Helge`s Friend Tour with former customers from his USA, South Africa and Australia tours

12 days with Norwegian “rookie-riders” in Thailand

An article by: Tom Stenshavn

Day 1: “The Muppet Show”
A big group of 14 bikes started from Chiang Mai, and little did they know that it was going to be an adventure like never before.
However, to arrange a tour like this in Thailand does not only crave a LOT of experience, but also craves that this experience is followed up by doing it over and over again. Especially now after the Covid-times, a lot has changed also in Thailand. I was so lucky that i got to ride 50.000 KM during Covid, but Helge that arranged this tour was not that lucky. The tour itself would show to have some minor difficulties, such as finding open breakfast, lunch and dinner places, but it turned out to be a great experience for the whole group. Helge is a great guide with many years of experience and managed to solve the minor difficulties in a great way.
We started from Chiang Mai with something i accidentially called “The Muppet Show”. All 10 riders, mostly all of them first time in the Thailand traffic out from Chiang Mai city and all with bikes they were not used to ride, so it was quite a sight from behind. But eventually during the first 2 days, the group learned how to behave in the different way of traffic here, and functioned better an better together. The most important thing was that they felt comfortable and secure, and according to the ones i talked to, they were. Or, maybe they just said it, but anyhow, i could see that they got comfortable fast.
For me to see the enjoyment in people`s eyes, and see that the landscape, roads and that the traffic actually wasn`t anything that they thought it would be, was in itself a great experience for me. I could see that they enjoyed every minute of it, and nothing pleases me more than getting rid of some of the prejudice created by the press in Norway about accidents and crazy driving in Thailand. It is simply not true at all! Outside the big cities, there is no heavy traffic. The roads are better than most countries in Europe, and it is allowed to ride in your own pace…, well almost your own… 😉
It doesn`t take long from Chiang Mai to get to the stunning scenery. Before we reached lunch the first day, it opens up a landscape that i can only quote the participants on; “This cannot be told, it has to be seen and experienced”, they said. I couldn`t agree more.
The first day was from Chiang Mai via Prao to Chiang Rai and we visited several sights on the way such as beutiful coffee shops and of course the white temple, “Wat Rung Khun” before ending in the Blue Lagoon Hotel in Chiang Rai.
Dinner at a nice place with beer, wine and a drink after, looking at the famous clocktower-show in town was perfect before a good night sleep.
I remember i told everyone that i am very bad with names, so i possibly would not remember everyones name until the tour end.
I was right….
What a great first day on the road! 😃

Day 2 – Surprice even more

From Chiang Mai it was time to do some sightseeing, and the first stop of today was the cave where the 13 fotball-kids were trapped for 13 days. It has a great story of one of the world`s most famous rescues, and i am inviting all of you to see the movie “13 Lives” or “The Resque”. Americans has made their view of the story in 13 Lives, and the Thais themselves seen from a bit other angle in The Resque. Both are truthful and very interesing movies.

After visiting the cave, the gorup rode the very special border-road near the Myanmar border down to Thailand`s most northly point and the border crossing city of Mae Sai. They got to visit a market before heading to the “Golden Triangle Park”, where the 3 borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meets. On a very clear day, you can actually see all the way to China from here, but as it is something we call the “burning season” now, it is a bit dim.

I also have to mention “The Paradise Road”. Called by the Thai people as one of the short but nice roads on the way to paradice in Thailand, and the same place as we are going to spend the next night, Chiang Kong.

Chiang Khong is a border-city to Laos, and is a cozy small town with only one main street. There is no big restaurants, but it has a few decent hotels by the Mekong river. It has mostly only 2 bars, and of course we know them very well. This group visited the Rin-Bar and they made a beutiful Thai-buffet dinner for us.

I forgot to mention that it is actually the “cold-season” here in the north now, but in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai it was around 22 degrees in the morning. That was about to change when we came nearer the mountains, and the group would not be prepared. But as Norwegians with Viking blood in them, no one thought it was any cold, so the joke was on me.

Well ridden on the “Paradice Road”, we hit the Chiang Kong Riverside Hotel by the Mekong River.

Day 3 – NOW it starts
Chilly in the morning in Chiang Kong. 16 degrees and so far det coldest morning. But after 1 hour on the road, it was 20 again.
However, today we are climbing up to Phu Chi Fha mountains, and we would learn that 16 is OK. On the top mid-day we reached down to 14 and it was not nice for a guy like me, used to 33 day and night. But for the Norwegian group, they enjoyed it of course. Didn`t even feel anything 🙂

The road to Phu Chi Fha is truly a stunning experience, and for it the first time, it is even more surprising. The landscape is truly beautiful and special and the small nice stops along the way are truly a memorable experience.

But on the way to Nan, Phu Chi Fha is only one of the many stunning experiences as we are heading straight into the R1148, one of the most famous motorbike roads in the world. I have ridden this more than 50m times, and i never get bored of it. But to explain is impossible, you need to come and do it to understand. Just ask Helge`s group. I think they will all agree.

A natural stop is of course the view point on top and the 1148 cafe. This is where i really understood that i am not good at being on a diet. Firstly, i drank some beers every night on the tour, but i tried to keep the sugar to a minimum. I ordered a cappuchino wihout sugar, and then Øyvind ordered a chockolate bomb-cake. I ended up eating half of it, drinking sour cappuchino without sugar. What an idiot! LOL 🙂 I will have to do the dieting at home…

Stunning views it is, and even with the farmers burning the grass we could see pretty far.

Down to Nan and the Namthong Hotel for 2 nights, beer in the hotel garden, pizza order for dinner the first night and then the Boklua Loop for some of the riders tomorrow.

Its good to be alive and not on a diet…

Day 4 – What is the book they all call Boklua?
Its a rest day in the city of Nan for some of the riders, but most of them wants to join the day-tour Helge had planned. We are going to something called “The Bolua Loop”, and you can do the short one that we will do and its about 200 km, or you can do the long one of around 370 Km. The long one is quite bumpy and its a lot of highway to transport you back to Nan again, so we all agreed with Helge to do the shorter version. It has unbelieable stunning roads and the small community of oBoklua has a  famous small salt-mine that the local tourst always come to see. But we are bikers, and salt we get in a can, so we concentrate our tours on the riding and the fun turns over the two mpountains we need to cross on this loop.

I had that strange feeling on this loop, that the loop itself only has downhills… I rode the loop also both ways, and still it has only downhills and never goes up. But ofcourse i am wrong, and you can also see ut on the tracker under that is is the same elevation as downhill. But it surely feels like more downhill than up, that`s for sure.

After this great sunny day on the road, we were going to Nan`s most famous Thai Restaurant with a famous chef that cooks the best thai food ever tasted. A stop in Nan without visiting this restaurants is something nyou should not do. Its cheap, its great and its super-tasty. Ah, yes and the name of the place?…. damn! I forgot it. I need to look it up again.

I managed to eat more than 4 dishes alone, so definitely no dieting going on. Could barely walk out of there…

Straight to bed it was.

Day 5 – Dont fall in the lake
All rested after a sort of rest-day in Nan, and back on the bikes for a day of fun. Today, the highlight is taking the “ferry” across the Sirikit Dam.

Started the day with riding through villages, kowshit and rice fields. Stopped at some local stores in the middle of nowhere and greeted the locals in our special Norwegian way 🙂 Then we reached a standard stop for us bikers, the 10.000 mile biker cafe on the way to the ferry.

Well….. ferry and ferry missus blom…. It`s a raft with a small outboard engine, carrying motorbikes and people across the lake. A difficult task to get both on and off as it`s a dirt road and no pier, but quite fun and a sight to see. We all managed to keep our bikes standing, and that shows an incredible willpower. Everyone is stunned, happy and hot in the sun across the lake.

The rest of the day was nice backroads and at the end into the city of Uttaradit, where a beer and some relaxation awaited.

Day 6 – The road to the Saloon

From Uttaradit, we were having sort of a transport day to Loei. The main attracion today was to feel the motorways in Thailand and to be homnest, they are not too bad in the north even for motorcyclists. The R12 goes through several national parks and has much less traffic than in the south, so it was to be a great day on the bike.

Second attraction was the Skywalk in Chiang Khan.

The ideal route would be to go through Nam Pat, then to the national park of Soi Dao and Phu Ruea, but with the million curve road there, it was no time with such a big group. I went on a loner with Øyvind and Stig today and rode straight up to Loei to do some oil change on Stig`s bike, then to the Saloon as i also have visited the great skywalk in Loei several times since it was newly built in 2020.

Well parked in Loei, we stopped first at the Saloon bar to visit Chris and his wife, the owners, for a beer before shower and get ready for meeting the group a bit later. They arrived in the late afternoon and it became a great evening as always at the Saloon Bar.


Part 2 of this adventure is coming soon

Thank you to Helge for many of the photos

Tom Stenshavn

Business and Personal Coach, Rider and Explorer

Visit my other web site: You Are One of Us