Sure doesn’t seem like I’ve been here 18 days. Am enjoying just about every aspect of being here. So much so that I expect to return next winter.
But it’s long past time to hit the road because tourist hordes will arrive soon. Shouldn’t be much of a problem in Chaing Mai (CM) because it’s a big place with a big tourist district. My room is outside that area which will lessen any quality of life impacts. Travelling in the rural mountains of the Northwest may be a different matter.
Wednesday starts open ended travel along the Mae Song Hon (MSH) Loop, a 600 km (373 mile) route that starts an ends in CM. There are other loops, but MSH is the best known and most travelled. Mountains, valleys, waterfalls, caves, river rafting, long necked tribes, and cultural influences from Thailand’s neighbours are the main draws. Peace and quiet is available if one stops in the smaller towns between the places the ‘I did the MSH Loop in 4 Days’ types blow through.
Many ride motorcycles around the loop, some drive, a few bicycle, the rest ride buses or minivans. Many web accounts of bus rides from hell. Drivers passing out motion sickness tablets and barf bags at the start of the ride seems routine on some segments. Overcrowding seems all but unavoidable. It’s guaranteed the roads are steep and winding. What’s a bus-hating, minivan-loathing, soon-to-be-senior-citizen to do?
Fly. It’s 35 minutes from CM to the town of Mae Hong Son, the loop’s name sake by air, all day by bus. Flying is 10 times more expensive than the bus. Seventy Five Dollars well spent IMHO. It does make doing the loop difficult as Mae Hong Son is in the middle of the MHS loop.
Why not ride a motorcycle? Ninety five percent of the riding I’ve done since coming to Thailand is short rides on the flat. I need to build up to longer distances or fatigue will make me a hazard to myself.
Plan is to do some day motorcycle based day trips around Mae Hong Son then head north to Soppong (near Phang Mapha on map) and maybe on to Pai before backtracking to Mae Hong Son. But I don’t think of it as backtracking. More like hop-scotching both ways. Will do/see some things/places on the ride north and others on the ride south.
From Mae Hong Son it’s bus or motorcycle south to Mae Sariang. Then bus back to CM as there is little of interest in that part.
The red line is where I will not be travelling.