“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle. Worrying will never change the outcome.…"
|(At the Umphang milestone, a great achievement)|
Day 04: 4 September 2016 (Sunday)
Route: Mae Sot - Umphang
Distance: 168 km
Hotel: Wiriya Homes Resort
We had breakfast at the hotel café before we checked out. We drove to a nearby 7-Eleven and bought Tomyam Maggie and bread as we may not find halal food in Umphang. By 9:00 am we started driving on highway 1090, the only accessible route to Umphang.
|(Toasts and Bulls Eyes fried eggs)|
|(A loaf of bread from 7-Eleven)|
Route 1090 linking Mae Sot and Umphang is also known as the notorious ‘Death Highway’. It is Thailand's high altitude road to Thailand's ultimate isolated spot. The road of some 1219 twists and sharp curves through untouched jungle is famous for its magnificent mountain scenery as it follows the Tanon Tongchai mountain range that separates Myanmar from Thailand.
|(Highway exiting from the town of Mae Sot)|
|(The start of a long and winding road)|
|(One of the many Police and Military road blocks)|
|(Beware of obstacles in the middle of the road)|
|(The road is narrowing at some parts)|
|(A panoramic view from the top)|
|(Karen Hill Tribe Villages)|
The 'Death Highway' bears witness to the murders of many of its construction workers, 40 in one single massacre at the hands of a Communist Party of Thailand not wanting to see the road built. More recently the unending number of fatal accidents has confirmed the road's nickname. In 1995, 25 teachers died in a bus crash. The road is said to have a history of hold-ups and robbery.
|(Passing through the National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary)|
|(Virgin Ancient Black Fern Forest)|
|(A good panoramic view of the mountains)|
|(The mountains separating Thailand and Myanmar)|
|(We are above the clouds, experiencing cool climate)|
|(A lonely, high altitude highway to Umphang)|
Because of last night rain, the road became slippery. It was a challenging four-hour drive from Mae Sot to Umphang. We made a stop at a view point half way and took photo of the mountain scenery.
|(A lone biker, on a lonely road)|
|(A vast corn field cultivation in the valley)|
|(A first sign of civilization, what a relief!)|
We arrived in Umphang around 1:00 pm and drove around town for some photo shots. From town we detoured and took the road leading to Thee Lor Su waterfalls, often praised as Southeast Asia’s most beautiful waterfalls which has become a popular destination for both Thai and foreign tourists.
|(The archway to Umphang town)|
|(Colourful welcoming sign when you enter town)|
|(Umphang main street, quiet and peaceful)|
|(We are not far from Myanmar)|
|(We braved the 1,219 corners of the Death Highway. Yeay!)|
Hoping to get a glimpse of the waterfalls, we drove our E300 and braved the unpaved road fit only for large off-roaders or 4x4 trucks. Half way we declared defeat and turned back because of the very bad road condition full of ruts and pot-holes. Even our 4x4 Ford Ranger Extreme will not survive on this type of road condition!
|(The waterfalls is 60 km from Umphang town)|
|(A few kilometers of good paved road)|
|(The beginning of a rough road full of holes)|
|(A road accessible only by hard-core 4x4 or off-roaders)|
We retraced our journey back to Umphang. As there was nothing much to do in town, we decided to drive back the same 1090 Highway back to Mae Sot and planned to spend the night in Tak.
About 30 km from town, and in the middle of nowhere, our E300 experienced a flat tyre. We tried to use the sealant and air pump but to no avail. The side wall of the tyre was badly torn. The other front tyre also experienced the same fate.
A Thai couple on their way to Bangkok stopped to assist. As they were locals, they made a call to a mechanic in Umphang and an hour later the mechanic came with a few tyres but none fit.
|(Leaving our faithful Merc on the roadside overnight)|
As it was getting dark, they advised us to stay in Umphang. The mechanic arranged to purchase two tyres from Mae Sot to be delivered to his workshop in Umphang by noon tomorrow. We had to leave the Merc by the roadside overnight. The local assured us that it would be safe there. The mechanic brought back our two tyres to his workshop and his friend sent us to Wiriya Homes Resort for the night for B500/night.
As there is no Halal food stall in Umphang, dinner tonight was Tomyam Maggie and bread.