The ship yard is flooded, but the work goes on.
There are still a few of these lumbering old Isuzu trucks left. The speck in the distance (just above the right car) is Su on her bike. As she stopped there to wait for me a couple of guys on a small bike went past. They both turned their heads to look at her, which caused them to ride into a big puddle of water and fall off... They picked themselves up laughing.
8/11 Having stayed put in the same hotel for a month the packing naturally takes a little longer, but we do get under way well before lunch. We make our way NW to Dan Chang and I succeed in finding mostly roads that I haven't travelled before. Arrived there I find something else that eluded me on my first visit: the Kraseo reservoir. Just as I had suspected there is a resort on the shore, although it takes Su to read the wooden signs in Thai only. The lake is overflowing at a high rate, so the level is high and lots of structures are under water. The resort is mediocre, but expensive, but at least I get a swim for my money. In the evening I walk to the top of a nearby hill for the view over the dam, where a thunderstorm puts on a pretty display in the clouds, but soon the heavens open up. Luckily there is a shelter there.
Another variation on the Thai dokdok theme.
9/11 We continue along the lake shore, but soon the road turns to dirt. We then continue North along the range of hills, get soaked near Klong Lan (just like my previous 3 passes here), but then the skies clear and we arrive in Mae Sot just after dark. The friendly folks at Phannu House are pleased to see us again and there is a nice room waiting for us. We visit Than, who shows us what he has been building recently under his house. 3 days prior there were several days of heavy rain and the entire town got flooded. His basement flat, constructed from mud, had collapsed. The rest of the timber building on piles was unaffected and in fact the inhabitants hadn't even noticed what had happened. He is now rebuiding in more permanent materials.
10/11 There are two big welcomes for us in the morning: one at Casa Mia, where I used to go nearly every day for breakfast and a cup of coffee in the afternoon and the other at the school, of course. Everybody seems very happy and not just to see us. The sky is blue and we trundle North to Mae Salid, where we stay at the Per Pron Resort again. A very nice evening on the deck looking over the river to the sun setting over Burma.
Su's tank is very small, so she can't always make it to the next proper gas station. Every village, however, has bike fuel available - at a price.
11/11 As Su predicted, there is fog in the morning. What she didn't predict is how cold it was during the night with only thin blankets. The fog soon burns away and we have a very nice ride to Mae Sariang, crossing some big hills on the way. However, just before we get there I see a turnoff to the left and a sign saying "Mae Sam Lap". I just assume that this is Mae Sam Laep on the banks of the Salween River, in which case this is the short cut and river bridge that I was looking for at my last visit. There is a bridge alright, but the road turns first in the wrong direction, then to dirt. We turn back. The next left again and this time yes, we get to a village on the other side, close to the highway in question, but the road seems to end in the village. Unlike me, Su can ask for directions and so we take a short dirt road which does take us there. This is where Su gets her first mud riding experience. All pretty harmless, really. Arrived in Mae Sariang a man on a Triumph Tiger turns up as we are waiting for our lunch. He is Andrew and writes travel stories and reviews. He takes me out for a photo session and interviews me for an article he is writing on motorcycling in N Thailand. He also takes some pictures of me on the Triumph. Nice road bike, although this kind of engine is not for me. As we wander into town in the evening in the search of dinner we discover there is a festival in progress. It's the day before Loy Krathong and there is a band performing and there are lots of stalls selling all sorts of interesting and usually un-identifiable foodstuffs. A lot of it is unknown even to Su, but we eat some tasty things.
12/11 We spend the day exploring the countryside around Mae Sariang. The rice fields are turning yellow and in the sunlight they look golden. The fotos can't do it justice. In the evening it's back to the festival. We watch people release their floating offerings to the river, arrangements made from colourful leaves and decorations, usually with a candle in the middle and some incence sticks. The all float down the river in the dark in a long string of lights. Some people also release small hot air balloons, like at New Year's on Koh Samui, so there is a little bit of entertainment in the sky as well. Tonight's band on the stage is about the worst I have ever heard, but Su explains that it's a students' band and they just make up for a lack of skill with lots of enthusiasm. The road is cleared for a procession of some kind, but we get bored before it ever comes into view.
13/11 Like the previous days there is fog in the morning and it's a fine day again. The temperature is just perfect now. The road from Mae Sariang to Mae hong Son is also near perfect and we both enjoy the ride very much. We were planning to camp near Pang Ung, but as we get closer in the evening I realise that with our summer gear this will make for a miseabley cold night, as the camp site is at 1250m altitude, so we check into a hut instead. The owner even lights a camp fire for us, so we have a nice and romantic evening by the fire. There is a clear sky and beautiful full moon.
The hut for the Burmese staff.
14/11 We don't get very far today. The main road and the weather are perfect, like the day before. Just before Soppong we turn off and pass a few tribal villages, then it's along some very steep concrete and dirt roads. We end up at Cave Lodge.
15/11 We move to Chiang Mai. About half way there is a pass where all the tourists stop, with the usual tourist "facilities". Amongst the shops I spot a small concrete road which leads up another 200m to a radio mast. For some reason Su doesn't follow me up here. That's her loss, as there are million-dollar views here. We stop in Pai to organise an off-road training for Su, but we can't find the shop and there is no answer on the phone. They seem to have shut up, nobody even knows them. In CM we visit the same upholsterer who did my seat. He is closed today and tomorrow and wants the seat for 4 days! We only want it cut down a little... All in all not a very successfull day, but at least we enjoyed the ride and the food. A bolt on my exhaust has fallen off.