I am driving around looking for a bar to chill in for the evening when passing an open air restaurant where I can hear music a couple of the people in there call over to me to go and join them. What the hell I thought. The only bar I had seen (a bikers bar ) was shut. So I pulled over and joined them.
Several minutes later I was singing Karaoke with them (I don’t sing). Several minutes more when I ordered food I realised that it was not a group out enjoying the evening but the family who owned the restaurant. I was the only customer there. So commenced my first night on my epic journey around NW Thailand. First stop Chaing Dao. Just me and my Hog (scooter) braving the mountain passes and small villages and towns in this remote area. Hobo and hog at one with NW Thailand.
The Mae Hong Son loop is a circuit you can take around NW Thailand taking you away from some of the more tourist areas and into some of the more out of the way towns and past little villages and over mountains that maybe don’t see so many tourists. I was to do over a thousand miles with my side trips. Don’t expect everyone to speak English I was warned, I wasn’t. Don’t expect western food I was told. I didn’t. Make sure you have a decent motorbike and equipment in case of repairs I was told, I had a scooter and my laptop and a few clothes. What could go wrong?
After leaving Chiang Dao where I sung my impressive Karaoke, It must of been good because they still keep in touch. I hit the road and after a couple of dozen kilometers I was off road following this track because I had seen a sign for a waterfall. The road quickly became unrepaired then became a dirt track then because of rain became mud before finally ending in an open field with weeds up to my navel. I checked my satnav on my phone. A white P on a blue background was displayed exactly where I was stopped. This was the carpark. After trying a few trails I finally gave up. Everything was overgrown and I had nearly lost my camera twice trying to jump a fast flowing stream. Heading back down on the road that now was all mud my scooter slid from underneath me leaving me in the sloppy mud and busting my wing mirror. Luckily I was barely doing 5kph and apart from a few scratches was unarmed but a bit shaken.
My phone went. Someone was ringing. Who the hell was ringing. I had no credit on my phone just a data package. I didn’t know my own phone number. I didn’t even know how to find my number out.
“Hello. You forget me already.”
“What? Hello Who is this?”
“Som. It’s Som. You forget me.”
Well she had me there I definitively did not remember her. After a bit of talking it turned out a few nights before I had been at a bar and one of the bar girls had come up to talk as they do. When I asked about the wifi password she had called over another girl who had taken my phone then brought it back connected to the wifi. It was the girl who had taken my phone to enter the wifi password who had stolen my number. After a bit more discussion while I tried to tell her I had just fallen off my bike and chatting to a bargirl on my phone using up my battery that I needed for the satnav was just not very high on my list of things to do, I hung up. She was to ring me nearly every day during my loop.
Unperturbed I continued on and made my way to Pia with some of the worst rain I was to encounter on the trip. I had no rain cover or condoms as they are called here, well by me anyway until the last 15 kilometers. Although I was not cold, it was uncomfortable and 15 kilometers from Pia I passed a checkpoint and next to it I spotted a shop selling condoms. I did a U-turn went through the checkpoint again, bought a condom, put it on and drove through the check point a third time and continued on my way to Pia.
Pia I found something of a disappointment. Its become very popular with the traveling crown and is now full of restaurant and bars all there for the tourists and travelers. The feeling of being in Thailand away from it all is gone here. Fortunately I did get a good but expensive bungalow at a resort across the river from the main area. It had great views and theoretically could of slept 6, but hey it did me and some of the guys there were decent so I knocked back a few brews for two nights then continued on my way.
So began the first part of my epic travel just man, hog and the open road.
Thanks for reading.