Oh to travel with no time restrictions, but no, I have only three weeks to dip my toes into northern Thailand. The enticement of the Mae Hong Son road is calling. Rumors of twists and turns and an escape from cities invade my dreams. As much as I have enjoyed my few busy, active days in Chiang Mai, I am ready for something much different. More than ready.
This corner of Thailand tucks up into Burma. I am still haunted by my four weeks there, I want to return and exploring the interface between Thailand and Myanmar is the next best thing. The Burmese culture bleeds into northwestern Thailand, populated by the same hilltribes, now separated by a political border and by a harsh political reality.
One can take the southern part of the loop first, or the northern. In either case, Mae Hong Son is approximately equidistant. I decide to go straight on to Pai, four hours along the northern branch, which a few short years ago was bucolic and peaceful. My plan is to continue on quickly from there to the village of Soppong, two hours further.
From there I will continue on to Mae Hong Son (two more hours), and then to Mae Sariang which is four hours along the southern branch of the loop route.
There could have been time to drop south to Mae Sot. It is no surprise that this does not happen – a return ticket to the US is my constraint. When out of time, I will jump on an overnight bus to Bangkok.
But no matter about missing Mae Sot, or Chiang Rai for that matter, or Nan or Isaan. The next 12 days are fascinating, peaceful, varied, full. Everything I could want. And more. Ok then, off we go. A warning though, since these segments are just now being written, you will need to tune back in to see where it all led!