Curves For Days

Bidding farewell to Mae Hong Son Town we made our way to the 1095. In our wanderings the night before, I had seen the many souvenirs that boasted the 1,864 curves we would encounter between here and Pai. We were thrilled with the idea of this ride.

Ancient tablet!?!

Now that’s a plank!

Research had led me to our jump off excursion just a few kilometers out on this route. Su Tong Pae Bridge was first on the agenda. This bamboo bridge stretches across a creek and farm fields and leads to a Wat, Tham Poo Sa Ma. Beauty surrounds in every direction and makes this a totally worthwhile stop. There is no real signage leading you to the parking area but as my wiki travel resource had promised, the way in was easily found with Google maps. We spent contemplative time to start the day in the midst of these awe inspiring surroundings.

We continued on our way through the village of Ban Kung Mai Sak and made our way around sharp, climbing curves to the Pang Tong Palace.

Free zoo, ornately landscaped and easily traveled on the motor bike is what we found here. Our grandsons were promised pictures of the jungle and the younger had inquired about leopards and cheetahs. Here, indeed, we found a clouded leopard who appeared to be heavily laden with litter in her womb. We are by no means animal lovers but caged animals of any sort always make us feel sad. This majestic mama was meant for running and roaming not eating dried food from a bowl in a cage. But then again I presume there would be those who would proclaim that at least she is protected here. We made our way out of this lavish compound and made a wrong turn (to the left) that found us in the Bamboo Forest. It was breathtaking and well worth the fifteen minutes it took for us to realize we were not back tracking to the 1095 as we had intended.

Scooping around we made our final diversion stop at the magnificence of the Pha Sua Waterfall. This offered great splendor and solitude with the sound of the falls and the tropical birds creating the soundtrack of the surroundings. This stop cost $3 but the ticket was also good for two other attractions in the Tham Pla National Park on the same day.

Pai and expecting the outrageous twists, bends, climbs and descents we would encounter, we bypassed the additional included attractions as well as other falls, caves, hot springs and mud spas along the way. The multitude of options again exemplified the reason for advising that should you embark on the adventure of this loop, do not limit yourself to a set number of days!

Stopping for a quick bite on the final quarter of the trek to our Valentine’s Day destination found us at a road side stand operated by a young couple with zero English skills. Thank goodness for a menu with pictures. We opted to share a bowl of chicken soup and took the thermos dispensed water that was offered to us. We once again chatted about the simple happiness of these village people. 30 baht (about 95 cents) covered us for this stop!

Panoramic views were easily had from the back of the motor bike throughout this roller coaster like path but if you are the “driver” a stop at the Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint is well worth your sight falling on the jungle mountains and valleys that extend for miles and miles.

A couple side notes worth mention are that while there were a few rough, pot holed spots on these roadways for the higher percentage they were in excellent shape. Toilets (best verbiage to use when inquiring location of restrooms with a non English speaking Thai) are found at multiple “res areas” along the loop. These, when not indicated in words, are represented by a leaning tree over a picnic table. Squat toilets are what you will find and carrying tissue with you throughout this country for these stops is advised. The art of squat toilet use is tricky for us Americans but definitely a necessity!

Arriving in Pai we dialed in the directions to our stay location, Chang Pai Hill Resort. My hubby out did himself on this find. Ridiculous views through glass enclosed cabin, balcony complete with table and chairs and a jacuzzi tub plus an attractive pool area at the bottom of a thatched staircase made this a wonderful location to celebrate this lovers holiday and give us a chance to recover a bit from our riding. We spent two nights in Pai and thoroughly enjoyed it. The one negative I would mention here is 🐜 ants. These little critters were every where especially in the bathroom, pretty sure they came up the drains! I don’t think they could be avoided being in this jungle hillside but if that is a deal breaker for you we would both recommend you stay elsewhere. Bedding was clean and there was a bug net provided and so for us these pests were easily washed down the drain.

Washing away the dust and heat with a cool shower and donning fresh clothes we caught a complimentary tuk tuk ride down out of the hills and back to town from one of the hotel staff. He dropped us at the walking street. This multi street area was a sensory experience. Local artisans and food vendors lined the streets in front of the bricks and mortar hawkers. Performers working for tips were scattered here and there down the center of the street. We made our way to this area both nights of our stay.

On the first night we ate at Bale Restaurant where there was seating right on the walking street and live music. Valentine’s Day meant a splurge away from the diet dinner. We both ordered steak. Not bad but certainly not Iowa cornfed USDA Prime. We stopped for a couple cocktails after at one of the lively sois of this hippy/backpacker mecca and then got our exercise on with the couple mile walk back up the hill! Town dogs were the biggest worry on this walk and we were prepared to face them from our readings before coming to the area which had been accurate. They were definitely present but my honey growled at them and they were off. 😉

The second evening we ate appetizers from the street vendors of locally grown avocado with honey, gooseberries sprinkled with chili powder and tiny veggie spring rolls served in the cutest bowl woven from banana tree leaves. So cute! I must have been hungry because I didn’t even take a pic. Our entrees were simple pad Thai and yellow noodle soup from Nong Beer Restaurant also adjacent to the walking street.

We made our way back to Chiang Mai circling around on yet more climbing, winding curves, passing through many small villages and by road side stands selling locally grown produce. We only made a brief roadside stop for lunch on this final day as we were anxious to get settled in to our Twin Peaks condo and relieve our bums and achey muscles from this wonderful adventure.

Join me again on the next blog post as we settle in to a month of every day life here in “New City”.

PS This may have approached short story status?!? ;-/

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