Elephant Trailing by motorcycle in Northern Thailand

A serendipitous meeting of a Frenchman, Dutch and Australian in a  sly grog bar in Pai, Thailand. Over a few drinks it was suggested that they go for a trail ride. So began  a four day three night 900 km on-road-off road adventure.

It came to include The Elephant Trail, used for centuries to bring elephants from Burma to supply the army of Northern King of Siam as well as for the Teak industry.

We wound our way over the spine of the mountains which have been the home of many hill tribes for centuries. We were welcome to ride through Burmese Refugee camps and stop in Karen hill tribe villages. In the forests of Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang  people welcomed us, gave us whisky and played bocce with us.

 The mighty Salaween river, which has its headwaters in the Tibetan plateau winding its way down to form the border between Burma and Thailand, provided a much needed cool swim.

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It is the season for burning off.

Single tracks led up river valleys with 20 to 30 river crossings.

P1080324Hundreds of meter stretches of axle deep fine chalk like ‘bull dust’, reduced visibility and traction to almost nil.

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A long day of bull dust!
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The locals can cross at will, but not so for us as The Salween forms the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

We rode along forgotten WWII Japanese supply roads that have now become overgrown, little used single tracks.

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An ice cream man!
Ice creams for everyone!
Ice creams for everyone!
A new friend!
A new friend!
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Amazing scenery in the pristine forests of North Thailand
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Burmese refugee camps. Karen people escaping the persecution of the Myanmar military regime. They are closed off over night.
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Karen people refugee camps.

What is an off road adventure without a breakdown?

A CRF radiator fan failure, repaired with  a KLX fan attached with cable ties.

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The ever refreshing swim in the river Moei
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Playing Bocce and drinking whisky with local villagers with no shared language.

 

Watch this space for further adventures borne out of a few whiskies.

“The Bamboo Trail”?……..

 

Thanks to Wim Van Stein for pictures.

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