Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong return.

DavidFL

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Inspired by both Ian Yonok's post on Pha Tang & Phu Chi Fah

Phu Chee Fah after the haze

and Hell Bobs Pix

North Thailand, 4000km Motorbike Round Trip 2013

a weekend explorer was called for.

The Riders:

Brian Bkk on his Versys.

Moto-Rex on his trusty indestructible KLX250.

David Unk on what he could get his hands on. The Versys was still off the road waiting for parts & it was time to rent 'n ride a new Honda 500x from Mr Mechanic.

Moto-Rex was off to Laos on his KLX250, agreed to meet us in Chiang Kham for the night & set off a bit earlier as he would be travelling a bit slower. But we reckoned we would soon catch up & ride on into Chiang Kham together.
That was not to be, due to a little spill I took going down R118 about 5 kms south of the Mae Kachan hot springs.

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A full report on the spill is here

Double ooops, GTR - David Unk goes down again.

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and if you want to know about the jacket & a recommended jacket go here
What safety jackets are you wearing?

We lost 40 minutes due to the spill. At the PTT Amazon in Mae Kachan it was a welcome coffee & breakfast break. It poured with rain whilst here & a solo Beijing BMW GS800 rider came in for a coffee & bite to eat to shelter from the rain. A really cool guy - riding alone - & communicating via a dictionary on his phone. Now that's the spirit of adventure I thought.

more to come...
 
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DavidFL

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After a lengthy coffee-brekky break t was time to move on.

Wat Wiang Kalong on R120 was my next stop for a check up (looking for new info.)

Wat Wiang Kalong has featured on GTR before in 2010

Chiang Mai - Nan explorer ride.

a wealthy meditation temple popular with women, it seems to have a bit of everything.

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and I'm still looking for some decent history of the temple.
 
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DavidFL

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With time on our hands & Moto-Rex off in the distance closing in on Chiang Kham, we decided to check out Wat Analayo.
A new destination for the man from Bangkok.

Wat Analayo
cracks a mention on GTR here too
Chiang Mai - Nan explorer ride.

It is a spectacular temple complex & well worth a look if you've never been
A few happy snaps

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plus there's a super view of Phayao across the lake.

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DavidFL

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Onto Chiang Kham for the night.
Accommodation the Bouthong Resort.

400 baht a night. Aircon. Hot water. Quiet.Clean. Undercover parking.

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Excellent value for money.

Food & drink

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The food & service generally sucked.
But the band kicked in & we still had a good night

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Day 1 was down & I'd been down. :p
It was all good.
 

DavidFL

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Day 2
A noodle soup brekky downtown Chiang Kham, & check out a couple of stunning temples for the Chiang Kham visitors.

Wat Nantaram

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there's more on Wat Nantaram here on GTR report here
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Go To Nan

Wat San Mueng Ma

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If you're a history - culture buff, then the murals depicting Tai Lue history & migration in Wat San Meung Ma are sensational & well worth checking out.

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There's a lot more on the Chiang Kham temple here too
Chiang Mai – Phayao - Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai Return
& Chiang Kham has some stunners!
Spend a night in Chiang Kham & check them out.
 
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DavidFL

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All "cultured-out" then off it was onto R1093, another of the North's great winding motorcycle roads.
First stop was Phu Sang waterfall

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after which I signalled Brian Bkk & Moto-Rex to slowly go on ahead & I would catch up in a few kms.
I never did for a long time - they must have been enjoying themselves. Ha Ha.
Or
maybe I stopped for too many photos.

R1093 the good stuff

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Cabbage central

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I finally caught up to the two leaders

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resting & enjoying the view.

I had a special request, we double back to Lao U & the link up road to R1155.
An sensational swooping road at the top R1093 end.

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Taking it easy for the camera

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note the eyes focussed on the camera too.

I got some amazing shots here with the SEO guy in 2008
A short GT Loop

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photo by the Kiwi Cruiser

more coming..
 
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DavidFL

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After a run down & back on the Lao U - Pang Kha link up it was back on the R1093 to Pha Tang.
But not before a quick drink stop in Lao U.
We lingered longer here than anticipated on account of being befriended by a Hmong guy, speaking English & ex Long Chen. Air America days, in Laos.

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A seriously interesting character, I could have spent a few more hours talking to him; but the road Doi Pha Tang - our trip's mission beckoned.

Coffee on Phu was a quick photo stop

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and doesn't Phu Coffee sound a bit like Civet or Elephant crap coffee??

Further on up the road........Eureka......

The Doi Pha Tang car park

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brian_bkk

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By the time we made it back to CNX.. 3 days, 800 km exactly! 1 bottle of Jack Daniels, 1 Bottle of Jameson.
Plus two new GT-Rider shirts purchased from Mr Mechanic :)

Interesting to compare the pic taken in 2008
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With the pic from our trip
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You can see how the road has deteriorated since 2008.. At the top is rough concrete.

I needed to do a u-turn so David could take some pics of us riding back down...
As I was riding along, thought this looks flat enough (when you look in the distance you can see no way it is, far too steep.)

Started my u-turn.. Next, went to put my left foot down.. Stomp, stomp, stomp, pushing the mighty Versys back on tippy toes..
So so very close to dropping it in the middle of the road.. I was already hanging off the other side in case I had to jump off the other side up hill.

That would have made David's slide look rather spectacular compared to dropping the Versys in the middle of the road doing a silly u-turn on a hill.

Cheers
Brian
 

DavidFL

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And before you all race off to do the Lao U R1093 - R1155 link it should be noted that the road surface at the west R1155 end is bad asphalt.
The rain has washed a lot of the asphalt away, especially on all the tight switch back corners & the road is covered in loose metal / gravel.
All ok on a chook chaser, but not very enjoyable on a regular road bike.

The only good stuff, & where the best photos are, is at the top R1155 end on the ridge line at "towards the start."

And I reckon the Lao U road at the R1093 end is steeper than the Phu Chi Fah road .

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Please yourself & you all take care.
 

DavidFL

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Onward.......and a hike.

Doi Pha Tang

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getting to the car park is the easy bit, & then you've gotta walk - hike.

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& is it worth the hike?

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that's the Mekong in the background.

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The cliff-top gap

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Hill 102 - what "you're" standing on.

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and that's hill 103 & "Doi Pha Tang proper" in the background.

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Yep it's well worth the hike.

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Time to ring the bell atop the peak.

I'm glad I made the effort. Thanks for cheering me on Brian.
 

brian_bkk

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Mar 30, 2010
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Rather than starting a new trip report.. Agreed with David to append my pics with his report.

Good job climbing up that bloody mountain.. It was a hike and hot.. Many a younger man would not have made it ;-)

So.. finish work and express taxi to the hotel, drop gear and drinks with Rex and David at the Kafe. 30 mins from airport to first JD and Soda.

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We ended up with quite a good bunch of GT-Riders that night.. Not all of them in this pic.
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We met this guy from Beijing.. Nice guy, all communication via hand held dictionary.

He was very happy with his GT-Rider stickers
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We stayed in a small town for the night. David posted a few pics.. But have to share the evening and how it unfolded.
Live band, car park full, every one smashed.. midnight the music stops.
There was an Ambulance, Body Snatcher pickup and other emergency services parked in the car park..
They stagger out and drive off.. Ambulance with lights flashing..
Made me think of country Australia not that many years ago.. where everyone knows everyone and does what they like...

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David making the climb up to the summit..
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Moto-Sex leaning the KLX over.
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The trenches at the top.
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David standing at the top, me standing in the trenches to take this pic.
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To be continued when David has posted the rest of his pics and report.

Cheers
Brian
 

Changnoi1

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Great and informative trip report, although I have been in the area 2 times I know now that I missed some good spots.

Did somebody made a KML file of the trip?

Chang Noi
 

DavidFL

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A few piccies....

Lunch at Doi Pha Tang

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scrumptious noodles + lousy 3-in-1 coffee. Oh well you can't win them all.

The hill 102 trail

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the way to go for a stupendous view

The views

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The general, commanding the photographer for another pic.

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but the panoramic views are so breathtaking for 360 degrees, you could get carried away taking photos.

And we did. Ha Ha.

In the trenches

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Time for some resonance,

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another dong on the bell.

and a little bit of what you should know.

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a little bit more will come....:lol-sign:
 

brian_bkk

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5555 great stuff.. such a fun trip..

What is Rex doing here?
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This needs a closer look....
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Here is the gpx track Chiang Noi.

(Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong & return)

Going to Chiang Kong
http://rapidshare.com/files/946838600/Doi%20Pha%20Tang%20-%20a%20meander.%20Chiang%20Mai%20-%20Chiang%20Kham%20-%20Chiang%20Khong%20%26%20return%20outbound.gpx

Returning to CNX - direct way with a couple of temples along the way.
http://rapidshare.com/files/3024846648/Doi%20Pha%20Tang%20-%20a%20meander.%20Chiang%20Mai%20-%20Chiang%20Kham%20-%20Chiang%20Khong%20%26%20return.gpx

To Chiang Khong
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DavidFL

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Doi Pha Tang some info

POSTCARD FROM THAILAND
At Siam's Gate

Few in the outside world know about it, but Pratu Siam in Thailand was a once key frontier in a secret war.

By Bertil Lintner

It must be one of the most ruggedly beautiful places in Southeast Asia--Pratu Siam, the Gate of Siam. Surrounded by steep limestone cliffs, this mountain pass on the border of Thailand and Laos looks like a scene from a Chinese painting. In the canyon far below, mist and clouds drift along the Mekong.

Picturesque it may be, but Pratu Siam and the nearby village of Phatang are unknown to tourists. Until well into the 1990s the area was off limits to outsiders. Up to just a few years ago, even local maps didn't show Phatang or the Gate of Siam. Getting here is not easy: The 15-kilometre road from the lowlands is steep and potholed, and almost impassable.

All that is a legacy of the past, when Phatang preferred to keep visitors out. That's because this area was once a vital frontier of the Cold War in Asia. In the 1960s and 1970s, United States forces used it as a base for their "secret war" aimed at countering Lao support for communist Vietnamese forces. In later years, fighters based here helped the Thai army defeat communist insurgents.

It is only now, as time eases the tensions of the past, that people who took part in those operations are willing to talk more openly, even if they refuse to be named. "We want to live in peace now," says one veteran of the secret war who lives in northern Thailand. "The past is history." Indeed, today's Phatang is a showcase of tranquillity. Its 3,000 inhabitants grow vegetables, fruits and tea, and make cherry and plum wine to earn cash. Visitors who do make it up may even be invited to share a bottle of wine.

Phatang's role in Southeast Asia's geopolitics dates from the early 1960s. At the time, Laos had been internationally recognized as neutral in the war raging in neighbouring Vietnam, and no foreign troops were supposed to be in the country. The reality was different: In the north, North Vietnamese soldiers were fighting alongside their Lao communist allies. Elsewhere, the U.S., or, more precisely, its Central Intelligence Agency, had built up a 30,000-strong "secret" army, whose number included a battalion of Nationalist Chinese soldiers.

Disguised as a Lao regiment and codenamed "Bataillon Spéciale 111" it was made up mainly of Chinese soldiers captured by the U.S. and its allies in the Korean War, and who had transferred their loyalties from Beijing to Taipei. About 1,600 wound up in Laos fighting for the Americans and conducting forays into China.

According to another veteran of the war, heavy fighting around their main base in northern Laos forced an evacuation across the border into Thailand. Phatang, which was already an established Nationalist-Chinese settlement, was the ideal choice for a rear base. From the vantage point of the Gate of Siam, a watch could be kept as Kuomintang troops infiltrated Laos.

After the end of the Vietnam War, battle-hardened Chinese troops from Phatang played a crucial role in the battle of Khao Ya, a Communist Party of Thailand stronghold in the Khao Khor mountains east of Thailand's central plains. Those who took part in that operation were granted Thai citizenship. Few, seemingly, chose to settle in Phatang.

In recent years, another group of Chinese has descended on Phatang: dissidents from the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. "They had heard about Phatang, and thought it was a Taiwanese base from where they could continue to the West," says a Westerner who helped some of these dissidents escape from China. Many are still stuck here.

The road to Phatang may be steep, but it is an even steeper climb up to the actual Gate of Siam. Few outsiders make it to the top, but that, too, will change now that Thai tourists are beginning to discover the area.

It's doubtful that many will ever make it to the most important Nationalist Chinese memorial in northern Thailand. Hidden behind trees off a small dirt track outside the town of Chiang Khong, a huge arch commemorates soldiers who died in the secret war, mainly in Laos. Two hundred of them now rest in a cluster of tombs, all facing towards China. Their war, after all, was secret, and they weren't supposed to be here.

This article first appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, September 16, 2004
 

DavidFL

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Arh yes, finally found it........the missing history link for Doi Pha Tang.

Some of the KMT moved onto the Thai-Lao border area in 1961 after being defeated in Burma.

However they soon came into conflict with Communist Party of Thailand organizers , mainly Hmong, working in the area. The KMT were portrayed as armed foreigners violating Thai sovereignty & oppressing locals.

In 1963 the bulk of the KMT soldiers were ordered out & moved to Doi Ang Khan; however a few remained.

In 1965 the killing of a Hmong village headman in Thoen district, led to the remaining KMT being forcibly moved out to Fang district.

Over the next few years the communist influence in the area increased significantly, such that in early 1971, the 3rd KMT army was ordered by the Thai PM of the day - Thanom - to move to & settle on Doi Pha Tang.
There were 400 KMT troops involved - 200 from Tham Ngop & 200 from Doi Mae Salong.

A battle ensued between the KMT & communist along the ridge line for control of the mountain peaks.

The battles lasted for several weeks, with 80 KMT soldiers killed.

Eventually the KMT were victorious & in May 1971 the KMT were settled in Do Pha Tang on the Doi Pha Mon ridgeline.

The trenches atop hill 102, Doi Pha Tang "Noi" are for real.

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savor the walk & enjoy the history.

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Doi Pha Tang is worth it. :thumbup:
 

brian_bkk

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After Doi Pha Tang it was off to Chiang Khong and Tamilla Guest House.

But not with out stopping along the way.. Rob's and my favourite spot along this stretch of the Mekong.

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GT-Rider sticker to mark the way

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Early morning coffee looking over to Houi Xai.
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Then a ride out to the new unfinished bridge where we had a little ride on.
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The three of us.. David, Rex and me taking the pic..
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We rode down to the next junction and said farewell to Rexy and headed back to Chiang Mai.

A ripper trip with great company and great mates.

Cheers
Brian
 

Moto-Rex

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This was really an enjoyable 3 day ride that had a bit of everything, and was it was great to catch up with Davidfl and BrianBKK after being stuck in oz for a few months.

As David said, I left Chiang Mai a early, seeing it was a road ride to Chiang Kham, and the KLX would have been struggling to keep up with the roadies.

First stop was at the view point on hwy 120.
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Just the snack for those who are watching there cholesterol levels. Brontosaurus ribs?
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We had a good night of beer, good food and music in Chiang Kham, which is a great little town.

Next morning we had a look at couple of temples before heading of to Chiang Khong via Doi Pha Tang.

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Young monks getting on with there cleaning duties.
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We stopped at the Phu Sang Waterfull for a drink.
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Its a really nice spot here.
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Back on the road after the stop, and the scenery was stunning.
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Brian on the tight and twisty hwy 1093.
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David getting a photo with a local.
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And having a laugh as well.
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We stopped to take a few photos before riding on to Chiang Khong for a relaxing night of merry mayhem.

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Next morning it was out to see the new bridge.
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View from the bridge looking down to the uncompleted Customs and immigration building.
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Brian on the new bridge with the Mekong and Laos in the back ground.
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And the Golden Triangle rider, riding out on to the bridge for a photo.
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We headed off the bridge, and said our goodbyes, as David and Brian were continuing on to Chiang Mai, and I was off to Laos.

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All in all, it was a great few days riding, just taking it easy, taking in the scenery of this amazing area, and having a few beers, with a couple of blokes that get what its all about.

Moto-Rex.
 

DavidFL

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Davidfl;290380 wrote: And before you all race off to do the Lao U R1093 - R1155 link it should be noted that the road surface at the west R1155 end is bad asphalt.
The rain has washed a lot of the asphalt away, especially on all the tight switch back corners & the road is covered in loose metal / gravel.
All ok on a chook chaser, but not very enjoyable on a regular road bike.

The only good stuff, & where the best photos are, is at the top R1155 end on the ridge line at "towards the start."

And I reckon the Lao U road at the R1093 end is steeper than the Phu Chi Fah road .

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Please yourself & you all take care.

Just spotted some pix on facebook of how bad the Lao U road is

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photo credit: Arttachot Mongkhontawee

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More images here: Log In or Sign Up to View
 
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DavidFL

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n the road for a few days with Destination Thailand TV for a quick run around the top end & up to Doi Pha Tang.

First up was Ian Yonok's Wiang Yonok Resort & a look at some classic bikes

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Next stop the GT for a few ceremonial snaps

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& the Golden Triangle was certainly looking good with the river up.

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& there's a big new Buddha up on the hill overlooking the Golden Triangle

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The original master plan was to be in Chiang Khong for the night, but true to form with filming you're always falling behind schedule.

So Chiang Saen it was.

Looking for some place convenient to stay we picked up on the Nam Phueng 2 Place.

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The rooms are all different colours & part of the experience

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500 baht a night & good value for money.
More info here: https://www.gt-rider.com/se-asia-motorcycling/topic/chiang-saen-accommodation

The next morning at 6.30AM while the lads were still in bed Les & I checked out the old city ruins & moat in light rain. Grrh.














more to come.
 

DavidFL

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Finished filming early morning it was time for brekky. The Mong Doo Nam was where I wanted to go but they were slow opening up so we cruised town looking for some coffee.

Enter the Le Coffee Cafe
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a gem of a spot with some superb Hilkoff Coffee

plus a bubbly wonderful friendly owner
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into the second cups of coffee we were asked if we wanted breakfast, because we have breakfast too.
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only a so so brekky, but atmosphere, service plus outstanding coffee make this place a winner.

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Le Coffee - Chiang Saen - breakfast

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Le Coffee - Chiang Saen - breakfast

Check it out sometime.
Chiang Saen Restaurants

& indeed I returned 3 days later for some more.

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There was an obligatory whistle stop in the Chiang Saen cargo ship port


to check out the Chinese boats & activity






From Chiang Saen it was onto R11219 & time to head to Chiang Khong.
R1129 still has more road works, - into a 4-lane highway - going up over the hill from the Kok river bridge.
Another few quick shots were taken at Wat Hua Kuan, which is a temple on a hillock with stunning views over the Mekong.
Then up the hill towards Kiu Kan.
Feeling thirsty it was time for a cuppa at Kuab Chua,
Premium Tea
organic tea plantation.

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The gardens here are 20 years old & pure organic.

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Organic tea gardens

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Two lovely sisters run the place along with a Hmong husband.
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The 2 gals speak fluent English & can give a clear run down on the operation.

More coming.
 
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DavidFL

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Cross the mountain ridge & there are spectacular views of the Mekong, road & valley below.
(& the asphalt road is all chopped up to be in need of serious repairs.)

The views

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The view of the Mekong crossing the Kiu Khan ridgeline

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Further on up the road climbing beside the Mekong again.

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Huai Sai Mann Viewpoint R1129

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DavidFL

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Chiang Khong city...

First stop
Jub Jang Lim handicraft Shop
113 Soi 1 Baan Wat Keaw,
Wiang. Chiang Khong.

Previously mentioned on GTR Here:
Chiang Mai – Phayao - Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai Return

Jang's shop is a classic 80 year old Thai house

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Jub Jang Lim Shop - Chiang Khong.

with a collection of old traditional clothes & handicrafts - all collected by Jang on her travels in North Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar & Sulawesi.

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Jub Jang Lim Shop - Chiang Khong.

She only buys old pieces that are traditionally made for wearing or use, not new mass produced items for resale.

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Jub Jang Lim Shop - Chiang Khong.

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Jub Jang Lim Shop - Chiang Khong.
 
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DavidFL

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Chiang Khong has another cargo port like Chiang Saen, but a lot smaller.

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Chiang Khong cargo port

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After a few celebratory Beer Lao Dam's Oddvar & Brian thought they'd have some fun riding the steps.
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I cringed severely for 15 minutes, expecting trouble, but fortunately not.

Across the Mekong is the port of Houei Xai in Laos & late afternoon it can look absolutely glorious.

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Houei Xai Laos viewed from Chiang Khong Thailand.

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Houei Xai Laos viewed from Chiang Khong Thailand.

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Houei Xai Laos viewed from Chiang Khong Thailand.