Road Trip...Chiang Rai, Isaan Loop ...

Despite our best efforts, we appear unable to hit the road before eight o'clock in the morning.  The one exception, being a trip to the airport for an early flight.  So we departed a little after eight, with only a vague idea where our trip might take us.  We had two inadequate maps that helped to point us in the general direction but we relied primarily on road signage and asking people for directions along the way.
Nong Wua So Resort

Our primary destination and anticipated turnaround point was the home of my wife’s nephew in Nam Wua So, in the Isaan part of the country between Nong Bua Lam Phu and Udon Thani.  After the death of his father, the nephew went to live there with his mother, half sister and grandmother.  My wife felt the need to go see where he was living and how he was doing.  With me being the driver, I negotiated the route and where we stayed as payment for my services.
The reason for our trip.

With me not wanting to do the drive in one day, the wife suggested a resort she had heard of in Khao Kho.  That made for an easier drive to our destination the following day.  One night and two half days with her nephew and the obligatory part of the trip was over.  Fortunately my wife had the foresight to bring a backup camera as I had forgotten to bring the battery charger and used the flash to excess around the house getting pictures of the nephew.
The Imperial Phukaew Hill Resort

Not wanting to retrace our path home, I suggested trying to find a route through Loei and Nan, two places I had not been before.  At least not in recent memory.  Not far past Loei is a resort area called Phu Ruea.  After inspecting several resorts, we finally found one to our liking on the outskirts of town.  The owner was a shrewd negotiator and refused to go down in price but did upgrade us to one of her larger units, with four large beds in it and no noisy neighbors.
Ruan Mai Resort

The real adventure started the next day as we negotiated the back roads from Phu Ruea to Nan.  I have never been on such remote and beautiful roads in Thailand.  Surfaces were good for the most part but the roads were often wet, very narrow, steep and twisty, with no shoulder or center line.  With barely enough room for two vehicles to pass, fortunately we seldom encountered oncoming traffic. 
Phu Soi Dao Waterfall

Unexpected Encounter

Sao Din


There were some unseasonable clouds which made for cooler driving but meant we were often in heavy mist when driving through the mountains.  Lights and four wheel drive were engaged much of the time.  We came across rocks and cows on the road as well as one major landslide.  Perhaps the most unexpected encounter, was a long procession of monks that stretched beyond our line of sight.  We estimate perhaps two hundred of them.  They had another month or so of walking before they would reach their final destination in Nakhon Phanom.  Despite their hardship they seemed in good spirits.

After a very long day of driving, we finally arrived in Nan, where we chose a resort on the outskirts of town once again.  We did drive into town but without a map we soon found ourselves disoriented and struggled to find our way back to the resort where we ordered room-service and a massage.
Sasidara Resort

From Nan to our home is only a little over two hundred kilometers but the 1148 is an epic road, known for its beauty as well as its steep twisty bends.  With a stop to eat in Chiang Kham, we arrived home at a reasonable hour with time to unload the truck and prepare dinner before the sun went down.  I returned slightly under the weather but two nights in my own bed have me feeling half human again.
Route 1148

For now my need for adventure has been sated and I have over 400 photos to deal with.  Be sure to checkout the map of our route in my previous post.