What comes to mind when you hear the word "Thailand" as a response to the question "where did your last vacation take you"? Sandy beaches, palm tress, Ko Samui and Phuket, and the obligatory enjoyment of the nightlife in Bangkok. Right?
Wrong. Well, at least partly wrong. That might be Thailand, but it's not all there is to it.
In February 2014 I took a guided Enduro Tour through the north of Thailand with 3 fellow motorcycle fans. The start and end of the tour was in Chiang Mai, and it was organized and run by the fellows at siamenduro.com.
A pickup was organized from Chiang Mai airport, from where we went to the "basecamp", a compound owned by the tour company and equipped with a main house and some bungalows for the guests. The atmosphere was friendly from the start, and reminded more of a get-together of friends rathern than a booked tour. The best indicator of that was the fridge filled with water, beer and soda open for self service, where everybody kept his own tally of how much he consumed.
The bikes for the tour were provided by siamenduro.com: Kawasaki KLR 250's and Honda CRF 250's. Riding with the group was our local tourguide Tommy, who not only spoke perfect English and was an experienced rider, but also provided lots of insights into local culture and philosophy - and is a very gifted storyteller and entertainer. Following behind the group - wherever the roads allowed it - was Siamenduro Founder Walter in his trusty Toyota 4WD pickup - just in case something breaks or somebody needs a lift as a result of a slide/crash/fall.
Fortunately nothing serious happened during our tour (although all but one participant fell at some point), so we could concentrate on enjoying the weather, the landscapes, the food, and most importantly the various different offroad paths that we had to conquer on 2 wheels. After 6 nights I was exhausted, beaten, dusty and sweaty. And I felt great. Anybody with a motorcycle drivers license who has never been offroad should really give it a try. Since the travel speed is much slower than on the road - tricky passages often slow an unexperienced driver like me to not much more than walking speed - a potential fall does nothing more than cause a few bruises.
And the experience of travelling the lesser travelled path - that is well worth a few bruises. Go to siamenduro.com for more information.