May 29, 2006 - Monday
Phrae, TH to Nan, TH

The map shows a scenic gorge near my northward route - a sight to see! If I were to by pass this sight and stay on the highway it would be like cutting from the bottom left corner of a box to the top right corner - the direct route. Taking these side roads I'll travel across the bottom of the box and then up the right side. The jump up the right side contains the scenic gorge.

I found the first turn easy enough and enjoyed being off of the highway and onto a little used side road. The terrain is starting to become hilly / mountainous. With that the road started to climb. And climb. And climb. I passed one, maybe two vehicles going in my direction and none passing the other way. The scenery was of mountains and farmers - they were planting crops on the steep slopes - slopes that had been stripped of the original vegetation to make way for the crops. If you heard the news lately of the mountain landslides in Thailand I can now see why. Vegetation is stripped and maybe an odd tree or two will be left. Rubber trees are popular as are low crops.

This eastward road (1216) was to take me to Na Noi where I should look for a northbound road (1026). Coming back down the mountain I started to see some villages and kept my eyes open for any road to my left. I passed a couple suspect roads but since they weren't signed I figured I'd move on a bit. If I missed the desired turn the current road would take me a bit out of my way but I would still end up where I wanted to go - so no huge issue of missing the turn - except that I would miss the gorge.

Passing through a village that could have been Na Noi I turned about and went back to ask directions. Stopping at an old gas station several were sitting about. To some, pulling out the map and showing it to them helps little - but asking town names - verbally (and with different pronunciations until I pronounce it the way they say it) - I can figure out where I might be. Saying Na Noi and pointing to the ground and pointing "over there" they came back and said Na Noi and pointed down - here. Nan - over there.

Great. If this is Na Noi - where is the intersection? Well, they said Nan is "over there" so I'll continue in the direction of "over there" which was the way I was headed anyway. Perhaps my desired route is a small one that nobody takes. I was anticipating taking the "other" route at this point and missing the gorge.

Back on the road and processing a few kilometers east for now the third time. I passed one side road - unmarked but it was the same class as that I was on (center stripes and side stripes). I turned back to look at it but held off. Doing another turn about and continuing on I came over a hill - Na Noi! Three fuel stations, a fire station - a TOWN. One that had an intersection in it that was marked with my desired road. Cha Ching.

No cutting it close on fuel - no missing my desired route.

While I should be able to make Nan on this tank I filled up anyway and headed out. The roads were dry (I did have the rain clothes on from back in "the other Na Noi" where it was showering) and the sun was shining with white cumulus clouds overhead.

The road ended up being busy but not overly so. It snaked in a valley with close hills and did a fair bit of twists and turns. Dry, decent surface, moderate traffic - a fun road to twist along with. The southern section - closer to Na Noi - is the better part as the northern section became a bit more straight. I don't know that I'd list it as a big scenic gorge attraction though - but it was a nice road through a somewhat tight hilly section.

Soon I would pop out on highway 101 and trek up to Nan. My plan was for Chiang Rai but when I saw a sign that said "270 kilometers" I looked at the time and said - tomorrow. It was a bit early yet - 4pm - but I couldn't make that distance on second class roads before dark - and didn't want to miss the scenery.

MPG, 17.2 MB, 4 min 6 sec

Internet access - where I could 'jack-in'. 10 Baht ($0.27 US) for 30 minutes. I purchased one 30 minute chunk, then another, and yet one more. 1.2 hours to upload 81 Megabytes.

Dogs finding any piece of shade to stay cool.

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Saturating their outbound connection with multiple FTP connections.

Heading out of town - new tractors. The top is the base frame (w/o engine) where the bottom one has an engine mounted. The engine selection seems to be separate from the frame.

One used, one new heading down the road.

Ugh. This truck was just PUKING fumes out the tailpipe.

Getting into some hills. The field in the foreground had been stripped for planting.

The largest grouping of cattle so far.

The roadway coming in from the right and hugging the hills until it arrives at this spot. Shaved - and planted - hillsides (look close at the bottom left - you can see rows of plants).

This is how it's done. No machines used. Human power. One by one by one... He's out spraying something.

Some rain over there. I'm heading off to the left but these showers will catch up to me. I'll stop for 20 minutes under an overhang.

Waiting for the showers to pass.

Rainwater catch. It rolls off of the roof, into the gutter, then into another and into the tank. The tank had a canvas top with a small hole in the center.

Dry roads weren't far away.

Up in Nan. The regional airport - Runway between me and the buildings at the far side.

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