Along the R304 (Khorat)

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by Gary, May 4, 2004.

  1. Gary

    Gary Member

    Set out along the R305 at 6:30am heading for the area of Konburi. A new destination sign caught my eye just passed the turn off for Khao Yai NP. It said ‘Amazing Mound’. I knew what it would be, but I figured I would check out the area that it was located in, Khao Ito. A nice little twisty road that took me passed a reservoir and eventually, brought me to the top of a small hill. The view wasn’t what I would call spectacular as I could only see glimpses here and there through the vegetation.
    But still, the ride to and fro from here was very pleasant.

    At Kabinburi I took the R304 where some road works are still being carried out, mainly the widening of it. Some stretches have already been widened and marked out and will probably open anytime soon.

    Just before Ban Pha Ngam a side road beckoned me. It led to an area of plantations and orchards. I’d been around here before and I wanted to check out some of the dirt roads. It was difficult to know which roads to take at times, as they weren’t marked. I would take roads thinking that they would take me towards the hills, but would sweep back around and bring me back to the same junction. Just when I thought I’d found a road that would snake up into the forested hillside and over to the other side, it ended at somebody’s farm. After about an hour of this, I got back onto the R304.

    At Wang Nam Khiao I pulled off to the right-hand side of the road to make a rest stop.
    It was at a small complex of shop-houses, of which very few had been sold and next to a hospital. After a quick drink I rode down a few sois. They were virtually all empty. Only a few shops facing the main road had been sold.
    While riding around, I noticed a small stretch of narrow paved road cutting up through the hillside behind the complex. Also a couple of recently built houses could partly be seen amongst the trees. I wondered where the steep hill road went. I tried one small paved lane roughly in the direction of the hill but this ended at a field. I asked two different people how to get to the hill road but they didn’t know. Hell, it was only about a kilometer away and could be seen clearly. I tried looking for another way to get to it but failed. I got back onto the 304 looking for a side road somewhere nearby but couldn’t find one. I turned back and tried to see if there was a way from within the hospital grounds. I passed around the side of the main building and ended up at the staff’s living quarters.
    Was the road blocked off because it entered Thap Lan NP? I wondered if the paved lane that I tried earlier was part of the hill road. It didn’t seem to just suddenly end as I’ve seen others do. This one seemed as though a whole dirt field had just simply been placed on top of it. Oh well! I’ll try again next time.

    Over the Dangrek mountains and soon there afterwards, the 304 becomes a dual carriageway. I was never really a fan of this road but it now seems to flow nice and smooth apart from a bumpy downhill stretch near Pha Ngam. To think, as soon as all the work is done to widen it and to get the traffic flowing nicely, work will soon begin on a 17km elevated road project.

    At Ban Udom Sap I did a U-turn and doubled back to a PTT station. A rest and a fill-up was needed for the next stage. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t as hot as it had been lately and at times it was overcast with a threat of rain.
    A couple of kms back the way I had come, southwards, was a turn off for Ban Wang Nam Khiao which was the starting point for a challenge given to myself. To find the remote mountain village of Ban Bu Pong. It’s not that I’m overly curious as to how the villagers survive, whether it’s by farming or hunting, but rather it’s a just a destination to head for. An objective if you like, or a reason to simply just get me out of the house and onto the road.

    Ban Taling Chan was the first village I needed to find, and from here I would ask for directions to Ban Bu Pong.
    The roads were mostly a deep red dirt with occasional stretches of beige and for the most part they were compacted. It was only at t-junctions where the dirt road was often pounded into a fine dust and caution had to be taken. I didn’t see anyone about in the fields or using the roads. Occasionally, I would pass solitary rustic houses and wonder whether I could survive living for only a week staying in such a dwelling without going crazy. No electricity, no running water, no neighbors, and with only conversation as a form of entertainment? No way.

    I arrived at one t-junction at the foot of a small mountain and wondered which way to go. I was about to go left when two guys on a step-through came towards me. I asked directions for Taling Chan and was given instructions to take the right turning. So I turned right and noticed the nearby landscape became basically flat except for an isolated mountain resembling my wife’s tit when she’s lying down. In the past I’ve seen and read of mountains supposedly resembling dragons, snakes, sleeping Buddhas etc., but I never quite get to see what they’re supposed to resemble. But this one definitely looks like a tit and I’m surprised that it isn’t used as a tourist destination.

    On arriving in Ban Taling Chan, I stopped at a shop and enquired about Ban Sai Yoi.
    In the Thailand Atlas, it shows a paved road from Taling Chan to Ban Sai Yoi and from here, a dirt road leading towards Ban Bu Pong.
    A youngish woman doing some laundry looked to an older woman to help me out. I was told that Sai Yoi was flooded. Looking at my PN Nakhon Ratchasima map and comparing it to the Thailand Atlas, Sai Yoi seemed to be placed between Mun Bon and Lam Chae reservoirs. Then I remembered Shinji saying that there was a smaller reservoir in between the two main ones. Hmmm… I then asked about Ban Nong Sano which also has a road leading from it heading to Ban Bu Pong. Again I heard the dreaded words of ‘Nam Thuam’ meaning flooding/flooded.
    Oh well! Next time I’ll have to check out the eastern dirt road approach to Ban Bu Pong from either Ban Makha or Ban Wang Takhian. Now, I just wanted some free-style riding. Forget about maps or reading road signs wondering which way to turn. I just wanted to ride to wherever a particular road or turn off took me.

    I followed the main paved road out of Taling Chan and took a left along a dirt road heading towards Tit Mountain. Before long, I came to a Y-junction. I took a right because a sign said it was only a short distance to a temple. The road started climbing up a solid concrete road and after about one and a half kilometers I came to a temple compound perched atop a small mountain. I rode further up the mountain beyond a raised barrier that led to a parking area. From here there were stairs to viewpoints but sadly, I was in riding mode, not walking-up-stairs-to-a-viewpoint-and-work-up-a-sweat mode. The ride back down the mountain offered a nice view anyway of a beach along the Mun Dam shoreline. That would be my next destination.

    At the Y-junction I carried onwards until a side dirt track took me to a beach. One could easily be mistaken that you’d arrived at a beach resort at the likes of Cha-Am or Prachuap Khiri Khan. Such is the likeness with sun, sand, large expanse of water, parasols, paddling boats, restaurants, etc. All that was lacking really were banana boats and jet skis like at Nakhorn Phanom, to make the seaside atmosphere complete.

    A bit more free-style riding took me out of the Mun Bon Dam area and along a nice 22 km straight paved road passing through one roadside village after another. Arrived back at the R304 and a nice leisurely cruise in the now hot afternoon took me to near Kabinburi. I took a side road off towards Ban Na Di thinking that it would eventually take me out onto the 305 somewhere, but the road only ended up coming back onto the 304 a few kms from where I’d previously split off from.

    Overall, the day trip was enjoyable. I’ve still got the challenge to find Ban Bu Pong as well as the added challenge of trying to find a way to get to a paved mountain road behind Wang Nam Khiao Hospital.
    Thinking about it now, if a small reservoir has blocked off a route to Ban Bu Pong, would the route now be accessible due to low water after the hot season? Time will tell. Perhaps next week? Two weeks time? Who knows?

    Gary
     
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