Riding the Mae Hong Song Loop with 20+ ACEMTSG bikers from Vietnam!

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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My friend and GT-Rider member Viethorse invited me to join him and his friends for a blast around the Mae Hong Song Loop. As much as I dislike that first rough bit between Chiang Mai and Pai, the rest of the loop more than makes up for it, and I was keen to ride with Viethorse again and meet the rest of his club, so of course I accepted :mrgreen:

Had hoped to ride or fly up to Chiang Mai a bit early and get out for some day trips, but a pesky mosquito landed me in the hospital with Dengue Fever a week before my planned departure :sick:
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Nasty illness, just sucks all the life out of you and leaves you dizzy and fatigued :oops: Thought maybe I'd hit the road on the 30th but could barely get out of bed... Time was running short and I didn't want to miss Viethorse and his mates, so on the first I sucked it up and hit the road! My little guy wanted to go too! ;)
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I didn't leave Bangkok until after 2pm, so arrived in Chiang Mai well after dark, but it was a pleasant enough ride, though chilly in the mountains near Lampang and a bit buggy around sunset!
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Arrived Chiang Mai around 9pm, and then headed over to the Kafe to meet up with Viethorse and his friend Hanh- they didn't have time to ride all the way from Vietnam with the rest of the club, so they flew to Chiang Mai and rented Honda 500's for the MHS loop, and would then fly back to Vietnam after the loop.

More to come! :happy1:
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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The next morning we met up at Dave's house for the ride to Pai- Trung and Hanh had met round the world rider Lalo and invited him along, and my friend Nik also showed up on his beautiful new Ducati Hypermotard!

Plan was to meet up with the rest of the group in Pai, but Chiang Mai to Pai is too short a ride and a rather crappy road, so we decided to ride there via the 118 north, then the 1150 west to Phrao and Chiang Dao, then south on the 107 and finally west on the 1095 to Pai:
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https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Route+11&daddr=Route+118+to:Route+1150+to:Unknown+road+to:Unknown+road&hl=en&ll=19.106244,99.304047&spn=1.110765,2.113495&sll=18.804106,99.004369&sspn=0.034775,0.066047&geocode=FaILHwEduH7mBQ%3BFcLeJgEduXHuBQ%3BFeKKJwEd0LzpBQ%3BFRTsKAEdB4bmBQ%3BFSZpJwEdQxneBQ&mra=dme&mrsp=0&sz=15&t=m&z=10

Nice cool day, light traffic, a bit overcast, a good whack up the 118 with a short photo stop at the Nam Ron hotsprings area-
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Back on the road we stop at the turn off to the 1150 to re-group-
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The 1150 is a fantastic roller coaster of a road and I really enjoyed chasing Nik on his new Hypermotard. Even though he's still breaking it in and running it in "touring mode" we'd enter corners together but he'd pull away from me quite easily powering out of the corners on his torquey (is that a word?) new Ducati :mrgreen:

That was a fun whack and we stopped at the PTT in Phrao to wait for Viethorse and Hanh who were a bit frustrated trying to get up and over the mountain on their underpowered and poorly suspended Honda 500's. (Viethorse rides a Honda VFR 800 and BMW 1200GS back home while Hanh was missing his CBR1000RR). Lalo had just picked up a second hand Honda CRF250L the day before and he's quick on descents but struggles on the hills with the Honda's 18 Hp...

Cheap and tasty noodle lunch in Phrao- about 200 Thai Baht (US$7) for the 6 of us!

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Dark clouds to the east of us, but we're heading west, so I'm not too worried about getting wet. Another fun whack to Chiang Dao on the 1150, then south on the fast and twisty 107. Nik couldn't join us to Pai so we bid him farewell at the function to the 1095 and we headed west while he headed south towards home.

A quick photo stop at the beginning of the 1095-
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I warned the guys to be careful on the 1095- it's rough and slippery and renowned for the kamikaze van and truck drivers. I had wanted to do the ride on my GSXR but Piston Shop didn't get it finished on time, and frankly, I was pretty happy to have the Versys for this leg.

We rolled in to Pai just before sunset and checked in to the Baantawan Guest House (http://www.baantawanpai.com/) a very nice resort right on the Pai River and walking distance to the center of town. View from my room:
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View from my room-
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Viethorse and Hanh got a nice penthouse-
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Lalo, bless his heart, walked into town and got me a beer. Cheers mate!!


The guesthouse had prepared quite a nice spread for the arriving Vietnamese bikers-
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Only one problem... It's nearly dark, and no sign of the big group... :wtf:

After trying a lot of different phone numbers Viethorse is finally able to reach someone in the main group. Turns out one of the bikes had a mechanical problem that forced a 2 hour delay in Chiang Mai for repairs. Yikes- they were going to ride the Chiang Mai to Pai road in the dark! It's already tough enough in daylight; I did not envy them that ride!

We wandered in to town to grab some drinks and appetizers and enjoy the fantastic people watching and when we returned to the guesthouse a couple hours later the group had arrived, all safe and in good spirits!

Dinner under the stars, fireworks, and bed- tomorrow is a LONG ride from Pai to Mae Hong Song to Khun Yuam to Mae Sarieng to Hot to Chiang Mai!!! :happy1:
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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I am NOT a morning person, but was woken up in the wee hours by some of the Vietnamese guys hooting and hollering in the parking lot. :crazy: I guess that's what they call a Vietnamese wake up call? :lol-sign:

They planned to hit the road at 0800 and actually seemed serious about it. Not a bad idea really, considering the distance to be covered and the size of the group.
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Quite a decent breakfast spread at the Baantawan, although the coffee was dreadful...
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It's good that they planned an early departure, because today is going to be a long ride!
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Roughly ~460 km of twisty roads between Pai and Chiang Mai as we ride the Mae Hong Song loop counter clockwise. An amazing collection of bikes! From a Goldwing GL1500 to an assortment of big BMW touring and adventure bikes, with a V-strom 1000 and Multistrada and Yamaha 660 supermotard, a Triumph Bonneville, a Repsol Honda CBR1000RR, a BMW S1000RR and a Yammie R6 and more made for an interesting mix! Let's go! :happy5:
 

brian_bkk

Ol'Timer
Mar 30, 2010
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Great report so far Tony... Glad you beat that pesky Dengue over the head..
When I spoke to you on the phone in Hospital.. you were not your usual self :)

Wish I could have been on this ride.. Looks like you all had a blast.

Looking forward to the rest.

Cheers
Brian
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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This was a BIG group, but very well organized-

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I never did get a proper count, but guesstimate there were about ~25 bikes, plus two support trucks.

I believe they normally ride as a convoy, with one truck at the front and another bringing up the rear, but on this day I suggested that we stop at the Pang Mapha viewpoint for a group photo, and next thing I know, they ask me to lead and tell the group that they can pass the lead truck if they want, and follow me. Yikes, I wasn't expecting to lead and was worried I'd get lost leaving Pai! :oops:

Fueling up at the Pai PTT-
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Goldwing GL1500, tough looking NC700 and an old V-Strom 1000-
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Fortunately I made it out of Pai without any wrong turns, even repairing a bent shift pedal on the Yamaha 660 that got dropped in the PTT parking lot ;)

Another gorgeous day, sunny and cool, and we made good time to Pang Mapha-
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Everyone was smiling ear to ear :mrgreen: You have to understand that the maximum speed limit for bikes in Vietnam is 80km/hr and apparently the police are very strict about it, so coming to Thailand where speed limits are hardly ever enforced must be a real treat. Some of the Vietnamese guys also mentioned that there are very few good "big bike" roads in Vietnam and that the road conditions in Thailand are much better.

A pretty impressive collection of hardware!
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Lots of smiling faces! :mrgreen:
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Good spot for a group photo-
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Pang Mapha viewpoint, Mae Hong Song, Thailand!
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Mr Vu rode all the way from Vietnam on a Triumph Bonneville! RESPECT! :clap:
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Still a LONG way to go before we reach Chiang Mai, best we get a move on!
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Wald0

Ol'Timer
Sep 7, 2013
72
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TonyBKK;294992 wrote:

Everyone was smiling ear to ear :mrgreen: You have to understand that the maximum speed limit for bikes in Vietnam is 80km/hr and apparently the police are very strict about it, so coming to Thailand where speed limits are hardly ever enforced must be a real treat. Some of the Vietnamese guys also mentioned that there are very few good "big bike" roads in Vietnam and that the road conditions in Thailand are much better.

Yes, road surface will leave lot of desired in here Vietnam, just few days a go I was riding on "good" surface and taught to relax and ride with one arm.. boy was i wrong! suddenly out of no where comes these uneven asphalt that shook me up real good.. lesson learned I would say :)

There is not much places where you can get these bikes up to 80km/h, well on freeway but its not exactly legal to go there with bikes.. ;)
not sure how roads are in south.. i live in Hanoi :)
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
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Wald0;294995 wrote: Yes, road surface will leave lot of desired in here Vietnam, just few days a go I was riding on "good" surface and taught to relax and ride with one arm.. boy was i wrong! suddenly out of no where comes these uneven asphalt that shook me up real good.. lesson learned I would say :)

There is not much places where you can get these bikes up to 80km/h, well on freeway but its not exactly legal to go there with bikes.. ;)
not sure how roads are in south.. i live in Hanoi :)
These fellows are mostly from Saigon, but it sounds like they don't have many good roads in their part of the country either.... Guess that's why this is their 4th tour to Thailand!
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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From the Pang Mapha viewpoint it's a short whack to Mae Hong Song on fantastic winding mountain roads :p

Dave and I got a bit ahead, so pulled over and snapped some pics as the leaders rode by. Viethorse and Hanh weren't the only guys to fly in and rent. There were a couple other fellows who were riding rented ER6n's
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Here's Viethorse on his Honda CB500X
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Hanh on his CBR500-
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Young guy on a nicely blinged out Ducati Multistrada got faster and more confident as the day wore on :thumbup:
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This Thai fellow was quite quick on his 1200GS when he wanted to be :mrgreen:
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I think this is the R6?
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After these guys passed we jumped back on the road and chased them down. Good fun! :happy5:

We soon arrived at the city gate to Mae Hong Song where we stopped to let the rest of the group catch up.
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Welcome to Mae Hong Song, Thailand!
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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Once all the bikers and support trucks had re-grouped at the entrance to Mae Hong Song we rode in convoy to a government building where the riders would be presented with certificates showing they've ridden the Mae Hong Song loop. Kind of a cool souvenir and would look nice in a frame on the wall :thumbup:

While the group parked up I admired Mae Hong Song's collection of ancient fire trucks-
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You might think these are antiques, and anywhere else, they might be, but they are still in service here!
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Dave seemed to take a liking to Viethorse tho I'm not sure if the attraction was mutual :lol-sign:
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Are you feeling the love yet Viethorse? ;)
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By the time we had collected our Mae Hong Song certificates it was well after noonn, and we still had a LONG way to ride to reach Chiang Mai. I wanted to show off the beautiful Wat Chong Klang but only Dave and Viethorse followed me, while the rest of the group proceeded to the PTT for fuel and snacks.

Viethorse in front of Wat Chong Klang, Mae Hong Song, Thailand-
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We caught up with the rest of the group at the always crowded PTT gas station. Just love the fact that this guy is doing the Mae Hong Song loop on a Goldwing! :happy3:
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And he can ride too! I was good fun following him through the twisties and watching him grind metal in the right corners! :clap:

Lunch was waiting for us in Mae Sarieng, some ~170 km further to the south, but a lot of guys were getting hungry so people grabbed snacks at the 7-11 and a noodle shop across the street. I enjoyed a thoroughly disgusting microwave pizza :sick: (a bit of a travesty considering all the excellent food available in MHS...)

And we're off again! Riding south towards Mae Sarieng! :happy1:
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
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Another good whack on the racetrack-like 108 south of Mae Hong Song :happy5:

Along with some of the quicker guys from ACEMTSG we got well ahead of the main group, eventually stopping on a long empty straightaway in the woods to let them catch up.
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To say we had the road pretty much to ourselves would be an understatement ;)
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^ Following this young lady's lead we all posed for a group photo lying in the middle of the road. I'm looking forward to seeing Viethorse's pics from this spot :thumbup:

We made good time to Mae Sarieng, regrouping at the PTT before heading into town for a late lunch-
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Amazing hospitality from the ACEMTSG club! They invited us to dinner in Pai and lunch in Mae Sarieng- thanks again for your wonderful hospitality!!


Turns out lunch was at a GT-Rider favorite: Inthira :thumbup: No pics of the food, but we ate well!

Here's Mr Vu posing next to another rider's S1000RR (unfortunately the S1000RR had to take it really easy as his front brake pads were nearly gone... :oops: )
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alrikki

Ol'Timer
Aug 29, 2008
255
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we passed a few riders with a truck,had an ASEAN sign on or similar, and guy on a bike filming, on the road to MHS on saturday, was that you lot?
We were on a KLX
 

VietHorse

Ol'Timer
Jan 9, 2011
516
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alrikki;295060 wrote: we passed a few riders with a truck,had an ASEAN sign on or similar, and guy on a bike filming, on the road to MHS on saturday, was that you lot?
We were on a KLX
Nah. We were on the way to MHS Tuesday (3rd Dec).
 

VietHorse

Ol'Timer
Jan 9, 2011
516
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Well well well...
There are many many photos from buddies since their first day leaving Vietnam into Cambodia - however, I believe we are all busy like hell after a week off, so I don' see any posted photo on our website.
I will post up here what I have in my camera. Okay?

-----------

As Tony posted, our team with 25 bikes ride all the way from HCMC Vietnam thru Cambodia, Chiang Mai, to Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Golden Triangle. It's 9days tour.
I could not made 9 days off so that I have to choose the fly and ride option.
Damnit, there is no direct fly from SGN to CNX, so I have to transit in BKK. Total time from SGN to CNX almost a day. Phew!

Reached CNX before sunset. We went to bike shop to get the bikes which are booked with help from a friend. I took the CB500X and my friend took CB500F. Really bad choice vs Versys like last time I did in BKK with Tony.
Got the bikes here:

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Unpacked and ready for the next days trip:

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It was really nice treat by Tony that he rode his Versys all the way from BKK to CNX to ride with us, even though he was knocked down the last few days.
After getting the bike and come back to the guest house, we met Lalo, the one known as flyingdutchman, who is on his RTW trip. We have communicated before coming to CNX, and really surpprise that we can really meet at the first day there. He went out after dinner to buy a CRF250L.

That night, we have some beer around CNX and hit the pillow sometimes by mid night.

Early morning, I saw Lalo was working with his bike - and asked if he wanna join our ride. Well, that how we go together.

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We gathered at Dave's place, had breakfast, chit chat and planed for the ride:

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Hanh showed his mechanical skill with Lalo's bike ;)

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Big smiles before rolling:

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VietHorse

Ol'Timer
Jan 9, 2011
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Ok, we just ride out, I don't know and don't really care where we would ride. Just a little wish that we could arrive the booked hotel in Pai before dark. :happy2:
I very soon realized that my choice of CB500X was not a good one. I feel the bike under me without push whenever I twisted the throttle. It need sometimes to let it fired up and speed up. At the first riding segment, I was trying to push the bike several times, but it seemed not be able to go higher than 150kmh. However, my riding sucks, I know, so I was trying to blame the bike instead. :mrgreen:.
At the first gas station, I noticed that front tire of big Dave looked pretty flat.

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Poor him - he run the air hose to us at his house, and we all fill the air to Hanh's , mine and Lalo's bike - but Dave's.

After the gas station, the road was good, and it was quite straight, not too much twisty, felt bad about my bike again coz I was too far after others.

Hotspring, don't know its name, but who cares as we don't have time for a bath:

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At one intersection to wait for Lalo:
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Then we were at a premier lunch at a biz lounge, I don't know its name:
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Tried the fired pig skin at this place.

I think we said good bye to Nik at the turn from 107 right to 1095 (!?). At this turn, I was making the car behind me burning its tires for a while. LOL...

Then saw the Mae Hong Son name on the sign board - really tempting...
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Uncle Dave did not give a damn care what all those young guys doing with the sign board LOL...

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VietHorse

Ol'Timer
Jan 9, 2011
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We almost reached Pai. Stopped for a stretch after awesome twisty road.

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Don't know what exactly the Check point used for - We can passed that checkpoint without stopping, but other bikers, bus or truck...

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We got to Pai (Batawan resort) around 4 or 5PM. Quite nice place. We met some CRF offroad riders there. They said that they rode all the way from Chiang Mai to Pai offroad.
My team still more than hundred km away from us - not a good info.
Tony and Dave have booked their room with us there.
Lalo went to the next door guest house, well, actually it was not really next door one, as I went to find him after that but in vain. :?: :wtf:
We decided to go out the Pai walking street to see stuff and have something to eat and drink before the main course at the resort.
It was good night outing there. Nice little town with lots of stuff. Had light dinner and bought something for my family.
Then the guys finally arrived in the dark. All seemed to be in the good shape even though somehow tired and hearing stories of some mishaps during the night ride.

The next day was my Big day. Woke up quite early. Guys gathered at my place for morning coffee. Messaged Tony about the Coffee but he seemed still dreaming that time. Next time I will bring Vietnam Coffee and will knock you guys off, like what I did with riding friends at South Carolina last year. :smile1:

Busy breakfast with noisy team:
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TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
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Great pics Viethorse! Keep 'em coming! I'm sorry I missed your Vietnamese coffee- next time!! :mrgreen:
 

VietHorse

Ol'Timer
Jan 9, 2011
516
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Thanks Tony and I take your words.

-----------

Leaving Pai, we headed to the Big day, well, it's Big day for me - as I really wanted to ride the MHS loop after hearing a lot about it.

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Tony was asked to lead the convoy and I believe he could guide us to stop at good places which we don't want to miss (however, I think we missed some good spot for taking pix as he whack to much ... 555)

The road was amazing right after leaving Pai. All the curves are awesome! Weather was really good that day, too. Perfect day for Mae Hong Son!

And it would be more perfect if I can have this bike LOL:
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After amazing nice and clear twisty roads, we reached Pang MaPha viewpoint.

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Look what they sell up here:
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Oops...
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Someone need top up:
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nikster

Ol'Timer
Nov 7, 2007
659
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Thanks for taking me on that first leg, that was a lot of fun. I am still learning to ride that bike I think it will be a while until I have the same confidence I had on the Versys.

Too bad I couldn't join you for the MHS loop, looks like a blast. I love how that group has bikes in all shapes and sizes, that's great.

But I was anxious to do the 1000km on the new toy and also had commitments that night.

@Viethorse I used to own a Versys and rented a CBX500 once to go to Pai, I know exactly what you're talking about. It's a good bike, it just has no power whatsoever. Huge difference to the Versys.
 

Franz

Ol'Timer
Jun 28, 2007
1,661
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What a nice trip, fotos and report/comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the ride to MHS and the surroundings, also one of my favourite loops since 20+ years.....
Amazing choice of bikes, quite a tough job for the R1000SS rider and all other sportsbikes, if I remember correctly that's an astonishing 1885 turns from MHS to Mae Malai/Mae Taeng.
Riding with Tony and Nikster ?? Wait until Nikster's Hypermotard has got it's first slower 1,000kms done and he can really whack it. Cannot keep up with either of them even on a more powerful bike.:thumbup:. Think both of them should once do the loop on Nouvo's or Clicks, think they would still be quicker than somone on a 250 bike hahahaha................Cheers, Franz
 

angkor1

Ol'Timer
Feb 8, 2009
235
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Is this boi from Hanoi name Hwai from Flamingo Travel ?????

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I think so the last picture is 3 years ago we had a lot of trips in Northern Vietnam together...
 

TonyBKK

Ol'Timer
Dec 27, 2007
3,854
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angkor1;295719 wrote: Is this boi from Hanoi name Hwai from Flamingo Travel ?????

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Nope! That's Mr. Vu from Saigon; he rode a Triumph Bonneville on this trip- Respect!! :mrgreen: