I caught the night train to Chiang Mai. In the morning, before arriving, I met David & Curt, 2 Americans that were headed to Chiang Mai as well. We all ended up staying at the guest house of a friends friend, John. Jonadda Guesthouse (http://www.geocities.com/jonadda2002/JONADDA.html
) I highly recommend it if you're in Chiang Mai. John is an old sidecar racer from Australia.
I was still looking for a motorcycle so rented a scooter to get about for a couple days. Led David & Curt on a ride out west of Chiang Mai on the Sameong Loop.
After a couple of days I finally found the bike I liked, a 1995 Honda Baja 250 for $600US.
Did some great rides around the area & met some of the locals & other travellers including an American & French girl. They were heading out on a jeep trip up north & then crossing into Burma (Myanmar) to renew their visas, so I went along as their driver since neither had driven on the left side of the road before.
We headed north out of Chiang Mai & through Fang
and spent the night in Mai Salong, a town mostly inhabited by Kuomintang Chinese refugees. Here is the local outhouse.
Not sure why there are giant sperm on the side.
Checked out a tea house.
Here's the girls.
This picture is funny if you know the Thai slang for hot white foreign (farang) women is Chicken.
It's strange the things you see driving along in Thailand.
On our return to CHiang Mai I snapped this pic because I thought the sign captured the stereotypical western kids you see everywhere.
The bike needed a little work. After new brake pads, tires, filters & the correct plug it was in great shape. I learned from John of Jonadda that there were many great loop rides out from Chiang Mai so set off on the Mai Hong Son Loop.
I've always wanted one of these.
The royal family.
My first stop was in Pai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pai%2C_Thailand
) where I stayed in a great old wood guest house right on the river, the Bwan Tawan. I'm not sure if it is still there because much of the town was washed away by floods a few months after I was there.
Checked out the local temple up on the hill over looking the town.
It had these crazy murals of Hell on the wall.
The national footwear of Thailand, & most of SE Asia, is the flip flop. My footwear always stuck out.
I did some exploring in the area on the bike. Just taking off on random roads & seeing what I could find.
You could take these guided treks up into the hills to meet the Hill people but with a map & a bike you could get there on your own.
I took a break at a little mountain village. Just cooling off, having a drink & talking to the locals. A big tour group hiked into his place where they had told the trekkers you could only get on foot. They weren't very happy to see a white guy on a big motorcycle sitting there.
After some relaxing days & crazy nights partying with Ben, your stereotypical blonde haired, ponytailed, blue eyed Aussie, who was a dwarf, I headed on my way.
One quick aside here. While talking to a guy who was working at a streetside bar we realized that not only had he been to my neighborhood in Seattle, he'd been in my tenents house next to mine. I had already run into a bartender I knew form Seattle a number of times in Chiang Mai. It's a small world.
Next it was further up into the mountains to Soppong & the Cave Lodge Guest House (http://www.cavelodge.com)
. Also owned by a John who is the friend of a friend. Did a river rafting trip there down this river & through a 200m cave.
These kids lived just down the road. One had good taste in eye wear.
Did some amazing riding out in the mountains towards Burma in some of the slipperiest red clay mud I've ever entountered.
I eventually moved on to Mai Hung Son.
I'm not sure how welcome this sign made me feel.
Beautiful city though.
I didn't take many pictures on the rest of the loop back. It was a bit cold & rainy up in the mountains. Here's a final gas stop before Chiang Mai.
These places had mostly hand crank pumps.
My girlfriend flew in from the states to see & ride with me. Here she is with my Thai buddy Aeh (pronounced Aye). He owned a restaurant, the Hug, & had been a famous professional Takraw player (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takraw)
She arrived on July 4th so we went to a very surreal Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate. Complete with a Thai Elvis impersonator.
We then put on a 4th of July Beach Party at the Heaven Beach bar. It's amazing the things you'll agree to do when you're drunk in a foreign country.
Jessica, the girlfriend, rented a 225cc Yamaha Sarrow & we set off on the Nan loop, heading east of Chiang Mai out near Laos.
The first day we stopped at one of Thailands many waterfalls to cool off.
Then made our first destination, Phyao, where my buddy had taught English. Nothing like ending a long hot day riding with a cold beer.
on a lake
at an outdoor restaurant in Thailand.
Aeh had arranged for us to meet his friend Jug, who lives in Phyao, owns some organic farms, & is running for the area legistalator. He insisted we stay at his families home.
Of course Thai hospitality insisted we take his room.
Later, after dinner, we met all the neighbors & his family, including his mother who taught Jess & I how to make thread from one of the local plants, while telling us stories of what life was like under the Japanese occupation.
The next day we packed up & headed on to Nan where we stayed at the Amazing Guest House (http://www.travelfish.org/accommodat...an/nan/all/486
) which was.
Next we headed out through the countryside
and up into the highlands.
We had intended to stay in Chiang Kham but it didn't offer much. So after a late lunch, which turned out to be at the restaurant/home of a fomer Thai motocross champion, we set out again. We had one of those perfect rides that occasionally occur, at twilight as the day cools & the sun sets where you do 100 km & never have to slow down when passing a truck or tractor. When all the Thai families are out & talking to neighbors or family. When the light is just right & the bugs aren't splattering your goggles.
We arrived at Bamboo Guest house, owned by Aehs friend Jib, in time for sunset over Laos on the Mekong river.