The Mae Hong Son Loop

Note: this is a scatter of diorganized notes from a motorbike trip in 2014. Sorry for not keeping it better curated.

Holy shit what a day.

It was the first day of our 8-day tour of the Mae Hong Son Loop, a famous motor-way through the hill-villages of northern Thailand.

We had planned for today to be our only “hard riding” day of the trip, so that we could spend the rest of our time at a relaxed pace.

At 6:30 AM I woke Rebecca up, with grief in my heart, because we’d be leaving Chiang Mai, which treated us so well.

But it was important to get a good start to our day. And boy did we do well. Too well!

For our first day we decided to take the scenic route to Mae Saeriang. That meant a long climb up Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain, instead of the wide, easy highway.

As we climbed up it got pretty cold (for Thailand, that is), and we had to stop at the summit for some hot mochas.descrip Then we went back down the mountain, got lost, found our way again, and went 30 miles, ate lunch, and then got lost.descrip This is what lost looks likedescrip Some bundle-fiddling. Did this about 30 times today. We stayed lost for a long time, cruising past farming villages along Thai highways 1088 and 1263.descrip Action shot (very slow-mo) of 1088.descrip Parked at a roadside along 1263 By the end of the day we had completely blown past Mae Saeriang, and the town after it, and the town after that. GoogleMaps tells the story best:descrip WHEW!   235 kilometers! In one day! And that doesn’t include our trip up and down the mountain! Also, just for the record, Google is assuming a ~55km/h pace, which would have been terrifying (and irresponsible) to maintain on the rain-slick, switchbacky roads up here (at least on our little mopeds). Not sure I would have lived to blog about that! Eventually, we found our way to Hern Thai Bungalows, just a hair outside of a village called Khun Yuam.descrip

The food is good, the lodging cheap and comfortable. A well-earned reward.

Here’s to an easier tomorrow!

Much easier day, although now I’m wiped out.

That’s because I woke up to the cries of some malfunctioning roosters, who crowed at 3AM, instead of at dawn.

No real harm done, because we didn’t have ambitious plans.

Just 62km between Khun Yuam and Mae Hong Son.descrip A little Daft Punky, right? And notice how her nail art matches her bike.   Since we’ve arrived in Mae Hong Son, we’ve done little else other than eat, get massaged, and freak out about our wedding plans.

descrip That’s never fun. But we couldn’t be in a better place to do it.

Woke up early at our strange hotel, the Mae Hong Son Mountain Inn.

The Mountain Inn wasn’t bad, exactly. Just odd. No lights in the hallways at night, mysterious scurrying things in the decorative shrubs, and no other guests but us. 

Since we were alone there, we had the run of the place, and we took advantage of that by checking out as soon as we found a better place to sleep.

And we found it quick – the Piya Guest House. Lovely poolside bungalows for cheap.   For most of the day we did almost nothing. Our only major deed came in the evening, when we rode our bikes up Doi Kong Mu to check out the sunset from the back of the temple.descrip

Mission semi-accomplished

If you look on the left of that panorama, you can see why we didn’t quite capture the sun going down – an evil storm a-brewin’.

We ran to take shelter at Salween River Restaurant, and lots of folks had the same idea.

The restaurant’s roof, made of layered leaves, sprung a couple leaks, but we still enjoyed our dinner.

Our road-biking resumes tomorrow. Mae Hong Son town has been a nice diversion, but I’m ready for the road.

On our last full day at Cave Lodge, we wanted to take advantage of one of the tours on offer, so we signed up for “Kayak Trip #2.

The trip takes you kayaking down the Pai river, through Cave Lod, as well as on a short trek to Hair Cave.

Mere seconds after we started the journey, Rebecca’s time-worn Chacos broke. Tragedy.

She got over it after we got on the kayaks.

Not long into the jourey, we saw something that shocked us: a bridge that we had walked on the previous night had completely collapsed. Here’s the bridge at its best. RIP, bridge:

descripA happy moment (with hostel-friend Andre on it)

Honestly if that bridge had collapsed before I managed to cross it on the way home, I’d still be somewhere in the jungle.

Anyway – after that disturbing interlude the kayak trip became awesome.

We stopped at the first cave, Cave Lod, and we had a fun time exploring.descrip   The dude on our right was our guide, and he was great at pointing out things that looked like other things.

“CROCODILE!” “Tiger Paw!”

The cave adventure also made up for the lack of bats at the “bat exodus”, by inundating us with bats. I loved it. Rebecca involuntarily shuddered.

All told, I loved it. I’d recommend Kayak Trip #2 to anyone! Later that evening, we were all having a quiet hang out in the hostel, when all the sudden we were under attack from a weird Miyazaki-esque, money-hungry, wiener-dog deer-demon:descrip

And shortly after he attacked, we passed out.

It was a good day.

In conclusion, some pics from Elephant Nature Park: descrip descripdescripdescrip