12. Nakhon Sawan-Mae Sot: 1000 curves, beautiful, beautiful riding.
Before I left the pleasant town of Nakhon Sawan, I had to ride up to the tallest mountain, Dawa Dung, where the splendid Wat Kiriwong overlooks the city, the vast plain and the Chao Praya river.
|The bird handler, who can be seen at many Wats. |
Birds in the cages are released to freedom for a small fee, in order to bring luck. They fly back to the cages later that day.
The first part of today's trip went through an agricultural plateau, relatively uneventful riding on the good to very condition AH1/AH2 (Asian Highway 1/2) northwest bound. Uneventful for me, however the lorry driver (picture below) must have dosed off and did a perfect landing in the ditch. The default Thai newspaper caption under such an image would be: "The driver fled the scene." This is similar to the boat captain of the ferry from Koh Larn two days ago, who fled his overloaded, sinking boat after it hit rocks. The ferry carried many more than 200 people, it was authorized for 130 (there were also only 130 life-vests.) Six tourists were killed, among them a little boy from Russia who couldn't swim. The captain, high on Yaba (tablets of meth and caffeine, popular here in Thailand), and alcohol "fled the scene", but turned himself in to police a day later. But truth to be told, that even happens with captains in Europe, sailing the Mediterranean.
Turning towards Mae Sot means climbing from sea level up to almost 1000 meters into the forested mountains, dipping down a few hundred meters again, and so on. This is magnificent, the "Black Forest" mountain roads of Thailand, what motorcycling is concerned.
|Noisy little creatures in this truck at the truck stop.|
|Forest as far the eye can see.|
|Mountain range in background is Myanmar.|
After a beautiful ride across these mountain roads (Watch out: On three lane curvy roads, oncoming traffic overtakes also into YOUR lane in case they need to, i.e. extremely slowly truck etc.), and arriving in Mae Sot, the town directly on the Thai-Myanmar border, I looked at my muddy, rained on, and partially flooded motorcycle, and decided it needs a wash. However, doing simple household chores yourself isn't easy here; everything is provided for by this service-oriented society, people don't cook at home, I don't do my laundry myself, I don't 'schlepp' the heavy gear into my accommodations in the evening, and of course, one could not understand why I would want to wash my motorcycle. So it was decided, I went to the car wash salon. I know that for people who know me it might be hard to believe but I think the motorcycle wasn't that clean in a very long time. At times, five people, including the owner of the shop washed, sprayed, wiped dry, and air-blew this bike that it was a pleasure to watch!
|The owner lady (left) had to put on the finishing touches.|
|At the end another car wash patron had to take a picture of his wife in front of the bike.|
A quick trip to the "Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge" and border concludes the day. I am unable to ride the motorcycle into Myanmar, which is a shame, despite my 30-day visa. Otherwise the border is pretty open, kids from Burma go to school in Thailand, Thailand exports a great amount of goods into Burma, whereas Burma's exports so far are limited mainly to scrap and old batteries, as I was told. People cross legally, and illegally from Burma into Thailand in great numbers. But this openness is not extended to motorcycles, or Thai registered, foreigner-owned cars, for that matter. Change is supposed to come in this area in 2015.
|Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, Mae Sot, Thailand.|