Fang & Back - A Fang Meander

DavidFL

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The internet is out & I need a break, kick back & watch the goggle box for a bit; but nope, the technician has my TV control box for a 3rd day after a supposed 24 hr service & repair.
That's enough to make an old fart like me more than grumpy, so why not jump on the bike & blast on up to Fang for a night or two.
I pack quickly & hit the road. I must be cranky alright because 1 hr 40 minutes later I'm in Fang & checking into the Khun Yuw hotel for the night.

It's an easy night kicking back in Fang.
& The Cottage is my place to wine & dine for the night.

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Next day I hooked up with my old mate "Fred Chopper," so nicknamed because 20+ years ago he rode a 400 Steed around North Thailand & in Chiang Mai at the time there werent too many big bikes & the Thais called him Fred Chopper - it stuck.

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Fred's settled down now, got a family, has lived in Fang 15 years straight & rides a Honda Wave....he's gone totally local.

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Fred also does a lot of charity work helping poor communities & schools in the Fang area, & is generally well known & respected = he's a damn good guy.

Anyway time to potter round the Fang environs & I was keen to see Fang's latest attraction "The Oldest Teak Tree Buddha."

Wat San Sai / Si Mongkol is the place

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The giant reclining Buddha made out of one teak tree & "the oldest."

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A (sad to say fading) photo collection of the discovery & recovery of the teak log found in the river

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DavidFL

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I rattle off a couple of Wat names & Fred leads the way...

Wat Wieng Wai, the "biggest" Shan temple in the Fang area.

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The Big Buddha on the hill temple "Chalerm Prakiet"

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The view

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DavidFL

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Whilst cruising the Fang rice fields & villages Fred picks up on a salak festival at a temple in 2 more days.
The temple abbot is a Palong hill tribe guy & all the Palong from the Fang district supposedly will come to make merit & join in.
Too good to miss so at 5PM I checked out of the Khun Yuw & roar on back to Chiang Mai - I need more clothes.
It an over night in Chiang Mai, then straight back to Fang for the another night (or two if necessary.)

Back in Fang the next night...
I try out some new accommodation this time round: Preeya 2 Mansion.

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I figured I was onto an absolute winner.
350 baht. Air con, hot water,WiFi, BBC TV

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undercover parking

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But later on I find out that the WiFi is intermittent, the hot water dribbles out (& the cold gushes)
AND the next morning I've got a sore back from the rock hard plank of a bed.

But never mind onto the festival....an early start so as not to miss out.
I'm there at 8AM (a record for me) & before Fred even......& Fred obviously knew more than me, it was a slow & later start....

A Mira delivery for the festival

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Early morning participants

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Tamboon donations

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More to come..
 

DavidFL

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All the village groups in the district put on a dancing show

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THe percussion band to make sure sure they keep dancing

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& these guys enjoyed themselves, deliberately playing longer than necessary (I thought) to exhaust some of the performers.

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DavidFL

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But who are the Palong?

The Palong are a tribe who came from Burma only in the early 1980s, fleeing the conflict between Khun Sa's army & the Burmese army.
In the conflict several villages - a whole valley - were supposedly completely massacred for refusing to get involved & be porters for one of the sides.

Today there are only a few Palong villages in North Thailand, with most of them west of Fang.

Nor Lae is the biggest

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Nor Lae 1994

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Nor Lae 2001

followed by Huay Mak Liam; Suan Cha is another near Fang, then east of Chiang Dao there are maybe 3 villages.

The Chiang Dao villages have had a particularly hard time, suffering arrest & persecution from government authorities trying to move them out & take their land in the 1990s.
Their area is relative stable now & is a popular trekking / day trip destination from Chiang Mai.
I was fortunate enough to witness a triple wedding there in Feb 1992.

The Palong

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Some notes Ive turned up
There are 8 Dara-ang (Palong) villages in Chiang Mai Province – No Lae, Huay Cha-nu, Huay Mak Liam villages in Fang; Mae Chon, Pang Daeng Nai, Pang Daeng Nok and Huay Pong in Chiang Dao; and Huay Sai Khaw in Mae Ai. The total Dara-ang ethnic population in Thailand is approximately 4,500-5,000.
On 26 March 1998, around 100 armed officials of the Royal Thai Forestry Department together with the police and other employees of the Department entered Pang Daeng village, a predominantly hilltribe community in Chiang Mai Province in Northern Thailand, and arrested all the male villagers, including 50 adults and 6 children. This mass arrest was conducted without warrants.
You can read more about the troubles at Pha Daeng here.


I hope some of you enjoyed a bit of history. Sometimes it makes the ride more interesting.
 
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DavidFL

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Back to Fang city, & once a walled town with a moat.

The old city of Fang is situated on flat land, surrounded by moats and walls. The largest part of the city is located in the vicinity of what is now the town of Fang south of Chiang Rai, and extends from south to north into an area called Wiang Malika, which is the highest part of the city.

The old city was divided into three sections. The first is an oval section about 1,300 by 1,000 meters in size. It had one wall and one moat. The original wall was made of earth but its top was covered with bricks. Nowadays, very little of this can be seen.

The second section is rectangular is shape, tapering to one end. It is about 800 by 300 meters in size, and situated on a mound in the north, next to the first section. Inside the city area there is evidence of a moat and earthen walls built in the shape of a ring around the city. At present this part of the city is a stadium and residential area.
According to the Chiang Mai Chronicle, King Mangrai, after founding the city-state of Chiang Mai, wanted to subjugate the other city-states in the valleys of the Kok and Mekong rivers. In 1278 the King went to stay at Fang and used it as a stronghold for launching an attack on Chiang Khong and Thoeng. By this means he was able to extend his territory to Haripunchai. Fang was also the birthplace of Prince Khreoua, his son.

After Chiang Mai was established, Fang served as a buffer city-state in the east and was the source of military power and food supply for Lan Na from the 13th and 16th centuries.
Near the highest part of Fang, to the west of the main street there is a a shrine dedicated to two local "heroes. "
Fang in 1636 had been under seige from the Burmese for 3 1/2 years & its resistance finally crumbled. Fearing an unpleasant fate, the ruler of Fang, Prachao Udomsin & his Lao wife Phra Nang Sam Phiw drowned themselves in a well so as to avoid capture. The Burmese victors then spared the rest of the remaining Fang population.

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The giant Buddha in the adjoining temple.

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ronwebb

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All very interesting David, good information. I never give Fang much thought and fly by it on the by-pass.
 

DavidFL

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Time for a break from the city then & a brisk ride into the hills.
The short Doi Larng / Laem loop & the northern half of the old Caution: Very Steep/Dangerous Road Collapse/ Restricted Area Dangerous Road

From Fang you head north towards Mae Ai & 8kms north of the Fang bypass you turn left for Doi Laem R1314.
& a sensational steep roller coaster ride it is.

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If you're not sure exactly where it is, it's on the GTR Golden Triangle guide, grid 3B.
Well worth the ride you can use this for a super little excursion out to the Myanmar border, to actually ride the border line & then swoop down into Tha Ton.
A few pix...

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Check it out sometime you won't be disappointed.

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Short & sweet & stunning.
 
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DavidFL

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You come down off Doi Laem / Larng & you're basically right in Tha Ton.
Turn left towards the bridge & there is the spanking new Jack's Coffee..

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Heading North towards the bridge
On the left hand side
300 metres south / before the bridge.
GPS Waypoint: N20 03 30.5 E99 21 37.8

But I was on a mission......to check out GT Rider Steve's new country house in Mai Mok Cham.
Nothing special he said, but it had been a bit of struggle building with the locals.
Poor language skills being the main problem, but they also like to do it their way...despite explicit instructions........Yeah yeah we all know how it goes.

I located Steve's joint, by following him in - he met me on the main highway turn off.

The new residence under construction.

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The workshop & garage

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The main residence

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One of the retaining walls. His neighbours said he had used enough cement to build 2 other houses. Ho Ho.

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and the man himself

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out fitted like one of the locals.

And with that done Steve & I headed back into Fang to stay at the "old" Preeya 1 Mansion.
Yep I'd moved from the new Preeya 2 Mansion into the good old one.

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GPS Waypoint: N19 55 17.1 E99 12 55.6
On the GTR Fang city map, straight opposite the Ueng Kham (UK) Hotel.

A night of fun & games followed.

The Tua Gao

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BB

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The Cottage

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Yes sir Fang rocks at night. There's no need to pass it by.
Good value for money accommodation
Good food - the Cottage & Uncle Jacks. The Cottage has huge servings of delicious tasty Thai food + good service.
Good night life - Tua Gao, BB, The Cottage.
 

DavidFL

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Davidfl;293762 wrote: Back to Fang city, & once a walled town with a moat.

Near the highest part of Fang, to the west of the main street there is a a shrine dedicated to two local "heroes. "
Fang in 1636 had been under seige from the Burmese for 3 1/2 years & its resistance finally crumbled. Fearing an unpleasant fate, the ruler of Fang, Prachao Udomsin & his Lao wife Phra Nang Sam Phiw drowned themselves in a well so as to avoid capture. The Burmese victors then spared the rest of the remaining Fang population.

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The giant Buddha in the adjoining temple.

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Correction to the story of the Fang heroes.

Prachao Fang Udomsin, was the King of Fang & ruled Fang benevolently with stability & freedom.
He had a daughter Pranang Sam Piw, famed for her beauty & skin. It had 3 colours- soft white in the morning, red in the afternoon & light pink in the evening.
Such was her beauty that her fame spread throughout the region; & the then King of Myanmar, Su Tho Tham Ma Racha decided to capture her.
The people of Fang defended well & the Burmese laid siege to the town for 3 1/2 years with the residents suffering greatly.
Eventually to alleviate the suffering of the people the father & daughter decided to take their own lives by jumping into the well.
Once the Burmese got news of this they left.
 

DavidFL

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Fang still has one other interesting piece of history - the Fang oil fields & petroleum museum.

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What's that you say Fang oil fields?
Yep that's right oil fields & a refinery in Fang.

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Oil was first discovered in Fang over a hundred years ago, when oil was found seeping out of the ground. A well was built & the oil, believed to be magic was used as an ointment for skin infections.

In 1921 the first real wells were drilled with steam power by Prince Kampangphet Akkarayothin & a US Geologist Wallace Lee.

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These first wells were dry & abandoned, but in 1958 HM The King & Queen visited the oil fields & ceremoniously spud a well.

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Since then over 240 wells have been drilled in the Fang basin.

There have been 7 oil reservoirs
1. Chaiprakarn (abandoned 1984)
2. Mae Soon
3. Pongnok (abandoned 1985)
4. Sansai
5. Nongyao
6. Sanjang
7. Banthi

According to the Petroleum Museum, there are currently 60 wells scattered around the Fang basin. Not all are in production. Wells are used for 9 months, then closed down for 3 months for servicing. The total oil production is 1,200 barrels a day. The Mae Soon field is the biggest producer.

The Museum entrance

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and indeed these must have been exciting adventurous days.

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And just a few hundred metres east of the museum & refinery is another shrine.

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The Jao Por Kor Mue Lek Shrine.
Considered one of the most holy places in Fang.
Jao Por Kor Mue Lek was a fine warrior & the leading warrior for the King of Fang in the battles against the Burmese.
It is believed he is the protector of the Fang land & its treasures.
In drilling for oil in the Fang basin several miraculous events related to safe & successful drilling have occurred & homage paid to Jao Por Kor Mue Lek accordingly.
His shrine is highly respected by the staff of the refinery & drilling operations.
 

DavidFL

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Two more Fang add-ons - worth checking out if you're over night-ing in Fang

Sunny 555 Restaurant

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On R1095, 3.5 kms north of the Fang bypass road.

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Mini golf for the kids

An intriguing cave karaoke-restaurant

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A snack lunch: Caesar Salad.

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& ok for the low price. Cant complain.

You can't miss it

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I plan to go back & test it out at night time...looks like another Fang place to maybe hang out.
GPS Waypoint: N19 58 53.6 E99 14 52.9

And yet another fun place to hang out in Fang...the new Fang Cafe for bikers

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Grand opening was 9th October 2013.

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Location main street,
heading north
right hand side
at the 2nd set of traffic lights
on the sharp 90 degree bend / intersection.
GPS Waypoint: N19 55 14.8 E99 12 50.2

Check em out.

Fang is all good.
I seriously enjoyed my time - day & night there, getting trapped into 4 nights in Fang. It was / is all worth it. Lots to see & do.
Combine a visit to Fang with a Doi Ang Khang Ride from Arunothai, the # 1 over night ride from Chiang Mai?
You won't be disappointed.
 

guichard

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Jul 11, 2007
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Many thanks David for all these photos and infos.
For sure,one misses a lot taking the by-pass.
Worth staying overnight and it will be most convenient if Kiaw Pha Wok opens in the near future for visa runs.
Definitely more Thai than MaeSai.
Cheers , Lung jacques.
 

blackb15

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David
Really good ,very envious that's were you ride when your bored :)
Safe riding
Paul
 

Jurgen

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Thank you David for highlighting, and mightily illustrating, treasures (some uncharted), but so close to home. It's really enticing to jump on the bike for shorter, hence still enriching tours.
 

DavidFL

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Davidfl;293754 wrote: But who are the Palong?

The Palong are a tribe who came from Burma only in the early 1980s, fleeing the conflict between Khun Sa's army & the Burmese army.
In the conflict several villages - a whole valley - were supposedly completely massacred for refusing to get involved & be porters for one of the sides.

Today there are only a few Palong villages in North Thailand, with most of them west of Fang.

Nor Lae is the biggest

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Nor Lae 1994

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Nor Lae 2001

followed by Huay Mak Liam; Suan Cha is another near Fang, then east of Chiang Dao there are maybe 3 villages.

The Chiang Dao villages have had a particularly hard time, suffering arrest & persecution from government authorities trying to move them out & take their land in the 1990s.
Their area is relative stable now & is a popular trekking / day trip destination from Chiang Mai.
I was fortunate enough to witness a triple wedding there in Feb 1992.

https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/38535-The-Palong

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Some notes Ive turned up

You can read more about the troubles at Pha Daeng here

I hope some of you enjoyed a bit of history. Sometimes it makes the ride more interesting.
The Palong at Nor Lae with my Mum & brother in May 2013.

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Jurgen

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Thank you David, great piece of information about a not so well published tribe. Good to remember the harship of people, in the region, caught inside a big sandwich!
 

Marmite

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Sep 13, 2010
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Nicely done and Fang looks well worth stopping at.

I did drive around there in a truck a few years ago and have a couple of snaps of the scenery.

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DavidFL

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Back to Fang after another Fred tip off, this time a Shan festival at temple at Mon Pin, west of Fang.

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It was a quick blast straight up R107, check into the Preeya 1 Mansion, then head out to the Wat.

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I was early, but Fred was earlier

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settled in & getting the low down on the festivities.

It was a bit confused about the festival - it seems like a bit of a combination Tod Kathin / Loy Krathong festival at first.

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However from some research what I can gather, & I could well be wrong, it looks like the Shan "Chong Para" or "Poy Lerm Duan Sip-Et" festival.
This festival celebrates Buddha's return from heaven to earth.

Villagers prepare "Chong Paras" castles made of wood & coloured paper, & decorated with lights, flowers & sometimes fruit.

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These are paraded through the street, from their houses to the temple.

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Offerings are made at the temple to monks,

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Men seated to the left

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and ladies to the back & right

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plus sweets are given to the elderly & parents, to show respect; which I now understand is what Fred & I were given to munch on when we first arrived. (Respect for the elderly farang too eh?)

Wat Wieng Wai is the biggest & most important Shan temple in Fang.
On the night 10 village groups & supposedly 40 temples were represented.

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The Wat certainly rocked that night...
 

DavidFL

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Back to Chiang Mai the next day via Doi Ang Khang...

The Doi Ang Khang Loop

R1249 the main Doi Ang Khang road.

the start heading up into them mountains

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A view of the twisting switchbacks & steep road.

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The view

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R1340 Doi Ang Khang - Arunothai, the Burma border road.

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& the chedi above?
In Ban Tham Ngop, the ex home of Gen Lee & the 3rd KMT army.
If you're passing by check out the temple & the really weird monk there....he's damn strange strange...
 
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fabianfred

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Nice series David. That new biker cafe on the corner is the same old wooden building where I used to have a Photo studio with my wife for five years...now five years since we closed.
Remember I told you about my Dutch friend Wilbert. He has been in Thailand about 35 years and lived in Fang for 30+. He was a tour guide and in his early days loved trekking about the area, especially looking for waterfalls. He told me that not far from the Doi 30 area on the Burmese side there was a valley full of Palaung communities...not sure if one village or several. This was 30 years ago before they came to Thailand. The Burmese army tried to get them to join them and secure the border, but they refused, so they slaughtered them all. (not an area where any news would get out easily.) Wilbert said he visited the area a few days after and saw the results of the massacre. I presume the survivors fled into Thailand and were given permission by the King to settle on Doi Angkang and work on the Royal Project there. That was how the first community in ban NorLae came to be. Wilbert also told me of a similar thing on the Thai side, but this time it was an Akha village, and for some reason the Thai Army told them to move their village, and gave them only 24 hours to do so, and when they didn't, slaughtered them too.
He says he has had great sympathy for the hill-tribes since then.
Wilbert and I went to the recent Sunflower & Hill-tribe fest at Hua Mae Kham this month.
 

DavidFL

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Davidfl;293769 wrote: Time for a break from the city then & a brisk ride into the hills.
The short Doi Larng / Laem loop & the northern half of the old most dangerous road.

From Fang you head north towards Mae Ai & 8kms north of the Fang bypass you turn left for Doi Laem R1314.
& a sensational steep roller coaster ride it is.

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If you're not sure exactly where it is, it's on the GTR Golden Triangle guide, grid 3B.
Well worth the ride you can use this for a super little excursion out to the Myanmar border, to actually ride the border line & then swoop down into Tha Ton.
A few pix...

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Check it out sometime you won't be disappointed.

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Short & sweet & stunning.
The same loop, 3rd January 2014 with my brother...a few piccies

The road & view

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The view

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The White chedi on the Burmese side...?

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A track to explore

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check it all out sometime. It's worth the time & ride.