The spray from trucks hit his face. He rode on. Rain lashed at his helmet as he took hair pin bends. He rode on. Clouds covered the road in front of him and still the Hobo rode on. What would stop the Hobo? Would anything stop the Hobo? Well yes.
Reaching the top of the mountain did.
After reaching the flatlands around Mae Sariang I headed of into the mountains again for Mae Cheam. Another sleepy backwater town little used by backpackers compared to the likes of Pai. The scenery was on par with the scenery I had seen around Pai and the waterfalls rivaled many I have seen on my travels. In fact (and I am whispering this as I don’t want anyone to hear) it could easily be the next Pai.
What puts it ahead of Pia in my opinion is being so near to the highest mountain in Thailand Doi Inthanon. Bearing this in mind I had decided to stay a couple of days so I could explore for a full day even though it is on my way back to Chaing Mai and the end of my epic journey that had taken me around the NW of Thailand singing karaoke with locals, falling off my bike looking for a waterfall, and getting drunk with a bunch of Northern English guys and one Australian girl (who held her own).
The ride to the peak passed a few waterfalls so I did of course do some side journeys then it was up to the peak I headed. The rain was bad. Watching clouds coming at me heading over the mountains was amazing. Keeping an eye out for all the twists and turns going up this mountain kept my concentration so the cold and the wet never bothered me. What did bother me was reaching the car park at the summit and finding coach loads of Asian tourists covering the mountain top and the view being totally obscured by cloud. So not only was my view blocked by the clouds but all the spots on top to take picture were covered by these tourists who instead of just taking a picture and moving on insisted of single pictures, group pictures, pictures as twosomes, pictures as threesomes and then proceeded all to stand in front of the plaque/statue/Buddha/shrine/sign to all look at the picture while this infuriated and wet Yorkshireman gnashed his teeth waiting for them to move on only to have the next group push in front and do the exact same thing. AAAAAaaaaargh!!!!!! Instead I ended up heading down the mountain to a carpark I had seen on the way up with a little restaurant that was empty only to find the Thai scooter biker gang had taken up residence so not a seat was available and a wait of 1hr was there if I wanted food.
Luckily in Mae Cheam I had found a lovely little bungalow next to a paddy field. The view was excellent, the wifi was good so I enjoyed the rest of my time here eating street food from the same vender who spoke no English but understood my gestures, and watching movies with a few beers in my bungalow.
Next day I headed back to Chiang Mai. 12 days it had taken me to finish my slow meander of the Mae Hong Son loop. With side trips to visit caves and waterfalls and temples I would of covered over 1000 km. After passing Doi Inthanon the road went from being a country road to a major highway and a chance to throttle my little scooter and blow a few cobwebs away. After all this time on the bike coming into the major city no longer felt difficult. I had grown used to driving and found that on the roads I could play the Thais at there own game (which of course had no rules). I reached the center of town dodging through traffic like a tuk tuk driver on speed. I arrived at the bike rental place and parked opposite in a little guesthouse/restaurant. I was not yet ready to say goodbye to my little scooter and companion. I had grown fond of the little orange beast. I had abused it, taken it up dirt tracks and crumbling roads it was not designed for and it had not failed me. I had a meal and drunk a toast to my little machine before pushing it across the road the the bike rental place. You could barely see the colour through all the mud and grime.
I turned around back to the guest house and booked a room for a few nights.
Thanks for reading.