Pu Chi Fa Road Trip
I live about an hour away from Phu Chi Fa, a popular mountain that is visited by Thais and foreigners especially during the high season. A lot of people camp nearby and arrive at the top of the mountain to watch the sun rise. This is supposed to be a spectacular view. The weather is very nice in Northern Thailand from November to January. Phu Chi Fa is in Chiang Rai province. Sadly, there is a lot of burning going on at present and this creates a haze that hinders visibility, not to mention the health factor. I see a lot of Thais riding around with scarves around their nose and mouth or wearing a face masks now. I am sure it is because of the haze created by the burning. Regardless, today is a good day for a bike ride.
I woke up this morning with no plans on making a bike ride. However, after my exercise routine and breakfast I decided to do a trip report for my blog. My GPS said it was an hour's ride from my house to Phu Chi Fa. I am taking my Lifan 250 motorcycle so I figured about an hour and a half. I am in no hurry as I am in chill mode and want to take some pictures along the way. I have my black baseball cap on backwards, a tank full of gas and I am listening to Lionel Richie on my MP3. Life is good. I started off on highway 1020 and headed Northwest on highway 1155.
The first part of the ride is very nice. The hills are very gentle sloping and the roads are in very good riding condition. There is very little traffic on you road. However, there were a lot of dogs wandering across the street and just plain lying in my driving path. Even after you blow your horn they just slowly get up and wander out of the way. I take dogs and chickens on the street very seriously. During my first week of owning my big bike, I had an accident with a dog. I went to the left, the dog and bike went to the right. I cried not because of pain, but because my new bike was sliding down the road with the dog under it. The best way to have a nice and uneventful drive is to drive very defensively and at an appropriate speed.
I like to take in the local views. I passed through about three villages with the slow tractors on the side of the road. Heads turned as the farang on a big bike with a baseball cap turned backwards go pass. The first 20 minutes of the ride was very nice. Not flat, but very gentle up and down grades. The traffic was light and the weather was nice. I had on a light jacket because it was a little cool. I really like the weather this time of year in Chiang Rai. I say we get to experience seasons as contrasted to hot all year round in Bangkok.
The nice part about rides like this is the friendliness of the people as you drive by. Small village shop owners, tractor drivers, motorcycle riders and especially children all smile.
The view is spectacular. It is just so refreshing to see Mother Nature in such a natural state. Now the view is on a lot of mountains for as far as the eye can see.
The above set of pictures shows the gentle slopping hills. As you can see, no traffic and the road is in good condition.
If you take a right turn here, I don’t know where you will go. It’s not even a road. You go straight to Phu Chi Fa.
The above pictures are homes built in and on the ridge of the mountain side. I find it amazing to look at the above dwellings just a couple of hours away from downtown Chiang Rai. It is a magnificent view.
I spent 364 days in Vietnam as a 11B40. It's trips like these that brings back memories. It is nice to be riding a bike as contrasted to jumping out of a Huey and humping all day with full combat gear. The ride is still pleasant. There is still little traffic and the incline starts to get bigger now.
It is here where you get to the steep inclines. This is a little village about 15 kilometers away from the entrance of Phu Chi Fa. The second picture shows a really steep incline from the top of the road. The view of the second picture is misleading. That road going down is very steep.
On the way back just before you get to this area the roads was somewhat bumpy. There was a patch of road in which there were pot holes all across the road. This was right at the bottom of a mountain. On the way down, I hit some loose gravel and went into the ditch. I was going very slow, so I just stopped, and was able to come out easily.
There was a group harvesting what looked to be cabbage or lettuce from the curb side of the road. I did see a few people in traditional clothing walking along the road and some people harvesting crops on the steep mountain side.
My wife doesn’t like to travel in the mountain because she gets motion sickness. This is really steep here. The roads are in good condition.
As you can see below, I am at the entrance of the park. For about 15 kilometers the ride has been very steep at places to include here. At the entrance here is what I think is the steepest part of the ride. I would hate to be driving a car or truck and someone was coming down from the top. There is no way to get past.
I think it was the smog that prevented it from being a good day for photos. There was a lot of trash burning. This prevented one to be able to see for a long distances.
This was the entrance to the park. The best part about it for me was that everything was free. There was no admission fee to enter the park. Again, this was not a good day for taking pictures. The second picture is in front of the sign looking away from the sign.
This is as far as you can drive. This is the parking lot waiting area. The second picture is looking out if front of this area. They have the usual tourist memorabilia on sale here. I bought a Phu Chi Fa T-shirt for the wife for 150 baht. I chilled and drank a cup of coffee for 20 baht. I must look Thai with my hat on. Everyone was speaking Thai to me.
The above pictures show the trek you need to take to get to the top of the mountain. I was disappointed because of the haze and did not go because as you can see from the pictures below the visibility is poor. If you want to see more of what life is like in Chiang Rai.
I want to suggest to you that life is not boring up here. I know of five other farangs that live within a five mile radius of me. I think there are two more that live in the area on a part-time. Those are just the ones that I know of.
I know a guy that makes a bi-monthly trip to the curtain hotel in Chiang Rai to socialize with a Thai teacher working in Chiang Rai. This teacher’s family; mother, father, brother and sisters lives within 1 km from him in his village. She comes to the village during most weekends and school holidays. They pretend they don’t know each other in the village. Train wreck? It is not boring for sure. It might be something else however.
You ought to look up the one who goes by the name Caveman. You and him could have a lot of fun venturing around the north together.