Chiang Mai and beyond along the Burma border; (Me-)Khong river with a view to Laos

Do we get lazy a bit writing and posting? Yes… we do ;-) Sorry for that but 1. It is getting dark here much earlier than in NZ (still we work on getting used to it) 2. Up from 1pm until sunset it gets incredible hot even though we need every blanket we can get at night, because it turns quite cold here in the mountains when then sun is gone 3. Days are just too short!

The first part of the ride from Sukhotai to Mae Sot was quite boring but after that we really enjoyed the road along the Burma border going with loops to Mae Sariang. We passed the refugee camps in the hills which were climbing up the hills along the street. The room we could get in Mae Sariang was really basic and a bit muggy but as the most of the guest houses were reserved for police and army because of a visit of a royal family member we did not had a choice… Actually we slept well after this long day riding! And we got wake up by the sound of the parade going through the village so we had an early morning with Pad Thai for breakfast at the market watching the parade.

Next destination was Chiang Mai to have one or two days checking out some bike roads, crossing border information and enjoying the Flower Festival… We met Harry who is on the road with his “Vegi Bike”, an Enfield 500 Bullet modified run on vegi-oil what really impressed us.  (Harry please correct if we are wrong here and GOOD LUCK to you!).

Now it was time for the famous “Chiang Mai Loop” and we chose some smaller roads partially over the mountains going to Mae Hong Son which were containing lovely turns up and down the hills again and again. Arriving with the sunset in Mae Hong Song we followed the hint of a motorbike driver we met on the road and were looking for a hut place which he recommended. Searching and asking for the place we finally entered the place. Out of the dark, a German, Peter, was asking who we are and if we are looking for a room. As the place was looking even posh without lights we said “Yes, but we think this place does not look quite fits our budget” he was grumbling a bit and telling us we will find a solution and we should first come in. So we did and in the end we paid a fair price to sleep in his private guest room instead in one of the huts… nevertheless using the pool and the lovely garden… in the end we stayed 2 days ;-)  Peter is working and living here in the refugee camps (actually all over the world) for many years and had good information about the whole area and the history. We did a boat trip to the long neck village, meeting the elephants, enjoying the temple in the sunset as well the dinner in Peters place with his other guests.

Following the loop we started the part with more than 1800 turns from Mea Hong Son direction Pai. We did some additional tracks to the Burma border again, having a taste of their mountain Jasmine teas dried fruits and in the end we reached the Tham Lot cave and stayed there for the night in a bamboo hut next to the river. We explored the great cave on a bamboo raft.  We had to hire a local guide and his gas lamp to guide us through the cave and at sunset time we saw the 100.000 birds and bats goind inside the cave after hunting. It was a lovely experience! There was nobody else around except us and thousands of swifts and bats flying into the cave for the night with the sunset!!! An amazing big cave in 3 parts which we could walk through and enjoy with real breathtaking moments – incredible big! Huge! Labyrinths with stalagmites and tides everywhere…

Getting more north direction Golden Triangle we chose the real small roads in the mountains and finally a narrow windy road following directly the border line of Burma. This was one of the most wonderful rides we had so far in Thailand – with beautiful views and passing little mountain villages and a military border station with a breath taking view where we could not overcome the temptation trying on the helmets and walking down the dugouts. Passing Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle we reached Chiang Saen and the (Me)Khong River which attracted us immediately!  In a Guesthouse at the riverside the owner presented us very proud his leather motorbike jacket – he does not have a bike yet, he is saving money for getting it one day, but he has already the jacked he told us with a big smile!

The Khong River(Mekong)! It is a real impressive stream with a very own spirit! Even though boats are passing and people are always around the shore washing, fishing, bathing… it exudes calmness in a very majestic way. Nothing is really loud or aggressive; everything is absorbed by this beautiful river. We were driving along the Khong until Chiang Khong where we moved in a room with balcony directly at the river. Here we will cross the border to Laos, but as we have to fix some small things at the bike and the border police supervisor at the port told us it is no problem anymore to do so at the weekend we decided to stay two nights. The city goes to sleep really early here. When we went out again at 7:30pm we could hardly see anybody on the streets or find any shops open. Finally we found a little kitchen open where we got some food. We do not miss anything having our balcony and to be honest, I could sit here on the balcony for ages ;-) watching thinking relaxing… does not matter what time of the day. It is just beauty with a little breeze, sounds of wind chimes, small boats, working people and the smell of incense and all the different cultures around here.

Tomorrow early morning we will cross the Khong and entering Laos. Now it is noon, we had a coffee on or balcony early morning, thai breakfast on the street, we found the missing tools we needed, did some maintenance at the bike and now we will go for a relaxed tour along the river direction south before we leave the country… but we will come back soon…

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