Martin´s South East Asia trip chapter 3 - Mid


Thai tourer
Jul 22, 2008
Nakhon Ratchasima
Hi again, here is the continued story from my trip.
To follow my trip visually please see pictures on my home page

Bangkok definitly has some nice features to visit and I had a good time there but after a couple of days in the chaos I started my trip north to enjoy the nice roads and the trancility of the countryside. A Sunday morning after studying the map carefully and layed out the route out of Bangkok I startded up from the central Sukhumvit (Soi 11) area. I managed to make it without getting lost and headed east as I decided to visit Kanchanburi and The river Kwai first. A nice days ride for appx 200 km.

My speedometer stopped working after some kilometers and I visited some Honda workshops on the road (there are a lot of them). If I succeed in making me understood at all it was clear that Honda dealers in Thailand did not work with 650 cc motorbikes, just with motorcykles below 200 cc.

I made it to Kanchnburi, became tourist for a day and slept in a bungalow on the river (see pics). The area has an amazing story from the second world war when the Japanese tried to establish a railway between Thailand and India through Burma. The work took a lot of war prisoners life but succeeded at last. The Bridge over the river is a symbol for this. Don't miss the museum if yor there.

I really wanted to go further up east along the mountains towards Burma in a great environment but that would be a dead end and I would have to go all the way back to Kanchaburi again so I decided not to. I started up Northbound to Uthai Thani and Nakon Sawan, a quite boaring leg but there really was soma amusement on the road with overloaded vehicle of all kinds and people taking the most out of there transports.

Now when leaving the touristic area I started to have difficulties making myself understood and the prices began to fall. Gas was still quite expensive (600 Baht for a fill, appx. 15 liters) but food and Hotels really did drop. About 20 Baht for a nice dinner or 200 for a luxuary Hotel room.
I made a stop in Nakhon Sawan and checked in at a Hotel looking like it seen it's best days sometimes during the 80's but still clean and luxuary. I took a stroll in town wich mostley contains of market places of different kinds. The people were still very nice and really tried to communicate though tje didn't understand English at all. I really enyjoyed that evening dealing in local markets and strolling around amazed of the "hole in the wall" living. Everybody seemed to have some kind of business.

Next leg took me to Sukothai, an ancient town once the Capital of Thailand (Siam) and a well preserved old town. I found a nice lodge with small houses at the riverbed of the old towns river where people use to wash their clothes, it really felt ancient. Not to much people as it was some kilometer walking (or biking) from the tourist center, you can really find nice places when your not dependent on transport. The ancient town consist of several parks with a lot of ruined temples and I took a walk there in the morning sun, amazing place. However a longed for a mountain ride and took the bike northbound after a couple of hours.

I decided to take the country roads north through the mountains instead of the boaring highway 1 towards Chaing Mai. That was a good choice! and amazing roads, I felt like the pavement was just laid. Solid black asphalt with nice leaning in the curves. Thai roads are really the best, when you add some nice mountain views and no traffic it is a blast! I also have good luck with the weather and it was dry and clean. It was inviting to speed and I did. My first experience in the North was really nice.

Chaing Mai district welcomed me with rain in Lumpar, a large town just east of Chaing Mai, I stopped at a gas station restaurang and the staff there made me felt really welcomed and did not let me go before the rain stopped, nearly two hours. We had a nice break with good food and coffe and a chat about Thai living. Thai people are so nice! After one more hour on the road I hit the streets of Chiang Mai, a very touristic town with an old centre surrounded by a square channel. It was quite late and i made an easy choice stopping at the North inn hotel in the Centre, 650 Baht for the night, laid down and dreamed about the nice bike ride!

Next morning I found a clean and nice guest house around the corner for half the price. More family oriented and with nice people to speak with. I went out in town to a book store and asked for David, I wanted to see him about driving conditions in Laos and possibilities to go into China. The store has placed his maps strategitly and i bought one of each, and I got the message that David was in Bangkok but would probaply be back in a couple of days. That´s Asian culture, not on Wednesday at three o´clock but sometimes during the week. Nice! I also got his phonenumber and the adress to the café where he always is to find when in town.

I also succeded to find a german mechanic who runs a bke workshop in Chiang Mai, he promised to fix my speedometer the next day (The wire was broken after the Koh Samui adventure) which he also did. While waiting for David I took the "must do" tour, the Samoeng loop. Now we´re talking, hill roads up in the mountain with spectacular views, fantastic bike roads and nice hill tribes. Don't miss it! This is what you came for.

Next week more about meeting David, making the Mae Hong Song loop and leaving Chiang Mai for the Golden triangle and Laos.

See you then