Chiang Mai - Nan explorer ride.

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A short exploratory trip, looking for new attractions, some old roads & some new ones (if possible.)

    4 NIGHTS 5 DAYS. DATES: 5th - 9th July 2010.

    THE WAY:
    Chiang Mai - Doi Saket - Mae Kachan -Wang Nua - Phayao.
    Routes: 118 - 120 -1

    Phayao - Dok Kham Thai - Wiang Lo - Chun - Pong - Chiang Muan - Nan
    Routes: 1021 - 4006 - 1202 - 1091 - 1228 - 1188 – 1091

    Nan south-east
    Routes: 101 – 4005 – 1243 – 1168

    Nan –Thang Pha – Chiang Kham – Chun – Phayao – Wang Nua – Mae Kachan – Chiang Mai.
    Routes: 101 – 1148 – 1021 – 1091 – 1 – 120 – 118

    THE WEATHER: Hot & Hot & steamy, but a dry ride; there & back = unbelievable!

    Got away from the super 40 minutes behind schedule at 3.45PM to rendezvous with the Kiwi Cruiser at Black Canyon at Mae Kachan. Ben was on time, but not I. (And what a surprise some of you might say.)

    It was a glorious run R118 into Mae Kachan. The clouds threatened, but there was no rain…

    From Mae Kachan it’s a right turn onto R120 & a then usually quick blast over the mountains to Phayao.
    But not today. First stop is at Wiang Kalong ceramics


    This is to look at a place I have raced past numerous times, but never bothered to check out.


    Wiang Kalong is actually a famous town from 1,400 years ago that was renowned for its ceramics

    Supposedly the clay soil from the area is of a particularly fine quality, that allows for very light weight ceramics.
    Once upon a time there was believed to be 3,000 kilns in the immediate area, but most of these were looted once word got out overseas.

    The story of Wiang Kalong goes like this…
    The name Wieng Kalong which means “The town where the crow got lost" and derives from the legend of The Five Lord Buddhas.
    In the legend a white crow leaves five eggs to look for food in Wieng Kalong and during a thunder storm loses her way home. Returning home to her nest the following day she discovers that all of her babies have fallen into the river. The white crow searches in vain for her babies, and dies with great sorrow. The five eggs left, contained five boys and the eggs were separated by the storm. However later in life, but they join up as young lads when they study with the same Rikshi. They eventually become the Five Lord Buddhas after they have entered the monkhood.
    A peaceful town, ancient Wieng Kalong was far removed from the war zone of the Lanna Kingdom, and the Wiang Kalong people were inspired to create Wieng Kalong ceramics from the legend of the Five Lord Buddhas and the White Crow.

    The premium grade ceramics production is divided into three periods of early, middle, and final ages. The unique designs of painting related to Buddhism distinguish the Wieng Kalong ceramics from others and are much sought after by collectors around the world.
    The well preserved painting designs depicting the crow (Mae Ka) and the crow's flower called "Buppha Kalong" are considered as sacred designs, and the ceramics featuring " Mae Ka "and "Buppha Kalong" paintings can not be positioned at lower levels as these designs only adorn decorative vases and worshiping trays .
    Others are the Himmabhan (crossed species) animals, the floral and plant design, and the Gaan Kod (vine) design.

    Inspired by their strong faith and devotion in Buddhism and with peace in mind, the villagers were able to constantly create these art pieces. This tradition has been passed on from generations to generations until the present day. To earn and make merit, the villagers go to offer alms early in the morning then chant and practice meditation at the village's Meditation Monastery. The villagers also believe that there is a sacred pot called “Mhor Buarana Kata", a ceramic pot containing holy relics and jewelries buried somewhere in Wieng Kalong but no remains of the Mhor Burana Kata have ever been found. ... iew&id=123

    I’ve never been terribly interested in ceramics, but the items on display at Wiang Kalong are beautiful.



    Old syle kiln

    New style for today, the easy way





    more coming..
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hot & sweaty after our kiln & ceramic tour, the Kiwi Cruiser & I were about to leave Wiang Kalong Ceramics when it was suggested that we not miss beautiful Wat Wiang Kalong temple (& learning centre?) just up the road? What, where, why we both thought, but being new cultural students we thought why not, we might yet again learn something new (funny how old dogs get isn't it?)

    So we departed Wiang Kalong Ceramics, & headed off on route 120 towards Phayao yet again.
    A massive 100 metres up the road it was time to turn left & cruise on up the village soi 500 metres to a pretty temple on a hill: Wat Wiang Kalong.


    Getting any info here in English is somewhat problematical - can't find any!


    But it would appear as if it is a meditation temple for women

    as there were numerous mae chees in white, cleaning the temple grounds.




    This giant pot must have special significance, but we were not able to find an answer









    Wat Wiang Kalong obviously has good supporters & sponsors, plus organises large Buddhist ceremonies, such that I'd like to know more about this temple, it's history and events.

    The temple is tied in with the Wiang Kalong ceramic history, and this history is probably very interesting & worth knowing. But where to get the info?

    Whatever, if you're passing by drop in & check it out sometime.
    GPS Waypoint. N19 12.263 E99 32.420. Using the GT Rider Golden Triangle guide map the temple should be placed in Grid 8D, to the east of R120 & directly east from the Mae Kachan city marker.

    Further on up the road…
    At the sala viewpoint overlooking Phayao lake we noted the new dinosaur signs, that were not there a few weeks ago.
    and if you don’t know what it is all about look here
    and here

    The ride from Chiang Mai – Phayao is a GT Rider favourite & here’s one of the reasons why
    two super mountain crossings on a great motorcycle road.
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The day was almost gone & the final run into Phayao was a blast to escape the rain.

    The Phu Tong Place hotel is the my favourite @ 450 baht a night. (And I can't find any photos!)

    Night time was an easy going one, relaxing at Pa Add's open air pub.
    situated on the lake, & oddly enough an unobtrusive place that you don't seem to notice.

    If anyone knows where there is a decent breakfast in Phayao, please post here, as I've yet to find one. So it was coffee only for the Kiwi Cruiser & I, at the touristy Cafe Sot on the lake.
    The coffee is ok, but there's not much else.

    First stop for the day then was the Phayao Cultural Exhibition Hall.

    again, not an easy place to find, but it is right next to Wat Si Khom Kham.

    The exhibition is pretty good if you don't know much of the history of Phayao.






    Wat Si Khom Kham is the temple right next door to the Phayao Cultural Exhibition Hall


    wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-003. wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-004.

    Wat Si Khom Kham has a small Buddhist hell garden
    but it is need of a new coat of paint.
    wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-009. wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-008.

    wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-007. wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-006.


    wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-011. wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-012.

    wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-014. wat-si-khom-kham-phayao-015.

    It's a difficult place to get good photos because of the shadows & light contrasts.
    best time to go there should be end of the day, when the whole site should be in the shade & with an even light, I reckon.

    Back on the lake the weather was A1 hot & fantastic
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member


    2nd stop for the day was still in Phayao: Wat Analayo Thipphayaram, on Doi Bussaracum, on the other side of the lake, west of Phayao.
    Whilst there's lot of signs for either Wat Analayo or Doi Bussaracum, the actual final turn off is a bit tricky to see if you're coming from the North side.

    WAT ANALAYO, again getting info in English is not easy, but...
    Well we never saw the four soldiers, but I don't think we ever quite got to the summit. Next time I'll have to search more thoroughly, as there's a lot more to understand..












    This is a beautiful site & provides many wonderful opportunities for photography, but I sure didn't have a great deal of luck that day. Too much uneven light, with shadows from the abundant verdant forest cover. At least that's my excuse. :mrgreen:
  6. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the photos & write up. I've been to Phayao several times & had no idea there was so much to see. :happy1:
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Time to leave Phayao city in search of “the lost city.” Wiang Lo. Well not really lost, but one you seldom hear of.

    WIANG LO is an ancient town dated from 500-600 years ago by a stone inscription and sandstone Buddha images excavated at the site. The old Wiang Lo city has a moat and city wall, approximately 10 ancient sites, plus other numerous other sites outside the city moat. The main site is a temple is Wat Si Ping Muang beside the Chun river. Adjacent to Wat Si Ping Muang there is a museum hall with a large collection of ancient utensils, pottery, implements, and Buddha images.

    But where is it?

    One website says: is in Lo Sub-district, 17 kilometres from Chun District along Highway 1021. At Ban Huai Ngio, there is a 12-kilometre dirt road to Ban Nam Chun.

    Another said: site is the meeting point of the Chun stream with the Ing River, earning it the name "Sop Ing". To this site, take Highway 1021 for 17 kms. to Ban Huai Ngiao, and continue for another 12 km to Ban Nam Chun via the dirt road.

    What did we do?
    Ride down Route 1021 for 37 kms & turned left onto asphalt R2027. Followed this for another 9.5 kms to be confronted by this.


    What to do. Toss a coin; & ....go right.....

    200 metres further on, Eureka there it was: Wat Si Ping Muang.


    and this is an old temple.




    It was a hot day & even the monk was feeling the heat, taking a nap.


    Some of what you need to know


    The brick round-shaped chedi


    The Kiwi Cruiser cooling off

    under the shade of a fantastic huge old tree.

    Old Buddha images cooling off




    In the same compound as Wat Si PIng Muang there's a sizeable museum hall with a large display of old relics found in the area







    Unbelievably non of this seemed to be secured or guarded.



    And there were boxes of items..


    A display of the archaeological excavations


    The Kiwi Cruiser & I went off in search of the out of town sites


    They weren't difficult to find



    but was it worth it


    doubtful, for the the out of town stuff, but I'm glad I've tracked down Phayao's ancient city; plus learnt something new again about North Thailand.

    Back across the bike bridge it was then


    and on the road. The Kiwi Cruiser home to Chiang Rai, & me onwards towards Nan..

  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Almost got it done....

    The time was 3.30PM & the day was starting to wind down, but there was one more road & place to check out: Doi Phachi.

    However with minimal food & drink during the day - a couple of cappuccinos in Phayao, plus lunch at a 7-11 (Birdy, M-Sport, Water, 2 Beng Bars & a Magnum) the body was starting to feel somewhat weary in the heat.
    Outside of Pong I stopped at one of my fave petrol stations, topped up with fuel & liquid refreshments, whilst trying endeavouring to improve my sweeter language skills. It took 40 minutes to fuel up. Whilst here I was asked where I was going - Doi Phachi for a look. Arh "tang bor dee," yang my lard. The enquirer was a guy in a beaten up pick up who lived up the mountain somewhere & was involved with agriculture. My questions to discern exactly what agriculture - Royal Project, or whatever failed to elicit the precise info. However we did seem to agree on the road conditions & my descriptions of certain bits 15 years ago were applauded. The Sop Khun trail is still rutted & overgrown, plus the burnt down bridge from Ban Luang is still burnt down??? The Hmong villagers burnt it down within a week of the govt building it - they did not want govt officials going in & interfering with their lifestyle. Once upon a time Doi Phachi was another communist stronghold in North Thailand

    and is one of those out of the way places.


    As I had not been out there for years, I thought it would at least be worth checking out to see how far asphalt goes in.

    The start route 1188


    pretty countryside, but with black clouds coming in


    The view towards Doi Phachi

    still in the clear

    The road soon turns to pebbly asphalt & then dirt, sorry no photos because I was too weary to get off the bike.
    From the junction with Route 1188 / 1228, the asphalt only runs in 12 kms, and the road continues up the ridgeline to deteriorate "badly" somewhere.
    You should end up in Doi Phachi, a large Hmong village, from where there should be 2 options. (1) a reasonable bumpy dirt road out to Ban Luang, (2) a rough overgrown track that links up with Sop Khun & the asphalt route 108 to Doi Tiew & R1148/ Tha Wang Pha.
    Some of you keen dirt riders should check this one out. (GPS it & send me the track please.)

    I turned around at the end of the asphalt, back tracked & checked out R1188, thinking the asphalt would run through to R1148, but it only goes another 11 kms from the R1228 / 1188 junction. Back track once more.

    Pong it was for a lengthy drink stop yet again.
    Pong city

    a megatropalos, NOT.

    By 6PM the rain was coming in: the R1091 view heading east from Chiang Muan.


    Between Chiang Muan & Nan it did indeed rain up on the ridgeline, to make the run down into Nan city somewhat slippery on worn out Anakee tyres.
    8pm was the arrival time in Nan. Dinner was Da Dario’s for a Caesar salad + pork chop, then bed it was by 10PM Knackered, not even a night cap drink anywhere. Something of a record!
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DAY 3: NAN

    Pottering around Nan city

    The old city walls



    Wat Phai Lueng



    Wat Chedi, a “new” temple for me.



    The chedi of Wat Chedi, has been under construction for 16 years & there will be a royal ceremony next year to celebrate the completion


    The Michelin Man says G'day


    Time to fuel up & get out of town before the rain comes


    Route 4005 beckoned


    but first I had to find it & only did by accident riding around surveying roads east of the Nan River & south of town. I never knew it existed & only by changing direction to avoid some incoming rain did I turn east & stumble across this piece of new smooth winding asphalt. Where did It go I had no idea, but it was worth following to find out....









    Route 4005 runs for 31 kms & joins R1243


    Route 1243 is often claimed to be the best motorcycle road in North Thailand.

    Once you link up with R1243 you can turn south & head for Nam Muap / Wiang Sa; OR turn left - North & you run onto R1168, back into Nan.
    I took the North turn & rolled back into Nan at 4.30PM. It had been a good day.

    The R101-R4005-R1243-R1168 loop is around 102 kms.

    To find the start of R4005 S-E of Nan aint easy, & the recommended route would be to start out from Nan on R1168, link up with R1243, then R4005 in Nam Pay village & follow R4005 into the villages beside the Nan river & onto a bridge across the river & link up with R101 for the run into Nan. Got it?
  10. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice ride report beutifull of thailand :happy3: :happy1:
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    9th July 2010

    1ST Stop was the Nan Riverside Galley.
    23 kms North of town on R1080
    GPS Waypoint N18 56.426 E100 46.060
    The gallery is owned & founded by Winai Prabripoo, a famous Thai artist and native of Nan.

    This is a delightful spot & well worth visiting if you’re at all interested in art & culture.






    The gift shop


    Next stop was Wat Nong Bua, which is well signposted off R1080.


    What you need to know






    The old murals


    for which the temple is famous



    The famed Route 1148 was next


    The happy father-to-be Robert H on his “perfect” Africa Twin


    On the road

    with Backdoorphil in the distance

    One of the reasons why R148 is so G-O-O-D


    The renowned Sakoen view




    The plan was to take a break in Chiang Kham city for lunch, but 2 of my preferred restaurants were no longer. So rather than double back & scout out somewhere else convenient to stop & eat, we pushed onto Chun city. Backdoorphil lead the way into Chun with a promise to find a good one he knew, but we could not find that one either. It was one of those days!

    Downtown Chun city

    and as exciting as it looks = not very.

    The weather got really dark in Chun, & both Robert H & Backdoorphil kitted up. I took a chance & was the winner. A few kms up the road the clouds cleared away & it was a dry fast run all the way home to Chiang Mai.

    The day’s ride

    Departure time from Nan was: 10.00AM
    Arrival time in Chiang Mai was: 6.30PM

    Another trip was down & I’m in need of new Bridgestone Trail Wing tyres. :mrgreen:

    This one took a bit too long, & was probably too long for some of you. My pen rai, the idea is to give more ideas of places to go & look around, rather than just riding the roads. North Thailand is endowed with hidden gems & it is often not easy to suss them out or find them.

  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    :thumbup: Slash you're an absolute star AND you did it on a Phantom! Fantastic.
    It just goes to prove it is usually the rider that gets you through, not the bike = you can do it on "anything" if you're good enough.
    It must be close to 20 years since I have been Doi Phachi - Sop Khun & it does not look as if it has changed a great deal.
    Thanks again. :clap: :clap:
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Wat Chedi is now complete





    Ooops, looks like we've lost a gallery for some of this thread. I'll endeavour to fix it.
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Ok, fixed the images & bloody hell it takes time when your photo galleries go walkabout, too.
    Enjoy this trip was a beauty & there's lots to discover between here & Nan.
    & make sure you check out those R1243 VDOs from Sukie.
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Some more history I've been able to dig up on Wiang Lo:

    Wiang Lo is mentioned in the Chao Muen Monkhon inscription dated at 1497.
    During the period of the Lan Na Kingdom, Wiang Lo was an important city located on trade routes between Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Thoeng, Phayao, Nan, and Laos.
    The ancient Wiang Lo city is shaped like a ring, 500 meters in diameter, enclosed by moats and earthen walls, with some bricks. There are over fifty ruined monasteries that have been found inside the old city. Through the southern wall runs the Ing River.

    Check it out sometime.
  16. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    More great info on things to see.... Thanks David.
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    An update on the ruins & site..May 2017

    Archaeologists from the Nan-based 7th Fine Arts Office have unearthed the remains of two skeletons and some artefacts at the Wiang Lor prehistoric site in Chun district, giving evidence of habitation in this area in the Metal Age, said an official.


    Noppadol Phuchai, chief of the Chalerm Phra Kiat Archive in Phayao, said the skeletal remains and arefacts were found recently in the perimeter of Wiang Lor prehistoric site at Moo 1 village in tambon Lor of Chun district.

    The site has been excavated under a project which started in 2005 by archaeologists from the 7th Fine Arts Office.

    He said the remains of the first skeleton were found under the base of a wall near the Ing River. The head of the skeleton points to the East. Bronze ornaments, including blacelets and earings, metal tools and pottery were found near it.

    The remains of the second skeleton were found nearby. The head of the skeleton points to the South. A number of bronze ornaments, metal tools and pottery were also found near it.

    As the area is flooded every year and the soil's humidity is high, about 80% of the skeletons have been destroyed, leaving only big pieces of bones such as the skulls, femurs and tibias, making it difficult to determine the sexes, ages and heights of the skeletons, he said.

    "However, the findings indicate the area was a settlement in the Metal Age, which later became a major town on the eastern side of the Lanna empire. They explain the prehistoric cultural development in the Nam Ing or the Chiang Rai-Phayao basin.

    "The ages of the skeletons have yet to be determined through scientific methods by archaeologists," said Mr Noppadol.

    Author: Tua Pinaduang | Source: Bangkok Post [February 05, 2017]
    • Winner Winner x 1
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017

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