Bungle in the jungle

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by rhiekel, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    There are two seasons here in Thailand. Wet season , and dry season. Reasonable people ride in the dry season, and sit in bars during the wet season and reminisce about dry season rides. :deal
    This was a ride that Mike and myself had done last year, calling it the Missing Link ride, as to the best of our knowledge no foreigners has ever done it on motorcycles. The ride runs roughly along the Thai - Burma border, along the Eastern flank of Thailand. By the way , we had done this ride last year in the dry season, fairly easily in a day and a half. Total distance was about 120 km.
    In a moment of poor judgment, Mike decided it would be cool to do the ride in the wet season, and in a equally poor moment of judgment , I decided to go along thinking it would be a great challenge......:eek1 We also decided to do from the north to the south, thereby avoiding having to get a permit to enter the wildlife preserve.

    Mike was on his Kawasaki KLX 250, and I was on my Chinese Qing Qi 200. For trips like this, leave your monster adventure bike at home. I knew that there would be a lot of bike dragging around, so the lighter the better. Little did I know how much dragging there would be.......:D

    Final damage to me:
    Sprained right ankle
    Sprained right wrist
    Both big toenails turned blue and fell off from being jammed in my boot, causing LOTS of pain
    Severely bruised hip joint that still hurts a month later
    Pulled hamstring muscle
    Endless bites from leeches or bed bugs that itched and bled weeks afterward

    Final damage to my bike:
    Snapped off both rear view mirrors
    Snapped off clutch lever
    Snapped off side stand
    Sight glass fell out, causing me to lose my oil. So ran for day on almost no oil
    Punched a big hole in the side of my seat
    Shock absorber destroyed and no longer doing any absorbing

    I live in Pattaya, so had to ride the 700 kilometers up to Mai Sot. The last three long high speed trips the bike had done had destroyed two camshafts, and the very last trip had destroyed the engine. So I has swapped in a new engine, and decided to ride at 65 kph the entire way to try to preserve the valve train... Made for a long day, so spent the last hour in the dark riding into Mai Sot.
    Day 1....
    Next day up early, and head south towards Umphang to meet up with Mike at a small village which was the starting point for the trip. Along the way is Tee Lor Su waterfall, the highest in Thailand and ranked as one of the 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the world. So of course had to stop by and check it out. It is about 30 kilometers down a rough road to see it, and you must take a guide service as you are not allowed to take your own vehicle.
    As it was rainy season, the waterfall was in full blast, and truly spectacular.


    You may be wondering at the poor quality of the pictures...That is because those and all future pictures were taken with an Iphone . Why you ask ? Because the waterfall ate my Canon camera. I went for a swim in the upper pool, and came out with cold slippery hands. When I picked up the camera, it fell into the water and disappeared here.:cry:cry

    Coming out of the waterfall entry road, I meet up with Mike who was waiting at the main road. He had less time, so rode all the way from Bangkok in one day. ( faster bike too )...
    We then road the final 60 kilometers in the dark to the small border town that was the start of the ride. Once there we find out there are no accommodations or guest houses in the town. Hmmmm. We were then told by the pleasant lady at a small restaurant we could stay at the Buddhist temple nearby. Pretty spartan, but hard to complain as it was free!
    Here is Mike standing in front of the temple.
    The last normal day now ends.......
  2. Loading...

  3. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Day two.....
    A day of hell that starts pretty normal. There had been heavy rain all night, which I knew was not good....:lol3 The first part of the road in the morning was pretty good, as it had been graded since last year into the first village. Once past the first village, the sun was came out, and the road turned steep and muddy. So now you are fighting the bike through mud, and being baked by the sun at the same time. I always sort of thought that the term hill and mud should not be used in the same sentence, and I was right. Now we are basically in the middle of no where, and fighting the bikes up muddy hills. You would ride up the hill until you fell down, then right the bike, then put it in gear and walk along side the bike pushing it and using the engine as well, while the other guy would get behind and try to push you up the hill with the rear tire flinging mud in the face of the pushing guy.
    On a really steep hill we managed to get Mike's bike up, with it taking every ounce of my strength pushing it up. By the time I walked back to my bike, I was completely exhausted, and extremely overheated from the exertions. I felt like I had about 1 % of my normal energy, and was so dizzy I could barely stand up. I was laying on the ground next to the bike in a stupor with endless horseflies biting the crap out of me. Now I started to feel the first tinges of fear, as I knew I now had heat exhaustion with the deadly heat stroke not far off. We had water, but it does not really help as your body simply cannot cool itself. Mike came down the hill to help me get my bike up. I spiral wrapped a rope around the rear wheel to get a bit more traction in the mud. We rested as long as we could, and with one last huge effort got the bike up the hill. I then noticed that the oil sight glass was pushed in by a stick or rock on one of the endless falls. Added a bit of oil, stuck a rag into the hole, and kept going.

    Rode a bit further, and found a small stream running across the road. Perfect !!!! I laid in the 6 inches of flowing muddy water and felt like I had reached paradise. It was the only way to cool off.

    Mike and I laid there for half an hour before I felt remotely normal, and could ride the bike. Shortly after that we reached the major river crossing, the Suriya River. With a stroke of luck there was a raft service waiting for us. We put both bikes on this raft, then two guys jumped in the water and sort of swam it across the river.
    Once across the river, your reach a sort of no man land where people do not really cross. With a bit of wandering through the rice fields, we finally found the house we had stayed at on our first trip. This is inside the Burmese border by a few hundred meters by the way. Turns out there were a bunch of Burmese people there having some kind of Christian church service, complete with singing hymns. Upon asking the woman who owns the house, she said we could stay there no problem. We are both shattered, so this seems like a great plan. A few minutes goes by, then the pastor comes up to us and tells up we must leave immediately , as there were Burmese troops nearby, and if we were caught there we would all be in a world of hurt. So put on our sodden gear, and tried to head off into a confusing array of dirt tracks trying to get over to the Thai side, and heading south. The track sort of ended up in a massive river crossing that looked impossible, or single track in the jungle that sort of petered out. Now we had to backtrack to the pastor's house to get new instructions on how to get out of this area. He then said his daughter had a house nearby inside the Thai border we could stay at, so he went with us and guided us there. He had never seen a gps before, and he was extremely curious if the house was in Burma or Thailand. We told him the GPS said the house was 20 meters inside Thailand. He then raised a tall Thai flag next to the house, hopefully to keep away the Burmese army in case they were confused ....
    The border house of the daughter of the pastor.
    Also time for a bit of bike repair, mainly to fix the oil sight glass. The rag I stuffed in was letting in water into the engine on every water crossing so had to address that. The solution?

    The Burmese guy fashioned a tapered plug...

    Then pounded it in...

    Adventure feet after a long tough day.

    Mike goes native...

    No electricity, so a great meal was cooked for us by fire.[​IMG]
  4. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    So I lost my camera on the first day, and Mike's Canon S-90 died the second day. So all we had left was my iphone, and Mike had a Go Pro video camera on his helmet. So here is the footage he shot and edited, just in case you guys think I am bullshitting on the difficulty of this ride...

  5. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Day three...
    Starts well enough. We are back in Thailand, and our host the pastor has agreed to have a relative of his act as a guide to get us to the main road which I knew was close. We ride together about a kilometer, and then come to the river which the day before I thought was impossible to cross. He keeps pointing across it, indicating it was the way to go. Damn !!!! As I was sure the bikes were going to flood, we did not ride them across as they are much harder to start if they ingest water. So I walked across , carefully picking out the best path. Then we pushed both bikes across as fast as possible to minimize the time for water to enter the bikes. If it was just bit higher we would have had to block the intake and exhaust. This photo does not even begin to do justice to this crossing. It was also fast water...

    Once on the other side, we gave a little prayer, and both bikes fired right up. A bit further and we hit the main road south, so we are thinking the tough part is over. Wrong..... The road is muddy and slippery the entire way, and has endless water crossings. My wrists are burning from fighting the front wheel in the mud. A bit like riding hours on ice...There are a lot of spots where it is steep coming up out of a stream crossing where we have to push the bikes up.
    After one dump of the bike in shallow water , I noticed the water around the bike was covered in oil. Hmmm that is not a good sign. The wood plug I put in fell out , along with the pair of vice grips I had clamped on to lock it in place. I scoured the mud but could not find either one. So now the bike is out of oil from lying on its right side with the plug gone. I right the bike as soon as possible, but it is too late. I have already used my extra oil the day before so had none. So now in the middle of no where on a bike with no oil. What to do? Keep riding until it dies, then start walking... The bike seemed to run fine on no oil..:lol3 The village of Jakae was maybe three hours away where I could find oil. I think the only thing that saved the engine from destruction was the fact I had Mobil one oil in it.
    Riding a bit further the bike comes to a stop as if it ran out of fuel. Normally I would have had plenty of range to reach Jakae, so I thought maybe all the lay downs where the bike was leaking fuel, and the endless mud had taken a toll on my mileage... Pulled the fuel hose to the carb, and it was bone dry. Ok....Mike was so low on fuel he could not transfer any to me. So he left me to head to Jakae , about 6 kilometers away to get gas and bring it back. After a few hours of sitting alone in the bamboo forest with insects feasting on me, he finally comes back with gas. Turns out on the way to Jakae he was crossing a log bridge when his front wheel fell between the logs and was jammed so bad he could not get it out. So he had to walk to Jakae, get gas , find some new friends to come with him to free his bike, and then come back to me. That explained the delay....:deal Put the gas in the bike and try to start it up. Nothing... WTF WTF WTF... Fuel line to the carb is still bone dry. Now pull everything off the bike, and pull the fuel tank off to examine the fuel valve. Pulled the valve itself, and blew through it on regular position and reserve position. It seemed fine, no dirt blocking anything. Put it all back together, and now gas came out perfectly. Hmmm. So load up again, and head for Jakae which was about an hour away.
    Finally reach civilization at Jakae where I can buy oil. I am truly astounded that the bike is still running with no oil. Maybe oil in bikes is over rated?? I was still beat, and was going to take the easy way and make another plug. Then realized we were going to spend the night there so may as well do it right. Took a flashlight and peered inside the hole, turned out the sight glass was still there and in perfect condition, pretty amazing considering the gears grinding inside the case. So I decided to go all out, and while parked in the dirt in front of the small village store, and pulled the right side crank case off. There was the sight glass lying there. I tried to ask for some silicone to put it back in with. Blank looks...
    A guy runs off, and comes back with a tube of super glue. Hmmm, not the normal sealing compound, but any port in a storm !! So I super glued it back in place, and put it all back together. Put in a fresh liter of oil, ran it for three minutes, and drained it all out. What came out was pitch black, and very slightly more then one liter.
    No accommodations in town, so off to another temple to sleep. You can see here how ecstatic Mike is with our new shed.

    If you like a soft bed, then I recommend you avoid the temples...

    While in town we saw a caravan of four wheel drive trucks. These guys were in a club, and their equipment was as serious as it gets. When we asked them about the way to Sangklaburi, they said they had come that way and it would have been impossible to go on bikes due to deep water. They said they barely made it. So the only other choice was to sort of head south through the forest preserve for which a permit was needed. They said they were going to apply for one by phone the following morning. We asked if we could go along with them, and they said fine, no problem.
    There was no showers at the temple, so everyone just headed down to the river. There was a short muddy section which was about 1% of the difficulty of the mud we had been through earlier. My front wheel slipped out, and I tried to put down my leg to stop from falling down. Felt an amazing ripping pain in my leg, and collapsed to the ground. I either tore or severely pulled the hamstring muscle. For 5 minutes I could not stand up. Was laying there thinking this is the last place in the world I want to be badly hurt in. Finally I could stand up and limp around in severe pain. Washed up, then went and had a truly delicious dinner with the off road guys.
    Day three comes to an end drifting to sleep on a rock hard bamboo mat, mosquitoes buzzing in my ear, and my leg in searing pain. Coming up for day four, truck pain.....
  6. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Another cracking adventure ride by Robert & Mike! :clap:

    It sounds as though this is the Last Valhalla for the heroic chinese junk. :cry:
    Looking forward to more...

    Having seen Big Robert beat up and hammered in Bangers after this trip this clearly was no picnic.
    Bravo to the both of you
  7. Tom Forde

    Tom Forde Ol'Timer

    Bloody great mate!
    Reminds me of the old days on the Laos, Cambodia border.
    I need to catch up with you for another adventure.
    Give the Chinese junk to charity.
    You are one of the best bullshitters around (I mean that in a good Aussie way!) Maybe get a KLX off some unfortunate sole who needs the cash.

    Mate it is great you are still doing it.

  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Fantastic stuff!!!!
  9. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Day four.....
    Wake up early due to the rock hard floor and monk activity. Normally all the monks are up and off to town by 6:00. They carry small bowls in which people place food. This is a form of support for them. As you can see in the video, there were some Thai travelers that used the temple kitchen to cook us a delicious breakfast. Then over to see the four wheelers. They were waiting to get confirmation for a permit to enter the park, and we would be on the permit as well. Our plan was to sort of ride with them on our bikes, then when we came to the BIG river crossing we would put our bikes on the trucks just for the crossing.
    These guys seemed really nervous about having to go back the way they came, which did not bode well for us. Finally the word comes that entry is ok, a huge cheers erupts, and everybody starts frantically loading up their trucks. We are off!!
    The road is terrible...... :-( It is deep ruts filled with water. It seems strange , but you are forced to ride in the ruts. The flat sides of the road are so slippery, that if you try to ride there, the front or back wheel wheel will drop into the rut causing an instant fall. We fought our way for a few kilometers, then finally on one fall the clutch lever on my bike snapped off. I had a spare one of course, but I could see that us riding was not working as the four wheelers were making better speed and we would be slowing them down. So we chucked the bikes into the back of one of the trucks.

    Testing the o rings seals on the chain...

    Then we chucked ourselves into the back of another truck. I had dreams of sitting inside the truck, but that was not to be.
    Instead , we were sort of laying in the back along with boxes of gear and assorted stuff. The truck had rock hard suspension, the road was rough, and due to the long distance to go they were moving right along... Think of being inside a cement mixer, and then towed fast down a bad road. If you tried to stand up and use your legs as shock absorbers, there was low bamboo across the road that would take your head off. It amounted to 8 straight hours of staggering pain, traveling through a stunningly beautiful landscape.
    There were LOTS of spots where the road was so bad the vehicles would have to winch themselves through. They would either send the toughest vehicle through first and then winch to it, or winch to a tree next to the road. As you can see in the video, there was one long really deep water crossing where in essence they were driving up the river. No way to have made that on bikes unless we built a raft....
    Along the way, sad looking cargo.

    Traveling monks.

    The caravan takes a break. They were chopping some bamboo that had fallen across the road.

    Getting ready to winch this truck up a steep part.

    The last couple of hours were spent traveling in the dark, and then we finally reached a camping spot at the park head quarters. I suspect this is a photo that few people on bikes have ever taken....
  10. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    A fine text accompanied by a fantastic video..of what may be the most intimidating terrain yet posted on GTR.
    Get well Robert; get a bath Mike!

    Now, other than avoiding that terrain during the rainy season, what other after thoughts may you have...
  11. Changnoi1

    Changnoi1 Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the nice report, I enjoyed the video!
    And indeed once upcountry the friendliness is great.

    Chang Noi
  12. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Day five...
    Here is a look at camping life in the morning.

    I was not planning on camping , so had no gear. So I figured I was going to spend the night laying on the dirt in riding gear. However my new friends had a spare tent and sleeping bag, so Mike and I were suddenly living large.
    Yesterday the group had split into two . We were in the lead group, and the slower group was towing one of the trucks that had only one wheel drive due to drive line problems. The road was so bad one tow vehicle was not enough power. So they hooked two tow trucks together, and then attached another tow cable to the broken truck and towed it for two days.....
    About three in the morning I heard the second group coming into the camp area. They had partially rolled one of the vehicles, denting the hood.

    The long delay was caused by the breakage of a CV joint in one of the vehicles. Somehow they did a field weld of it using batteries, and got it going again. These guys were hard core to the max !!!! They were a really great bunch of guys. They were just regular guys like us out for a good time, except they spoke perfect Thai...
    One of the vehicles which was scratch built.

    Mike making coffee. Sort of a scary look... " What do I do now? " :)

    Another six hours of truck pain, and then we were out of the park and back on the main dirt road. We unloaded the bikes, then had a going away party for our new brothers. Hopefully we will meet up again in the dry season for a ride. Mike had to work the next day, so we split once we reached the paved road. I have never been so happy to see pavement in my life.....He headed to Bangkok, and I limped my way to Kanchanaburi. My kickstand was snapped off, so stopped at a small welding shop to have it fixed. You can see I was traveling light for a five day trip.
  13. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Hell Bugger that Robert! I would rather be one of the 4X4 Guys than on a Bike in those conditions! Impressive Fortitude and Perseverance by You all, Well done!

Share This Page