This blog post begins and ends with food photos.
On December 12th I set off with my friends, Matt and Hans, on a weekend motorcycle road trip from Mae Sot just over 200km up to Mae Sariang. First we filled up on petrol and I bought some chips. Tasty flavour!
An hour and a half later, we stopped in a little village to refill our tanks as Karen women walked along the road.
A typical hand-crank petrol station. It cost us $2.50 to fill up here, which was nearly twice what everyone else charges us, but there’s no arguing when you’re in the middle of nowhere getting petrol.
Hans demonstrating good riding technique by staying on the road:
Matty demonstrating how to drive on gravel with sidebag:
Matty’s friend Goldie, a Karen girl he taught last year and who lives in Mae Sariang, has a red bike. It says “Organic Sport” on it. Explanations are welcome.
Matty’s bike says “Ecology Power.” Again, explanations happily accepted. My bike just says “Ultimate 4 Stroke Engine.”
We arrived safely in Mae Sariang in the evening after a long day of driving on beautiful if not always well-maintained roads, and slept well at the North West guesthouse.
In the morning Goldie came to pick us up and lead us to her home village, a place called Mae Sam Laep, which is on the eastern (Thai) bank of the Salween River, the border between Thailand and Burma. Since Matt’s rear brake wasn’t working quite as well as it should have been, we got a mechanic in Mae Sam Laep to adjust and lubricate both his rear and front brakes. It’s important to have good brakes when you’re riding down a 45 degree incline, which happened at least twice to us.
After a little walking about, we found a boat skipper and worked out a price for the four of us to take an hour-long trip along the river, with Burma on one side of us, and Thailand on the other. Matt quite enjoyed his pink life vest.
Two ladies and a young girl joined us in our boat, though not as tourists of course!
The boat was a bit less than five feet wide I’d say, though it looks much larger in this photo:
An SPDC checkpoint:
After a great river trip and a nice chicken curry lunch, we were back on the windy mountain roads to Mae Sariang. The outskirts of Mae Sam Laep, just as we were leaving town, look something like this:
That evening Hans and I watched this fisherman in Mae Sariang catching something that looked from our distance like a snake or eel. Then he walked across the river, waist deep, and I presume went home to eat or sell it.
On Sunday we were on the road again, back to Mae Sot! The road is really something amazing, though it might not be amazing if you’re riding in the back of a songthaew or someone’s car even, depending on your predisposition to motion sickness on windy, steep, sometimes bumpy roads. And sometimes the locals like to share the road too:
At a certain point, the narrow, pothole-riddled, one-lane-each-way ‘highway’ turns into a big dirt construction site. This is where the new highway meets the old one. They’ve been working for a number of years to improve this highway, kilometre by kilometre.
Matty enjoys the dirt road like Hans and I:
Right after that dirt track, the road became an amazing, better-than-Canadian, wide and smooth highway. After a while on this great road, we reached Tha Song Yang, a small town where we had a delicious lunch. The Thai version of Pho. As you can see, Hans was ecstatic.
Matty seemed quite contented as well:
An hour and a half after leaving Tha Song Yang, we were back in Mae Sot for a quiet beer and I was off to get my bags packed and catch an overnight bus to Bangkok, where I did some touristing for once. But that’s for the next post.