Saturday, 31 January 2015


The next day we were finally going to reach Mae Hong Son, with a stopover at Mae Surin Waterfall on the way taking us on a slight detour, little did we know what was in store!  Just on the edge of town heading north you take a right onto 1263 and follow that into the mountains, past the huge crops of, now dead, flowers that bloom during December and January, lighting up the hill side.

Upon reaching the entrance to the waterfall we were informed of yet another fee of 200 baht for foreigners to enter, my Thai drivers license again no use here, but some quick chat in Thai soon had me in for only 20 bt!!

We were the only people there and after a quick jaunt down the steps we came to a viewing area to gaze at the massive waterfall across the valley.  You can’t actually get near to this one and have to settle for looking across at it cascading down the far cliff side, but it is pretty impressive.  Had I paid 200 baht for this privilege, I would have been fairly pissed off though!

From here we could either back track to Khun Yuam or take a ‘shortcut’ showing on the GPS…   hmmm…   Obviously we took the ‘shortcut’ and ended up on what was essentially a dirt track through the mountains that would have been more suited to a trail bike than a scooter laden with 2 people plus luggage!

It was rough as hell with some nasty climbs through rock and boggy sand, plus the descents were crazy – I constantly had both brakes jammed on and we were still gaining momentum down the steep trails.  This ended up causing my rear brakes to fail altogether, which put us in a very dangerous position.

Too far through to turn back we had no option but to push on through some pretty nasty terrain, I knew that anymore descents were going to require me to walk the bike down, having no gears to use we simply would have ended up with way too much speed and seriously hurt ourselves or worse.  Most of the trail just dropped off into a sheer abyss down to the valley floor, a really bad place to be with no real braking power.

After slowly navigating a couple more kilometres, I suddenly had some brakes again, but it was extremely nerve wracking still with no real assurance of reliable stopping power as we came down some seriously steep sections, if they failed on me again halfway down we could go right off the edge.

We finally made it back to the 108 highway and powered through the last 40km to Mae Hong Son, very relieved to make it.  This section was nice enough, but not a patch on the previous 400km we had covered. After scouting a few places, we checked into Rom Tai Guesthouse at 400bt a night, a good sized room with hot water and wifi.

After doing some laundry we hit the mechanic’s shop to take care of the bike, I needed a new air filter anyway, but had done an oil change back in Umphang for 120bt.  After putting new brakes in we realized that my rear rim was cracked, not sure how long it had been there, but I will require a new one soon.  Total cost for air filter and brakes was 380 bt.

Later in the evening we wandered the town and the night markets by the lake/pond, a central and social point of Mae Hong Son, a really great atmosphere abounds here.  Dinner and beer was at the Sunflower where Noi had a hamburger with all the extras and I had a much healthier black pepper chicken and vegetables!

Today we visited Thampla, the Fish Cave, and a couple of waterfalls, the fish cave being a great spot with streams and natural ponds at the foot of a hill, a beautifully set out location.  We wandered around and fed the huge fish in crystal clear water, me just wishing I could get my fishing rod out!

Once again the farang price was 100bt but I managed to get in for the local price with some quick banter in Thai!  Definitely worth a visit, a perfectly tranquil place to relax with some lunch, which is exactly what we did! 

We also checked out a couple of smaller waterfalls in the area that were nothing special.  I had heard reports of a driving range nearby and we set out to find it, though once arriving at the right place were told that it had been shut for 2 years! 

A nice ride around the area and back to town, where I found a shop to fix my helmet visor that had shaken loose on the rough section of road between Mae Sot and Khun Yuam, 10bt and we were away!

Mae Surin Waterfall

At a guess I would say the falls are maybe 150 meters high

Noi likes to take pictures of flowers (ok so do I!!) 

The good bits of the trail, I should have taken some pictures of the nasty stuff, but was too busy hanging on for dear life!

They could have just put a straight road here....!!  these aren't even the real corners I have talked about...

 Some food at the night markets

The Fish Cave, the 'cave' actually being rather lame, but the rest of it is just amazing


Thursday, 29 January 2015


Obviously we made our way back via the same route through and over the mountains to Mae Sot, but having made good time, decided to push on north towards Mae Hon Song up highway 105.  We made it an extra 100km to the tiny town of Tha Son Yang and after some amazing food, and a couple of large Chang’s, checked into Thasonyang Hill Resort for 400bt a night.

Not much else to report here, we got moving late the next morning after nearly 300km on the bike from Umphang the day before to get here and tore up the highway, with no particular destination in mind. 

This section, coupled with the previous day’s journey from Mae Sot proved to be possibly the best riding I have seen in Asia - not so much the scenery, though that was great when I could actually glance my attention away from the road for a second – no, it was simply one of the most beautiful roads I have had the pleasure of biking on.

Between the day and a half’s riding there was over 400km of absolutely brilliant road, with the most incredible corners you could hope to encounter, nearly all of them allowing you to take perfect lines without backing off the throttle in the slightest.   One of the few places I have been where a big bike really would have been incredible - for true riding enthusiast’s, this may very well be one of the best rides you’ll do in Thailand.

Aside from one section in the middle about 30km long, the whole stretch was almost brand new, perfectly sealed, ultra wide lanes, very few blind hairpin corners and traffic almost unheard of.  It was just so fun and fast (relative to what I was riding!) it was unbelievable, hitting these corners at 90km, just imagining what I could do through here on a real bike.   

90km may not sound like much and it’s not, but when you are 2 up on a 125 cc scooter with 2 months worth of luggage on board, at 45 degrees around one perfect corner after another, barely having to use the brakes, it feels pretty awesome.  I never wanted it to end and have finally found somewhere I might consider taking a real bike back to, I can’t stress enough how awesome this road was.

It was as if designed for a biker to ‘have at’ instead of being a practical transportation surface from point A – B,  it was a case of every corner we hit being my new favourite.

We had river and mountain views the whole way, passing through various little villages that looked lost in time, and unlike the Mekong which, although nice, seems to keep it's muddy brown complexion year-round, the rivers here were crystal clear.

 You guy’s are lucky I have to write this all down, considering I am essentially very lazy, if we were sitting around the bar having beers, I wouldn’t be able to shut up about how great this ride was, even on the scooter.

 The 30km rough section though was shit, real shit – I even stopped to double check the GPS to make sure we hadn’t accidentally crossed over back into Myanmar, as this was reminisce of the ultra horrible roads all throughout their country.  It took me over an hour to cover about 28km, the road so fucken rough, it shook the screws in my helmet loose and my visor fell off!!

But fear not, the road works crew are on it and doing a great job, a lot of the prep work has been done and they are most definitely going hard to get it finished, a lot of work happening as we went by.  At a guess, it shouldn’t be more than a couple of months before the last section is done and the whole highway is complete.

We ended up stopping in Kun Yuam, about 66 km south of Mae Hong Son, after pulling over for iced coffee late in the afternoon and realizing there is a massive waterfall in the area, Mae Surin, around 30km away.  If you read my blog you will know that I rarely miss a waterfall and this will be no exception, we decided to stay the night here and check it out tomorrow before making the short journey up to MHS.

We are at BanFarang Guesthouse, another 400bt room, but nice enough, proper hot water unlike the last few days and good wifi.  After heading out around 7.30pm for dinner and realizing that the whole town had pretty much shut down, we grabbed some road side bbq and then hit 7/11 for beer and mixers on the way home.

Some waterfall between Mae Sot and Tha Son Yang, actually looked like a great spot to hang out at, especially with more water in the wet season.  There were a few little huts and benches to relax at and i can picture lots of local Thai's coming here to eat and relax for the day.

This was at Mae Ngao National Park, a really, really nice spot with basically nobody around except a few workers and 2 ladies selling us our lunch of noodle soup for 70bt.  Would seriously consider coming back and camping here, look how clear and clean that water is.

Our hotel for the night - BanFarang

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


So it was a case of déjà vu today as we rode back to Tee Lor Su Waterfall headquarters, determined to at least get the 4WD trip out to the actual falls for only 1500 baht, after being quoted a firm 1600 yesterday.  Before we could even begin a bargaining process, a guy that had seen us yesterday came straight over and offered us a 1400bt fare, after seeing us walk away from a deal the day before! 

There was still the 200bt entrance fee for farang, only 20bt for Thai, but we quickly agreed and jumped in his ute, even scoring berths in the cab as we were the only ones going.  This may sound trivial, but it was a rough, rough road in and we were so thankful to be comfortable up front as opposed to being hurled around violently in the steel cage on the back!   After doing it, I'm actually really glad we couldn’t take the bike!

The trip through mountainous jungle took around an hour, and it’s only a 26km journey, before we arrived at the basic ‘grounds’ to start our 2km walk to the falls.  A very easy walk though as it was a concrete path all the way with no major up or downhill sections and we were soon greeted by the sight of the mighty Tee Lor Su falls.

Full credit to the marketing committee, this place did not disappoint and really is an amazing set of falls - misty, thundering, clean water, cascading over a huge mountain peak, splitting into many different sections and smaller yet equally impressive falls, with various ledges and pools all the way up through the lush jungle. The best?  Who knows..  but it is most certainly an amazing place to behold.

From the base we then hiked up the mountain trails to the numerous pools and minor falls, precariously tip toeing across the lip of a few along the way, before finally reaching the ‘main event’ at the top. 

This would have been an incredible spot for a swim – and I honestly tried, going in up to my waist and over ‘my boys’, but it really was just too ridiculously fucken cold to go further.  I would have loved to swim over to where the massive falls were hitting the lagoon, which was literally a pool perched on the side of a  mountain, but I seriously feared I might get hypothermia.

We hung around for a while and only then were there more people starting to show up, we had pretty much the whole place to ourselves since arriving, aside from another Thai couple and their guide..?? (or leery old man peeking through the bushes…??).  We had only arrived in the afternoon too, around 12.30pm, so it pays to get there early/ish I’m guessing.

Same again in reverse, we hiked back down, walked the concrete path, took the rugged jungle ride and were back on the bike, seeking a temple made completely from wood - though never found that and ended up just riding around the mountains until giving up and heading for beer… I mean home!

We  have loved our time here in Umphang, seriously a place you could just hang out in for weeks, and Tee Lor Su is definitely a highlight, but tomorrow we are back on the road, heading to Mae Sot once again for a night and then making our way north along the border, with Chiang Mai roughly in our sights.