What else would you do, if you get the sack from your job of 3 months? Go for a bike ride in Northern Thailand of course! After I got back from my Asian ride in March of this year, I couldn’t cope with good old Aussy paranoia, so I found myself back in Shanghai once again, then I must of said something to the Chinese boss, after he called me a “white monkey”, cut a long story short, I got 4 weeks wages and was asked to leave. So I got a ticket to Bangkok and 2 weeks in paradise, god I love this place! 1st October 2005 It was a hot humid day in Bangkok as Tuk, my Thai girlfriend and I stepped aboard the small turbo-propped airplane to Chiangmai. I am lucky enough to have some good mates up in the north who are all crazy bikers, one of them is David Unkovich, from GT-RIDER fame, although his Africa Twin was with the mechanics, AGAIN, and on my arrival he was in LAOS distributing his latest maps. So after a few phone calls, it was around to the Welsh bar to watch Rossy win yet another GP in Dubai. All the usual suspects turned up with their nubile Thai girlfriends in tow, David (TDM) Early, David the Kiwi and David Bailey who I had never met before in person, but had been conversing over the internet for a few months and it seemed we were old buddies. So much so that David B. offered me the use of his recently acquired GS650 Dakar, complete with Panniers and Top box. The next day it was off to the BMW dealership in Chiangmai, the first person I met was the familiar face of Khampol, the young mechanic who helped me get my bike serviced while I was on my ride through Asia earlier in the year. He had prepared and washed the bike and she was ready for the 3 day trip. David and Mai had already left on their RT1150 BMW that morning; they were off to Doi Ang Khong a mountain west of Fang. So we arranged to meet them at Pae the next day, even though Pae had suffered badly from flooding just the week before. 3rd October 2005 Now I have fallen off my Dakar many times (especially pissed or just being stupid) but I didn’t realize how difficult it was for a pillion passenger, especially a Thai female of around 50 kilo’s and 5 foot high to get off a tall bike like the Dakar, complete with panniers and top box. The foot pegs are about a foot off the ground, and she has to throw her right leg around and in front of the top box, while trying to miss the left hand pannier, the first result was arse over tit and a 4 foot drop right onto the road, luckily she was wearing her riding gear, embarrassment and pride was all that was hurt, she learns quickly! So its off north along highway 107 to Mae Malai were we turn west up the 1095 to enjoy the 1864 curves that make up the 240 odd k’s of road to Mai Hong Son. Our first stop for coffee is at Mae Sae, so far cross our fingers no rain, then about 10k out of Pae, down it comes, well it is the end of the wet season after all. The trouble was, as this was a quick week ride we had to compromise with our riding gear, we seen an add in the Bangkok post of a 50% sale at “the paddock” were we purchased lightweight jackets and gloves, (we borrowed 2 helmets from Joe) the trouble was the chill factor of the wind together with the rain began to get mighty uncomfortable, add the amount of mud on the road from the recent land slides and you have a muddy, cold 10k into Pae. I gave David a call on the mobile and surprise, he just arrived as well and having lunch just around the corner. We were soon cleaned up and joining David and Mai it was a cruisey ride to Soppong, although the number of washouts and road works will make this section of road pretty well devoid of any fast racing in the foreseeable future, even the F650, with 2 up was more than a match for the RT1150 in these conditions. We stopped for the night at the fairytale like SOPPONG RIVER INN, right on the river, in fact the river was in flood, so you are literally hanging over it, together with the great open roofed shower, if you want to get romantic with your girl, this is the place. 4th October 2005 The next morning after an early breakfast, (David and Mai live on a farm) it was off through the misty morning towards Mae Hong Son. Its really funny starting off this early in this part of the world, usually I am riding with David (the Map) or David (the TDM) who prefer gentleman’s hours, you know a 9.00 rise and on the road by 10. We were having morning coffee in MHS before 9.00 am for Christ’s sake so we decided to keep going and stay the final night at RIVERSIDE GUESTHOUSE at Mae Sariang. By this time my Thai girlfriend had finally mastered the art of disembarking off the back seat, (there is such things as blondes in Thailand!) so it was back on the road heading south out of MHS.The road soon deteriated in a slippy mixture of gravel, mud and a cement additive which the Thai road workers in their wisdom added to the already brown cake mix. Here again the F650 just took it in its stride, although the lack of water protection from the knees down rendered that part of my jeans a brown stiff mess. We arrived in Mae Sariang, booked into the guesthouse and took in the view of the swollen river, had a meal and generally relaxed, waiting for the impending early rise the next morning, unlike my previous rides around the MHS loop, I was waking up sober and fresh, there must be something in this thing of riding with a bird, rather than with your rowdy sometimes pissy mates. 5th October 2005. The next morning David and Mai were up VERY early as they had to get over to the East to check out some teak wood for their farm, so as Tuk and I were enjoying our breakfast around 7.00am, David and Mai were heading off on their 500k day. Saying farewell to my riding buddy and promising him I wouldn’t thrash the F650 on the road back to Chiangmai; we also packed up and headed back to C.M. It was surprisingly cold on the road and it wasn’t long before “the blonde” began to whinge, especially when the inevitable wet drizzle began once we headed into the mountains. Road 108 back to Hot was pocked with landslides and washouts, including road works on perfectly good sections of road,(someone is getting a nice little backhander) so our speed was kept down to around 80k. We passed David and Mai having a cup of coffee on the side of the road, we didn’t stop; I was too bloody cold and wanted to get down on the river flat and stop at Hot for a coffee. It was then a blast along highway 108, if you can call 100k an hour on our borrowed F650 a blast, (there David, I did look after your bike). Finally back in CM, we covered 625k in 3 days, once again enjoying the beautiful countryside and had my first naughty at the Soppong river Inn, now I never did that before riding with my mates. I love this part of the country and would even venture to say I probably like riding up here in the wet season rather in the dry, there is a lack of traffic and the conditions are a bit more hazardous, which suits my style of riding. See you all in around 6 months. It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you get there.