Road Trip 2013 Part 1, Home to Na Haeo …

One could say our trip really began the night before, as an unseasonal deluge continued unabated into the night and we found ourselves questioning the wisdom of beginning a long road trip in that kind of weather.  We continued with our preparations, however, deciding to wait and see what the next morning would bring.

While we had discussed an early departure around 7am, and thought we would be awake well before then, somehow it was after 7:30am before we began to stir.  In the end it was 9am before we got everything sorted and were able to hit the road.  It was dark and grey even at that hour but at least the rain had ceased.  A quick look at the weather forecast and we decided it was a go.  We encountered nothing but perfect weather on our trip but received frequent updates from home of rain and even hail.

We had some wild-eyed notion of making it from Chiang Kham to Chiang Khan in one day, which did not come to pass.  This was not to be a high speed highway cruise but rather a backroad mountainous adventure that also snaked along tortured riverside byways.  As the sun began to set we found ourselves far from our destination and still in the midst of high mountain switchbacks.

I almost never drive after dark but on this occasion we had no choice but to drive well into the night.  Ten hours of hard driving, not including breaks along the way, put us a mere 500 kilometers into our trip and far short of Chiang Khan were we hoped to spend the first night.  It hadn’t helped that I got lost at least once, missing a turn, but my wife also got carsick along the way further delaying our progress.  Thankfully that is not a regular occurrence.

She fought it as long as she could but finally said I should pullover, which I did immediately.  At that point she lost her breakfast, and everything she had eaten since, right there on the side of the road.  Not long after we got moving again, she feel fast asleep and awoke feeling much better.  From that point on she was fine, and her normal wonderful self.

Sometime after 8:30pm we arrived at Na Haeo which looked like the only possibility of finding accommodation in the area.  Sure enough we stumbled onto the sign for a guesthouse and pulled in to check it out.  Fortunately the gate was open and as we drove in the owner, a lovely well spoken lady, came out to greet us.  It ended up being well worth the 500 baht she asked for, even if the bed was a bit hard.

My wife was starving and there was a roadside vendor just across the road in this sleepy little town, who served up tasty stir fried dishes.  To our surprise we were not the only ones who were hungry after a long day.  There was a Norwegian couple who had peddled over 100 kilometers from Chiang Khan that very day.  Waiting for our food we shared a pleasant traveler’s exchange which left us quite impressed with their fitness and sense of adventure.  This was before we realized what kinds of roads they had covered.  Lets just say our admiration was turned to absolute awe not long into our drive the next day as we traversed the same roads they had traveled.

As this was a long trip, it is also a long trip report so I have divided it into four parts, so as not to overwhelm my readers.  Stay tuned as the best is yet to come.
Classic view of highway 1148 from Chiang Kham to Nan.

Closeup from above.
Nan River

Backroads out of Nan
Pit stop along the way

Guest House in Na Haeo