October 2017

"Chill - Out" Weekend Rally
Saturday 28th - Sunday 29th October 2017

Our Chill out weekend to Mae Sariang in Mae Hong Son province was fully subscribed with 18 rooms booked & 37 participants in total.

Joint organiser Ian G writes:-

People were in high spirits as they arrived from 8am & parked up outside our usual meeting spot, Origin Swiss Café on the Royal Flora Ratchapreuk Road. Coffees, teas & breakfast orders were placed & the volume of conversation rose. Co-organiser Rex handed out rally style numbered windscreen stickers for all cars, produced especially for the event. Shortly before 9am, participants were put under starters orders by Rex & co-organiser Ian gave a pre-departure briefing.

The group set off in convoy for our 200km drive to Mae Sariang, with occasional regrouping stops along the way. The drive took us all the way along the Irrigation Canal Road, ultimately to join the road to Hodt & onto Op Luang National Park. The drive through the national park was especially scenic as we negotiated sweeping curves & climbed through the mountains. Road conditions had deteriorated somewhat since the planning trip 6 months prior – the cause being the rainy season no doubt & a keen eye had to be kept out for wheel swallowing potholes! Nearly half way through, a rest stop was made at a layover within Op Luang National Park, offering a couple of basic restaurants, a coffee corner with a decent espresso machine & most importantly, toilets! A planned 15-20 minute rest stop spun out to double that as people used the occasion to top up on coffee & Thai food. Whilst this was going on, co-organiser Rex had sped on ahead, to coordinate with our hotel for the night & make sure everything had been set up ready to receive our group.

With participants refuelled (not the cars!), we set off again towards Mae Sariang. Traffic was moderately light, but substantial roadworks 20km from Mae Sariang dirtied previously pristine vehicles with mud spray from the compacted road surface! On the run into Mae Sariang itself, despite his GPS, our lead car managed to miss a turn, resulting in many cars getting an unexpected tour through the back streets of Mae Sariang! Our home for the night was the Riverhouse Resort, where hotel staff had roped off a parking area in preparation for our cars, directly in front of the hotel. Under Rex’s instructions, cars were reverse parked, to present better photo opportunities. The hotel was well prepared & check in for our group took a matter of minutes. Having arrived just after 1pm, it was perfect timing for our group to dump bags in their rooms, then head out to find a lunch spot. Whilst this happened, organisers Rex & Ian, accompanied by hotel / restaurant management, headed over to our venue for the evening, Coriander in Redwood Restaurant, to reconfirm our plans & requirements for the evening.

Later in the afternoon saw a number of ladies from our group on the lawns overlooking the river, going through their yoga routines, whilst some enjoyed the beautiful swimming pool & others just used the time to relax, unwind & soak up the relaxing ambiance.

Our evening was scheduled to commence at 6pm at a sensationally located bamboo riverfront bar, just a 50m walk from the hotel, but quite a few were already well ensconced there by 5:30pm – and why not, it was a beautiful evening & the view outstanding. So as the sun set over the river, we enjoyed chilled drinks & good conversation in a lovely garden setting. Restaurant staff took orders (a la carte), noting the number of people dining together at each table & what time they’d like to move into the restaurant. As the evening progressed, groups moved off into the restaurant for their meal. I should mention the restaurant itself, Coriander in Redwood, is affiliated to our hotel Riverhouse Resort, making the organisers job just that much easier. Coriander in Redwood just oozes charm & ambiance – especially in the evening & as we entered the restaurant (last), saw that our group had split themselves over four long tables. The service was great, the food just delicious & the pricing surprisingly reasonable. Can’t ask for more than that, can you!
After dinner, people wandered off to other venues, back to the bamboo riverfront bar, or in the writers case, with a group to a table on the lawns of the Riverhouse Resort, overlooking the rushing river water, to polish off the last remaining bottle of red! Waste not, want not!

The morning saw participants head into breakfast at the hotel’s riverview restaurant – some more bleary eyed than others! A basic breakfast was served & my freshly prepared omelette was delicious. The group hung around the breakfast area for seemingly ages – just chatting, eventually heading back to their rooms to prepare to check out then find a petrol station, before heading back to Chiang Mai. The return to Chiang Mai was not done as a group, so people headed off at their convenience, with many electing to stop for lunch in Op Luang National Park again on the way.

Proprietor of J&N Auto & classic specialist Khun Jimmy was with us along the way, complete with a boot full of spares & tools. Thankfully, these were not needed, but it was none the less reassuring knowing that K. Jimmy was around to help if needed!

The Chill Out Weekend was deemed a success by all & the challenge is now where to go next! Why not volunteer & give your thoughts & ideas for a future weekender away?