Escape to Mae Hong Son

We decided to drive along the river valley following the Pai River. We’d had a couple of days of rain and the mountain roads can be quite slippy with mud, leaves and moss so we decided to let it dry out and just amble along the valley towards the border with Myanmar. It was good to be out on the bike again.

About an hour into the journey and almost at the border we came across a Karen ( Kayan) village.

It cost 200 baht each (£5) to enter and 20 baht for the river crossing in a long narrow canoe style boat with what looked like a big garden strimmer with a propeller on the end. It was a bit wobbly to say the least!

After talking to a young Dutch girl who was with a small group of people staying there, we found out a little more about the village. All the Karen people were refugees from Burma where they had been persecuted and had escaped over the border. The Thai government would not grant them any status or rights whatsoever, no one had any documents or birth certificates. They were more or less dependent on tourists visiting, what they could grow themselves and the scarves, textiles and wood carvings they made and sold. They also ran weaving and wood carving classes.

We had long conversations with a couple of villagers who spoke good English who said they were not really allowed out of the local area.

It’s a sad situation but I’m sure they have a better life in Thailand and they seemed to be managing. We enjoyed our visit, took a few photos especially of the women with the brass rings ( the long neck Karen) had a drink and took the wobbly boat back over the river.

The next day it was much drier and we decided to take the very scenic road out towards Pai. We had been there six years ago and its changed. It’s now the backpacker new age hippie traveller hangout where you can get matcha tea enema detox treatments, circus schools and all sorts of ‘om’ stuff going on. Not going, too busy, too weird even for us…

The road towards Pai is fantastic, classic twisty bendy roads. About 45 minutes in I saw a turn off for one of the roads mentioned in one of the biker blogs saying it was one of the most scenic of all the roads and it went right up to the Myanmar border – a different one to the day before. We followed it up a very scenic valley through a couple of small villages on a really good road. There are many different scents as you drive around; roasting garlic, frying chilli paste, buffalo dung your nostrils are assailed at every turn.

A bit further on the road changed to a wet, muddy dirt road full of potholes in the most stunning jungley surroundings. The aromatic green aromas of flowers and plants surrounded you and the hot humid air was alive with the sounds of birds and insects.

We were finally defeated 2km from the border by a huge ford of water covering the road which must have been 3 foot deep.

Chris said ‘ I can get round that’, not with me on the back, no way Jose, we turned around defeated but lived to fight another day.

I had seen in a magazine an article about a noodle shop in the most spectacular position, high in the mountains. When we eventually got there, after the detour, there were many Thai tourists eating there. We ate noodle soup and admired the scenery with our legs dangling over the edge.

The mountain views are impressive, cloaked in endless green forests which continue for ridge after ridge as far as the eye can see. Wonderful.

3 thoughts on “Escape to Mae Hong Son

  1. Looks fab. Noodle soup is great anywhere but that looked fab….

    “Chris said ‘ I can get round that’, not with me on the back, no way Jose, we turned around defeated ”
    You could have walked around it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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