Chiang Saen - Middle of Nowhere - Frankie goes to.....the North of Thailand (2019) - CycleBlaze

October 30, 2019

Chiang Saen - Middle of Nowhere

or more precisely: Suan Kaew Resort along #1174

What a glorious day! I have done this same ride - just the other way round - in 2010 and it certainly lived up to my good memories again. Initially my plan was to go straight down to Chiang Rai from Chiang Saen but I find it difficult to withdraw from the fascination of that river. So one night less in Chiang Rai and one more day along the Mekong.

From that previous experience I knew as well that I shouldn´t stay on the straight route along the #1290 all the way through but invest an extra hour of cycling (or approx. 15 km) by riding the #4007 which more or less clings to the river along the "pastoral peninsula" the Mekong forms here and rejoin the #1290 just 12 km before Chiang Khong. That ride on the 4007 is simply magnificent as my photos hopefully will prove and I would do it over and over again.

Back on the 1290 the easy times of just rolling along were over though. Straight into one of those brutal ramps followed by a few similar ones on the short section to Chiang Khong. Mind you the climbing and sweating gets rewarded by great views which makes it much more acceptable. 

Back in 2008 Chiang Khong used to be one of the  major tourist hubs along the Mekong where you had to take a boat over to Houaixay in Laos. Now - with the Friendship IV Bridge 8kms down the road - the town seems to have gone very quiet. Completely different feeling to 11 years ago when my friend Schorsch and I stayed here during our first big South East Asia cycling adventure. 

So I quickly knew this was going to be another photo and drink stop only and went down to the little port. While checking out google maps I found a few sleeping  options 30 km inland on the way to Chiang Rai. That would certainly make the day tomorrow easier and cut the total down from 100+ to 70. As it was only 3 pm plus the wind was coming from behind for my direction I decided to take off again.

Just before sunset I got to the intersection of the 1174/4014 where google indicates two accommodation options.  Asking some locals in Thai whether the village had some sort of rooms to stay they were only shaking their heads. They consulted each other though and then one of them pointed further down the 1174 saying there was a resort. I zoomed further into the map and did indeed find the little pink sign for a resort. I was a bit nervous while pedalling down there as I could hardly believe somebody would invest money in such a remote area. But somebody fortunately did. And they did that well! Brand new bungalows for 500 Baht and even a nice cafe and restaurant with more than acceptable food with it. Everything is just in Thai script but I was told it translates into Suan Kaew Resort. Thailand really keeps surprising me in a positive way. Somehow there always seems to be a satisfying solution at the end of the day....

The lobby of the A-Hotel is extremely spacious and offers free pool or miniature kicker if you should be travelling by two or more. And free parking for the bike....
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That´s when I know I will be coming back. A great room with breakfast at just 540 Baht (15 €) and you even get a lunch bag on check-out
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Just out of Chiang Saen: Wat Phrathat Pha-Ngao
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The woman works, the men are resting in the shade.... No comment from my side, too much potential for trouble
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Further along the #4007
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Even if you don´t the see the Mekong for a while,the #4007 will never be a boring ride
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As if my day hadn´t been good enough so far I came across this coconut icecream man. I am not very keen on sweets but this stuff is glorious!
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Getting two cones was not based on greed but on arrogance. I was convinced my Thai would be good enough to order one cone with two scoops...
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Mai ao!!! Not what I wanted in the midday heat... And there were a few similar ones to come
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The reward for getting up the first and steepest of them all
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Hello Laos!
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You may get bored by all the river photos but try to imagine you are out there on the bike with hardly any traffic bothering you...
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Andrea BrownThat road really is gorgeous.
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1 week ago
The last one! Down in Chiang Khong the only remaining boat traffic is the cross-country trade
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The bungalows of the Suan Kaew Resort. I would always stop over here again as it is just perfectly located with 70 km away from Chiang Rai, regardless which way you are travelling.
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My bungalow inside
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Today's ride: 104 km (65 miles)
Total: 445 km (276 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Henna JanieschThanks for sharing your impressions. Good luck.
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1 week ago