Car Woes on the Way to Mae Win

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Thailand Fly & Drive – Part 26 (Mae Hong Son)

So after the short visit to the Long Neck Village, we set off again at about 2pm. Still have 228 km left to travel on the mountain roads, which works out to a 5 hour and 16 minutes journey. It will take us longer than that though, because we encounter some unexpected delays.

Remember the scraping sounds I mentioned in my previous blog post? As we make our way back up that dirt track towards the main road, we hear more scraping. Then at the main road, the sound stops, and all seems normal. I happily drive for about an hour and then the scraping starts again as I make a turn around a bend.

I stop the car to take a look, everything seems normal, and I don’t really see anything out of place. We drive on for a bit but the scraping sound gets worse and worse. It seems to get worse when the car travels at higher speeds, so I’m quite sure something is amiss.

I stop the car again close to where some people are doing some construction work at the roadside. I take a close look underneath the car, and I spot a piece of the undercarriage hanging down, practically touching the road. Mystery solved…. so that is what has been making that scraping sound.

Thai people have such a good heart. The kind workers stop their work and help me look underneath the car. They quickly pull a pole from their vehicle and help to push the metal back up so that it doesn’t hang so low. This is just a short term solution though. I would need to find a workshop somewhere to get this fixed. We thank the workers and we drive off.

We are still so far from our destination for the night, and we still have to find a workshop. Thankfully, the scraping sound seems to be gone, for now.

We get stuck behind some big vehicles which slow us down. I don’t dare to push the car in its current state, so I drive conservatively.

The sun starts to set, and we are treated to some amazing sunset views along the road.

As dusk sets in, we drive into a town. We chance upon a car workshop at the side of the road with the big mechanical car lifts, and I turn in to get the car checked. The car gets lifted up and the technicians take a look at the damage underneath.

Basically, the protective shield at the undercarriage has been damaged with some parts of it missing. I believe the much of the damage was not caused by me, but by a previous person who rented the car. My short trip down that dirt track bent the remnants of the shield downwards such that it touched the ground. Thankfully, all the damage was just superficial and the car was still in good working condition. They had to improvise to fasten the loose parts back onto the undercarriage of the car. The whole process took about half an hour, faster than I had expected, and they charged me only a token THB100 for their efforts… I was really impressed, and relieved.

Driving to Mae Win in pitch darkness, with a lovely Thai song playing in the background!

By the time we are done at the workshop, the sun has set, and we still have about 100 minutes left to drive in pitch darkness. Night driving along winding mountain roads wasn’t what I envisioned when we were planning this road trip, but it turned out to be a surreal experience. Actually, it was rather enjoyable, albeit a little scary because you can’t see what’s coming up ahead.

We arrive at our destination, Mae Win Guesthouse and Resort at about 8 pm. Thankfully, the staff had stayed up to wait for us but there was no food because the restaurant had closed for the night. I had to drive out again in the darkness to look for a simple meal to “tabao” back to our rooms.

What an adventure, what a memorable day. Little did I know, this would be only our FIRST trip to the workshop… there is more unwelcome excitement yet to come!

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