The missing link guided ride Original plan was to ride the route from Sangklaburi to Umphang with some riding buddies from Chiang Mai and Bangkok/Pattaya As it developed and the riding date got closer, there was myself, Alex (uk) and Morten (Norway) all leaving from Chiang Mai we were looking to meet our guide Jack (maybe not his original thai name!) and Mike in Sangklaburi. Mike had to cancel the day before so it was just going to be the 4 of us, all riding klx250’s with tiny jack on his tiny klx125 with tiny tread on his back tyre!!! And, he knew what lay ahead!!! We were planning to take the bikes down on a truck but as things developed that option didn’t manifest, as we also wanted to take in some tracks south of Omkoi and also east of Umphang. So we had infront of us 7 days riding in total, 3 days to get down to Sangklaburi, then the 2 days getting through the deepest jungle ever to Umphang with a night spent in the jungle, then 2 days riding to get back to Chiang Mai. And as the Bangkok guys (tony/brian/mike etc) had ridden a similar route recently we had their feedback to assist in the preparations, as we had a night in the jungle planned, that added quite abit of kit as in hammock and sleeping bag and long sleeved shirt and long trousers head torch etc. I bought a hammock with built in mosquito net and a large flysheet attached, as it happened we set up camp in a bamboo shelter but the hammock was excellent it cost 800 baht in CM, my other kit consisted of, steel tow rope, jump leads, tools, tyre changing kit inc 4 tubes and pump, various cable ties, wire, nuts n bolts hose clips etc but also a full spares kit for the klx inc hoses, wheel bearings, all levers, fork seals, oil filter etc etc So I believe this route is 1 of 4 routes possible joining Sangklaburi with the Umphang region at the Myanmar border. Some of the routes have more double track options and some have more river crossings!! Thanks Jack for the route choice it was a great, varied ride but the round mossy rocks that completely covered the bottom of the river for approx 15kms was a real test of stamina, balance, endurance and swimming ability!!! The route went like this: 1st day-350kms Leaving chiang mai on 108 past Hot onto Kiu Lum where we took the 1099 left to Omkoi and on all the way to the end of the hard road at Hin Lat where we then took the dirt options through Doi Paper all the way to the 105 north of Mae Ramat and the incredible refugee camp area. The last blast down the 105 into Mae Sot where we spent the 1st night. Hotel Arisa near to Irawadee resort (my 1st choice in mae sot but “no room at the inn”) 750 baht per night inc brekky for a large quality very new room with aircon, breakfast average to poor (for the hungry farang) A great start to the tour but quite an uneventful day, really enjoyed the “going nowhere road 1099” we got a lot of strange looks in Omkoi, the views along this road were outstanding. The bike felt pretty good considering the extra weight (no comments ok!!) but as we hit the dirt and headed towards the 105 the sky got blacker and blacker but didn’t actually release its storm on us!! Whilst riding down my clutch felt weak, it didn’t slip but it gave me a concern so I called my good friend in cm Herman the Bavarian who agreed to bring some “clutch changing tool” and ride down to mae sot on my versys to meet us have a few beers and then fit the new clutch, (not a straight forward job believe me) we already checked and mae sot didn’t have a Kawasaki dealer and I just didn’t fancy what lay ahead on a clutch that may give up at anytime!! A wise move as it turned out I think!!! We came across 2 guys from BKK on bicycles near doi paper, they must be bloody mad, and fit!!! Only 1 “off” today from Alex too!! So the beers were on him!!! The 2 guys had not seen the refugee camp before, always a moving experience the 1st time. 2nd day-450kms We woke to black clouds and an imminent storm. leaving Mae Sot on 105 east towards Tak this section was treacherous, we saw at least 15-20 pickups overturned we were aqua gliding on curves totally out of control, very lucky to survive it, oncoming pickups skidding and sliding then my front locked up and I missed the back of a truck by mm’s and had to veer across the road into opposite carriageway!!!! Very very worrying, road surface technology and tyre debris, grease form plants and treas etc what a lethal combination!!! It dried up just before taking all the back roads filtering down to Kanchanaburi where we stayed the 2nd night, the new clutch felt great, we stopped at many places on route to say hello to familiar faces I have met in the past 3 years riding this route, a very very hot day, quite boring straight riding in places too but we had a mission!!! We arrived in Kanchanaburi just before dark and headed to the bridge for a quick photo and then to our guesthouse “Ploy guesthouse” on the main strip backing onto the river with its infinity pool, very nice indeed 800 baht per night no brekky included! So after a swim, a few G n Tees and a feed we hit our pits!!! 3rd day-250kms from kanchanaburi the 3199 to Si Sawat then across on the ferry taking the dirt to Sangklaburi, for our 3rd night, at P guesthouse, 950 baht per night exc brekky but stunning views and large airy room pity I didn’t bring the cat to swing!!!! We had a 3 and a half hr wait at the ferry in 44 degree heat so we decided to cool down in the crystal waters, at this point we didn’t know how long the delay was going to be but we all got sunburnt!!! Fuk! Just what you need before the jungle ride ahead eh!! We checked our oil and discovered Alex didn’t have any!!!! So we then went in search of engine oil as soon as we got off the ferry, good to be back in the dirt too, just as we arrived in Sangklaburi the blacker than black clouds decided to drop its load on us, Jack said “this will make the ride “interesting” tomorrow” so I said , “why? is it not interesting already”? I can say I wasn’t too impressed with Sangklaburi but maybe the rain dampened my enthusiasm for the place. We had an oil change on Alex’s bike to get the tractor oil out and some Castrol bike oil in!! We had a really bad meal with really bad service and really wasn’t cheap and didn’t even get a smile, a thankyou or kiss my aching ass!!! It was a restaurant jack suggested!!! I gave jack some feedback!!! Sure he would of preferred I kept my mouth shut!!! Hey ho!!! We loaded up with 7/11 goodies and enough water to last us!!!!! Not!!! 4th day and 5th day-160kms into the jungle with Jack on “the missing link trip” 2 days of hard going, thoroughly enjoyable mixed riding with 2 very able and skilful riders (Alex and Morten) plus our quiet unassuming guide Jack, who just “did everything” without fuss or drama kept the wheels rolling and our eyes wide open with amazement, brilliant!!! But before that we had to wake Alex, not easy, not quick and not funny when you are standing in 40 degrees with all your gear on and raring to go!! Within 3metres of the 1st track, jack dropped his bmx bike, sorry klx!!! In the slippy mud but from then on he rode like a demon with almost no other offs!! One of the 1st choice tracks contained a fallen tree and lots of thick bamboo so a change of plan in the 1st 30 minutes or so. I then had my only big off, on a steep uphill section my front wheel hit a rock which lifted my front end and as I powered on to continue my ascent the bike flew into the air superman style I fell of the back waiting for the bike to come down and land ontop of me, luckily it fell to the side, very very lucky for me!! We continued through some great terrain but it was very hot and very slippy, I chose to cool down in every stream/river we saw, hauling bikes under fallen trees and through tracks of fallen bamboo in this heat was a real stamina test, the results of the tests are due any day now!!!!! So we made camp deep in the jungle close to the Myanmar border in a bamboo shelter known to Jack, here he opened up his cool bag with veggies, rice and pork and chicken and set about preparing a great meal whilst we bathed in the stream, chilled out and set up our hammocks! When we arrived at the stream to bathe, there was a lady and her children also bathing, their daily routine, for us part of our 1 off adventure, amazing to see in 2013, no electric, no branded goods, no running water, no toilet of any description, even a squat toilet would have been too modern and out of place here!!! Thanks Jack for sharing that experience! Day 5 After a few minutes we entered Myanmar, no border control no signs no nothing, we soon re entered Thailand at the riverside and waited for Jack to fetch the bamboo raft so we could get our bikes across and continue our journey. The raft appeared, it looked abit worse for wear some bits broken some straps missing that normally hold it all together but most importantly the centre bamboo cross member was not attached only at the ends!!! Me and my bike was 1st to test it!! Oops, cracking and crunching under the weight we were sinking!! No worries Jack was in control we were soon over to the other side and now 3 more bikes to fetch!!! We were welcomed at the other side by more bathers and also a family that came to look at the crazy farang!!! After a short ride we came to the forestry guards camp and then continued our journey, some very interesting villages and then the clinic and waterfall, before the slippyest river bed I have ever had the displeasure of!! I needed a rest so I lay my bike down quite quickly and with my foot trapped underneath needed assistance to get out and get the bike back upright, then it wouldn’t restart for maybe 10 minutes!!! We were in and out and in the river for at least an hr the bottom was full of round rocks that were mossy and lethal!!! Alex went down too I must add!! And I think Jack did also!! But no harm done all bikes were superb and all riders were safe! Jack left us at the Myanmar border Pueng Kueng after a bite to eat for his ride (alone) back to his friends house, we decided to push on to get to Umphang, 1288 and 1267 a road very dusty, very broken quite dangerous in places with large cracks running diagonally across our path! We ended the main event with an evening in Umphang where we noticed 2 fork seals leaking on 2 different bikes (good job we had spares) so off to the bike shop to experience the worst customer service ever so we scurried off to another shop who restored our faith and did the job the next morning inc fork oil for 750 baht so we had oil changes here too for good measure!! We ate at Paulas place near to the new 7/11. We stayed at a resort/campsite called Phudoi, 400 baht per night wooden cabin, not including brekky, no air con which we needed but great hot showers and hard thai style beds!!! 6th day-280km from Umphang on the 1090 to Mae sot but we did branch off about 60kms before Mae sot and took in some tracks through some amazing farmland before reaching Mae sot! Another night at Arisa hotel before our final days ride home!! Here we saw another refugee camp housing in excess of 20,000 people, a pitiful sight. This route was a bikers paradise great views and a great surface generally. about 70kms short of Mae Sot we had another big storm to contend with so we stopped and took shelter! 7th day-510kms from Mae sot on the 105 to Mae Ramat taking the right on the 1175 to the 1107 and the number 1 highway, we then took a left on 1264 at Mae Phrik across to the 106 at Li through the national park and a big portion of off road tracks. We then took the 1274 and the 1184 back to Pa Sang area before hitting home in Hang Dong!! I hope you enjoy the photos too! As you will notice I have refrained from any bad language whilst writing this report, I can assure you it is not a habit I am willing to keep!! Summary A great trip with great guys with reliable bikes, a real no fuss approach from Jack! a real adventure and an experience to savour, would love to do the whole thing without carrying any luggage etc and note to myself, get fitter, lose 25kgs. My plan next time will be to ride to Umphang or take the bikes on a truck to Umphang and do a 4 day loop to Sangklaburi and back, 8 days total, hopefully with more bikes and to share the spares etc but I will wait for the rainy season to pass and then add at least 2 months for drying out!! So maybe December 2013, anyone up for it? one thing i forgot to mention was, on day 7 on the way home, we were riding the dirt just before the national park between mae phrik and Li, we were crossing a bridge with cattle on it so slowed down to about 50-60 but i hadnt noticed two calves on my side of the track just after the bridge, when i see them they decide to run across to the older cows!!, i T-Boned the 1st calf square on in the hind quarters, just managed to stay on the bike, no damage to the bike and the calf squeeled like fuk but ran away after doing about 4 somersaults!!! fuk was i lucky again!!!