Paul Owen’s Adventures in Thailand ... 2013 edition My trip it's aimed for a u.k audience and tongue in cheek, but I hope its worth posting. I can't get photos to copy so will try to work out how to attach This year I decided I would go to North East Thailand, to an area called Isan, fairly remote and one of the areas least visited by tourists in Thailand. They are many good places to hire motorcycles in Thailand, but because of where I was going I wanted to stay out of Bangkok and not go as far North as Chang Mai, so I decided to hire again from the beach vendors at Pattaya which always is a potential risk, but because of last year’s lack of problems when I went to Kanchanaburi to the River Kwai for Remembrance Day, I thought I would go for it. At Pattaya there are literally thousands of bikes for hire, all just parked along the beach road or adjacent to it, anything from a Suzuki Hayabusa 1300, down to the normal runabout scooters. As usual there was no need to produce a driving license or anything else, apart from cash. Whilst I was there a Scandinavian man was trying to hire a Hayabusa. When he asked if it had gears I did try to point out that this may not be his best decision in life! Because of the distance I was going most vendors didn't want to hire to me, so I used the same one as before which limited my negotiation, and meant that I had to leave my passport with them, but I did get a very nice Kawasaki Ninja 650. They kindly fitted a new chain sprocket and rear tyre for the trip, and I set off down to Koh Chang which is the second largest island of Thailand and requires a ferry crossing on a boat which has seen much better days. Roads on the island are best described as challenging, extremely steep with very bad surfaces and everyone whizzing round on scooters with no protective clothing apart from a pair of shorts and flip-flops! Often lots of the Tourists have very young children on the bikes, sitting in between the two adults, no helmets etc. which I still found surprising, as I am sure they wouldn't do it in their own countries, and it's actually far more dangerous in Thailand, but that's my lecture over…. Anyway, four days of riding, some beautiful waterfalls and beaches, then off to Surin. I chose some minor roads through national parks, which make for a very interesting ride when you’re nowhere near touristy parts of Thailand. However this does make it very difficult to make good time and some of these roads did not have great surfaces, so as I was getting fairly near to Surin, I realised it may be dark before I got there. I had made the school boy error of not bringing a clear visor, as I had not planned to go out at night as I find it dangerous in Thailand, as some road users are quite drunk and the locals will drive exactly where they like, ignoring any kind of traffic direction etc. I then made another decision, that the solution to this problem was to go quite a lot faster than the speed limits along a rare piece of dual carriageway to make up some time. Having done this for about 20 miles I was feeling quite pleased with myself when I realised I was being pulled over by a police radar check. The next 20 minutes were not the most pleasant of my life, as the Police Officer shouted loudly in Thai accompanied by much arm waving, in order to convey how unimpressed he was with my excess speed. I just kept apologising profusely and making what seemed to me to be ‘very sorry’ noises, which eventually resulted in the very angry policeman waving me off with some final words of abuse. I was very lucky as in most western cities I would probably have received a severe fine. By now I was very late, so I undertook the last part of the journey with the visor open, going quite slowly and dodging the various animals, carts and traffic on the way. Surin is very much a working city, very famous for its elephant festival which had just finished. It also has many temples very similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I used a couple of hotels as a base to drive round to visit the temples, which are fascinating. It is also one of the main rice growing places in Thailand and the rice is exported all over the world, so I saw many huge rows of trucks delivering rice to the processing factories. I then rode back to Koh Chang on the 24 which is a long straight road with a lot of oncoming vehicles, which would drive straight at me on my side of the road, expecting that being a bike I should move to the very edge of the road to make way. The issue was sometimes that the side of the road was a bridge or a fence, not fun! I managed to get stopped by the police again, for no reason this time, I think maybe just to see if I would stop. Having got quite confident with using the minor roads I mistakenly decided to carry on doing this, which resulted in me getting very lost and spending three or four hours trying to get back to a main road, avoiding people drying various products like rice and sweetcorn off in the road, on the way. Whilst searching for the right road, I spotted a big bike, so I stopped to ask directions. The riders were a group of Thai bikers getting very drunk on Thai whiskey, but they were very helpful if slightly unsteady with the directions. The end result of this was I got to the town too late to find a reasonable hotel, and ended up in what appeared to be a ‘short time Hotel’ with no food or drinks and nothing nearby. Anyway, what's wrong with being in your room at 6pm with nothing to do? One of the things you really notice in Thailand is that when you stop at places like shops and café’s there are so many staff available to serve you, compared to the UK. As this photo shows, I had six girls just serving my breakfast and coffee, a really welcoming experience as they always seem so friendly. Right, back at Koh Chang and just stopped to rest before I return the bike, one of the things I noticed was the large number of Russians there. Many appeared to be on small scooters and definitely the worst for drink… saw a number of crashes in a short space of time. In fact drink is pretty mandatory in Thailand, and one memorable night saw me in a bar, thankfully bike-free, when a marked police car pulled up outside with lights flashing, driven by a Thai Policeman in full uniform. The officer came into the bar, clearly unsteady on his feet already, had a free whisky and a long chat with everyone, then staggered back to the vehicle and drove off……hey, that’s Thailand!! In my last few days before giving the bike back, I did a day’s cookery course which was extremely interesting, picked up a few new recipes, and then took a steady drive back to Pattaya. When I arrive back at the beach the usual discussion took place with the bike vendors, not happy with the mileage I had clocked up (3000 km), then demanded money for an oil change and bike cleaning etc. I accepted the cleaning cost as the bike was absolutely filthy and I hadn’t had chance to clean it. I agreed to pay half the cost for the oil change as I realised they had actually charged me for a day less than they should have, so no real problem. So my trip ended safely, having covered about 3000 km, seen a lot of Thailand that I hadn't seen before, and another great adventure.