Katja and Arne's travel stories

20.05.15 Mae Hong Son loop day 3


Another night with strange sounds and just so so sleep. During the night there was something mooing, and one set of the other. 

I have no idea if it was water buffalo or something else, but if you remember the vuvuzela from the world cup in south Africa and combine it with an air horn I guess it’s about right.
A hurried breakfast and we’re off. The ladies working here had surprisingly not improved in English since yesterday evening, but they use pictures on the menu. Smart girls. Pointing and smiling while using fingers to define the numbers of each item we get what we want.
We got a lot of ground to cover and 7:15 were hitting the road. The first part is easy. Good roads and easy turns. Then we’re back to climbing, twisting and turning. There is less traffic on this side of the loop, but the cars are still all over the road. It’s somewhat scary when your cruising into a curve just to have to maneuver out of the way for the pickup coming with 75 % of their body in your lane. I wrote a day or two about hugging the utmost left part of the left lane. Nothing changed since then.
It’s hard to describe the sights and feelings I have during this trip. Jungle growing all the way into the road where I had to duck to avoid branches. Big open areas newly cleaned out and waiting to be planted. Green, like green never seen before, rice plants. Local people waiting for the bus with enough baggage to equal Arnold’s bench press max. Groups streaming out of temples after ceremonies are ended. Roadside workers waving at us because we slow down while passing. Locals reluctantly smiling and waving as Katja smile and wave at them. Being passed by in a blur by a hundred year old man on a motorbike half his age in the uphill. The overview of the jungle from the viewpoints along the way. The sore and stiff bum after sitting for so many hours. The endless feeling of freedom while going through the turns in a continuous motions like a wave.
I’m so happy we took these days and did this. All kred to Katja that was skeptic to spending so much time on the bike, but came with me anyway to support my wish of a road trip. “I love that we did it and love that it’s finished”, she told me when we came back at the hotel to check in. I’ll tell you why.
We drove 360 kilometers this last day in the loop. It started out nicely with a little chill in the air. We dressed in jackets and long pants and had a blast down the road. We’re passing by the highest mountain in Thailand and we waved to take the tour up. High mountains and jungles combined with the start of the rainy season makes for an interesting weather.
Lunch is needed. There is no heroism without food and water, so we brake at a little village to refuel and get lunch. The lady running the “restaurant” where we stopped was rather indifferent to us, but we did manage to get served.
While driving up towards the intersection where the road breaks off to take you to the highest mountain we meet the fog. London fog can take a hike, this was the Mother of all fog. I saw few meters in front of the bike, and had to lower the speed to a crawl. Then the rain started. While the rain was hammering down in the fog we slowly crept closer to the intersection. Every km is marked by a roadside stone so keeping track is easy.
We drive down a hill and came to the intersection. The sign said Doi Inthanon, the other Chiang Mai. I bit my teeth, shifted down and started towards the Doi. It’s nine km up to the top, the bike managed six. There was even more fog up here and the bike lost all momentum. It happened slowly as we drive upward. First there was no respons trying to use third gear, then I lost power in second and when we had to turn down I couldn’t get the bike to start uphill with only me in first gear. I don’t know if it’s the humidity, altitude or what. We didn’t make it up, didn’t care and slowly rolled down again. I was a little stressed at the time. Would the bike work in lower terrain? Did we just got stranded in a national park?
As we got down under the fog the bike came to life again and we drove towards Chiang Mai.
We stopped by a cafe and got us got coffee. Heavenly. Dripping we sat and hugged the warm cups like they where our biggest treasures. We struck up a conversation with a couple of Dutch(?) guys. They came from Chiang Mai and would do a smaller loop, but were heading for the mountain. I gave then our raincoat’s as we’re not using them. That gave them a little better protection. We wished each other safe and happy travels and moved out.
The rain had stopped and we thought we should cruise from here to Chiang Mai. Yeah right.
The rain came back. This time with a vengeance. The last hour or so into Chiang Mai on this loop is on road 108, a four to six lane highway. Normally we would cruise this in eighty and go with the flow. We still went with the flow, but not I the traffic but the large ponds of water gathering from the rain. The tires on rental bikes are not up to standard as I’m used to I Norway. Heading into ponds of water of course bears the risk of aquaplaning. No such thing happened luckily, but the rain kept hammering so I had to tie a towel to cover my face. With glasses fogging up, feeling like a water boarded terrorist I ate km after km on the way to town. The rain isn’t cold, but when taking the wind into the equation the result changes.
Water boarded, no-seeing, grim and determined

Water boarded, no-seeing, grim and determined. And look at the passenger. Not exactly a happy face

We came back to the rental shop just before it closed and returned the bike without further ado. Got a tuk-tuk ride to the hotel, and we both used up all the hot water in the hotel. Then we went out and got pizza at the place we tried the other night. It is was super good. By Hand Pizza is on my top three places ever.
We walked home into the chaos next to the hotel. I wrote about the Pillar festival going on. Internet claimed it to be a three day event, but it’s a week long thing. It’s last day is today and the temple with the Pillar of Chiang Mai is insanely crowded. Seems like everyone waited until the last day to make offerings. To top that off there’s a little Tivoli outside our window, that faces the temple, where they auction, play and dance. I don’t know what’s with Asian people and love for high volume on under dimentioned speakers. “It’ll end by midnight”, we were told at the reception. OK.
We couldn’t watch tv, because the noise from outside. We ended up surfing, reading and watching video on the iPad with noise reduction headsets. At eleven I was dead and fell asleep in the noise. I woke during the night and just reveled in the silence before going back to sleep. A long journey is over, but it’s still just a little part of the longer one. Life is grand. I choose it to be.

“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.”

― Angela N. Blount, Once Upon an Ever After

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

2 thoughts on “20.05.15 Mae Hong Son loop day 3

  1. Fantastisk å få være med på reisen. Takk for nydelige beskrivelser og bilder. Gleder meg til å se dere igjen.


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