Mae Hong Son Loop Day 5 – Mae Hong Son To Pai

Day 5 and we're on the road again. It was time to depart the sleepy town of Mae Hong Son and head back out into the wilderness. Well, if you count cruising between towns on a well maintained, sealed road as “wilderness”.

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During the previous evenings' walk around town we had picked out a little cafe restaurant with a good breakfast menu. After packing our gear we meandered over there for a breakfast of yoghurt, muesli, fresh fruit and tea. There was even a little entertainment as we saw half a dozen dogs stage a mass escape from a backyard over the road. It seems we were not the only ones hungry for freedom.

Our first stop was the town of Ban Rak Thai, which literally means the Thai loving village. It's initial population was nationalist fighters from the Yunnan province of China who fled after the communist takeover. It sits pretty much on the Thailand Myanmar border.

The roads between Mae Hong Son and Ban Rak Thai were excellent. The scenery got progressively more beautiful as we left the main road and wound our way towards the village. It's a popular destination with Thai tourists so the roads were extremely well maintained. They were however some extremely steep sections and we encountered a boulder the size of a small car which had apparently recently found its way onto the road from the mountainside above. We decided against standing at the foot of the rock face taking photographs in case there were more to come.

The town itself is very pretty. It's built around a lake and the Chinese style is extremely different from anything we'd seen elsewhere in Thailand. First you encounter some tea shops and a relatively pricey restaurant right on the water. If you continue around to the far side there are some more humble shops and restaurants. We had a look around before deciding to splash out on lunch on the water.

The food was fantastic! In particular the fried pickled pork was bizarre but incredibly delicious. I've never been a big fan of pickled stuff but this really was lovely. We also ordered a green tea salad. We'd heard about it previously and had been keen to try it. It was all wonderfully fresh and tasty.

After eating we made our way back to the main road and headed on to the town of Soppong. We had planned on stopping there for the night but it was still early, there wasn't a great deal going on there and there was the option to head on to Pai. We've both been to Pai previously. It's a really fun quirky place. A bizarre out of place hippy town in the mountains of Thailand. We didn't take much convincing to get back on the bike and carry on.

The roads were excellent. There was more traffic but not enough to be a problem. I started to get a little over confident until we passed this little reminder of the potential dangers.

We didn't stop around the bend as there was no safe spot to pull up. The truck is hanging, suspended by trees, over a drop of four or five metres onto the road below. Hopefully the driver was ok. At the very least I suspect he would have needed a change of underwear.

Around this time we were passed by a group of motorcyclists on much bigger more modern bikes. Almost certainly tourists doing the Mae Hong Son Loop as part of an organised tour. Half a dozen sports bike riding, leather clad, full face helmet wearing people from the future wooshed past. They would have seemed perfectly normal at home in Australia but in Thailand they looked bizarre and out of place. Their bikes didn't even sound right. They hummed instead of rattling and clunking.

Soon we were in smile and dreadlock filled streets of Pai. We checked into a cheap bungalow then headed to Good Life to get some tea and wheat grass shots. After some more walking around town these were complemented by some roast vegetables and cheap cocktails. We were ready for a little luxury.

Mae Hong Son Loop Day 5 Costs

At the time 30 Baht was about $1

2 x yoghurt, muesli, fruit and tea = 180B

petrol = 110B

Ban Rak Thai
Some loose tea and a tea sieve = 200B
Fancy Chinese meal by the lake = 260B

2 chicken dishes and 2 ice teas = 120B

Pai accommodation 300B

2 x wheat grass shots and cups of red tea = 100B

2 x roast vegies = 120B
2 x caprioska cocktails = 100B
2 x water = 30B

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