Ride Along Tanao Si Range - Western Kanchanaburi

Discussion in 'Western Thailand - Motorbiking Trip Report Forums' started by Goran Phuket, May 18, 2017.

  1. Hey fellow GTR riders.

    Just completed another 7 days moto-camping adventure in Kanchanaburi with 2 of my Malaysian friends, 2 Thais (with pickup), one Norwegian and guest star Brian who teamed up with us and his enduro gang at the abandoned mine tunnels.

    This time we focused on Thong Pha Phum district, there are some incredibly beautiful POI's within the area.
    It is hard to believe trip took only 7 days to complete considering all the places we visited.

    Before I proceed with detailed report, here are just a few appetizer photos to give you general idea where we went.
    Stay tuned, lots of pics and videos coming soon.


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  2. Seems like the western Thailand section is the most active part of the forum these days.

    Why not. Great, unspoilt, friendly locals and close to Bangkok.

    Bring it on..
     
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  3. Trip mission this time is to explore roads and POI's within Si Sawat, Thong Pha Phum districts and along Tanao Si Range in western Kanchanaburi.

    April 27th, RV at our usual spot, Thai Guesthouse - Kanchanaburi.
    Well, guess what, they expanded. There is another building 20-30 yards away, brand spanking new and price is still the same: below THB 700.

    14.03302, 99.52243

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    Brand new Pirelli Scorpions on my bike, not as good as TKC80 Continental but have no complaints so far.

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    This place is always so impeccably clean. It is 6 years old guesthouse but feels like brand new.

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    Before proceeding to Erawan National Park, quick stop at Historic Bridge at River Kwai (Khwae).
    Weather is absolutely gorgeous, I can tell this will be one awesome trip.

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    And here is the rest of our "Dream Team"
    Tim Roy from Norway on Honda CB500

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    Goh who rode alone all the way from Malaysia just for this trip. True overlander and very experienced rider.
    He's been riding all over the world on his R1200GSA.

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    Kim, Malaysian residing in Bangkok, on F800GS. He is our drone operating genius.

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    Phli, our camera guy and all-round Mr nice guy.

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    Few shots from the bridge, relaxing chat before moving on.


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    Little video taken at the bridge. We were just in time to witness morning arrival of Eastern and Oriental Express train from Singapore. Really beautiful train and beautiful price too:

    The fare from Singapore to Bangkok or vice versa by Eastern & Oriental Express starts at around £1,775 per person in a Pullman or £2,593 in a Stateroom or £3,748 in a Presidential suite, assuming two people travel together and share.



    And on our way towards Erawan.

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  4. Arriving to National Park.

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    Kim and Goh speak very good Thai so they managed to obtain park entry tickets for a half a price.

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    Before entering camping area with our vehicles, there s a formality of registering.
    I could write down my name as Kim Jong Un, the girl manning the counter wouldn't care. All is good.

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    Another shot before proceeding to camping area. This place is beautiful. One of the best shots of entire trip.

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    Most of the photos were taken by Khun Boong, pro-photographer, buddy of our cameraman Phli.
    Actually he didn't even bring his own camera, originally was to assist the video guy. I gave him my Nikon D7100 for duration of entire trip and he did not disappoint: great stuff!
     

    Attached Files:

  5. Let's pick that spot guys....says Kim.
    That is perfectly fine but what makes me remember this particular photo is Kim's reaction upon seeing it:

    "Dude WTF!! I look like @#$%^&* midget!!!

    LOL!!!


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    There must be 100 tents here and perhaps half a dozen occupied only.
    We have our tents of course, but here is all set up nicely so we decided to pay few hundred Baht and use park accommodation.
    Right down by the river, under the shadow of big trees, cool and peaceful. Time to binge on food and beer, we are never short on these two.


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    My "suite"


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    After few beers it is time to refresh, last thing I wanna do is fall asleep.
    Me and Roy - two moby dicks - ruined the peaceful park atmosphere by splashing into the river.


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    Following morning....I went to sleep at 1am, woken up by birds before 6. It is quite unbelievable; sounds like morning concert, feel like every bird under the sky had something to say that morning.

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    It is still early in the morning, Park Rangers start with work at 8:30.
    I figured since that is the case, let's just try to ride all the way to Erawan Waterfall through what is actually pedestrian zone. So early in the morning, park isn't open yet, no tourists and Rangers probably still snoring....

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    I was right, we went all the way to that Erawan Falls signboard. After that is is 100 meters of narrow pedestrian pathway, impossible to ride even if they let you.


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    Not much water this time of the year as you've might guessed. Still, there are few early birds frolicking around. All locals, most likely relatives of park staff.

    And here is the video taken at the location:

     
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  6. As always impressive.
     
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  7. Some gorgeous colour.
    BTW all this camping is starting to disturb me though = you're not getting me into it!

    Looking forward to the rest of the report.
     
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  8. Great video's. I've been through Kanchanaburi so many times I forget to stop and look. I'll have some time off soon so maybe need to slow down and have another look.
     
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  9. Srinagarind (sometimes spelled as Srinakarin) Dam is about 4-5 km north from Erawan National Park.
    This is the largest rock filled clay core dam in Thailand, situated on the Kwai Yai River.

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    Nice and twisty uphill road takes you straight to dam crest. Very quiet, hardly any visitors. Not sure if use of drone is allowed here but nobody complained.

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  10. Our overnight stop is Khun Srinagarindra National Park and Huai Mae Khamin waterfall, barely 60km away from Erawan. But no, we going to use longer very scenic route east of the Srinakarin Lake, R3199. This includes 2 ferry crossings; first is very short trip, ferry operates non-stop during the day time.

    R3199 is quite amazing. Up and down, twisty, hardly any traffic.
    Our photographer seized the interesting moments...usually we tell them to go first and they always surprises us around corners etc.


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    Here is the first ferry across the lake bay

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    Some colorful characters around

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    Disembarked some 10-15 minutes later and on our way to Si Sawat ferry pier which will take us to lake's western banks.

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    Really beautiful scenery around here

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    Another 10-15 km on dirt road and we reach second pier.
    Dirt road is fine, no major obstacles, easy ride.

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    We had to wait 2 hours for ferry to arrive. It moves only when enough vehicles, no time table whatsoever.
    It was extremely hot day, hardly any shade to hide. But just as we were about to board the barge, dark clouds appeared accompanied by strong winds.

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    Kim playing around with drone, here pictured landing straight into my arms.

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    Meanwhile Phli is busy recording just about anything in sight.

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    Goh just woke up, looks startled.

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    Finally reached the other side some 45 minutes later. From here to Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall is another 12 km mostly on dirt trail.

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    And here is the video of our activities around Srinakarin:

     
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  11. Next stop, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall

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    Arrived early afternoon to Khuean Srinagarindra National Park.

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    Camping site is really nice. I was here alone last year and told myself, one day want to come with my pals and enjoy.

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    Even electricity available to charge our phones and cameras.

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    This place is absolute paradise. Until few years ago there wasn't even sealed road leading to park, no wonder not many people know about it. There are no huge crowds as in Erawan, big plus.

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    Huay Mae Khamin is without doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand. This seven tier waterfall flows down over hillside blanketed in bamboo and banyan trees. The water source comes from Kala mountain range.

    The most breathtaking tier is Chat Kaew, which can be viewed from a platform which is easily accessible. Steep cliffs make it next to impossible to climb on this part of the waterfall, but the platform puts you very close while offering a dazzling view.

    GPS: 14.64034, 98.98588



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  12. Route 3091 from Srinakarin Lake all the way down to R323, it is real beauty.

    Here is the map:

    map.

    First 27km are dirt road with only few broken concrete patches. I actually rode 80km/h at dirt road, never though that would be possible considering my limited off-roading skills.

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    It all started here, on the way back from Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall, at the intersection. Left goes west towards Nearn Sawan Viewpoint, Sahakon Nikorn mine tunnels and Hin Dat, right is back to Na Sawan ferry pier.

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    It is really hot, Tim rides without t-shirt

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    Goh loves these kinds of routes, ready to roll

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    Kim is champion in funding mud spots. This was the only one within radius of 10km haha...

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    Really awesome road, went thru couple of hamlets and farmlands. You will see more in upcoming video.

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    One of the gates to National Park. Nobody asked us anything, no entrance fees....nothing. Just ride through.

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    There is even a camp site in the middle of nowhere really...

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    Dirt road ends just after Nearn Sawan Viewpoint. We are less than 2km away from the entrance to abandoned mine tunnels.
    Here is the viewpoint


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    I am on the phone with Brian, he and his enduro gang are on the way to meet us here.

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    It appears there are some other active mines around judging by the logo on this vehicle.

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    And here he comes, on his Husqwarna....alone. Rest of his party got lost or too slow

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    300 meters down the road there is turn off to this site: Abandoned mine tunnels, one of the highlights of our trip.
    There is a phone number on this banner with instructions to call mine owners and seek permission to enter.
    Only now I realized half a photo is missing.

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    Tim and Kim rode down just to check where is that turn-off.

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  13. Little did we know, you can't just show up, call and get permit to ride the tunnels.

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    In fact, bikes are strictly prohibited from entering. Even if you think of doing it without owner's permission, there is a padlocked gate and no way around it.

    Owner told us no way, he can't be responsible if something happens to us.

    Kim got really upset, calling his mom-in-law who is kind of influential figure back in Bkk. She managed to get in touch with chief of Thailand National Parks and Army General in charge of happenings in this region. While we were waiting on outcome of these phone negotiations, owner told us we can go thru the gate and take a look at tunnel entrance, take photos etc but no entry.

    Hence we parked bikes this way, pointing away from the entrance.

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    The owner does the tours though, with his own car. Price: THB 1,500 per SUV load.

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    So, we were just happy to take few photos in front of the entrance

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    The member of the family that owns the mines and bunch of local tourists about to go for a tour

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    About the mines: three generations of Dr. Bhol family have been extracting lead minerals from the site for more than 100 years. It consists of 3 tunnels, first being the longest one at 2,400 meters. It is fairly new tourist attraction under the stone mountain dubbed by locals "Everest of Thailand" due to mountain peak resembling actual Himalayan summit.


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    The stream coming out of the tunnel

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    We are all very disappointed, sad faces....come all the way here and no entry

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    Brian turning back away from the entrance

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    Well, guess what? Owner felt sorry for us. Thumbs up and let's do it fellas. I just couldn't believe it!

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    And here comes the real fun!!

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  14. And here are the videos: one by me and another from Brian.
    Multiple cameras, what a fun ride that was!






     
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  15. First and the longest tunnel, 2.4km.
    Did some research and believe it or not, the longest tunnel of any kind in entire country.

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    All happy faces at the exit

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    Owner appears to be relieved all of us made it unscathed

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    And this is what locals refer to as Thai Mt Everest...there is slight resemblance

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    Action continues thru 2 more tunnels

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    Brian's buddies appeared out of nowhere, they never knew of 1st tunnel existence...who knows which trail they were using but I am sure it was something really cool in these mountains.

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    Tunnel ride completed. Till next time.


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  16. Mine tunnels were awesome but I am really looking forward to next stage of our trip, icing on the cake if you will:

    ROUTE 3272 and 399 CURVES

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    Without doubt, the most exciting and scenic road in entire province. It begins in town of Thong Pha Phum and ends some 72 km's later in picturesque village of Etong at Myanmar border. Route is famed for 399 curves stretching along imposing Tanao Si Range, number of natural attractions and some stunning scenery.

    This is the area were tin and wolfram mines were in abundance back in a day.

    During WW2, Japanese occupying force had a plan to build the Siam-Burma railway along this mountain range. It was a bad start when the commander of the 9th Railway Regiment, Lt-Gen Shimada Nobuo, and his senior officers were killed in a plane crash in January 1943, while surveying the proposed route. The plane developed engine trouble and crashed in the virgin jungle near Mount Pilok. Twelve of the 13 officers on board died in the crash. The consequences were tragic for both the Japanese and the allied prisoners of war who were to pay with their lives for miscalculations made by Junior Japanese engineers using a 19th century map. The lone Japanese survivor sparked speculation that he had buried a fortune in gold bullion in the jungle before seeking help from Thai villagers. According to a newspaper story dated 6 February 1984, the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok sent two diplomats to investigate the crash site after receiving a report from a villager he found a coin in the area. Yukinori Sato, counselor, military attache, and an embassy official, hiked an exhausting nine hours through impenetrable jungle to find the wreckage and retrieve war relics including the general’s sword, several sub-machine guns and another coin.

    Some of you might remember my 2016 Kanchanaburi report, R3272 featured prominently. However, that was merely a recce trip for future visits to the region.

    Full pictorial report coming up, but first nice little video feature to wet your appetite:




     
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  17. Sensational trip & write up.

    You guys must have been absolutely pumped & buzzing after that mine tunnel ride
    How did you sleep that night? I wonder what the feeling was - did you feel on a high still, or did a few bevvies calm you down?
     
  18. David, slept just fine, as usual. Nice dinner and buckets of beer in open air restaurant by the river in Thong Pha Phum Town. We just couldn't wait next day to hit Pilok Mountains and 399 corners of R3272.

    Photo taken by Goh following morning in Thong Pha Phum.

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    And on our way up to Pilok.

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    R3272 is fantastic. No really need to comment, photos tell the story

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    Scenic point, stopped here for a while to take few drone video shots

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    Not far from here, gates of Thong Pha Phum National Park. Suddenly heavens opened up, bad rain storm lasted about 30 minutes. We stopped here for short break waiting for rain to stop.

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  19. Few kilometers from the park gates there is a turn off to Jokkradin Waterfall. Extremely steep downhill concrete road takes you to another ranger station near the waterfall itself.

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    Hard working park ranger...

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    This must be the happiest namtok in Thailand, scores of cheerful locals enjoying themselves in beautiful 3 meter deep natural pool. No foreign tourists, thank heavens, except us of course. Single level waterfall but still spectacular, water falls through the crack in the cliff 30 meters high. Jokkradin name comes from the word “Kokkradan” Jok or Kok means rock and Kradin or Kradan means waterfall. Hence, Jokkradin means waterfall that flows through the rock.

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  20. Beautiful Pilok Village, about 5-6 km from Myanmar border. Plan was to overnight in Etong village which is only 4km away from here but all guesthouses and homestays were full over labor day holiday.

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    Settled at Pilok Homestay, the only place in radius of 30km with any vacancy at all. All of us had to squeeze into 3 rooms.
    THB 1,000 per night, grossly inflated price because of major holiday.

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    Still, beautiful retreat barely 2 meters from the mountain creek full of fish and fresh water prawns, right across the road from new Police Station.. Everything else in Pilok is walking distance from here.

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    Camping spot occupied by Bangkok 4wd party, must have been 30 people there.

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    Old police station, about 20-30 yards from where we were staying

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    Nice cake shop supplied by Auntie Glenn from Somsak guesthouse up in the mountain.

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  21. What a great trip! Awesome report and pictures
     
    • Like Like x 1
  22. Nern Chang Suek Viewpoint: 14.67289, 98.36851
    Pilok, Kanchanaburi.

    Without doubt one of the most dramatic mountaintop / army observation points in entire country. Set at 1,100 meters above sea level, it offers view of Thong Pa Phum district in Thailand, Etong village (Kanchanaburi version of Pai), Burmese Army camps and vast territory stretching all the way down to Andaman Sea which can be seen on clear sunny day. It is easily accessible by all types of bikes via steep concrete paved road and few short off-road patches.

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    Drone shots

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    We actually came here twice within 2 days, such a cool place

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    Nern Sao Thong on the other side

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    Continuing downhill towards Etong Village

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    And the video from the actual site:

     
  23. Pilok and Etong, 2 villages 4km apart.

    Once upon a time these were bustling tin-mining towns, when mining businesses were in their glory days. Thousands of miners, hundreds of merchants, shops, theater and a casino kept this place busy around the clock. When the mining business faltered because of a drop in the tin price, the entire area went into deep hibernation mode.

    Etong has a population of 400, close knit community, people genuinely care and help each other. It surely resembles Pai from 15 ears ago. Just about every building in main and the only street has been converted into homestay or guesthouse, hardly enough to accommodate all visitors during the winter high season.

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    Farming and tourism are the main sources of income. Lots of restaurants featuring Thai, Burmese and Yunnan cuisine.


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    I have been here before, please refer to my 2016 report:

    Kanchanaburi Riding Adventures

    Since my last visit exactly a year ago I noticed more shops, restaurants and accommodation.

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    The shop selling 399 curves t-shirts and stickers is a new thing. Smart guy, he actually counted the corners.

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    We haven't seen any western tourists here, not a single one. It is all Thais and they seem to love the place.

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    Morning alms collecting

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    Etong, just as Paris and Seoul, has it's own "Bridge of Love". The only difference are these wooden tags instead of padlocks

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    Between 4:30 and 5 pm, fog and clouds descend on this little valley. This was to case during my last visit too.

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    Myanmar border is only 2km away, steep concrete paved road takes you right next to Burmese Army border post.

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  24. Here is the video from off-roading at 3091 between Srinakarin Lake and Hwy 323

     
  25. And here is the end of the line, Nern Sao Thong border (unofficial) crossing and viewpoint.

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    20 years ago this border point used to be very busy, miners and traders crossing in and out in great numbers.
    Single Thai soldier manning the gate let us in, no Burmese guards on other side.

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    Undergound tunnel on Burmese side

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    Went further along the overgrown trail and discovered this abandoned vehicle

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    Today it is just a tourist attraction offering magnificent views and opportunity to chat with Burmese Army Border Patrol soldiers.

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    Fantastic view of Burma from the summit

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    Gas pipeline facility on Burmese side

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    Nearby Burmese Army barracks
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    From here looking at Nern Chang Suek Viewpoint, the spot we visited earlier. Photo taken by 300mm lens.

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    Burmese traders selling non-taxed cigarettes, tea, souvenirs and junk food.

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    Trip completed, on our way back down to Kanchanaburi city.

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    End of report.
     

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