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Archive for October 20th, 2012

Mae Hong Son Loop Day 1

Posted by TravellingStrom on October 20, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Today we were riding, Gary Deeks came around for breakfast while I checked out of Riders Corner, a great place to stay, well worth it for the friendly company and the bike atmosphere, but cheap, clean and good tucker as well. 🙂 The host, Philip Gibbins is bike mad and along with the other forum riders that hang here, have a wealth of knowledge about this whole area of Northern Thailand especially, but the surrounding countries as well. We were intending riding the famous Mae Hong Son loop which has 1864 curves, and is just over 1000km long, what a challenge! It leaves Chiang Mai and goes north, then heads west to Pai where there are heaps of hairpins, then back down south to Mae Hang Son itself, before heading south again to Mae Sariang, then back east and a small diversion up the tallest mountain in Thailand called Doi Intheron, back down and west to Chiang Mai. Once again Philip has been very helpful with info regarding this route, suggesting places to stay and things to see along the way. In fact, just by viewing the thread called Loop rides from Chiang Mai on the RideAsia forum, you can get a good idea of what you can expect and of course there are a lot of ride reports of other peoples rides through this area as well, the map shown below is from there, thanks guys.

We got geared up and took a couple of photos for posterity, the first is myself and Gary outside the corner, the second is Philip and Som’s daughter Allysala, a cutie 🙂

As usual it takes some sweat to get out of the traffic in town, but once on the dual highway north it cools you back down again 🙂

Once we took the 1095 to the west it started to get interesting, the roads were very twisty, but they slowly became badly potholed which makes you work just that little bit harder, trying to dodge the big ones and of course the oncoming traffic which may be in your lane dodging theirs!!!

Now, I don’t have photos of the many many near misses along this whole trip, but have many hours of footage and no time to do much editing, but I did pick out some highlights(lowlights) which I will post up later
😉 After a few hours riding we reached a lookout near a fire control station where we stopped for an ice cream and a quick look around,

Then we headed off for another hour of fun riding the steep hairpins and dodging traffic and potholes. It was hot but still fun, of course the faster I rode the cooler I became, which can lead to problems on corners. I have noticed I have to slow down a lot for corners as my bike bottoms out a lot here which is not good, but I can live with that, it was the same down in Tasmania 🙂 After an hour we got into Pai, where we decided to have some lunch, which was good as I was starving.

We rode around a bit looking for some place Gary remembered, but as it turns out we could not find it, so we picked a place at a crossroads which looked nice and ordered lunch. Now, here is where ‘it gets lost in translation’ comes from. On the menu was an item, fried pineapple with chicken and rice. Also on the menu was fried rice with chicken. I asked for “fried pineapple with chicken and fried rice. I ended up with two separate dishes, so I mixed them together, no worries or, as they say up here pop in yow. Well, that was a mistake, I took one bite and nearly burnt my mouth, crikey that hurt!!! I went and asked what happened and we studied the menu and it seems item 15(mine was item 3) was the exact same dish but with CHILLIES!!!!! 👿 😯 Anyway, alls well that ends well, they had stuffed up and made me a new one which I tasted very demurely at first before I gave it the thumbs up :mrgreen:

Of course during this time Gary had finished his lunch but was happy to relax and wait, not that he had any choice 😉 but it did add another 1/2 hour to the day. The thing is though, we planned to do this ride in 3 days, so we did not have to rush, which is a good idea. Although I do like to rush from place to place, having more actual stopping places means I stay cool and get to see things as well, the best of both worlds imho 🙂 It was another 30 minutes up some more mountain ranges until we got to the Kiew Lom lookout where there were some girls in native dress posing for pictures, so I donated some Baht and posed with them.

[I am noticing all the girls here are my height, hmm 😉 ] The mountain ranges in this area are great, it is not just one big mountain where it is constantly uphill turns, then all downhill turns, as you can see from the following photo, there are heaps of smaller ranges and the roads just go everywhere through them, so you are constantly going up and down and around, absolutely brilliant 🙂 Now that the rainy season is over, they can get in there and repair all the damaged sections then this road will be fab, although it is a mecca for the small silver tourist vans/buses which are usually not good at being in their own lanes.

One of the many hairpin turns on this road, one of the smaller number of ones where you can pull up and take a photo safely!

There was some nice scenery along these valleys but as I have noticed in many places I have been, it has bloody power lines in the wrong place, if they had put them on the other side of the road this would have made a fine photo.

Finding a clear area to view what is down below is also hard to find, but when you do it is great 🙂

More great corners followed, some nice sweepers amongst them and around 4pm, when we reached the most northern part of the loop and had to turn south, there was a nice shady place to have a breather.

From here is was only a short run into Mae Hong Son itself where we made our way down to the lake in the town centre. This was where some accommodation had been recommended to us, but as we found out it was booked out with a heap of other bikers staying there. It was a very nice area though with this most beautiful Wat along the shore of the lake.

We went back up the road about 50m to a hotel we had spotted coming in and they had rooms, so we were soon booked in I enjoyed a nice cold shower to refresh. A nice gesture was the way the towels had been shaped into elephants, this was at the Ngamta Hotel, a nice place for a kip 🙂

We soon wandered down to the lake shore again just as the night market was being set up along the road leading down and also all around the lake. It seems the Thai people do most of their shopping at night when it is cooler, smart idea I reckon 🙂 We went to a bar and grabbed some beer and headed out to the rotunda on the lake for a great view of the Wat Chong Clam and the Wat Chong Kham on the other side of the lake. There were some large fish in that lake, I reckon a lure should work, if it is worth going to jail for! When the sun went down the lighting on the Wat’s were ‘add your own superlative here‘ but my camera does not do very good night pictures, sadly. 😦

After a few beers here we headed back through the night market which was now in full swing to a restaurant where we had dinner with Ben and Fern, some friends of Gary’s. It was a good meal of chicken and large noodles, then it was off and up to the Crossroads Hotel for a few more beers. It seems the other riders were here for a memorial to some photographer who was also a rider and had died very young. As I did not know him I did not get involved but met a few people and enjoyed myself, as I do 🙂 It was not a late late night but near midnight before crashing out.

Cheers from Mae Hong Son

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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