Yesterday, I picked up my CRF250L from Pop Motorcycle/Car rental and hit the road. For anyone planning on doing something similar budget at least and hour to going the bike, test riding around the city and getting things fixed as needed. They switched out a bent clutch lever and added on a rack which was to make life soooo much easier. I thought I packed lite and would be able to just wear my backpack but between belongings and the camelbak it would have been hell. Pop's provided me with some bungee cords and I had some straps that worked surprisingly securing my pack even on rough terrain.

To wax poetically for a minute, getting on the bike just made something click. Riding a motorcycle just feels comfortable and right. I may be in a strange county. I may not speak the language. I may make wrong turns. But riding is something I can do. And it will work out.
Anyway, getting out town. I got a little bit of a late start because of some last minute prep. Mae Hong Son was the goal for the day and after talking to Philip at riderscorner.net, taking the back roads, and dirt roads seems like the way to go. I had a mental idea of where I wanted to go but Philip sent me some tracks that would prove invaluable, not mater how many times I took senic detours.

I'm pretty sure that crossing the international dateline messed with my sense of direction. Never before have I gone the exact 180 degrees wrong way before... this many times in a row. After heading east out of town for a while I got down to business and headed west into the mountains. Getting out of the city is marvelous, and into cool mountain roads.
Elephants!
Wrong turn #2 of the day: I made it to Samoeng and headed south out of the town, it's really close to north but it uses an S instead. Now to back track a bit, part of my delay was getting a gps mapping app set up on my phone. After a day of using it I can FULLY recommend MotionX-GPS. I was able to load a GPX file with tracks. Then download the maps around those tracks so I had map data without cell service. So after riding past a group (nirvana, gaggle, hoard?) of monks doing their laundry I glanced at my phone.... whoops. But there seems to be a route that goes this way and connects back up with my intended route. Because I am fairly allergic to making U-turns, and it was early in the afternoon, off I went.
Long story short, wrong turns are awesome. I ended up riding through 3 hill tribe villages to many smiles and looks of disbelief. The trail kept getting narrower, and narrower until I was riding on singletrack that had probably seen more foot traffic than anything else. However there were always scooter tracks so 1. I wasn't doing anything wrong and 2. I wouldn't want to ride a scooter on those trails.

After about 2 hours of detour that would come back to haunt me later I made it back on the planned route and some paved roads.
You know what tastes good when you're hungry. Everything. After some pointing and gesturing this is what I ended up with at a small road side stand.

Every time I stop and get food or gas they look at me hold up a finger (not that finger, jerks) and ask something. They seem quite confused that I'm traveling by myself, and I don't blame them.

A word on the driving rules. There aren't any. Trucks will pull out across moving traffic without warning. Scooters and cars alike will pull into the wrong land to pass with on coming traffic. There are cement polls spaced about 10 feet apart and two feet high on the sides of many roads and corners giving ample reason NOT to miss a turn. Cattle are around every turn. Even Elephants at times.

I got some good advice: In a land of no liability strange things can occur. Try to not over drive what you can see ahead. Around a blind corner may be a herd of buffaloes, a five foot deep hole, or kids playing in the road. - Robert H.

And he's right, I've seen all that and more
Gas is available in the mountains but they use alternative delivery methods. They pump 5 liters into the glass jar and then fill from the jar so they know how much they have dispensed. Basic but clever.
You can't get views like this just anywhere

Mom, cover you eyes. Due to my detour I ended up riding into Mae Hong Son in the dark. Riding at night has some advantages, you can see the headlights of on coming traffic. Unfortunately cattle don't have headlights and they are around every corner.

Other than the cattle I did have one run in with a rain rut. Because of the limited range of my headlight I didn't see that I was riding straight into a deep rain rut. I ended up having to woman handle the bike a bit. I got sweaty and out of breath but made it through alright.
Finally into town, I found a guest house and set out for the night market for dinner. Again, when you're hungry everything tastes good. Not that I ate the green stuff but I did eat some spouts. Being white they're less of a vegetable.
What a day. And I was counting and realized that I've only been here 4 days. There's so much yet to see and do.

4 comments:

-JW said...

Ihre deutschen Wurzeln durchscheinen in der mangelnden Gemüse in Ihrer Palette.

bobzilla said...

Wow Megan
that looks like the time of your life. (why cant it be my life ha ha)
Thanks for sharing , reading this every day and enjoying with my daughter
Happy adventure
Bob

J.F. said...

Justin, you're a show off and I love my potato and meat eating roots!

Megan A. said...

Bob, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Keep the rubber side down in your adventures!

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