The hot and dry season went on and on this year. So we made a plan to go and see Pom in Tak and ride around the mountain trails visiting Karen villages. Hoping to miss the wet or may be just catch a few storms as the rainy season sets in.
Tom came around Sunday afternoon and we loaded up the bikes and gear.
Leave early Monday morning to beat the Bangkok traffic.
First a speeding ticket as you do.
Next stop at Canadian in Mae Sot. The last western food for a week.
Beef Fajitas it is.
Love the drive up the 105. A truly magical road, so scenic.
Arrive at the destination, we plan to base ourselves here nearby Mae Tawo Pier for the trip.
Time for a few pictures before Beer O’clock after a long drive.
Me, Pom and Tom standing by the pier looking over at Myanmar.
After indulging in plentiful beers and some JD the previous night, I wake up to a picturesque view with my morning coffee. However, the weather has taken a turn as it’s raining outside. It appears that the rainy season has arrived in full force, setting the tone for our adventure from the very beginning.
Our ultimate destination for the day is a secluded Karen village school, where we will spend the night. To reach there, our journey begins by traversing the scenic National Park before transitioning into the mountain tracks.
As we depart from the national park, the terrain transforms into unpaved dirt tracks, occasionally interspersed with concrete sections on the steepest slopes.
As we venture further, we encounter the treacherous slippery red clay, now showing a distinct green tinge. It’s a vivid reminder of how challenging it will become in a couple of months once the rainy season is in full swing.
Some more red ice. When it was slippery. It was really slippery.
I can’t even stand up here without sliding down the mountain.
Pom dropped it twice.
The rain is really coming down now.
Along the trail, we encounter a Karen lady and her husband. With kindness and pride, she allows me to capture her photograph.
More slipping and sliding
We stop for a drink and to find some fuel.
Note:- Fill up when you see fuel, in many villages they had no fuel or not open or selling early in the day.
These two ladies are hard at work spinning a good yarn.
Some very slick ups and downs.
The locals have the right idea, mud chains.
Quite a battle getting up here. So slick. Ended up pulling all three bikes up most of the way beyond this point.
Riding along the trail and look to the left. WOW.
Stop for a look and some photos. Stunning, you are not going to be bothered by tourists this deep in to the mountain trails.
This spot has been set up by the local villagers for campers.
4X4 or off-road oriented bikes only.
Riding along and come, across this patch of super highway. Top grade road.
Just when we thought we were returning to civilization, the road abruptly transforms back into a dirt track a mere 800 meters later. Our adventure continues.
It is now dusk and we finally reach the village.
What a surprise. These kids all standing on a rock as we ride through the village.
Arrive at the school. The camera makes it lighter than it was. Just on dark.
Everyone came out to see who had arrived.
We sleep here tonight.
The teacher and some of the students waiting for us to arrive.
No power as there is a problem with the batteries.
The fridge has power to keep food cold.
A nice dinner was prepared and enjoyed.
The rivers are rich with fish. Fish is in almost every dinner we had this trip.
Wake up in the morning and everyone is making breakfast and bought us a coffee.
The teacher in the red and the kids in the purple.
The kids arrive for school. We say hello. It was like I am from Mars to them.
They give us each a present. We also made a donation to the school for letting us stay.
(Tom arranged this before hand)
A picture of the school in the morning. I didn’t take a picture the night before as was raining and getting dark. We slept in the building to the left.
It rained and rained all night long and was still raining when we woke up.
Photo shoot with the man from Mars.
Back to the trails and heading back to base camp.
We had been rained on relentlessly for big parts of the previous day. I made the decision to wear the same riding clothes the entire trip if it doesn’t stop raining. (It didn’t stop raining)
Back out the way we came in to the village.
Pom before we go down a steep slippery and rutted drop at a remote village
A villager comes along with a Rat snake. Going to be a good dinner tonight.
Love that smile and happy to see us. I said Hello as we passed.
Pom had a good recommendation from the guest house owner for a fish restaurant in town.
This plus some other dishes is dinner. Really tasty fish.
Wake up the next morning and go for a walk around with Pom.
We find the local boat building yard.
Rest and exploring day.
Our group is not like those that have a pass from the wife or family and need to fit a years worth of riding in to the 5 days or unhappy when not on the bike. Free to smell the roses and enjoy being here too, seeing sights and interacting with the locals.
We are not allowed to cross to the village on the other side of the river in Myanmar. It is under the watch of the Border Patrol Police. But we are allowed to take a boat and visit a waterfall on the river bank in Myanmar further downstream.
Edit:- I am not allowed to cross being a foreigner. Pom and Tom no problem. Just pay a small fee. In Poms case as he is Karen and is allowed to go back and forth pretty much unrestricted.
The Border Patrol Police said. “Don’t go to Myanmar ” But here is OK? I am thinking. Well technically this is Myanmar. Guessing they know that area is safe as we saw two Karen army camps along the river and Karen state flags all along the river and at the waterfall.
Karen state flags are all along the river’s edge and on all the buildings.
Look closely and you can see the bamboo spear fencing and very basic huts of the Karen Army.
น้ำตกนอตัส (Naotas Waterfall)
GPS Coordinates. 17.61598 97.86144
If you are not one for walking on floating bamboo, narrow planks of wood etc. etc.
Getting off here may not be for you..
I wouldn’t bother going all the way to the top to look. The view is best from the river and the house.
Getting up the top in the wet is sketchy at best, with no steps, broken or no hand railing you could easily slip off the edge. I was wishing I hadn’t gone up as I was trying to get back down.
The owner invited us up to his bedroom with a view.
The young guy ran down to the boat and carried up my beer cooler and we shared some beers and enjoyed the view and a chat.
Beer o’clock view from the bedroom. Waterfall to the right and Thailand over the river on the left.
The boat at the bottom is for hire. You can sleep overnight with a group. An area for sleeping and making a small party etc. Bring your own food and lights etc. There is no mobile signal down there. Just a cusp of a signal at the top of the house and very slow.
Back down to the boat and a stunning view of Myanmar on the right and Thailand on the left, as we make our way back to Mae Tawo Pier (ท่าเรือแม่ตะวอ)
The next day we head up the 105 almost 30 km to tracks in the remote mountains.
On the way, my second API ECU dies. Luckily having had this happen in Laos and caused a lot of issues and expense. This trip I carried the first generation API ECU with me as a back up. It ran like a dog, but the show carried on.
The faulty ECU below that died along the way to the jumping off point to the trails.
Luckily here and not in the thick of it.
(Since back in Bangkok. The API is gone, stock ECU back in and some modifications to the KLX sensors for the 300 big bore and running fine)
Off the concrete and start to go up. Tom wipes out. I try to move around him. My entire bike and back end swings around to where the photo is taken. Don’t know how I stayed on the bike.
I put it down to the Ohlins suspension and a good bit of luck. Next to try and straighten up the bike and climb the hill without falling off.
I ended up partially pointing back down the hill climb.
Look at the trail at the back of my rear wheel. Nice and shiny.
Those mud chains are great when wet, not so great when dry.
The backend was all over the place.
We soldier on. Really stunning, but some very steep and slippery descents.
Here comes the local. Doesn’t even blink.
Now it starts to get more scenic.
Another smiling Karen lady as we exit the creek. Again said hello back.
We make it to the top after two steep and slippery climbs.
Not expecting to get through the mountain trail. We give it a go anyway.
After a while turn back around and take the road out.
Time to clean the caked on mud off the bikes.
Hmm. Shall we buy some mud chains.
What a great trip. Big thanks to Pom and Tom.
Good natured, easy going and lots of picking up bikes.
The pictures taken above with watermark are stills from the video in the link below.