Northwestern Thai-Burmese border and the heart of Golden Triangle-Thoed Thai.

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by GSForLife, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    The next morning I woke up as usual early...and decided to take some photos:-

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    Arh!....hundreds of small red ants all over my riding gears feasting off the crushed remnants of the mosquitoes from last nite ride to Suphanburi....unneccessary work indeed.

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    I strolled out from the hotel to the entrance and was greeted by this local taxi.

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    The 2 early cab drivers...anywhere in town for 20 bahts a trip.

    Shortly thereafter, Joko was up and we went searching for breakfast. While crossing the main road we stumbled upon this:-

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    Dragon dance procession.

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    The musical troupe.

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    Ending sight of the procession.

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    All just to celebrate an opening of a shopping centre.

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    We found our breakfast kitchen.

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    Served with our hearty breakfast beef soup noodle.

    It was during this moment that Joko told me that he would no longer continue with the ride. He then proposed that I continue with Ang & Lee while he would ride from here to Bangkok to his aunt's home to make arrangement to send his bike home to KL while he would take the train. I offered to accompany him till Bangkok, but he declined my offer saying that I shd move along as a year-end trip such as this cant be done as and when one fancies it. I appeciated his understanding and called Ang to informed him of Joko's decision. Ang was taken aback by that news but confirmed that he and Lee would continue in my trails just right behind me. They told me to move ahead first and they will be right behind me before I reached Mae Sot......(I should have guessed better!)

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    The huge dragon statue in Suphanburi (newly constructed) which was where I bid farewell to Joko...and heading my solo ride to the direction of Mae Sot. Joko headed towards Bangkok (90kms from Suphanburi). For readers' info....dragon is also a symbol of a lone traveller in chinese astrology....a sheer coincidence?
     
  2. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    On the way to Mae Sot....

    On the 4th day...Joko quits the trip and despite Ang's assurance that he & Lee would be right behind me...somehow my inner feeling just dont buy it. But, having brought a giant trailie for the trip with loads a third of which was meant for GSs bikes, I have no choice but to hope that my gut feeling would be wrong. Funnily, I texted our (Joko & I) mutual friend Hazlie in Spore of the recent event, and Hazlie replied my sms with a message like this.. "since you are going solo, you must be extra cautious not to get into an accident.." and that message from Hazlie became my sole companion for the next 11 days at times getting me through difficult and lonely stretches of road ahead....

    now the real rides begin....

    From the dragon statue where we bid farewell, I rode northwest to the direction of Mae Sot passing through Chai Nat, Nakhon Sawan, Kampheang Phet, Tak and finally Mae Sot. The roads there are pretty straightforward and much less interesting...save except the commencement of route 12 from Tak to Mae Sot...see some pics along the way:-

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    The commencement of interesting roads ahead....route 12 Tak-Mae Sot is in the process of being widened. Dusty yet well paved except with a less gripping tarmac.

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    My first scenic point at route 12 approaching Mae Sot. It's a giant bharat tree near some water falls and the view is fantastic...entry fee was 200 bahts...but I need to track for 2 kms...have to leave my bike & gears without supervision...hence I gave up the idea..sorry no photos. Here I decided against my heavy will to leave the guard house point and continue to Mae Sot.

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    The common sight of makeshift market stalls on route 12...from this point the curvy mountainous roads start...what bikers crave is about to begin...

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    Another scenic point along route 12...this one is for free.

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    A less common straighter section of route 12.

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    A popular spot with tourists - Mae Sot magic hill.

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    A fast sweeper of route 12...a lot more sharper & steeper sweepers had to be missed as I cant risk an accident while shooting these roads.

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    Another typical fast section...the roads may look well paved, but they arent that gripping on the tires. Coming from malaysia, I can attest that malaysia paved roads are much better quality in terms of grip.

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    In slightly less than 1 hour's time, I arrived in Mae Sot town roundabout....took 3 pm turn to head to Mawaddy friendship bridge and this was the 1st thing that attracted my sight....MHS...one of the main reasons why I choose this route.

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    Mawaddy river bridge... at this point I am feeling tired and hungry...being alone somehow changed the dynamic of riding...faster yes I am but I am also more vulnerable in all other aspects...so I decided not to stroll the rim moei wet market area alone with my bike & gears and I went looking for Phannu House as recommended by most GT riders' reports.

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    In less than 15 mins I found Phannu House along Intarakeree road....but the GPS coordinates given by Slash & Peter Beddhist in the past reports werent accurate. But somehow I managed to find it by a stroke of easy luck...it was quite easy as a matter of fact.

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    Room was clean and very worth the price at 450 bahts/nite. This is the outside structure of Phannu House.
     
  3. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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  4. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    After checked into Phannu House, I went to get something to eat. Travelling alone makes one less adventurous...so I took the easy way by sticking to the 1st place I saw...

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    singha beer is becoming customary during dinner time.

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    A simple order of "fried lice"....lucky for me this one understands some english as I cant speak a word of thais or burmese to save my life.

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    It was still early 6.30pm thai time, so I got greed and ordered a fish tom yum....ooh too sourish and spicy.

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    Shortly after my meal and while waiting for Ang & Lee to call me, I strolled around Intarakhiri street....this shop was next to the restaurant where I ate.

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    Intharakhiri street at 7pm thai time.

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    A few more steps and I was in a local monastery....I saw some young buddhist monks walking back from an english lesson.

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    I then saw what I would consider the nicest statue of Buddha I'd seen in Thailand. (I learnt later that this one was from Burma).

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    I was a bit startled as I finished snapping the photo of the altar, this buddhist monk stood there quietly next to me staring at me...A brief exchange of courtesy took place and he introduced himself as the local resident english teacher which was not surprising as it had been days since anyone managed to strike a lively conversation with me. He showed me around the monastery..,

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    Altar of the late founder of the monastery.

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    The main wat/pagoda in the monastery.

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    I thought this was a good photography angle...clear skies and a sight of the moon at 7.30pm thai time.

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    He was concerned upon learning that I was alone on a bike trip all from Kuala Lumpur and offered me a talisman as protection...which I gladly accepted. I then excused myself and retired early as usual.

    At about 10.00pm thai time, when I was about to fall into deep sleep, Ang called me on my phone. They had just arrived and told me that they have found their accomodation for the night and that they will join me tomorrow morning for the ride to Mae Hong Son. I told Ang, that riding in dark hours is a very silly thing to do in rural Thailand and I agreed to meet him tomorrow morning....A minute later, he called again and said that I am to move ahead on my own again in the morning while Lee & him will tail my back. I said fine and went back to sleep. Somehow, my thoughts that these boys arent interested to join in my ride has started to sink to the bottom of my mind.

    Early morning at 5 am thai time, I am up and ready with my cam...for some pics:-

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    Traditional buddhist monks out to seek alms from devotees.

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  5. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    The ride on Route 105 Mae Sot to Mae Sarieng begins shortly. I was a bit excited as one of the main reasons for this trip was to experience this part of Thailand... some pics along the road:-

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    At 6.30am thai time, I head off to Mae Ramat.

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    The 1st 45 kms was a normal paved road and thereafter the road from this pic onwards starts to unwind...

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    I pass by literally dozens of these check points..

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    Then I pass by the 1st & also the largest Burmese refugees settlement along route 105..

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    It was bustling with humans activity but I was denied entry for more pics...

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    A curious bystander came closer to inspect me and my bike...happy to pose for a pic.

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    The only child who was brave enough to pose for my camera...

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    I move on....a common view along route 105.

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    An orphanage approximately 75 kms later....in the middle of nowhere. I jammed my brakes but as I dismounted from my bike, all the children took off abruptly...assured that I wasnt hostile 3 mins later, they resumed their activity... I asked for a group photo but wasnt entertained..

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    The orphanage signage.

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    A common fast sweeper of route 105, reminiscent of the roads in route 108 & 1095. Many more steeper sections were not shot as I cant risk a mishap.

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    Anor section of the road.

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    Then the road get narrower and deserted with deteriorating tarmac.... and this continued for the next 35 kms. Certain sections were very interesting and steep, but unfortunately photos werent possible without much risks. This stretch of roads was different from routes 108 & 1095. It was shady, narrower and quite fun but very deserted even during noon.

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    Here was one such steep section...see the GPS elevation at 778m..that was higher than I Tong village peak and the road just went spiralling downwards. It could be difficult had it rained. I guess I was lucky.

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    Then I come to this...but luckily it was only for about 3-5kms.....it was a heavy silted dirt track (as I noticed from some pot holes up on the hill top, the mud was thick and it trapped water). Again, had it rained, with a pair of road tires and a heavy bike, I could had it coming.

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    I arrived at a small village settlement where I bumped into a group of local bikers. They were mostly on their sportbikes heading to MHS as I caught up with them later on. A pillion from their group tried to strike a conversation with me but I cant respond except to smile and say "english only-no thais"...and I swore that their apparent "leader" of the group (the one in black riding suit seen standing with his helmet off looked like Ang!...or so I hope then that both Ang & Lee had finally managed to catch up...maybe all fat asian middle aged men look alike.) They were filling up their fuel tanks. They left after that and I was all alone again.

    It was another 20+ kms before Mae Sarieng, and I came across what I would say the nicest view along route 105....I feel this view captures the essence of the place very well, fertile, calm & peaceful.
    I took 4 pictures at varying angle...would do a photo "stitching" soon, once time permits.
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    I arrived at Mae Sarieng...it was about 1.00pm thai time.
     
  6. Joko Hurricanemax

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    Keep the power on this post...Thanks for the report & great pix!
     
  7. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

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    Thanks for the xcellent photos & comprehensive report!
     
  8. Joko Hurricanemax

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    hahahaha...I skidded cos i lost the front. Of course the sand didnt help. Note the huge pothole top right hand, that the vege-truck was trying to avoid, thereby effectively cutting off my apex.

    But seriously, GS4Life, thanks for yr help and sorry for scaring you to bits! Hahahah!
     
  9. Joko Hurricanemax

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    the elderly local went something like this...

    Attached files 263270=245-chimp.
     
  10. Joko Hurricanemax

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    Hahahaha..Thanks Mate. Commonality in more ways than one. Its a small world afterall but i dont wanna be meeting him again any time in the next 30yrs or so...

    But the driver, at a full halt, did come out of his truck to gawk a bit. He then helped us to lift the heavy Winnie up before in a flash, hopped into his truck and drove off. No a word was exchanged nor needed i suppose...

    Mai pen rai. I should be lucky that Winnie didnt slide to a halt by knocking his jalopy...it would have be me$$y.

    in LOS, all foreigners are at fault in any accident regardless...even if a plane fell off the sky and whacked me senseless, i'd still be at fault. Serious!
     
  11. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Thank you all for the words of compliment and encouragement. This report is getting difficult largely due to photos uploading. Nevertheless a report shall be completed in due course...next arriving at MHS.
     
  12. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    On arriving in Mae Sarieng, I was eager to press on as from my recollection of this place a few years back, it was not interesting and also because at the time I was there, the sunflower season was already over as can be seen along the way. I wasnt hungry then...and the thought of eating/drinking alone unless necessary was uninviting. I rode on and as usual some small turning mistakes was made (it happens whenever I reach urban areas or villages with multiple road signages in Thais) and I ended up in some "otop village" heading towards north till I was stopped at a checkpoint....luckily the guard was able to get what I was trying to tell him that I needed to get to MHS...he retorted....Mae Hong Son...No, No! pointing his finger to the direction where I came from, he ushered me to head back the direction I came from. I thank him by clasping my hands with a simple "kap" and moved on... I acknowledge the fact if one pays enough attention to David's GT maps, no wrong turning will happen but when one has been in the saddle for hours, taking countless pics going up & down, tired, sweaty, smelly & thristy, the thought of referring to maps again can become a turnoff....(this is where riding companion(s) comes in handy but I was in no position to expect any help). So I short cut...it is after all Thailand and not some wild places! Surely the Thais would somehow find a way or have enough common sense to understand anor fellow asian??

    A few more kms I jammed my brakes again and asked "Mae Hong Son - yu tinai (much thanks to Joko for that lesson) from a local middle aged man crossing the road. While he was visibly amused by my reaction and presumably my bike, heavy riding gears and most likely my horrible accent yet he was helpful and spoke as slowly and as clearly as possible with some visible hand signs language to assist me...I wasnt paying attention to the voice but rather his hands movement and some how got what he was trying to tell me... in less than 5 mins I was on route 108 heading towards MHS....

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    The begining of route 108...it was much well paved, tarmac gripped better, fast sweeper but not as steep as route 105 or route 1095 except one section (but it was a very well paved and broad section). As usual, the curves just wont stop and it goes on & on but at a much faster pace to the point that I have to remind myself that I am alone, dont speak a word of thais and any mishap would be really bad for me. It was also here, I saw some bikers passing opposite my way presumably to Mae Sarieng on a day loop trip as most of them werent carrying any loads on their bikes.

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    The only patch of field with visible flowers on it....cant get closer to have a look what flowers are those...they certainly arent the popular sunflower...or am I wrong?

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    Arriving at the only scenic point along route 108 marked as Mae Sam on David's MHS map.

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    The view just below the scenic point after a very steep section. It started drizzling then..and I was begining to feel hungry, so I stopped at a makeshift roadside stall for some hand-language dish...it turned out to be some rice cooked with veg & an egg....a cup of coffee to down it with...everything was good again to move on...sorry no pics of the food as it was one of those uninteresting moments...which I'm sure all bikers go thru from time to time while on the road.

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    Arrival at the gateway to Mae Hong Son city at 4.30pm thai time.

    Upon arriving at MHS, I gave Ang a call just to check....there was no line coverage. So I called Joko to inform him of my whereabouts and current status that Ang & Lee are still on my tail and about to reach MHS shortly. In the meantime, I strolled around MHS...

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    To the commerce centre opposite MHS's post office to collect my cert for 25 bahts and bought 2 stickers for 5 bahts each. While waiting for Ang & Lee coupled with the fact that it was rather late in the afternoon....I thought the only place I can still squeeze in a visit would be karen long neck village...again after a brief and rather successful chicken & duck conversation with a young thai man at the commerce centre...I reckon I know the direction there (I merely asked what direction...how many kilometers, main left/right turn and that's it!)

    I found the village after crossing 7 small streams...I was expecting some real wading of river....but it was fun nonetheless. Some nicest pictures I'd taken for this trip:-

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    Karen Village handicraft centre.
    - See that lady hurrying down at the background...she saw me with my cam gear and instantly came approaching me saying "you kennot picture hear ....pay money too hunlet fify baht..." and instantly grabbed my attention as if I have done her wrong. Not wanting to create a scene with my very limited thai language plus the fact that I was tired and sweating like a pig, I paid her and suddenly a whole family of long neck women appeared out of thin air posing for my camera....the wonder of money even to the mountainous tribal people....(Money, its a gas.....an excerpt from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon came to mind!)

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    This is nice...

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    Another shot...lovely looking kids...but the older ladies looked hardcore....I was thinking, wearing those heavy metals up their neck, knees...what work were they doing or were those metals merely decorative.

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    A potrait shot.

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    These 2 lovely kids were playful with me but too bad I cant understand a word they said. But when I signalled to them to pose for my cam, they instantly obliged and were rather serious in posing....lovely kids.

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    A full potrait picture of our lovely karen woman. Years of prolonged abuse by those metal coils. Cant imagine the inconvenience and discomfort from wearing them.

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    It was getting late about 6pm thai time, yet this market place was bustling with tourists.

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    A full potrait shot of this lovely karen child. I think she was very photogenic.

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    This one can speak some english....but I later discovered it was limited to conversation pertaining to the stuffs she intends to sell me...I'd love to buy some...but I cant as I really have got no space for anything else.

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    Another one happy to pose for my camera.

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    If the women of the Karen long neck tribe looked so 'awesome'....how would their men look like? I was curious but I was helpless too...no one seems to be able to help me and I couldnt see any karen men around....it had me thinking... maybe their men would look like the characters in Mad Max? Wow!

    It was getting dark and I left the karen's handicraft market and headed back to town....
     
  13. Joko Hurricanemax

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    555! in my years of riding in LOS...i have only managed to learn these word;
    ~ pai XXXxx yu ti nai?..and thru flaying arms, i roughly guess the direction..and with my trusty father-of-all-gpses, compass, i will and all the time find my way ...eventually,
    ~ ni tau rai ...Ohhhhh penn mak mak! mai dai!
    ~ khing aharn thai yu ti nai?
    ~ phot thai mai dai and lu aey heow kong hokkien wah bo? no? speking inglis? mai dai? Oooohhhh...
    ~ and the usual sawadee kup...

    GS4life..power on, my man!
     
  14. Joko Hurricanemax

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    555! in my years of riding in LOS...i have only managed to learn these word;
    ~ pai XXXxx yu ti nai?..and thru flaying arms, i roughly guess the direction..and with my trusty father-of-all-gpses, compass, i will and all the time find my way ...eventually,
    ~ ni tau rai ...Ohhhhh penn mak mak! mai dai!
    ~ khing aharn thai yu ti nai?
    ~ phot thai mai dai and lu aey heow kong hokkien wah bo? no? speking inglis? mai dai? Oooohhhh...
    ~ and the usual sawadee kup...

    GS4life..power on, my man!
     
  15. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Back in MHS town, it was already dark at 7.30pm thai time. I pulled by the first fuel station on the left next to the 7/11 store. Filled my tank....cost me a whopping 1100 baht for a full tank...and I pushed the bike aside to make a call to Ang...1 call 2 calls..then the whole town went black-out! apparently an electricity failure which lasted about 40 mins.

    After the 3rd or 4th attempts, I managed to get Ang on the phone and I asked him..."Ang, where are you guys now?...Ang.."Oh we have just arrived and looking for a place to put up for the nite"...Me, "I am at the 1st petrol station on the left next to the 7/11 store...where are you and lee?' Ang,..."Oh Lee's with me...he is checking out the new place now..." Me, "wait for me, we can put up at the same place as I havent got a place to stay yet."...Ang, "er...we are at Mae Sar liang...." Me. "WTF Ang?! Mae Sarieng?? that is another 200kms before you reach MHS?!...what time you guys left Mae Sot this morning?" Ang. "It was raining just now at Mae Sarieng.." Me. "Ang, just answer my question...what time you and Lee start riding this morning??" Ang.."We started at 11am thai time." Me. "Ok, that is just great. Ok I'll talk to you later, as I need to get a place for the nite."

    I cut the call and was fuming mad.... thinking it was finally confirmed that no ways these boys were serious in joining my ride. It was obvious that they had their own game plan...but 1st I need to get a place to stay. Off I went searching looking for a few places but none was available....Thailand is very different from Malaysia...while tourist accomodation may be easily available...rooms availability is a totally opposite matter especially in popular tourist spots like MHS, Doi Ang Khang (as I painfully discovered the next day) etc.

    I looked up all the places listed in David's GT map and all were fully booked....Feeling a bit lost and hungry I stopped by the 1st road side stall I saw ...and the customary chicken & duck conversation took place, "fried lice" in order with some hot tea (man, I swear I have never eaten so much fried rice in my life in such a short period of time)....I tried to seek some assistance from the fried rice lady boss on a room for a nite but to no avail...so I relied on my GPS for some press and select and follow the GPS method...after the 2nd place, I hit jackpot...it was TN Tour View Resort...a spacious but really scruffy room with air cond unit that sounded like a gravel grinding machine and a spacious bathroom with a jungle tarzan swing tree concept....but no TV...so the owner offered it to me at 400 bahts/nite instead of the usual 500 bahts.. Being in the position of a beggar cant be a chooser, I accepted it, parked my bike, unloaded all stuffs, cleaned up and headed out to the street out there in the direction of loud banging cultural musical instrument...there was a nite market festival going on...really loud musical sound and here are some pics..

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    A random shot.

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    A lady vendor selling long neck puppets.

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    There are plenty of lanterns.

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    I think it was some lanterns festival or show?

    After this 4th photo shot, I started feeling really tired and I sat down in a local restaurant ordered a beer and called Ang again. I sought his confirmation on what he & Lee planned to do next and without much surprise he told me they will be coming to MHS tomorrow and plan to stay on for maybe 2 days to experience this town fabulous water falls!? (From the begining Lee had been having this funny fascination with water falls...saying that we all should visit Theelorsu waterfall which he claims is a short distance ride from Kanchanaburi!! so much for proclaiming to be a seasoned GT rider.......boys, if any of you two is reading this RR...for the love of biking, do your homework whenever you want to travel, and please come clean whenever you ride with others.. especially when that someone relied on your representation and would not in his right frame of mind have brought an oversized bike for the ride if not because of your ungentlemanly words! and oh, GPS wont tell you places of historical and natural attractions that is for sure!)

    Not in the mood to argue, I closed the conversation by saying fine, I shall proceed along my own itinerary and wished him & Lee a safe journey and best of luck. I retired at about 10.00pm thai time and was hoping to gain enough rest to move on tomorrow morning...

    Total mileage covered from Mae Sot to MHS = 435kms.
     
  16. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Early morning at 5am thai time, I was up and after morning ablutions, have a drink of local thai yogurt drinks and some sunflower nuts as quick breakfast as you cant get cooked breakfast as early as 6-7am thai time, I headed out to the Doi Kong Mou wat for some photos before I head off in the direction of Pai. As I finished packing and ready to roll, I realised that the entry passage was blocked by a tourist van...a typical asian uncivic-mindedness I thought. It was pretty annoying as it was dark and I cant get out the parking space and have to think of an alternative way...I saw a side way smaller passage so I start pushing my bike when I suddenly hit a bump and toppled my bike! Oh [email protected]!.... The sound of my bike going down attracted one of the tenants and he was so kind to rush to my aid and up we lifted the bike, which would have been quite impossible if I were to do it alone.

    pc110484.jpg
    The embeded rocks that caused the topple.

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    The only damage to the bike.

    I thanked my helpful friend and headed to the wat....the whole town of MHS along the way was still sleeping at then 6.30am thai time....which was rather unusual sight to me coming from Malaysia.

    In less than 10 mins I am up at the hill top of Doi Kong Mou wat and here are the pictures:-

    img0965xy.jpg
    The main Wat that instantly caught my attention. I went closer to inspect and saw these...

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    This is the saturday statue

    img0967nm.jpg
    This one is monday

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    This is tuesday

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    Thursday

    img0971q.jpg
    Wednesday

    img0972pa.jpg
    Friday

    img0974ic.jpg
    The temple bells....and pretty loud too.

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    Early morning devotees tourist from Thailand making donation to the temple by buying a brick.

    img0977u.jpg
    I decided to buy one brick too.

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    The early morning devotees praying for health and happiness...I think?

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    MHS view from the top of the hill

    img0987w.jpg
    I guess now I earned the MHS stickers....and at this point, one of my camera lenses dropped! Ah! this shouldnt be happening...(it had since been repaired and fully functioning).

    img0990rd.jpg
    I decided to wait till the break of dawn hoping to catch a glimpse of the rising sun but....it was cloudy unfortunately.

    img0991d.jpg
    Same view but different angle.

    img0993fx.jpg
    As it get brighter, more & more tourists arriving paying respect and offering prayers at the temple.

    img0995tu.jpg
    In the hall of one of the temples, I saw fortune stick prayers going on....this reminds me of ancient chinese taoist practices of seeking fortune forecasts. Different languages but same practices.

    img0996ax.jpg
    Devotees queueing up in offering their prayer joss sticks.

    img1000w.jpg
    While I was busying taking photos, a middle aged thai man approached me and greeted me in english "hello, you remember me from yesterday?" I instantly recalled having this man asking me where I was from yesterday at the MHS chamber of commerce... I replied "Yes Sir, I do. How are you?" He asked further..."Where are your friends they not here?" I told him I am now all alone ...hearing this he added "I give you a card (a postcard of Long Neck women from MHS) as a good luck charm...this temple too will protect you and welcome to thailand, you are very brave to travel alone so far."

    Hearing this, I suddenly felt a very funny feeling of pressure bottling up....knowing less than 2 hours ago, I dropped my bike for the 1st time and damaged a camera lense....hmmm what could be next??

    I thank him for his kind words and beautiful postcard....and started descending down the hill heading towards Pai.
     
  17. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Thank you 2wheels for your kind words and encouragement. Indeed the tourist vans of northern thailand are as dreadful as their ice trucks cousin of the southern part often terrorising us bikers on routes 4 & 41. Little did I know that later on in the same day on my way to Doi Ang Khang from MHS, I had another bad encounter with the tourist van...and this time it was quite bad.
     
  18. Joko Hurricanemax

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    great report GS....Now a lil' story of a van driver. I once met a thai tourist van driver in Pai. He spoke good english and mandarin. I asked where did he learn these farang lingos? He then told me that he was once a tourist van driver plying BKK-Singapore but he spent 9months in Changi Prison. A school of sort where he picked up english & mandarin.
    I then asked what was his crime to get such a sentence...he told me he was caught smuggling 5cartons of tax-free cigarette bougth at Bukit Kayu Hitam! hahahaha!

    Poor chap learnt his lesson and stopped doing the BKK-Spore milk run. BTW, a pack of 20 is like Sin$11.00 or something! A duty free Sin$3.00.

    p/s GS, did i tell ya that on my solo return trip, the railway guy in BKK also gave me a lucky charm amulet? he kinda took pity of my initial miseries perhap. Kind people these thais. :)
     
  19. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Doing 9 months for smuggling 5 cartons of cigaratte, most likely he was unrepresented and the magistrate being the lowest ranking judicial officer (incidentally the youngest and least experienced as well) would have thought it fit to pass a heavy sentence for such a minor felony charge. Most likely he (the magistrate) had never been to any prison cell to see the bad living condition for himself. But that is how the penal system works and humans are generally unforgiving. I am sure if he was represented a bonding-over sentence upon guilty plea being entered could easily be secured. Well, lawyers can be useful during time like this, but you need to pay them too!!

    Thais generally believe very much in buddhist amulets...almost all that I'd met on the road. Hard to see one who doesnt believe in it.
     
  20. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Removed-errorenous posting.
     
  21. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    From MHS to Pai it was quite easy as most road signages were in english and very straighforward. It was a slightly different case with Mae Sarieng where certain signages were in local languages. Perhaps it was the popularity of MHS as a tourists centre that made the difference. I remember route 1095 from my past visit a few years back and I am off to very steep and non stop curves till the interjunction at Mae Malai on route 107 heading towards Fang (which was my next destination).

    It was quite wet in the morning and traffic was already quite busy by the time I left MHS at 8.00 thai time. Local tourist vans made up almost half of the number of 4 wheels on the road. Some pictures along route 107:-

    img1001yu.jpg
    A typical scene along route 107.

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    A better view from the top of a hill.

    img1003p.jpg
    A zoomed in view.

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    The curvy mountain road.

    img1008l.jpg
    Arrival in Pai after 100kms ride from MHS. Pai was initially on the ride itinerary as a day stop destination. But since I am alone, I decided to skip it and move on to Doi Ang Khang as I am not really a nite life fan. That way I can catch up on time lost earlier.

    img1010a.jpg
    I stop for a refuel in Pai and this must be the most scenic fuel station ever.

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    Nearby the fuel station, quite nice view too.

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    Same place different angle.

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    Another shot.

    img1017vb.jpg
    Final picture of Pai...and I move on heading towards Mae Malai to get on route 107 to the direction of Fang.
     
  22. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    Route 1095 in my honest opinion isnt very enjoyable by itself what more when it is laden with heavy traffic....on my way down from Pai heading towards route 107 at Mae Malai intersection, the ride would have been much better if not for the tourist vans, small furniture lorries and veg trucks. But I got unlucky and there were plenty of them that day. Approximately 12 kms before the intersection between route 1095 & 107 at a place called Sop Poeng, I saw a very nice road side cafe/restaurant. I stopped for my 1st coffee break since MHS and what would be an early sandwich lunch break but I didnt take any photographs then for some funny reasons... Coffee was really good so I decided to have 2 cups. Getting tired due to heavy traffic and constant braking of vehicles for close to 4 hours, for some reasons I cant explain, I turned to the coffee seller for advice on which route I should take to Doi Ang Khang thinking local knowledge could be a way to go.

    Earlier on, I'd decided to take route 1178 turn off from route 107 shortly after Chiang Dao towards the direction of Arunothai and thereafter using route 1340 to Doi Ang Khang. I am usually in favour of remote routes when biking and from David's GT map, these routes look more interesting and no warning of steep curves. But after 2 cups of bitter black coffee, I guessed the caffeine had some effect on me so much so I just inexplicably blurted to the cafe vendor saying "Excuse me Sir, I am going to Doi Ang Khang...(showing him the map) which route you think is a better one between these 2?" The cafe owner was, in his customary thai manner, helpful and with his understandable english he told me not to use the 4 digits routes I planned earlier and instead told me to use route 107 and at Sop Kha turn to Doi Ang Khang via route 1249 which he claimed were much better than routes 1178 & 1340. I thanked him and rode off in the direction he told me.... and the following are the pics:-

    img1020o.jpg
    The first view approaching the route 1249 after Sop Kha.

    img1023o.jpg
    15 kms onto route 1249 I came by my 1st panaromic view of Doi Ang Khang. If only the weather was better.

    img1025j.jpg
    Same view different angle.

    After taking a few more shots, I moved on. There were quite a lot of local tourist vans heading the same direction and a fair number of veg trucks on the way up with me the only bike on the road. Another few kms up route 1249 took a sudden turn of zig-zag going up with steep short turns...it would have been quite fun but a tourist van ahead of me in approximately 100 meters away panicked and braked screechingly loud stopping in the middle of the steep curve...it started sliding downwards towards me!! I looked instantly to my right side (opposite lane) for escape but coming downhill was a veg truck very close! I cant think much but to throttle up and squeeze through the narrower passage between the van & the truck and I guess I was extremely lucky to have made it...the veg truck honed profusely but I cant be bothered except to push myself up the hill...passed a checkpoint and immediately I parked my bike once I was on a levelled ground...that was a close one.
    img1029ik.jpg
    Picture of the immediate stop after the near death experience.

    pc110486.jpg
    GPS show elevation of 1755m....which was no big deal if not because of the local tourist vans and somehow they all also shared the uniformly annoying look.

    Honestly I was close to shivering in fear then...I took off my helmet and went off to a nearby stall to buy a bottle of drinking water...spent close to 5 mins sitting on the ground thinking nothing except there is no way I am descending route 1249 when I leave this place. I dont know what happened to that tourist van, but I saw no van coming up the hill top in the next 10 mins I was there...I seriously hope nothing bad happened.

    By then it was already 4++pm thai time, so I headed off to look for a place to stay. I know only one place...DAK Nature Resort.

    img1032p.jpg
    On my way to the resort, a common view along the roads in DAK.

    img1034af.jpg
    Arriving at the resort....

    img1036g.jpg
    Front view of the resort

    img1037t.jpg
    Look like veg to me. But cant get confirmation from the resort's staffs who surprisingly speak very little english and no mandarin (I was expecting some mandarin speaking folks up here).

    img1038t.jpg
    The last pic I took at the resort after being told that all rooms have been taken and unless I have a tent, I would need to move out to the next nearest town outside of DAK...(Now, I know why the cafe owner at Sop Phoeng asked me during our conversation earlier whether I have a camping set with me! I should have been more inquisitive.)

    Off I rode off again trying to look for an alternative place to stay for a night. Reach some odd looking town centre with lots of stalls and shops , I stopped my bike asking some passer by if there were places I can stay for a nite but to no avail. Drizzle was making my search a pain in the arse..so I decided to descend DAK before it's too late....but no way am I going down route 1249 again.

    I then remembered the original routes 1178 & 1340 I was planning to use and there was a town called Arunothai being nearest to DAK which I can reach without using route 1249...but I see no such signage pointing to Arunothai or route 1340. GPS wasnt being helpful either at that remote place. It was getting late about 5.30pm and I flagged off the first man I saw crossing the road in front of me...and thank god he spoke some english. I asked him about the way to route 1340 and he confirmed that there was a small route to the direction of Ban Luang will take me onto route 1340. He pointed me to a direction and said look out for a small signage stating Ban Luang. I thanked him and headed off ....a few mins later I saw this:-

    pc110487.jpg
    Yes, I found it. My helpful thai friend was right. A few more kms into this route I passed by a small chinese look alike village. The inhabitants there looked like chinese to me. Roads were quite muddy & patchy but I didnt stop for pics and continued riding.

    Suddenly my GPS started showing that I am now riding on route 1340 heading northwest and relief was instantenously felt.

    img1039ff.jpg

    Route 1340 was quite deserted and I came across this scenic view. Having taken this pic, I moved on and in less than 5 kms I stumbled upon a small flock of ponnies! They looked fresh and there were no rope or saddle on their neck/back. I instantly jammed my brakes wanting to take a pic of these horses but as I dismounted from my bike, all 3 horses took off abruptly up the densely grown hills and disappeared. Unlucky for me I thought as a pic of them could have added a great flavour to my RR.

    Route 1340 was a hairpin route and quite enjoyable if one were to ride through it during day time but not when it was cold, wet and getting dark. After an hour plus and at about 6.30++pm, I arrived at Arunothai. An elderly chinese look alike man flagged me off the road and asked me in thai where am I going (presumably). As I took off my helmet, he instantly spoke to me in mandarin..."where are you going?" I replied in mandarin that I am looking for a place to stay for the nite. A brief conversation took place as he was interested to know where I came from, what race I was, etc. He pointed me in a specific direction and informed me that there was only one guesthouse in Arunothai but I should easily get a place to stay for 250 bahts a nite as Arunothai doesnt have many visitors. I thanked him and moved on.

    img1041zg.jpg
    The shanty town of Arunothai...filled with mosquitoes eventhough nite time temp at 9pm was about 15'C. I sought direction from some young boys who were playing balloons on the street to the guesthouse and lucky for me mandarin language was commonly used there. They were mostly chinese from Yunnan so I was told and communication for once was easy for me...But all were very camera shy

    img1042u.jpg
    The guesthouse....like you could have guessed but beggar cant be chooser so I grabbed it. The owner was a chinese lady who spoke fluent mandarin but was also camera shy. She was quite an entrepreneur when she in a rather awkward impromptu response insisted that a nite would cost me 300 bahts and not 250 bahts as informed by the elderly man I'd met down the road. I wasnt intending to argue or bargain but just glad that I got a place to shield me from the cold for the nite.

    Then came the part when I was feeling hungry...I havent eaten anything since that coffee sandwich cafe at Sop Phoeng...so I asked the guesthouse lady where can I get my dinner and was told that I need to get out to the main street of the town about 5kms away. I was reluctant as I was really tired and the thought of getting out that heavy bike from its tight parking spot really put off my idea of eating. So I asked for a beer...funny how come in Thailand no one drinks Guiness? Another lager for me and it was a leo lager...and half way drinking my beer while sitting on a concrete bench under the guesthouse's porch...a vehicle pulled over and I heard a lady's voice speaking english asking about a place to stay for a nite....that accent sounded quite familiar I thought.

    I turned around and saw a family of 4. We greeted one another and I found out they were malaysian holidaying in Thailand...somehow they got lost on their way from Chiang Mai and ended up in Arunothai. Upon being informed by me that this was the only guesthouse available, they decided to put up the nite at the same place. After some warming up conversation, I realised they were from Kuala Lumpur just like me. What a small world. They soon invited me to join them for dinner at the nearby town which I accepted without hesitation. I was really glad that I can take a lift in their car and I wont be going hungry for the nite. Dinner was perfect despite the rather bland cooking and very uninteresting subject for photos but here is a lovely picture of Helmut (a german citizen with a permanent resident status in Malaysia), his lovely wife Amy (iirc) and their 2 lovely daughters:-

    img1043.jpg

    After dinner, we headed back to the guesthouse as there wasnt anything to see in Arunothai during night time. Helmut and I continued our conversation on our respective trip plans ahead and it was during that time I realised he didnt have a GPS except a very general map of Northern Thailand with very incomplete details and none of them speak thai language as well. I suggested that he takes photos of my GT maps as reference later since I have no extra copy to spare and we cant get any xerox facility in Arunothai at that hour. He was delighted and was very impressed with the details and information on the maps. I warned him about the steep section of route 1249 should he decides to visit DAK tomorrow morning as I will heading to Mae Salong next. We shared a bottle of beer before I bid farewell and retired to bed at about 10.00pm thai time after he learned that I will be moving out early as usual and most likely wont get to see them for breakfast.

    It was a funny social reaction meeting people from home far away in a remote place. We felt close to one another, talking about families, friends and common interests all in a short span of 4 hours we got to know one another. That would not have been the case have I met them in Kuala Lumpur. The minds then at Arunothai were somehow more receptive towards another being and openly refreshing. Just like the way I remembered having met my 1st friend at school when I was a child. There was no preconception or prejudices neither was there any fake small talks. It was really nice.

    Before I slept, I rechecked the maps and I realised that I would need to take route 1340 again tomorrow if I want to get to route 107 at the direction of Chai Prakarn-Fang-Mae Ai all the way till Mae Salong. This part of route 1340 was different from the part I passed earlier today from DAK. Judging from my earlier experience I thought the road was quite alright so I can easily get through this short cut. If I were to backtrack from Arunothai using route 1178 till the intersection with route 107 at Lai Thung, I would need to travel 130++kms instead of this short cut which was only approximately 35kms. But unknown to me, I was wrong on the road quality on this section of route 1340...
     
  23. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    I was in Chiang Mai on Dec 12th. Met David at the cafe the same evening and left Chiang Mai the next morning (13th) to Sukothai. I guess the next time I may be in Chiang Mai again would be this year end Nov-Dec if I am riding Northern Thailand again. Would sure love to meet up with GT riders like you and the rest for some drinks if possible.
     
  24. GSForLife

    GSForLife Ol'Timer

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    I related my horrifying experience to David when I met him at the Cafe on 12th Dec. He listened attentively and didnt say a word....somehow I had a funny feeling that he was trying to say, "you should have trusted my map better than you had trusted the coffee seller!" Hahahahaha. Those were some really great detailed precision maps.
     
  25. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

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    Good riding GS - it's a fair ways from MHS to DAK in one day.

    You must however be one of the few GT Riders who has made it up to the Temple before sun up!
    I believe many on here would recommend Soppong over Pai - especially the River Inn.
    I'm sorry you didna'e enjoy the road - but muscling the barge-like beamer around the bends can be a bit of a handful, as I know from experience.

    IMO the most enjoyable way to DAK is via Arunothai and had you the time to take in the history it is steeped the legends of the KMT.
    I'm surprised some of the guesthouses behind the rather peculiar DAK 'restaurants' did not have rooms available,
    But you didna'e miss much staying at the resort except for a big bill.

    I wouldn't worry about the engine guards getting scuffed - it just gives your GS character!
    Having had an 1150 GSA in the UK, I learnt that lugging all that fuel around was an unnecessary back-paining burden,
    so here in LoS I got the standard GS and am happy to relieve numb-bum with fuel stops after 260km intervals!
    I've often wondered why the GSA 12 is BMW Thailand's biggest seller when you consider the average Thai's height
    and the readilly available fuel.

    As for your so-called riding muckers, well done for moving on as you are certainly riding the roads & seeing the sights.
    Perhaps it’s the sparrow fart early starts that they couldn’t hack?
    Their loss mate and you’ve correctly adventured on.

    BTW there are a great bunch of bikers who hosted RobertH & I when we down south – look them up The Penang Cop Bikers Club. http://www.penangcopbikers.blogspot.com/
    They’ve ridden up to GT land twice subsequently and a better bunch of bikers would be hard to find.

    Thank you for making the effort in documenting your travels.
    It's been very enjoyable following your adventure on roads so well known with a different perspective and an outside eye.

    Get in touch next time and you will find like minded bikers to enjoy the rides with you.
    Cheers
    Rhodie
     
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