Adventure Thailand – Sob Moei – Mae Hong Son

It is time for some Adventure in Thailand.

Filip spent some time up this way many years ago. Rather than do National Service in Sweden he opted for volunteer work. This time was spent in Sob Moei where he made many friends in the local Karen community.

Filip had always wanted to come back and ride the trails to the remote villages he use to go and visit. The idea was born and he made contact with K. Suwit and he kindly allowed us to camp at the Karen church grounds. The closest hotel is 30 minutes away at Mae Sariang.

Back to the beginning of this trip.

The night before we planned to leave, load up the bikes in the Ranger.

This is exactly why I bought the Ranger, for trips like this.

Bikes and gear loaded and ready to beat the Friday night Bangkok traffic the next day with an early departure.

Arrive at Tak around 10 pm to a decent hotel and a few beers. The Friday night traffic was grueling. But we made it, where we wanted to be ready to enjoy an early morning drive through the mountains to Mae Sot.

Up early the next morning and head to Mae Sot. Both happy we left the day before, with the boring highways behind us until our return to Bangkok.

Fresh morning air and a fantastic twisty road to breakfast at Canadian as a first stop. Plus fill up the fuel cans and the pickup for the next part of the journey.

Canadian has the best breakfast in the region. My first time here was around 10 or so year ago.

If you want local knowledge, then a stop here is a must and a chat with the owner.

After a hearty, heart stopping breakfast. We leave Mae Sot and head up the Thailand Myanmar border road. Highway 105. This is a truly stunning road with fantastic scenery.

Not that long ago, you would not dare take this road at night due to bandits crossing from Myanmar and robbing people, putting ropes up across the road and stealing bikes.

Even with the war going on over in Myanmar, it is still safe. But I would not do this road at night, not only because of the potential for bandits to reemerge, the road would be quite dangerous in parts without proper lighting. Plus it is so scenic in the day light.

There are so many places to stop and look and take photos along the way. At times the road is running along the river, you are looking at Myanmar to the left just a stones throw away.

This is the most remote I have felt in Thailand on a paved road. You really don’t want to break down further up away from the smaller villages.

Before arriving at Sob Moei, the road is very narrow and twisty with no phone signal.

One of the stops along the way. Myanmar on the other side of the river.

Sob Moei

After meeting K. Suwit and setting up camp we went for a quick ride. I really had forgotten how steep the mountains are out this way. Plus a reminder how tall the 701 is and not forgiving at all when you get it wrong.

Back to town and a few beers at the local shop. This would be our beer and ice stop for the rest of the stay.

We had steak, bacon and sausages with us to BBQ at the campsite. Just top up the ice every second day and meat remained fresh and beer cool.

Filip tries his hand at fishing. Five minutes later some local kids stop to talk and watch, then more locals turn up and before you know it. They are fishing and we are drinking beer. Then two more turn up with the local moonshine. A perfect afternoon.

K. Suwit and his grandson sitting on the mighty 701 at our camp site.

Karen Church

The next morning many of the local Karen had come down from the mountains to attend church.

We sat in for a while, then we were invited to join for early lunch. Every one is super friendly and surprised to see these two Farang.

Maternity House

This may not look like much. But for the Karen women in the area, this is very essential and life saving accommodation.

Prior to this house being made available to the pregnant woman. The woman that had pregnancy complications were either dying in the hills or dying on the road trying to get to the hospital in town.

After this house was made available to the pregnant woman and families, there were no more deaths. If complications occur, the woman are able to reach the hospital 400 metres up the road.

Positive Social Media Impact

A very positive impact from my post on Facebook explaining this setup and how it helps the women.

A friend messaged me asking for more details. He with his wife sponsor other organisations that help the Karen people.

After further discussion with myself and then Filip. My friend made a visit to the Church with his wife to visit K. Suwit. The Church had arranged for a translator. They agreed to help with improving the housing for the pregnant woman. Feeling they could make a positive impact and agreed to sponsor the building of new accommodation to improve the stay during the pregnancy for the woman and family members.

K. Suwit had been planning to do this for a long time, but no funding to achieve his goal.

Below pictures of the new house status as of early May 2022.

Work has temporarily stopped while everyone plants rice for the rainy season.

K. Suwit

Camp Site

We were allowed to camp closer to the buildings, but it did feel a bit like being in a goldfish bowl with the people coming and going.

We opted to camp down in amongst the banana trees.

A great setup.

Bacon, sausages and eggs for breakfast every day. You really can’t beat car camping.

Our gracious host enjoyed the English style sausages and brought down some fresh coffee he had from Omkoi. Then we warmed up some sweet rice in bamboo over the coals.

We made Aussie damper sticks with butter and shared.

Out and about Exploring

Wanting to explore more local remote villages. K. Suwit told us of a few villages and with the help of Google maps and OSM. We could see the main tracks but not the smaller trails. Marking them on the phone to compare with our position later during the ride.

First we are heading to visit a school that needs some help and Filip will make a donation.

Along the way we spot many fantastic photo opportunities and ride up the mountain tops to take a look. Easy going up, not always so easy coming back down.

We arrive at the school and introduce ourselves and are shown around. Also invited to eat with the teachers.

Many of the children come from remote villages and stay at the school. They are financially very poor and in many cases can’t afford the uniforms to attend school. People raise money locally to help fund the uniforms for the poorer families.

Filip’s 10,000 Baht donation is enough to feed the children at this school for 3 months. Trust me, there are a lot of kids here. At first I thought I heard incorrectly.

Sadly most of them do not finish secondary education and end up helping out in the village with everyday living.

Filip making a donation to the school. A receipt is issued and all above board.

While here, the teachers asked us to visit a more remote school to look at the solar power setup. The solar power has been out for the past year. We agreed to take a look, but also explained there isn’t much we can do, but will try.

A small shop out the front of the school.

Two of the teachers from the “big” school we had brunch with. They are heading to the more remote school in the mountains. We agreed to meet them there and would go ahead.

They will stay at the school for at least a week may be two before returning. You can see on the back of the bikes. They are loaded up to carry supplies back to the smaller school.

The main track to the remote mountain school.

The teachers are coming the same way. You can’t beat the mighty Honda wave.

There were some very steep and technical rocky parts too, with big ruts to get up.

We stopped along the way and rested as well as took photos. During that time, the teachers caught up to us. Pretty good going.

Remote Village School

The two teachers that rode to the school with us and some of the kids.

The following photos, you will see some of the small villages perched on the mountain edges.

The trail we ride is how the kids get to the school from the near by villages.

Centre of the picture you can see one of the villages, there is one more village below not in the picture. The top right you can make out the trail going along the mountain edge to other villages.

Solar power setup

As expected. We had no idea about the solar setup or how to fix it. We did take some photos and will follow up and see what can be done to get this working again. The main problem is, there are no locals that have knowledge on the solar setup or we could send them up in a 4X4 to check it out and send what is needed to fix it.

After doing some research. It appears a common theme. Government and aid agencies rolled out solar power to these remote villages, with no follow up maintenance or training given to the locals allowing them to maintain it. So you have this happening all over the area. After ten or so years, the solar stops working and left as is as no local knowledge to fix it, and no funds to pay for fixing it from outside.

More to come on this, as honestly don’t believe it would be major fix. Just need to understand what can break, have someone check and test and replace it. Plus refresh the batteries as these must be past normal usage after 10 years.

The teachers informed us of another way out on a remote track that links up the villages.

Not wanting to repeat the same way in and it was a bit narrow and sketchy with big ruts that could swallow the bike in places. We decide to take the other way out.

After all, the teacher said she rides this on her Honda wave..

Well can’t be that tough can it.. LOL

Water out the mountain rock and in to the plastic bottles to take back to the house.

Plus also do the clothes washing.

Karen Village Track

We ride the track that links up three Karen villages, then eventually joins up half way to the main track we rode in to the remote school.

The track goes straight down and along the mountain edge.

A little above centre you can make out the trail through the mountains

Not so impressed with these tyres. All the mud and cow Sh1t etc sticks in the tread, then no traction. This case I was perched with a big rut to my left and side of the mountain to the right.

At first manage to hold it together, then after trying to move away, the wheel spins and over I go.

If not for that tree stump, the 701 would have been another 2 metres down the mountain before the scrub stopped the slide. Very lucky a local Karen came along and helped us pull the 701 back out.

It wasn’t over yet, then more sketchy stuff.. Now I am a bit shell shocked and really don’t want to go over the edge again. Luckily this time, fall in to the rut and then we push with working the clutch to get the bike through this bit. Remember. I mentioned earlier, the 701 is tall and very unforgiving !

We made it to the last village and back to normal dirt roads and link up to the main track.

YouTube :- Karen Village Track

Back to the village and a good bike wash.

Mae Sariang

Both getting sore backs from camping.

We opt for a night in Mae Sariang with a good hotel, steak and lazy start the next day and basically just chill. Only 30 minutes from Sob Moei through the mountains in the Ranger.

Poor Tom.

Mae Ngao National Park

Mae Ngao National Park and surrounding area. We ended up linking up here on the second day of exploring from another direction.

The last time through here was about 9 years ago when we did our epic

” Chiang Mai to Bangkok – The Long Dirty Way Down ”

Really surprised how much of the main road in to the national park has been paved. But it wasn’t really that long before it became dirt and rough again.

Before we could get too far. Police were everywhere and we had to stop and pull over. There is a rehearsal for the popular princess visit tomorrow. We started chatting to these guys, special branch or something like that, responsible for the security and overseeing certain aspects of the visit.

They asked what we were doing and then asked for my YouTube channel details so they could follow later. Super friendly.

Coffee with a view. 10 years ago this was just a dusty town and a bridge over the river and then on in to the wild green yonder towards Mae Sot.

The seats are not made for western wide bums.

Land Slide

YouTube :- Land Slide

Stop for a swim and cool off.

Time to wash my underwear.

There are only so many times you can turn them inside out.

Quite surprised to see these cows way up the mountain stumbling around.

Some quite sketchy washouts along the way.

Make way for the family and a Wai from the young girl and a smile from Dad.

One of the bigger villages along the track.

Give a wave and get a wave and smile back.

A few steeper paved parts of the trail. Also very narrow.

Then back to the dirt and some good climbs, decent ruts on the side and very narrow in places.

A lone house and Church in the mountains.

A wave back from the kid. Everyone else carries on as normal.

The village we passed through in the previous photos.

Thumbs up and a Wai.

Kid at the back still giving a Wai.

Getting late and heading back to the main road.

Bush fashion week.

Clean up the bikes one more time and check them over.

The next day we cross the main road and go exploring out towards Myanmar.

The mountain trails were really steep all the way down to the river.

First a Wai from the local kids in the back of the pickup.

Down down down down down.. Then finally at the bottom with the river behind the grass.

Really steep going down, better coming back up and more fun as the trail followed the mountain around and up.

Pop out of the bush and arrive at this little town for lunch. You can also get here via the paved road.

Taking the paved road back.. Not really keen for an endless 600 – 800 metre mountain climb that just keeps going up and up and up. (The way we went down).

Looks like someone is living here and setup something to keep the ghosts / spirits away.

Plenty of other trails and villages to explore off the main road here.

Doi Pui Co

What an amazing view and climb up here.

Shame it is abandoned and no longer maintained.

Very popular with the locals to come and camp and drink and smoke weed up here.

Almost half way up. The road below where we parked, but to the left of the photo.

Rest spot and continue the slog up here.

Made it to the top. Filip coming up the pathway.

Stunning views and some local Karen kids up here.

Back down the bottom at the entrance.

The Karen guys rode up from Mae Sot to camp up top for the night.

Another Random View Point

We were riding along and looking for trails that lead to fantastic view points

Filip spots a track, up we go to check it out.

Simply stunning. We will be back here to camp one night next trip for sure.

K. Suwit kindly gave us some food to take with us.

The perfect spot to have an early lunch.

YouTube :- What’s Up There?

Farewell Dinner

Dinner with Filip’s local Karen friends and their friends.

Last night before leaving. K. Suwit and the Church gang have a small BBQ party for us.

We both left a donation to help out the local community and say thank you for the hospitality.

This was heading back to Mae Sot. The Temple not that interesting. But all the buildings leaning over made it worth the stop.

YouTube :- Adventure Thailand – Mae Hong Son – Sob Moei

This video is a wrap up of the entire trip. Hope you enjoy as we certainly did.

We will be back next dry season for sure.

So much fun, lovely friendly local people and so much more to see.