Dream Roads, Scenery, Olde Temples & Special Bikes

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by ianyonok, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. #1 ianyonok, Aug 20, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
    The weather forecast was showing a dry period in the rains, so it was time to get out for a run….

    Day 1; A boring blast down highway 1 to Ngao, then the 103 to Rong Kwang for the night.

    Day 2; Southeast over Kun Sathan National Park on 1216. Cool mist over the mountain

    2017-08-09 08.33.52.

    A favourite road and wonderful scenery in rainy season
    2017-08-09 08.42.44. 2017-08-09 08.53.33.
    After you come over the top of the mountain and start down the other side, you need to stop a moment to take it all in….
    2017-08-09 08.54.45.
    …. A couple of local ladies. They told me the west side of the mountain is all Hmong villages, all Thai villages on the east side.
    2017-08-09 09.12.47.

    After NaNoi, it was onto the superb 1339 down to Sirikit dam. No traffic, good surface and twisty heaven….
    2017-08-09 10.43.51.
    Nan ridge riding at it’s best......
    2017-08-09 10.48.20.
    Down to the bottom of Nan province and the ferry point, for lunch at Pak Nai
    2017-08-09 11.20.10.

    2017-08-09 11.41.24.
    Quiet in the rainy season…
    2017-08-09 11.41.40.

    But it gets very busy in high season at the end of the year. The water level also comes up to maximum at the end of the year, it takes that long to fill up, after the end of rainy season
    2017-08-09 11.46.19. 2017-08-09 11.46.28.
    On the Uttaradit side the 1339 is a bit rougher but still a great road. Then down through Nam Pat and on to the 1268 eastern border road to Phu Soi Dao..

    Still on the bucket list to hike up….. but not today…
    2017-08-09 15.30.24.

    2017-08-09 15.33.16. 2017-08-09 15.33.42.
    Phu Soi Dao mountain was….. well….. Obscured by clouds….
    2017-08-09 15.46.05.
    The Phu Suan Sai NP is a lovely park and if you have the time, it is worth taking the loop road 1328 through the park. This goes up to and along the Laos border, past the Tat Heung waterfall, then back to the 1268.
    2017-08-09 16.53.28.
    But I continued on to the end of 1268, to the 1st of the two marvellous temples in Na Haeo. Wat Sri Pho Chai is in a small village valley, about 4klms west of Na Heao.
    17.49201 deg N, 100.99741 deg E
    2017-08-09 17.05.39.

    It is about 300 years old, although I couldn’t find further info about it.
    Clearly a Luang Prabang (Loei..?) style temple. The roof is fairly new but the rest is very old.
    2017-08-09 17.07.05.
    An ancient looking interior
    2017-08-09 17.10.34. 2017-08-09 17.10.58. 2017-08-09 17.11.10. 2017-08-09 17.14.29. 2017-08-09 17.15.06. 2017-08-09 17.15.48.
    Love the cracks in the walls and the almost worn away mythical beasts at the entrance steps.
    2017-08-09 17.16.34.
    A new and ornate repository
    2017-08-09 17.17.26.
    I stayed at the Na Haeo Resort, about the only place to stay in this little village.

    Day 3; About 10klms south of Na Haeo on the 2113 is the 2nd special temple of Wat Pho Chai Na Peung.
    17.40908 deg N, 101.04933 deg E

    An old gateway in a rebuilt perimeter wall.
    2017-08-10 07.17.42.

    This repository was rebuilt not so long ago.
    2017-08-10 07.19.06. 2017-08-10 07.19.41.

    Lovely old city pillar
    2017-08-10 07.19.57. 2017-08-10 07.21.21.
    Seems the viharn may only be still standing because of the steel supporting frame. The whole building is leaning over to one side.
    2017-08-10 07.22.41. 2017-08-10 07.23.34.
    An old gateway on the east wall
    2017-08-10 07.24.53. 2017-08-10 07.26.08. 2017-08-10 07.27.14.
    The murals on the outside and inside of this temple are unusual and superb. Somehow more rustic than the murals on the inside walls of Wat Phumin, in Nan.
    2017-08-10 07.29.16. 2017-08-10 07.29.37. 2017-08-10 07.30.21. 2017-08-10 07.30.43. 2017-08-10 07.32.04. 2017-08-10 07.34.19. 2017-08-10 07.34.43. 2017-08-10 07.35.19. 2017-08-10 07.35.47. 2017-08-10 07.36.25. 2017-08-10 07.36.46. 2017-08-10 07.36.57. 2017-08-10 07.37.13. 2017-08-10 07.37.31. 2017-08-10 07.37.55. 2017-08-10 07.39.00.
    The west wall of murals
    2017-08-10 07.41.26.
    The sign at the front entrance indicates the temple dates to 1572.
    2017-08-10 07.47.38. 2017-08-10 07.49.15. 2017-08-10 07.50.33.
    Then headed south on the 2113 to Dansai.
    2017-08-10 08.20.03.
    A quick visit to Wat Nerramit. A huge modern temple, quite different to the last 2 temples I visited and a bit new…..
    2017-08-10 08.43.55. 2017-08-10 08.48.50.
    Then after blasting along main roads, past Phu Rua and through Loei city, I was alongside the Khong in Chiang Khan.
    2017-08-10 11.50.33.

    2017-08-10 11.50.42.

    The day finished on the western outskirts of busy Nongkhai.

    Day 4; I headed down the highway to Udon, turning off east at Phen to meet up with my good mate Mike, where we rode together back to Bandung.

    Mike’s super special ’79 T140 Bonnie, that he has owned since it was new. Too many special parts to list, but notably a super heavy Weslake crankshaft and currently at 830cc.

    Needless to say, it goes like a bat out of hell and sounds fantastic.
    2017-08-11 11.49.12.
    That afternoon, we took his pair of rebuilt, super light, trials bikes out for a test on the rubber farm. I’d never tried trials riding before, so it was something quite different for me. Wheelie popping in 2nd or 3rd gear. But it’s all about standing up and slow speed control, great fun….
    2017-08-11 16.40.37.

    Day 5; A lovely morning, it still hasn’t rained on me and heading back west to highway 2
    2017-08-12 07.08.48.
    Then Nongkhai and the river road back to Chiang Khan. This road had been widened and resurfaced…. So more cars go faster on it now…
    Went round one bend to see an accident that had just happened. A smashed up small bike and a body being stretched into an ambulance…… not pretty..
    2017-08-12 09.41.02.
    From Chiang Khan, decided to get away from any traffic and take the smaller 2195 river border road which was a bit rough a couple of years ago…
    2017-08-12 13.19.57.
    …..a good move, about 90% of it has now been resurfaced with no traffic.. Fantastic..
    2017-08-12 13.31.55. 2017-08-12 14.59.59. 2017-08-12 15.23.07. 2017-08-12 15.39.03.
    The last part back to Na Haeo was …wow…. just wonderful….
    2017-08-12 15.43.36.

    Day 6; After breakfast, I headed up to the bluff, on the southeast of the village
    2017-08-13 07.39.26. 2017-08-13 07.51.36.
    Looking into Laos
    2017-08-13 07.52.12.
    Some interesting formations in the sandstone rock
    2017-08-13 07.52.46.
    This looked almost like a giant mushroom
    2017-08-13 07.53.15.
    .. an unusual in-out cave..
    2017-08-13 08.01.34. 2017-08-13 08.05.37.
    Great views of the lovely rainy season green countryside
    2017-08-13 08.06.28.
    Na Haeo is at the western end of Loei province and right in the elbow between the North and Isaan. The Heung river forms the border between Thailand and Laos, from Phu Soi Dao all the way round to nearly Chiang Khan, where it meets the Khong.
    2017-08-13 08.09.49.
    Thailand on the left and Laos on the right
    2017-08-13 08.10.35. 2017-08-13 08.12.35.

    The ferry to Laos…
    2017-08-13 09.23.21.
    Time to head back north on the super 1268, out of Loei through Phitsanulok.
    2017-08-13 11.04.50.
    Ban Romklao in Phitsanulok. The site of a border war between Thailand and Laos, Dec ’87 to Feb ’88, caused by a dispute of the border drawn by French surveyors in 1907. There were 1,000 casualties of this war and the border issue is still not resolved.
    2017-08-13 11.21.51. 2017-08-13 11.52.11. 2017-08-13 11.54.39.
    Back through beautiful Phu Soi Dao National Park
    2017-08-13 12.01.45.
    Had to stop and take a pic of this lovely temple entrance…
    2017-08-13 12.23.51.
    … with simple viharn
    2017-08-13 12.22.56.

    After lunch in Bahn Kok, I took the 1241, north..
    2017-08-13 14.30.02.
    … then the 1243 eastern border mountain road from Uttaradit into Nan, through the Lam Nam Nan NP. I rode this road 4 years ago on the same bike and it was 15klms of dirt in the middle section. I had heard a whisper that that section was now newly tarmac’d..
    2017-08-13 14.32.12. 2017-08-13 14.40.08.
    It is one of those type roads….. not fast.. but remote and quiet….
    2017-08-13 14.45.54. 2017-08-13 14.49.39.
    .. what biking dreams are made of….
    2017-08-13 14.54.32. 2017-08-13 14.55.44. 2017-08-13 14.58.05. 2017-08-13 15.00.36. 2017-08-13 15.04.23.
    No-one about....
    2017-08-13 15.09.37. 2017-08-13 15.12.20. 2017-08-13 15.14.27.
    Dreams can come true.....
    2017-08-13 15.17.34.
    .. and down into Bahn Sali
    2017-08-13 15.26.16.
    An unusual temple entrance
    2017-08-13 15.38.22.

    Day 7; A run back home. After a night in Nan….

    ….. it was time for ……. an 1148…

    some say…. maybe it isn’t that great a road…..

    …..I say… they need to ride it again…...... In rainy season…
    2017-08-14 10.10.46. 2017-08-14 10.17.39. 2017-08-14 10.23.29. 2017-08-14 10.24.10. 2017-08-14 10.34.59. 2017-08-14 11.39.03.
    120 plus years of man & machine….. and we’re both having a ball……!
    2017-08-14 11.42.01.
    It was here, at the Talay Nork Resort near Doi Langka, that I met up with Freddy again, who was riding his bicycle around Thailand for a month or so. By conicidence we had both been staying at the Na Heao resort 5 days earlier. Some tough roads on a bicycle....
    2017-08-14 11.42.02.
    After lunch at Carrot in Chiang Kham, I headed north through the village I share a name with…
    Bahn Ien actually means boring village….. hahaha..
    2017-08-14 13.32.22.

    I fear the sign commemorating the communist battles in the area, is sadly in danger of falling apart and being lost.
    2017-08-14 13.35.09.
    It was time for…. an 1155…..! another magical road….
    2017-08-14 13.58.44. 2017-08-14 14.10.16. 2017-08-14 14.12.59. 2017-08-14 14.15.55.
    One of the best road views..... when you ride around a corner and have to catch your breath.... wow...
    2017-08-14 14.27.53.

    By the time we got home, we’d done over 1,400 miles in a week…. And only got rained on for a couple for hours in the last afternoon.

    Rainy season is the best time to ride… for clean clear air, green green scenery and quiet roads….. but you’ve got to get lucky with the weather.. haha..


    1. The cheap Izumi rear chain stretched a lot and needed adjusting every other day.. Will try a Tyco solid bush chain next.

    2. Lost some fork oil due to pits in the stanchions, so the front suspension got a bit clanky on the bumpy roads. I had superglued the pits up a year or so ago, which worked well for a few thousand miles, but now time to fit new hard chrome stanchions with modern garter seals.

    But basically, there ain’t much wrong with Edward Turner’s 1930’s designed Triumph vertical twins.
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  2. 1243 from Ban Sali and halfway to the Utaradit border was sealed during the previous dry season and the rest during the last dry season. The quality of the work is so poor that soon the road will be back at its old condition. So hurry up and ride it.
    A great day loop from Nan to Pak Nai. Across with the ferry and east to 1243.
    2195 is a real gem after it was upgraded and fresh asphalt.
    Brilliant report Ian, Thanks
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  3. Great story Ian ... and quite dry for the (2017) season ... I love old temples and murals and have to visit Wat Pho Chai (I might have done it already, but would have to go through my pictures archive ... less fading than my memory). I anyway love the whole "promenade" and you enticed me to visit again, specially to make picture of the temple.
  4. Thanks Guys,
    Oddvar, it seemed that the 1243 gets very little traffic, quite a lot of small rocks and leaves had washed onto the road. So, good for a couple of years, maybe....
    The 1259 looks like a dead end road, but Yes, looks a super ride, on the GPS map.
    I'll have to return soon to ride those two roads again and some of the other lovely quiet roads in Nan.
    Jurgen, Wat Pho Chai Na Peung and those murals, really need to be appreciated by eye, in fact, the atmosphere of the whole area is very peaceful and olde worlde, wonderfully away from the madding crowd.
  5. Fabulous work & photos out there on the remote Laos border.
    It looks like your photos are increased in quality a lot - are you using a new camera?

    Those two old wats near Na Haew are confusing with their names eh what?
    Wat Sri Pho Chai & Wat Pho Chai Na Phung.

    Wat Pho Chai Ne Phueng
    Historians estimated this ancient temple was built in circa 22nd-23rd Buddhist century. The temple is home to Buddhist scripture library built on tall poles and a 400-years-old ordination hall that features an influence of Loei’s architectural art. Enshrined inside is a revered OngSaen Buddha or FonSaen Ha bronze image. Is it believed that wherever OngSaen is enshrined, the area will always be nourished. The murals on both the inner and outer walls depicting Lord Buddha’s life and featuring the beliefs of the people of Ban Na Phung in the late Ayutthaya and Early Rattanakosin periods.

    Wat Sri Pho Chai
    Wat Si Po Chai is ancient temple with more than 400 years old. The temple was built in the same time of Wat Pho Chai Na Phueng. The Ubosot is unique architecture in Laos’s style. Wat Si Po Chai is located even closer to the border country with Laos close to the waterfalls and National Parks in Na Haeo.​

    There's quite some history to dig out there!

    That cliff top you ascended for the early morning view was a beauty & I love this photo.

    2017-08-13 08.10.35.

    I will have to get back out there.

    Oddvar what about the border crossing at Bo Bia - have you been out that way at all - do you have any info?
  6. Simply wonderful trip report. Nice to sit back & read a story written where time was not your master, where you took the reader into the healing power of beautiful scenery, where the water gods shone upon you & where you enjoyed time with the 'other girl' in your life.
  7. Bo Bia is a local crossing with a few military scattered around. Every Sunday it is a big market on on both side and you can walk around.
    Screenshot 2017-08-23_06-45-32.
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  8. Thank you Gentlemen,

    It is only the same old camera on my phone. But I believe the photos look good because of the time of year. August is one of the best months for photography, being on average, the rainiest month of the year. The air has been washed clean and any burned areas of the country have greened again. You can see the shimmering green-ness all around, particularly when the sun comes out, after the rain. Just beautiful. The clean clear air gives a visible clarity to all that you perceive. Best time of year to be out and about... but you need some luck... and take the raingear...

    Great info on the temples; The Ong Saen Buddha seems quite an unusual, almost simple style and set amongst many old wooden artifacts at the altar, it has a most peaceful presence. Quite different from the classical fine-art Sukhothai style of Buddha image.

    Great description of the report, Thank you very much and glad you enjoyed it. The "girl" is actually a stallion, whose name is Trevor (the Triumph, of course!).

  9. Thanks Oddvar. That sounds right up my alley.
    Any idea where to get some photos of the market or road out there?
    I will have to make do with some piccies before the new knee is good enough to ride the VStrom. Grrh.
  10. Markets and so is not up my alley.
    Guess you have to go there. It's nice up there with the lush mountains in Laos in the back ground. I was there in the dry season, so it must be spectacular this time of the year.
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  11. #11 DavidFL, Aug 24, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2017
    Once the knee is recovered & I'm fully fit to ride it is on my bucket list.
    It must be close to 25 years since I was out there I think; & that time I wasn't very welcome & left after 15 minutes. It was one of the very few places where I've gotten unwelcome bad vibes in the North.
  12. "I say… they need to ride it again…...... In rainy season"
    I agree Ian. Its a whole new world riding in the wet season. The scenery is stunning,


    Great report again Ian. Beautiful photos.

  13. Thanks Rex,
    If you are lucky in dodging the rain, it is stunningly beautiful out there at this time.
  14. Just noticed this report, fantastic.
    Thanks Ian.

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