The end of the cool season is upon us here in Chiang Mai. That is bad. However, today I woke to a beautiful, clear, and not so hot morning and knew real (computer) work would (ummm could) not be a priority. After a few decisions concerning mode of transport and where to go, I was activated! The tool of choice was Lamyai, my very sexy Honda XR250 dirt bike, and we were going to climb Doi Pui…on the back side!
I found a great little book called something like “Fun and Genuine Off Road On Your Own” written by a local mountain biker. The book is mostly hand drawn maps of great rides in the Chiang Mai - Mae Rim area, all with GPS coordinates! I plotted in some waypoints, packed up my GPS, tools, and some water and hit the road.
The road/trail starts at a reservoir about 12k outside of town. Thanks to the GPS I found the right dirt road right away, and began climbing. Most of the route was very very rough 4WD only (hah!) rutted and steep…sort of like a dry streambed. For the first 5k or so the only other people I saw were two Thai dirt bikers totally decked out in motocross gear flying up the mountain. I was moving right along as well, but had to stop and enjoy the scenery - lychee plantations, old forests, a very remote small hilltribe village, river crossings, and even a terraced coffee plantation. The temperature dropped steadily as I climbed, which made the trip truly wonderful.
Now I’ve said this road/track was rough…so I was initially surprised to come flying around a corner and meeting a old beatup 2WD Toyota pickup full of hilltribe people and firewood they were collecting. They somehow managed to drive the road, but probably never got out of first gear. I also encountered a few hilltribe people on their trusty 100cc Honda Dream motorbikes…NOT an offroad machine! However, they seem to be able to go absolutely ANYWHERE with those bikes, and are never in a hurry. After about 15k of climbing and turning the dirt/rock “road” ended and I ended up at the Doi Pui forestry checkpoint, about 4k from the summit. After playing translator for some Germans in the back of a pickup truck with a Thai driver, I headed down the mountain. About 13k down down down on a paved road with nonstop switchback turns left me ready for a break.
The ride through the city to my house was probably more dangerous than the whole dirt adventure. I almost got smacked by a young girl driving a new VW Bug while talking on her phone. A few minutes later I saw a car hit a motorbike right next to me (both going slow, no injuries). Yikes! I was ready to head back into the woods. 65k later I arrived back at home dirty and tired, but had to give Lamyai a bath…she was dirtier than me and worked a lot harder. Good Sunday fun!!!