The Old Fart's Ride To Chiang Rai

Jun 21, 2006
DATE: Tuesday/Wednesday September 4th/5th.

THE WEATHER: Sunshine, Cloudy and Rain.

THE RIDERS & BIKES: David Unkovich (Africa Twin),Tropicaljohno (Honda Degree 250) and Ian Bungy (Yamaha Raid 250).

THE WAY: Chiang Mai - Mae Khachan - Wang Nua - Phayao - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai

ROUTES: 118 - 120 - 1 - 118

The original plan was for a group of us to ride with David Unkovich, from Chiang Mai, wind our way up through some back roads, and through the Doi Luang National Park, stay one night in Chiang Rai, then take some more of the smaller back roads on the return to Chiang Mai.

The purpose was for David to put the finishing touches to his new Golden Triangle Map, and he wanted some of the dirt tracks surveyed.

Unfortunately some of the younger members of the group had quite a heavy night, the night before the ride, so there ended up only the three of us.

David and I managed to get away from the Kafe around 10am, and met Ian on the ring road. The weather looked okay to start with but as this is the rainy season, no doubt we will get some rain on the way up.

The plan was to go up the 118 out of Cnx, have a coffee break at Mae Khachan, 82kms north of Cnx. Whilst on the ride I was working out that the combined age of the 3 of us must be somewhere around 155 years, so we were certainly the older members of the GT Riders. Then the rain started, not too heavy at first and as I was in the middle, I looked both ways to see if either of the other 2 were going to stop to don wet weather gear. Neither of the guys looked like they were going to stop, and I was just about thinking of stopping myself when a car
coming the other way, drove through this huge puddle, absolutely drenching me, as if someone had just thrown a bucket of water over me, so now there was no need to stop, as I was pretty well drenched.

The coffee stop was just a few kms further up, hence the reason for the guys not stopping before. In typical Thai weather fashion, once we ha stopped and bikes parked, the sun came out and we were soon all dry again. I certainly needed the coffee to take the taste away of the puddle I seemed to have swallowed earlier, that will teach me to ride with my mouth open.

We then donned our riding gear, and set off for the lunch stop at Phayao. One slight problem, David went to start his bike, and the engine was dead, no electrics at all, so it was out with the tools, off with the side panels, to try and locate the problem. Ian was doing a good of wiggling some loose wires, and presto we had power again, so it was out with the insulation tape, (kindly donated by John), and David was firing on all cylinders again, (or at least his bike was). In David's haste to put the side panels back on, he forgot to re route his bungy straps, and managed to get one caught inside the side panel. We had a good laugh over that, so it was off with the panel, remove the bungy cord, back on with the panel again, and finally on our way.


David looking for a 1 Baht coin he dropped


"Excuse me David but isn't the strap supposed to go outside the cover"
"Gee Ian, you're right, good job no one is looking, better keep this one between ourselves"


Well, it's certainly one way to stop anyone pinching your bungy straps.

From Mae Khachan we turned right onto Route 120 heading for Phayao. Now riding on the minor roads, the scenery became better, riding through some quaint Thai villages, typical of what you get all over Northern Thailand.


Phayao's lake behind us.

Whilst on Route 120 we did a few excursions into Doi Luang National Park, taking even smaller roads. The town of Phayao is right on the side of quite a large lake. We had lunch at one of the waterside restuarnts, that David frequents, and before we left the waitress was putting up GT-Rider stickers everywhere. The waitress took a shine to Ian's motocross boots, saying she would like to buy them for her brother...


The friendly lakeside restaurant owner


The lake with Ian's Raid on left, John's Degree on right.

From Phayao we headed north, again making diversions in and out of the National Park. On one side road the concrete road finally ended, onto a dirt track, Ian then went on ahead to check out the dirt road, and returned shortly after, following a local on his Honda Dream, coming back down the track.


Looks like the road ends here folks.


Waiting for Ian who had gone up the dirt track, exploring


Then it was back down into the village where we stopped at a local market for a quick drink, the locals were all pleased to see us, and they all had a laugh when David borrowed one of the villagers hats, and wore it in the street. So enough frivolity, it was back surveying a few more minor roads, before heading into Chiang Rai for the nite.



Looks like a bit of rain on its way guys


David's new love in his life...

In Chaing Rai we stayed at the Nim See Seng Hotel, very reasonable and has a rooftop restaurant, although the hotel is a little out of the centre of town. The plan was to meet at the rooftop restaurant for drinks then hit the town. When the 3 of us met up later, it was absolutely pouring down with rain, so the rooftop restaurant didn't look so inviting anymore, so after a quick drink we decided best to hit the 'bright lights of Chiang Rai'.


I had the Economy room with a view "To Die For"

The rain seemed to be getting heavier, and Ian very kindly offered to shout us a taxi for the evening. So we dispatched David to organise one for the group,(David being the only one of us that can speak Thai), he managed to organise us a Tuk Tuk, for the evening, and the driver would just follow along behind whilst we were walking between bars. The rain didn't let up all nite, so around midnight we called it a night and went back to our hotel, with the rain, still pouring down.

Luckily by morning the rain had finally stopped, so after a hearty breakfast we started the ride back to Cnx. Once out of the town, David led us down various "country lanes", one had a canal running along side the road, and the canal was so full, the water was nearly coming over the banks. This time we came back down R118, stopping on the way for a coffee break that sold unreal cheese cakes, you certainly cant just have a drink there without trying one of their delicious cakes or tarts.


Entrance to cheese cake cafe

Leaving the cafe, it looked like the rain would probably come before reaching Cnx, so we all donned our rain gear, and in typical fashion, the ride back was done with no rain at all, so here we were riding back into Cnx, on a bright sunny day with all our wet weather gear on.

A nice 2 day break, some interesting back roads explored, and all will be on David's new Golden Triangle Map.
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Bungy


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Nice little write up. It was a fun trip as usual....
Yeah you've got to laugh at the bungy under the side cover & I seem to recall that at the time there was a lively debate going on whether the distraction – a lady - was Chinese or Japanese.

The side road north of Phayao that we checked out goes to Pang Pu Lao village. This a real tight narrow little steepy & it reminded me a lot of the Doi Ang Khang road R1149.


Pang Pu Lao is a Yao village & from here there is a dirt track going up onto the ridgeline & then south to Wang Kaew waterfall (north of Wang Nua). This is one I last did 10 years ago & according to the villagers the road is still the same. Can you believe that? I'm not sure. For dirt riders it is well worth checking out.
Now from what I can gather there is a network of forestry trails that run along the ridgeline of the mountains between R118 (Mae Kachan / Wiang Pa Pao) & R1 (Phayao / Phan), with possible access points at Wang Kaew waterfall, Pu Pang Lao, Pong Nok, Mae Hit & Ngew Thao. Some of these will be on the new GT Rider Golden Triangle guide map coming out in a couple more months.

If you've got a Golden Triangle guide book go to P93 & you will see that it says from Hmong Mae Ta La "there are possible linkups to Phan & perhaps Phayao."

Another of the trip highlights was the night in CEI & Ian Bungy’s foot massage gal trying to focus on the job. She was as drunk as a skunk & after a couple of stiff Ballantines on the rocks, she had to call it quits, race outside & spew up. Unknown to us, she’d been on the bottle (100 baht Lion brand whisky) all day with another employee who failed to turn up for work. Leaving the “sober” sister to have ago at massaging Ian’s feet, but I’m not sure that she ever saw them clearly. It was a truly unbelievable massage & one that certainly amused all the staff & customers watching.

I can’t wait to get back on the road.
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Bungy
Sep 19, 2006
Good Write up TJ, Yes it was a Great Trip but i am not sure about the "Old Fart's" Bit John? You are only as Old as you feel, (Shit we must be Ancient then!) Great fun had Day & Night!!! Lucked out with the weather most of the Time was Great. Looking forward to our next effort and Exploring some of the Dirt Trails. David is certainly Well known to all the Girls around Thailand!!! Looking forward to His New GT Map release.All the Best.
Cheers Ian.
Aug 7, 2003
There are some Chinese Proverbs that might fit:

" You are only as old as the woman you feel" Think about it!

Old fisher men never die they only smell that way, does anyone know one for bikers??
Jun 21, 2006

Originally posted by Davidfl

I seem to recall that at the time there was a lively debate going on whether the distraction – a lady - was Chinese or Japanese.

And of course, there was me thinking the ladies were Thai, so that's why they ignored me. (Story of my life....)

When I was back in Chiang Rai a couple of days later, I walked past the same same massage shop, and of course the girls were trying to get me in again, but no fun when there is only one of me, and no bottle of Scotch Whiskey to "Lubricate Their Loins......."
Dec 5, 2006

Originally posted by harrythefinn

There are some Chinese Proverbs that might fit:

" You are only as old as the woman you feel" Think about it!

Old fisher men never die they only smell that way, does anyone know one for bikers?? live more in 5 minutes than most jokers have done in a lifetime...(Bert Munroe)


Feb 23, 2004
For proverbs, how about;

When in doubt, GAS IT!

Ride it like you stole it.

If you can read my shirt, then the b.i.t.c.h. fell off.

Save a Horse, Ride a Harley!!

So many bikes, so few bikers...

If speed kills, consider me dead.

there are only two kinds of motorcyclists: those that have fallen off and those who will!

Bikers have more fun than people.

Don't read japanese, don't write japanese, don't ride japanese.

Riding a jap bike is like f*cking a fat girl. It's fun till one of your friends see you.

Remember when sex was safe and motorcycles were dangerous?

We haul our rides everwhere.