The Missing Link- Sangkhlaburi to Umphang and back!

Discussion in 'Western Thailand - Motorbiking Trip Report Forums' started by TonyBKK, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Been dreaming of this ride for ages and finally we are on our way!!!

    Will take lots of pictures and report back upon our return next week.

    Let the Good Times ROLL!

    Tony :happy1:
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  3. Changnoi1

    Changnoi1 Ol'Timer

    Have fun, ride safe and make photos!
    I remember some stories about a first attempt to make this trip.

    Chang Noi
  4. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    You will be spoilt for photo's and trip reports Chiang Noi.

    Going to be a ripper.

  5. Javawa

    Javawa Guest

    Make sure you have or can get enough (water filter and desinfectant) drinking water - bloody hot over there with temperatures ranging from 38-40 degrees C. I was told
  6. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Tony & Brian, hope you enjoy that ride and as Javawa warned, take care about your fluids Just read a report from Colin and saw how bone-dry it is down there. Up North it's too hot for my taste to go out riding, so the only bike that's getting some use is the scooter only and only if really necessary........all waiting for a downpour to wash away the soot on the roads, clean the air and give us a break from this high temperatures.....cheers, FR
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Franz for your concern..

    You are all right about the fluids.. We all learnt our lesson at Khao Mai Kheow Enduro in Pattaya the other weekend.

    As well at the 2 litres on my back carried a bladder with 3 more litres.. That lasted me each day.

    But we did break out the ' lifes straw ' and use that a couple of times and drank from the rivers when low to conserve our other clean water.

    Epic trip with epic reports and photos / video's to come..

  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Loaded up Banana Boy's van and escaped the Big Mango on Friday afternoon-

    Even though we hit the road fairly early we still got caught up in some Friday rush hour traffic but no worries, we were ready for the weekend!

    Bangkok to Sangkhlaburi is a haul! About 350km, but the road gets slower the closer you get to Sangkhlaburi. We pulled up at the P Guesthouse just after dark, ordered an awesome dinner and kept the beers flowing beerchug.gif

    The P Guest House and Resort was a lot nicer than I was expecting.

    The cheap fan rooms are only 250 baht and the nice big aircon rooms are 950. Free WiFi everywhere. Good value either way.

    Brian and Mike left Bangkok later and got held up in Friday night rush hour. They arrived at the resort after the kitchen had closed so we made a run into town to get them some food and flirt with the 7-11 girls ;)

    Sangkhlaburi goes to sleep pretty early, so we did the same (-_-)Zzzz
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Saturday morning and it's time to get the adventure underway! Our guide Jack come to the guesthouse to collect us and it was a pleasure to finally meet him.

    Trent is ready to roll!

    And we're off!

    We hit up the 7-11 and morning market for snacks, water and other supplies. We meet Gene from Russia and his Japanese gf Miya at the 7-11. They are coming with us too. I question the wisdom of riding this trail two-up, but they don't seem too concerned. Hmmm, let's see how that works out ;)

    Jack tells us we'll have lunch on the trail so we should carry that with us. Most of us load up on grilled chicken and sticky rice from the morning market.

    Then a quick pitstop to top off the tanks-
    (Mike's headlight got smashed the weekend before at the Khaomaikaew Charity Enduro Race and he didn't have time to replace it)
  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    We then met up with a bunch of Thai guys and finally we were off! We left the paved 323 and took a dirt road to the village of Laiwo, and from there the real adventure began!

    Jack, it turns out, is not afraid of testing our limits! Trent is doing great until a tree gets in his way ;) Woohoo!


    Here comes Gene! (But where is his gf???) Poor thing spent a LOT of time walking on this ride and by the end of day 1 she was in tears and calling him a devil... Ah well, live and learn!

    Help! Gene's fallen and can't get up! ;)

    5 minutes in to the single track and I think the reality of what this ride might entail is just sinking in---

    Here comes Somkid on his vintage Honda trials bike-

    I don't think he meant to do this...

    Trent gives him a helping hand-

    But it wasn't enough ;)

    This fellow on the Honda CRF-L was quite a good rider-

    Here comes another KLX125

    This fellow was quite new to off road riding and was carrying a very heavy load and needed some help to get through the tough bits-


    The first few kilometers were not only a test of the riders and bikes, but also a good test of our packing skills- if bags weren't properly lashed down the big bumps quickly bounced things loose-

    This fellow on the old Honda XR was also a very strong rider-


    "Chuai duai!" (Help me!) he cries!

    Getting by with a little help from friends ;)

    Trent ended up riding his KLX125 through the trickiest bit-

    Mike picked a good vantage point from which to watch the mayhem unfold-

    Here comes Khun Nui, an experienced rider who knows these tracks almost as well as Jack-

    Whoops! Even the pros crash some times ;)

    I can't remember this guy's name, he was really quiet, but a very good rider. Ever try riding a technical trail while balancing a helmet on your head? It's flippin hard!!

    Jack tested his own limits too! (But to be fair, he was carrying a very heavy load on the back of his KLX 125 and he is a little dude)-

    One thing I really liked about this group is how helpful everyone was. There was nothing we couldn't get through, thanks to the help of our riding partners.

    Jack told us, with a twinkle in his eye, of the pudgy poser from Chiang Mai on a fancy KTM 2-stroke, who couldn't handle these single track trails, and had to do most of the ride to Umphang via the easier 4x4 track ;)

    Much more to come!! :happy1:
  11. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    What comes up must come down! :lolno:

    Anyone who thought that the tough climb at the beginning was the end of the challenging stuff was in for a big surprise when they say how steep the descent was on the other side! :shock:

    Trent, Brian, Mike and I went first and made it out without any drama, then grabbed our camera to see how the rest of the group would do. Here comes Gene (he lost his gf again!)

    Ooops! :oops:

    He's ok!

    Ah, his gf has caught up, why not walk down together ;)

    The CRF-L seems to have it under control-

    Until he runs head first into a stand of bamboo... (Brian got it on video!)

    Khun Nui brought down one of his friends bikes before hiking all the way back up to get his own- now that is a helpful dude!
  12. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Khun Nui is providing coaching and encouragement to the other guys as he hikes back to the top to collect his bike-

    The old Honda XR makes it look so easy-

    The old trials bike has drum brakes front and rear...

    Still balancing his helmet on his head- he made it!

    Got the big fella just as he was going over the handlebars!

    Khun Nui rode sweeper for most of the tour and came down last on his KLX 125

    Yay! Everyone made it this far! (But we've only gone 5 or 6km!) I can't imagine how we'll ever reach Umphang at this snails pace...
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    The challenging single track from Laiwo up over the mountain beings us to the 4x4 track to Tilaipa and helps us bypass the main National Park checkpoint. We make pretty good time from here-

    Lots and lots of water crossings! Some have bridges and some don't. I dig these hand made bamboo bridges-

    We all pick up the pace and Gene and Miya are making pretty good progress on 4x4 track-

    This track is a piece of cake in the dry season, but can be a nightmare of bottomless mud in the rainy season-

    A noisy wooden slat bridge-

    Oh, I thought they were going to lose it in this section, but Gene's got long legs and kept his gf dry, more or less :clap:

    As we approach another checkpoint Jack tells all the foreigners to go first, keep our heads down, and don't stop. Fortunately it's easy to duck under the gate ;) A gentle reminder that we aren't really supposed to be here :shifty:

    Unfortunately a couple bikes get dropped in deep water. I think Mike caught it on video. The Kwackers seem ok, but the CRF managed to suck water into the engine :( Pulled the plug and airfilter and drained it as best they could but the oil was full of water. They managed to get it to Tilaipa where they could change the oil-
  14. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    " This track is a piece of cake in the dry season, but can be a nightmare of bottomless mud in the rainy season"

    That is the understatement of the year.... Indeed the trail in rainy season was either deep mud, or the hard pack part of the trail was covered in slippery leaves, and every water crossing much deeper...... :)

    This was a great ride, what a pleasure to see everybody from different countries working together !!!!
  15. heilong

    heilong Ol'Timer

    That was really fun! Thanks for the amazing ride guys! Too bad you didn't have more time to continue to Umphang and spend some time there. I explored a lot of nice trails in the area. And Mio went off-road with me again :)
  16. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Nice meeting you... Well done on the ride.. Bet your GF was happy to be on the tarmac :)

    Look forward to the next ride together.

    It was a bit like the United Nations.. American, Russian, Japanese, Thai / Karen and Aussie.

  17. heilong

    heilong Ol'Timer

    Well half of the road to Umphang is pretty nasty - wide, but very bumpy and covered with a super-thick layer of dust. If there is a car in front, it's like riding in a sandstorm.
    But she was quite happy when we finally got there :) And even didn't mind doing some crazy single-track a couple days later. We went on what looks like a rarely used hiking trail (a lot of fallen bamboos blocking the way), which leads up to some really nice temperature hot springs. But it's wrong time of year to visit hot springs...
    Yes I really liked the "team" atmosphere of the trip. And kudos to the Thai guys organizing the camping part, with great dinner and everything!
    Likewise nice to meet you and see you on the next trip!
  18. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Cheers mate!

    It was a shame you weren't along as you are one of the original pioneers of this amazing track and I've never had the pleasure of riding with you.

    It was a fantastic ride and quite challenging, but being the mad ©unts that we are we're already planning a return trip during the rainy season. :mrgreen:

    Here's a great series of videos showing a 4x4 convoy working their way to Tilaipa during the rainy season- slow going, but good stuff!!!

    I imagine it might not be possible to continue north from Tilaipa to get to Laytongku and on the Beung Klung during the rainy season because, as far as I know, there is no bridge over the Suriya river, and when it's in flood it must be impossible to cross?

    We'll have to ask Jack about this one... There must be a way! :happy2:
  19. johnnysneds

    johnnysneds Ol'Timer

    Fantastic chaps! I had the pleasure of doing this route a wee while ago and it's got to be one of the best dirt adventures in Thailand, highly recommended.
    Well done.....
  20. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    I'd like to practice setting up a rope "bridge" like this to get bikes across deep rivers-

    ^ while this one is a bit of a fail, the basic premise seems sound :)

    This one is more robust, but can't imagine anyone would want to carry in all the hardware necessary to build it...

    Bet we could pay Jack to build it ahead of time though :thumbup:
  21. johnnysneds

    johnnysneds Ol'Timer

    Did they not have long bamboo raft thingies to get you across the river?
  22. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Yep, including outboard motor ;-)


  23. johnnysneds

    johnnysneds Ol'Timer

    Ah the PBR motors, ingenious, those bad boys will run 24-7
  24. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    We did the rainy season ride/nightmare from the north to the south. Crossed the Suriya river on the raft so no problem there with high water. Struggled our way to Jakae, and met up with the 4x4 club. They said the way from Jakae to Sangklaburi through Tilaipa would have been impossible for us due to high water. They said they were barely able to make it, and did not want to go back that way. So we all went out through the Thung Yai Naresuan National Park .
  25. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    We got across fine on the bamboo raft Johnny, but now we're talking with Jack about riding here again in the rainy season, and I'm just wondering how people get across the Suriya river and other deep water crossings when when they are in flood, or if it's even possible?
  26. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    After Thilaipa we stopped at another very small village on the Burmese border, name unknown, to catch our breath and grab some water.

    It was HOT HOT HOT this weekend, forecast highs in the low 40's, and staying well hydrated was a priority!

    This little dude took a shine to my Doraemon squirt gun-

    He was a brave little dude, not even scared of Trent! ;)


    There was a three way junction as we entered this village and we needed to go right towards Ja Kae, then left onto a small track to continue north in the direction of Laytongku, but we lost some folks at this junction and Jack had to go chasing after them... Combined with the slow pace earlier in the day it meant we could not reach the Suriya river before dark, where Jack had planned to camp...

    Instead we stopped at another camp on a small creek some distance south of the Suriya. I didn't take any pictures that evening, but it wasn't a bad spot. There was a bamboo shack of sorts that we farang grabbed so at least we were off the ground and had a rood over our heads.

    We enjoyed a shockingly good dinner that evening- I was amazed at all the food the Thai guys had brought, including pork and beef steaks, curry, jasmine and sticky rice, and a huge fish that someone had stashed in their luggage! Someone cooked up some tasty larb and there was even ice for our drinks! I didn't bring much food, but I did contribute a bottle of whiskey. (Priorities, you know?) ;)

    After the sun went down the temperature dropped quickly. Brian and Mike had sleeping bags, but no mattresses, I had a nice Thermarest camping mattress but only a very light weight silk sleeping bag liner, and Trent... well, he had nothing at all and spent a sleepless night in his rain gear!

    Here we are in the morning after a wonderful night's sleep ;)

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