Thundering around March 2015

ianyonok

Ol'Timer
Dec 9, 2008
1,017
663
113
Having scored a rare New Old Stock QD rear wheel hub for the '59 Thunderbird and rebuilding the rear wheel, it was time to load up the bike for a test ride. A few days of rain in late March had cleared the air.

First destination was to see my guru in Isaan.

The usual breakfast stop for bai krapow gai in Doi Luang.

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Wat Pra Nang Din in Chiang Kham.

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The temple building is only 50 years old, so presumably rebuilt around the Buddha image. Most unusual to have no steps at the entrance.

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A lovely big old tree in the grounds

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Gonna be a lovely morning too.

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The fairly new Na Na Resort in Na Noi was great value.

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The nearby Sao Din are some of the best around.

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Further down into Nan and the natural fortress of Pa Chu comes into view.

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Over the Nan River on the wonderfully quiet 1083

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Into Uttaradit and Phu Soi Dao..... in the distance. On the list to be climbed.... but a tough one. 5th highest in the country at 2120m. A day's hike up, camp and down next day. August would be the best time to visit. Spectacular wildflower displays....... just have to try to keep the leeches out of the tent...

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Stunning National Park scenery, even at the end of the dry season. Just me and the mia noi on the roads. So quiet this part of the country.

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The Thai Lue temple of Wat Sri Po Chai. Right at the "elbow" into Loei. 400 years old and has that wonderful patina of age. Never mind the new roof.
The dog conveys the pace of life here...

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Real class..... Chiang Kham. Even the roof is telling a story here.... fantastsic...

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Riding alongside the Khong somewhere on the 211

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The Mekong Riverside, before Nongkhai. Run by Canadian Mike and wife Ben. Upmarket a bit for me but worth 1200 Baht.

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Great food too

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On the 211, just before highway 2 and Nongkhai

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Another lovely old and living temple

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Heading further east, into the countryside of Udon, I met my guru, Khun Mike.

Former member of a proper back patch club, Heathens Norfolk MC and fount of knowledge for all things Meriden. Without doubt, the foremost authority on classic Triumphs in Thailand.
Mike ran PSP Engineering Services in UK for 15 years; servicing, building and modifying Triumphs. He was an agent for Norman Hyde, Goodridge hoses etc. and also built & raced the "Rather Large Triumph" 1000cc drag bike for several years.

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Mike has owned this T140E from new... 1979. It has been built into many incarnations over the years, including hardtail chopper and serious race bike.
It is currently waiting for a detuning rebuild to 830cc. The spec list is long.... Solid Weslake crank, Carillo conrods, Hunt magneto, Morgo rotary pump with PSP Ezy-bleed timing cover conversion, 6 pot caliper front brake..... and many many more. Mike's company were the first to bring out the hydraulic clutch conversion and alloy pushrod tubes.

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Mike also runs a modifed '89 Moto-Guzzi 1000cc Californian. Great bikes too.. solid engineering, shaft drive and sound marvellous.

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We visited the forest temple of Wat Pa Kham Chanot, home to a special Naga. Entering the area of huge trees you immediately feel the considerable drop in temperature. This temple is famous throughout Thailand and people come from all over the country to visit. Special indeed.

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Great visit.. Thanks Mike and great to see your part of the world.

I then blasted back west (at about 55mph......) on highway 22 across Udon and Nong Bua Lamphu.

Dinosaurs together....
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Further west into Loei and the Erawan Cave hove into view.
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Quite a warm day and I really couldn't do this up to the entrance......... on the list for the cool season...
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Down the 2016 towards Phetchabun and you ride around the unmistakable Phu Haw (Box mountain).

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which looks like this on google earth

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The 2016 is a great sweepy road down to Lomsak past Phu Loei Nga.

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and another new good value place to stay
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Love the wall murals in many hotels here.

On to the second destination this trip; Khao Kor, Phetchabun.

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A fresh strawberry break

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The stupa contains examples of famous Buddha images from around the country

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Blue skies and great views in Phetchabun and Phitsanulok. Minimal smoke haze here and in Isaan

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The War Memorial to those who died in the communist insurgency that finally ended here in 1981.

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Thousands of names

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The Museum of War Weapons

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A lot of stories here, if you take your time to read them

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Trajectory calculators I imagine

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The Hero of Khao Kor, Colonel Kasit Maneepak

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While up Khao Kor, I replaced the primary chaincase oil as the clutch was getting a bit draggy. Also re-tensioned the rear chain, adjusted the rear brake and loctited the rattly Lucas PRS8 light switch.

I stayed in an 800 Baht room (3000 Baht in high season) and woke up to this view..... without getting out of bed. It was so cool I had the doors open all night, with no mozzie nets and good strong breeze blowing through.

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I met this guy cycling to the top of the mountain.... he had legs like giant hams.....

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Ready to roll on...

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Than Tip waterfall.. I think.. Not a lot of water but interesting how it appears to be almost man made.

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Next up..... Phu Hin Rongkla

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First part....

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1st or 2nd gear mostly for the old Thunderbird.

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and second part

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Into the National Park......... what a road... all new tarmac

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fern trees

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and natural swamp ecosystems

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Some of the old communist sites are very interesting

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I added my sticks to help..

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The political education camp

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The natural air raid shelter that could hold 500 people

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Interesting rock formations

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and gigantic boulders

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Plenty of things to see on top of the mountain. The complete walk around the top will take about 2 1/2 hours. I did a little.. the rest another day

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It certainly is a Phu Hin

The cemetery

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Back down off the mountain and headed north into Uttaradit to The Teak Tree....... more than 1,000 years old.

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Note the special root hydration circles constructed around the tree to nourish the old girl

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Back into Nan and NaNoi, to a favourite lunch stop, Krua Tanwa

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with the amber eyed ginger tomcat who kept rolling all over my feet......

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Back into the northern haze and Sakoen

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which was looking a bit better, the week before when I passed

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so what makes the 1148 so good..?

the newly surfaced NW half

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and the older SE end.. It's not smooth tarmac at all............. but we all know how good it is.............

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Around KLM stone 78 and hill tribe area

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I went to the nearest police station to report this, but no-one at home, doors all closed. Then saw a fire engine on the road and told them, who thanked me and went off in that direction. Next went to another police station, who claimed it was not their area of jurisdiction, but also thanked me. I don't see this seasonal burning stopping any time soon, but we can at least try to make a difference and I believe it will stop one day.

A fantastic week of riding; 1600 miles through 9 provinces of this wonderfully fascinating and beautiful country. So much to see, if you take the time to look.
The old Thunderbird took it all in it's stride, burbling along in it's own unhurried way....... "Trusty Triumph".......?...... not much doubt about that......
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
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Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Wow - a beauty of a report - the ride / photos / history.
Stuff like this just makes you want to get out & ride more and more.
You've enlightened me a bit more with some of those historical gems.
Many thanks.

The history of the Phuan people, originally from Laos - (Phonsavan & the Plain of Jars?) is a great story too.
I didn't know about Wat Phra Bang Bhuan but certainly want to go there now.
I'd checked out the old fort in downtown Udon on my way to Savannakhet 2 years ago
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/40169-Chiang-Mai-Pakxe-southern-Laos-amp-Return-A-Savannakhet-Visa-Run-Part-2
and would still like to know & understand more.

That temple Wat Phra Nang Din in Chiang Kham is a beauty, especially with the Buddha image in a glass cage.
I checked it out once before on GTR here
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/33393-Chiang-Mai-%96-Phayao-Chiang-Khong-%96-Chiang-Rai-amp-Return

Meeting up with Mike would have been something special for you too I'm sure.
Its funny how some of these brilliant guys end up here "in our own back yard" far away from where we originally came from eh?

Thanks for another wonderful report.....the more the better. Keep 'em coming.
 

ronwebb

Ol'Timer
Jul 25, 2010
505
4
18
Lots of well illustrated good information in this report. Many thanks for sharing. I would imagine that you and Mike were in some sort of 60's/70's time lock heaven discussing old Triumphs. Fantastic.
 

brian_bkk

Ol'Timer
Mar 30, 2010
2,139
278
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Thanks for sharing Ian.

Certainly opened my eyes to a lot more and will not be passing by in a hurry next time.

Cheers
Brian
 

DavidFL

Administrator
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Jan 16, 2003
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A bump for those riding R12 & around the Phitsanoluk - Loei - Udon area the last few weeks.
Some great history & attractions to see around there = take your time & soak it up.
 
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DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
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This was an amazing trip & report Ian.

I found some old images from the Battle for Khao Kor @ Phetchabun and thought it would be cool to post them here on this thread

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