Wife and I are just back from a modified Mae Hong Song Loop celebrating our anniversary. First day down to Doi Inthanon and Mae Chaem with a night at the Novasoung Resort to have some great Finnish meatballs and out to some side trips. Watched the sun rise the next morning at 6:24 AM over the King and Queen’s jeti’s on Doi Inthanon thousands of feet above us. After watching the sunrise and finishing breakfast, we were making several big climbs and descents and enjoying the views to get to Khun Yuam on HWY 1263. From there we headed to Mae Hong Song to take a three hour lunch break in in the heat of the day. (It was 43 degrees C there and no tourists roaming around.) After lunch we ripped over to Pai and saw the remains of a truck that had lost its brakes on one of the grades. Looks like the rock wall it hit was pretty effective in the final stop. We were really hot getting into Pai and looking forward to a very cold air-conditioned room, but the electricity was out so no shower, no AC and no fan. Had a roof-top terrace above our room and we watched the sun set over the mountains 12 hours after we saw it rise on the other side of Doi Inthanon. Very nice! Then off to downtown where we had a tasty candlelight dinner and some cheap margaritas to ward off the heat. Power finally back on at about 10:30PM but the AC barely spit out any cool air at all until I got to it the next morning. We left Pai two days later early in the morning to beat the heat. Pai sure is different at 6 AM! Local ladies in Lanna dresses are carrying silver bowls of merit and going to the temple, monks are walking the streets, and only a few foreigners are out jogging on the streets. It feels like a small Thai village at that time of day. Rather than heading toward busy Mae Rim, we headed down HWY 1265 to Wat Bann Chan on the new pavement to the new Ampur. If you ride this, be careful as we nearly lost it on a few corners that had some ball-bearing like sand. Very slippery and hard to see until you are in it trying to get the bike to say upright. The new pavement is so nice that it lulls you into thinking you can push it when there are some real attention getters. Breakfast at Wat Chan and then east to Mae Chaem Noi and Mae Daet Noi. This route back to Chiang Mai from Pai is a really fun alternative through remote pine forests as long as you don’t mind a bit (okay, maybe like 50km!) of gravel and rough road. Photos are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ or http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/ A couple of trip notes: -Don’t forget to bring extra camera batteries or a charger. We lost a day’s photos when the camera batteries died! -ALWAYS bring your own coffee. First night we had a hot pot but no coffee mix and had to wait until the restaurant opened for coffee. Nearly died! -Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. In Pai when the juice finally came on, the air conditioner had barely cooled the room by the next morning and it was making odd noises. Taking the cover off, the filter was so choked with dust that very little air got through. In the shower with the filter and 5 minutes later that little LG A/C was cranking out some serious polar air. Guest house management would have taken hours if they did anything! All in all a great trip for us with a lot of side trips and great experiences. It is truly amazing how free you can feel out on those remote roads. We’ve done the MHS loop several times, but this was the best one, but it would have been even better with less sun and more green. See you out there!