Round Thailand Ride report - Part 1

Discussion in 'Central Western Thailand Road Trip Reports' started by phuah, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. phuah

    phuah Active Member

    Hi there:
    Here is the first part of the report:

    Day 1 ( Singapore to Hatyai – approx 900km) (26/12/2003)
    Have arranged to meet up with John Kwa at the Geylang Patah Esso station at 4 am.
    Arrived at 4.05am. He was already there waiting.
    After topped up full tank, we moved off for our 23 days of Trans-Thailand ride at 4.20am.
    First petrol stop at Ayer Keroh.
    While doing the usual KL by-pass route, found the section to Sungei Buloh was closed. And we are directed out of the highway. By following signboard, we are up to the highway after a few turns.
    As all the signboards are temporary signboards, high chances will missed some of them if traveling in the night.
    Then top up at Tapah and the final top up is at Gurun.
    Stop before the Sadao border, at the usual coffee shop for coffee and buy the Thailand Third Party Insurance, which is just next to the coffee shop. At the same time found out that can book the hotel through them at a cheaper rate. So book a room at Daiichi hotel for the rate of RM$55 per nite without breakfast. Better don’t take the breakfast; it is really not worth it. Cold toasted bread, cold fried eggs…

    After getting all the necessary stuff, clear the custom, hit directly to Daiichi hotel. Check in around 2 pm.

    After wash up, proceed for late lunch and headed for Oliver for 2 hours of massage, and follow by dinner time. After that, just walk around the usual nite market area, and went back to hotel to rest. Hatyai is still the same…

    Day 2 ( Hatyai to Hua Hin - approx 750km) (27/12/2003)
    After checking out of the hotel, turn back to the same road towards the border. When hit the junction with route 43, turn right to route 43 and all the way towards Phatthalung.

    The road is quite busy with the morning traffic. But the traffic getting less when we are getting away from town.
    From route 43 it is connected to route 4 all the way to Phatthalung, Continue straight which is route 41. Route 41 all the way to Chumphon, and continue straight again which become route 4. Before Hua Hin, there will be a Y junction. Signboard showed turn right for Hua Hin. Turn right, and all the way it will hit Hua Hin town. Nothing interesting on the road as the roads are basically 2 lanes highway.

    At Hua Hin town, easily get to hotel Pannachai. It is the same hotel that I have stayed there during last year ride. It is also the same hotel that John has stay there 2 years ago. Both of our trips are led by the same persons. So same hotel.

    Found it to be expensive with the room rate of 800 baht per night with no breakfast.

    After doing our laundry and shower, we are out to the town again.

    Have dinner at the usual roadside stall that we have our dinner during our last year here in Hua Hin.

    John have a plate of rice top with seafood, I have a plate of rice topped with fried mixed vegetable and a plate of fried egg. Drinks are free. The meal only cost us 60 baht. It is still selling so cheap as last year.

    After dinner, walk to the night market, and to the usual tourist area around the Hilton hotel area.

    Have an hour of foot massage at a very well decorated massage parlor for the price of 300 baht.

    That is how we spend our night in Hua Hin.

    If I ever come back to Hua Hin again, will definitely look for another hotel.

    Day 3 ( Hua Hin – Khao Yai National Park – approx 500km) (28/12/2003)
    As no breakfast is provided by the hotel, we have our breakfast at one of the cafe and take a walk to the beach and have some photo taking. After checking out of the hotel, while loading and checking the bike, found the engine oil is very low. Topped up with the whole 1 liter bottle of engine oil, then managed to see the level from the engine oil window.
    The bike has just traveled for around 1400km, and it is already burnt 1 liter of engine oil. How many liters will I have to top up for the whole trip? I am starting to get worried. Think will have to travel at a lower speed.

    Move off at Hua Hin town at around 10.20am. On the way out, saw a bike shop by the side of the road. Stopped and bought 2 bottles of 1 liters pack engine oil. I think I will need them for the coming days.

    Based on the planned route, we supposed to go from route 4, turn to route 35, then to highway 9, which run around Bangkok, then to highway 1, to Saraburi, then to Kaoyai.

    Everything went smoothly until we hit a toll station. Looking at the signboard, do not see highway 9. So went through a closed toll gate and stopped after the toll gate to asked John to confirmed.

    It was this time, a toll gate lady run out of the office by the side of the road with a policemen. We are told that motorcycle cannot get to the highway and we have to go by another road.

    We have no choice but to get out of the highway to go on the normal road.

    This is where we start to get loss and when I saw the road sign like Rama 2 and Rama 5, I know we have ride into Bangkok. We try to asked direction. But due to our Thai language limitation, it makes us more confused.

    Then an idea came to me. I asked John to look in his GPS, to see whether he can see route 1 from his GPS. Yes, there is route 1 in his GPS. So, we just need to head towards route 1, and we will be going in the right direction.
    Although we managed to get to route 1, we are caught in a jam. It is a Sunday. And someone told me that there would not be any jam in Bangkok on Sunday. NO!! It is wrong. It still jammed like hell on Sunday in BANGKOK.

    After crawling for few hours in route 1, we managed to get out of the jams. It is a relief when we are on the smooth route 1. Turned into route 2 before Saraburi. On route 2, there is clear signboard showing Khao Yai National Park and it is a fly over bridge that run from route 2 into route 2090.
    Once on route 2090, go all the way. Saw a row of stall selling roast pigs and roasted chicken.

    Time to look for accommodation again. Stop at a huge main gate of one of the resort. Cannot even see the resort from the gate. Was told that the resort was fully booked. Looks like the whole area was flooded with Thai-tourist as this is their holiday season now.
    Go further down the road. And get to Juldis, Khao Yai Resort & Spa. Settled for a room for 1306 baht for one night. But the rooms available were not in the actual resort compound. It was at the rear end of the compound, around 200m away. Have to come out of the resort, travel for another 50m, and then turn into the exit. The whole block was very quiet. Was wondering is there anyone staying there.
    Check into the hotel room at around 5pm. It has took us almost one full day to travel from Hua Hin to Khao Yai.
    After cleaning up, it was already dark. Walk back to the resort area for our dinner.
    Have our dinner at an outdoor area, and they have a few guitarists singing.
    While having the dinner, discovered that the surrounding is getting colder and colder. While enjoying to the singing after dinner, it was getting so cold that we have to get back to our rooms.
    Saw a thermometer at the reception of our block that showed 19degC.
    Surprise me as it is so near to Bangkok, and it is totally different in term of fresh air and cold night.

    Day 4 ( Khao Yai to Korat – approx100km ) (29/12/2003)
    The next morning, rode our bike back to the resort for breakfast, and then proceed to the National Park.

    As I was just wearing a sweater, was shivering while riding in the morning breeze towards the National Park.
    Found out that there are more and more report while approaching the National Park.

    Get in the National Park and ride around the park, take some photos, and even ride all the way to the next entrance, by mistake.

    When back to the report, saw the water sprinkler that was running on the garden. We disconnect it, and used the water host to wash our bike. Lucky that we fixed back everything nicely after used, as the worker came to check on it after our washing and saw anything is alright. If not, it will really give Singapore biker’s a bad name.

    The original plan was to ride to Nong Khai. But as the time we leave Khao Yai it is already 1pm, looking at the time and the distance we need to cover if we wanted to reached Nong Khai, we make a change and rode to Korat instead, which is just around 70km away.

    While riding on route 2090, before reaching the route 2, saw a beautiful coffee house. Stopped for coffee and have some cakes. It really surprised us that there is such a beautifully set up coffee house at this type of location.

    After coffee, on route 2090 again, John stopped at one of stall that are selling roasted pigs and packed some roast pigs to bring to Korat.

    The ride from Nong Khai to Korat was just on the same road. Route 2. The ride was a relax one as not only it is a 2 lane highway, part of the road also has just been re-surfaced.

    We get to the same hotel (Rachaphruk hotel) that both of us have stayed there previously. It was located at the outskirt of Korat. John was there during January of 2002, and I was there on November 2002. Room rate was 1200baht per night with breakfast. We called it the air force hotel as the Singapore Air Force personnel used to stay there when they have exercise in Korat. There are also many pictures of the pilots, aircrafts with autographs placed at the lift area.

    After clean up, we went down to have a session of massage and then headed to a nearby shopping complex. Do some walking around and have pizza for dinner.

    Observed some interesting stuff in the complex. On our way out of the complex, from the basement to the street, there are two pubs on both side of the staircase. And above the staircase, there is another pub on the street level. And all these 3 pubs have live bands blasting their own songs.
    So you could hear all three bands playing at the same time. It is purely noise and not music anymore. Funny…

    Day 5 ( Korat to Nong Khai –approx 390km) (30/12/2003)
    From Korat to Nong Khai is just traveling on route 2. As John has never visited Phimai, so we detour to Phimai which is on route 2163 on the way to Nong Khai. Managed to find Phimai, quite easily, as I still have some impression of the place, even thought was there in a van during the last year visit.

    As we have our luggage on the bike, and have our gear on, we managed to talk to a drinks and souvenir stall nearby, to let us parked our bike next to the stall and leave our helmets and gears with the stall. Nice peoples.

    Walk around the wat and have some photo taking.
    After Phimai, we backed on route 2 again and all the way to Nong Khai. As I have been to Nong Khai, and do not want to stay in the town area.
    On route 2 before going into Nong Khai town, turn right into route 212. We saw Nong Khai Grand hotel on the right.
    So we check in to Nong Khai Grand hotel for the room rate of 1000baht per night with breakfast.
    After cleaning up, we were out on a tuk tuk to Sala Khew Khu, which I have come across quite often when I was looking for attraction around Nong Khai.
    It was quite a special park with all the huge statues of the different characters from the Buddhist stories. Spend quite some times there taking photos and admiring the statues. It was already past 4 pm and the park was going to close with almost nobody left in the park. Lucky that we could make it before it closed.
    After that we proceed to the market area in Nong Khai town. As I had visited the same place just one year ago, nothing seems to be special to me. As it is already dark and nothing seems to be interesting, decide to get back to the hotel and have dinner at the hotel roof top restaurant. Have a nice cooling dinner.

    Day 6 ( Nong Khai to Loei – approx 260km) (31/12/2003)
    This is the stretch of the ride that I have enjoyed during last year ride. And this time I am doing it in the opposite direction.
    After checking out from the hotel, we hit back to route 212, towards route 2, which is where we have came on the previous day.
    While on route 2 going south, following road sign, make a U-turn and turn left to route 212 heading to Loei. The road is on the side of the Mekong river, and you could see Loas on the other side of the river. There are a number of villages that the road go through. So it is a slow ride where we enjoyed the scenery, stop for photo taking and could see the relaxed and slow pace of the village life.
    While reaching Chiang Khan, we turned left to route 201. Part of the 201 has just been resurfaced, but some part are still the same as before, quite bumpy. Following the sign board, we headed for Loei town. It was a small town and we check into Phu Luang hotel. Room is 500baht per night.
    It was New Year eve, and we saw peoples still setting up stage and installing the lighting at around 5pm while we are loitering the town looking for dinner. It made us wonder are they going to have the count down party on the very night, as everything is still not ready.
    We are wrong. They are fast in setting up as when we passed by the stage area again after our dinner, it is almost ready for the party.
    We came across 3 places that have stages setup for the count down party, all within walking distance.
    Roadside stalls are all on the side of the roads leading to the stage, there are tables and chairs setup by either the pub or stall selling beer. It is really a party.
    We sat outside a bar, while John enjoying his beer and me coffee. We saw peoples walking around all with jacket and thick clothing. But the two of us just have T-shirt and Bermudas when we leave the hotel before nightfall.
    While walking back to the hotel, it is where we found the place is really cold and we are shivering all the way back to the hotel.
    Went directly to bed after returning back to the hotel. In the sleep, heard the sound of the firework. As too tired to wake up to see the firework, just continue sleeping under the warm blanket.

    Day 7 ( Loei to Nan – approx 470km) (1/1/2004)
    As we has been quite familiar with the town after wondering for almost half a day on the previous day, we easily get out of the town and hit route 203, heading towards Phu Rua.
    It is real cooling and the road is of a good condition. There is a stretch of around 30km of good re-surfaced winding road before reaching Phu Rua. Really difficult to describe it in words where the air is cold and the road is good.
    After Phu Rua, turned into route 2013. And again it is another nice surfaced winding road. Before reaching Nakhon Thai, we turned to route 1143. all the way on 1143, until we hit a T-junction. We turn left to route 1246, which lead us to route 11. Turn right to route 11, heading towards Uttaradit.
    After Uttaradit, route 11 is linked with route 101. On route 101, it is again good surfaced and winding road again all the way to Nan.
    In fact, we make a mistake while reaching Nan of making a left turn, which is route 1091, which is out of Nan. But after a few km, with less houses around, common sense tell me it is wrong. Make a U turn back and managed to get into Nan town.
    As it is New Year, many roads are closed with stalls set up. Although we managed to see small sign showing Dhevaraj hotel, but cannot find the way due to the road shown by the sign were closed.
    Go to a PTT petrol station and with our limited Thai, we managed to get the directions to the hotel, and we managed to find Dhevaraj hotel.
    As it is holiday season, all air-con rooms were full, and left with rooms with fan. As we have experience in Loei that even with air-con room, we have turn off the air con in the night. We have a feeling that it will be cold at night and we might do not need the fan too.
    So we have check into the fan room at 350 baht per night.
    As usual, after we have settled down, we are out to check out the town.
    We have found the hotel recommended by David Unkovich, the next thing to look out is the recommended Italian Restaurant. But after wondering around cannot find it. We only managed to find the restaurant on the last day of our stay in Nan.
    As we have passed by the crowded area during the day when we came into Nan, we headed for that area, which is near to the museum, where a few of the streets are closed for the stalls. It is some sort of New Year carnival, and there are many stalls being setup by, and have exhibition, there is a small stage for some stage drama competition, there are also hill tribe selling their handicraft.

    Day 8 ( Nan – Doi Phu Ka Loop approx 300km) (2/1/2004)
    The plan for the day will be heading to Doi Phu Ka and do a loop from 1081 all the way north and come back from 1080 all the way south back to Nan.

    When we are out of Nan on route 1080, the road condition is good, and the morning air is fresh and cooling. Passed by Nan Valley resort. It looks nice from the outside.

    At Pua, we have to do a U turn and turn left to route 1256 to go to Doi Phu Ka. On the road there are many thai tourist on their 4WD, which were having their holiday too.

    We have to pay to go into the Doi Phu Ka National Park. Route 1256 has just been re-surfaced. So you could imagine riding on a newly surfaced winding road with newly painted lane. We have rode to the office area, visited the toilet and have a cup of free coffee, where we only know it was free when we wanted to pay to the counter when we about to leave.

    Then after the camping area, route 1256 started to get from bad to worst when we kept on riding east towards Bo Kluea. There was a stretch of a few kilometers of totally pebbles road. Passed by a few scenic points and saw some Thai tourist stooped there. But due to the road condition, do not stopped as concentrating on the road. There are few bents on this stretch too.

    When I reached the T-junction of 1256 and 1081, was hesitating to turn north on 1081, worried about the road condition. Asked John whether he want to proceed north, as he say no problems, we proceed north of 1081. The road is not that good, but it is still alright. The road is like belongs to us with almost no traffic.

    It is on this stretch of the road that I have seen the best scenery for the whole Thailand trip. The paddy field has just been harvest. If not, it will be more beautiful. Have stopped for some photo taking.
    Imagine that you are riding on the road, which is on the right side of the mountain and on you see a valley on your right, which is a stretch of paddy field. Too bad that the road are not that good, and some stretch of it are like going through a forest. We rode at a slow speed enjoying the scenery.
    We rode all the way north and even go to the Thai-Loas border. But the place was dead quiet. I think it might because of the New Year.
    Then we head south on route 1080. The road was much better compared with 1081. The sun was setting as we are heading south back to Nan. Has passed by some poor villages and I have to totally stopped the bike when I saw a fleet of chicks with the hen on the middle of the road. When I stopped the bike, the chicks were running all around the place. I only move off after making sure that all the chicks were already clear off the road. Interesting encountered.
    The paddy fields have a slight different colour under the evening sunlight. The scene is simply beautiful. As the sun is setting fast, and we do not want to ride in the night, so we did not stop for photo taking. But I don’t think the photo can captured the beauty of the surrounding as compared to seeing the actual sunset on the paddy field.

    You will see peoples carrying a basket on their back walking on the side of the road. Think they must be going home after a day work on the field. But we are going back to hotel after a day of sightseeing. Thinking back, I think I am more fortunate.

    While stopping at a petrol station before Nan for topping up, John complained about his noisy front brake. And after checking, found out that his right side of the brake pad has totally worn out and the metal plate from the pads were rubbing against the disc.

    We managed to get back to the hotel. We are more oriented to the surrounding now and we entered the hotel car park by the rear entrance.

    As it is already late and we have to wait till the next day to look for workshop to replaced the brake pads for John’s bike.

    We had dinner in the hotel. And after dinner, by chances, we walked to the front gate of the hotel, and to our surprise, the whole road in front of the hotel has been converted to a night market, with a stage setup in front of the hotel, having singing competition. Looks like it is the New Year celebration program.

    As usual, walked around the night market, but found the stuff that is selling at the night market were almost the same as other night market. Only different is there are more local than tourist. But it is nice to walk around under the cool night.

    End of part 1...

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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Agreed, that you rate 1081 north from Bo Klua as the best scenery in North Thailand.
    For me the Doi Phukha loop is THE number one ride in North Thailand. It might not be the best road at times, but the scenery & views are extremely good.
    The problem with the Doi Phukha loop roads would appear to be the rugged mountainous nature of the area, plus the fact that most of the roads - route 1081 from Bo Klua south & North - are generally old, narrow, steep & tight, & very susceptible to landslides plus excess wear from heavy vehicles.
    More often than not some part of the road is in need of repair, but at the same time another section might be in top condition; so it can just be the luck of the game at the time. Getting the latest info then is a big help, which makes road & trip reports on this board more important. And, the more contributors we get the better for all of us - keep ‘em coming fellow riders.

    Keep the power on

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