Penang into Thailand 2013-05-20

Discussion in 'South Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by Vic Alborn, May 20, 2013.

  1. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer


    Name: Vic Alborn [AKA: Ah boon/Ah min/Ah wen depending upon Chinese dialect]
    Nationality: New Zealand
    Address for service: Try your luck.
    Sex: Preferably
    Age: Born 28 April 1941 (Go figure)
    Marital Status: Divorced: 40+ years
    Occupation: Retreaded – not retired.
    Physical Characteristics: Over-weight

    OEM, for this Report, a Yamaha FZ150i [Malaysian registered].
    Preparation: A modified Givi top boxframe (moved forward 50 mm for better weight distribution) with a commercial testequipment box from Super Cheap Autos (NZ) mounted on the frame. Additional Brake/Tail and Indicator LED lights added and wired. New rear tyre, general check-over as the last shop inspection was at 12000km and odometer currently reads 13500.

    Don't you just love the colour co-ordinated luggage?

    Extra rear lighting!!!

    Purpose of Trip Duuhh! Circumnavigate Thailand (maybe).

    Seriously now:
    Visa Application: Much of the following may be common knowledge/mentioned elsewhereon this web-site but this has been my experience as a New Zealand citizen in Penang on “visa-exempt” status. I read what I could find on the internet and it was contradictory and confusing. (e.g. One website quoted incorrect photo size). I went to the Thai Consulate in Penang and retrieved the forms. They give you two: one for the Visa application and one to fill in as a receipt for your Passport. They require: -
    1) A completed Visa application form and in my case it is a single entry, 60 dayvisa. A single entry is all they will grant for this class of Visa. The details are straight forward but under: “travelling by”, I put Malaysian registered motorcycle, together with the plate number. For local & Thai guarantor I put “none” – no problem.
    2) The fee is MYR110.00 and must be in Malaysian currency.
    3) Two passport-sized recent (6 months) photos: 3.5 x 4.5 cm. (Mine were aged; but then so am I and who looks at an old git anyway! (Oops: I said I was being serious!))
    4) Your passport with a least six months remaining validity AND a photocopy of your passport (ID page).

    If you don’t have photos and copies of your passport, don’t worry; there is an enterprising guy with a van at the gate who will do both for a small fee.

    Duly filed and fee paid, I was handed back the receipt and told to come back at 15:30 hrs that same day! This I did and was handed back my passport with visa inserted. Great! However, when I asked for the relevant forms/procedure for the motorcycle, they didn’t/didn’t want to know. The guy at the gate house was helpful and said to fill out the forms at the border. I really wanted to be prepared ahead of time and it was with the help of tehsk30 & rob7711 I was put right. Thanks fellas (See other threads this forum). I quote rob7711 here:
    “…For a Malaysian registered vehicle all you need to do as far as paperwork is concerned is to bring along your vehicle registration card and your passport. There are no forms for you to pre-fill in advance as these are only done by thai customs. (The caveat to this is that you must be the registered owner of the vehicle andthere is no lien on the vehicle by others . meaning financialinstitution/banks. Otherwise you would need a "no objection" letter from the financial institution/bank to export the vehicle.). Hand these documents to the thai customs and they will key in your vehicle details andprint out a duly filled form which is the temporary vehicle import form which you will need to surrender when exiting thailand. As always a nominal "overtime fee" needs to be paid for this which is 20bht or rm2.

    Note that this process will get done quicker on your next subsequent border crossing as your vehicle details are now captured on their system and merely needs to be printed out. Don't loose the form or you will face a hefty fine equivalent to the brand new price of the vehicle.

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  3. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Great to hear that you made it across. By the way I too crossed the border this evening and now I am at Lampang Resort in Patthalung. So where are you headed?
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yoh there, Vic congratulations on the start of your trip & your first post with pix. It all looks good.
    Glad that everything seems to be working out ok. :thumbup:

    Please keep it coming. :clap:
  5. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    OOOOPPPSSS!!!! Haven't left yet. Still in Penang and due to leave Wed. 22nd. Thought I would start the thread in the comfort of home to learn how! I plan Ko Lanta or Krabi for day 1 and Phuket for day 2. Will be in Phuket for a while before heading north through Ranong, Champhon and on.... I plan to report next when in Phuket.
    Cheers and enjoy.
  6. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Thanks David. I just need to read up a bit more on photo handling. Better with practice I guess.
  7. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Day 1 through 4

    Odometer now reads: 14300km

    Preparation: I forgot tomention I installed a small digital clock on the front brake master cylinder.It remains to be seen how it stands up to the vibration – but it is very handy!

    Purpose of Trip Well, it kind of depends upon the grant of an extension of stay for the motorcycle.

    Note: This is a very“wordy” report so feel free to quit now or at any time – I won’t know and won’tbe offended.

    Day 1 (Approx.550km)
    Departed Penang just after 07:00 hrs and went by ferry to the mainland. (Enables interaction with locals – this time an older Chinese gentleman (3 years my elder) on an older EX-5 Honda. He was most interested in my proposed ride into Thailand.

    Now, when reading the following, please understand that, apart from Singapore-Malaysia land (well causeway) border crossing on a Honda CB175 in 1972, this was my first experience of a “land” crossing with a vehicle anywhere!

    Departed Butterworth terminal at 08:10 and proceeded to Chunglun. Well, I guess I miss-interpreted what my helpful fellow GT-Riders suggested as I could not find where to process immigration in Chunglun.

    Upon re-reading the previous posts I now see that what was meant was the form-filling – not the actual process! Silly me! (Anyway, I wondered how one could clear immigration and then proceed within Malaysia to Wang Kelian. ????)

    However, I proceeded toward the border on E1 to my first misadventure: -

    There were some cones restricting traffic to one lane and a small “sandwich-board” sign in Malay which to us uneducated Westerners meant little/nothing. I thought:“More road-works!” and proceeded on through.

    A military-uniformed fellow jumped out at me from a “shack” hidden in the median-strip bushes madly waving a red flag in my face and directing me to pull over! I did, and some more “soldiers” appeared out of a similar decrepit structure at the side of the road. My passport was demanded and I was required to open my “top-box”. I was asked why I hadn’t stopped in compliance with the“sign”. The fact that I can’t read Malay cut no ice and he explained that they were the “Border Patrol” or some such and suggested that similar requirements existed in the USA and Australia. Well that may be in the USA but Australia happens to be an island with NO “land border crossings"!! (However, I kept my big mouth shut, apologised for not understanding his written language and he let me go).A standard “red” hexagonal “compulsory stop” road sign even in Malay - like the ones the Malaysians ignore - would be helpful!

    OK, so I proceed through as far as the immigration check-point and enquired as to using Wang Kelian as my exit point. The emigration officer was, by contrast,very helpful and said I needed to turn back, clear immigration at Wang Kelian and even asked if I knew the way! (He actually came out of the booth and stopped the traffic while I executed a U-turn).

    Back in Chunglun I found a shop that sold (inter alia) bike insurance for Thailand and I bought 2 months. The girl actually filled out a Thai immigration card for me,the bloke changed some MYR to Baht at a fairly average rate (rip-off) and I departed West on 194 and various back roads for Wang Kelian.

    Proceeding up R15 I found a gas station, fuelled up (*) and proceeded over a very interesting series of switchbacks, through an unmanned police check-point (taking lunch Is uspect) to the border.

    (*) There was an elderly uniformed guard under the gas station portico; He appeared to be the local border patrol – no stop signs, no flag-waving – just a smile and a wave of the hand; Bon Voyage!

    The Malaysian check point was relatively straight-forward but the building is designed for cars, with no place to park a bike (while you fumble forpassports, etc). The Thai check point does not seem to provide for parking either while you get off, line up and wait your turn at immigration. I rode right through the lane and parked in a no-parking area on the Thai side!!! – walked back to Immigration and then to the vehicle declaration office. So far; so good. Immigration allowed me 2 months on my Tourist Visa and as expected and informed on this GT-Rider web-site, the vehicle office would grant only 1 month for the bike with the (apparently normal) threat of a THB240,000 (NZ$9500) fine (3 x new price) if I failed to remove the vehicle from the Kingdom prior to the expiry date. OK, so an extension is possible - and that I am pursuing – but anunnecessary inconvenience.

    The ride from the Border crossing by mainly secondary roads was interesting but no more so than many rural, mostly well maintained roads in Southern Thailand. Highway 4 can be a nightmare as motorcyclists are supposed to “putter” along on the shoulder. This is great but I find many sections where mud has washed/been carried by trucks onto the shoulder, many places the pavement is broken and treacherous and locals are inclined to use the “motor-cycle” lane to set-up-shop, park SUVs/Pick-ups/Trucks/Vans and often ride their motorcycles the wrong way (to avoid crossing the highway)! Riding the normal traffic lanes however, often means you are faced with an on-coming passing manoeuvre on “your” side of the road!!! This seems all too common on major highways but not nearly so on secondary roads where the pace of life is less frenetic.

    Arrived in Krabi late afternoon and stayed at the Chaya “Resort” on the beach. This is a “Motel” with bungalows and a swimming pool. It turned out to be average-to-good value at THB600 per night (NZ$24.00) with breakfast.

    Day 2
    Krabi is “dead” at this time of the year with many businesses closed until next “high” season. I relaxed for a day and reorganised my “dri-rider” pants as I had the lower legs shortened in Penang which still meant the knee pads were riding too low. I repositioned these with plastic tie-wraps and they are now comfortable and protective. BTW I am very conscious now of the correct and snug fit of protective pads after David’s (GT-RiderAdministrator) “off” and subsequent discovery of the safety short-fall in “loose” protective clothing. (Thanks to you David, for sharing your experience and making us all more aware).
    I ate at the A-One Restaurant nearby: reasonable food/drink at reasonable prices and friendly,helpful staff.

    Day 3(Approx 194 km)
    Departure was not long after first light and I arrived in Phuket mid-morning. Staying at Chusri Apartments (my usual) which, at THB400 (NZ$16.00) per night on a monthly basis is great value. Rooms are exceptionally clean with all “mod cons” and as a regular in the low season, I am always greeted profusely. (Also, they store the D-tracker under the apartment free for the whole time I am not here - like about 9 months).
    This time I surprised them by arriving by bike from Malaysia!
    Unfortunately it was a “Big Buddha” special day on which no liquor/beer is permitted to be sold! Dry old night it was!

    Day 4
    Cleaned and checked out the FZ150i and resurrected the Kawasaki D-Tracker from under the Apartment. Also, I have been visiting some friends here in Phuket.

    Hope I haven’t bored you-all to tears with this very wordy dialogue and more so because of the lack of pictures. This is because the battery for my little camera is “kaput” (as was the spare some time ago) and my newly-acquired iPhone3 was buried in my baggage. Sorry about that but those of you who have made it this far must have found something interesting!


    END Day 1 - 4
  8. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Glad you finally made the border crossing Vic. Sorry if you misunderstood the immigration form filling thingy .... and now you know. The local signage here and in LoS is certainly not following international conventions strictly. Best to use your eyes and observe. Thai road blocks are also locally signed so be aware when you encounter them. Ride safe and have a whale of a time doing it. Pics .... we want pics ... we want pics. Haha. Cheers!
  9. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Thanks Rob:
    Immigration: My faullt - I should have read your post more carefully.
    Check Point: I have, over the past eight years in Thailand and two years in Malaysia, come across numerous such "police" and 'security" check points and never had a problem recognising them for what they were. IMHO the check point on E1 is, for what is probably the busiest border crossing into Thailand, verging on un-professional. But thanks for the advice anyway.
    Photographs: Agreed, more photos, less talk!
    BTW, do you spend much time at home? You certainly cover some territory!
    Cheers and ride safe.

    "There is no joy in arrival but there is in JOurneY"
  10. tehsk30

    tehsk30 Ol'Timer

    Nice to have read yr rides...when u r back...look me up over a cuppa pics n
  11. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Thanks Teh, I will call you.
    Meanwhile, I have been unable to find a battery for my camera in Patong or Phuket town so it is staying behind!
    Just have to make do with my iPhone3 - if I can keep my finger away from the lens!! (hehehe).
  12. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 5 through 10

    Note: I will record the accommodation and restaurant details in the appropriate Forums.

    Day 5 – 8: 26/05/2013 through 29/05/2013

    Phuket: Checked with Customs but they were reluctant to extend another month so early in the first month and suggested I apply at any Customs office close to expiry. (Sigh!)

    Day 9: 30/05/2013 (Phuket to Prachuan Khiri Khan – 570 km)
    Departed 0600 hrs; Highway 4 up the West Coast, through Ranong, a brief excursion through Chumphon and on to PKK.
    The digital clock, as anticipated, started acting up somewhere north of Kapoe (Highway 4 short of Ranong). I reset it and now carry it in my tank bag where it works fine.
    The top box is absolutely great. Waterproof and secure.
    Road comment
    Highway 4 from Phuket to Chumphon is an excellent motorcycle road, especially the Ranong – Chumphon sector. This is much more enjoyable than going via 401 & 41.There is less traffic, especially heavy vehicles.

    These little "bus shelters" appear all along the major and secondary highways in Thailand and are great for taking a break, sheltering from the sun/down-pours and just meeting people. This example is on Hwy 4 between Phuket and Ranong.

    Many of the highways and byways (but not all) are in great shape and well maintained.

    One enemy in the battle for motorcycling enjoyment.

    And another

    This waterfall is just north of Ranong alongside a winding downhill Hwy 4 (if your headed north, that is).
    I have seen it just after prolonged heavy rain when it was just spectacular.

    Day 10: 31/05/2013
    (PKK to Uthai Thani – 630 km)
    Departed 0600 hrs; via Highway 4 (Damn it!) past Ratchaburi onto 323 through Karachaburi and onto 3199 for 10k and a right onto 3086. All of this was boring, dirty, hectic, congested highway. On 3086 things greatly improved, there being much less traffic. I missed a planned turn-off onto 4016 at about Krasieaw Reservoir but got back on track at Ban Lai. Missed another turn-off and went way up 3015 until a couple of friendly local Policemen at a Check Point advised me I was on a road to nowhere! Back in Ban Lai I took 3282/3438 to Lan Sak. No accommodation so back-tracked on 3438/333 to Uthai Thani.
    That evening I came across the local Suzuki shop where the employees were having Friday drinkies and despite the lack of common language fluency, they welcomed me with enthusiasm and fed me free LeO. Hospitality, Thai style!

    Well, I lost heart with attemps to upload photos a while back so haven't stopped to take any. I seem to have gotten on top of the process again so maybe I will take a few more as the trip progresses. There are none for the next report which ends in Chiang Mai but we will see about subsequent sectors.

    END Day 5 - 10
  13. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 11 through 13

    Day 11: 1/06/2013 (Uthai Thani to Mae Sot – 450 km)
    0600hrs and I was headed back to Lan Sak. Diverted by a street market road closure, I got lost and proceeded via many rural back roads until intercepting 3438 back to Lan Sak. Here I didn’t follow my own route guide and sailed past the 3504 turn-off to Mae Wong. I continued up 3438 until eventually coming out South of Mae Wong. Route 1117 was reached via 3456, 3504 and 1072. Here, my map said I could head west to Umphang but Google had it right. The accessible road ends at the Mae Wong National Park. Back down1117 out to Kamphaeng, Highway 1 (Ugh!) to just short of Tak. A left onto 105 took me to Mae Sot. A local Coffee Shop Lady owner called her husband who came and led me to my chosen Hotel. No money offered/accepted – which is the traditional Thai custom – the kindness of rural/small town Thai is overwhelming.
    Road Comment: This sector of 105 can be dangerous in the wet, I believe, but in the dry it was a joy spoilt only by the uphill-creeping heavies and one idiot in a car that wanted to race!

    Day 12: 2/06/2013 (Mae Sot to Pai - 500 km)
    0500hrs: North on 105 which turned into a diabolical Goat Track. (Not that I have anything against goats!) From Mae Sariang I followed 108 to Mae Hong Son and on1095 to Pai.
    Road Comment:
    Out of Mae Sot 105 is good riding but eventually deteriorates into a narrow, rough-sealed road with more holes than seal! 1[sup]st[/sup]/2[sup]nd[/sup]/3[sup]rd[/sup]gear stuff. But they are working on it. Mae Sariang on 108 & 1095 to Pai was great with only occasional rough patches.

    Day 13: 3/06/2013 (Pai to Chiang Mai - 130 km)
    0700hrs: Leisurely ride on 1095 & congested 107 into Chiang Mai. Round and round I went looking for Boonthavon on Ratchadumnern (Soi 1) but gave up and lodged Anodard Hotel.

    Odometer now reads: 16728 km
    Itis time to check the bike over, find the local Yamaha agent and to change the oil & filter (if they have one).

    END Day 11 - 13
  14. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 14 through 17

    Day 14: 4/06/2013(Chiang Mai)
    First, I needed to clean the bike. A trip to a local ESSO Station on Ratchawong Road had me redirected to a PPT Station further up the street where for THB100 (NZ$4.00) the bike was subjected to a water-blasting, but he did stay away from the wheel bearings; my biggest worry. The guy that dried it off sprayed it with some kind of wax that affected the front disc brake for a while – that seems to have worn off.
    At Yamaha Square just up the street from my hotel I was greeted with co-operative interest but he had Yamalube only in 0.8 litre containers. He was most apologetic but I needed 1 litre. A very helpful lady at Tony’s Rentals, also in Ratchamanka Road, (As is the Anodard Hotel) suggested I try a parts shop in Chang Moi Road. Here, I was able to purchase 1 litre of Castrol (THB130 = NZ$5.20) and the Mechanic at Tony’s changed it for free! (Well, for a small tip, anyway). Where in the world do you find such helpfulness?
    So, the bike is clean, the engine oil changed (if not the filter) and all that remains is to lube the chain and check the tyre pressures. Tomorrow?

    Day 15: 5/06/2013 (Chiang Mai)
    Chain lubed, tyres checked, gear packed, R&R.

    Day 16: 6/06/2013 (Chiang Mai to Nan – 600+km)
    Departing just before first light via 1001 North (average to good), then 1150 (good) out to 107, 1089 & 1 to just short of the border crossing into Burma. 107 is the standard bedlam and 1089 is continuous strip development (not recommended).
    Here 1290 took me THE Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos intersect at the one point.

    Golden Triangle Resort - Nice place?

    A shot of the FZ just to prove I was there!!!

    After a short break, 1290, 1129, 1020 & 1021 led onto 1148; all reasonably close to the Lao border and good riding with an occasional rough patch. Somewhere along this stretch I spotted a neat Café called “Riders’ Coffee” (or some such). A Triumph, Kawasaki and a new Honda CB500X were parked outside so I stopped, said hello to the other riders, all Farang (Pronounced“Falang” meaning white folks, folks) and had a coffee and sandwich.
    1148 and 1080 took me to Nan where I stopped for the night at the Nan Guesthouse (Average). At another Guesthouse/Restaurant (Tony’s) nearby I met a couple of Bikers who were riding rented ER6n Kawasaki doing local excursions and enjoying the scenery and the roads. Tony sure gets around!

    Day 17: 7/06/2013 (Nan to Si Chiang Mai 50km short of Nong Khai – 540km)
    Leaving Nan I headed south on 101 for about 25km, took a left onto 1026 and a right onto 1083. For the next three hours I had the excellent, twisty, undulating, “up-and-down mountains” road pretty much to myself. I might have seen three other vehicles. This stretch of road was a real highlight of the trip. I won’t bore you with the highway numbers (too many) but the rest of the day was spent close to the border, much of the way adjacent to the Mekong on average roads. Stopped the night at a Motel style place and had diner looking across the Mekong at Vientiane.

    Odometer now reads: 18100 km. (About 4,500k so far).

    END Day 14 through 17
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hey there Vic, you're moving along alright covering a lot of territory. Well done.
    Seems like you've had good weather most of the way too - lucky man.
    Keep your report coming too will ya - it will inspire others to get out & ride the same as you.
  16. tehsk30

    tehsk30 Ol'Timer

    Very nice n interesting write up...have an awesome journey n ride safe.
  17. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Thanks to David and Teh.
    Now that I am back in Phuket for a few days I will put time aside to write up my reports.
    BTW David, I did get some rain in the final stages - particularly last Sunday (16th) between Chumphon and Khao Lak - but that is part of riding, yes?
  18. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Congrats on that big loop -that was quite a "meander," & it looks like without incident. So well done.
    Looking forward to your reports & pix.
  19. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 18 through 21

    Day 18: 8/06/2013 (Si Chiang Mai to Mukdahan – 465 km)
    The usual departure about day-break saw me in Nong Khai via Route 211 and on to Mukdahan on 212. Long straight roads with mainly good surfaces and not too much traffic proved productive in terms of distance travelled but rather dull. Also, while the route was in the vicinity of the Mekong, the river was rarely in sight of the highway. The Mekong has a fascination for me, based on experiences in a previous life, so not being able to see it on its journey south was a minor disappointment. Stopped the night in luxury – the Mukdahan Grand: Nice but not recommended for the budget-conscious – although it was only NZ$60 for the night including breakfast.

    Day 19: 9/06/2013 (Mukdahan to Ubon Ratchathani – 300+ km)
    This morning I actually took breakfast, mainly because the dining room opened at 05:45. A leisurely ride south on 2034 took me to Khemmarat where a brief excursion into the country enabled me to visit some friends before continuing on 2050 to Ubon Ratchathani. Met with Ja (Pronounced Da), a lovely young lady friend I met in Phuket a few years ago. With Da’s help, I booked into Ratchaphruek Place Guesthouse on Tha Bo street.

    Day 20: 10/06/2013
    (Ubon Ratchathani)
    The day was spent catching up on some bike maintenance.
    Maybe I overloaded the top-box a little and together with some rough roads, the Givi frame had sagged a bit. Ja was sceptical about communication when I first suggested I needed to straighten the frame and she was going to accompany me to interpret when I found a suitable shop.
    Ja hadn’t shown up yet, so I removed the top-box, separated the frame and having noticed some guys working out of a roadside shack a short distance from the Guesthouse, making steel gates, I took the frame to them. I asked, in sign language, if they could bend it back into shape. The man in charge, I am sure, had noticed me ride by a couple of times as we had made eye-contact. He greeted me with some interest and inviting me to park the bike in a freshly-cleared space in the shade of the parasol, he quickly sized up the situation. He was about to cut the frame and re-weld it but I indicated that a smack or two with a hammer would suffice. This he did with some enthusiasm and the original profile was quickly achieved. He suggested payment of THB20 (NZ$0.80c) would be OK and there was much hilarity when, (Translated by an English-speaking lady passing by), I gave him 40 and told him to keep the change.
    Back at the Guesthouse I reassembled it all, then adjusted and greased the rear chain.This chain is pretty amazing. It was adjusted for the first time (one notch) atabout 13,500km when the new tyre was fitted and this was the second notch at about 18,900km. That’s 5,400km of fairly hard going.

    Day 21: 11/06/2013
    (Ubon Ratchathani)
    Wired the extra lights on the top-box and spent the rest of the day quitely with some R & R.


    Odometer now reads: 19,000 km

    Sorry about the lack of pictures - but I promise to do better with subsequent journeys when this oddessy is over. One, I need to slow down, I am told, and enjoy the scenery and two, I need to pack the iPhone closer to the surface so that it can be retrieved quickly.
  20. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 22 and 23

    Day 22: 12/06/2013 (Ubon Ratchathani to Chanthaburi – 600 km)
    Apart from a thunderstorm just short of Prachuap Khiri Khan on the way north on Day 9 and a another on Day 10 near Lan Sak, I have enjoyed excellent weather until now. But today dawned dark and overcast with light but persistent rain that continued for the first 250km. I departed south & west to just short of Surin, south to Prasat and on to Wong Nam Yen on 317 via Araneprathet and Khlong Hat. Here, “she-who-is-in-charge” of the weather decided I had had it too good for too long and the storm broke. It was a wet journey to Chanthaburi where it finally stopped raining. My original intention was to go as far as Trat but decided I had had enough for the day and found a nice bungalow on the beach in which to stay.

    Day 23: 13/06/2013 (Chanthaburi to Phra Pradaeng – 300+ km)
    Again,I availed myself of the breakfast included in the room rate and departed atabout 0900 to look for a gas station. Until now, I had been mapping each day on Google earth and noting the Highway numbers and distances onto a small route guide that I could quickly pull out of a pocket in my tank bag. Occasionally, I would add the names of villages along the way. Together with the reasonably good signage and the convenient “milestones” (kilometre-age stones?), I was able to navigate successfully – most of the time. For this leg, not having internet access the night before, I decided that my map having major highwaynumbers and some place-names would suffice.

    So, tanked-up, I headed north-west on 3, onto 344 at Klaeng with the intention of picking up 34 and 35 bypassing Bangkok.The original plan was to completely bypass Bangkok to the north but I figured I could cut maybe 200 km by passing south.

    At Chon Buri, things turned pear-shaped pretty damn quick. Because I was mixed with the traffic and unable to see all of the signage, I took a turn with the traffic that happened to be – you may have guessed – the on ramp for Route 34“ Superhighway”! Motorcycles NOT permitted and no way off! I should have pulled the local trick: turn around and ride against the traffic back to the entrance. I stopped at the toll gate and had to “bribe” my way off to the next off-ramp.This exit put me on 315 going in the wrong direction – east – as far as the intersection with 349. A dark, overcast sky with occasional rain meant that navigation by the position of the sun was not an option. After some time, Istopped for an hour or so (raining again) found shelter, tried to dry some of my gear, unpacked the iPhone3 and found out where I was. I then proceeded back to wards Chon Buri and eventually found my way onto 34 under the Highway.

    This turned out to be the motorcycle equivalent to a scene from Dante’s Inferno. Smoke, dust (on the dry patches), mud (on the wet patches) trucks racing each other and swerving to miss humps and holes in the road surface. And noise! I managed to extricate myself onto 3265 at Bang Phli and continued to Phra Pradaeng, a planned waypoint. After hours of circulating in almost stationary traffic I was unable to find a way west that accepted motorcycles so I asked a couple of policemen at a police box. No English so not much help. By now I had just about had enough so asked directions to a hotel – any hotel. The senior policeman gave directions to a nearby place but I couldn’t find it. Further enquiries down the road also led nowhere. By now the afternoon rush-hour was becoming the evening rush-hour.(How do you tell the difference?).

    Finally, I stopped at a food stall and a young guy with some English skills directed me in detail to a Hotel nearby saying that there were none in the direction fromwhich I had come!!! I decided a LeO was the answer and while sitting there, a young guy who works at the local office for an insurance Company sat to talk with me in very good English. He said he knew of a place 200 metres along the street so we went and checked but they were booked out. Pity, because they had secure parking and Wi-Fi. He then insisted that I stay in his room as he was on night duty and was spending nights at the Insurance Office 300 metres away.This I did and as I knew he would not accept any money I left him a generous supply of Leo; a brand he likes too! End Day 22 & 23
  21. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Days 24 through 29

    Day 24: 14/06/2013 (Phra Pradaeng to Prachuap Khiri Khan – 350 km)
    Departed early this morning and having received instructions from another gentleman at the food stall, proceeded to the river ferry which, for THB10 took me west of the river. His instructions were pretty good but a bit patchy so after again getting bound down in the Bangkok traffic, I eventually found Highway 4 and went west to Nakhon Panthom and south to Prachuap Khiri Khan arriving at about 14:00 hrs. The Golden Beach Hotel was my choice again but this time for two nights in the old wing at THB500 per night (NZD20).

    Day 25: 15/06/2013 (Prachuap Khiri Khan)
    Down to one change of underwear so took a day off to process some laundry! And, take some pictures!!!
    [​IMG]View from in front of the hotel - nice. (Can't get the captions under the pictures or get the return key to function!!!! Bloody computers!)
    [​IMG] Monkeys - cartloads! . Day 26: 16/06/2013 (Prachuap Khiri Khan to Phuket – 600km)
    First light and I’m on the road again: Highway 4 south that, being Sunday morning, didn’t have too much traffic – but still had the “Truck-Train” in the slow lane! Overcast skies prevailed until after I turned west at Chumphon. Shortly after entering the hills the weather turned very nasty with heavy downpours and strong blustery winds. This pretty much continued right through until Khao Lak. Passing the waterfall beside the highway mentioned in Day 8, I noticed it was in full bloom – beautiful – but I was soaked and had no desire to stop to take pictures.

    The road surface down into Ranong and around Khao Lak was pretty slippery and I could often feel the rear wheel starting out sideways in the corners. I arrived back at Chusri Apartments in Patong about 15:00 hours.

    Tomorrow I am going to Customs House to apply for a 1 month extension for the Yamaha.

    Day 27: 17/06/2013 (Phuket)
    Customs were quite receptive this time around so after filling out the appropriate form I was told to return Wednesday - the day before expiry! His boss had to approve the extension.

    Odometer now reads: 20,850 km. That’s about 7200km since leaving Penang.

    Day28: 18/06/2013. Still drying out my gear!

    Day29: 19/06/2013. Customs have granted the requested month for the Yamaha so I have another month in Thailand.

    I will not bore you further with my activities until I resume my travels back to Penang– maybe some time around early-to-mid July. Unless, of course, I decide to embark on another odyssey in the interim!

    END Days 24 - 29
  22. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Hi Folks: Thought I had better round-out this report in case you-all thought I was lost in Phuket. (Sorry: No photos) Departed Phuket for Surathani just after 06:00/17th July minus the top-box: That is now on the D-Tracker. Went via Pangnga and on to 401 via 4118 (Mistake: Recent rain and a lot of mud dragged onto the road by traffic out of plantations and side roads!). 401 to Surathani was busy but OK. Continued on 401, 4012 and 408 to Songkhla. Much of the road is close to the sea but not much sea view. Mostly good surface and not much traffic. Stayed the night in Songkhla with the intention of going through Yala the next day (July 18th). However, discussions with some locals warned that the recent roadside bombing of a Thai army vehicle meant there are numerous military check-points. Not the best place to stop for long. Maybe, if I was not travelling alone I would have continued but decided to exit via Hat Yai, Sadaeo, & Padang Besar. (I have seen three different spellings for this place!) Very cordial, uncongested and helpful crossing with parking available at the Thai Check-Point. Only small hiccup occurred when the vehicle officer looked at the Temporary Import form for the Yamaha he accused me of "overstaying" until I pointed to the stamped Thai-encrypted extension entry at the top of the form. He checked this in the computer and then gave me the nod to proceed. Balance of the trip was a good ride via Kangar (nice place as is surrounding countryside) Alor Star (not so nice) and Butterworth to the Penang Island ferry. Trip Summary to follow. Cheers
  23. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Summary (Read in conjunction with “Background” #1 Post)

    Name Unchanged although some call me “Crazy”
    Nationality: Still New Zealand
    Age: Still 72 but progressing.
    Marital Status: Unchanged to date
    Occupation: Unchanged
    Physical Characteristics: BMI now within normal range (Lost 1 kg per 1000km).

    Yamaha FZ150i [Malaysian registered].
    Odometer now reads 21690: minus the start reading of 13650 = 8040km for thetrip.
    The bike performed faultlessly and proved comfortable in spite of some quite long days on the road. The top-box frame was the only problem and that I consider being because of some rough stretches of road together with (probably) a degree of overloading.
    The only short-coming with the bike was in the hills. I often had to use most of the available RPM for prolonged stretches. Max RPM = 10,000; Cruise RPM approx 7,000 (95-100kph) but in the hills 8000-9000 and occasionally max RPM was used. I was probably a bit hard on the engine.
    One point of interest: after changing the oil (Castrol) in Chiang Mai, I noticed a bit of clutch-slip on hard acceleration from low speed when hot. (This is normally an indication of friction modifiers in the oil IMHO – surprises me a little!). This has disappeared with subsequent changes to the Thai TPP 4T motorcycle oil and now Yamalube.

    Purpose of Trip Achieved: Thailand circumnavigated (pretty much).

    All things considered
    Would I do it again? You bet! (Tomorrow would be good!): with fewer clothes (stop more often to do laundry and drink with the locals), less gear (Like no computer!) and fewer tools. And I would proscribe a boundary around Bangkok!
    The plan is to return to Phuket 18[sup]th[/sup]. August, change the front sprocketon the D-tracker to 15 teeth (gear-up to reduce cruise RPM), and depart North again.

    For those of you who like photographs, I apologise. But there are plenty of very good photos in other threads on this and other sites. Besides, I write about my ride: I am not writing a travel brochure nor sight-seeing (although I enjoy the scenery), and I don’t visit temples & waterfalls or seek out exotic food.

    I ride for the journey and to stop at night to meet the locals and others including Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodians, Chinese, Farang, Filipino, Indians, Lao, Malaysians, Pakistani, Shri Lankans, Singaporeans and Vietnamese (all onthis trip)….and for that I do not apologise.

    I wish you all dry roads and many enjoyable rides.
    Ride safe and you may get to ride when you are my age (If you aren’t already).
    May the Tailwind Spirit be with you! :)
  24. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    The story continues with a ride on the D-Tracker from Phuket to Khemmarat (on the Mekong) and return. Today I managed to purchase a battery for my camera (in Hong Kong) so when I get back to Phuket I will post a ride report and some photos of the modifications to the D-Tracker. Cheers.

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