The Mae Sai Loop May 22

Jan 12, 2003
The Mae Sai Loop May 22
« on: May 30th, 2002, 8:05am » Quote Modify Remove

Time for a quick blast up to Tachilek & shopping for some new music CDs.
Met Bob "shadow" Sensale at the Bier Stube for a quick brekky & it was on the road at 8.10 am. This was a real early start (for me), & could possibly be explained as it was the boys out riding for the day and I didn't have to wait for the girlfriend singer to wake up.
Weather at the start was hot and humid, with a generally cloudy sky, but no serious threat of rain.
Leaving on R118, I got a great run out of town & tucked in behind a Suzuki Vitara jeep at 130 kph for the 4-lane out to Doi Saket. He backed off as soon as we hit the hills, so on on it was for me - I was having fun again, riding alone, after the last 3 or 4 trips upcountry had been with the girlfriend singer on the back.
R118 after Doi Saket still sucks for the 1st 25 odd kms, but after that it is brilliant. I must have been enjoying myself, because I had to wait 7 minutes at the Hot Springs, just 64 kms out, for Bob to catch up. Or, perhaps he was re-adjusting to his real bike (the Yam TDM 850) after riding 100cc scooters in Vietnam?
At Mae Kachan another 16 kms on, I stopped outside a 7-11 beside the road going to wait for Bob again, planning to slip in to buy some batteries for the GPS. Here I discovered that Bob suffers from tunnel vision; with not a vehicle either side of me for 50 metres, & waving my hands he sails straight on past, his eyes firmly focussed on the road ahead. I had to do a quick re-mount & chase after him, Bob knew we were going to Mae Sai, but not what the stops were. It was fun to come up alongside him a few kms on & just get the slightest nod of surprise, nothing else - Bob's a cool rider.
We eventually stopped at the Cosmo gas station south of Wiang Pa Pao, where I got my GPS batteries and we topped up the fuel tanks.
Next stop was Charin Garden resort, north of Mae Suai for the compulsory cheesecake and cappuccino.
After a short break it was into the twisties on R118 for some fun, rolling the throttle on and off and sliding the bike around a bit on the banked corners - wonderful stuff on a wonderful hot and humid day. R118 here is one of my faves for exhilaration in North Thai, a lot of the dips in the road have gone, and the corners really flow with a smooth wide racetrack quality surface!
We got into Mae Sai at about midday, to discover that the Burmese had closed the border that morning = no music CDs! Something of a bummer you could say. My pen rai, we had lunch at the Rim Nam by the bridge, then cruised town a bit, Bob bought some souvenir T-shirts & we checked out the new road up to Doi Wao the temple on the hill. The view here is a fantastic panoramic one, all over Mae Sai & Tachilek - if ever you are in Mae Sai, make sure you ride up to the top of Doi Wao to savour the view.
From Mae Sai it was a short blast over to the Golden Triangle to check up on map sales at the Opium Museum. Here we checked out the "new" road up to the "2nd temple" from Wat Phu Khao. The views are ok, but quite not as good as you'd expect, due to the vegetation blocking any real panoramic views, still you've never done it, check it out next time.
After the GT it was down to Chiang Saen and Mae Chan. At Mae Chan we split up, Bob heading home to Chiang Mai the direct way via Chiang Rai, & me taking the long way via Tha Ton & Fang. At Mae Chan, we both put our waterproofs on, as wild rainstorm was blowing in from the West, and it was obvious we were going to get saturated. In the event, heading south to Chiang Rai, Bob's storm lasted about 5 minutes & he was through to Chiang Mai in the dry, arriving in Cnx around 5.30 pm. But heading west to Tha Ton I went straight into a real wild one, with bloody strong winds and heavy driving rain. I felt like pulling off the road, but there was no shelter, so I carried on at a magnificent speed of 40kph for the next 15-20 mins! It got interesting when a car passed me, then later on with zilch vision I passed the car again - all at about 40 kph! Eventually the sun came out & I sweated like crazy in my waterproofs to be almost as wet as if I had not worn them. Dry heaven was not too last too long though & as I entered Tha Ton another wonderful tropical storm hit, just as I was chugging along the banks of the Kok river, doing some GPS mapping. The wind really screams down the river from Burma and a couple of times I was almost blown off the road into the Kok. Typically it was all over in about 15 minutes & the sun beat down again for the run home to Cnx.
On route 1089 Tha Ton to Fang road works are now complete, with just a few lines missing down the middle of the road. Generally the road surface is excellent, racetrack quality asphalt, but the road's still a bit too narrow for the volume of traffic on it. Next stage in another couple of years will most likely be a 4-lane highway?
In Fang town, the road's still a bit messy at the south end.
On route 107, south of Fang, around Chai Prakarn, there's a lovely bit of fast 4-lane dual carriageway right through the main market area! Not quite what you'd expect eh? But generally route 107, south of Fang between Chai Prakarn & Chiang Dao, the road's a real great one - good surface & and first class winding hilly twisties for some serious riding.
Some more road works - perhaps unnecessary even - are going on between Mae Taeng & Mae Rim, with a new thick coat of asphalt being layed down straight over the top of the old stuff. Not sure what the reason for this is, (just spend money?), but the new surface heading south isn't that great even - often rippled & no fun over 120 kph. Check it out next time your heading south on route 107.
Chiang Mai - Ch Rai - Mae Sai = 238 kms
Mae Sai - GT - Ch Saen = 41 kms
Ch Saen - Mae Chan - Tha Ton = 91 kms
Tha Ton - Chiang Mai = 175 kms
Total Trip = 545 kms

« Last Edit: May 30th, 2002, 10:09am by Davidfl »