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Pai to Mae Hong Son

Finally we left Pai.  Today we barely made it out of there by 1 or 2pm after sending a load of things back home.  I picked up a hammock and sent back a collection of maps of Thailand from the 1970s that the former owner of the hostel left behind many years ago.  He ran a tour company in either Pai or Phaeng.  I dont know much about the guy, but he had a huge collection of maps that were both professionally produced and a bunch of hand-drawn maps that contained trails to the hill tribes.

I started to bleed my brakes and realized that I could make a mess so I asked the guest house staff for some news papers to cover the ground.  She then pointed me to this box and started pulling out vintage maps for me to use instead.  As Dean from Oz would have said it, “I nearly had a kitten.”

There was no way I’d let maps have that fate!  I spent the next two hours going through maps instead of working on my bike.  I collected a pile of the professionally produced maps to ship home and I’m going to bring some of the handdrawn maps to a Mx tour operator that I met in Chiang Mai to see if they can be of use to him.

The ride from Pai to Mae Hong Son was all asphalt but is a ride of legend in Asia.  While I’ve never been on the Dragon in the USA, I bet this would compete.  There were many combinations of sweeping turns followed by pinhair switchbacks climbing up and down the mountains of Northern Thailand.  What made this ride challeneging was that the surrounding cities all do tourist rentals of 125cc scooters and don’t require any test of competance to take it out.  I passed several wide-eyed westerners who were attempting to cruise this amazingly twisty road.

I didn’t manage to get any good pictures because it was too forested in, but every once and a while you could get a glimpse of the mountian passes that we were climbing.


  1. When you get back to Chiang Mai you should find David Unkovich (david@gt-rider.com) who makes the best maps specifically for motorcyclists in SE Asia. He might have an interest, at least in looking at them. Have been enjoying your posts by the way. Good job.

  2. daveg says:

    Thanks Thor for the comment. I’m pretty familiar with his maps but they’re pretty commercial. For my entire trip, I try to contribute my GPS tracks to the Open Street Map Project so that the world can have them for free. If you haven’t seem ‘em yet, check it out. Not only can you use the map data on your garmin, but you could produce paper maps legally without paying anyone for the data.

  3. daveg says:

    Cool website btw. I like the idea of lfying around every year to a new place with the same people. I was talking to a backpacker the other day and he said that the main reason why he said that he didn’t want to do a motorcycle trip solo was so that many years later he would have friends to reflect about the same experience.

  4. Derrick says:

    Really enjoying your trip – glad you finally got your bike and are getting the opportunity to ride!!

    As a brand new DRZ owner, and an outdoor photographer, I’m really digging your journey.

  5. daveg says:

    Hey Derrick! Thanks for reading my blog. I spent some time going over your blog.. what a fantastic site. It is great seeing BB photography. I’ve spent alot of time there over the past few years.

    I’m trying to get better at photography as there is an abundance of good photos to be captured while traveling on such a long trip.

    When I’m on the bike, I shoot alot with my D60 with my 18-200. Generally speaking though, when I’m walking around town I almost never carry the beast. I saw you have a G12. What do you think about dropping my D60 with 18/200 setup and replacing it with G12?

  6. tony racela says:

    Love that photo of the Buddhist monks with their plastic water bottles.

  7. Derrick says:

    The G12 will do absolutely everything a full on dSLR will do, just slower. As long as you’re not expecting to do action type shots like I do with my 7D at over 8 frames a minute, the G12 will do it. I’m very pleased with mine. The G12 and a Joby gorillapod and you’re golden! You can shoot with the little green box or you can go completely manual. It’s a nifty little camera.

    I’m getting ready to head to BB next week, but unfortunately won’t be taking my bike along – my skill with it is just not good enough, having only been riding for a month or so. Since you’ve been to BB, you know it’s not a place that’s very forgiving… There will be plenty of time for me to shake down the DRZ soon enough.

    I’m really enjoying your trip, stay safe!

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