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Archive for November 1st, 2012

A Beer By The Mekong River

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 1, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I was up early today as I was making a move north, so after packing I left my small bungalow and headed to the Hot Bread for my last breakfast here in Nan, and then before leaving town, I took a small detour up to the Nan hilltop where there is a large Golden Buddha figure at the Wat up there, as well as some nice views. The views would have been better, but yesterday it poured down for most of the day and night so the mist and clouds had hung around. That was the reason I did nothing yesterday, rain 😦 The stairs up the hill looked quite steep, lucky for me the road went to the top and I rode up the road 🙂

I hit the road after this and started to head north, but after getting some fuel my bike would not start, this has been happening more and more lately, but as it is intermittent, it is a hard thing to track down 😦 After checking a few things inside the switch I managed to get it going, so I quickly hit the road again as I had just wasted 10 minutes. It may just be the switch needs a clean, but I needed to find some contact cleaner, maybe in the town I am heading to tonight, but whatever it was too bloody hot to be doing right here!

I headed north on the 1080 for a short period before turning west onto the 1148, this is supposed to be the most famous road in Thailand 🙂 There were certainly some nice views, but once again, they were a tad spoiled by the clouds, a pity but there you go, it meant I could concentrate on the curves in front of me 🙂

I continued in this fashion for nearly 100km before stopping and posing for a photo in my brand new T-shirt, which I am nearly entitled to wear 🙂

Even the RideAsia map gets a look in as the star 🙂

Then it was off again for the last 40km of this great road, it was real fun to do and as it is one of the main roads to the north border, it is a must do if you are in this area 🙂 A short while later I had completed this road and arrived in Chiang Kham, here I stopped for some lunch, basic meat and rice but tasty and filling for the moment. After that I headed east to the Laos border area along road 1093, I have to say that this road is better than the 1148, maybe a new shirt is needed 😉 The road went through the Phu Sang National Park and although this country is littered with waterfalls, I have not seen too many as I don’t like leaving my bike unattended while doing a hike(without going through the process of removing all the hot bike gear, packing everything away etc). But this one was right next to the road and apparently has warm water running over, and with park rangers all around I felt comfortable leaving it for a few minutes 🙂

It was not huge but it was nice and peaceful 🙂 As I headed off further into the hills the roads became more twisty with an occasional strange sight, where did the Dutch influence come from I wonder?

This road went like this for ages, I was not going fast because I was enjoying the views too much and sometimes the corners would surprise me despite the signs, if you don’t look you don’t see eh!!! It must have been harvest time for many crops, because I have seen the corn being gathered in many places but also the cabbages, or lettuce, whatever those green things are, but the whole mountain sides were used as farm land as previously mentioned and on occasion as I rounded a bend the road would be half blocked with vehicles and produce!!!

And just for those that like flowers I saw these great specimens, it was strange to see the upside down trumpet flowers 🙂

After some more smiles and miles through this twisting country I made a small error, well, I followed my SatNav, rather than the yellow painted line on the road. There was a small village and my SatNav was saying turn here so I blindly followed it, which left me in a difficult situation. I should have realised when I saw grass growing through the ever bigger potholes that I was off the preferred route!!!

As you can see the main road went under the mountain, obviously a landslide happened and it was never cleared properly, but there was a rutted track next to it. Hmmm, what to do, I am facing downhill, do I want to go through that, what is round the corner, this is not a good idea, not with me and flopsy!!! So, I decided to back, but getting back uphill is never easy. I tried to roll forward and turn, all I needed to do was get the front wheel just a bit slightly uphill and I could then roll backwards for a perfect 3 point turn. But it was not to happen, as I rolled forward and right I found that the edge of the road on the right hand side dropped off so I could not use the dirt and I was still facing slightly downhill, but facing the side of the road!!!!. But now, I cannot get off the bike, I cannot go forward, I tried many times to rock the bike backwards using the brake but it was no use as I was trying to push too many kilos uphill, enter my saviour, you can see him in this picture as he bolts down the dirt road 🙂

Yep, contrary to popular belief, not all kids with hoodies are bad 😉 This young fella agreed to pull my bike backwards and with his extra effort we managed to get it in a position so that I could roll backwards and point the bike uphill. He was gone before I could even thank him, thanks whoever you are 🙂 I can now go back to the village and work out what happened, on the way I found the marker stone for this road and at the top of the hill, in the village near the junction I stopped and checked my map and SatNav. A drunk came up and gestured that no, don’t go down there(like I did not know that by now, where was he 15 minutes ago), he said go this way and down and around, so having some sort of affiliation with other drinkers I took his advice and ended up at the other end of the landslide, on good road and ready to keep on going 🙂 The funny this is, this road that bypassed the landslide was excellent, the authorities must have decided not to worry about the original road!

In that last photo, the road to the right of picture leads to the landslide area. I was nearly at the end of the mountain section and after some more nice views of the crops covering the hills I descended and saw the Mae Khong river for the first time, we know it as the Mekong River 🙂

There were some brilliant views along here as well as the fact the road followed the river which meant fast sweepers with a few nice tight corners thrown in just to wake me up 🙂

I soon arrived in the border town of Chiang Khong. I don’t normally stay at border towns, but I had been given a recommended place to stay(by Phil at Riders Corner) and was soon booked into the Sophaphan Homestay, right on the river front, a nice old rambling place that seemed to be built entirely of Teak, it was solid!!! 🙂

Of course once I was showered I found a beer and settled in to watch the river life, and as this was a major border crossing point into Laos, there was a lot of traffic, but the ferries were further upstream to the left, so out of view.

I managed to score a nice fried rice with chicken and whilst there met another chap riding a hired ER6, he was from the US and was spending a lot of slow time up in the villages around here, what a shame I forgot his name(possibly Sam?), booze had something to do with it I am sure LOL. 😆 Another couple also turned up, Neil and Clarissa from Oz, they were riding two old beemers but were staying next door and heading to a party somewhere out of town, beer and bikes at night, not my cup of tea!! During the evening, the moon arose over Laos, just there across the river and it was very impressive.

So, seeing as how it was a late night I decided early to stay another night, as I wanted to get my bike starting switch pulled apart and cleaned up. Plus, I also wanted to see the Golden Triangle area and also the new bridge linking Thailand to Laos which is under construction. I might need to do a border run as my Visa runs out on the 2nd, but there may be ways around it, it would depend on cost.

Cheers from Chiang Khong

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