yangon. They also operated an armed wing which used to fight alongside the Karen National Liberation Army (armed wing of KNU) and Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The KNU is still very much an authority in many parts of Karen (Kayin) State across the border. The Buddhist splinter group formed first into Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and then changed into Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA). Many of the DKBA units are currently under the Border Guard Force (BGF) which operates myriad of businesses in and around Myawaddy and elsewhere and sometimes with Chinese investors and partners.

    Mae Sot – 12 – Tak – Sukhothai – Phitsanulok. Basically highway 12 all the way. The section between Tak and Mae Sot is now complete.

    Mae Sot - Phitsanulok.

    Phitsanulok – 12 – 2013 – Nakhon Thai – 2013 – Dan Sai – 2013 – Phu Rua – 21 – 2399 – 2115 – Loei. Great twisty roads all the way back to Ferrets Pad.

    Phitsanulok - Loei.

    Below are the two vintage rangefinder cameras I used for this trip. It was mostly captured on Kodak Tri-x400 and Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film except the nighttime shots in Chiang Khong which was Kodak TmaxP3200 high ISO fiilm. Hope you enjoyed. I did :)

    1972 Canonet QL17 GIII

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    1952 Kiev 3 with Jupiter-8 lens.

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    Cheerioh.
     
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  6. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    Thank you, Tarquin. Great reports and photo’s. Single camera with a single prime lens is (IMO) the best way to roll, and not because of perceived optical benefits of primes. Nothing wrong with using one’s feet to zoom :).
    Look forward to more reports and photo’s.
     
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  7. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    Great report Tarquin, Thank you.
    The monochrome adds great vintage atmosphere to the shots. I have ridden the routes you rode but to see the views in black and white adds adds something olde worlde.
    Interesting information on the refugee camps and Shan state tribal wars, too.
    I found out that "Loi" is the Shan word for "Doi".
     
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  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Fabulous report with a perspective with a difference.

    It's incredible actually how some of those places loo in black and white. I love it.

    I particularly like this pic

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    that really does give some mystique to that market.

    The little bits of history and background to those places make the it all much more interesting & inviting to go.
    You appreciate all so much more & the ride is not just a photo stop & another few hundreds kms logged - well done.

    Many thanks.
     
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  9. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

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    Great stuff! Very different!
     
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