Escaping the beaten track of Chiang Rai


Some wazzed out Reggae bar on the backstreets of Chiang Rai…

I sat back in my chair gazing lazily over the room through the slits in my eyes, watching people’s movements, well aware that I hadn’t moved for the past hour – I’d no intention to either. I was happy with the view, certainly a lot to see! The pool table was engulfed in a cloud of smoke as “nicotine” fuelled backpackers challenged the winner for the table. Reggae filled the air with waves of peace as everyone sat around chilling with a beer, soaking up the vibes with big smiles on their faces. My mind floated through the memories of the past two days which all began on two wheels…

Chiang Rai

A dirty track with plenty to follow…

I left the road in search of adventure choosing to take “the road less travelled” as concrete turned to dust. I increased the throttle pulling me up a hill riddled with humps and potholes. It was leading me somewhere and quite typically the what’s around the next corner mentality kept me moving forward with excited anticipation to what lay ahead. After a quivering cluster of desolate hills I arrived at a crest that proceeded down into a small village of bamboo huts. At first glance they appeared to be owned by a flock of chickens – that would’ve been interesting – until I spotted some locals taking cover in the shade. The look of surprise on their faces was worthy of a picture, but I settled for a smile and a friendly wave which got a few toothless smiles here and there. Many villages followed as the trail wound through the beautiful hillside, covered in a lush, green carpet of forest, alive with the sound of wildlife. I parked the bike up and slouched down against a tree, surveying the landscape with admiration. The birds tweeted their favourite songs; the grass swayed in the gentle breeze; the air filled my nose with the fresh scent of the countryside; and with a smile of contentment I sat for a few moments in total harmony with the world.

Be like the river, no doubt in its flow; know your direction, and you will sail through life on the wave of your dreams.

Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai

Pursuing further adventure upstream…

I looked out over the fields, watching the river making its course through the enchanting landscape surrounding me. A local villager sat aboard his small wooden boat, deep in thought, as he drifted in the current; a few elephants grazed by the river moving slowly towards the shade for protection from the intense heat of the afternoon sun; young boys splashed playfully in the river, jumping off rocks and shooting each other with water guns, laughing with joy; it was great to see so much life around the river. I started the engine and continued on my way, passing a smoking hot spring and crossing a rickety wooden bridge over to the other side. Local tribe villages lay ahead connected by a sunburnt dirt track of orange – tinted red. It was like a dream as I traversed the hillside following the river upstream, the scenery was truly spectacular. I crossed creeks, passed through villages, and climbed steep hills, fuelled by noodles, petrol, and an adventurous spirit. I did have a destination but I had no idea how long it would take to get there, or whether the place was actually reachable via the dirt track. With my typical stubbornness to not give in, I put the bike through some gruelling work before deciding to call it a day after failing to climb a steep hill for the third time and nearly blowing the engine up. It didn’t do much for my pride when shortly after I watched a guy circumnavigate the treacherous hill with half a tree strapped to his bike. The sun grew tired as it fell from the sky, and my fatigue was no exception. An hour or so later I left the track to re-join the concrete road, leaving behind a place that highlighted an incredible part of Chiang Rai’s natural beauty. My next destination?… Who knows. I guess I’ll figure it out when I reach the bus station tomorrow morning.

See you soon,


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3 Responses

  1. Crowbar says:

    I love this post!!! Your writing is faultless and engaging and you have a natural talent for putting feelings and thoughts to paper in such a way that we feel like we are right there with you. Hats off to you my Jon San you should be rightfully proud of this piece xxxxxx

    p.s. great pictures as usual 😉

  2. Rob Smith says:

    Hey mate hope your ok been enjoying reading your posts and I like your photos. Keep them coming. Rob

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