A meandering scooter ride in north Thailand



Took another three day trip, a ramble on the motor scooter, heading God Knows Where, but knowing that it’s all going to be good, because this is Northern Thailand. On our trust steed, the one year-old Honda PCX150, we headed due north.


Got as far as Fang, which is up near where the mountain range that forms the Burma border comes in from both the west and the north. Went to a shining gold temple up in the hills and tried to relax by meditating. Couldn’t calm down very well after five hours of driving, but found myself amazed by this ultra-modern temple, one that looked more like a spaceship in a fifties Sci-Fi movie than a standard Thai, Buddhist temple. I kept expecting Michael Rennie from the 1951 movie The Day The World Stood Still appear. There were these big crystal balls about 500 centimeters in diameter surrounding this very large glass bell. In a Christian church you would call it the altar, but I don’t know what you would call it here.

We went into the hills as sun was setting, and noticed that the people who live there are shorter and darker than the Thai people who live in Fang. Maybe they have come from Burma.

The next day we went to a National Park for the Fang Hot Springs, and there was a sign saying the baths would be closed from July 10 to 25, but using Thai numbers for the dates, which was odd, and is often a sneaky way to keep things from foreigners. They also disregarded my Thai drivers license as proof of residence and tried to charge me eight times what they charged my Thai friend Wipa for admission. She talked them down to only four times. Then we drove around and found the place was closed. There was no hot water at this hot springs!


The big treasure of the trip was the road that ran from Chai Prakhan straight south to Phrao. Amazing scenery, wonderful two-lane blacktop road running along the ridges of mountain valleys. When you get to Phrao, it meets the highway that goes west to Chiang Dao, and the scenery remains spectacular all the way into that town.


Motor scooter ride from Chiang Mai to Phrao

P1040225P1040228Took a motorscooter trip that I took once before two years ago. The scenery was fantastic, but I my picture-taking suffered from the same dilemma I faced when I visited Alaska. Majestic scenery doesn’t fit in camera frames. Cameras are good for close ups. But the air was fresh and every curve in the road held a new visual surprise.

I ended up getting into Phrao at noon and had lunch and a two hour massage before I hit the road again for Chiang Dao. There I found a little resort called “Chaing Dao Good View” which rented me the Hello Kitty room for fifteen dollars. Evening karaoke was mandatory. Everyone else sang songs in Thai and a ladyboy waiter sang in Chinese, but I sang Elvis, including a bathetic and lugubrious version of “My Way” in English, and they wouldn’t let me off stage for some time.

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Rode to Chiang Dao, 45 miles north of Chiang Mai

This time on a whim, on my motorbike. Just had to get out of town on the spur of the moment. Traffic was mercifully light. It threatened rain he whole way, but nothing materialized, at least at the lower elevations. Six thousand foot mountains come right up to the highway, and I managed to find a road that went straight up for at least half of that. It was chilly and slippery up there, and there were lots of trucks barreling down the driveway-sized road, trucks who naturally expected me to get out of their way. I took some pictures and headed back to town, staying this time at Malee’s Nature Lover’s Guesthouse. Last time I stayed at the Chiang Dao Nest, next door. They’re both near the Chiang Dao cave, which is enormous and filled, of course, with statues of Buddha.