I left my present residence in Chiangrai and climbing aboard Scoot ….the Honda 125 cc motor scooter I’m renting by the month….. headed north toward Mae Sai.

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I rode along 1…the super highway..with cars and trucks whizzing by in the normal Thai rush to get somewhere fast regardless of who dies in the process.

At the juncture of 1089 I turned west toward Pa Tueng and …finally able to breath easier, enjoyed the beautiful country rolling past.

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The river drifted in and out of view on my left and once I detoured at a sign that pointed toward a waterfall and rode for about 5 kilometers, finally coming to the entrance leading to the falls but dismounted and took photos of the stream after deciding to leave viewing the falls for another day. I did see two beautiful young women aboard their own scooters who, with gorgeous smiles, offered me directions and kind words.

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I rode, stopping at one point to photograph locals reaching into holes underwater on the river bank and catching fish. Nearby others were building a new structure that appeared to be a shrine.

The road began to climb, steeply at times, and I stopped and bought a soft drink and asked for time and distance references.

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The mountain portion of 1089 between the highway 1 intersection and Tha Ton finally topped out at about 2700 feet and the views are lovely.

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I rolled into Tha Ton district around 1pm but was still about 45 minutes from Tha Ton itself. There is much to see along the road and several villages offering the weary a nice respite and refreshments.

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Tha Ton lies between Mai Ai and Mae Chan and is a quaint feeling town divided by the Mae Kok river which is spanned by a large traffic bridge at this point. There are boat trips to Chiangrai for 350 Baht each way ($20 roundtrip) and takes 4-5 hours depending on current and going upstream or down.

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I stayed at the Garden House bungalows and dealt with Kae (Kay) at the desk. She speaks ok English and is very pleasant. Her in-laws own the place. Price for a bungalow for 1 night was $500 baht ($16) and it had TV and a/c. Internet was available either in the office lobby or at the onsite restaurant.

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I rented a house while I was there which I will occupy on November 22 and had a great meal at a riverside restaurant for $5.25 beer included.

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The next morning I went into town for breakfast (American…two eggs (your way) ham, bacon, or sausage, two pieces of toast with butter & marmalade, coffee and orange juice..120 baht or $4. Better value to be found.

Leaving town shortly after breakfast, I stopped for an iced coffee.

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Then I turned off 1089 up into the mountains on the road that goes to Wa Wi. The following is an excerpt from the Thai tourism site.

“Wawi Mountain is a community of Chinese people. Soldiers of The Republic of China’s 93rd Army Division immigrated here about 50 years and worked as agriculturists. They grew tea and fruit among the quiet and serene atmosphere of the Mae Salong community. Though the village is small, tourists can easily sense the simplicity of Chinese community as the same as in the southern part of China. Outside of the village lies a tea plantation that stunningly decorates the view. Near Wawi Mountain, there is a viewpoint for seeing mountain mist above Kat Phi Mountain where is the newest attraction of Mae Suai District. When you are at the 1500-meter high cliff, you can experience the dense fog with the spectacular complexity of Chang mountain. Kat Phi Mountain is about 20 kilometers from Wawi Mountain. The way there is quite rough passing Aka and Yao villages.

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The other attraction is Chang Mountain. Here is a high level agricultural research station and hill tribe people. There are various winter fruits available there such as chestnut, Chinese plum, Chinese peach, and plum. What’s more, you must try the delicious fresh roasted Arabica coffee.”  I was appropriately impressed. 

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The vistas as the road climbs to around 3500 feet are breathtaking and there are hill tribe villages and highway workers scattered along the route. There are large tea and coffee plantations and much to oooh and aah at.

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The highway is paved but there are several stretches where pot holes are the rule and care must be taken. The road eventually becomes very well maintained again as it descends from the mountains and joins the major highway 1018 south of Chiangrai, about 40 kilometers. This is a wandering route through the mountains and about 1 1/2 – 2 hours longer than the way I went to Tha Ton but…it is beautiful and I recommend it for those who are sight-seeing and have an adventurous spirit.

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