MOTOGIRL 'in' THAILAND https://motogirlthailand.com Motogirl 'in' Thailand Sat, 22 Feb 2020 09:13:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://motogirlthailand.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-12998732_964781203570065_3413821907041275759_n-32x32.jpg MOTOGIRL 'in' THAILAND https://motogirlthailand.com 32 32 Camping in Pha Daeng National Park – Chiang Dao https://motogirlthailand.com/camping-pha-daeng-national-park-chiang-dao/ https://motogirlthailand.com/camping-pha-daeng-national-park-chiang-dao/#respond Sun, 16 Feb 2020 15:49:36 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5801 Tent at Hot springsA quick trip report on the beautiful, quiet and simple Pha Daeng National Park. This national park is often overlooked, and so for that reason it makes for a fantastic quiet place to visit (or for staying over, as I did). If based in Chiang Mai, this makes Pha Daeng a short quick and easy ride (a mere 100 km’s

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A quick trip report on the beautiful, quiet and simple Pha Daeng National Park. This national park is often overlooked, and so for that reason it makes for a fantastic quiet place to visit (or for staying over, as I did). If based in Chiang Mai, this makes Pha Daeng a short quick and easy ride (a mere 100 km’s away, if riding there direct).

(Google Map Link)
One important thing to note about Pha Daeng national park, is that it has two attractions with separate entrances. There is the main national park (which contains Sri Sangwan “sticky” Waterfall ), which also has accommodation available as well as a camping ground. Then there is another entrance 4.5 km from the main headquarters, leading to Pong Arng Hot Spring (where I chose to camp for the night). Both attractions are included in the ticket price.

*Note* Pha Daeng National Park, as with most all National Parks here, has dual pricing in place. So, foreigners will pay more in general, unless you can provide evidence that you are not a tourist. Usually this means a work permit or pink ID card. However, some places will grant Thai prices if you can speak Thai and have some form of ID, such as a Thai driving license. I was given the Thai rate at this park when I spoke only Thai and showed my Thai Motorcycle License.

PRICES (which may change in future):
Adult: 50 baht Thai / 100 baht Foreigner.
Child: 20 baht Thai / 50 baht Foreigner
Parking: 20 baht

I paid 70 baht in total. I was permitted to camp for free at the hot springs (I have my own camping gear), but when I made enquiries at the main headquarters I was informed that it would be 30 baht to camp at the waterfall. In both areas you must provide your own camping gear. They do not supply any.

Thursday 13th February 2020

I made a last minute decision to ride to Pha Daeng. I had been meaning to visit for some time, so I quickly loaded up my pre-packed camp gear and headed north. It was around 2pm when I set off and I rode directly to Pong Arng Hot Spring.

I made just one small stop at this interesting looking temple, with Naga statue in progress. Wat Klang Thung วัดกลางทุ่ง


I arrived at Pong Arng Hot Springs at around 4pm, paid the entry fee, parked up and began to unload my camp gear. The parking area is a small walk away from the campground, so you need to be able to carry your gear to the camp spot. Additionally the hot springs (and the entire national park) has no restaurant or store to buy anything from, so come prepared or buy from a local store. There is a small village area and grocery store just up from the hot springs, where you can buy drinks, snacks, packaged bakery and packets of noodles etc. Nothing of real significance, but a good place if you end up needing some supplies. I bought a few bottles of water and some snacks from the lady owner there.

Pong Arng Hot Spring

Initially I planned to also set up my hammock, as I’m aiming to try pack light one day if I do more camp-out trips. However, the trees in this area really weren’t great for strapping a hammock on to. If I needed to I would have found a solution one way or another, but in the end I decided to just set up my tent instead.

The facilities at the Hot Spring are basic, but tidy and clean. Toilet and shower facilities are available, but keep in mind that the showers are cold water only. So can be a bit of an endurance test late and night and in the early morning!

There are also cold shower facilities right next to hot spring to shower off after bathing.

As the night fell I tried out some small cheap battery-operated fairy lights that I had bought. Great buy! They gave the perfect warm glow for camping out.

Later on, when I went to bathe and enjoy the hot springs, a local lady was using one of the pools. We ended up chatting for a while about life, which was lovely, although in truth I wanted to enjoy the pools alone. She didn’t stay too long though, and I was able to indulge in the pool by myself. 

Back in my tent I relaxed early, enjoying the quiet. On a few occasions some locals came to bathe quietly in the pool, but they didn’t stay long. I didn’t realise until later on that although the hot spring officially closes at 6pm, the access is then free after this time. So for a while people came to bathe for a short period of time.

In the morning, when the sun began to rise, the steam from the hotspring made the area look really amazing.

Whilst bathing in the hot spring, I was mesmerized by how the steam looked as though it were moving in slow motion.

I half expected a water nymph to come out of the water, haha!..which is what gave me the idea to make a bit of an indulgent short video clip. Just wanted to try capture the magic of the natural light at the right time. Can’t go wrong in perfect light like this. Nothing filtered. Purely just the beauty of nature!

I spent a really lazy morning at the hot springs, just enjoying the quiet calm atmosphere and warm sunlight. Originally I planned to ride an anti-clockwise loop around Wiang Haeng then back to Chiang Mai (I previously rode this loop when the road was unfinished, and again when almost complete), but after soaking in the warm hot spring water and feeling so relaxed, I decided to just chill out. I stayed in the hot spring area until the early afternoon, then packed up and headed to Sri Sangwan Waterfall.

Sri Sangwan Waterfall

At the national park ticket office I produced my ticket from the day before. The lady pointed out that my ticket was for the 13th and not the 14th, and I was prepared to pay again (especially as not a high price). However, when I mentioned that I didn’t get a chance to see the waterfall yesterday due to camping out at the park the night before, she kindly said I can just go in.

The park is really pretty. Not huge but pretty. There is a large spacious parking area, and a national park information centre. One road continues up into the accommodation area and another route leads to the waterfall.

I took the waterfall route and within moments could hear the gushing of water (which was wonderful, considering how dry everywhere currently is!).

The waterfall itself isn’t large, but it looks very pretty with its multiple tiers. Additionally what makes the waterfall special is the mineral deposits on the rock, which means you can easily walk up the waterfall without slipping.

Here is my video of the popular “sticky waterfall” in Chiang Mai (Bua Thong Falls) that I visited not so long ago with my riding buddy Opal (trip report for that ride HERE.) This video gives details on what makes the waterfall sticky/grippy.

The nice thing about Sri Sangwan Waterfall (unlike Bua Tong) though, is how quiet it is.

After enjoying the waterfall and the flora around the area I quickly popped into the visitor information centre and enquired about the accommodation prices.

The cheapest cabin starts from 600 baht (1 room, 2 person cabin) and rises up from there. Typical price range for all the national park cabins really. Camping is 30 baht, but only with your own camping gear (none is provided)

After leaving Pha Daeng national park I decided to head to the Chiang Dao Nest 2, and enjoy a great lunch there. My ride so far had been a really low budget and seeing as it was also Valentine’s Day I figured a great lunch would be just perfect. ^^

Something so wonderful about seeing that distinctive Chiang Dao mountain shape!

With the backdrop being so nice, I decided to try my hand at testing out being in front of the camera, in order to give a shout out to two products I was sent to test, and have been using. This was the tragic result…

Oh dear.. >.< (As an aside, for details on the Inuteq Cooling Vest go HERE and for details on the Pamabo Boots go HERE)

At the Nest 2 I ordered a really great lunch!

After lunch I had a small ride around.

After which I fuelled up ready to head back to Chiang Mai.

Had a funny small world moment though, after fueling up and heading to the red lights at the intersection in Chiang Dao. For there was Duncan from TBB Tours! He was leading a tour group back to Chiang Mai. Funny when moments like that happen!

When I hit the depressing congested traffic of Chiang Mai around Mae Rim, I took a right turn onto the R1096 then a left onto the army road to avoid some of the congestion, which is when I spotted this stunning azure blue lagoon a little down from a dirt track. This area is normally covered with huge trees, which have been recently cut down. So this lagoon was hidden in there for some time, but I just never noticed before! After the lagoon I headed straight home.

All in all this was a really nice short and relaxing ride, although funnily enough it did really wear me out. I spent pretty much all of January being unwell from a bad flu virus and its unreal how weak I still seem to be. This really was as much as I could happily manage on a ride at this time, but have no regrets about the choices I made. Pha Daeng is certainly well worth a visit. I had a lovely time! 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this trip report. 😀
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Useful Lady Rider Items! https://motogirlthailand.com/useful-lady-rider-items/ https://motogirlthailand.com/useful-lady-rider-items/#respond Tue, 11 Feb 2020 12:11:55 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5756 Lady Rider ItemsAside from the obvious of well-fitting gear, bike height and handlebar adjustments and the like, most bike accessories and important must-pack items are gender neutral. However, there are a few unique female-specific gems out there that are most certainly worth adding to your current riding staples. Most are my own personal recommendations, but after pitching the question to other lady

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Aside from the obvious of well-fitting gear, bike height and handlebar adjustments and the like, most bike accessories and important must-pack items are gender neutral. However, there are a few unique female-specific gems out there that are most certainly worth adding to your current riding staples. Most are my own personal recommendations, but after pitching the question to other lady riders in groups I am a member of, I received some great responses on useful lady rider items, which I have included.


1: The Shewee/GoGirl/Female Urinal

This device is one that many lady riders have struggled with the concept of (and the use of!), but honestly, this device is so handy once you get the hang of it. Being small and made from flexible medical grade silicone means it is so easy and lightweight to pack that it really make sense to take one, even if as an emergency lady rider back up. (I wrote about this device a few years back, including a rather silly video of the dilemma of when you don’t have one! Link HERE)

The urinal becomes even more important for those of us who are riding in areas where there are some pretty nasty bugs and beasties around (scorpions, spiders, snakes, etc). Being able to stand up just feels a whole lot less concerning. Additionally there are some pretty grotty looking public conveniences around, some of which are far more bacteria-ridden than the good old outdoors.

Toilet outhouse from a trip in 2019. "Guardians of the Galaxy Ride"

Toilet outhouse from a trip in 2019. “Guardians of the Galaxy Ride”

I’ve even used it on roadsides on a few occasions after tucking/hiding my hair well into my jacket (helmet left on). People then just assume its a man, so don’t give a second glance!

How to use…
This is the part that most women struggle with. You REALLY (and I can’t emphasise this enough) REALLY need to practice in the shower first. In fact, you need to practice SEVERAL times in the shower first. Initially practice without clothes (for obvious reasons), then practice with clothes, then once you feel you’ve got the hang of it, practice with your bike gear. *Tip* You need to try change your mindset and how you normally go (sorry to be a bit TMI here). Basically try to be more forceful. Make sure you have the device placed snug tight. It helps to imagine or fixate on a target haha. (Heck, men have been doing the target fixation thing since they were kids. It works for them!) Then aim and shoot! 😂 😂Most often the issue for women is more of a mental block, because it is such an unnatural way for us to do things.

Cleaning..
Whilst on the road a simple quick rinse with water then placing inside a plastic zip-lock bag suffices (some brands supply cases for them). At your final destination give both device and bag a proper clean and dry (air dry is best). Usually I carry a spray bottle of alcohol to spray for added cleanness. Intermittently I use sterilizing tablets to give a deep clean, but that’s possibly overkill. I just tend to be a bit clean obsessed. Alternatively you can actually boil to get it really germ-free.

2: Mooncup / Diva Cup

The mooncup /menstrual cup is just brilliant and a perfect lady rider choice. I honestly wish I had known about this years ago. It makes so much sense. Not only does it make life easier (in that it can be left in for up to 12 hours), but it is cheaper and cleaner than any other method. Made with medical grade silicone, the mooncup is very hygienic. (Additionally: some women team the cup with menstrual pants, for added reassurance.)

How to use…
It is tricky to get the hang of initially, but you have to fold the wide part of the cup and then insert. If you can feel it, then it is inserted incorrectly, so pull it out and re-insert. To remove it you reverse the process, just be careful about possible mess. Best to look up some of the great YouTube videos out there for how to use them correctly, as there are many around, with better and more detailed instructions than I can provide.

Cleaning
For cleaning, just use the same method as the Shewee/GoGirl instructions above. Make sure to wash your hands well of course (and personally I will spray a little alcohol as well).

The times that I have been most grateful for the mooncup has been on mixed group rides. I can keep riding without worry and I don’t need to make any embarrassing excuses or explanations just because I am a lady rider. 

3: Sports bra / Bra top / supportive swimwear

Most lady riders discover pretty fast that a decent fitting bra/support top is essential. Personally I have found that some swimwear tops with built in support works pretty well too. The added benefit of swimwear tops is that they are great for hot weather riding because you can just jump into rivers or wet yourself down etc. These tops dry out super fast and can be washed and dried easily when on tour. Much of this depends on how much support you need, but supportive swimwear is a good one to consider, particularly if touring or in hotter climates.

4: Underboob Vented Jackets

Wait what..? Hah, I just recently found out about this, but seems the smart folks over at Klim have created a lady rider jacket which has underboob vents! Way to go Klim! This jacket (Klim Artemis) has quite a few lady riders excited (I have no affiliation with Klim or the jacket btw, this info was from a Women ADV Ride group I am part of). What a fantastic idea. Best bit about this though, is that it is so nice to see designers finally turning their attention to lady riders needs. The only downside is the price, but well, quality normally doesn’t come cheap. 

4: Fem wipes / wet wipes & pant liners

Yeh, sorry, it’s another hygiene one..but well, truth is we lady riders tend to want to be as clean and fresh as possible. I’ve always stated that I want to be a rider, just not smell like one! I add these items to the list hesitantly, only because these really aren’t good for the environment. However, you can limit use of them, cut them up, and even get biodegradable versions to make it less of a waste. The liners don’t always need to be used either of course, but if on really long rides or very hot days, these can help keep you feeling fresh. (*Note* I should mention that I live in a tropical climate, so my personal experience/struggle is how to keep fresh when riding long hours in very hot temperatures. So those who ride in cooler climates may find it all a bit overly focused in this area!)

5: Miscellaneous Items That Made the Cut


• Hair ties
Don’t be fooled by the humble hair tie, it has multiple emergency uses, and most lady riders will have these with them automatically. If you find yourself without any cable ties or electrical tape, etc, then a simple hair tie can help with many fixes! Have a read of a couple of the comments from different lady rider groups about hair ties! 😂

• Sun Cream / Zinc
Pretty obvious why these are a good idea. Despite being covered up, our faces are still exposed, even when under a helmet. Most visors, even when tinted, don’t have a high UV protection rating.

• Coconut Oil
For me, coconut oil is a staple. It can be used for so many things, even for emergency lubrication on the bike. I always carry a small bottle. I can use it on hair and skin and even my gear. I’ve even used it to stop creaky door hinges in hotels/accommodation. Some even use it for Oil Pulling. It can also be used for cooking. Just a fantastic oil to have around (and it smells nice 😉 )

• Sarong
Simple, but ever so useful. A sarong can also be used for so many things, even to make a small changing room etc (or for hiding behind when nature calls whilst out riding, if you don’t like using the Shewee). It can even be used as a substitute tow-rope!  

• Crystal Deodorant.
Actually, in truth I am not a huge fan of crystal deodorant, but it does work for many, so I am adding to the list. It is compact, only needs to be applied once, and lasts for around a year. I may even consider giving it another go.

• Carmex / Lip Balm
A quality lip balm with SPF keeps lips from chapping. The tube versions are generally better as they do not melt out of the container.

• Peppermint oil & fabric softener
Sounds like a strange combination, but these are my secret essential items. I always have a small bottle of peppermint oil and a small spray bottle which I put fabric softener in. The peppermint oil is great for clearing the head. A few drops in my helmet or on my neck scarf makes a great pick-me-up. As for the fabric softener, well, that has got me out of some possibly smelly situations when riding in high heat for long hours. A quick spray of the fabric softener over my gear, means I can enter coffee shops/hotel lobbies etc, with some dignity. I don’t want to smell of regular perfume scents as that seems so weird and artificial, but fabric softener just smells clean. (*Note* I realise that fabric softener is a controversial choice for some, but this is my emergency back up product, mainly because a small spray of it produces an instant clean scent. You can of course choose to use essential oils or an alternative instead).  

• Small bags of washing powder
Great for giving your gear items a quick wash when at your destination. I’ve even used my topbox as a makeshift wash bucket.

Lastly, the higher end additions…
If you really want to push the boat out on making life easier, then laser hair removal, tattoo make-up and (if you have bad eyesight) laser eye surgery can help, but certainly not budget friendly!

Well, was this list a 👍 or 👎
I hope this lady rider list was useful. What are your staples?

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Amazing Weekend Music Festival Ride! https://motogirlthailand.com/amazing-weekend-music-festival-ride/ https://motogirlthailand.com/amazing-weekend-music-festival-ride/#comments Wed, 25 Dec 2019 02:01:09 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5700 Motorbike on steep roadA fantastic two day ride with the purpose of visiting the first ever Chiang Khong Music Festival in Chiang Khong, along the Thai/Laos border. This ride took in many wonderful back roads and stunning misty mountain views. A truly perfect ride to a great event! Full Trip (Google Map) Day 1: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong (Google Map) Having packed

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A fantastic two day ride with the purpose of visiting the first ever Chiang Khong Music Festival in Chiang Khong, along the Thai/Laos border. This ride took in many wonderful back roads and stunning misty mountain views. A truly perfect ride to a great event!

Full Trip (Google Map)

Day 1: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong (Google Map)

Having packed the night before it was a quick set off for me at 6am (with it still being surprisingly dark). I planned to get into Chiang Khong in the early afternoon, (to give myself time to relax before the music festival), so I headed straight up the dreaded main R118 (which is still under major construction).

Heading out early meant I would get through the worst of the roadworks without heavy congested traffic kicking up dirt and dust. It was a good plan and I was able to record the construction process whilst riding (see video below).

Verdict: much much better than I was expecting, with long stretches of resurfaced road. However, the route still has dirt sections (mainly firm bedrock, but some mushy areas at the end) plus some sections are very narrow, meaning traffic will bottleneck badly. The route was ok for my bike (Dtracker 250 with dual sports tires), but other bikes and riders may find it slippery. Depends too on whether the water trucks have been out or not.

Conclusion: for the most part the route is still best avoided, but if you need/wish to take the route, then better to try ride it during off-peak periods, as I did.

By the time I came out of the roadworks I was actually feeling very chilly. The wind chill factor had my hands shaking and my teeth chattering. Thankfully the Mae Kachan Hot Spring Geyser is not too far from here, which I normally stop at to get a coffee and a foot soak.

My usual spot at the Geyser is at Nice One Coffee, which is next to the “Angkor What?” of the North (photo from a couple of years ago):
..but as I was riding along, I spotted a brand new hot spring complex just prior to my usual spot, so pulled in to take a look. The complex was so new that only one place had a hot springs running into the trough area, and so new that the toilet sinks still had stickers on. This setup also had a 5 baht slot machine toilet entry, rather than attendants taking money. There was also one giant building set to become a gem shop.

I had a coffee at the small coffee shop and soaked my hands in the hot spring trough to get feeling back. Seemed to be just one man and his family attending to the whole complex at the moment.
After my coffee I rode on, stopping briefly at the Khruba Siwichai statue.

A few KM up from the statue I took the right turn onto to R120 to Phayao, stopping at the dinosaur viewpoint on the way.

I didn’t stop in at Phayao Lake, heading straight for Phu Chi Fa instead, via the 1021 over to Phu Sang National Park, which is when the route becomes wonderful. I reached Phu Chi Fa at 11am, so I made pretty good time on my 250. I headed straight to the peak, which really is quite a workout on the craggy 760 meter hike, but the reward at the end is very much worth it.

It seems I was also lucky with timing, for as I came down the viewpoint six large minivans packed with people turned up! I had planned to stop at the bottom of the viewpoint and have a hot drink, but with all the people buzzing around I decided to hop straight on the bike and head to Chiang Khong.

I arrived at Chiang Khong at around 1:30pm and went straight to my hotel (the Chiang Khong Day Waterfront Hotel), where I had a simple but comfortable room, with a Mekong view.

A little earlier, on my last fuel stop, I bumped into Kevin from DartAsia Tours (Ducati Tours in the region) I had previously ridden one of his bikes in muddy wet Chiang Dao on a promotional photo shoot. Write up HERE.

There were actually a good number of bikers heading to the festival or already in Chiang Khong. The festival was the concept of well-known rider Mr David Unkovich (Gt.Rider.com), so many friends planned to ride up and support the event. Plus, there is great riding to be had in the area.

After cleaning myself up at the hotel I took a bit of a walk around, but as with most small town life, there wasn’t so much going on.  I rested for a bit then at around 5pm I headed out again in order to see the opening of the festival. As luck would have it the timing was perfect, because as I literally just stepped out of my hotel there was David on his bike at this quiet little side street! Lucky me was able to bag a pillion ride on the back of his bike and enjoy a backseat tour of charming Chiang Khong.

As for the festival itself, it really started buzzing a few hours later. Lots of great music and the people of Chiang Khong put together some great little stalls selling food and drinks. Well done David and Chiang Khong for all your work in getting the festival off the ground!

For info and videos of the actual festival and performances, go HERE.

Despite the festival being fab I headed to bed early. Social events tend to take a lot out of me, and I had in mind an early ride out to a beautiful viewpoint….

I packed up before sleeping and I slept pretty well, which was unusual for me when on a ride, but seeing as I had also just returned from a 3 Day Recce Ride with Bike Bike Tours, I think I was just plain exhausted.

Day 2: Chiang Khong to Chiang Mai (Google Map)

I was up early again, and on my bike by just before 6am. I headed along a rural farming route in the pitch black, which then connected to the 1155, and off I went into the foggy misty, cold and dark mountains. It was pretty spooky to be honest and really quite chilly. I had to put on some rubber gloves so my hands wouldn’t go too numb.

Plus my spotlight was almost useless due to the light hitting the thick fog and bouncing back at me, so I just navigated slowly, which also helped with cutting down the wind chill factor. (I really need to consider some fog lights for future..)

Behold, the Cheap Charlie wind-breaker solution for cold hands! (I wore the rubber gloves the whole morning ride, but my hands by this time were actually becoming a bit numb. I attempted to relieve some of this by using a heat patch. Haha! It may seem odd to many that my hands got so very cold, but I have Reynold syndrome, which means I have some bad issues with the cold at times.)

My chilly early ride was rewarded in the end, when I reached the beautiful and stunning Doi Pha Tang.

Stunning!

After enjoying the view for a while I walked back down the hike to enjoy a warm lemon tea at one of the shops at the base of the mountain. The whole area was buzzing with people, many of whom had camped out overnight, and several of whom were already a bit tipsy haha. It seems that hot toddies were being enjoyed in order to keep warm. I was even offered a shot of whisky from a (quite drunk) group of men (but politely declined), haha.

After a nice hot tea and a relaxing moment I got back on my bike. I was excited to be heading next onto the 4018 “Big Dipper” road.

So, why is the R4018 dubbed “The Big Dipper”? (Coined by David Unkovich – www.Gt-Rider.com). Well, buckle up baby, because this video is going to show you why!

After the thrill of the 4018 I headed along the 1152 where I spotted this lovely eatery area, so stopped in for a coffee and a bite to eat. 

Some of this route has a little construction work, but nothing too major. The road was pretty quiet and the views great.

I next took the R109, which again I had pretty much all to myself. My early rise and choice of roads were perfect it seems, as I barely saw another person on the whole of this section.

At fang I took a route into the mountains and farming areas, which was wonderfully quiet and scenic.

The route then connected up with the 4031 route to the Mae Kuang Dam Suspension Bridge. I had wanted to go here for a while, so was great to finally head that way.

As someone who is a nervous rider on dirt, I confess that last section that curves and dips down onto the bridge really had me thinking I was going to come off! The video above really doesn’t show how steep this section is. I also made a full video of the whole dirt section (the earlier part being simple), which you can view HERE if interested.

After riding over the bridge I stopped to have a drink at one of the small restaurants there. The view was stunning. For me the bridge is beautiful, and esthetically pleasing. For others it may be ugly. Personally I think it is just perfect. All in all a fantastic weekend ride, with so much packed into just two days.Really loved it!

Hope you enjoyed this trip report. 😀
If you did, please Like / Subscribe ! ♥

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Three Day Recce Ride With Big Bike Tours https://motogirlthailand.com/three-day-recce-ride-big-bike-tours/ https://motogirlthailand.com/three-day-recce-ride-big-bike-tours/#respond Mon, 23 Dec 2019 17:28:11 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5629 Group of ridersDecember 2019. A fun itinerary-packed three day ride with Big Bike Tours (BBT) family (literally!), scouting out a route for the first all-lady motorcycle tour of the North, which BBT is putting together next year. This route covered the N.West region of Thailand, headed over to the Golden Triangle, and then back to Chiang Mai via Phayao and Chaeson. This ride

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December 2019. A fun itinerary-packed three day ride with Big Bike Tours (BBT) family (literally!), scouting out a route for the first all-lady motorcycle tour of the North, which BBT is putting together next year. This route covered the N.West region of Thailand, headed over to the Golden Triangle, and then back to Chiang Mai via Phayao and Chaeson. This ride was BBT’s second recce ride, with the first being a three day Mae Hong Son ride, which I wrote about HERE. A fantastic and fun three days with Khun Kay, his wife Jeab and their son Johnny. Very nice to have been invited along with my friend Sam.  

FULL TRIP (Google Map)

DAY 1: Chiang Mai to Doi Mae Salong (Google Map)

Our meeting point was at the Amora Thapae hotel, at 8am. Big Bike Tours had a couple of tours setting off that morning and the future ladies tour will set off from here, so made sense to start from this meeting location (despite Chiang Mai’s horrendous morning traffic).

With several tours setting off that morning which needed overseeing (one heading off to Laos, and another off on the Mae Hong Son loop), it meant that we took off later than expected (at just before 10am). 

The initial 50km or so of this route from Chiang Mai city is always a bit of a bore on the main R107, but starts to get more scenic and curvy around the Mae Taeng area.

In Chiang Dao we stopped in at the กาแฟในสวน coffee shop, which is also my usual stop in this area.

The view of Chiang Dao mountain was, as always, stunning. However, was sad to see smog pollution so early in the year. This years Rainy Season saw low rainfall, so already the normally lush and green scenic views were quite brown and dry.

We skipped visiting Chiang Dao cave (which will be visited on the actual tour), and headed to Thaton via a pretty rural back route.

Our first quick stop was at Hinokoi Land, to check it out for the tour and then a quick stop at Hom Pan Din Vineyard before heading to Thaton for lunch. As is so typical in Thailand, places come and go quickly and it turned out that Kay’s usual food spot was completely gone, so we went looking for another one. We ended up in a very scenic location, but sadly the food didn’t quite live up to the view.

After lunch we rode up the wonderfully twisty Wat Thaton road to go to the viewpoint.Our next stop was to a Kayan Village, which I am conflicted about visiting. On the one hand there is the whole “Human Zoo” aspect, but on the other hand the villagers rely upon tourists visiting and buying their handicrafts, so boycotting directly affects their income. It seems to be a catch 22 situation. I am not sure what to do in this regard. Regardless, it is on the tour, so we stopped in to visit and I bought a scarf from one of the ladies.

(She was lovely and smiley to talk to, despite not looking so happy in the photo.)

Next and last stop was to Doi Mae Salong, where we would rest for the night. The hotel was pretty (Happy House), where I was lucky to get a room with a view.

For dinner we met at Salima Restaurant, a Halal restaurant, and Kay took in his wine. The owners were fine about it and even brought out some wine glasses, which is when this happened…

We rested early. Day one complete, without hiccup! 🙂

Big Bike Tours Recce ride video. Day 1. 

Day 2: Doi Mae Salong to Chiang Saen (Google Map)

I awoke early after a not so great sleep. This is pretty normal for me when on a ride though, particularly if it involves any social interaction. I find it hard to settle and my brain goes into processing overdrive, digesting everything that happened throughout the day.

Seeing as I awoke before sunrise, I decided to open up my curtains and watch the sunrise from my bed. I dozed off intermittently.
However, can you imagine my surprise and horror though when I opened my eyes to see a man standing on my balcony taking photos of the view. I shouted at him to go away. What the heck! Turned out he was in the room next to me and too lazy to walk over to the other balcony side, so came to my room balcony area to take his photos. Not on Sir, not on!

The shock woke me up fully, so I got dressed and took a ride around on my bike.Breakfast in Mae Salong… (probably the least said about this, the better really). Lets just summarize by saying it pretty much didn’t happen. The place we chose wasted an inordinate amount of time. Our food either didn’t come or came not properly cooked..and in the end I had nothing except an instant coffee back at the hotel. I think almost 2 hours in total was wrecked that morning due to trying to find a place open and trying to get our orders sorted out.

After breakfast we got on the bikes and headed to the tea plantation area to enjoy some tea tasting. We indulged in many different kinds of teas, which were absolutely delicious!

After tea we were again back “On Zee Bikes” (a play on Kay’s German accent), and off we went along the Doi Mae Salong route. At the junction Kay took a quick “selfie” snapshot of one of the soldiers stationed at the junction. 

Next we enjoyed what is (imo) one of the best routes in N.West Thailand; the R1338 to Doi Tung, stopping to visit the Doi Tung Royal Villa and Gardens.

(Funny story. I had a silly drama moment at Doi Tung Villa area. I thought I lost my GoPro. It made no sense that I lost it, but I couldn’t find it. Anyway, turned up inside a flower pot beside my parked bike! Obviously it just dropped right in! Was great to get it back..and I am so relieved that I double checked the area before leaving. I could have easily ridden off as it was hard to spot hidden within the planted flowers.)

Our next stop was a quick lunch stop on the R1149, after which we headed on the main R1 to Tham Pla Cave. So many monkeys!
After Tham Pla we went in search of a huge teak resort restaurant Kay recommended for the ladies tour. The Golden Iyara Resort. Apparently it had a regular buffet with great food. We rode straight there only to find an empty dirt plot! The HUGE restaurant was completely gone! Crazy!

Oh well, onto the Golden Triangle!

At Chiang Saen we rode up to the viewpoint then headed to our lovely hotel.

We quickly got freshened up in order to take a boat over to the Laos border market.

The boat ride was really fun and the market buzzing. Lots of duty free items and fake designer goods..haha! 

Back at the hotel we had a short rest before meeting up again to enjoy food at Mekong Pizza, where we were treated to a visit from our good friend Mr.David Unkovich (aka Gt.Rider.com), who had ridden in from Chiang Khong to dine with us. So nice!

After dinner I headed back to my room to rest, whilst most everyone else stayed up late enjoying drinks and ping-pong with the owners of Mekong Pizza.

Big Bike Tours Recce ride video. Day 2.

Day 3: Chiang Saen to Chiang Mai (Google Map)

Another early rise for me, so I packed up my bike ready and went to eat breakfast (which was included in the room price). The Mekong view was very pretty.

It was a late start on the bikes but with just a few stop-off’s planned it wasn’t a concern. We took a nice rural route and stopped off at a wonderful temple for a photo (keeping this one quiet as it was Big Bike Tours find and not mine!).

I attempted to run up the full set of steps without stopping at this temple too. Do you think I made it?

Also had a funny moment where I roped everyone into doing a jumping video..haha.

Next we headed along a quiet route to Wat Rong Khun, which, as always, was packed with tourists. Many of which kept completely walking through and past us as we tried to take a quick video..After Wat Rong Khun it was a boring highway ride down the main R1 to Wat Sai Khao . I had always intended to stop in at this temple one day, but until this day never had.

Next stop Phayao Lake for lunch, which I always enjoy. I have a soft spot for pretty Phayao and the food there is always so fresh and tasty.

At Phayao we considered what route we should take. The main R118 is still a mess of road works, so we chose to take the twisty and technical 1252 route through Chaeson area. Such a great road! (By this time I was out of GoPro battery, so nothing was recorded). 
Our last stop was a small roadside shop to grab a couple of cool drinks before saying our goodbyes, after which I took the R118 back to home (but not before stopping off at this fab area for a look around and a photo. I have a comical story about visiting this site..which I am still considering whether I should share or not…)

Big Bike Tours Recce ride video. Day 3.

All in all a fantastic trip and many thanks to Big Bike Tours for inviting me along! 😀 🙏

THE BEST BITS – HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP!

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Day Trippin’ – Mae Wang (& Doi Inthanon Area) https://motogirlthailand.com/day-trippin-mae-wang-doi-inthanon-area/ https://motogirlthailand.com/day-trippin-mae-wang-doi-inthanon-area/#respond Wed, 20 Nov 2019 13:01:17 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5558 Motorbike at scenic areaMonday 18th November 2011. This day is the anniversary of a bad motorcycle accident 8 years ago, so I always try to get in an interesting motorcycle ride on this date. Having checked out some possible routes via Google Maps, it was also a good time to try some minor trails and off-road tracks. (I am very bad at off-road

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Monday 18th November 2011. This day is the anniversary of a bad motorcycle accident 8 years ago, so I always try to get in an interesting motorcycle ride on this date. Having checked out some possible routes via Google Maps, it was also a good time to try some minor trails and off-road tracks. (I am very bad at off-road riding. Nerves always get the better of me. So intermittently I keep trying to do a bit more in order to get over that mental block).

My main POI’s were to be:
the Ganesha Himal Museum (Doi Lo District), Pha Chor (Mae Wang National Park), and Wachirathan Waterfall (Doi Inthanon)

FULL DAY RIDE (Google Map Link)

I started out late (approximately 10:30/10:45am). I took the main R121 until it linked up with the more rural 3035, which went through some interesting small village areas.
Spotted this fantastic elephant statue outside a local temple. Inside the temple there was a large pink Ganesha Elephant God. (วัดท่าช้าง / Wat Thung Chang)
Spotted this nice little warning sign put out by a resident of this area too. “ระวังทางโค้ง” – “be careful, sharp curve”.
When I arrived at the Ganesha Himal Museum, it didn’t disappoint. Not only was it a fantastic and interesting place, but I also received a blessing. As today was a significant day for me, the blessing felt perfect. The monk actually sang the blessing over me, in a wonderful sing-song voice! I gather this is pretty much standard for everyone visiting, but because I didn’t expect it and because it was a significant day, it just felt really quite wonderful.
There is so much to see at this museum, including many different interesting Ganesha statues and a fantastic wax museum, that its hard to narrow it down to just a few photos. So, you just have to go see for yourself! (There is also a small coffee shop and a gift shop too). The entry is free, but expect to make some kind of offering when there. After enjoying the museum I set off to Mae Wang National Park, as I wanted to finally visit the amazing Pha Chor. I had been meaning to visit for several years, but just never got around to it. It didn’t disappoint either!

Pha Cho – Mae Wang National Park
Prepare yourself for a bit of a mini hike trail. Take water and best to wear a hat or take an umbrella to shield from the sun.
Lots of info on the park dotted along the trail, in Thai and English.
..and plenty of shaded rest spots on the trail, if you need one.
Be aware that there is also a very narrow walking section to the exit point, and that you should not touch the rock.
Fantastic place and well worth a visit.

After a quick refreshing drink and a snack I got back on my bike ready to visit the next place; Wachirathan Waterfall, in the Doi Inthanon National Park area. I also noticed a possible interesting “short cut” through to the falls, however, this was the result.. haha..

I made a U-turn, but figured that since I was already in this area I may as well see if there were other routes worth looking at. I rode to a bridge and realized it was a bridge over the area I just tried to cross. It dawned on me that this was supposed to be a river, but oh so dry! Doesn’t seem so good for the start of Cool Season. Surely this river should be flowing? I noticed too that many areas were brown instead of green. This years Rainy Season saw really low rainfall, and it showed. Still stunning though, but concerning.

The road I took led to dead end, so I turned back and headed back on myself. Time was ticking on due to my late start, and I was a little frustrated at myself at not being able to tackle the “short cut” route. 

I took a quick stop at Pong Cho Reservoir within the Mae Wang National Park area and then took a few interesting farming back routes before linking up with the main busy R108.

Some great little farming back roads.
Spotted this interesting small remote temple too. สำนักสงฆ์ป่าบวกบง.

Eventually I was on the main R108 where I topped up fuel just before the 1009 junction, which would take me up to Wacharathan Falls. There is a National Park checkpoint in this area (before the waterfall), but if you tell them you are riding through and not going to the main Doi Inthanon viewpoint, you are permitted to ride though without needing to pay the (steep) National Park entry fee.

At the waterfall the water was raging! (video clip of the waterfall and highlights of the trip at the end of this report)

It was really packed though, as is to be expected really..but still was a shock after so many quiet roads.

I bought myself several drinks at the little café within the waterfall grounds and had a quick bite to eat. The girl in the coffee shop remembered me from previous visits and had a chat to me about mutual friends (a lot of the tour companies I know ride into this waterfall whilst on the Mae Hong Son loop).

Feeling refreshed I got on my bike again. My next ride was going to be pretty much non-stop. It was already getting late and I needed to cover over 100 kms to get home (via the long way). I was looking forward to riding on the scenic Mae Wang route and there was also something I wanted to make a mental note of, for another ride trip.

I had just a couple of pauses enroute to enjoy a few stunning views. My GoPro batteries at this point were now dead and my phone battery was dying, so I decided to just turn off the tech and enjoy the ride home. (I do have a USB port on my bike, but it seems my phone cable wasn’t playing ball that day!) I did get a little juice in my phone battery for a couple of quick photos and video shots though, but nothing touches upon how wonderful this route really is!

Love this route!
Epic!

I also did get to find that “thing” I wanted to make a mental note of for another ride..so all I can say for now is WATCH THIS SPACE, as it looks quite interesting.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Additionally, I tested out my INUTEQ Dry Cooling Vest again during this ride, also with a temperature reading gun. I loved it. Will update later with more info on this, but here is a link to read more: INUTEQ Thailand. 

In the meantime, here is a highlight video of my daytrip 🙂

**********

*CONTINUED*! UPDATE! (Google Map Link)


So, a few days later I returned to Mae Wang in order to find the “thing” I was looking for. I was on a quest to find a GIANT mountain Buddha that I spotted on my previous ride. Found it I did, and it was AMAZING. Just check out the size of this Buddha!

I spotted this stunning Buddha on a couple of rides, glinting white against the green mountain forestry. So I set off this morning determined to find it, and also to enjoy a scenic loop ride.

The Buddha was truly magnificent (can you see how small I am whilst standing on the Buddha’s hand?!), and the route I chose was spectacular.

The rural 4053 road cut through the mountain with scenic views of agricultural land on either side. Lots of vegetation and flowers. Super quiet road with just a few random passing farmers.

The route linked up to Samoeng and with it a lot more populated. I really much more enjoy these lesser known rural roads. No tourist attractions and just Chiang Mai northern beauty.

I did a little research on the Buddha statue and temple when I got home and it seems this whole temple zone has been under construction since 2012! There is even a Facebook page on it showing the amazing transformation. It is such a strange and magnificent Buddha image. In the construction days it looks rather surreal, almost like a “Hellraiser” image (hope that isn’t offensive!)

Here is the FACEBOOK PAGE for this amazing temple and work that has been ongoing to produce this incredible statue.

A really fab ride that passed by elephants in Mae Wang and cut through to Samoeng via a rural agricultural mountain road. Highlight video is here:

Hope you enjoyed this trip report. 😀
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The Guardians of the Galaxy Ride! ( MHS & Bua Tong Sunflower Fields) https://motogirlthailand.com/guardians-galaxy-ride-mhs-bua-tong-sunflower-fields/ https://motogirlthailand.com/guardians-galaxy-ride-mhs-bua-tong-sunflower-fields/#respond Wed, 13 Nov 2019 13:01:41 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5488 Funny rider photoYes, ok, a rather odd title, but will all become clear as to why soon ^^ This ride was initially a ride out for the annual GT.Rider Memorial Ride, a ride which commemorates GT.Rider.com fallen riders. A bit of background on what GT.Rider is about. As for the Memorial Ride itself, this fantastic video from last year by Destination Thailand

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Yes, ok, a rather odd title, but will all become clear as to why soon ^^

This ride was initially a ride out for the annual GT.Rider Memorial Ride, a ride which commemorates GT.Rider.com fallen riders. A bit of background on what GT.Rider is about.

As for the Memorial Ride itself, this fantastic video from last year by Destination Thailand TV, provides information on what the ride is all about.

FULL LOOP (Google Map Link)DAY 1: Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son
(Via Mae Sariang – Google Map Link)

This year the Memorial Ride saw around 60 riders joining in on the ride. The ride itself is staggered though, with many riders riding in small groups or solo, and just checking in/meeting up at the various destination points en-route to Mae Hong Son.

In Mae Hong Son we gathered together to ride up to Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu, where we received a blessing from the monks and visited the GT.Rider Memorial Chedi, which rests high up inside the temple grounds.
After the ceremony was over, we checked into our respective accommodation and regathered for a fun night at The Sunflower Restaurant.

Just a short report on the Day 1 ride. I am not a big fan of huge gatherings in truth, but I respect the GT.Rider Memorial cause and the community spirit of the ride. I headed to bed pretty early whilst the party went on! 

Day 2: MHS to Chiang Mai
(Via Bua Tong and Mae Wang – Google Map Link)

Day 2 began with a group photo meet up at 9:30am after breakfast. My initial plan was to ride the full loop via Pai, but I changed my mind when I found out that friends planned to ride to the Bua Tong Sunflower Fields.

Photo by Jurgen Chopard

I wasn’t sure if the Mexican sunflowers would be in full bloom, but was worth a look (these flowers bloom once a year around this time). I had visited the sunflowers the previous year and found the scene very beautiful (that trip report, plus my overnight camping report at Mae Surin Waterfall is HERE). Addiitionally , the group planned to ride via the R4009 back-route, which was right up my alley! (I’m not much of a fan of the Chiang Mai-Mae Sariang-Mae Hong Son route. My bike and my style is more suited to tight technical twisties, so I found myself feeling a little drowsy and bored on Day 1 as one predictable curve followed another predictable curve. (I know, I am spoiled).)

Ok, so, let me start off by explaining why this ride is titled The Guardians of the Galaxy Ride….Early on in the ride my friend Adam noted that Sam, in her red modular helmet, looked a lot like Judge Dredd. Cue some giggles.

..and, as we were riding along, all of us on different styles of bike with varying degrees of riding abilities and experience, I reflected that we were a right ole Motely Crew of riders. I real Guardians of the Galaxy kind of bunch of riders. The kind of group that you wouldn’t normally put all together under normal circumstances, but yet somehow the group just clicked! Haha!

(Most of the following photos were taken by Agnes Wdowik and Aof Krabue – many thanks!)

There was no ego on this ride. It was fun all the way, with total respect for each others comfort levels and riding abilities. I am comfortable on this kind of route with my bike (which is set up for roads like this), thus this was a fun ride for me. But, there have been previous times when I have been very much out of my comfort zone (especially on dirt), so I had respect and empathy for anyone not comfortable on this route. Also, when uncomfortable it means you work so much harder than everyone else, both mentally and physically!

The first stretch of road was straight forward, but when we reached the R4009 junction, things started to get exciting from the get-go. Steep inclines and hair-pin bends! I loved it!

However, I was REALLY concerned about a couple of the riders in our company. Concerned that they would struggle on this kind of road. We pulled over thinking we would need to tell the group to turn around, only for them to come up around the bend smiling!
Nice one!!

We carried on for a bit on the technical climb, then pulled over at the first long level patch of road to check in on everyone and see if all is ok. All was good, thankfully..and a silly victory dance took place. Haha.

We hit the road again and carried on a fantastic twisty route that just kept on climbing and snaking around the mountainside. Glorious! At one steep blind corner we encountered a whole herd of cattle, which required some fast responses on the bike!

This really is a fantastic road, and if you like twisty mountain routes and great viewpoints, then stick this one on your must-see list.
It has everything you could want, including a very pretty lake.

Mae Surin waterfall is pretty too, but for some reason was closed that day. Not sure why. I camped there without issue the previous year.

We headed on instead to Posaho Cafe‘ and enjoyed some coffee and refreshing drinks..
..and a few fun photos.

After enjoying the view we headed to the stunning Bua Tong Sunflower Field. Which was in full bloom!

After enjoying the sunflowers we headed to the R1263 junction, in order to ride back to Chiang Mai. I needed petrol, however, and thankfully I knew of a self-service petrol pump from my ride the previous year.

Funny story about this petrol pump. Last year I put in money and the damn thing wouldn’t give me out any petrol! I went to tell the shop owner and he came out to the pump, gave it a hard thump, and then the petrol came out! So, when it happened yet again this time around, I figured I would just give it a thump, because yet again the stupid machine took my money but wouldn’t deliver any fuel. Cue a young local family coming to watch slacked jawed at the crazy foreigner women slap the bejesus out of a self-service petrol pump. Haha!

I explained why I was hitting the machine, and then the young father came and joined in to help me, thumping the heck out of the machine. This resulted in the petrol coming out. So funny!

This video from the previous year: 

I rejoined the group and we stopped for a spot of lunch at a local roadside eatery. The food was pretty good, but the toilet facility not so much…
After eating we rode solidly until the Doi Inthanon checkpoint area. One on section of road I got a bit wobbly, with it being the site of my bad accident some years back. Each time I ride the route the odd frightened feeling gets less and less, but it is still there, unfortunately.  

By the time we reached the checkpoint was already pretty late (around 5pm or so), but the temptation to ride the longer Mae Wang way was strong. In the end the group (except for myself and Dominque) chose the main R1009 then R108 route to Chiang Mai. Dominique and I decided to take the longer route, knowing we would probably be riding in the dark in the end. Which ended up being the case, but worth it!

(I hope I don’t get done for copyright for messing around with Marvel material.. haha! o.O)

All in all a fantastic trip, and one for the memory banks. I don’t often ride with others, so this was an interesting and fun change of scenery. What is lovely, is that there were no inflated egos, just smiles and jokes and support. Very heart warming 🙂 Many thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy crew for a fun and enjoyable group ride!

Short video compellation of the ride:

As an aside, Dominque, who has lived in Thailand for almost 2 decades, is not only an amazing motorcycle rider with tons of adventures under his belt, but also an incredible patisserie chef and baker! His shop is renowned in Chiang Mai for exceptional bakery products. Get your bakery fix at his shop! Dominque Bread

Hope you enjoyed this trip report. 😀
If you did, please Like / Subscribe ! ♥

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Mae Hong Son Loopy-Loop *2 Biker Ladies & a Supercar Driver!* https://motogirlthailand.com/mae-hong-son-loopy-loop-2-biker-ladies-supercar-driver/ https://motogirlthailand.com/mae-hong-son-loopy-loop-2-biker-ladies-supercar-driver/#respond Sun, 20 Oct 2019 17:00:27 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5382 Mae Hong Son CollageWednesday 16th October. With a specific purpose in mind and a tight itinerary, three ladies set off on a three day Mae Hong Son Loop trip. My friend Sam was on her Honda CB500x and Ms Jeap was driving her…*wait for it*… The first six seconds of this video is previous footage of Ms Jeap driving on the Samoeng Loop.

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Wednesday 16th October.
With a specific purpose in mind and a tight itinerary, three ladies set off on a three day Mae Hong Son Loop trip. My friend Sam was on her Honda CB500x and Ms Jeap was driving her…*wait for it*…

The first six seconds of this video is previous footage of Ms Jeap driving on the Samoeng Loop. This should give you a taste of her driving skills….

Here is an actual photo from our trip. Sam on her CB500x (coming down the tight twists of the Ban Rak Thai), with Jeap just behind, driving her… …Suzuki Swift! lol!

Haha, ok, with the title you expected an actual Supercar. Naughty me with my somewhat clickbate title, but it sounded too fun not to use! Hold on though, because on the twisties, in the hands of Ms Jeap, her car may as well have had a Turbo Boost button! Swift by name, swift by nature! Ok, let’s get on with the trip report!

FULL TRIP: DAY 1, DAY 2, DAY 3

The main purpose for this ride was to aide Big Bike Tours refine an itinerary ride plan for their upcoming all-ladies motorbike tour they are planning for next year. Sam and I have been invited along on this tour, and Ms Jeap, the TAT licensed guide (and wife of Big Bike Tours owner Kay), is running it. This was Jeap’s first time driving the loop! 

Day 1: Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son (via Doi Inthanon and Mae Chaem) (GOOGLE MAP LINK)

At around 8:00am we met up at a local PTT garage. We had coffee/breakfast and went through the plan for day one together. A day or so beforehand I had created a My Maps guide for the stop-offs, to ensure we all knew where we were heading. (My Maps is a great tool, if you use google maps as a guide. At some point I will make a guide on it, for those unsure on how to use it.). Our first destination point was to be Wachirathan falls, which is a stunning waterfall in the Doi Inthanon National Park area. (This waterfall is actually free, however, if you wish to see other areas of the park, you need to pay the park fee. Sadly it is dual pricing at the park, which can stick in the throat a bit at times. 300 baht for foreigners and 50 baht for Thai. *Note* If you are riding through the park and not going to the viewpoint or into other areas, you do not need to buy a ticket. Just let them know you are riding through to Mae Chaem)

As we were planning to visit the main highlights of Doi Inthanon, we had to pay the 300 baht fee.

When we returned to our bikes we noticed that Sam had attracted a new friend…
At the falls we were treated to a raging waterfall in all its Rainy Season glory.

Really refreshing air and lots of lush greenery. Normally this waterfall has a glorious rainbow to enjoy too, but as there was no sun out, we weren’t treated to one.

After enjoying the view we had some refreshments at the cafe in the falls.

Next stop: the Highest Viewpoint in Thailand (2,565 meters above sea level).  (I have a guide on Doi Inthanon National Park here. Doi Inthanon is a part of the Himalayan mountain range).

…and what a misty ride it was! (this video shows Sam riding back down from the viewpoint)

I confess that I got myself a bit confused here. I thought we were planning to go to the Royal Pagodas initially (we weren’t). Sam was leading that this point (and Jeap was behind me), so I was surprised when I turned left to go into the Pagoda entrance, only to see Sam riding straight on into the mist. I waited for Jeap to come by in her car to let her know the situation but felt like a right idiot when she confirmed that we were in fact meeting at the viewpoint first. Do’h!

I also ended up pulling into the first viewpoint area too, checking to see if Sam had parked up there beforehand, but unlike me she had her head screwed on that morning, and followed the correct plan to the main viewpoint.

Anyway, we arrived and parked up and did the touristy thing of following the trail up to the viewpoint sign etc. The temperature gauge said 11 degrees..but it felt far far more chilly when up so high and whilst wearing light mesh armour gear.

After the viewpoint we headed down to the Royal Pagodas, where we were rather disappointed to find out that we needed to pay an additional 40 baht on top of the 300 baht fee to enter. Not a huge amount in truth, but frustrating seeing as we had already paid a fair bit.

The Pagodas were stunning though and the views wonderful when the Rainy Season mist momentarily passed.

Our next stop after the national park was Mae Chaem, where we would also stop for food. I did not know of any restaurant in Mae Chaem though, so Jeap contacted her husband for a recommendation. Cue a comical situation of the GPS sending us in different directions and getting us all in a flux. Bloody GPS!
In truth Google Maps was just doing its job. It sent Jeap on the most suitable route for a car, versus my route for bikes. Just illustrates that GPS should only ever be a helpful aid, but never something to totally rely upon..and if you are in a group mix of cars and bikes, best to double check that everyone is following the same route. The result was that some time got wasted, which couldn’t be helped.

Sam and I ended up riding on ahead, with Jeap going the other way due to the GPS sending her off on the other route!
The views are so beautiful ! When Sam and I reached Mae Chaem, it turned out that the restaurant was closed (haha, we really were having a weird run of luck!). Sam suggested that to save time we should carry on and ride through to Khun Yuam and then eat there. So, we messaged Jeap to let her know. This was not exactly the best start for us all *eek*!

We took the R1263 from Mae Cheam to Khun Yuam route, which is a choppy pot-hole ride for a fair bit of the route.

It is also always a mentally challenging ride for me, as this is the zone of my bad accident some years back. However, always good for me to ride though and lessen the feelings associated with it. Still, I did feel a bit of weird emotions when passing through. 

We stopped for some photos and videos, seeing as Jeap was still a way behind us.

As I was riding I was concerned about Jeap, as this was her first time driving the route, but a quick message here and there confirmed each time that all was fine.

We arrived in Khun Yuam and found a small eatery and ordered some food, preparing for a bit of a wait for Jeap. ..but HAH, within not much time at all there was Jeap saying hi with a smile on her face!

We ate fast then headed off on the wonderful smooth R108 to Mae Hong Son.

By the time we arrived in Mae Hong Son it was already dark. I think we arrived just before 7pm in the end (and just as the night market was in full swing, haha. So we had to navigate through it all to get to our accommodation). With all the stop-offs and hiccups it had been a longer day than anticipated, but we were all in good spirits. A good bout of laughs and giggles chased any stress moments away.

We stayed at Piya Guesthouse, which was kindly arranged and paid for by Big Bike Tours.

Chong Klang temple, one of the highlights of Mae Hong Son, was as stunning as always.

photo in Mae Hong Son from a previous ride: https://motogirlthailand.com/girls-ride-mae-hong-son-loop-n-thailand/

As Sam and I were checking in I had a “small world moment”, when I heard my name being spoken. I turned around to find my friend (and motorbike rider) John there. He said he had only just been talking about me to the new owner of the Sunflower Restaurant, and how bizarre it was to be walking past Piya only to then see me. Funny how things like that in life can happen!

All three of us got ourselves cleaned up and then headed out to the Sunflower Restaurant for some well-deserved dinner. We discussed the itinerary for the next day, picking and choosing which elements would be important for the tour etc, before heading back to our rooms to get some shut eye.

Shut eye didn’t actually come to me until about 1am, but that is normal for me when I am on a bike trip. So much stimuli and thoughts going around in my head that it is so often hard to settle.

Aa an aside, I thought this was a funny and odd coincidence earlier in the day…

 Day 2: Mae Hong Son to Pai (Via Ban Rak Thai) (GOOGLE MAP LINK)

At around 8am we had breakfast at the Salween River Restaurant, having already packed up our bikes ready to go. Our first stop was to fill up at the local garage and then head up to Wat Phrathat Doi Kongmu temple to check out the view and visit the GT.Rider Memorial Chedi. The Chedi was set up by David Unkovich to honour fallen GT.Rider members.

RIP riders. We never know when one day our time may come, so it is important to live happy and enjoyable lives!

After the temple we headed from Mae Hong Son straight for beautiful Ban Rak Thai, a picturesque Yunnanese Thai-Chinese village, steeped in history.
Such a beautiful scenic little village!

We took a walk around and bought a few goodies...and some silly photo ops too, of course :p Sam, who used to live in China, took the opportunity to practice her Chinese.

..and we enjoyed the beautiful view from the lake.
 After a walk around we had a delicious HUGE lunch at ต้าเหล่าซือ บ้านรักไทย  (and we were told some weird beauty treatment thing with tea…. o.O )
After lunch we rode to Mae Aw, the Thai/Burmese outpost village.

(Also spotted a Mr Mechanic rental bike at the parking area.)
Mae Aw, located on the Southern most cusp of Myanmar’s Kayin State, was established in 1949 by Yunnanese KMT fighters who fled from communist rule. Now, decades later, the village’s population and architecture still remain rural Chinese, with most residents speaking Mandarin or Yunnanese. The village’s main industries are tea and tourism, and there are numerous places to taste the local brew, as well as several restaurants serving Yunnanese cuisine. 

As we were walking around Sam spotted a bike outside a shop selling Duty Free items, we had a bit of fun on the bike (that was for sale). (We asked permission first! ..and I promise I was very careful with my boots. I totally respect other peoples items!)

The shop had Duty Free items on offer at great discount prices and a few other unusual items, such as miscellaneous meat…
  After visiting the village we headed back on ourselves to get back onto the R1095. The Ban Rak Thai road certainly is a lot of fun!

The next stop for us was to be at Tham Lod Cave. (with a quick refreshment stop at Pang Mapha Viewpoint). Having not yet visited Tham Lot, but meaning to for so long, I was really looking forward to seeing it. I had already marked the cave location on my shared GPS map, so figured nothing could go wrong. .. haha….

Honestly, the good thing about things going a little wrong on this trip, is that it can all be refined and perfected for when the actual tour takes place. Better to have some hiccups and errors happen on Recce rides, than on the actual tour!

So anyway, Sam already knew the way to Tham Lot Cave as she had visited many times before, so didn’t need my map. Jeap and I used my GPS shared map as our navigator.

Jeap headed off just before us, after we had a stop at Pang Mapha Viewpoint, whilst Sam and I faffed about with bike stuff, (seeing as we can catch up to her), but as we were riding with Jeap just ahead of us, Sam pulled over.  Sam then told me that Jeap had driven passed the entrance! ….What? I said to Sam that the GPS said to ride straight on, but for sure there it was, a road to the left with a sign saying it was the way to Tham Lod!

I thought maybe I had somehow screwed up on the map and cursed myself. I got out my phone to call Jeap, only to realise there was no bloody reception. I told Sam and she tried calling too, but again, no connection. Shit! I decided the best thing to do was to try ride on and see if I could catch up to Jeap..but already so much time had been wasted trying to get a signal, including restarting my phone.

I rode like the wind in the hope to catch Jeap (with Sam waiting at the junction), without checking to see if my GPS was still running. (It wasn’t ..haha). In my panic I rode all the way past my own map junction! Talk about a Comedy of Errors!

En-route I kept intermittently pulling over to see if I could get reception, but nothing.

In the end I rode all the way to Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint where I finally got a connection after restarting my phone. I messaged Sam and Jeap, and was relieved that Sam was connected, but Jeap still wasn’t. I went with plan C and messaged that I would meet in Pai at the hotel.

As it happened, Jeap did end up at Tham Lod, because there are actually two ways to get to it. So the map wasn’t wrong after all! All you can do is laugh eh! 

Of course I didn’t find out all the full details until after everyone had arrived back at the hotel. I had wave of relief when I saw smiles and laughter, rather than upset faces. Sam was a trouper too, because although I had got caught in the rain, she got the full force of it.

As for the accommodation in Pai, it was at the really lovely Medio De Pai Hotel, which was courtesy of Bike Bike Tours again. So many thanks BBT!

Initially, when I arrived at the hotel, the receptionist was a bit grumpy with me and said I had to wait for the guide (aka Jeap) to arrive before she would give me a key. After some explaining she reluctantly gave me a room key. I suppose they might be used to some silly drama in Pai with it being such a high tourist place now, but surprised me a bit.

The room and pool was so nice though!

When we were all tidied up we headed out to the hippy trippy Pai-land town. ..and wow, how it keeps changing over the years! This was my first visit to Pai…

Now it is really geared towards the backpacker and tourist scene (now kind of a vibe mix of Chiang Mai’s Loy Kroh and Bangkok’s Khao San Road, I think). Neon lights and techno music along the start of Raddamrong road, which gives way to more trendy restaurants, wine bars, hipster hangouts and live music as you approach Vieng Tai street.

Yep, we are in Pai for sure!

We checked out the area for good restaurant stops for the tour then got ourselves some food and drinks. It was time to wind down now, discuss the trip, and giggle at some of the errors knowing they can be corrected easily, whilst listening to some good live music. (Although in truth the music and bar scene isn’t really my thing, but the company and wind down chat was nice).

Having had a good evening we headed to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a simple and easy ride back on the r1095 to chiang mai.
Spotted this Honda FTR223 parked up at the hotel.

Day 3: Pai to Chiang Mai (via some back roads) (*Rough* GOOGLE MAP)

We met up for breakfast (packed and ready) at just before 8am. Jeap wanted to get home quick, so although it was a short ride, we still planned to head off fairly early.

At breakfast Sam brought out her Marmite, and got Jeap to try it…

Our first stop was at the Pai Memorial Bridge, which is where this happened..lol

On a more serious note, the original bridge over the Pai River was built during World War II. The Japanese army needed to create a route from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son in order to attack Burma (which was a colony of the United Kingdom at that time). At that time the Pai River was fast and deep, so in 1941 the Japanese forced villagers to build the bridge, using elephants to drag trees from the jungle. After the war the Japanese soldiers left and burnt down the bridge. However, the villagers had come to rely upon the bridge, so they rebuilt the wooden bridge that we can see today.

After visiting the Memorial Bridge we carried on along the famously twisty R1095, which was surprisingly quiet. We decided to all meet up at Coffee We, roughly half way on the route, to have some refreshments and say our goodbyes.
Its a pretty cool café for some fun videos and photos!

P.s..if you watch this whole video, I think the dialog is pretty funny imo…

Jeap said goodbye first, as she had much to do that day, whilst Sam and I spent some time at the café, chatting about the experience and working out where are skills and weaknesses are. Its very much a different kettle of fish riding as a group (and with a tour in mind) than riding solo, and not something I am used to.

As for Coffee Wi, well this café for sure attracts many visitors with its eye-catching witch statues, so we ended up meeting other riders on the loop.The group on the left are father, mother & son (and his girlfriend). They were riding the Golden Triangle together. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be for a whole family to enjoy a moment like that together. The man on the top right was from S.Africa and the couple below go everywhere on this 150cc bike (previously he was riding big bikes for many years). I agreed with him that you do not need a big bike to enjoy N.Thailand roads, and in fact, in the hands of the right rider, small bikes very often leave Big Bikes for dust on twisties!

Later on I took a sneaky moment to put up one of my stickers in the café, trying hard not to cover over anyone elses.

Then, after an hour or so at the café, Sam and I parted ways.I decided to take a meandering way home, so I first quickly stopped in at Pankled coffee, to try figure out if there is a new way I could go to get home.I took some small back roads back, as it was still early, enjoying a few impressive and pretty temples on the way…
…as well as having a small dance. Haha.

I arrived home at around 2:30pm, feeling reflective.

As an introvert and normally solo rider, it can be challenging for me at times to spend long hours in the company of others, but this was very much a fun and memorable trip on the famous Mae Hong Son loop.

Again, many thanks to Big Bike Tours for the suggestion and for arranging our accommodation for us. Big Bike Tours offer some fantastic tours in S.E.Asia, which you can look up on their website.

COMPILATION HIGHLIGHT VIDEO:

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THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN’S RIDE CHIANG MAI – 2019 https://motogirlthailand.com/distinguished-gentlemans-ride-chiang-mai-2019/ https://motogirlthailand.com/distinguished-gentlemans-ride-chiang-mai-2019/#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2019 11:09:30 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5262 (29th September 2019) Hey, hey! DGR 2019 in Chiang Mai! ..and what a ride! Around 340 riders turned up and turned out for Chiang Mai’s 5th Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. (Quite an increase from the first CM DGR in 2016, where there were around 70 riders.) The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a worldwide charity event that takes place on the 29th

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(29th September 2019) Hey, hey! DGR 2019 in Chiang Mai! ..and what a ride! Around 340 riders turned up and turned out for Chiang Mai’s 5th Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. (Quite an increase from the first CM DGR in 2016, where there were around 70 riders.)

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is a worldwide charity event that takes place on the 29th September each year, in support of prostate cancer and men’s mental health (the Movember Foundation). For more information head over to the official DGR website. 

Many thanks to the main sponsors: Triumph Chiangmai, The Good View and Tha Chang Cafe’ for putting together this incredible event.

Huge turn out and perfect organisation of the event, which ran smooth as butter. Certainly no easy feat with that many bikes!

(Photos from Triumph Chiang Mai)

Photo credit: Triumph Chiang Mai

But, before we enjoy more of the fun stuff, lets look at the important side of things. (*Note* Figures are still on the rise. I will update later when funds stop rolling in. )

How much was raised?

Globally:

Chiang Mai:

(These figures may fluctuate and increase. This is the current figures – October 8th 2019)
That means Chiang Mai has so far raised a whopping 6,989.16 USD for Movember fundation! Well done Chiang Mai! I wish to take a moment to say a HUGE THANK YOU to those who sponsored me on this ride. It feels great to feel I am riding with a purpose..so thank you! For more information on what the money goes towards, read HERE.

Now let’s go back to the fun side.. because DGR is certainly that!This year the chiang Mai Ride was a little different, in that there was less restrictions on what kind of bikes were permitted, so there was more of a mix bag this year, from classics and modern classics to sport bikes. (Personally I was initially going to ride a Royal Enfield 500 again this year (kindly offered by TBB Tours‘ Jeff), but with the rules being relaxed I decided I would ride my Kawasaki Dtracker instead). Additionally the theme this year was “Military” (but again, it wasn’t strongly imposed, so many riders stuck with classic “dapper style”.)

The late meeting time of 4:30pm was at the Good View All Day. Upon arrival there was a fantastic set up with a Distiguished Gentlemans Ride backdrop, where all riders were given an opportunity for a cool (professional) photo shot.

Light refreshments and snacks were available as the bikes were ridden in and lined up in an orderly fashion. Great location and great organisation.

By around 5:30pm the bikes were off. The enormous rumble of over 300 motorcycles was extraordinary. You could feel the rumbles and vibrations deep in your chest!

Our dedicated police escort saw us safe travel though Chiang Mai city, holding up traffic to allow us to pass through lights unhindered in our massive group ride. One can only hope that the vehicles who were held up at least enjoyed the show, for it is not something you see very often. Hundreds of beautiful bikes and dressed up riders. Quite a sight!

At one point, when we were riding the superhighway through the underpasses, the view of so many bikes struck me hard. I just thought “wow, how wonderful is this?!” A collective effort of so many riders of all different ages and many different nationalities, all here, together, in support of a good cause. It blew my mind a little at that moment, in truth.

A fab album of photos of the event can be viewed HERE We eventually made our way to Tha Chang Cafe’, who laid out a fab evening event for us all. (See last sections of both the official CM DGR video and my video, for highlights of the evening event, which was so well done!)

At Tha Chang Café we were treated to food and drinks, an auction to raise more funds, and fab live music to dance to. Additionally there were some cool items for sale and a barber shop grooming the gentlemen to a T!

At around 9:30pm my friends and I decided to call it a night and head home, but the party was still going strong!

NOTES: The Chiang Mai DGR charges a fee to enter into the ride, with part going to the charity, and part covering expenses (food, drinks, merchandise/gift pack etc). This year the cost was 1000 baht.

Another unforgettable Chiang Mai Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride! 

My previous write ups on this event in Chiang Mai:
DGR CM 2018
DGR CM 2017
DGR CM 2016
DGR CM 2015

A HUGE thank you to all involved in setting up this WONDERFUL day!

Did you attend the DGR this year?
If so, where? Would love to know! ?
If you liked this, then please SUBSCRIBE ^.^

On a final more serious note. Remember to take good care of yourselves gentlemen, mentally and physically. Inform yourself and your loved ones about prostate cancer and to read up on the signs and symptoms. (Cancer Research UK has a list of symptoms: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/prostate-cancer/symptoms).
Wish us all long and healthy lives! 🙂

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Temple-Tastic! 8 Hours Exploring On ONE Tank Of Petrol! https://motogirlthailand.com/temple-tastic-8-hours-exploring-one-tank-petrol/ https://motogirlthailand.com/temple-tastic-8-hours-exploring-one-tank-petrol/#respond Fri, 04 Oct 2019 13:26:38 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5274 (Wednesday October 2nd 2019). 8 hours of riding joy exploring a section of outer Chiang Mai region, on ONE tank of petrol (7.7 litre tank)! Fab roads and amazing temples on a glorious Rainy Season day. (*Note* many of the temples/meditation retreats I visit are very quiet and turning up as a solo rider isn’t a problem. In my humble opinion

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(Wednesday October 2nd 2019). 8 hours of riding joy exploring a section of outer Chiang Mai region, on ONE tank of petrol (7.7 litre tank)! Fab roads and amazing temples on a glorious Rainy Season day. (*Note* many of the temples/meditation retreats I visit are very quiet and turning up as a solo rider isn’t a problem. In my humble opinion I think it is probably best not to turn up in large groups. Also, remember to keep voice levels low within temple zones and dress respectfully.- Sorry for the small lecture-style note, but feel it is important enough to mention.)

HIGHLIGHTS of full ride:

FULL ROUTE (Google Map Link 1)/(Google Map Link 2)

Relive Map Route tracker link HERE (only until I reached Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi)Around 7:30am on Wednesday morning I was on the bike and off. I stopped in at a local petrol station to fill my tank up and then headed off to my first temple stop: สำนักปฏิบัติธรรมสันกู่ / San Pa Gu Meditation Centre. I was reminded of this place recently by my friend Alex, who had a bad accident in the area some years back. I had passed the amazing entrance and the stairway area many times, but had never gone in. Was great to finally see what was up those steps!

It was very quiet inside the meditation grounds, except for barking dogs. There were a couple of ladies bringing items into a small room. We exchanged smiles and I quietly wandered on.

I did not go near the private residency area and stayed within the main walking zone.

I spotted a large ice chiller that had ice cold bottles of water inside. I took one and left a donation. A beautiful place. Very tranquil.
Not sure why the Buddha statues have holes in the heart region though. Any ideas?

After visiting my plan was to explore en-route to my next main temple visit (วัดพระพุทธบาทสี่รอย / Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi). Initially I devised an route that looked quite interesting, but I wasn’t sure what condition the route would be in. It looked like such a nice route though, (taking me up the elevated mountain area of Mon Jam), so it was worth taking a gamble in terms of the beauty. (Unfortunately I wasn’t so very prepared that day though, and forgot to charge up all my GoPro batteries fully. So I do not have a lot of video footage and none of the Mon Jam area. Mon Jam is very scenic, but I no longer stop much around there as it has become very developed for tourism in recent years, with “glamping” camp sites popping up all over the area. I prefer to just ride through.)

Mon JamWhen I arrived at my pre-planned route junction, I was very apprehensive. The cut-through route was only around 13 km but it looked like it would be a very clay muddy track for around an hours worth of riding, more probably, given my nervousness on mud. Plus with it being Rainy Season I could possibly have some problems if it began to rain hard, and I was stuck in the middle of the jungle.
Seeing as the junction was very close to the hidden Vietnamese Temple that I visited on my last ride (trip report HERE), I decided I would ride there and see if the gates were open (there have been reports on my Facebook Page that the gates were shut).

Previous video of this temple (from my last ride/explore):

When I arrived at the entrance to the Vietnamese Temple I stopped my bike to take a photo of the open gates. I am very glad I did, because I could hear some kind of chanting coming from the temple area. I decided to keep my engine off and roll down with my bike to the temple grounds.

I was trying to be quiet at the temple, but the dogs were very friendly and one got over-excited and was whining for attention.

A short moment later a lady rode past me from the temple grounds and I said hello, twice. She looked at me like she had been sucking lemons 🙁 She paused a bit further up, looking back at me, as a driver in a pickup truck pulled up. He asked me in Thai what I was doing and we had a short conversation. He told me that it is a special day today and that I should come back another time. He was friendlier than the lady on the scooter, but seemed wary.

(If you do visit this temple, I would like to request that you go either solo or just a couple of people (rather than larger groups). They are obviously not used to having visitors and I would hate to have them keep the doors permanently locked. So, please help by allowing them to get used to intermittent small amounts of visitors..and please be quiet and respectful. Thank you. Ok sorry, lectures are done for the day now!)

After the temple I looked again at my route and decided to try a couple of possible alternatives, one of which led to this:

After retreating back to my original point I decided that I would forgo trying to do the route in dirt and ride an alternative route on pathed roads instead, which I am glad of in the end, because it took me to many other interesting places and the road is twisty fun. I do very much need to improve on dirt though, as well as gain more confidence in this kind of terrain.

By now I was craving a coffee, so I stopped in at Huan Ta Waa. I have ridden past this place many times, but it was always when I was finishing up a trip and heading back home. So this time the timing was perfect. It had a great lounging daybed too. Perfect for a rest. (I am wearing skin coloured stocking type socks here btw, not just putting my bare feet up on the daybed!)

I roughly plotted out a new route that would take me to Wat Phra Phutthabat Si Roi, which turned out to be a fab route taking me though small farming zones and lush rice paddy fields.

Whilst riding I noticed this pretty temple, which is still a work in progress it seems (or new sections being added on). Wat Mae Aen

This whole area is fabulous for riding through, especially at this time of year. Lots of lush green vegetation, beautiful flowers and filled with butterflies.

The next pretty temple I took a short moment at was Wat Prakan Tham. With so many amazing temples close to each other, it becomes hard to choose which ones to stop at. Also have to try pace myself as otherwise I may end up with temple fatigue! 

After Wat Prakan Tham the route starts getting really good, especially the closer you get to Wat Phra Phatthaban Si Roi. A wonderfully quiet road lined with lush green trees (at this time of year) and lots of twisty sections.(For a short video clip of this road, go to my highlight video (above) – or directly HERE)

As for the temple the entranceway when you arrive at the temple, well, it certainly is impressive!

Just look at the size of my bike next to this entranceway!

Within the temple grounds there is a fab little coffee shop, clean toilet facilities, and stalls selling items for alms.

There are steps leading to a small temple and to the right there is the route to the main temple. I walked around for a bit and then rode on to the main temple. At the main temple there was a lady quietly practicing walking meditation. I took some photos and left her to practice peacefully.

In any case, what I really wanted to do was ride up the steep section to the upper level of the temple complex.
As I approached the route the incline looked a bit precarious and I was concerned about how tricky it might be when coming back down, but it looked too interesting not to ride up. I noticed a monk talking to some lady monks whilst I was on my bike at the base of the route, so I indicated asking if it is ok to go up. He nodded and smiled and gestured “yes, go! Go!”.

It was indeed a steep ride up, but short.
At the top is a meditation residential area and some interesting cave style concrete structures. I took a small look around and then headed down via an alternative route, that actually turned out to be much less steep. This route took me out to just before the temple entrance way, so I went back through for another look, before heading off home.

By this time my phone battery was low and sadly my USB port on my bike seemed to not be working, so I turned off my phone (along with the Relive app which was tracking my ride) to conserve the battery. My GoPro battery was also dead. I figured I already must have some good footage of the day, so I wasn’t worried. Anyway, in the past I never really recorded anything, so it was nice to not even think about it and just enjoy the ride.

On the way down the mountain I switched off my engine to conserve fuel, and rolled my bike down to the bottom (I am not recommending this, I am just stating what I do). I also enjoy the quietness when doing this.

At the bottom of the mountain I relied on my mini compass attached to my bike (it looks so silly, but I absolutely love it! It has been so useful on many occasions), along with intermittent signage. I enjoyed this ride back, switched off from all technology. I only turned on my phone if I wanted to get some photo or short video.
One the route back home I stopped at วัดหนองก่าย / Wat Nong Kai and as I entered I remembered that I had been there once before, many years back. Possibly five or more years ago. This temple is unusual because it has a coffee shop and a grocery store and an ATM. There were so many cats there that I have decided to term it วัดแมว / Wat Maew / Cat Temple. Some very beautiful cats too. I drank a coffee, chatted to a monk, petted cats, left a donation and headed back on the road to home.

At a junction I noticed a lovely reclining buddha in the making. Wat San Pa Tueng

I connected onto the R3009 and headed along this route. Which is when I noticed this interesting temple entranceway, so pulled in to have a look. I rode along to the temple, but the frenzied barking of many dogs put me off from sticking around. I headed back out. Wat Suwannawa.

Not far from here I noticed a huge and interesting development. Quite an amazing sight! I rode in to have a closer look, but did not disturb the men working. หมิงธรรมะสถาน / Ming Tummasatan. Fantastic looking! Some of the building designs in Thailand really blow me away. From the humble stick house to giant temple arches. Really amazing!

I looked up the name on the archway entrance when I got home and seems to be a meditation retreat. There is a Facebook page HERE showing the progress.

By this time it suddenly hit me that I was weary. It was around 3pm by this point, and I had been out since 7:30. I now just really wanted to get home and take a cool shower. It had been a very hot day. Thankfully the Inuteq cooling vest worked well in bringing down my body temperature. On this ride I filled it up completely, and realised that it does actually make a big difference if fully topped up, even if looks odd and bulky. It will become a staple item for me now. Some details on this vest here:

Around this area is the fabulous Erotic Garden & Tearoom. So if you find yourself out that way, I do recommend stopping in (or even making a dedicated trip there to visit the grounds. Beautiful garden and interesting erotic art)
This is a photo from a few years back when I was at the garden. The photos are a bit silly really, but it is hard not to take some silly kind of photos like this in this amazing garden. More details HERE)
Heading home I took some sidetrack routes that I know of, but they eventually linked me onto the main R107 Mae Rim road. Once I hit that main road, with all it’s jostling traffic, it was quite a depressing contrast to the beautiful quiet scenic roads I had been on for most of the day. This is also when my fuel light came on (I have no fuel gauge, so have to set a km timer on my bike when riding), but I knew I had enough to get me home.

I was home by around 3:30pm. Tired, but happy.

Amazing what you can see in just one day..and on just one tank of petrol!
(Relive Tracker app route at the bottom of this report. )

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Relive route (to Wat Phra Phatthabat Si Roi):

Recap of the day:

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DayTripping Hidden Delights: Samoeng – Ban Pong – Mae Wang https://motogirlthailand.com/daytripping-hidden-delights-samoeng-ban-pong-mae-wang/ https://motogirlthailand.com/daytripping-hidden-delights-samoeng-ban-pong-mae-wang/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2019 13:59:56 +0000 http://motogirlthailand.com/?p=5105 16th September 2019. I planned to take a few hours out for a quick ride/explore in the Samoeng area of Chiang Mai province, but I was enjoying myself so much that it turned into a 9 hour ride/explore. I had an absolutely brilliant day of looking around, including finding a hidden Vietnamese temple in Samoeng Neau valley. With the Rainy

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16th September 2019. I planned to take a few hours out for a quick ride/explore in the Samoeng area of Chiang Mai province, but I was enjoying myself so much that it turned into a 9 hour ride/explore. I had an absolutely brilliant day of looking around, including finding a hidden Vietnamese temple in Samoeng Neau valley. With the Rainy Season weather being so hot and humid it was also a good opportunity to test out the new Inuteq cooling vest I was sent and also see how well the new Kusari waxed jeans hold up in high heat.

*ROUGH* Full trip: (Google Map)

(this Google Map link really just shows the main section I rode, but Google map has broken parts up or doesn’t recognise some roads etc. So its the best I can do.)
Starting off on my bike just before 8am, I headed north with the plan of doing some kind of anti-clockwise loop.

The quieter roads I choose to ride always bring up some fun and interesting sights. Such as this peacock sign:

..and of course the obligatory cows on the road ^^

The morning then took an amazing turn, due to this incredible hidden temple in the Samoeng Neua valley….
 Cực Lạc Cảnh Giới Tự / Wat Pa Sukawadee  I took a video of the whole area, which I think is worth a watch. It’s eerily beautiful!

Easy to miss the entranceway (and in fact I’ve ridden past it many times over the years and had no idea it was there!)
Riding through the entrance gates to this hidden delight felt a little like walking through a Narnia wardrobe into a forgotten time and place!

There was nobody around, except for some well looked after dogs.
It certainly had signs life, albeit odd random ones (such as a vacuum cleaner at the deck area).

Dotted all around were solar panel lights and speakers, and many of the lights done in beautiful and interesting ways (such as cherry blossom flowers and lotus leaves in the water – shown in the video above).
I imagine come sun down this area will look really beautiful with soft lighting (and I am thinking to go see how it looks when that happens). The speakers were quietly incanting chants in Vietnamese, which made for a surreal experience.

(I found this image from this Vietnamese website of how the temple looks lit up. Hopefully the lights still work well enough to re-create this beautiful scene.)

image credit: https://thuvienhoasen.org

I tried to find more information about the temple after my ride via google, and the best source I came up with is this fantastic video from 9 years ago. The video shows the temple buildings (but without the statues), and also the reason why it was built (as a meditation and training place for monks).

The statues were built later on, but areas have been left unfinished and it would seem its been that way for some time (possibly many years). The whole area is quite overgrown and full of slippery moss.

Signs of life…
There is also a couple of websites with info, but in Vietnamese:

WEBSITE 1 
WEBSITE 2 
..and a fairly recently active (unofficial) FACEBOOK PAGE

According to a friend (who translated some of the Vietnamese in one website) the temple originally began construction in 2005 with a budget of 3 million USD! That is quite a budget!

Really very interesting, really hidden, but yet right under our noses in Chiang Mai! I have passed by this entrance many times, and yet had no idea it was there.

I enjoyed walking around the temple for a while, then when a coffee craving hit I left in search of a coffee shop.

..but first it was time to buy some cool water to fill up my Inutiq cooling vest. It was only around 10am, but already heating up fast. It was the perfect time to put the cooling vest to the test. I stopped at a local shop to buy some cold water and a small snack. 

On the way to get my morning coffee, I saw this interesting new temple stairway being built. Location HERE.

I stopped for coffee at one of my favorite coffee shops in the area.
As an aside, around this area is a great off-road track, leading to Wat Luang Khun Win and out to Mae Wang. I decided not to redo this track on this day for a few reasons. First off it is Rainy Season (mud) and I am not a strong off-road rider, and second I was in lighter gear. I wanted just a leisurely ride in my new items, so I decided the off-road ride will be for another time, although it is a great direct route to where I planned to head next (Wat Doi Sapphanyu in Mae Wang). The dirt track info is HERE

After coffee I had a bit an explore around for a few hours.
For lunch I stopped in at the Royal Train Garden Resort.

After lunch I rode onwards to Mae Wang (via back routes), to visit the huge four standing Buddhas at Wat Doi Sapphanyu.

En route this happened. Grr :/

As for Wat Doi Sapphanyu, it was stunning!

Quite a climb!.. but a stunning view at the top!

I particularly loved the Bee hives and bees living under the Buddha’s forearms
Buddha is taking care of the bees. Amazing!

On the way down I noticed the Naga dragon was holding some Baht notes ^^
I also met with a rather frightened Green Tree Snake.

Should be safer now being at the bottom of the steps.

It was a great day out, and I made this compilation video of the highlights, which I think is a pretty good edit and shows the best bits of just one day of riding:

Hope you enjoyed this trip report. 😀

If you did, please Like / Subscribe !
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Safe travels! 😀

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