Ride Through the Jungle

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by Canoli, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. Canoli

    Canoli Member

    On several previous rides up to Kanchanaburi, Calvin and I had scouted a dirt road that potentially stretched 120km through the jungle and up to some incredibly twisty roads along the ThaiBurma border. After weeks of talking with local guides & residents, pouring (and drinking) over maps, looking squinty eyed at Google Earth & Garmin Map Data, the rumors of our up coming adventure started to leak out (because we were telling everyone we knew about it). Stories and pictures from the previous trips had been circulating among our group of friends and soon we had two more volunteers who wanted in. After some introductory rides through the local country side to shake out any cobwebs..DOH!

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    ..working to finalize possible dates, sending e-mails to secure the needed accommodations and in Dan’s case acquiring a rental bike, we settled on the weekend of March 25th to make it happen.

    Let’s Do This!

    Meeting up at an undisclosed location hidden somewhere among the rice paddies and small scale factories of Nonthaburi Provence on the outskirts of Bangkok, Dan, Mr. Chaps, Captain Calvin & I pose for a group picture get on the bikes and hit the “go to” button on the GPS.

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    Heading northwest to our base camp for the weekend we had the roads mostly to ourselves, as it seemed that the weekend traffic hadn’t left the city yet. The pavement was smooth with well-marked signs in two different languages that were posted in all the right places. This allowed us to ride at a brisk yet relaxed pace while soaking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the yellow Ginkgo trees that lined the road. The trees themselves were in full bloom and the sight of their bright yellow flowers were almost as breathtaking as their smell was foul. The odor of these trees is truly awful and is something akin to hot garbage mixed with diarrhea, and I choke back the urge to throw up in my helmet more then once. Stopping for gas just outside town we top off the tanks, pose for yet another picture and make our way to the Oriental Kwai Resort.

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    This hotel is run by Djoe (pronounced Joe) & his wife Evelien and is actually a series of cottages that surround a main restaurant reception building and is situated right on the banks of the famous River.
    (photo stolen from their website)

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    Djoe & Evelien had played host to a few of our adventures before and they welcomed us like old friends. After dropping off our bags in a room that that was nothing short of amazing (this place ain’t no backpacker youth hostile)

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    …we headed into town to see the sites and get some food.

    First stop; The world famous Bridge Over the River Kwai.

    The bridge in the movie is not like the real one in real life. It is not some flimsy bamboo prop, but rather a concrete and steel monument that stands as a proud testament to the hard work of solders and Asian labors that were mistreated to the point of death but were still able to make things happen.

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    During our tour of the bridge the Thai Mariah Carey stopped buy to pay her respects as well ..

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    Our next stop was the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This memorial garden is the final resting place for 6,982 Australian, Dutch and British POW’s . Located right in the middle of town it is an oasis of peace and calm and we all take a few moments to reflect on those who gave their lives for their countries.

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    With our stomachs now growling we headed out and grabbed a bite to eat at a local establishment.

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    After dinner we hit the road and went back to the hotel for some for their infamous dessert (Pancakes, ice crème & chocolate.) Calvin ate his weight in these while Mr. Chaps and I matched him by drinking our respective weights in beer.
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    At around 2 hours earlier then we thought it really was.. we said good night to the stunned wait staff and passed out.

    The next day we awoke with the sun, inhaled our hearty breakfast the thick as mud coffee and pushed the start button on another day of adventure. Our goal was to find the legendary 120 KM long dirt path that stretched from Erwan Falls to Three Pagoda Pass.

    The ride from the hotel up to the trailhead was amazing. Twisty roads, unseasonably cool weather and misty mountain passes were our companions and it was almost upsetting when we reached the start of our run….I did said ALMOST.

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    HELLS YEAH WE FOUND IT!!

    This road was a wide-open well-groomed ribbon of dirt perfection that invited us to go fast and slide into the corners.

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    Dan was so stunned by the beauty of the road and the surrounding jungle that he almost shit himself.

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    We only had two close calls ( if you could even call them close). One was when Dan’s rental Versis with stock street tires got a bit loose in a rocky section but he was somehow able to save it. Wish I had a picture of his face when it happened. I kid you not.. his eyes go so big that they filled his visor. The other “incident” happened when Mr. Chaps stopped to take a picture and his bike just fell over. He picked it right back up and was able to snap this one of yours truly.

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    The route that Calvin and I had worked out was almost spot on. Sure there were some times when the Garmin told us to make turns that didn’t exist, and we had to guess left or right a few times, but in the end we somehow managed to find our way back to civilization where we were able to gas up the bikes

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    and grab a bite to eat.

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    While we were sitting around eating lunch, the local Wat (Temple) was having some sort of ceremony. Looking over his shoulder Mr. Chaps yells out “Damn! That’s some Nat Geo shit right there!!” and I grab my camera and snap this pic.

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    Definitely one of the more memorable events of the day.

    After lunch we needed to split up the group. Calvin & Dan had to head back to Bangkok while Chaps and I had more miles to put on. We said our goodbyes and as Dan & Calvin headed south on Rt 323, and Chaps and I headed north towards the ThaiBurma border.

    Riding north on Rt 323 is fantastic. The roads twist and wind their way through the mountains and we have a great time enjoying this paved playground.

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    About ½ way between where we split the group and Three Pagoda Pass, Mr. Chaps & I stopped on this bridge to snap a few pictures and ran into these two guys.

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    They were riding heavily modified 150 two stokes and came up from Bangkok to visit some of their family who lived in one of the nearby villages. RESPECT!

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    A full 60 KM’s after we left the dirt road, Chaps & I arrived at the Burma (Myanmar) border & Three Pagoda Pass:

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    We ate some scary ice crème, took a few pictures but since border towns the world over are not the in best neighborhoods we said goodbye to the locals and spun a quick u-turn.

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    Heading south on Rt 323 for 200 Km’s we made it back to the hotel tired, hungry and in need of a few beverages. The plan was to just drop off the stuff and get a cab ride into town…..that was until we made the mistake of sitting down at the hotel restaurant . We ordered a round of beers and sent Calvin a text message telling him that we were alive. Two hours and eight beers (each) later Calvin called us and asked where we were. We laughed and told him that we were still in our riding gear sitting at the same place we were when we got in.

    After a night of drinking, telling stories, laughing too much and making complete fools of ourselves, we left the bar and passed out.

    In the morning we got up, paid up, said goodbye to all of our friends at the hotel and hit the road. Before we headed south to home, we took Rt 3199 to Rt 323 for a bit of sight seeing.

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    We eventually ended up at the Hell Fire Pass War Memorial.

    This professionally done, well maintained war memorial is dedicated to the Australian and British POW’s that during WWII worked along side other slave laborers in horrendous conditions to cut a path through the jungle in order to connect the Burma Thai railway for the Japanese Army’s supply line.

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    After paying our respects we got back on the bikes for the long slog back home.

    Heading south on Rt 4 we had to dodge a large number of overloaded sugar cane trucks that would on occasion drop some of their cargo out of the back

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    a few dozen psychopathic Mini-bus drivers, countless pickup trucks stacked way too high with all kinds of crap ( Yes that was in fact a baboon hanging off the top!) Not to mention the notoriously heavy Bangkok traffic jams. Well if you cant beat them..

    We hopped up onto the sidewalks went native and did our best urban super cross. This strategy of aggressive riding would be illegal in most places, but for Bangkok…it just works.

    We made it home with our adrenalin reserves completely empty but without a scratch. Made some phone calls and sent some e-mails to let our friends and loved ones letting them know that we were alive and chalked up another amazing weekend of riding here in Thailand. Oh if you are keeping track…. distance traveled on this trip: 840 Km’s or about 522 miles.

    Until next time

    Canoli
     
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Good stuff Canoli; one can feel the excitement in the way you write.
    Glory to Kanchanaburi, take me there!
     
  4. Canoli

    Canoli Member

    Rod,
    Thanks man glad you liked it. Kanchanaburi is a great weekend get-away for us who are stuck in BKK ( would MUCH rather be in Chiang Mai).

    Slash,
    I dont have the route in front of me now but I'm pretty sure it was around 120KM of dirt (give or take a few). We all filled our tanks first thing in the morning and Chaps on the KLX was running on FUMES when we hit pavement and found those gas barrles.

    Canoli
     
  5. jack3330

    jack3330 New Member

    here is some amazing adventure for whose want to ride through to jungle, from Sangklaburi to north.
    http://jack3330.exteen.com
     
  6. jack3330

    jack3330 New Member

  7. jack3330

    jack3330 New Member

  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    How did I miss this. Great report & a lot of fun for you guys in Bangkok. I liked the mix of bikes too.
     

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