Chiang Mai - Mae Sai - Golden Triangle - Chiang Saen - Chiang Mai


Mar 30, 2010
Friday 13th - Ominous date to start a biking weekend

Fly up to CNX for the GT Rider dinner.

Nice to see David, Franz, John and also meet some new people from the GT Rider gang.
Great night was had.. A few of us over indulged in G&T's and left around mid night or just after.

Below is a picture from the evening.. Some had already left.

To be followed by a couple more G&T's with Franz after he kindly ran me back to my hotel to drop my bag..


This was a bit of a blow out to start with.. rather hung over and it was as hot as hell.

Picked up my Versys from Piston shop.. All the mods changed back to stock..
(Different bike to what I rode over from Udon - much better :)

Didn't get started until mid day.. Now where to ride? I want to go north but no idea where.
Some of the GTR fellas gave me some ideas the night before.. Dependent on the weather..

Headed up to Fang.. That is a nice road.. nice twisties and after passing Fang.. stunning country side.
Couldn't help myself but to stop and take photo's.. While the clouds in photo's are not great.. the green country side compensates nicely.

Nice lunch in Fang - Bike, GT-Rider Map and food.. What more does one need.. GPS helps ;-)

Sadly I saw further on what looked like a fatal accident.

There was a large crowd of people to the right of the road in a small village. As I came closer I noticed a pickup parked on the other side of the road facing the wrong direction.. The left front side was slightly smashed up.. As I rode past.. There was a man holding a child in his arms.. The adult was bleeding from the head and crying.. The child appeared motionless.. Very sad to see.. as I am pretty sure if they had been wearing helmets nothing worse than a broken bone of two would have happened.

A bit of a sobering moment for me as I am riding along by myself.. I must admit I did think of that sad scene more than once during the rest of my trip.

Contueing to ride along back up in to the mountains.. It looks like the heavens are about to open up.. There is a nice looking resort coming up and I pull in here for a break and sit out the rain (I had no wet weather gear and only my kevlar jeans and other protective gear). A bit of rain did come, rather than rushing off I had a quick snack.. then a walk around the resort..

Luckily I saw the kitchen after I had finished my friend noodles.. Which were not great either.

Begining to see a pattern in the rain.. Decided to just push on and punch through the rain cluster and hopefully it will be better a few km up the road.. Which is exactly what did happen.. Made it to Mae Chaem and decided to head on to Mae Sai for the night.

Some stunning scenery on the road after Fang.

Some stunning cloud scenery on the highway up to Mae Sai.

Sunset beers by the Thai / Burma border

Arrived in Mae Sai looking for a hotel and the heavens opened.. Must have rolled off the mountains in Burma as there was nothing in sight on the highway going in to Mae Sai.. Found a nice place.. new and clean rooms. Perfect. 700 baht, well almost perfect. Realised when I went to bed that the A/c doesn't work.. bugger.. I am sweating my nuts off.. At least there is a bit of wind blowing out the A/c, so lay across the bottom of the bed, right at the end across the bed. so I can at least get the fan blowing on me.. Not the best, but it was better, just..

The staff kindly posted a notice in English letting me know the lift was out of order:-

Not much to do in Mae Sai.. The restaurants mostly look grotty unless you go to a hotel.. Found one OK Chinese place further along the road.
(I am not a fussy eater.. as long as clean I will eat any where.. Street, Hotel, etc etc. Just don't like the effects of dirty food and bad stomachs the next day.)

Nice massage at the end of the day

While sitting by the river people in Burma are walk up to the river and throw all their garbage in the river.. Just had to sit there and watch them do it.. grrrrr


Off to the Golden Triangle.. Have not been here for about 5 years.. Not much has changed and I was early.. so no crowds of people in my photos :)

The bike in front of the well known landmark

Hydro Power being supplied to Thailand from Laos.

Then on to Chiang Saen.. Riding in to town and this dog just takes off across the front of me.. I am doing 60 kph.. FXXX. I am going to end up in the middle of the road on my ar5e.. All in a split second.. But the dog must have seen me and backed off just before the front of my tyre and moved to the right missing me.. My heart was thumping.....
If the dog hadn't of seen me.. I would have crashed... Well.. Assuming a Versys hitting a reasonable sized dog at 60 kph would have a good chance of losing control and crashing.. Probably the closest dog incident I have had to date.

Then I think.. hmmm how about checking out the Friendship bridge at Chiang Khong.. about 10 km in to the ride with 50km to go.. The road is not fantastic and I start to think.. what if the weather turns bad or I have a delay.. I will feel stressed the whole way back to CNX.. So did a U-turn and headed to Mae Chaem.. The first 10 km of this road are messy and muddy.. lots of road works.. glad it wasn't raining when I went through..

After Mae Chaem headed back to Fang..

Nice coffee and cheese cake in the middle of no where

Smiling girls serving in the coffee house.. They also practiced their English.. Quite good and wished me a good journey.

Decided to go back the same way as it was lovely and hopefully I can get a bit more sunshine for pictures and dry roads. Enjoying the scenery and photo's here and there and a coffee just after Fang.. Then as I am riding through the twisties before Chiang Dao.. I see another rider in front of me.. So I ride behind.. He sees me and gives a wave.. I look at the number plate and realise it is a Queensland number plate.. Same state I am from.. Decide to follow the rider and when he pulls over say G'day.. Later on he pulls over.. I introduce myself, Brian.. and he says.. Brian_bkk ? Yes,.. I am Garry D.. We both had a good laugh and chat and talked about recent trips and decided to ride back to CNX together with a stop off at X Centre for a beer before Euro Diner for another beer and some food.

Ian came out from his busy day and said hello and quick chat.. Garry and I felt really bad about pulling him away from his massage and hair treatment. The hard work some fella's have to put in living and working in Thailand.. It is terrible.

Then at Euro Diner we met up with Shackster.. He was also pulled away from a Massage up the road.. In such a hurry to see Garry and me that he forgot to change back in to his T-shirt and still had the Massage shop shirt on ;-) Another poor guy working too hard in Thailand..

Great to catch up with the GT-Rider guys Friday night and Garry / Ian and Shackster on Sunday.


Ian Bungy

Sep 19, 2006
It was great to see You and Gary D on Sunday and I would have canceled My Busy Schedule if I known You were there? I just happened to walk by and look outside as You Guys were getting ready to leave! As it was We had a Great afternoon and Evening watching the MotoGP after You Guys left. Well Brian You certainly had an Eventful Trip with a variety of Highs and lows! I went up the Same Route as You last Wednesday and it really is Beautiful Scenery at the Moment! See You soon.

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010

Your in the middle of no-where coffee spot has some interesting history behind it - see the following post from David on my "On the Trail of a Mule....." post:

Re: ON THE TRAIL OF A "MULE" - A Drug Run Through The Golden Triangle.

Originally Posted by Davidfl
1st class report Rod. THanks for taking the time to put it together & then write it up. I am sure so many guys will find it interesting & get them out riding a bit more & noting with interest the places they are riding through.

Another interesting character is Lao Ta, from Lao Ta's Lisu village just north of Tha Ton. He has just opened his new Lao Ta coffee shop & re-opened the petrol station again.
One year model village headman for North THailand, then next year one of the most wanted. Arrested several times, but he is always released to carry on looking after his village community.
THere is a recent Bangkok Post article we could quote.

I & a few others might also have some happy snaps hanging out in Lao Ta's LIsu village 25+ years ago on the trekking homestay route....:-o

Lao Ta Coffee & History

Chiang Saen
Eradicating drug trafficking is impossible and setting deadlines to clean up drugs is unrealistic, says Lao Ta Saenlee, 74, a former Kuomintang fighter accused of being involved in the illegal trade.
Jailed for four years as he fought charges of trafficking, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons, the infamous Lao Ta was released three years ago.
He is now pursuing a new business venture _ his own franchise of Lao Ta Coffee shops in the North.
Although the courts dismissed the trafficking and attempted murder cases against him, Lao Ta was found guilty of illegal possession of weapons.
Lao Ta’s name has been associated with the now deceased “Opium King” Chang Chi-fu or Khun Sa, and the current drug baron Wei Hsueh-kang of the United Wa State Army. He knows Wei, as he knew Chang, but denied any drug links with them.
He is sceptical of the government’s current anti-drug campaign.
“You cannot set deadlines in solving the drug problem. It is not possibble.
“In fact, I don’t believe you can solve the problem,” Lao Ta said in an interview recently at his village coffee shop in Ban Huay Sarn of Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district.
“The rich want the drugs and the poor traffic them,” he said.
Lao Ta predicts heroin prices will increase this year, as adverse weather conditions in Burma are likely to hit opium production.
He also predicts that trafficking and the use of new drugs will increase.
Pornthep Eam-prapai, director of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in the North, says the number of addicts and small-time sellers there has increased 30-40% over the past three years.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke to drug authorities in the North recently when he expressed concern over drug addiction and use of drugs among youth, especially in Chang Mai and Chiang Rai.
In response, authorities are now monitoring places where youths tend to gather, such as internet shops and cafes, entertainment spots and karaoke lounges, and student flats and housing.
They are also monitoring the movements of suspected sellers and traffickers, Mr Pornthep said, adding that many new faces had popped up in the drug trade. About 100 individuals are being monitored _ including Lao Ta.
Lao Ta says the war against drugs led by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was too severe, as officials abused their authority.
“No one agreed with it. They gave police too much power and this led to abuse across the country. They killed over 2,000 people,” he said.
The Abhisit government has launched a probe into deaths under Thaksin’s war on drugs.
“When I was in jail, many hilltribe villagers who visited me complained about the abuse,” Lao Ta said.
“Abhisit is not decisive but his approach to the drug problem is better. His government has launched its own campaign, but it is not violent. At least the Abhisit campaign lets the judicial process take its course,” Lao Ta said.
Like many former KMT soldiers, Lao Ta fought the communist insurgents before being allowed to live in Thailand. He has consistently denied being involved in heroin trafficking although he admits that he used to trade in opium in the 1970s.
And he has his own theory as to why he was the target of Thaksin’s war against drugs which resulted in him being jailed for four years.
”Because I worked for the Thai government and fought against the communist insurgency, certain members of the Thai Rak Thai Party, some of whom were former insurgents, wanted revenge. They wanted to get me,” he said.
Another reason is that he refused to lend Thai Rak Thai any political support.
Lao Ta wields considerable influence in his village and surrounding hilltribe villages.
”They know the hilltribe people of my villages and I do not support them because they are former insurgents.
”They also asked for my support in local and district elections, but I refused. That’s why I was bullied,” he said.
”I never thought I would be arrested for trafficking, as I have never been involved in heroin trafficking.
”if I ever meet him [Thaksin] I don’t think I could control myself,” he said.​


Mar 30, 2010
Thanks for the information Rod..

Very interesting and nice to know the history and how and why things are the way they are.

That petrol station is huge and the coffee place pretty well hidden.. Even though they have signs.. 500 metres 400 metres and so on... 100 metres..

Then you don't see anything except a petrol station that has seen better days and a broken down old US car that is rusting in the front.
Once you pull in you see the nice coffee shop to the right.. Very surprised to see they had cheese cake.. I had two! crap breakfast at the hotel.

I remember thinking at the time.. It must be a good 10 to 15 years old and huge and what were they thinking was going to happen at the time.
Money laundering ;-)



Jun 28, 2007
Brian, nice trip and glad you enjoyed that one. Seen & replied to your email which was only a logical consequence of us taking some GT's until our tongue's got lazy 555555, more to come I'm sure......cheers, Franz


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Good to meet up with you at the dinner & before your trip.
I'm not surprised too that the next day I had to re-sms you the tips & route options for the top end there.
It looks like you had a good trip alright & have got a few more roads & places ticked off.
R107 must have really impressed you though as it is a bit unusual I think to retrace your steps, to return the same way & not via a different route.
Doi Mae Salong still awaits you for an over nighter & maybe I will join you for that one sometime.

Re Laota's coffee, from what I understand the 2 petrol stations were once seized as "illegal assests" gained from drug money. However they do appear to have re-opened in a limited but capacity somehow.
Many years ago Laota's Lisu village was famous for trekking & having the odd smoke for those so inclined. He also used to put on one of the best Lisu new years on a regular basis. That he is still alive & "operating" is an amazing story & worthy of a book & film I'd say.

In Mae Sai for accommodation check out some GT Rider recommendations here.
and for some good food Mae Sai restaurants on GT Rider.


Jan 5, 2008
Good to see the ride worked out ok after the sad start.

Looking at the photos it looks like the wet season has set in up in the North.

I love the sign on the lift. Ruined.

Great write up as always mate.