R1155 - Wiang Kaen - Monkeys, Gold Panning, Bunkers, Fall In Love + Cheese Ham Rolls.

DavidFL

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An afternoon excursion from Chiang Khong - Chiang Khong / Wiang Kaen attractions.
Riders, 2 Chiang Khong residents, David Unk on a Vstrom 650 & Belgian Michel on a Benelli 650.

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R1155 runs north - south from "Wiang Kaen to Thoeng," a twisting winding road, it is a fabulous ride through a valley between two mountain ridges, one to the east on the Lao border & one to the west parallel to & separating R1155 & R1020.

In the 60s & late 70s this was a contested area between communist infiltrators & the government.
There is a great mix of villages along the way on R1155: Thai, Tai Lue, Hmong, Mien, Khamu & Akha.

In the middle section R1155 crosses a watershed divide, where rivers flow either direct north to the Mekong, or south to the Ing @ Thoeng & then North again into the Mekong - interesting geography.
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Wat Tham Pha Lae
25 kms south of Wiang Kaen is the little village of Pha Lae, with a small cave & temple.

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A temple cave guardian.
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The rumour is that in the war the cave was a place for infiltrators to hide from the government.
Pha Lae was caught in the middle between both sides.

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The forest & cliffs around the temple grounds host a few monkeys.
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The monkeys did seem slightly aggressive, but apparently they are friendly at feeding time in the morning 9AM? and 4PM???

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Access to the temple is by a concrete bridge, but there is also a rickety old bamboo bridge.
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A bridge and stream inspection revealed some villagers panning for gold in the stream.
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The villagers claim the find little bits of gold, & that must be true because they spend all afternoon in that stream, panning for gold.
Otherwise, they would be doing something more rewarding & productive?

A panning spectator. Easy to the core.
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"Exhausted" watching the gold panning, it was time to retreat & head North, back towards Chiang Khong.
4.5 kms north of Pha Lae is the village of Saithong, one of the more important, affluent, Hmong villages in the area.
Saithong usually has a huge Hmong New Year Festival for all the surrounding Hmong villages.
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Check it out sometime in December or January, lunar calendar depending.

The attraction in Ban Saithong today though was not Hmong New Year, but to check out a hill side coffeeshop I'd noted a few times before, & never stopped at. Today was the day with time on a leisurely cruise out of Chiang Khong.

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Mountain View Cafe is the name of the place & what a little gem it is perched on the still hillside on R1155.
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If you're going the first time, the concrete driveway that goes all the way to the top.
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Steep it is, but it is ok.
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If you park in the gravel car park below you need to tackle a few rickety steps.
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Absolutely no trouble if you're a fit agile Hmong farmer, used to working on step hill sides, & I struggled! ha ha.

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Mountain View Cafe is pretty damn special in an out of the way place.
Something you'd never really expect along that road with Hmong & other ethnic villages.
All a bit strange I thought, until we engaged the Hmong owner Ms Ma in conversation.
She spoke perfect, confident English!
What??
Oh yes, I worked in Bangkok for 20 years for a farang jewellery company on Silom Road.
Now tired of Bangkok & I came home to start my own business.
I love living here in the peace and quiet with clean country air.
Sadly, she only does drinks, & no food. Otherwise we would have lingered a lot longer.
But I shall return to engage Ms Ma in conversation & learn something more about the area.
One of her claims is that there are / were bunkers from the war, immediately behind her property, up the hill the 50 metres away.
There's a story there.....

With some serious hunger nibbles coming on Michel led the way to another hidden gem up the road at Wiang Kaen.

Fall In Love.
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The Fall In Love is a funky timber - bamboo restaurant run by a professional chef who once worked in Europe for 15+ years.

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The food is Thai & farang.
I was introduced to the amazing ham cheese rolls, that both Michel & I struggled to finish.

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They certainly are capable of filling a significant belly hole.

And again fluent English is spoken
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Swing on by anytime.


Thanks Michel, for a great little afternoon excursion.
 
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