Mae Hong Son is the Thai provincial centre for a large region on the Burmese border. It is a charming little town that we spent several days exploring by motorbike. there is a temple on the mountain overlooking the city and at night it is all lit up and it looks like a giant star hovering for everyone to see.
There is also a wonderful lake that acts as a focal point for the night market and even tai ch'i exercise classes which we joined in with (Cheryl was really getting into it - I looked like an idiot). It would be a great place to take a trek from to see the hill tribes, much more so than from Chang Mai which is a lot more commercialised. They even offer refunds if you bump into another trekking group which is such a nice thing - have heard of some villages being like a theme park which sort of defeats the object of going really.
Anyway, we were starting to run out of time on ouir tourist visa so decided to head on back to Chang Mai and organise a visa run to the border and back so that we would be able to stay in the country for the Loi Krathon festival in Sukothai 1-5th November. It was either a 6 hour minibus journey (600 Baht) or a 35 minute flight (2500 Baht)... Given the choice we opted for booking the flight as the mountains are just nauseating vearing up and down and accross impossibly steep roads. So we packed up and hiked to the airport only to be told that the wretched flight had been cancelled! It all worked out well in the end though. We were taken by a replacement minibus to Chang Mai (7 hours with stops!!) and had our meal paid for which is more that we could have expected and were well up on the deal as a result. Only problem was that we didn't have a hotel booked in Chang Mai and we arrived at just after midnight so finding accom would be tricky - eek!