Rain Trip up North

Jan 12, 2003
Rain Trip up North
« on: Dec 1st, 2002, 4:13am » Quote Modify Remove

It had been all sunshine for the first 4 days in Chiang Mai and so I decided to hire a Honda Phantom and take
a week along the Thai border sticking to the back roads
all the way. Well I did that.

First overnight in Fang and the ride up was good yet
the road is a "main" (Route 107) . The trip got real
interesting at Tha Ton (still 107) but climbing over the mountian. From 107 I took 1234 into Mae Sa Long for
the 2nd overnight. Inadvertantly stayed at a 1,000b
per night resort which was not in my budget but they took my visa card (they gave it back too). This road was well worth the trip as I veered north along a road
that seemed to not be numbred that took me through
Mae Fah Luang. Through some wrong turns and unexpected twists (of fate) I found myself on the border road w/Myanmar which at this point in the trip was the
best. Police stops along the way(3) two of which being searched (rather perfunctory) - actually had a good time with the police, stopping longer than necessary, offering cigarettes and at one point I let one of the police drive the bike for a few minutes up the road. My destination was Mae Sai, which holds a grand view as you come down from the mountain on that back road. This road is asphalt though narrow and shoulderless. It's really a one-lane road so driving up the hills requires blowing your horn.

Planned one night in Mae Sai and on the first wake up in the morning the rain had started, so I thought I'd have a "lingered" breakfast....which lasted three days.
On day four the rains ceased into a drizzle so I braved
the road running along the Mekong heading for Chiang Saen. 10km into the ride the rains came back with a vengence - driving was largely a blinding affair as I had to remove my eyeglasses and use my left hand as an eye-umbrella. The scenery I could tell was fantastic but
through the rain and fog I couldn't detect much. I pressed on to the Golden Triangle where the rain ceased and spent some time looking at the Mekong and
having lunch. Pressed on along the river to Chiang Saen where I had planned an overnight but upon arriving there the town looked like not a place I wanted to stay
and since the rain had now stoppd I pressed on towards
Chiang Khong. This ride was real good on route 1129
and since I could now see I enjoyed this ride alot. I got off 1129 and took the river road (route # unknown) and
the rains started once again!@#$%^&****!

Got to the Sala View Point where there was a shelter!!!
Sala offered no view this day but I dried out as much as possible before braving the last 15k into Chiang Khong.

I had David's guide book with me and referred to it often
and found it indespensible. The guesthouse in Chiang Khong was throughly delightful as was the meals at the
Bamboo restaurant. (Ban Tam Mi La G/house) @200b
it included hot water and a balcony ovrelooking the Mekong. A lovely open air restaurant also but providing bkfst only. But the Bamboo restaurant up the road (easy walking) was **** for atmosphere, people, and the food - Mexican! Tastiest Mexican this side of the border.

This town, really a long village, was quiet, friendly, and
had plenty to offer and enjoyed my two nights here very much. There is a "bar" across the hiway from the g/house that offers one pool table (billiards for you UK folks, or is it snooker?)) that has the oldest pool balls in the Far East. The Q-ball was my favorite with a large chunk missing which
really put some "French" into your Q. It took me about half an hour to complete a game with these balls so I
guess you get your moneys worth in that respect.

The rains were still around though less driving and more
a heavy drizzle so I headed out along route 1020 and
linked up to route 1155 , a "backer" road. This was a fantastic drive until just north of Pang Kha, as the rains had washed out the road for about 12km. They were
repairing it as I entered the heavy wet red mud. I had a rider on the back, a local boy from Chiang Mai to help
with language on the trip and he kept looking around me to see ahead. Normally I can handle this mis-balancing but on a 225cc single cyclinder on heavy wet
red mud it didn't work out. Proceeding at about 5k speed the bike slipped away and down we went. Well
the spill wasn't serious, just muddy and so we proceeded on bike and riders looking like the road mud.

Thankfully the next town (Pang Kha) had a water hose.

Continueing on down to Chiang Kham, Chun, then route 1020 into Phayao for the overnight. What a strange town!! I enjoyed it but it seemed so different somehow.
I'm sure if I put in a few days here I'd come to like it but
an experience at a local "lady" bar cost me 2,000b for
drinks and "company" . I thought it would be a nice
gesture on my part to thank my boy by providing a girl for him (one for me too) and through a series of misunderstandings (mostly on my part) we had a gender problem as the "girls" turned out to not be girls.
Well I got 400b back from them directly but the money to the bar was lost. But hey this is Thailand and I AM
on an adventure so....the memory of it and the humour will always be with me and so I guess that's worth 2,000b (in the future).

Phayao back to Chiang Mai was OK; departed from route 120 and took the 24k ride up into the National Park and spend a few hours at the "famous" waterfall.
(I recommend)
This was a good bike ride too after you clear the 10km long "village" and get into the upper forest, you see no houses, no cars, no nothin'. Oh yes, rice farmers cutting
is all there is. But the forest is enchanting and if you're a "greenie" you'll love it (I'm only a semi-greenie).

The road narrows into a single lane and has gentle but blind curves and a few turns require some hord beeps.

The trip at this point was ending and the ride back on route 118 was "work". It had started to get dark as well and so I speeded back into Chiang Mai, parking the
bike at the g/house at 7pm.

Well I intended to keep this brief and wrote more than I
had planned to but even so much of the experience of the trip is internal of course and I'll do a magazine article
once back in the States.

As a final comment to you all I'd like to say that David
was most helpful to me an his guide book was a necessary item for me on this trip. He was kind enough to answer my emails along the way offering suggestions
and his well earned advise on riding in Northern Thailand
So, David, if you read this, THANKS!!

Stan Gayuski
San Francisco

And finally:
One of the gladdest times (me thinks) is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off the mighty effort - the feters of routine, the leaden weight of habit, the heavy cloak of daily cares, and the slavery of home. At this one feels alive again;
-And Happy.

« Last Edit: Dec 1st, 2002, 11:22pm by StanGayuski »