Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Khun Yuam -- A Long March from Tokyo!

Pushing further on this bikescapade from Mae Hong Son, the next day is a bite-sized chunk of a few hundred kilometres of winding mountain roads (wooooohoooooooooooooo!!!) to Khun Yuam, the site of a Japanese military memorial which has always intrigued me.

Just seven kilometres south of MHS we stop at a breathtaking lookout, where a friendly chappy is stoking a fire on which a blackened kettle rests. We sit, rugged up against the cold (combination of altitude and inclement weather) and enjoy a big mug of coffee, a cup of tea, and a banana all for 30 baht -- that's ONE Aussie dollar!

I could've spent hours here, enjoying the solitude of this glorious spot, but it's back in the saddle, through the brilliant wide sweeps of this mountain pass. The quality of roads is continually surprising me. We bank left and right, left and right for hours until we ramble into Khun Yuam, and check into the Farang Hotel (talk about market segmentation!)

For 600 baht single (700 baht double) you get a room with nice warm shower, set on a hillside in the bush, with frogs and birds providing a natural chorus.  Oh, brekky's included in the price, too.
A friend of mine, Reid, who runs motorcycle tours made this observation about motorcycle touring in Thailand: 'It's the best place in the world to ride, because apart from the great scenery and attractions, you can have a really cheap bum massage at the end of every day and it costs you nothing.'

Well, not exactly nothing, but for 200 baht, nearly nothing. Jing jing!

After a great massage and siesta, we venture out into the big smoke. Nightlife consisted pretty much of one dingy karaoke place and an internet cafe. But next door to it was a perfectly fine noodle place where we enjoyed fried omelette, mixed veggies and stir-fried chicken and basil all for 50 baht (including a bottle of water!) They must have seen us coming.

Dinner was enlivened by a young guy from Malmo, Sweden whom I'll call Sven. He'd been fired from his job and was travelling through Asia for four months (as you do). He was planning to go to Pai then someone suggested he do the Mae Hong Son loop ... on a scooter! Not only had he blown his daily budget on renting a scooter (no more than 200 baht per day, maximum) but it'd taken him several days to make it this far. He was dead dog tired, and drunk on half a beer, and went home to collapse at 8pm.

Don't laugh, I was asleep by nine! The concentration of riding mountain roads really takes it out of you. I will go and look at that Japanese Memorial tomorrow ...

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