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

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    Thanks for your kindness wai.gif

    Truth be told, due to the size of our group, we had plenty of opportunities to stop and take pictures while waiting for folks to catch up. Fantastic top notch group of guys but even Jack agreed that 13 bikes is too large a group to easily manage. Had we not had Mr Nui (who knows these trails quite well) riding sweeper I reckon we probably wouldn't have been able to complete this ride in 3 days.

    We're not out of the woods yet!! ;)
     
  2. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    It's getting HOT again and I want to RIDE, but we make a quick stop at the temple in Laytongku before we hit the real trail. Thing is, when you're wearing motorcross boots it's a royal pita to take 'em off for a 5 minute temple visit. Most of us just chilled at the entrance while a few went in to check it out-
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    I'd still like to know more about this village and its religion but despite trying a number of different spellings I'm still coming up empty...
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    Soon we're back on the trail, whacking along pretty good with Jack at the lead when he comes to an abrupt halt due to an obstruction on the trail- the biggest Asian elephant I've ever seen is hauling a huge load of timber up the hill-
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    From a distance he doesn't look so big, but watch this video as he ambles on by and you get a sense for his size and power-
     
  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    We ride on south, taking a different trail than we had the day before which brings us to the Suriya river at a point some ways north of where we'd crossed it the day before. Here the river is slow and deep and can only be crossed by raft. Mike goes first on the dodgy looking bamboo raft- good luck mate!!
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    Straight across would be the shortest route, but the opposite bank is muddy at the bottom and very steep, so you need at least a few strong guys over on that side before you can haul bikes out from that point. So Mike goes downstream a bit on the Jack-powered bamboo raft ;)
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    When he gets tired of swimming the raft Jack gets up and completes the journey with a long bamboo pole-
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    Jack is not a heavy dude, but you can see how his weight nearly sinks the raft-
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    Floating down the Suriya river- beautiful as long as you don't sink! ;)
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    Bikes successfully unloaded the fellas come back for the next bikes-
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  4. heilong

    heilong Ol'Timer

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    How much time did it take to transport all the bikes across?
     
  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    I wasn't really keeping track of time, but two bikes per trip, 13 bikes to transport... It took a while ;)

    Funny thing is, if you built two of those rafts and lashed them together, end-to-end, you'd just about have yourself a floating bridge...
     
  6. heilong

    heilong Ol'Timer

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    Some scary bridge that would be!
     
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

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    555555

    May be build three of them and latch them together side by side.. End to end and end up in the drink.. LOL

    Keep it coming Tony..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  8. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

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    Hey TonyBkk and Heilong, thats an amazing adventure you and the all the other guys have had.

    Thanks for sharing what looks to have been a fascinating ride, with us riders that couldn’t be there.

    Great photos, and with words written with good humour as well as being very informative.

    Cheers Moto-Rex
     
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    I went on the 2nd trip and was too busy trying not to drop the bike into the river to take any pics. The weight of my KLX250 plus Trent's KLX 250 plus riders was swamping the raft. In the end Jack told Trent to get off and replaced him with a smaller Thai dude and we made it across-

    I believe these pics were taken by Mike and/or Brian- hope they won't mind if I share them here:
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    482846_484297204956853_590479836_nGTR.

    Almost there!
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    Back on dry land! :thumbup:
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    My KLX on the Myanmar side of the Suriya river, gazing back at Thailand on the far bank.

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  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    I got the bike turned around and up a muddy bank and was waiting for the next raft to arrive when I heard an big racket up-river.

    Turns out they'd decided there were enough guys on the Myanmar side of the river to start hauling bikes up the "short" way.

    The racket I heard was Brian's KLX, throttle pinned wide open, trying to gun it up the steep river bank.

    But I'm told that someone forgot to put it in gear?! :lol-sign:

    It took me a little while to figure out how to get over to the other landing, and when I did I found Brian choking on a face full of dirt that he'd eaten while trying to push his KLX up the river bank. Yum! :lolno:

    Six bikes across, 7 more to go!

    Here comes the Honda trials bike and the Honda CRF-L
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    Couple of fellows to steady the raft while we unload the bikes and drag them up the bank-
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    The CRF-L was the heaviest bike in our group (145kg plus luggage). To those who say a few extra kilos don't matter, I invite you to try hauling one of these babies up a steep hill! :lol:


    This made me cringe- lucky no one got mangled here-


    Eventually someone had the clever idea to use a rope to ferry the raft back and forth across the river-
     
  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

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    Tony,

    Allow me to add some more flavour to the muddy mouth watering experience.

    As you two gently sailed off down the river... I thought.. great.. My turn.. Before any one gets a bright idea to head straight across and up the steep embankment.

    Well.. Off we go.. and someone had that bright idea.... I was not happy.. Graeme Kennedy Crow calls kept going through my mind.. "Fark, Fark, Fark"

    Then almost 3/4 across the way.. one of the guys just jumps off the raft.. When you are balancing your bike, sh1ting your pants and hear Fark Fark Fark in your mind..
    A some what unpleasant surprise and fear of ending up in the drink..

    Then we get over to the edge of the river.. Fark.. The bamboo doesn't all line up nicely and you push off the wrong piece you are in 2 ft of water at the river edge as well as muddy.

    The Thai guys gesture for me to come around and ride / push the bike up.. I am at the back right of the titanic and afraid to make any movement.. let alone sudden movements or movements that will capsize this mighty vessel..

    So I tell them.. You go ahead and I will push the bike from behind.. Thinking.. If all goes pear shaped I can at least try and stop the bike sliding all the way back in to the river.

    To my surprise the engine is started.. and rev rev rev, push, sinking in the river up to my waist.. Then first gear is kicked in.
    Rev, rev rev, tyre spinning and mud and crap flowing all over me and in my face and pushing like hell.. Needless to say the bike is not going far..
    Then a rope comes out and is tied on to the bike.. That helped and slowly we dragged and pushed the KLX up..

    Spent the next 20 mins coughing up mud and dirt from the river LOL..

    After helping with the rest.. I honestly have to say.. IMHO...
    It would be better to leave the bike engine off, pull up with the rope and have everyone concentrating on pushing, pulling.. rather than engines running and tyres spinning and possible injuries.

    Another new adventure on the bike..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  12. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    Muahaha! Like I've said before, mayhem of the best kind! Figures they'd throw Brian at that bank first, I'm only bummed I wasn't there to see you get the bike up ;)

    I think Mike took this picture, and I've taken the liberty of adding an appropriate caption. Lookit Brian's face!
    20877_606770059334033_1973086589_nFark.

    Agree 100% that it would be safer and more effective to just get 4 or 5 guys on the rope and haul the bikes up. Did you see that guy with no shoes/boots almost get his foot/leg taken off by the CRF-L? That woulda been UGLY! :crazy:
     
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  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    Woohoo! We're in Burma baby!


    Mike has been here before and thinks he knows the way, but we miss a turn somewhere are end up wandering about a bit. Good fun but I keep having visions of the evil Burmese army general from Rambo 4 popping out of the jungle to gun us down...
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    But no dramas, we get back on track eventually-


    Pretty dusty, very very hot, but lots of water crossings too-


    This is the trail that takes us to the "church" where we will wait for the rest of the group to catch up-


    Nice family in the "church". Seems more like a house to me, but apparently they do hold services here. Mom is sorting rice while dad takes care of a sleeping baby-
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    It's really really HOT! I take off my boots and armor and find a spot of shade near the "church" to lie down and chill-
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  14. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    We wait for what seems like a long time and I wonder if maybe there hasn't been some miscommunication and we're in the wrong spot, but eventually, off in the distance I can hear dirt bikes approaching. Everyone made it across the Suriya river and we're ready to hit the trail again. It's a fun single track through bamboo and forest over rolling hills and across many small creeks.


    We're making good time until...
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    Busted subframe on Mike's KLX-
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    Look closely at the pic above and you'll see that the bike is being reassembled with bamboo!

    My inclination was to use some spanners and zip ties / duct tape / baling wire to form a kind of splint to hold the frame together, but our guide Jack had a better idea, got out his knife and cut some bamboo that he hammered into the frame tubes. Then he hammered the subframe onto the bamboo:
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    :thumbup::clap:

    Low and behold, it worked like a charm! Mike wore his backpack on his back, camelback on the front and said the bike handled a hell of a lot better without all that weight hanging on the back-
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    We're off again, whacking along nicely when CRACK, the bracket that holds my exhaust hanger snaps and my silencer falls off... :wtf:

    I didn't take any pictures, just slid the can back onto the header and held it in place with a combination of zip ties, rope and baling wire. Not pretty, but it worked.

    Off again and come around a corner to discover that the exact same thing has happened to Brian, except that in his case when the exhaust hanger went the weight of the can snapped the header :crazy:
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    No way we're gonna fix that in the jungle...

    Brian wants to just chuck the exhaust into the woods but the Thai guys say no way- it's worth maybe ~5000 baht (~$175) and if he chucks it they'll mark the spot on their GPS and come back to get it later :smile1:

    So Brian ends up lashing the silencer on top of his luggage and continues on with one seriously LOUD bike! :wtf: Check it out:
     
  15. monty1412

    monty1412 Ol'Timer

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    Just saw your watermark on your photos.. rolling around .. LMAO.... .. so funny.. pudgy picture thief PPT ha
     
  16. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    We're off again!


    We made a brief stop in the small village that's at the junction where one road heads east to Ja Kae village and we would continue south to Tilaipa. Jack was dropping off medicine that he'd picked up from the clinic in Laytongku. Talk about multi-tasking!

    I found the little dude who'd been playing with my squirt gun the day before armed him for Songkran (tho no idea if the Karen even play Songran?)
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    Anyway, he seemed pleased :mrgreen:

    As you can see from the shadows it's already well into the afternoon when we reach Tilaipa.
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    Top up the tanks here for the final push to Sangkhlaburi!

    I assume, given the late hour, that we'll stick to the 4x4 track, but once again Jack surprises us with yet another incredible single track that goes on and on and on and on!


    At the end of the above video I follow Jack across a bog of sorts, I get stuck and Trent falls over into the slop, only to discover that the bog is full of elephant $hit!

    Some funny vids ensue!


    Mike was right behind Trent with his GoPro running and got some great video of these shenanigans too. :lol-sign:

    Damn Trent, you STINK! :sick:
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    Nobody wanted to be downwind of Khun 20 from this point on!
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  17. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    I don't bother watermarking my photos as I've gotten pretty good at filing DCMA takedown notices for content theft and copyright violations, but when I share pictures that belong to other riders I watermark them to save them the hassle of dealing with the pudgy picture thief ;)
     
  18. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    I waited to see if anyone else would take a tumble in the elephant doodoo, but in the end it was only Sir Crashalot ;)


    You'd think we should be about done, right?

    WRONG!

    Sneaky Trent gives Jack an elephant $hit high five at the very end :lol-sign:

    The single track went on and on and on and was brilliant fun!


    More crashes, more broken bikes; we didn't reach pavement until after dark! This section is a lot steeper than it looks and Trent and I crashed at nearly the same spot-


    Funny how flat it looks in the video- it was so steep in fact that folks needed a push to get going again-


    A "minor" obstruction on the trail- great teamwork once again as we had to lie the bikes down and drag them under this huge fallen tree, one by one-


    Light fading, we press on!


    Riding into the setting sun towards Three Pagodas Pass-


    So, you'd think after the last vid where we pass through a town, that it would be easy sailing on to Three Pagodas Pass? NOT!

    The "trail" follows and dips in and out of a river. I imagine this track would be impassable in the rainy season.

    Messin about with Mike on a steep descent, and we encounter the first car we've seen all day-


    Lots and lots more water crossings!


    My vision sucks in this fading light and I just have to hope there's not a deep hole in this muddy water crossing that's waiting to swallow me and my bike!


    We limped in to Three Pagodas Pass well after dark, exhausted and elated!
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    Trent is looking pretty shattered, he didn't even have energy to chase all the cute smiling Burmese girls that were walking home from work :lol:
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    The fellow on the XR was one of the last to arrive and, out of sheer exhaustion I guess, fell over in a heap when he stopped! :crazy:
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    We had skipped lunch today and everyone was starving! Fortunately the restaurant Jack chose served up huge portions of good grub! :thumbup:
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  19. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

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    A good strong message that GTR and GTR members will not be intimidated by threatening behaviour.. EVER.
     
  20. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

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    We certainly started the trip a lot fresher than this LOL.

    That last trail up that steep steep steep hill with logs and trees that you had to get under.. was great but a killer.

    Thought it was never going to stop going up and a nice few obstacles to navigate.. screw up and drop the bike on the steep hill.
    The poor old KLX was in 1st gear a struggling big time at points to get up the hill.

    Tony should have some good video of this...

    Not to mention what goes up, must come down.. real wet slippery stuff on the way out.. which I wiped out on.. too steep and too fast and bang.
    Think we made it out of there at 7pm. almost dark.. with quite a few of the rest still coming out..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  21. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

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    Epilogue-

    We dragged our tired bodies and broken bikes back to the P Guesthouse in Sangkhlaburi where we enjoyed a round of beers before calling it a night- everyone was worn out and looking forward to a good sleep in a real bed!

    Next morning Jack came over to see us off and talk about our next adventure. He's crazy in a good way and wants us to come back in the rainy season! Should be epic!

    Long drive back to the Big Smoke, every bike broken, but not beaten!
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    Trent found an excellent metal working shop that sorted out all the broken frames, cracked headers etc. Brian did a good write up with location and pics here:
    [h=1]Recommended Motorcycle repair shops[/h]
    Now some of the fellows are talking about another Umphang adventure next month in May. Not sure I can join, but should once again be EPIC!

    Big thanks to my riding buddies and our super guide Jack for an awesome trip!

    :happy1:
     
  22. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

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    Phew! I am exhausted already and theres an after taste of mud in my mouth and grime on me. I think I had better go lie me down and rest a wee bit now. I feel utterly bruised, battered and knackered! Undeniably farking epic! Well done guys!
     
  23. jsbkk

    jsbkk Ol'Timer

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    Great story of a truly remarkable adventure ! Am sure it must have been very physical. Kudos to you guys - respect! :)
     
  24. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

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    Great videos !! I really liked the night time one with the final run into the Three Pagoda pass area... Maybe GoPro needs to
    make an infrared model for night riding ?? :) Also had a lot more water than I expected for this time of year.
    Think Jack was messing with you guys on the raft river crossing. If you go downriver a bit, there is a raft landing area where
    you can simply push the bike off the raft, and ride directly yourself onto the trail...
     
  25. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

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    Hi Robert,

    Great speaking with you recently.. Look forward to a ride together or a beer when down Pattaya way next.

    Let us know how you go with the Lifestraw people and the larger pump we were discussing.
    Could be the deal with larger groups like this and you know you have water sources you will pass.
    Potable water is scarce on these trails as you know.

    The first couple of bikes went down river as you suggested.
    Then the guys I was on the raft with decided that was enough and lets go straight across - crikey.

    I was really not very comfortable, thinking how the hell will we get the bike up the steep embankment as well as off the mighty vessel we are voyaging on.
    At the river edge it was around 2 ft deep and muddy.. (The Thai guy at the front had a little 150cc so not too much effort to pull / push that one up.

    One of the Thai guys captured this epic crossing on video..

    You can see it was a struggle and exhausting.. Half way through a rope came out and that was a big help getting the bikes up..
    We slowly got better at this as more and more bikes made it across.

    The copyright owner kindly gave me permission to use his video.

     
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