Monday, 11 December 2017

Chiang Rai to Doi Lang Off Road Camping

Been a few years since i was last up in Doi Lang near Thaton which forms part of the famous Thaton loop along the Myanmar border and the once notorious landslip. I decided to take an alternative route this time taking the Kok river trail to the turn for Mae Salong then the 1089 to Thaton and then the 1314 to the camping area, only 120 km from central Chiang Rai but heaps of fun on a smaller 250 machine.

South side of the Kok river passing into Lamnamkok NP

The dry season is a little late this year so still a few damp patches in shaded area's.

The old motorcycle bridge was refurbished last year and still in good shape.

Once you cross the bridge the road soon turns to dirt, i am sure in the coming years it will be paved the whole way as it take a huge chunk off getting the 1089 near Mae Salong.

The Kok is still pretty high and the tourist longtails make the most of it.

Some people gathering sand from the river side.

The first village you come to is Pha Kawang Lahu village.

Junction marks the start of the climb and the turns for the Nazarene church village and left over the Kok

Opportunity to get your feet wet if you try real hard.

Some spectacular views along this route at this time of year, come March you will nothing due to crop burning.

So many spirit houses to keep away evil spirits.

A nice new bridge replaces the old wobbly bridge from last year.

More spirit symbols

From now on the trail is less used and can become a little difficult when wet.

The last water crossing.

After passing Ban Adi, the climb starts towards the 1089.

A little slicker than i had hoped and of course a lot steeper than the pictures portray.

The start of the highest section and for me the most fun part of the ride.

  

The final descent.

Only 100 metres from the sealed road this was steep and slippery.

The last turn and the bike was all over the place, i was wishing i had knobblies and the bike went over.

Now on sealed roads a quick stop at the Vineyard coffee, a great stop over point and not expensive N20.07247° E99.46007°

Reaching Thaton the Kok is as high as i have seen it.

Turning north on the 1314 passing many small villages and many new restaurants to catch the cold season tourists.

Wat Phrathat Siri, very brightly painted and surprisingly unlocked.

Long Doi Restaurant, must give that a try some time N20.09657° E99.27692°

Reaching the first rangers checkpoint at the 1314 junction.

Exchange of pleasantries with the rangers they asked if i wanted to camp and warned me it was very cold up there, they showed a great interest in the detail of my GPS

The once paved road is now in a pretty bad state and is well due a makeover.

From the checkpoint to the camping area is only 17 km but it's slow going with the fallen leaves hiding the flaws in the road.

Small plateau area with a small settlement of farmers.

From this bridge the climb gets steeper.

Reached the camp area late afternoon a little disappointed as the views was lost to smoke.

Track to the right gets you up on the camp spot.

Toilet and shower block, not exactly VIP but does the job.

As i proceeded to gather wood for a fire i was greeted by the rangers who helped to gather more wood for me and suggest i stop in one of the wooden bungalows for the night, but that was not for me.

The returned later with a nice candle, not sure if this was for good luck or to light my camping spot, either way it was a nice gesture.

Some random shots as i settled for the night and got a good fire going before darkness fell.

Just shy of 1700 m above sea level, it was sure to be a cold night.

Smoke hanging in the valley form the villagers cooking fires.

It was indeed a long cold night, i awoke around 6am to be greeted with this stunning sunrise above the clouds.

The bungalows which i assume are for rent.

No sooner had i taken the sunrise pictures and the clouds rolled in and that was the views finished.

My planned route back passing through Jana village that had a terrible fire a few years back almost destroying the whole village.

I had been told by the rangers the road through to Fang was blocked because of some army issues but chanced my luck and gave it a try.

This is the section that pretty much closed the road due to a huge landslip, by the looks it will be the same again soon.

Got to the rangers checkpoint and talked for a while, they told me i had to turn back and had no idea when the road will be open again due to problems as they put it. So reluctantly it was an about turn and go back the way i came.

Small Buddha image looking over to Myanmar.

Not sure what these are, i thought some kind of battery maybe.

Back on the 1314 heading to Mae Ai, this charcoal oven.

Jana village all new buildings.

This pot smoking lady gave me a mouthful, but no idea what she was saying.

The odd hazard along the way otherwise the road was a delight.

Ahead was a sports day in full swing, this marching band band was a pleasant surprise.

Getting back to Thaton i notice this wooded area that would make a nice camping spot near the river. N20.05903° E99.37137°

Decided on taking an alternative route and riding over the famous Doi Chang, this is the summit and the viewing area.

Reaching the foot of Doi Chang and the familiar ford crossing N19.83951° E99.50642° and the beautiful Mae Suai reservoir, that was to be the end of my trip, most enjoyable and some of the most stunning scenery to be found in Northern Thailand and a sunrise i will never forget.