Waking up after only six hours sleep and with a hangover delayed the start of this little adventure. By 10am I was ready to hop onboard my trusty steed and hit the road. It was only 106km to the target destination but it took me over 4 hours to get there.
a) The road was tight, twisty and steep
b) Exactly how many times do I have to mention that despite having a big fat arse it doesn’t mean I want to sit on it for long periods of time!
The road to Mae Hong Son was a thing of beauty to those on two wheels. Each bend in the road led to a curve which in turn led to a tight hairpin. Double apexes followed switchbacks and the road was quiet and well maintained. The landscape that I passed was fabulous, steep ridges of tree covered rock formed tight narrow valleys into which I would not dare to go into alone. Small hamlets came and went the size of which was dependant on the success of the rice harvest and the number of fields they could make from the rugged landscape.
I arrived in Mae Hong Son in the afternoon and after a quick tour of the town found a hostel near the centre. The centre of town was a large tank full of overfed and pampered fish. On the southern side a small complex of Wats, all shiny in gold and mirrors. On the northern edge was a small park with people doing Tai Chi as the sunset.
I wasn’t feeling that hungry so I just had sweet sausage salad. 87 minutes later I saw it again as my stomach ejected its contents into the toilet bowl. I spent the rest of the evening lying sweaty on the bed or feeling weak in the bathroom.
I woke early and spent a while making sure that all was right with the world of me. By 07:15 I was on the road and heading south.
Now, with a full tank and a road that had more straights than curves I opened up the throttle and let the mighty 115cc engine roar!!!!
It was raining when I woke up and continued for 4 more hours. As my tyres are not kind to inspire grip in the wet I lounged the day away.
It was a 175km ride to Sukhothai and the road climbed up into the mountains. Slowly I overtook Lorries belching out black smoke as the heart of the truck struggled to beat fast enough. Screaming down the other side singing the uphill song, fingers twitching over the brake handles ready to respond in an instant when the corner did indeed become tighter than I had guessed. Then I was out in the open and on a plain. Neglected paddy fields interspaced with trees carried on out of sight either side of the flat straight road.
By the early afternoon I was in Sukhothai and at the 4th attempt I found a place to stay. It’s called TR guest house and is just across the river from the night market, behind the bank. As the night market is close by I’ll be snacking later but not on cockroaches or deep fried crunchy baby terrapins. If however there are lizards on a stick then count me in!
The only reason to come to the town of Sukhothai is to visit the city of Sukhothai. Unlike the town the city is interesting. It was the first capital the Thai’s had before being superseded by Ayutthaya further south a few hundred years later.
The old capital is square with three defensive walls and two moats surrounding it. The only remains still standing are the numerous temples. All the other buildings from palaces to houses were built from wood and have left no trace. The central area is undeveloped by modern man and is peaceful and serene, with ruined temples set against a backdrop of lakes and trees.
I was climbing up some temple steps when a sudden malevolent movement made me instinctively react. The snake was about three foot long, thin, mean and green and I have no idea what kind of snake it was! I respected its space and it went on its way, which was luckily away from me.
I came back to “new” Sukhothai by a different route (which I’ll admit wasn’t by design) and so I will never know what the tourist attraction of “Rocky Ground” actually was…damn it!
I left Sukhothai at 8am and got to the town of Nan at around 2pm, my tailbone was aching towards the end.
The ride itself was split into thirds, with the middle third a very boring but fast dual carriageway. The road form Sukhothai to Pheare was cool, flat with gentle curves. I was taking it easy cruising along at 60kph still smiling at the fact that I had remembered last night it had been two years without having to go to work. The last 120kms were really nice after I had taken shelter from a passing shower. In the mountains I was trying to dodge the flocks of mating butterflies that swarmed out of the trees and into the paths of trucks, cars and my head…sorry!
After an early to bed restful night’s sleep I was up at 4am…sod that! Waking up later at around 7am I was on the road by eight.
By the middle of the afternoon I was in Chiang Rai and I got a cheap room just of “bar street“.
It was an easy but boring ride to Chiang Mai and the end of this road trip but only because I took the wrong road….