I was truly tempted to order this delicacy - Fried Rice with CRAP!
Prelude - We chose to make Samoeng our first destination because of a beautiful resort called Phu Pha Doi View which our friend Chris recommended. Nu from 3Cats had warned us about some serious climbs but that didn't deter us one bit... we soon found out the hard way 56km later.
The 6 of us took off after a hearty congee breakfast at Jok Sompet. It was special to be finally riding out of CM and saying goodbye to the heavy city traffic. I insisted on a group photo beside one of CM famous ancient gates to remember our "flag off". Meanwhile, our Mothership Team of YC, Mark, George and Wendy took their time leaving Bruuns Guesthouse as they had the Chevy Colorado pick up and were going to meet us at our first coffee stop, Bannock Coffee.
As we cycled out of Chiang Mai along Hway 121, I noticed the rear end of our team was not catching up. Hence we stopped and waited a good 20-25 mins before they showed up. It seemed that Loh's Co-Motion was playing up and his front disc was rubbing. Good ole KC did his best to do some adjustments and we carried on. A lesson for all how impt it is to make sure our bikes are tip top but that said, a more impt lesson is to always help one another no matter what. It was providence that just 5 mins after that, we came across a huge and well equipped bike shop that replaced his disc rotor. God's goodness once again.
Taking a right detour off Hway 121 into some small minor roads before joining Hway 1269 proved to be one of the best decisions ever. I have learnt to always choose these side roads for they not only are quieter but often far more scenic. At one stage, we were cruising downhill magically through a beautiful bamboo forest that reminded me of Kyoto.
Arriving at Bannock Coffee, we were all so bowled over at how lovely this cafe is. Using a combination of old containers, antiques from the previous 20-40 years, spread over a riverside while serving excellent food and drinks, we could not be happier!
Some decided to cool off by the river while KC went to get his hair permed, the traditional way while we waited for our orders to come.
Like all LTF trips, we always eat well and we ordered a plate of freshly BBQ meats and chips which was a bit of an overkill for what was to be a simple coffee stop. But nobody complained and we were all as happy as can be!
It was hard to leave Bannock but we had to as we were more than sufficiently fueled up and we had climbs awaiting. It was also nearing 1 pm as we have lost track of time in this beautiful place. As we were 20 mins into the ride, we received an SOS Whats App from Loh...
He had come off his bike going down a hill and it was a most unfortunate start to any adventure. This can happened to anyone. Miraculously there was a Thai Emergency Motorcycle First Aider that came to his rescue followed by an Emergency Pick Up. We learned that this stretch is popular among roadies and kudos to the Thai government for being so ready and bike friendly.
Soon he was treated, wounds dressed and safely onboard MS and carried on not as a cyclist but as a tourist. The rest of us soldiered on the ride and the climbs that hit us got us totally winded. But this is N Thailand and if you want an easy ride, stay away from this area!
We made it to our lunch stop and once again, it was another beautiful spot, The Doi Resort and Restaurant. However, the food took so long to arrive and was not impressive. But it was comfortable, tastefully decorated and offered great views of the highway. The customers too all seemed to be the well heeled, ahem, like us. One CGOAB contributor that goes by the name of Bob Magee considers Bike Tourists as the highest form of visitors, and I would heartily agree.
At this stage, we only had 26km to go and we pushed through some very tough climbs to get to Samoeng. The descends too were exhilarating with too many a sharp hair pins, and it separated the men from the boys when it came to fast descends. KC was in his element as he chose his cornering line, which got one motor biker in a bit of a shock!
It was a hard slog with long and steep climbs before we reached our final coffee stop, which was another absolutely quaint and green one on top of a hill. Speedy KC missed it and we had to chase him using the Mothership to bring him back up the steep hill. All our orders overwhelmed the poor owner who struggled to make the drinks fast enough but we were not in a hurry as our hotel was a mere 17km.
I truly enjoyed coming into Samoeng as it was pure bliss going down full speed into the valley. We were nearly as fast as cars and motorcycles reaching 60-65kmh and it was assuring to know that my Marin 4Corners had grabby TRP disc brakes. Lance and Wayne had taken off earlier as they usually do and waited for us at the turn off. YC at this stage decided to take Loh to Samoeng Hospital just to make sure he was ok and an X-Ray thankfully revealed nothing broken but some abrasions.
Samoeng itself is a really insignificant hamlet and it was great that we had made arrangements with Khun Mon, the lovely owner of Phu Pha Doi View for a Mookata dinner. The resort itself was quite a distance from town but was a pleasant ride. It was rather tricky to reach there as one had to go off road for 150m from the main road.
Arriving at PPDV, we were bowled over at how beautiful the place is! Set among tall and beautiful trees on spacious grounds, this small exclusive resort reeks class. We were all so happy to be here and of course, the warm welcome by Khun Mon and her team really made all the effort to come here worth every pedal.
We loved our quaint chalets and although non-aircon, the weather was going to be a cool 12c that night. KC and I made ourselves comfortable and the trick was to get a hot shower before it got too cold.
The Mookata Dinner was greatly appreciated as we were all hungry as wolves. For 1500B (450B per set) or about S$6 per person, it was a steal! Fresh veggies and meat cooked over a hot plate with soup made for a perfect meal on a coldish evening. Mon came around often to make sure we had enough soup etc and truly, we were very touched by her attentive service.
Reflecting back, I'm not sure if I want to plan another MHS tour starting with Samoeng considering how tough it was to get here but certainly, the PPDV is one of those beautiful boutique hotels that is a must stay, best done by scooters!
We all slept very well that night and with grateful hearts as we were so glad for a relatively good start to our adventure.
Pics KC and AL