The 1148 and Na Noi. The return of tourists.

Steve Merchant

Ol'Timer
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Dec 11, 2009
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Feeling the need to get out I took a very early departure, 6 a.m. from my badly located home in Tha Ma Khaeng (near Tha Ton) to once more go over the 1148. The last time I did this was Jan 03 2021 and the public fear of Covid left me feeling like the last man on the planet, nobody out there. That time I had stayed overnight in Chiang Kham, much better position to enjoy this famous highway. Last Saturday was a typical winter morning in my village near the Kok River with cool temperatures and a pretty dense mist. Over the mountain on the 1098 was clearer but a few places near Chiang Rai and again along the 1020 and the 4033 I hit the mist again which caused condensation on the inside of my visor and water on the outside. That and the strange 90 degree double bends at the beginning of the 4033 slowed me down a little (and I dont move fast at best of times) but I was in Chiang Kham by 8.40a.m. A quick coffee and I was out on the 1148 for the slow change from flat rice country to slight incline and finally up to the famous coffee shops and guest houses.
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On arrival there were a few cars, some campers, maybe 10 small bikes with young Thais and all the camping gear and just a couple of big bikes. And then......the incomers started pulling in. A biker group from Ratchburi with a friendly guy who quickly came over and asked where I was from, then a big group from Malaysia, elderly and with wives on a variety of machines, a Harley group that I didn't find anyone to chat with and a small group on big Triumphs. It was busy, it was almost all bikers and even at my age I wasn't the odd old man out.
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Strangely enough almost no-one else was going in my direction and I was once again alone almost all the way to Wang Pha. Not wanting too much boring highway I turned left on the 101 and went up to Pua for lunch finding most of the local food stalls to be out on the 1081, a now popular road but mostly used by riders coming into Pua from the glorious mountains to the east which I toured last year. That route going south took me onto the also popular 1169 which now features a coffee shop surplus at the best lookout point on the route.
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I wasn't planning to stay in Nan but going on South to the small town of Na Noi, a place I visited last year on my way to the Khun Sathan National Park. It was the memory of that terrific morning on the 1216 that brought me back to try the road in the opposite direction, the 1083 that heads east out of Na Noi. I stayed in a hotel known to GT Riders who had a dinner there a year ago, the Huen Fai Mae Jampee which is maybe not the top place to stay but its where the Thais from expensive resorts come to get good food. The restaurant was busy, the prices were fair and a large beer only 75b. The bed, pillow and duvet were all perfectly to my liking so I ticked that off as a good 500b worth.
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Being an early riser it was coffee and a toasted cheese at the PTP and a 7am out on the road on yet another slightly misty morning but with the sun obviously due out soon. A short trip across the valley, a few kms up the mountain and I saw my first group of young Thai biker-campers parked up for a photo at the Si Nan Park Headquarters. Only 30 mins out of Na Noi and I was suddenly out at the lookout on the mountain top with views both ways of the sea of mist the Thais love to photograph. Much to my surprise this is obviously the local free camping spot and favorite activity for the locals. It was busy with bikes, cars, pick-ups and people of all ages and they were clearly delighted to see a farang arrive in their midst.
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From here the road wound down the mountain, past the Khun Nan Park building and finally ran alongside but mostly out of view of the Nan River. At this point I should have turned back and gone over the 1216 to Phrae. The road was in good condition but just wound its way through countryside with almost nothing and nobody around. Maybe 2 cars, 3 bikes and 30 cows and buffaloes in 50 kms. I finally hit typical farming communities when I was well into Uttaradit and nearing the 117 but thats just a long road down a valley that finally ends at highway 11 which is only handy if you want to see the historic ruins of Si Satch or Suhkothai. So, in summary, some enjoyable moments but too long sat on the bike on plain highways when I should have done the 1216 or the 4010 and come out closer to home. Never mind, a bad day on the bike is still better than a good day at work.
 
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Steve Merchant

Ol'Timer
Subscribed
Dec 11, 2009
115
158
43
4033.png

The mentioned 4033, a country road surrounded by rice fields with no sign of things to avoid. So why the endless doglegs? At least after a couple you knew what was coming and didn't get caught out again.