Well I have just returned from a 6 day jaunt from Ban Pong (Ratchaburi) up through Chiang Mai to attend Loy Krathong festival, then onward to Chiang Rai to visit Wat Rong Khun, then onto Phayao to visit friends before returning back to Ban Pong via Phitsanulok.
Day one: This day was to be the longest leg of the 6 day ride. We set off at 4.30am from Ban Pong and headed north into the darkness.
There was minimal traffic and the darkness kept us cool for at least a few hours. This leg ended in Chiang Mai, 12 hours later. We made plenty of stops along the way, trying to make every stop at least worth it by visiting Wat’s and scenic points of interest.
The best part of this first days section had to be the twisty highway section out of Lampang heading into Chiang Mai. You can check out a section of it in this video on youtube.
After booking into the hotel, it was time to sit back and try and relax for a decent feed of the local Khaosoi Beef , a quick beer and enjoy some of the city before heading to bed.
Day 2: Saw us getting back on the bike, but only for jaunts around Chiang Mai to check out some of the preparations for the Loy Katong festival.
I must admit I did keep to my word and stayed away from the bike until the PM on day 2 at least. My body definitely appreciated this greatly.
Day 3: I was wanting to tackle the Samoeng Loop. I wanted to extend the loop and head further into the mountains and finish off the ride at Relive Resort on the northern outskirts of Chaing Mai. Extending the loop wasn’t really an issue, and it went from 99km, out to 230km after a few wrong turns.
Once you get deeper into the Thai jungle, mobile reception will drop in and out, as will the GPS signal if your using your mobile phone. This saw us tackling quite a few sketchy dirt and gravel roads, with the weight of the Kawasaki Versys fully loaded with gear and two people it made from some interesting riding.
Having the ability to stop along the banks of a flowing creek, take a breather and help tamp gun powder into a piece of hollowed out bamboo for their evenings fireworks was a major high point for me.
The day’s major riding ended with us arriving at Relive Bamboo hut resort to unpack before venturing back into Chiang Mia for the evening.
We spent the night enjoying the main evening celebrations and parades of the Loy Krathong festivities, including letting off a lantern into the stratosphere and praying for good fortune by sending off a Krathong down the Ping River.
One thing worth noting is when you are riding through Thai mountain road works, and they have had a water truck drive through to keep the dust down, the surface suddenly turns from being gripy to something resembling ice, and even on a straight section you can nearly have an ‘off’.
Speaking from one scary experience here.
Getting out of bed a little late, we headed off, taking it pretty slowly through the Khun Chae National parks twisty roads.
Parking the bike in Chiang Rai City at 4pm it was a bit of rush through Wot Rong Khun before closing, but definitely worth making the pilgrimage to.
Quick history lesson, perhaps better known to farang’s as the White Temple, Wot Rong Kun is a contemporary, unconventional, privately owned, art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.
Day 5: Officially the end of our northern Thailand experience for this time around, and waking up this morning was a bit disappointing as we were going to be making our way back home to Ban Pong.
Given I had been struck down with a man-flu while away, the return ride home was going to happen in 2 sections. Todays ride was from Phayao to Phitsanulok via Phrae.
Taking it slow, enjoying the tree covered mountain road sections, the views down through the valleys, you can’t ride this road fast because there is so much picture perfect scenery to take in.
Day 6: The final day of the ride back into Ban Pong, this day was the worst day of the ride. Between the body being exhausted, and being so close to home, riding o back on major highways with nothing to look at, it at least went quickly with the ability to scoot safely along at about 120 – 130kmh.
What can be said for such a jaunt? Some points to think about.
1. Your body will hate you no matter what bike you are riding
2. The roads will be pretty rough at times
3. People will try and kill you on the road with their stupidity
4. Having a Thai drivers licence saves you heaps of hassle at road blocks
5. Everyone will envy you everywhere you go
Taking away from this experience, using your GPS will definitely be your friend. Never trust it though, especially when it comes to your ETA for arrival each day. Without stating the obvious, the time it takes to get from point A to B will be extended, especially when you are stopping every 2 hours or so for some food and hydration.
Given the climate in Thailand, this is definitely a must to ensure you are physically and mentally alert to avoid the many dangers that will be in front of you.
Would I do it again, definitely! Looking back through the photos and videos from the Gopro, I am already planning the next big ride.