The Mission: Ride a loop around the Bhumipol Dam lake, south from Mae Sariang to Tak and back via Li & Hot.
The Team: just the three of us... Me, myself and I
The Transport: Honda Rebel 500
Mae Sariang south to Mae Ramat Noi. The 105 is the best it's ever been... I first rode it on my old Honda Shadow 1100 almost 10 years ago, and back then it was a bit of a mission. Not least because it was a rough as guts, but also from a fuel perspective, the Shadow had a desperately small gas tank and a prodigious appetite for petrol! For example, even at modest velocity, a 190 km ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai required a refill long before the destination! Heading into the unknown down 105, but knowing it was 235 kms to Mae Sot, was a concern.
The first 20 kms has scattered villages, but from Amphur Sob Moei the population thins out. The Mae Nam Rid river bridge hints at things to come...
From the Mae Ngao National Park entrance southwards, the road reveals its true character, climbing high and offering rewards for riders and bikes of all shapes and sizes.
These days, the narrow, rutted gravel track through the jungle has long gone. Electricity has been extended through to all the small villages along the way. Glorious blacktop extends for the full length of the 105, it is now a seductively curvaceous road that rivals all the other great ones in the north!
There are (at least) 2 petrol stations on 105 before the 1175 turnoff including a fairly new PT one. There's another right at the 105 / 1175 intersection.
The turnoff is approximately 3 kms before Mae Ramat, and if you like a decent coffee and need petrol, then rolling that little extra distance past the turnoff delivers a PTT, a Seven 11 and an Amazon! That 3 kms is well worth it, I reckon...
The 1175 is actually a damned good ride - when Moto-Rex and I crossed over it a few weeks ago, he was hammering the KLX along in frisky fashion, precluding the usually obligatory photo ops... I thought I should remedy that a little....
Tantalising glimpses of distant chedis are a common challenge in Thailand - getting to this one was an epic fail.
It's much easier when the statuary is strategically placed closer to the highway...
Riding across the 1175, I encountered 3 different sets of riders making a trip north-west - road bikes and trail bikes in separate groups. Friendly waves exchanged, clearly everyone was enjoying a good ride in superb conditions!
For me, its always been a town that you pass through / skirt around on the way to somewhere else... Sukhothai, Uttarradit or Phitsanulok... I've never spent a night here in all the years I've lived in Thailand, which is a bit tragic. So, that was included in the loop ride. If there's one thing I've learned, its that a Thai town on a river always has some decent restaurants / pubs / hotels adjacent to the water.
Tak is no exception, and the Viangtak Hotel was where I ended up. It ticks all the boxes in the "classic" sense of what an old Thai hotel should offer the travelling public - the quintessential "one stop shop" type of hotel!
- - Restaurant/s
- - Thai massage
- - Karaoke
- - Nightclub
- - Swimming pool
- - a bath with hot water in the bathroom
- - a mini-bar, for that urgent "quick cold beer" while the bath is running
- - patio with a water view for sundown beers
It's aging and some aspects are a little tired but the rooms are spacious, the beds are very comfortable and everything is within walking distance.
The room rate was 1200 THB but includes an expansive buffet breakfast.
The menu was a bit pricy, a big bottle of beer Leo was 170 baht, so I'd not plan on having too many of those at that rate!
On the plus side;
- The night market starts right outside on the town side of the hotel.
- The Saturday morning market extends along the waterfront from the hotel to the Highway 12 bridge...
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