Motorcycling around Nan, Thailand
The long weekend we had a few weeks back for New Year's got me started on exploring some of the lessor traveled areas of the North of Thailand and even though this past weekend was not a long one, a fellow biking enthusiast offered me some advice: Rent a better quality bike and the trips become even better.
So he convinced me to shell out about double what I would normally pay in order to rent a Triumph. I'm not going to pretend that I know what this bike is all about but I could tell immediately upon sitting on it and doing a test run in the lot behind the dealership that this was going to be a much smoother ride than the Honda and Yamahas that I have been using.
My friend has done this route before so I was basically following him as we head up to Nan, Thailand.
If you have never heard of this place don't feel bad. I've much closer to it than most people for over a year and I never knew it was there either.
I wouldn't really consider Nan a tourist destination although it is lovely. The views are incredible but it doesn't really have any sort of tourism infrastructure. There is some, but it isn't as accessible as other parts of the country, particularly for people that are just visiting for a short while. However, for someone with the gumption to rent a touring motorcycle, this is one of the best places I have ever been.
The roads, for whatever reason, are beautifully paved and have just the right amount of winding to them to keep things interesting but not so twisty that it becomes dangerous.
You will also be treated to views like this one on a regular basis. I encountered it so frequently that I had a difficult time deciding which ones to take photos of because they are all so spectacular. This would normally make me a road hazard because I was rubber-necking everywhere that we went but this exposes one more wonderful attribute of this province: The roads are almost empty.
around 500,000 people living in the province sounds like a lot until you consider that the capitol city has a population of a mere 21,000 and the fact that the city I hail from, Chiang Mai, has around a million just in one city. Nan has one of the lowest population densities of any province in Thailand - therefore, the roads are really empty. Also, even though it borders Laos, there is no major crossing point in the province and Laos doesn't have a lot of traffic going back and forth anyway, so there isn't much reason for it to be busy here.
Waterfalls like this one, which are all but completely ignored by the locals, are all over the place and many times they aren't even marked on a map. You need to have an insider's map in order to find them at all. I realize that this one isn't particularly astounding, but I enjoy them anyway.
Another downside that potential travelers might face is that this place is quite rural and therefore you are not going to often meet people that speak much of anything other than Thai. Thankfully, my friend and guide is pretty decent at speaking Thai and the people up here just love to see a foreigner because it doesn't often happen.
Around every corner there is a postcard-like photo to be taken and that is what was so special about all of this to me. So much of Thailand and particularly where I live seems like a concrete jungle just like any big city and most of Thailand is very densely populated so it was nice to get away for a bit.
It was a little difficult finding places to stay and much of the accommodation isn't even featured on maps apps either. In fact, there were several points in our trip that we were actually out of range of any sort of mobile / cellular service - which is something that I presumed only happened in horror films these days.
That is a small price to pay for some of the last remaining untouched land that exists outside of national parks in this country I suppose because honestly, all you have to do is get off of your bike in basically any location and you are going to be blown away at the natural beauty that exists in spades here.
The journey itself was the vacation and that is what makes these journeys so awesome to me. We already have plans to do this again in a few weeks' time and even though I am back at work now, I am already counting down the days.