09 November 2016

Thailand, Part 5 — Riding the Strawberry Loop

Mae Sa Valley, Samoeng Loop, January 2016
Click here for today's route.

After another wonderful breakfast at

it was time to get on the road.

Thailand is a kingdom ruled by a junta. To cement the Authoritarian Father rule, their king is actually referred to as "Dad".

The bike was still pretty DIRTY from my two offs, so on the way to the Samoeng Loop, I stopped and got it washed. They took their time, did a great job, and charged hardly anything...

The bike/car wash place also had some of the more interesting icons to denote the men's and women's restrooms...

Once you get off the highway, road 1096 to Samoeng is very curvy and takes you past a number of places where you can have an "elephant encounter". Fortunately, the majority of them are non-riding encounters—riding an elephant is very harmful to the beautiful creatures and continues the abuse that they've suffered their entire lives. Here is one of the many articles you can find that goes into more detail: "Why elephant riding should be removed from your Bucket List".

Next time through, I will definitely stop at one of the elephant places; this time I just rode past and into the beautiful scenery.

At the junction of 1096 and 1269 (see map here), you can either go to right on 1269 to Samoeng on a spur or left on 1269 and loop back to Chiang Mai. Since I had all day, I took a right. I found that there is little to see in Somoeng, so I turned around and headed back to the 1096 interchange. I wanted to stop at one of the strawberry farms I'd passed on my way in...

Choosing one at random—though as my good friend Gee says, "everything happens for a reason"—I met Thaweesup Kriwattanakig, a gregarious young man with great English skills. He was also the one who made sure my strawberries were FRESH!

They literally went out into the field and picked them just for me!

while I waited, I made friends with the resident feline

and had a couple cups of tea and some complimentary strawberries. I originally asked for one kilo (2.2 lbs), though after tucking into the samples,

I quickly upped that to two kilos!

It's hard to believe that until that day, when I asked why so many of the strawberries had a lot of white on them, I did not know that the white strawberries will turn red next day or so. I was then able to enjoy fresh-picked-just-for-me strawberries for the next three days. When you are in Thailand, be sure to stop by to meet Thaweesup and his co-workers and enjoy their strawberries...

Having temporarily eaten my fill of strawberries and all but filled my top box with freshly-picked strawberries, I said goodbye to Thaweesup and his coworkers and headed back toward Chiang Mai. As I started up a hill, I rounded a corner to see two scooters off the road, one of which was on its side. As most conscientious motorcyclists will, I pulled over to see if all was okay... and I met two very nice young women, one of whom had a pretty good case of road rash from braking too suddenly in the gravel she'd drifted into on the side of the road. Her friend and I helped her to sit on the guardrail while I picked up her scooter and checked it for damage. The right-hand side mirror was toast and one of the side panels was scratched up, though the bike was still ride-able.

Checking in again with Kelly (the injured one) and her friend, Nimisha, I found that they weren't carrying any water with which they could wash the gravel out of the seemingly superficial wounds. I schlepped over to my bike, grabbed a 2L bottle of water and one of the 1/2 kilo boxes of strawberries. I offered the strawberries as a distraction from the discomfort of washing the gravel out of and cleaning the wounds in her knee and arm and was a bit surprised when they each only ate a couple. I then offered them the entire box while telling them briefly of the wonderful strawberry farm I'd just left. They kindly thanked me and said that they'd stop there and buy some themselves.

Kelly, Thaweesup, and Nimisha in the field
After a bit more conversation, we said our goodbyes and rode off in opposite directions—they to meet Thaweesup, and I toward Chiang Mai.

Earlier I'd given my last business card to Thaweesup and he'd promised to "Friend" me on Facebook, so I was happy to see that, a few days later he posted about both my visit and theirs. Kelly got my information from the business card, also sent me a "Friend" request, and posted this.

It was good to have two new friends and to see that Kelly was recovering well, though she did tell me that she and Nimisha wished they'd taken me up on my offer of a kilo of strawberries to ease her pain. It turns out that I'd bought out the last of the farm's inventory for the day and they had to go without. Sorry. If it helps any, they were awesome! :-D

I worked up an appetite ridin' 'round the hills of 1269, so I picked a place for lunch that had a few other motorcycles parked out front. The food was good and the view even better.

As I waited for my food, a young man approached me, asked what I was riding and where I was from. We talked for a bit and he told me he that he's a tour guide (and, I think, part owner) of an outfit called Big Bike Tours. He suggested I look at their web site and consider joining one of their tours. I promised to check out the web site and told him that I'm not much of a "tour person", more of a loner. After checking their web site, though, I may consider joining a tour to Myanmar because that's pretty much the only way a motorcyclist can get in.

He was a nice young man with good English skills. I wish him and his company well.

The rest of the ride back to the hotel in Chiang Mai was uneventful, though I did stop and watch them painting the road red...

And photograph more of the tighter non-red curves.

The last thing I did before returning the CBX500 was to go to the train station to buy my ticket to back to Bangkok.

Great ride with just enough adventure and diversity to keep it exciting... and the rubber on the road.

Next: Wrapping up Thailand—Trains, Tuk-tuks, and Take-aways

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