A Saucerful Of Secrets In Northern Nan

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by ianyonok, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Dec 9, 2008
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    #1 ianyonok, Jun 4, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
    The long hazy dry days had cleared with the first rains. Time to get rubber on road.

    2019-05-24 08.35.34.
    Met up with Nigel in Chiang Kham, at Wat NongRomYen.

    Ring the bells, on your way to the 5th floor level for great views of Chiang Kham.
    2019-05-24 08.36.00.

    East out of Chiang Kham takes you round the Phu Arnmah loop (1345/4019), with it’s fantastic scenery, onto the 1148 at Bahn Hae. This misses the less interesting northern end of 1148.
    2019-05-24 08.56.42.

    Before Ta Wang Pa, we took the super 1097 ridge road. The 1097 misses the boring southern end of 1148.
    Had a stop at Tadman waterfall for a refreshing dip in the cool river, at the second cataract.
    2019-05-24 11.58.35.
    Turning north at Chiang Klang on 1080, we met Marco at his Siam Garden Resort in Thung Chang. He is a super helpful chap with a wealth of knowledge about the area.
    Here are some of his very useful maps of the area.
    2019-05-24 12.00.00.
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    You could spend days at his place exploring around. River confluence swimming, hiking, mountain biking, dirtbike rides, etc. 2019-05-24 12.00.02. 2019-05-24 12.00.03.
    He has all the info on the local peoples as well.
    2019-05-24 12.00.05.

    Thank you very much, Marco at Siam Garden Resort in Thung Chiang.
    Nan Thailand - Siam Garden - Thung Chang
    Siam Garden is a place I’ll be visiting again.

    We headed back to Chiang Klang and took the super new tarmac mountain road 4023/4017 up to Bahn ManeePhruek.

    A wasp's nest on the top of a dead palm tree.. .. well..... I thought it odd..
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    More sites to investigate... including a battelfield...
    2019-05-24 15.48.23.

    We headed to Maneephruek School to get some info about the place. After riding around the schoolyard, to the delight of the students, we parked up at the school coffee shop (they all seem to have them these days).
    2019-05-24 16.14.05.
    Teacher’s, Honey and Neung, gave us the low down on ManeePhruek.

    30 minutes before going home on a Friday and the lads are having a serious footie match.
    2019-05-24 16.19.53.

    Over at the volleyball court, the girls are..... well... not playing volleyball…
    2019-05-24 16.19.54.

    ManeePhruek has 3 villages; No.1 is the largest, a Hmong settlement. No 2 & 3 are Lua people.
    Doi Phu Pha Pueng is about 5klms east of ManeePhruek 1 and there is a dirt road up to the summit.

    We met up with Khun Nop in Maneephruek 2 and stayed at his Phu Wae View Home Café Homestay.
    2019-05-25 06.13.18.

    The rooms we had were fine. Priced “up to you”. Compact terrace and Oh, what a view!.
    2019-05-24 17.33.06.
    2019-05-24 17.33.07. 2019-05-24 17.33.08.
    Looking across southeast at Doi Phu Wae, the tallest peak around.
    2019-05-24 17.29.27.

    This looks like a mountain that should be hiked up.
    2019-05-24 18.01.37.

    It is a very noticeable rocky ridge on Earth. This has to be worth a hike and camp on the summit, later in the year.
    Doi Phu Wae.

    The Fire Exit was efficient, just step through the gap and drop down the mountainside at high speed away from any fire..
    2019-05-24 17.33.19.

    Happy machines, covered parking with a million dollar view.
    2019-05-24 17.56.41.

    Main Street, Maneephruek 2.
    2019-05-24 17.59.47.

    2019-05-25 06.12.47.

    The Phu Wae View Home, not quite the Oriental, but recommended.
    2019-05-24 18.00.13.
    Some pics of Doi Pha Pueng and Pha Pueng cave. Lots to investigate here, including the Hmong ancestral site.
    It needs a return trip.
    2019-05-24 16.23.53. 2019-05-24 16.23.59. 2019-05-24 16.24.18.

    As we said our goodbyes, the politics of the area became apparent....
    2019-05-25 06.13.19. 2019-05-25 06.13.20.

    When we rode back to the Botanical garden, we met a delegation from Phu Phayak. which was our next destination.
    A few red stars..... The lady 3rd from left, T shirt says “Comrade”.
    They looked to be about the right age, to have possibly been part of the student exodus from Bangkok, following the Thammassat Univesity Massacre in 1976.
    2019-05-25 07.41.38.

    Lots to do around Maneephruek, so I’ll be heading back there again; Communist cave and battlefield, waterfalls, Hmong ancestral site and lots of hiking possibilities to Doi Phu Wae and Doi Pha Peung.

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    Triumphs high above the talay mork.
    2019-05-25 07.46.23.
    08:00 in the morning and it was a glorious ride back down to Chiang Klang.
    2019-05-25 07.53.26. 2019-05-25 08.16.48.

    On the 1080 north, we stopped to have a look at a private museum and memorial.
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    Built by an ex navy officer at his house, it is dedicated to Admiral Udomsak, son of King Rama V and also known as the Prince of Chumpon.
    2019-05-25 08.48.51.
    There are many memorials to this Thai hero around the country, the most important being the large memorial in Chumpon proivince. He was known as the Father of the modern Navy.
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    The photo behind Nigel and the navy officer is fascinating. On the right, former Prime Minister and current Privy Council member, Surayut Chulanond and on the left, his father, a former Central Committee member of the Communist Party of Thailand and Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army.
    2019-05-25 09.03.54.
    The next location of interest was bit tricky to find. But by asking around and seeing these signs, we found our way to the army memorial south of Huay Kon.
    2019-05-25 12.01.42. 2019-05-25 12.02.34. 2019-05-25 12.44.48.
    Atten.. shun!
    2019-05-25 12.44.49. 2019-05-25 12.44.51. 2019-05-25 12.44.59.
    "Ban Huai Kon Kao Battlefield Memorial was originally an operational base of the Third Infantry Battalion of Thai Army. This area used to be a battlefield between Thai government and communist insurgents in 1970s. The significant history of this base happened on 9 April, 1975 when the 200 communist insurgents attacked this post where 69 soldiers were stationed at that time. The attack caused 17 deaths of soldiers while 30+ attackers were deceased as soldiers successfully protected this operational base.At present, the base has been preserved its remaining, such as trenches, minefields, an arsenal, and spots where Thai soldiers passed away, to be an important historical memorial on the fight of different political ideologies.
    Opening hours: 9am-5pm
    Contact: 054-710-321, 054-713-324
    To get there:
    Take Highway No.1080 to Nan- Thung Chang. The memorial park is at KM.84."
    2019-05-25 12.45.00. 2019-05-25 12.45.03. 2019-05-25 12.45.04.
    The signs give the names and mark the place where the men fell.
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    General Prem Tinsulanond, former military commander, long serving Prime Minister and current head of the Privy Council..
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    Wounded and killed in action.
    2019-05-25 12.45.18. 2019-05-25 12.45.20.

    This young sergeant gave us the guided tour.
    2019-05-25 12.45.27.
    We left Huay Kon heading southeast. Another super bit of road, the north end of 1081.
    2019-05-25 13.37.30. 2019-05-25 14.05.08. 2019-05-25 14.06.40. 2019-05-25 14.12.22.
    But we turned northeast onto 1307, heading for Phu Payak. The road starts ok…
    2019-05-26 09.23.21.

    Then quickly turns to about 15klms of this.
    2019-05-25 14.25.42.

    But eventually, we arrive at our destination,
    2019-05-25 16.39.54.
    The Memorial Hall, Phu Phayak, in the top NE corner of Nan.
    2019-05-25 15.01.00. 2019-05-25 15.02.31.
    2019-05-25 15.16.35. 2019-05-25 15.16.39.
    An 8" long female stick insect copulating with a 6" long male stick insect.
    2019-05-25 15.16.42.

    A poster for last year's Commemorative Festival.
    2019-05-25 15.16.43.
    We found the best rooms in town, in the People’s Socialist Convenience Store.
    2019-05-25 16.37.03.
    The owner’s daughters?
    Makes a change from the university degree presentation photo, I suppose.
    2019-05-25 16.14.06.

    Comrade Nigel stayed in room 1, Comrade Ian in room 2.
    2019-05-25 16.12.55. 2019-05-25 16.13.07.
    We went out into town for dinner (noodles or noodles) and then took some evening training…
    2019-05-25 16.39.55. 2019-05-25 16.39.56.
    Next morning, we managed to get access to the Inner Sanctum and Ground Zero for followers of the teachings of Marx & Engels, in Thailand. It memorialises a political and military struggle in Thailand's recent history, that perhaps few farangs are really aware of.
    2019-05-26 06.47.39.

    Tributes to former comrades, from Malaysia.
    2019-05-26 06.45.51. 2019-05-26 06.55.14.

    The various camps in the area and the comrades who were manning them.
    2019-05-26 06.59.47.

    This map shows where the camps were located
    2019-05-26 06.50.44.
    2019-05-26 06.48.14. 2019-05-26 06.48.21.

    2019-05-26 07.02.53.
    One of the student uprisings of the 70's.
    2019-05-26 07.01.49. 2019-05-26 07.02.04.

    Astonishing that they printed their own money; 1 Baht, 2 Baht and 5 Baht.
    2019-05-26 07.02.48. 2019-05-26 07.02.49.
    Prime Minister Surayud Chulanond opening the Memorial Hall
    2019-05-26 07.01.48.
    A truly astonishing photo of the former Prime minister. This could only happen in Thailand.
    2019-05-26 07.02.55.

    Under the main room, Hmong traditional life in a wooden house.
    2019-05-26 07.04.20.
    Traditional Lua lifestyle with bamboo house.
    2019-05-26 07.04.31.

    The same make, but a little different. The only real similarity is in the shape of the plastic rear light lens.
    Amazing how tyre technology has changed in 60 years.
    2019-05-26 07.36.40.

    We took a quick look at the Royal Project
    2019-05-26 07.45.56.
    Mulberry plantations
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    Then headed up to the dois.
    2019-05-26 07.46.07. 2019-05-26 07.46.08.
    This was the site of camp 708, where 5 comrades were stationed.
    2019-05-26 07.51.40.
    You can follow this pathway around the dois to the north. A day hike for another day.

    Complete with trenches.
    2019-05-26 07.54.43.
    The concrete road just ended.
    The dirt road leads to…. Unknown but presumably to the border ridge. A local bike went past up there, but the villagers advised we could not go up there…. ermm... maybe another day..
    2019-05-26 08.03.51. 2019-05-26 08.22.04.
    By 08:30 we were heading back down the broken tarmac 1307, looking across at villages on the ridges.
    2019-05-26 09.10.18. Back at the junction with 1081. 2019-05-26 09.24.23.

    Then it was time to ride south on this wonderful road.
    2019-05-26 10.23.02. 2019-05-26 09.51.30.
    We were trying to locate Phou Khe, a prominent mountain (2080m), 5klm to the east of us. But it was too far away and although Google shows the peak on the border, it may be just over the border in Laos.
    2019-05-26 10.24.29. 2019-05-26 10.26.56.
    Had a stop at a salt mine...
    2019-05-26 10.39.52. 2019-05-26 10.42.47. 2019-05-26 10.43.47.
    ...and paid our respects to the source of the Nan river. Not much of a river this day.
    2019-05-26 11.04.38. 2019-05-26 11.09.48.
    We are just so lucky to be able to ride these super traffic-free roads.
    2019-05-26 11.32.00.
    The 1081 winds south down a long valley, with first the Nan river (flowing north) next to the road, then the Wa river, the Nayo river and these flow into the Mang river at Bo Klua. 2019-05-26 11.33.11.
    We stopped to see if some young lads needed help. The bike's sidestand and spring kept falling off. I gave them my pizza securing string to tie it all up with.
    2019-05-26 13.58.50.

    The Bo Klua View is always like a sort of oasis.
    2019-05-26 11.37.42.
    Had a wonderful lunch including a dish of the crispy Ka Moo, German style.. delicious. 2019-05-26 11.37.41.

    So where does one go from Bo Klua?
    Simple choice;
    1. Up over Doi Phukha mountain to Pua.
    2. More of the 1081 south.
    Trevor the Triumph wasn't having any mountain ascents in this summer weather. I recall last time, having to stop twice on the way up, for the engine to cool down, after it just stopped...
    So, No.2 it was.

    No photos here... just enjoying those super swoopy 1081 curves. But we hung a left on to the 1275 Santisuk ridge road, swooping and diving around the tall dipterocarp trees.

    The road had suffered a little subsidence here.
    2019-05-26 15.06.25. 2019-05-26 15.07.31.
    on both sides..
    2019-05-26 15.07.34.

    Swooping down and up and into Santisuk on the lovely 1275.
    2019-05-26 15.53.57.

    A night in Nan, at the comfortable Noble Garden Resort with pool, was luxury living after the concrete mattress and brick pillow on the floor, of the night before.

    Next morning, we took the 1091 west to Chiang Muan. Then due west out of town takes you to Prathat Phu To, for great panoramic views....
    2019-05-27 09.33.00.

    ...then continue west to the Chiang Muan Dinosaur Hall.
    In 2002 a large number of fossilised dinosaur bones were found here and preserved.
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    Most of the country's dinosaur finds have been in Isaan.
    2019-05-27 09.43.47.
    3 dinos here....
    2019-05-27 09.51.22.

    2019-05-27 09.51.23.
    Wat Ta Fah Tai on the 1091 up to Pong.
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    A well preserved 200 year old Thai Lue temple.

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    To conclude a superb ride, we took the 1188 and new tarmac swoopies east out of Pong up to 1148.
    2019-05-27 12.43.45.
    it doesn't get any better...!
    2019-05-27 12.48.44.
    We parted back in Chiang Muan, where I then took the 1155 north. The "Finger points to the Sky" in a glorious afternoon.
    2019-05-27 15.12.05. 2019-05-27 15.16.18.
    After a coffee shop meet up with David, at Panorama on the Khong, I took the "paradise road" home. The grin says it all..

    4 days, 780 klms for Nigel, 600 miles for me. Both bikes performed faultlessly.

    We'll be back in northern Nan and I reckon it will be sooner rather than later...
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  2. ZCM

    ZCM Ol'Timer

    Jun 23, 2011
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    Wow..so much detail! Thank you. I had no idea of the history in the area!
  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Jan 16, 2003
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    Wow! What a trip & report - so much info. Fantastic.

    You got me with this photo at the start
    I don't recall I've seen that one, so a trip to Chiang Kham is called for.

    And this photo too
    exactly what is at the View Pint - a pint of beer maybe?

    Now you've got me intrigued with this one too - the "Hmong ancestral site" - exactly what is that?

    That private museum looks damn interesting too, stuck way out there in nowhere and far from the sea. A naval museum!
    And then there was this photo

    One of the more bizarre twists & fate of life.
    The ex head of the Thai Army, & PM of Thailand who's father was leader of the Communist soldiers fighting the Thai government. What an absolutely amazing story!
    Indeed the history of Phu Phayak blew me away when I finally found the place in 2010.


    BTW it never ceases to amaze me riding & touring here, that every time you go somewhere, you always come back from a trip wanting to go back again because there is something new you saw or learned of a new attraction or some history. It's simply incredible the more we ride here, the more we learn of new places to go. And this report has inspired me to start heading back to Nan again..there's still a lot more to see out there.

    Hill 708 beckons.
    R1188 beckons
    The Huay Kon Memorial site beckons
    Plus the Nan River Source - you got me there too. Seen the sign many times, but never really stopped.

    Many thanks for the report - it is going to take several reads for it all to sink in.

    Attached Files:

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  4. Gregthemagnificent

    Apr 14, 2018
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    Thanks for the great report and incite into the people living in the region. Another few roads to add to my planned ride in November. In particular the options at ether end of the 1148.
  5. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    Jan 5, 2008
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    Once again you have found the interesting, and out of the way places.

    Great report.

  6. Andrew

    Andrew Member

    Dec 25, 2016
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    Fascinating and informative post.
    Love that old Trumpy.:)
  7. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Sep 19, 2006
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    WOW! That was some Report! I feel Like I have watched a History Channel Documentary! Great Job Ian! Fantastic information! What a Truly Historic area We live in!

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