Chiang Mai - Dan Sai / Phi Ta Khon 2010 Return

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-002.

    THE WAY: Chiang Mai - Lampang - Uttaradit - Chat Trakarn - Nakhon Thai - Dan Sai.
    ROUTES: 11 - 12 - 1246 - 1143 - 2013

    5 NIGHTS 6 DAYS. 2 nights Dan Sai. 2 nights Loei. 1 night Uttaradit.

    DATES: 11 - 16 June 2010.

    THE WAY DOWN: Got away from the super at 10.30AM in perfect dry weather. It was hot. First stop was at the Shell gas station on R11 south of Lampang where the by-pass joins up. 2nd stop was the new PTT on R11 south of Uttaradit. This one is a handy stop & were I need to fuel the AT up for the run across to Dan Sai. John Gooding had tipped me off about this new PTT & 7-11 as he knew I was extremely fond of the PTT/7-11 north of Uttaradit, that both the Snail & I reckon is one of the best around in the North. And the verdict is that the northern 7-11 is still much better than it's south of town friend. When it's hot the huge advantage of any 7-11 is the aircon. Pop in there, buy a few drinks (M-Sport / Birdy / Water for me) , loiter & consume the drinks on the premises to cool down considerably in the process.

    I like the run 36 kms south of Uttaradit to link up with R1246 & turn east to Chat Trakarn & into the rolling hills on R1143 to Chat Trakarn & then R2013 to Dan Sai. The weather was awesome all the way & I could not believe my luck for the 400 kms ride at the start of rainy season.

    Route 2013 Nakhon Thai - Dan Sai


    Clearing land for crops - & corn is my guess

    route-2013-nakhan-thai-dan-sai-004. route-2013-nakhan-thai-dan-sai-005.

    The Chiang Mai - Dan Sai elevation profile
    just to confirm what a great ride it is.

    Arrival time in Dan Sai was 3.30PM

    Getting a room in Dan Sai was really tough this year & there's no doubt that the TAT has done a number on Phi Ta Khon & it is now an international festival = lots of crowds. In retrospect I reckon that Phi Ta Khon peaked as a beautiful traditional local festival about 3-4 years ago. Now it's well & truly on the map. Through local contacts I usually score a room in an apartment, but not this year. Everything was full except for the 350 baht cold water fan rooms at the Dan Sai Resort, that were 800 baht a night for the festival. I managed to grab 6 of these for friends a couple of weeks in advance. We were extremely lucky.

    What you get for 800 baht
    parking right outside your door.

    and your elaborately furnished room


    dan-sai-resort-hotel-004. dan-sai-resort-hotel-005.
  2. Festival snaps.....

    The entrance to Dan Sai city

    The start of the parade



    It was hot out there in the sun
    phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-007. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-008.


    Some of the ghosts
    phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-009. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-011.

    The Supergirls

    & actually what they were selling I never found out!

    The infantry


    Evidence that it is a fertility festival
    phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-016. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-017.

    Robert H, the gentle giant with one of my contacts & ex Phu Yai Baan (10 years), the lovely Soso


    phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-019. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-021.


    Entrance to the temple & time to push your way in if you want any photos. With the hot sun there were scores of umbrellas & many of them were at a dangerous height for us taller farang!


    The Dan Sai folk museum has an excellent display on the history, culture & costumes of the Phi Ta Khon festival. Well worth checking out.
    See phi-ta-khon-2008-dan-sai-loei-province-1st-impressions-t4116.html

    Wat Pho Chai


    For the 3 nights of the festival the Dan Sai tesseban sets up a food court / beer garden & hosts live shows - dancing / music from the local schools in the area. It is very well organized & with half decent English language presentation. Well done & congratulations Dan Sai!
    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:


    The X-Centre beer entourage

    Food eating competition & won by a farang!


    The Thai reggae singer, whose name I forget, but with 3 albums out & fluent English after spending time in Oz!
    phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-032. phi-ta-khon-festival-dan-sai-2010-033.
    but she did not get the stage to herself all the time.
  3. What appealed to me so much this year (& last) were the hundreds of small classic bikes & young riders in town for the festival. Most of these kids camp out over night on the road verge, many with their girlfriends & it is a wonderful party scene and NO FIGHTS or aggro! :thumbup:
    And many of the riders come from hundreds of kilometres away. That's the spirit!

    Compare this to most of the big bike riders who came in for the day, or stay out of town in resorts or nearby cities. The guys on the small bikes are the winners & capture the real folksy spirit of Phi Ta Khon in my opinion.

    So this year I planned to get some photos of their wonderful machines.....







    check out the size of the front disc, compared to the wheel!



    Arh yes, the classic Yamaha SR Club from Udon...








    And this one was the winner IMHO, absolutely beautiful, & most definitely with the best sound when he was cruising up & down the boulevard.


  4. First of all, fantastic photos both of the festival and the bikes. brilliant!

    Secondly I 100% agree about the classic bike gangs being the star of the show, their spirit is fantastic and the site of thousands of them snaking along the 203 will remain with me for a long time. In fact I hope to capture them in a video I want to make soon. I remeber passing one honda wave with " chopper " handlebars so high that the guy could only reach them using one arm, conveniently leaving the other arm free for holding the ubiquitous can of leo. fantastic!

    In stark contrast to the " big bikers" who after my waves/ salutes/acknowledgements could not muster the energy to wave back or offer any form of recognition. What a sad bunch. :take-that:
  5. After two nights in Dan Sai it was time to retreat to Loei for a couple of nights, with the master plan to do a loop out of Loei, provided the weather held out.


    The weather held out - absolutely perfect yet again. Where's all the rainy season rain - zilch so far & it's been making for fantastic riding & views, if you were / are lucky enough to be out riding.
    It's only ever grey skies were I live in Chang Puak / Kuang Sing, Chiang Mai, but out of town in the mountains it is pure joy at the moment.

    MY DAY LOOP out of Loei: The Phu Rua - Tha Li Loop. ROUND TRIP 90 kms approximately. A nice easy but stunning ride.
    THE WAY: Loei - Phu Rua – Wang Kham – Tha Li – Khok Yai – Huai Khrai - Phu Rua – Loei.
    ROUTES: 203 – 2399 – 2115 – 2399 – 203

    Take R203 west of Loei



    There's some ongoing road works - road widening - on R203 west of Loei into the mountains,

    And when it's all finished the road will be perfect
    route-203-dan-sai-loei-006. route-203-dan-sai-loei-007.


    Approx 37 kms from Loei, turn right onto R2399.
    Signposted Luang Prabang & Thai Lao Friendship Nam Heung Bridge



    Route 2399 lets rip straight way & soars up the top of the steep hills, offering absolutely splendid views






    And then suddenly the road drops down dramatically in an awesome descent
    route-2399-phu-rua-tha-li-008. route-2399-phu-rua-tha-li-009.


    Looking back up the hill
    route-2399-phu-rua-tha-li-011. route-2399-phu-rua-tha-li-012.
    and down again

    In Tha Li I spotted one pretty temple

    and forgot to get the name!

    3kms North-West of Tha Li, on route 2099 there is the stunning Wat Phra That Satja

    phra-that-satja-tha-li-002. phra-that-satja-tha-li-003.

    phra-that-satja-tha-li-005. phra-that-satja-tha-li-007.


    And what you need to know

    It also has a rather sizeable gong, should you want to herald your presence.

    Retrace your steps to Tha Li & then loop around to Khok Yai (sounds impressive doesn't it?) & pick up on R2399 once more to pass through Huai Khrai, then soar back into the mountains & R2399 up on the ridge line once more to end up back near Phu Rua.

    The start of R2399 from the Khok Yai / Tha Li end

    and you don't see many of these signs!





    How this R2399 loop ride looks from R203 & Phu Rua.
    that's one hell of an ascent / descent & well worth doing if you're ever in the area!
    :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

    DEPARTURE TIME: Ex the Kings Hotel approx 10.30 AM.
    RETURN TIME: 4PM Kings Hotel. Loei.
  6. Brilliant weather and pictures. Actually the weather is so good and the roads still in very good conditions not only here but also in Laos that I have decided to leave next week again for Laos to do some more exploring of areas where I have not yet been.

    By the way, according to the Thai ESRI map the name of the wat is "Wat Pho Si"
  7. #7 DavidFL, Jun 27, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
    15th JUNE 2010


    The start of the run home from Loei & the Dan Sai Phi Ta Khon festival.

    Thailand's most spectacular road & views

    ROUTES: 203 – 2331 – 143 – 11. Distance approx 380 kms.

    THE WEATHER: A perfect glorious sunny day, & I simply could not believe my good luck doing this in wet season = where's the rain again.

    Route 203 Kok Ngam - Lomsak


    Route 2331, the start going up from Lomsak & the road surface is patchy

    route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-002. route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-003.

    Some of the road is newly surfaced

    A new surface with small bituminous pebbles & a maybe a bit tricky for sport bike riders
    however you would not expect the road to be like this for too much longer as they are working on it.

    What you come for

    route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-007. route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-009.

    A reminder of the Route # = 2331
    and the views!



    You keep going up
    route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-013. route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-014.

    The views from the 1st sala viewpoint




    The coffeeshop at the park gate


    And the view again
    route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-020. route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-021.

    I sat & watched these guys chucking cabbages over a couple of cups of cappu, & there's no doubt they've done it before. They never dropped one!

    Where the cabbages come the side of the mountain


    1,667 metres above sea level.
    that's high for Thailand!

    That road & view again

    route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-026. route-2331-the-phu-hin-rongkla-road-027.


    A lot of photos for a mere 17 kms climb, & it took me an hour I stopped so many times & marvelled at the view down below & the fabulous blue sky above!

    Once on the top a few kms inside the park I had a moment of "panic" when I ran out of fuel. I knew I could be pushing my luck & about to go onto reserve, but felt that with 70+ kms on reserve I should be alright & pick something up somewhere, once the other side. But I did not expect to run out in the middle of the park. It was a relief then once I'd dismounted from the bike & fiddled with the fuel tap properly, that it switched over onto reserve. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    On the top of the mountain the forest cover is good, very good

    It is an almost equally amazing descent on the Nakhon Thai side, but without the tight turns.

    Why it is spectacular

    Then you're back on the flat of 2013 into Nakhon Thai
    you can just see Phu Hin Rongkla mountain in the background, & it does not look much. But it is well & truly worth the ride!

    Check it out sometime. Loei is always worth a ride on a bigger bike.

    Why Phu Hin Rong Kla is so special....

    From 1968 to 1972, Phu Hin Rong Kla was a major stronghold of the communists in their battle with the Thai government.
    In 1970 there were 31 wooden houses built in the camp HQs. After the 6th October 1976 uprising, many students and intellectuals fled the right-wing government purges in the Bangkok to hide in Phu Hin Rongkla. The PHR camp was used to educate the new recruits in communist ideology.
    In 1982 combined governments force from the army, air force, navy & KMT troops attacked the Phu Hin Rongkla communist stronghold. They were not victorious, & supposedly defeated because of the rugged terrain & dense forest. In the battle massive damage was caused to the environment & wildlife (as you’d expect in a war).
    According to ... id=86&lg=2
    Much of the forest was damaged and much of the wildlife was killed or fled to safer areas. Remaining wildlife includes tigers, leopards, Asiatic Black Bears, wild boar, fox, monkeys, leopard cats, wild hare and many bird species.
    I’m not sure about the big cats still though! But it must have been good up there in those earlier years.

    After the defeat in 82, with a fresh “hearts & minds” policy, plus amnesty the area was won over by the government; & a road was soon built up onto the mountain and in 1984 it was declared a national park.

    From ... action.asp
    Highlights of Phu Hin Rongkla include
    • Lan Hin Pum, field of nodulated stone, whose lumps are roughly equal in size. It is believed that this formation resulted from physical and chemical erosion. Patients from the hospital suffering from fever would use the area as a rest spot, as a cool breeze blows over the area almost continuously.
    • Pha Chu Thong where CPT cadres would hoist a red flag every time their forces defeated government troops in a battle or skirmish.
    • Lan Hin Taek, (Broken Rock Field). Along the path, growing in rock crevices are various plant species, including mosses, ferns and ground orchids. The crevices, arranged in rough rows, seem to have come from the earth splitting. Peering into their depths can be eerie. Some crevices are narrow enough to jump across; others are wider. From several can be heard loud echoing of running water. The crevices were perhaps important to the communists, as they could have been used for hiding.
    • Surviving wooden building structures
    o Office for administrative staff,
    o A printing press
    o Communications centre.
    • Bunkers & air raid shelter

    Phu Hin Rongkla has featured on GT Rider here

    Phu Hin Rongkla: The most spectacular ride road?

    Dan Sai (Phi Ta Khon Festival) return. 13-17 June.

    Ride Report Pita Koon 6-26-to 6-29-2009

    GT Riders trip up North Finale

    Bike Vacation from Udon

    Ex Loei: 10.25 AM
    Ex Lomsak: 1.40 PM
    Phu Hin Rongkla: 5 PM
    Uttaradit: 7.20 PM
  8. Bump for the Phu Hin Rongkla road R2331 + Phi Ta Khon 2012. 22-23-24 June 2012.
  9. Bump for Billy Baht - Phu Hin Rongkhla history.
  10. A news item on the old commie HQs at Phu Hin Rongkhla.
    27 July 2014..
    PHITSANULOK — An anti-personnel mine believed to have been left by communist guerrillas fighting government troops in the Cold War era has been found in Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park. A team of soldiers.....

    Read more here:
  11. Bump for Dan Sai Phi Ta Khon 2015

    26-28 June 2015.
  12. Interesting part on commie insurgency here, wasn't aware till now. And pics of R2331 five years ago compared to those I took few days ago....lots of changes.
  13. #13 DavidFL, Jun 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016

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