My most boring ride...

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by cdrw, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Oct 6, 2006
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    My most boring ride...

    Can't sleep? Experiencing insomnia? Well, reading this trip report might cure it!

    The trip began with a few goals:
    1-Nat, at the Piston Shop in Chiang Mai, e-mailed me that he now had the second head bearing his shop had failed to install during my visit last Dec. I wanted to bring my original post on the shop full circle and indicated that Nat backs up his work, though it would have been much cheaper not to make the ride and have my local shop source and install the bearing.
    2-I wanted to explore Chiang Rai as a possible city in which to relocate.
    3-I needed a farang sized rain jacket to replace the cheap one I'd long ago acquired in Cambodia. I wanted a non-Khmer jacket whose sleeves went more than 3/4th's the way down my arms, plus I'd never been to Tachilek.

    I departed Pattaya planning to overnighted at Tak. Though I've made the trip before without problem, this time I got lost along the way, probably due to my paying more attention to the cagers and hazards than street signs. Near Saraburi I got off of hwy-1 and onto hwy-2 and 45km later I realized nothing looked familiar; then it began to rain...heavily! After an hour waiting at a gas station, there was no sign of let up, I motored on, back to hwy-1. The rain ceased 20km later. Further up hwy-1 sometime after Nakhon Sawan, I again screwed up. I had no idea where I was. A lady directed me to a two-lane road to get back to hwy-1. The road was good, there were few vehicles, and it bordered a wide canal on the right that ran it's it's length. To the right, distance and in the middle of nowhere, there was this wat with a large buddha atop it:
    About 70km later the road ended at hwy-1 and I turned left (north) on hwy-1, so somehow I must have been lost west of hwy-1.! Looking on my ThinkNet map, I could not see any roads west of hwy-1 which bordered a canal. So, it's normally about 600-km to Tak; I did it in 803-km! Getting lost does offer the opportunity to see unplanned and unexpected sights. ;-) OTOH, I'm a prime candidate for GPS, or maybe at least a compass!

    In Tak, I stayed at one of the two hotels I've previously used; they have the same ownership and both are 350-Bt/night, with A/C (the best deal) or 250-Bt fan. Each has HW, TV, refrig, and the hotels have a restaurant and each morning offers free unlimited coffee/milo, sandwiches, toast/jam and rolls in the lobby. Both are located near the 'T' intersection in Tak, which hwy-1 hits when driving north. The newest and larger of the two places has larger rooms with a double bed. It requires turning right at the 'T' and its about 100m on your left. The older place, which has smaller rooms with twin beds, requires turning left at the 'T' (where hwy-1 continues north), and continuing about 150m and then turning left onto the side street where you see their sign. It's located on the left at the end of that side street. Both hotels have a sign like this; the newer hotel across intersection has a larger version of the sign:

    The next morning I arrived in Chiang Mai (no, I didn't get lost) and stayed at the Jonadda GH for 3 nights (200-Bt double bed and in-room shower with HW). In CM, I went to the Piston Shop and Nat installed the head bearing, charging for the bearing and no labor. I now needed a new pair of sprockets and a chain. Nat ordered the sprockets from Singapore or Malaysia and I expected them to be available in a week or so, after I returned from visiting Chiang Rai. BMW, didn't even stock sprockets for the F650GS [no they stock anything for their bikes?]. Other than loitering around CM, I spent two entertaining nights at different bars listening to John Nash (Jonadda GH) and a band playing music and rocking the house. One night I went with Peter Clark and a nice couple from Slovenia, who were also staying at the Jonadda GH.
    john1. john2.

    I'd arrived in the late afternoon in Chiang Rai; it was getting cold and I needed a room. I'd taken suggested GT-R listing for rooms in C-Rai, but was surprised to find the recommended Sport Inn and Sabai Inn, as well as the hotel adjacent to the Sabai booked solid. Desperate, I booked one night into the Red Rose (350-Bt/night), located directly across the street from the Sport Inn. Turns out it's a S/T place that's like an adult Disneyland, with about different 40 theme rooms ranging from 350-Bt/night to a 750-Bt 2-story forest-like room. The first picture show only half of the rooms; the last is the entry in the 2-story room...a lounge area, (not seen) located is to the right of the pix.
    red. red1. red2.
    red3. red4. red5.

    Next morning I revisited the previous hotels and found they had no opening for 3-4 days, so I extend another night at the Red Rose and decided to ride hwy-1 to Mai Sai and do some shopping at Tachilek. I was surprised to find that in addition to the 500-Bt temporary visa fee charged by the Burmese, Thailand charged me 100-Bt to retain my passport, even though I'd brought the needed passport photocopies with me. Has the Thai no-fee policy changed when exiting Mae Sai or did I get scammed? Maybe I should have asked for a receipt!

    I had a copy of MotoRex's map which indicated the location of Tachiek's three bike apparel shops. Unfortunately, the map didn't help me in finding the shops, but persistence and exploring the area did. I hadn't expected to find so many shops in Tachilek. There may have been 500 or so (?) in the area. The place is big as well as crowded! My goal of getting a rain jacket was thwarted; I found only one of the three shops had any rain gear and that was 4-pair of Harley Davidson emblazoned rain wear, which didn't even have any reflective tape. Ah, no thanks!
    I did buy just 2prs of riding gloves, just to justify my visit. The value was a good but not a great deal, due to having to pay a visa fee atop such a small purchase. I enjoyed Tachilek...the variety of shops, the crowds and even the numerous and easily avoided hawkers. I do plan on returning!
    Tachilek. Tachilek-shop1. Tachilek-shop.

    Upon exiting Tachilek and back to Mae Sai, I took 1290 to Sop Ruak and Chiang Saen along the Mekong. The latter areas must be developing tourist areas: the road initially was _6_ lanes wide, later areas had either sections of dirt where road widening was in process or a basic 2-land road.I did note some upscale hotels in the latter towns.
    1290. 1290-1.
    From Chiang Saen I put on few hundred km's wandering on both main and secondary roads in the area, on my way back to hwy-1 and then south back to Chiang Rai. At one more remote area I passed by an enormous Wat, distant from any village. The large figure atop the wat appeared to me as a Chinese god, rather than a Buddha.
    Frankly, I was disappointed. I found the area roads and geography rather boring when compared to the twisties found in the more hilly areas of the Golden Triangle, west of hwy-1.

    The ride back to Chiang Rai was uneventful, but shortly after entering the city I found my bike had acquired a new passenger: a 2.5" carpenter's nail in the back tire. Fortunately I didn't have the flat tire earlier while riding in the boondocks. I rode into a Honda moto dealer and pointed out the problem. They said they couldn't help, but the service manager kindly had one of his guys lead me to another shop. ST Motor Bikes primarily rents and repairs motos and 250cc dirt bikes. They are located on the sidestreet that's west of the gold clock tower. Initially, the shop's owner was reluctant to repair my flat, but business was slow so he conceded. He removed and sent the tube to another shop which applied a heat-treated patch and I was good to go. While waiting for the repair, I had breakfast at the 'HUB', a nicely decorated restaurant and coffee shop located just north of the white building seen in the clock picture. Good coffee, but their American breakfast is marginal, even at 140-Bt. There's another place in town were the American breakfasts are an outrageous 275-Bt, especially when compared to the large breakfast I get in Pattaya for just 80-Bt!
    clock. ST-bikes. ST-bikes1.

    I took some time to explore Chaing Rai. A nice and rather sedate city. As I expected there are few farang oriented venues, but I found the city to be well maintained, traffic quite civilized (especially compared to Pattaya!) and the locals friendly and more than willing to be quite helpful. It's a nice city, but...and there is a but...while it's location provides easy access to the Golden Triangle and Laos, it's a long ride if I want to go to Cambodia and I like being able to easily access both Laos or Cambodia. So, Chiang Rai is off my list of possible relocation sites.

    Then, it began raining, so I again retained my room at the Red Rose. It rained hard and continuously for the next 5-days and the wind chill added to the cold, bringing the temperature down as low as an estimated 12C!. For some reason, my normally no problem visor quickly fogged up after a few km, probably due to the cold. Normally I don't hesitate to ride in the rain. I felt I was being held as a captive to the rain!

    Actually, the Red Rose proved a great deal. Okay, I didn't need to use all the available options in the room, which are controlled on a panel at the bed's headboard: controls for the in-room karaoke, the black lights revealing images on the walls, the red overhead spotlight which highlighted the bed. The regular lighting was sufficient. Yet for 350-Bt, the bed was large, the vanity good and there were separate rooms within for both the bathroom and shower; the latter with hot water. The cable TV (only 2 English stations), powerful A/C, refrig and a hot water air pot added to my comfort. The hot water pot was fine for making coffee and 'Mama' dishes, though the Red Rose does provide a food menu. The only thing I didn't have during my stay...was (sigh) company! I was the only virgin in a S/T hotel!

    The rain finally let up on March 19th and I rode to Chiang Mai. Jonadda GH was full, so I stayed at The Rider Inn for the next two days, while hoping that the Piston Shop would receive the ordered Sprockets. The room at the Rider had a double bed, fan, TV and outside bathroom for 350-Bt. Nat, at the Piston Shop, told me that the sprockets were still being held up by Customs. I was at wits end, so I asked Nat and he agreed to ship them to me whenever they arrived. On March 21st I headed home, first overnighting in Tak and then onto Pattaya. So, after nearly 3000-km, I had finished a long ride with few things accomplished.

    I can now hear snoring....:yawn:
  2. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    Oct 11, 2009
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    Hello I enjoyed the story. I am riding down from Chjaing Mai to Pattaya tomorrow do you still know if the main highways still the best route with the flooding ?



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