Day two of our loop ride took us from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son Town. This quaint little city is the capital of this province and is found by continuing north on the 108. This portion of the ride brought vistas that thrilled my love of nature. The road offered wide, sweeping curves and with every bend more beauty was presented. Teak trees, Pompous Grass, Wild Morning Glory, Asian Redwoods, Ferns, Hosta Plants, Banana Trees, Papaya trees, Coconut Palms, these are just a few of the beauties that I can name that surrounded us on this drive. The bulk of the plant life I still have no idea of the names for and my lack of Thai language ease prohibited me from understanding when I did ask any natives. English is not as fluently spoken in these small mountain towns but honestly we are all people so you can make do!
A check of the internet will turn up a multitude of articles about the attractions on this loop. As I linked in on the previous loop blog post, this wiki travel article seemed to have some of the best info and it is the one I used to plot a few stops each day. The ride is fairly grueling (at least at 50 something) so best to pick and choose and not get too carried away. Heat plays a factor as does the demands of motorbike travel so it doesn’t take many km and a couple stops to fill your day and as I mentioned before all indications are that it would not be wise to be on these roads after dark. Regarding attractions, waterfalls alone could fill up several days. I just took a quick look and could not confirm any stats but I know we saw signs for at least twenty. Not to mention temples, caves, National Parks and Hot Springs. We chatted about “if we do this again”, and thought it would be great to put no time limit on yourself and do every trek off the beaten path that piqued your interest. Honestly, a few weeks could easily be eaten up meandering this countryside and its mountain villages.
Our stop this day was a respite from the mid-day sun to soak our bones and ease the riding and walking aches. We made our way off the highway (only a little over a mile) to Bon Nong hang Hot Springs. The common area pool was free at this springs we had all to ourselves but we opted for a private bath for 100 baht (about $3) where the water was run fresh for us and we could open the back door and gaze across the farm fields and up to the mountains. We were happy to “donate” to the facility. It was a clean, nice operation run by a friendly young couple who spoke no English. We languished in the warm waters, dried in the sun for a bit and were back on our way.
We stopped for lunch at the outskirts of a small village, Kuhn Yuam. This location was comprised of a small enclosed kitchen area with covered teak deck offering shade from the afternoon sun. We lunched on tasty fried rice and succulent tempura shrimp. As is the case, throughout the area no English was spoken but the locals were friendly and appreciative.
Mountains covered with jungle vegetation are predominate on this part of the loop and then as you drop to the valley floors terraced canyons are farmed with a multitude of crops including rice, shallots, strawberries, tea, assorted greens, soybeans, melons, squash and other crops I was unsure of. Many small villages were found in each valley and each had some limited retail and food.
Arriving in Mae Hong Son, the village was vibrant with the locals purchasing their wares from the market area. We made our way to The Point Villa, our place of respite for the night. This lodging was on a private little Soi (alleyway) and was quiet until dark when the frogs and crickets began their serenade. Our room was spacious and clean except for cobwebs throughout which we deemed a necessity instead of a bother. Thanks to the spiders for keeping the mosquitoes at bay!
We languished in the air conditioning and waited for the sun to go down and then headed out to explore the city. The downtown area was just a few minutes walk from our location and we passed bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and massage establishments and then stumbled onto a night market which wound its way to the small lake at the city Center. Sunflower Restaurant was an obvious choice for our evening meal with its lively patio seating area and live music calling out to us. We ordered our meal and shared light fare of Khao Soi, vegetarian pizza and a mixed vegetable salad and fresh fruit for our sweet tooth. (Haha. Light in calories but I bet many of you are thinking “that’s a lot of food”! Food and dining out is one of our hobbies.) Small world phenomena was proven to us here once again when we ran in to a Brit who we had loaned our sunscreen to during our stay in Mae Sariang. It was fun to chat about the differences of our adventures this day. We wound our way back through town and decided to close the night out with massage. Traditional Thai to loosen my honey’s cramped shoulders and hands from riding and foot and leg massage for me. $15 with generous tip and we were both covered. I love the Thai foot massage because of the focus on pressure points and the overall “cleansing” it provides. We wandered back through what was becoming a sleepy little village and were in bed by ten, way early by our standards but our butts were whooped. (Loved this statement below I saw on the side of a building on our walk about so included it here for you to ponder.)
Breakfast was included at this location and provided upon rising in the center courtyard area adjacent to the office. Fresh scrambled eggs, sausage, toast with fresh jam and coffee in the solitude of this private outdoor dining area (we were the only guests) was a great way to start the day. Showered and refreshed my love decided to give me my first lesson on driving this scooter on the deserted grounds. My lack of exposure to two wheeled driving makes me a nervous wreck and I’m sure if someone would have taped this you would have all gotten your days hysterics taken care of! We were off to our next destination of Pai for a two day stay to relax and explore.
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