Phi Ta Khon 2006

Feb 21, 2006
After reading about the previous year’s exploits at this festival and seeing some photos, I knew I had to go see it for myself. There were going to be three GT riders leaving from Chiang Mai to Amphur Dan Sai in Changwat Loei; myself, DavidFL and Robert H. Robert was delayed arriving from Pattaya so it was just David and I leaving from CM on Friday the 30th.


Here are some “friends” I met on the way to Chiang Mai. They really did have a radar check point set up between Khampeang Phet and Tak. They pulled me over and told me that I was going 120! LIARS! I was going 140! Mai pen rai… I played dumb and didn’t speak a word of Thai until they told me “OK, you not sapeak Thai and I not sapeak Angrit so you not have to pay” After that we were the best of friends, posing for pictures and sharing photos of our kids. They only wanted B200, but 10 minutes of friendly chit chat and I was on my way.

The Route:
11 to Uttaradit
1045 to 1146
1146 to 1047
1047 to Nam Pat for lunch
1239 to 1268
1268 to 1237 so FL could GPS a new road (now he can write the trip off as a business expense, right?)
1237 to Chat Trakan
1143 to Nakhon Thai
2013 to Dan Sai

We stopped at the Shell for gas near Lamphang and again we stopped at the Sala view point where FL almost had the thigh meat removed from his leg when he crashed with a bus many years ago. Knock on wood, I haven’t crashed on the road in over 30 years – the odds are against me now and I know my number will be up soon – I’m just trying to postpone it as long as I can.

Of course, I was looking forward to testing the watertight integrity of my newly replaced top case and side case – compliments of AON insurance here in TH. The weather was fantastic. High clouds overhead and no direct scorching sun. Just a few sprinkles along the way, not too bad.

As the junior GT rider, I rode TP all the way (TP = toilet paper – cleaning up the rear). David’s AT was running well and burning clean. Not like other carbed bikes that stink when they run rich.


We stopped for a short break at the Pu Soi Dao waterfalls. It was raining slightly and I remembered commenting that this would be a fantastic place to stop for a dip if the weather was hot. I used the hong nam and was pleasantly surprised to smell the mints in the bowl. More often than not, the hong nams in the national parks aren’t this clean.


Farmers on the 1237.

When we got to town, we checked with our local friends to confirm our room reservations. We each had a room with one bed, a squatter and dip shower, no AC (not that it was needed) or TV for B500. We cleaned up and went off to the PTK food court to witness the annual Som Tam competition. There were plenty of choices for food and our friends kept bringing more to our table. Low and behold, our friends won that night’s Som Tam contest with a tasty version of Som Tam Pala. When we arrived at the food court I was given a dual language map and event guide. The map was accurate enough but the event guide didn’t mention that the parade on Saturday morning began at 10. Saturday morning I slept in late and David called to advise me of the parade, I arrived shortly afterwards.

I’m not sure how much I missed, but I did my best to photograph the event. Even though it was only 11:00, the whiskey and beer was flowing. After being given 2 different samples of Lao Khao in M-150 bottles, I decided that I should slow down and began to tell the generous people of Dan Sai that I couldn’t drink now because I was working but that I would drink with them tonight.


Little ghosts waiting for their turn in the parade.


Yes, it’s world cup season.




And the Beast


The festival has a fertility theme.


Band on the run



Isaan cuties


Smiles everywhere


Be careful with that thing!


Carabao PG’s (promotion girls)


Local biker gang


The next generation of ghosts

That afternoon, David received a call from Robert H. that he was in Chiang Mai and was bringing his KTM to join us. Saturday night, FL and I were invited to a friend’s home for beer Leo and good Isaan food. About 9:00 his phone rings and it’s Robert. He has crashed somewhere between Nakhorn Thai and Dan Sai. A local stopped to help him and David was supervising Robert’s transportation to the local hospital.

Robert said he has no excuse for the crash. It was a simple, slight downhill, wide radius sweeper that he entered a little too fast. Methinks he was using a little too much spellbinding power that night. The local hospital checked him out and x-rayed and put him in a private room for B700/night. My little room was B500. I think I’ll stay at the hospital next year and enjoy the AC, TV, hot water, American Standard toilet and the nurses.


Robert’s room


My room

Truth be told, Robert was a very lucky boy. He whacked three concrete posts with his black “death star machine” and lived to tell about it. He’s also lucky that we were traveling with a good mate like DavidFL. David supervised things at the hospital and coordinated the arrival of David Lek and Robert’s gf the next day with Robert’s pickup so they could take him and his bike back to Chiang Mai. Robert says he’s gotten a lot of shite about having a pickup but I’m happy he has it. Who knows, I could be the next GT rider to crash and might have to ask him to come and scrape up my pieces.

Robert knew we were going to give him some crap for crashing his bike and that we did. We were happy that he’s alive and that we can all ride together again.

If you look at Robert’s report, you’ll see that his sexy Shuberth helmet did shite to take care of his face. That cute little flip up, make you feel good, face protector didn’t do much to take of his face in the end. I have a full face Arai helmet that I hate to wear in TH coz it’s so damned hot and gets smelly so fast but I suffer along with it coz I know that sooner or later I’ll join the faceplant club and I want all of the advantages that I can have.


If you can lip read…


A painful ride


Loading the bike


At the crash site. Winner, I killed the concrete post!


If I wasn't doing this, I'd be doing something else.


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Loved the sweet little report. Im glad you also liked the nice little festival.


This was Phi Ta Khon # 12 (I think it is) for me & I never get tired of the fun & games & drunkeness that seem to overpower the whole town & spectators alike.


It really is one hell of a weird festival, that has to be seen to be believed, & you dont get the real feeling of it just riding into town on the day for the parade & leaving after the event. You need to camp in town for a couple of nights to mix in with the locals & really experience the infectious atmosphere of Phi Ta Khon. It is bizarre & totally wonderful!



Pixs above: Note the Thai flag in the background. Yep this is wonderful raunchy Thailand folks.

This year's event was a bit different though with the drama of looking after Mr KTM, his crashed bike & body. It somehow took a bit of the icing off the cake. But unbelievably it all seems to have worked out ok & we'll "all probably be back for more" next year.


Above: At Uttaradit, turn left (east) onto Route 1045 & when you see the Luang Prabang sign you know you are heading for the Laos border, but it's a long way by road to Luang Prabang from Uttaradit.

En route to Dan Sai this year I changed the route slightly & we got away early so that we could do Route 1239 from Nam Pat up onto route 1268 & the Lao border. Route 1239 is one of those magic seemingly endless (46 kms) twisting steep hilly roller coater roads that just leaves you exhilarated with a smile a mile wide right across your dial when you get to the end of it. Next time I must try & get some photos plus the GPS track for an elevation profile. But if you're ever in that Lao border area, east of Nam Pat / Uttardit, then check out R1239 - it will blow you away for an unreal roller coaster ride on "good smooth" tight twisting steep hilly undulating asphalt......(anything else?)


Above: Route1268 along the Laos border.


Above: The Som Tam Pala winners.


Above: Dancing for the Som Tam Cooking contest!


Above: Miss Pim, one of the Leo PG girls, kitted up in her wet weather gear for the rain, loading up Leo beer into a Singha beer tower!


After Dan Sai for me it was onto Vientiane via Pakxan, and Bangkok for BarryBBQ.



Above: Route 211 Chiang Khan - Nong Khai, en route to Vientiane.

See you all again next year.

Keep The Power On
Nov 14, 2004
davidfl & the Q thanks for a great post, the wide angle shots of bike an river look tops.
Fill us in on what the festival was about, It's got to be more than Pagan dirt worshipers going troppo an walking on the wild side liv'n out some alto ego fetish,( hope i dont afend)
That @ of yours comes up trumps in all the shots, have you thought of sending some pics to Honda to use in promo's for the @. How many Klms in the round trip, Cmx,Dan Sa, Vtte, Bkk, Cmx?

Bye for now Scott....Whens Fordie turning up,so much for giving the liver a rest!!
Feb 21, 2006
Hi Scott,
If you do a Google search for "Phi Ta Khon" you'll find several sites that explain the origins of this unique festival. It's something that has to be seen to be believed.
For me it was about 2000km round trip - just another long weekend trip.


If I wasn't doing this, I'd be doing something else.