Riding the Mae Kham River

DavidFL

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The Mae Kham river runs from Hua Mae Kham, in the top north-west ear above Thoed Thai into the Mekong by Wat Phrathat Pa Ngao, 4 kms downstream from Chiang Saen.

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The view from Wat Phrathat Pa Ngao
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On the Khong at Sob Kham village, just below the temple
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You can ride right along the foreshore here.
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Along the Kham river just north-west of Chiang Saen is one of the top birding spots in the North

The Nam Kham Nature Reserve

The top birding spot in Chiang Rai being the Chiang Saen lake "Nong Bong Kai Non-Hunting Area" next Ian Yonok's Resort.


The route # is 5033 & it starts just by the Wat Phrathat Chom Kitti temple.
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9 kms from the start of 5033 is Wat Mae Kham Nong Bua.
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What's important about this temple?
Don't know, but I thought the famous monk Kruba Boonchum, may have been born in this village & so there may have been a statue or something for him, and in the end I was none the wiser. Didn't see or learn anything new.


The rain soon bucketed down & I headed off home, back to Chiang Khong.
A meander up the Kham shall be continued.
 
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DavidFL

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Back riding the Kham river & R5033.

3.6 kms along R5033, west of Wat Phrathat Chomkitti is a attractive large village pond.
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The dirt road around the pond is 1.2 kms long.
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I was looking for Nong Bua Luang; and another 1.5 kms further west found a turn off signposted Nong Bua Luang, which is the one is was looking for.

Nong Bua Long is double the size of the first unnamed lake.
NBL is 950 metres down a dirt road from the turn off I took, but there's an asphalt / concrete road from the other side.

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It is a long way around this lake, 2.5 kms kms, & I took the easy way out on one side straight to the concrete road, but had a dab moment in the one piece of snot 50 metres off the concrete.

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You never quite know how deep the mud spot is where you have a dab. 55

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Check out Nong Bua Luang for a dab sometime.

 

DavidFL

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Thoed Thai is the main town in the mountains on the Mae Kham river.

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Nestled in a narrow valley dominated by mountains either side, it stretches out like a long twisting ribbon along the road following the Kham river.
It is a favourite town of mine due the "wild west" feel of the place with a fantastic mix of ethnic people - Thai, Shan, Chinese, Akha, Hmong, Lahu & Lisu.
The diversity of the population also sees the presence of multiple religions living in harmony together - Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Confucians, Animists. The bustling little town really does have a unique vibe and feel to it, if you take your time to linger longer in the valley.

Get up for the early morning market & you will be charmed by the local merchants & villagers going about their business in genuine peace and harmony.
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Founded by Akha's & recognised as the original Akha village in North Thailand, it's all a bit bewildering when you consider the town was built up by & once home to the most wanted man on the planet Khun Sa the opium warlord. Khun Sa once had a million dollar bounty on his head, but no one was game in his fiefdom at Thoed Thai.

Moe to come..
 

canthai

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Tried to go up there a couple weeks ago.
R4032 no access - either end
 

DavidFL

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The # 1 magic place to stay in Thoed Thai is Baan Rimtaan guesthouse, situated right on the banks of the Mae Kham river.

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Owned by a fantastic family. John, originally from Kentung, who speaks 6 languages & knows the area intimately; & his wife Nuan is a Tai Lue from Luang Namtha.
Baan Rimtaan is truly one of the hidden accommodation gems of North Thailand.
Situated right on the banks of the Mae Kham, it has suffered two floods, with the most recent one just a couple of weeks ago where the grounds were underwater. However the big flood several years ago, came up over night & flooded bungalows & rooms, with considerable furniture destroyed & considerable rebuilding necessary.
The Rimtaan is a fantastic place to chill out at for a few days & explore the area.

John & the 2 GTR guys of the day
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There is some excellent dining next door at the Ting Ting restaurant, superb sala pows from the Sala Pow Yunnan, plus a couple of great little coffee shops.


 
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DavidFL

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From Thoed Thai there are basically two options up to the border, both of the villages just below the ridgeline & only a few hundred metres from the actual border watershed.

1. Hua Mae Kham on R4052 that follows the Mae Kham River. Approximately 32 kms north-west of TT. HMK is a large mixed ethnic village with Lisu, Akha & KMT villagers.

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2. Mae Mo, is a mixed community of KMT, Akha, Lahu villagers.
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Drug smuggling is rampant in the area and it is interesting to see lots of new cars, & some wonderful solid modern houses next door to bamboo shacks with thatched roofs.
Both rides are fantastic rides, steep & winding roller coaster roads over the steep rolling hills.

Thoed Thai to Hua Mae Kham.
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The road Thoed Thai - Hua Mae Kham.
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It rises & falls quickly, & is a pleasure to ride.
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The Kham river meanders gently through the valley, a far cry from a flash flood two weeks earlier.
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Confirmation of the frequent wet season landslide challenge.
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Confirmation of the winding nature of the road.
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Gently goes the Mae Kham.
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Gentle as the river maybe, there's a lot of hard work planting roadside corn I discovered.
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A husband & wife team, planting corn the road verge.
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Up at first light & continue until the end of the day.
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The husband makes a small hole with one stab of the hoe & the wife comes along to drop the corn kernels in the hole, then covers it.

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Each hole gets three kernels only!
Asked how much many crops a year. They get two. And how much per crop? Oh, 2-3-4,000 baht, no more. Not much I thought for the labour involved. They make 'em tough out there beside the Mae Kham.

Protecting your bike from the sun.
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And the Mae Kham flows on, oblivious to the back breaking work on its land.
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more to come..
 
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DavidFL

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Once you arrive in Huai Mae Kham, it is a maze of steep narrow concrete lanes.
You could spend an hour or two trying to find you way around & then often having to turn back from at a dead end.
A scooter would be the right sized bike to zip around on & work out the village.
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As remote as it is, there are some interesting new houses & the impressive new Hua Mae Kham mini mart - Lisu owned & operated.
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We asked the shopkeeper how she got stock. Was it delivered on consignment by a travelling salesman? No we buy everything cash.

Old style Lisu knife sharpener
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Riding the "nuts" lane, Hua Mae Kham city.
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Hua Mae Kham's claim to fame is their annual Sunflower & Hill Tribe festival.
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GTR has been several times over the years.
Here are some reports.






The festival is always on a weekend in November when the sunflowers are blooming at their peak.
Notification for the exact weekend is only given a few weeks before the event, depending on the anticipated sunflower blooms.

Check it out sometime
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Riding the Kham to Hua Mae Kham is a joy.
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