Lost in Northern Thailand - Real Time Report

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Lost Cartographer, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Day 5 Mohsaeng Jun Homestay to The Golden Triangle (overnight in Chiang Sean)

    Today was mostly a travel day across farmland, so not too many photos.

    Grumpy cat:

    [​IMG]

    Tire Strawberries:

    [​IMG]

    Stopped and bought some nasal decongestant as my nose was running like a faucet. $3.31, which is 3 times more than what the same thing costs in Vietnam.

    [​IMG]


    This rock has an excellent view:

    [​IMG]

    Stopped at this roadside market to buy some water:

    [​IMG]

    Check out the chilis on the table behind the bike:

    [​IMG]


    I'm not sure is happening here, but it's kinda photogenic:

    (also note the haze hanging over the valley, more on that later)
    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    #61
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  2. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Made it to the Golden Triangle region and went to the Hall of Opium museum.

    The museum is HUGE, and it is extraordinarily well done. My knowledge of the history of the opium trade was close to zero (and most of what I 'knew' was incorrect).

    I had no idea that the Brits were the leaders in the opium trade, from cultivation in India to sales in China and the rest of SE Asia. Before Britain started selling opium to China, they ran a trade deficit to China. Once they started selling opium there, the balance of trade shifted, a ton of Chinese became addicts, and it kicked off the Opium Wars.

    The Chinese wanted the Brits (and a bunch of other western powers) to stop selling opium, the Brits refused, the Chinese confiscated and destroyed all the opium they could, and the Brits sent in the troops. China lost, and Britain gained even more influence in the area (including acquiring Hong Kong).

    Besides the social costs of the drug, I had no idea how integral it was in the development of 18th and 19th century world commerce. Opium, tea, sugar, tobacco, cotton, silk, and the slave trade are all tied together.


    I only had 1.5 hours there (I was the last one in the museum as it closed), could have spent 3 hours there easily.

    More info:

    http://www.maefahluang.org/?p=315

    https://mychiangmaitour.com/hall_of_opium/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-02/modern-china-and-the-legacy-of-the-opium-wars/10172386


    Apparently there is a knockoff museum somewhere in town- you want to go to this one:

    https://goo.gl/maps/KdCDfQc7ExnTFyoq5

    not my photo:

    [​IMG]

    my photo:

    [​IMG]

    .

    Attached Files:

    #62
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  3. nzedjared

    nzedjared Adventurer

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    Sri Ngachang is really nice little boutique. It's in a residential neighborhood, away from the tourist stuff.

    P21 is nice too, but it's just a hotel. It is closer to more bars and restaurants, and the breakfast was better.

    Bring your international drivers license, there are checkpoints around town.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks again!
    #63
  4. Flying Frisian

    Flying Frisian Born to Ride Supporter

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    Looks like a nice trip. I am flying to Bangkok on Wednesday for a job in Saraburi, which is about an hour North East of Bangkok. Unfortunately I won't be able to ride a bike since I'll be working every day until Christmas. I may do some exploring in the rental car.
    #64
  5. Gestalt

    Gestalt Been here awhile

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    Saraburi I think is Thai for Shithouse or should be, have fun. But work pays the bills.
    #65
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  6. Flying Frisian

    Flying Frisian Born to Ride Supporter

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    Hey, it's winter in the USA and I could have ended up doing a job in Minnesota or Buffalo with 2 feet of snow. No thanks, I prefer warmer temperatures. Clean hotel, cold beer and a brand new plant is all I need. Problem with these processing plants is that they're (almost) never in the prettiest places. OK, enough of that, don't want to dilute this nice trip report.
    #66
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  7. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    No durians- $60 fine:

    [​IMG]

    .

    Attached Files:

    #67
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  8. Gestalt

    Gestalt Been here awhile

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    I feel for them, I make my wife leave it outside until its all eaten, even the dog which is not fussy about smells leave the room then Durian is around.
    #68
  9. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Day 5 contd

    Left the Hall of Opium and headed south towards my hotel in Chiang Saen, about 10km south of the Golden Triangle.

    The Thai town on the Golden Triangle is Sop Ruak (I think that's the town name). It's just a tourist trap town with a bunch of random crap, and a view of the GT.

    That grassy strip is Myanmar, the land on the other side of the wide river is Laos:

    [​IMG]

    The marker:

    [​IMG]

    Here's where things get interesting- south of Sop Ruak on the Laos side is a ton if construction. Tons of it. Lots of tall cranes building big casinos:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a tighter crop:

    [​IMG]


    You can guess where the money is coming from:

    https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/visit-chinese-casino-city-laos-built-myanmar-workers.html

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...in-bid-to-break-up-narco-empire-idUSKBN1FK1P1

    https://www.worldcrunch.com/world-affairs/at-thailand-laos-border-a-shadow-economy-thrives

    https://www.npr.org/2018/10/06/6392...the-vital-mekong-river-to-power-its-expansion

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-02/australian-sanctioned-for-bribery-at-laos-casino/9391374

    The neighborhood:

    GT to CS.png

    Attached Files:

    #69
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  10. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    I'm glad I stayed in Chiang Saen that night. It's a cool little town.

    There are food carts along the river and up and down main street.

    There were no other tourists there as far as I could see-- it was just a happy little town full of happy Thai people.

    It was surrounded by a wall and a moat previously:

    [​IMG]


    That's a lot of bricks:

    [​IMG]



    Moat:

    [​IMG]


    My hotel was showing its age, but the water was hot and the AC was cold. I was literally the only guest.

    Bathroom:

    [​IMG]

    Bathroom wiring:

    [​IMG]

    I fell asleep as happy as I could be...

    ... and woke up to the room moving back and forth.

    .

    Attached Files:

    #70
  11. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Stupid earthquake.

    Screenshot_20191121-070122.jpg

    It was a 'slow roller' and it only lasted for a few seconds so I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

    A few hours later just as I was waking up another slow roller started. This time I was awake for the start of it...and it kept going and going. I was just laying in bed surfing the internet on my phone going with the flow and counting how long it lasted (length of the earthquake is a good correlation to the strength of the earthquake) and when I got to 10 seconds and still going I thought to myself 'hmm this rickety hotel probably isn't up to California earthquake standards" so I headed towards the door. By the time I got the door open at the 15-16 second mark the earthquake had stopped.

    Then I got dressed and put my shoes on and sat back in bed ready to go if there was going to be another one.

    It was a 6.1, but was pretty far away:

    Screenshot_20191121-072143.jpg
    #71
  12. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Day 6

    I had spent the earthquake filled morning reading about chinese shenanigans in Laos, so I decided to sneak in.

    Unfortunately there was a river in the way.

    BUT I also learned about the free trade zone that I could legally enter, I just needed to leave my passport with Thai immigration and then I could boat across.

    First off was breakfast. It included an entire papaya. I ate about 1/2 of it.

    [​IMG]

    My GF saw the photo and said that I was lucky to not shat myself, as papaya is a laxative.

    On the way back north to the Golden Triangle area I stopped to photo these massive power lines sending power across the river from Thailand to Laos:

    [​IMG]

    Made it to the GT area, wandered around loiking for the boat people. Lots of bright shiny things to appeal to the target market.

    Buddha Boat:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I found the area with all the boat people and they quoted me 500 bhat for the slow boat, and 1000 for the fast boat.

    No thanks, and started walking away.

    The vendor right next to them said "slow boat 300, fast boat 500!" and I said "ok"

    300 bhat would have gotten me a seat on the big boat with a busload of tourists.

    500 bhat ($16) and I had my own boat, the one closest to the dock:

    [​IMG]

    Appropriate gear for a hot humid afternoon on the water:

    [​IMG]


    That's the slow boat, and a listing tanker ferry:

    [​IMG]

    My host:

    [​IMG]

    .

    Attached Files:

    #72
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  13. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    More pics from the boat ride:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Those are the big power wire towers in the background:

    [​IMG]


    So the problem with my plan is that I didn't know that my destination in Laos was limited to this one crappy bazar area called "Don Sao Island", which isn't even an island.

    I tried to get my guy to take me to the casino area but he said that he could not-- "need visa". Doh.

    Well crappy bazar it is. Business was not booming anywhere except next to the docks. Further in the market it was totally dead:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This is how I learned where I was at, with a sign leaning up against a tree in the back of the market. For all I knew I wasn't on Don Sao Island at all (I looked it up afterwards, it was indeed Don Sao Island and indeed it is not an island, although it may have been at one time):

    [​IMG]

    Jordan fans:

    [​IMG]


    Anyways I found a t-shirt vendor and bought a "Beer Lao" shirt for $4, then I bought a beer for $1.60 and people watched for a while.

    [​IMG]

    The stuff for sale at the bazzar was pretty much the same chinese made stuff you find anywhere in asia- knockoff north face jackets and backpacks, tennis shoes, and knick knacks.

    There was one particular shop that the tourists were shopping at, they were going mad buying things. It was like walmart on black friday, except it was chinese people buying chinese stuff, not walmart people buying chinese stuff. I didn't see anything unique about what they were buying, but it was enjoyable to watch them stampede each other.

    .

    Attached Files:

    #73
  14. markinthailand

    markinthailand Long timer

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    This is great. SE Asia is crazy, and you're hitting a lot of the best of it. Even the crazy cross border markets in Laos (or Burma or wherever -- they are all sort of the same)!
    #74
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  15. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Time to go. My host was tied up at the dock waiting for me.

    Here's a better shot of what the fast boats look like:

    [​IMG]


    Zoom in on the engine:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the slow boat. Check out the fuel tank, and lack of aircleaner/spark arrestor on the carb:

    [​IMG]

    I hopped back in the fast boat and we headed back to the Thai side. On the way we caught a wave wrong and BANG my back was instantly hurting. I'm sure I pinched a nerve, hopefully it is nothing worse.

    Attached Files:

    #75
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  16. Bgunn

    Bgunn Posible maƱana

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    As a marine mechanic I could only wish for that kind of access to the engine. Looks like ear plugs would come in handy.
    Great report and hope your back heals quickly!
    #76
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  17. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Headed from the Golden Triangle area north towards Mae Sai, a border town opposite Tachileik, Myanmar.

    First order of business- lunch.

    Google reviews led me to a restaurant on the far west side of town. Turned out to be quite the fancy restaurant, and it was awesome.

    Tea time:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Giant bowl of fire soup:

    [​IMG]


    These were the peppers that I fished out of one serving of the little bowl:

    [​IMG]


    This is what I ordered- NOT the spicy soup, the galangal soup. I can't imagine what the spicy soup would be like:

    [​IMG]


    Boobs:

    [​IMG]


    A nice little park outside of the restaurant:

    [​IMG]


    That's Myanmar on that side of the river:

    [​IMG]

    I finished lunch and headed to the border. Goal was to get an actual stamp in my passport. Turns out I wasn't the only one doing a border run- the Malaysian KTM club was there too. One of these bikes is not like the others:

    [​IMG]

    Reusable shopping bags:

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    #77
  18. forgorin

    forgorin Stuck in Japan

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    When are you leaving?
    #78
  19. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Crossed over into Myanmar and immediately thought "Tijuana, but cleaner".

    Street stalls, guys hocking cigarettes and viagra, and tons of random junk for sale.

    First things first tho - need to get a Myanmar beer:

    IMG_20191121_144504.jpg


    OK now that I've had yet another crappy national beer it's time to wander around.

    Moto on the roof:

    IMG_20191121_144126.jpg

    Wasn't expecting him to get out of the drivers seat:

    IMG_20191121_144135_01.jpg

    Loaded:

    IMG_20191121_144140.jpg

    Came across this park:

    IMG_20191121_143525.jpg

    This guy looks like a total badass:

    IMG_20191121_143616.jpg

    It's King Bayint Naung: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayinnaung

    IMG_20191121_143655.jpg



    So as I was drinking the Myanmar beer I thought to myself "self, you should get a Myanmar Beer t-shirt to match your Beerlao t-shirt". So off I went to the market near the border crossing:

    IMG_20191121_152311.jpg

    Immediately I was pounced upon by a guy selling cigarettes and viagra. No, no thank you I don't smoke and my penis still works, but thank you.

    He gave up on following me after a few steps, but noticed that I was looking in the t-shirt stalls and came back. He said that he knew the market and everyone here, if I told him what I was looking for he could take me to the right stall.

    Normally I would say no thank you and move along, but he wasn't being pushy and he was probably correct, as I had already struck out at several t-shirt stalls.

    I explained that I wanted a t-shirt that said "Myanmar Beer" and showed him a photo on my phone and we immediately set off to a place, no doubt owned by his buddy.

    His buddy didn't have the shirt I wanted, nor did his next buddy, or any other stall for that matter.

    Word had spread tho, and within 5 minutes the entire neighborhood was searching for a Myanmar Beer t-shirt for me.

    Someone found something close, it was one of those junk promotional shirts they give way at beer stands that had a Myanmar Beer logo and the words "Drink Responsibly" on it, and it was sized for someone about 100lbs smaller than me. Sorry not interested, and they were confused - it said Myanmar Beer, that's what you want, right?

    I tried to explain that "Drink Responsibly" is a euphemism for "Don't Drink" but it didn't quite translate, and the guy who brought it to me said "you can have it for free" and I said in my most considerate voice "no no no, I cannot accept this gift from you, but thank you for offering" and he said "no no please have" and just walked away without asking for anything.

    Hmmm I'm not familiar with this scam.

    But it didn't appear to be a scam. The people of neighborhood had lost interest in me and wandered off, and I continued on my way, with a promo beer t-shirt that would fit a 7 year old.

    I went to the adjacent neighborhood market and looked around. A vendor who spoke excellent english with an indian accent asked what I was looking for and I told her and she said that I wouldn't find that style shirt here, as everyone gets their shirts from the same wholesale guy.

    OK thank you, and it was getting late so I headed back towards the border with my defenses up.

    I made it up to the bridge and the cigarette/viagra guy wasn't there to ask for money, nor was the guy who gave me the shirt. Hmmm now I'm really confused. Wasn't this the setup?

    Apparently it was not.

    So I set off to find them.

    I wandered around the market some more and found them chatting with some other guys, so I approached them and said thank you very much for your help and I slipped them each some bhat (40 for the cigarette guy + 100 for the guy who gave me the shirt = about $5 total, which is far more than I would have paid for an actual shirt but they were really nice) and they were confused but said thank you very much and I headed back towards Thailand.


    Ladies selling treats on the bridge back into Thailand:

    IMG_20191121_152900.jpg

    Mission accomplished:

    IMG_20191130_201645.jpg
    #79
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  20. Lost Cartographer

    Lost Cartographer Been here awhile

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    Headed south out of town, stopping at the Mae Sai murals:

    IMG_20191121_154348.jpg

    The next section of road was brilliant - it wound along the ridgeline separating Thailand and Myanmar:

    MaeSai to MaeSalong.png


    IMG_20191121_160151.jpg

    IMG_20191121_160847.jpg

    IMG_20191121_161358.jpg

    Then I was attacked mercilessly and without provocation:

    IMG_20191121_164026_02.jpg

    IMG_20191121_164027.jpg

    IMG_20191121_164028.jpg

    I don't think that goose was used to being stood up to. I rolled to a stop and he immediately attacked my leg and boot, then he got surprised that I didn't care that he was attacking me and started squawking. Then he tried to attack again. Well he had his chance to retreat, so I gave him a swift kick to the head. Then he retreated. Fuck you bird, I'm WAY above you on the food chain.
    #80
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