The Chong Loop

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
After having had Ghadafi for breakfast, the clear skies following recent rains beckoned.

Headed up the 107 past Chiang Dao then left up the 1178 to Lin Luang; travels amply documented on this site, but I reconfirm, as enjoyable as ever.

One rides through Muang Ngai just a few kilometres before the R1322 turn-off to Wiang Haeng, the route by which we would return. The road to Wiang Haeng via Kae Noi was not in fact operational, realistically non-existant in its entirety, until into the late 1990's; indeed, due to fighting along the border, any access to the area was strictly prohibited until that time.

In the mid-1580's King Naresuan whilst fighting the Burmese set up a large military encampment of thousands of foot soldiers & elephants at Muang Ngai. English explorer Holt Hallet records in 'A Thousand Miles on an Elephant in the Shan States' (1890) that in 1854 a Shan Chief from Wiang Haeng attacked & burnt down Muang Ngai driving out its occupants - the town was subsequently repopulated chiefly by 'witches' (people considered possessed) turned out of Chiang Mai, as a result of which others were reluctant to settle in the area!

We took the left fork at Lin Luang in the direction of Muang Na, Kae Noi & Chong (rather than the right to Arunothai).

Muang Na is a pleasant village with a nice Shan style wat, inhabited by a mix of KMT, Shan, Thai & Lahu residents & set in a nice rural setting:


The road is typical of the many that run through the mountians adjoining Burma - the 1340 to Doi Ang Khang or the 1095 to Mae Hong Song spring to mind - with all the 'twisties' & all the magnificent views. Here, however, there's virtually no other traffic - its not 'Thailand on Motorcycle', but 'Thailand to Yourself'!

Heading on to Kae Noi through the occasional control point or past a still authentic hill-tribe village - Jia Chan, a small Lahu village just out of Muang Na, was relocated here from higher up on the mountainside after a number of villagers were reportedly killed in disputes with drug warlords - the road varies from bitumen sometimes potholed & a very short section of (good) dirt to a recently resurfaced wonderful run over the top of pine-clad ridges. Simple enough even for Dad's Army on their Verseys!

(In the hope that it will add something to your trip, I insert the following from my GTR post 'On the Trial of a 'Mule' - a Drug Run through the Golden Triangle)..... The route across to Piang Luang via Kae Noi was a drug distribution route into Thailand. Kae Noi like many KMT border settlements was a drug smuggling village set amidst poppy fields & opium processing refineries. It was an area of cross-border bandits & robbers with intermittant attacks & shelling from the Burmese Army; where 'farang' could easily be mistaken as 'spies' & be quickly in trouble - with constant battles along the border, access to the area was strictly prohibited until the late 1990's. Be aware that 'mules' carrying speed, ice & ecstacy still infiltrate Thailand through this area so stick to the principal route avoiding detouring towards the border.

Down on to Kae Noi:


Although quite a large town, Kae Noi with its mix of Chinese, Shan, Lahu & Lisu was wonderfully quiet. It was as though everyone was attending school prize-giving day - only the Chinese shops were open; some perhaps wouldn't attend even if their child were dux! Kae Noi like many KMT border settlements was once a drug smuggling village set amidst poppy fields & opium processing refineries.

Shortly after Kae Noi the road turns to an all weather dirt rode for some 25klms on the run down to Chong. The first half is heavily impregnated with stone, the second half a comfortable dirt surface. Despite the recent rains there were no surprises.

Looking down to a fertile Ban Chong. 'Chong' is Shan for 'Wat' & a visit to Wat Mak Gai Yon is worthwhile:


Turned right on reaching the 1322 at Chong heading to Piang Luang & then Lak Taeng.
(I've added the following from my GTR post 'On theTrail of a 'Mule' - a Drug Run through the Golden Triangle' in the hope that it will add something to the trip here)........ Piang Luang lying in a mountainous & relatively isolated part of Thailand had it all - illegal logging, opium growing, heroin trafficking, subterfuge immigration, contraband, communist insurgency, fugitive criminals & a KMT massacre by Thai authorities. It also, at Lak Taeng, marked one of the few vehicle crossing points into & out of Khun Sa's territory & offered a myriad of distribution routes into Thailand including those through Kae Noi, through Wiang Haeng & through Pai. At both Doi Larng & Mae Aw (near Ho Mong) Khun Sa's position was compromised by adjacent Wa positions, but at Piang Luang he was in sole control - Piang Luang was truly the jewel in Khun Sa's crown.

By 1985 Khun Sa dominated the Shan-Thai frontier; his trafficking flourished as did his army now equipped with an impressive array of arms purchased on the market in Thailand. Burma desperate for the black money turned a blind eye whilst simultaneously moving masses of illegally logged teak across the border at Piang Luang. The drugs crossed the border in pick-ups & in secret compartments in the logs with plenty of heroin for kick-backs to Thai army & police. The restricted access to the area ensured the easy relationship between Khun Sa & Thai officials & the co-operation between Khun Sa, Burma & Thailand in the internationally condemned teak logging would not be seen by the world.

Piang Luang was also eerily quiet, so much so I feared another prize-giving but no, a funeral on this occasion, as the below photo testifies:


Onward to Lak Taeng on the Thai/Burmese border. Its here that you'll find Wat Fa Wiang In - an intiguing place, a temple situated in 2 different countries. The wat complex was built along the border on 2 adjoining hills to serve both Thai & Burmese buddhists. In 2002 (recently for old blokes like me) in fighting between the Burmese & Shan State Armies, the Burmese army ironically seized half the 'symbol of piece' temple complex.

The below photo shows the Thai Yai, seven-tiered wat seized by the Burmese with the bamboo divide line & Thai flag flying alongside. The site has been abandoned, though access to it from Thailand is apparently mined, the Burmese setting up a less vulnerable a surveillance station further up the ridge.


The above photo was taken from a hill overlooking the Wat at a site where the revered head of the Shan State Army, Zao Kornzurng Chanasuek is buried. A photo of his headstone appears below:


The complex contains a further Wat, a meditation centre, a museum, the Naresuan The Great (revered king who fought to free Siam from the Burmese) memorial & the greatly respected Marachina pagoda a photo of which appears below:


The pagaoda is divided into 12 mural containing chapels & was built in 1969 to commemerate an eminent monk whose bones & a wax effigy are contained therein. Since 1991 it has also contained the remains of Mo Heng, an opportunistic warlord who operated for many years in the area losing his left arm in a battle against the Burmese. One of the interlinked chapels with the pagoda's guardian isone of which is photographed below:


With the dose of culture well received I headed back down the 1332 in the direction of Wiang Haeng only to stumble across another cultural icon - 'Cowboys'. Check out the entrance to 'the saloon bar' below:


1.30pm & the place was humming as the photos below attest (eat your hearts out Kob & Happy Go Lucky):



Started throwing back the beers with the team.....I thought there was something ominous in the fact that the building opposite was the funeral parlour!


The ride onwards to Mae Ja to complete the route through Pai/Mae Hong Son twisties was just so easy - gee, those new Pirelli Scorpions are good, it could just not be the beers! So good was it I manged only one last photo of the stunning scenery:

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Jan 5, 2008
Rod Page;266405 wrote: 1.30pm & the place was humming as the photos below attest
Great report Ron. If the place was humming at 1.30 pm, I can only imagine what it would have been like at 1.30am.
These people really do know how to enjoy themselves. I gotta check out that saloon bar.....what a classic.


Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
Racey - you could handle the SCG totally covered in broken glass on your Ninja!

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
DATE: 18th April, 2011.
Weather: Great
Team: D-Tracker, Sonic, 'Poor Man's Harley' (Phantom), Verseys, BMW 650GS.
Reason for Ride : 'What's your favourite 1 day ride to test the new Scrambler"

Some quick photos to set the scene/flush Ron out into reporting........

The team (minus photographer Myriama/Sonic) on the run doqwn to Kae Noi:


The IYARA, highly recommended restaurant on the Kae Noi by-pass/direct route to Wieng Haeng (7 great meals for 250THB minus the beers!):


Some shots along the dirt from Kae Noi to Chong:





The team at the fabulous 'Cowboy' where the boss served Kob with her namesake:



Sheltering from the rain......another story:

Jul 25, 2010
Well this is my side of the story, without being too repetitive of Rods postings I hope;
* Roderick's elder brother Michael from Sydney visited CNX for a few days on route to Europe for hols. So what does young Rod do to entertain a big brother who has not been on a bike for 16 years and who has clearly enjoyed the odd Beef Wellington or two washed down by vats of fine clarets over the years (he's a lawyer you see)?.....gets him a Phantom and takes him on a 300k loop, the Chong loop. You've got to have a sense of humour to survive in the Page family I recon.
Stu Lloyd and Jollie, myself and the misses and Rods wife Myriama (on her trusty Sonic) came along for the ride expecting some laughs and fine banter. We were not disappointed.
We met at the X-Centre for a healthy brekkie to start the day at 8.00am


Michael hammering the Phantom along at oooooh, well, about 45 kms/hr


followed by Rod and Myriama who's gotta be a potential Moto GP champ


More speed thrills for Michael about to be lapped by Myriama


but hey, the roads are a dream and all to yourself. The speck going up the other side is Stu getting the power on


Back seat driver/rider or too lazy to get off, you decide......


Great lunch spot and extra yummy noodles.....


cooked by mum


The Burmese military post on the boarder at Lak Taeng looking down over to the Thai side


The museum looks interesting at Wat Fa Wiang but everything is in Thai so not sure who is who in all these photos. No doubt there would be a fair few stories amongst that lot if only they could talk.


Big Buddha on the hill looking down to the other side


Songkran revelers still giving it heaps on Sunday the the 17th. There were a lot of them along the way.


The Cowboy Wianghaeng is a blast as Rod says.


Khun Tan also has bungalows if you want to stay overnight for a western type foot stomping, knees up hoop la, if you like that kind of thing
Chiang Kham


It was a great day and what a wonderful ride on empty roads up there. Many thanks Rod for the tour and you clearly have gleaned a lot of information on the area. We all had a great time and for sure many laughs.
I'll be back there soon with the Scrambler.
Michael took his sore bum off to Spain the next day (no doubt business class with more Beef Wellington and claret) but with a smile on his face carrying with him many stories to tell from such a fine one day adventure. He did real well for someone who had just got off a plane from Aus and who has been off bikes for a long time. Mostly he laughed all the way, well mostly.
It also proves that you dont need big fast poncy kit to get out there and enjoy some of the best rides and scenery the Kingdom has to offer. What a country this is.
I would really give this loop a go if you have a free day.
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Oct 23, 2009
Nice illustrated trip report. It's probably to close to home ... I have never been there :(! Your story is a good incentive to put it on the wish list. Fai particularly likes the picture with "Kop and kiat". She is eager to get some :)

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
Just found this:

Bangkok Post - Sunday 14 April 2002
Temple grounds split in half by disputed frontier
Patrols conducted by units from both sides
Wieng Haeng, Chiang Rai

Burmese troops have patrolled the northern part of the Fah Wieng Inn Temple since former drug warlord Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese military junta in early 1996.

Burma claims that half of the temple is inside its territory, and Thailand claims the other half. A supposed boundary line cleaves the 40 rai temple ground in two.

Up until Khun Sa's surrender, the border area around the temple was off-limits to Burmese forces. The late Shan nationalist Kornjueng Chanasuek, former chairman of the now-defunct Mong Tai Army, based his military command around the temple in early 60s.

``He was a tough fighter playing a leading role for reconstruction of this temple. Kornjueng was much respected by local people here,'' said Somboon Kamherng, 53, a local villager from Ban Piang Luang.

After Kornjueng's death in 1991, local people agreed to place his tomb on a small hill to the west of the temple. Local people are mainly ethnic Shan.

Kornjueng was founder and former leader of the now-defunct Shan United Revolutionary Army. In 1985, Kornjueng agreed to merge his forces with the Khun Sa-led Shan United Army to form the Mong Tai Army.

A Thai soldier makes his daily observation. In the background is the northern part of Fah Wieng Inn monastery, where the temple's church and Buddhist school are situated. This section was taken by Burmese forces in 1996.
Thailand claims almost all the temple grounds including Marajina Chedi while Burma has claimed half the area to the north of the temple, which includes the church, Buddhist school and lodging for monks and novices.

Burmese troops have occupied the temple's northern section and will not patrol southwards into territory claimed by Thai forces.

``We all know our area and will not cross to areas claimed by the Burmese side to avoid causing misunderstandings and tension,'' said a cavalry soldier from Pha Muang Task Force, whose platoon of cavalry soldiers were deployed to guard the disputed terrain.

Local people and monks were not barred from entering the temple area controlled by Burmese troops.

It was Kornjueng, a devoted Shan Buddhist, who pushed for the construction of a chedi _ believed to contain the relics of Lord Sariputta who was one of the two chief disciples of the Lord Buddha _ and also the temple's main hall.

The hall sits right over the supposed boundary line. On Buddhist holy days, people from both sides of the border crowd the temple's main hall, while temple abbot Phra Kamtoon Inthawangso, 78, holds religious rituals inside the church on the disputed area. ``We live peacefully and never have any problem with Burmese troops posted around here. The temple committee overseeing the monastery has also been selected from people from both sides,'' said Somboon.

The abbot was hopeful the situation here would not turn explosive no matter what the outcome of demarcation talks.