R4018 The Phaya Phipak road

DavidFL

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The Big Dipper

I first went up the Phaya Phipak road in 2004 with Silverhawk
The asphalt only went as far as the forestry park on the top of the hill.

Here's some pix of the road from 2004.

All photos are on the west R1020 side.

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Huay Xai Mapping

We never went any further because we did not like the look of the dirt descent on our 750/ 850 bikes; & I'm glad I never started going down there with the Africa Twin (wimp that I am).

more to come....
 
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DavidFL

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The Phaya Phipak road is not a long one - only 10 kms, but it is a one hell of a steep one.

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It's a lot longer & arguably as steep on the west R1020 side, but the road there is quite flowing & open, whereas the big dipper on the east R1155 side is a tight twisting one. And the first time you do it, it can be somewhat nerve racking.

Here's a couple of pix with the Snail & Scotty007 from a few weeks ago.
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Thu Long Thang viewpoint, just over the ridge line on the east side.
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heading into the big dipper
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The Snail (& he's definitely not a snail) having some fun.
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as he said he'd lose his licence for having fun like that in Oz, & that's why he rode his Ducati Hyper-motard from Oz (KL) to Chiang Mai for a weeks riding - to relax & enjoy riding on the road, where you can.
 

DavidFL

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But what is it about Phaya Phipak that makes it important / significant.....

the mountain was once a communist bastion, from where communists harassed the men building route 1155 down below.
It took several years & battles for the government to defeat the communists in the area & regain control of it.
Phaya Phipak was very much part of that communist battle scene.

Doi Phaya Pipak (Phaya Pipak Mountain) is a historical site concerning the battle between government and the Communist Part of Thailand. In 1982, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Her Marjesty the Queen Sirikit, HRH Princess Sirindhorn and HRH Princess Somsawalee had presided over the place to visiting soldiers and people who lived in this area. Beside, His Majesty the King was generously stamping his footprints on the plaster prepared aiming to strengthen spiritual courage among soldiers and local people.
Phu Long Tang in Khun Tan district is the latest highland tourist attraction in Chiang Rai. In Chinese, long means dragon while tang means a pond, as a local tale says that a dragon lived in the village pond. Located about 20km west of Phu Chi Fa, Phu Long Tang offers a panoramic view of both Phu Chi Fa and Pha Tang.

It is home to the Hmong community, which began to fight alongside the communist party against the Thai government in 1967.
‘‘We fought for 15 years. Every day there were gunshots and explosions,’’ said a village headman Chaiyuth Anusornsil, who joined the rebels.
The battle ended in 1982 when Their Majesties the King and the Queen, as well as HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn made a royal visit to Phu Long Tang.
‘‘When His Majesty the King visited us, he told us to protect the forest and also marked his footprint on a plaster plate as requested by Colonel Virot Thongmitr, the leader of the fighting army,’’ he said, adding there were two prints.
One is exhibited in King Meng Rai Military Camp in Chiang Rai and the other one is kept at a house of Colonel Virot in Chiang Mai.
The village headman, the mayor and even the chief of district office have asked for the footprints to be returned to the village, but have not been successful.
‘‘The footprint is related to the history here. Unfortunately, we have not received any good cooperation so we only have a picture of the footprint for display,’’ said the deputy mayor Wichan Phiwong.
The village still preserves a sample of a cave and underground walkway as a memorial.
The villagers today are farmers who grow Arabica coffee and roses while some families make an extra income by selling their embroidery cloth to the Royal Project..

The royal sala atop Phaya Phipak
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Photo of HM footprints
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more to come...
 

Lakota

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Oct 10, 2011
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I did the dirt section in a Pickup , must be 10-15 years ago. It was sign posted as the gateway to Puu chi faa and took me most of the day. if I recall it wasn't half as much fun as it is today. they must have carved out the big dipper for our pleasure :)
 

DavidFL

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In December 1970 the Thai army attempted to regain control of the mountain ranges along the border on what is now R1093 & between R1155 & R1020. The mountains were Doi Yao, & Doi Pha Mon.

From Chiang Kai-Shek & the Drug Warlords of the Golden Triangle.

" by December 12 they had taken two of the higher peaks of the Doi Pha Mon range, suffering causalities from small arms & mines. They then turned southward along Doi Yao's spine to link up with 274 troops of Col Shen Chia-en & a BPP heavy weapons platoon. That group captured a CPT headquarters, complete with basketball court, mess hall, rice mill, weapons repair facility, uniforms, a 50 metre long storage tunnel, and numerous documents. Reunited, the KMT 3rd army soldiers then occupied the Hmong village of Ban Phaya Phipak, on Doi Yao's western slope. Nearly 4 months later they were still there.


Prime minister Thanom, during an early April 1971 visit to HQ 04, ordered the KMT 3rd army to turn over its Ban Phaya Phipak positions to Thai troops & move to the designated resettlement village of Pha Tang on Doi Pha Mon. ....Chen's soldiers left Phaya Phipak by truck on the night of April16-17, conducted a series of unproductive infantry sweeps en route & joined KMT Gen Mao-hsius' soldiers on Doi Pha Mon in late April.

In March 1974 Ban Phaya Phipak was abandoned & its population transferred to the Ban Mae Aep resettlement village.

In 1978 as new roads (R1155) penetrated deeper into remote KMW strong holds resistance stiffened. A major CPT target was the 107 kms in the valley (R1155) linking Doi Yao & Doi Pha Mon.

Between Jan 78 & the roads (1155) October 79 completion, 300 troops from KMT Gen Tuan Hsi-wen's 5th army (from Mae Aep) dealt with more than 100 attacks & sabotage attempts against construction crews. After June 1979, for the final 45 kms, attacks became so intense that the RTA sent regular special forces to bolster the KMT troops."

Two hills - 741 & 780 - overlooking the road required great effort to capture. Hill 741 took 2 weeks, 2 battles & supporting artillery & air strikes to capture. Further south the capture of hill 780 saw 21 dead on the government side. In total the army lost 53 killed & scores injured to capture just two hills.

Not long after R4018, the Phaya Phipak road joins R1155, there is a memorial to the fallen soldiers - 8 kms south of the R4018 / 1155 junction.
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The view from Phaya Phipak / Thu Long Thang overlooks the scene of many battles for R1155.
 
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scotty007

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Feb 23, 2004
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Yes, another great Northern Thailand ride, very steep ups and downs, this was the first time on this road for me, but not the last!

Great to be riding with the 2 David again:)
 

Snail

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Bit of a snail pace reply here but yep....sooooo good to be back there riding and this particular ride was in great weather, and for a change, in no hurry. Really appreciate the roads and the freedom riding here, even more so doing it with mates
Got some pics here when I remember how to post them lol
 

DavidFL

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I reckon that doing the Phaya Phipak road, then Phu Chi Fah & Doi Pha Tang as a loop from Chiang Khong is one of the best exhilarating rides you can do in a day in North Thailand.

Here's a birds eye view of the terrain showing the way.

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The way & route I'd recommend
R1020 - 4018 - 1155 - 1093 - 1155 - 1020.

Check out these GTR trip reports for more info on the roads & attractions in the area

Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong return.

On Phu Chi Fah, Pha Tang Roads, Great Panoramic

Phu Chee Fah in the rain

Phu Chee Fah after the haze

A Top End Meander Chiang Mai- Chang Khong return

Chiang Mai – Phayao - Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai Return

Fang - Chiang Khong Loop

The Chiang Khong Loop via Thoed Thai

Pha Dai - Wiang Kaen - The Mekong End Of The Road

Chiang Rai To Chiang Khong Via Khun Huai Mae Po

Chiang Kham Loop & Phu Arnmar Camping

& for a map check out the GT Rider Golden Triangle map, upper right hand side. Grids 1G-H to 5G-H.

Enjoy it's one of he best day rides with spectacular views you can do in the North.
Take your time & have a couple of nights in Chiang Khong.

Chiang Khong Accommodation

Chiang Khong Restaurants
 
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DavidFL

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Confirmation of the big dipper's steepness, the one 18% sign

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you don't see many of these in Thailand.
This sign you can see heading from west to east.

Heading down towards the big dipper from the east

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The road heading west

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coming up out of the big dipper.
 

DavidFL

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UPDATE June 2015

Up on top of Phaya Phipak is the forest park & royal sala with the King's footprints.

As you approach the royal sala on the left hand side there is a huge 'banyan" tree, that you can't miss, although I"d never previously paid much attention to it.

However you need to check out this amazing tree.
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The story goes that it was planted in 2534 = 24 years ago / 1991 & incredible growth in an extremely short time. It's a freak & a one off.

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There is also a large cactus "tree" in another spot by the royal sala.

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Another reason to ride Phaya Phipak - the big dipper - & enjoy the countryside 'n history.
 
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blackb15

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Oct 11, 2009
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Hello
I had just got back from riding in China so looking at places on the site I hadn't ridden before and I picked the Big Dipper .Well worth it I really enjoyed it.I was glad it was dry though.Had a great trip good night in Chiang Khong with superb views of the Mekong.
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GT map excellent as always.
Safe riding
Paul
 
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DavidFL

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An update for guys who ride the big dipper and miss the history in the museum at the viewpoint.

Info copied from this GTR thread
On the road with Destination Thailand TV part 8


From the Mekong its was onto the fabulous twisting R1155 snaking through the mountains
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to venture up in the mountains & Phaya Phipak, the ex communist battle ground.

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Phaya Phipak has featured on GTR before here

Huay Xai Mapping

The masterplan was to have couple of rides up & down the road for some filming plus check out the forest park with the amazing tree.

Stopped at the viewpoint oggling the amazing view towards Phu Chi Fah, our destination for the night.

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And what a view that is towards Phu Chi Fah in the distance on the Lao border

Whilst here I spotted the deserted building on the side.

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the buildings always been there, ever since Ive been going to PP, but today it roused my curiosity & I sauntered over to have a look. The door was locked (so I thought.) I headed off across the road the shop to ask the guy for the keys to get inside & take a look at what was on the wall - some old photographs by the looks of it.

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The shopkeeper looked at me as if I was stupid wanting the keys & I had to repeat the question several times before he got a bunch of keys & walked over with me to open up. And open up he did, simply by pushing the jammed door open - oops not locked at all. Silly old farang!

Inside the grubby dusty building - "the museum?" a collection of old framed photos on the wall.

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Proud young men - communists - fighting against the government of the day.

All villagers from Phaya Phipak who struggled for their rights & survival in those difficult days.

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The main photo was this one

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the centre row shows medics - female who treated the fighting wounded & one of the guys in the bottom row was the shopkeeper.

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who gave me the keys to the "museum." According to the good "doctor" all the people in the photos & are still alive & living in Phaya Phipak, such was their good luck, strength & will power to endure the struggle they must have had to survive for a few decades - conflict, battles, then poor living conditions no running water, no electricity & here they are years later ALL still alive & seemingly comfortable & enjoying life in Phaya Phipak. An amazing story, amazing people.

Loh & behold whilst at the shop getting the low down on their lives a tiny Hmong guy walks past wearing his communist cap. We call out & beckon him over, asking if he is still communist & the reply comes back yes as nonchalant as can be. Still believing in what they fought for - their lives in the mountains & right to survive, live there.

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If you go to Phaya Phipak, take your time. Hang out in the shop by the viewpoint. You can meet some real interesting characters. The Big Dipper is more than just the ride, there is history on that mountain with living people.

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DavidFL

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Back up on Phaya Phipak & Phu Chi Fa a few times the last week I stopped in Phaya Phipak & had a decent chat with the old commie coffee mate

Chiang Khong - The Great Roller Coaster Ride & Route

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& there should be a good story coming out soon on his coffee & life story.
Not by me, but a renowned well known journalist / travel writer...stay tuned.

Riding R4018 both ways several times in the last few weeks I've become tuned into the steep gradient signs to watch out for.
There are a series of them, starting from 6-8-12-14-16-18%.
The important ones are 14-16-18% signs & you mostly see these coming from east (R1155) heading west to R1020.

So here is the GTR Rider Big Dipper Collection...

14% & the start of R4018 at the R1155 end
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About to enter the Big Dipper & the 18% sign
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The 18% sign is at the bottom of the FIRST dip coming from R1155
It faces east
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If you are coming down from Phaya Phipak you wont see it.

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Heading west towards Phaya Phipak, you go up over the hill & down into the 2nd Big Dipper @ 16%
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again this sign is facing East.
Coming down the hill from Phaya Phipak, you won't see it.
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BUT heading east from R1020, there is one 16%-er near the top of the hill just after you leave Phaya Phipak
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As you start to go down the switchbacks into the 16% Big Dipper

The first switch back on the way down or the last one of the way up is a beauty.
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You've been warned going up - that last left-hander catches most people out!

Just west of Phaya Phipak city the new Phaya Phipak viewpoint can offer stunning views
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Phu Chi Fa
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The new Phaya Phipak Viewpoint
Google Maps

Enjoy R4018 & The Big Dipper Rocks.
It is marked on the 2020 GTR Golden Triangle Guide Map if you don't have one
Golden Triangle Map

If you're looking for somewhere close by to stay, check out Phu Chi Fa.
Phu Chi Fah Accommodation
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