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Planned & Prepared – Chae Son National Park

Today I rode from home in Hang Dong, out to San Kamphaeng, Doi Saket, Chae Hom, Lampang and then a complete circle back to Hang Dong. The loop is just short of 300 kilometres.

This is not a journey for those wearing shorts and flip flops and if you have a map it would be extremely useful. If you have GPS, even better. If not, then you may well get a little lost, very concerned about time, fuel and where the heck you are.

I started out from home on the 121 at 13:00 and travelled east & over the 11 towards San Kamphaeng. Turned right onto the 1317 and enjoyed the blast out past Mae On and the hot springs area.

If you know this road you may also recall the tree nurseries on the top of Bah Sahakon and this day the scent in the air from the blooms was a pleasure to breath.

At Huai Kaeo, instead of turning right and taking the 4074, the subject of my last excursion to this area, written about here … today I stayed on the 1317 line which in fact is mapped as the 4032.

Before reaching the 118, I found the newly opened “196 Coffee Corner”, who’s owner – retired Major General Khun Chaion – spoke perfect English and was thrilled to talk about his new 6 week old business. Of course I met the 3 dogs and they enjoyed the treats I always carry in my bag!

After a great coffee, I continued to the 118, turned right towards Chiang Rai and enjoyed the good road up through the mountains to have another blast and realise the speed of the bike.

Took the right turning sign posted to Chae Hom, onto the 1252. Once again if you know this route, you will remember the condition of the road, if you don’t know the road, let me tell you.

It’s broken up on corners, inclines and on the flat too, the one or two steep hairpins with pot holes during the wet season have streams crossing the road and therefore sand is usually covering the tarmac and the sides of the road if not over grown with grasses encroaching on the centre of the road, are falling & crumbling away down very steep and don’t even think about it, escarpments !

Working your way through the mountains you realise the temperature dropping, especially as much of the journey is done in the shade, as the sun is on the other side of the mountain. This was my second time on this road and both times have been early afternoon, both times in the shade and both times about 10 degrees cooler than Doi Saket or Lampang. In fact at times the temperature is brrrrrr ass monkies!

Khun Chae National Park (Did the Major or the Park come first ?) turns into Chae Son National Park and is beautiful. There are some wonderful views, great birds to hear and see and of course some brilliant riding to be enjoyed.

And up here there are plenty of coffee !

Eventually the road comes out to something resembling civilisation and after a while comes into Mueang Pan, the road now becomes the 1157. The route now changes into smooth valley roller coaster road, quite a contrast and delight, after the previous hour on the mountain switch backs. The road just seems to go on & on & on. A really wonderful ride.

The 1157 follows the river down towards Lampang and finally meets the 1039. Turning right and therefore west to Hang Chat, this road literally parallels the 11 and is more often than not, quieter than the main road.

At Hang Chat turned left, then after a short distance, met the 11 and via the U Turn, turned towards Chiang Mai and therefore heading home to Hang Dong. The Shell pump on the 11 at Hang Chat has a decent coffee shop and to complement the hot coffee, the brownies are sweet and tasty.

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