~ The beauty of nature lies in its imperfections ~

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

2002 : 30 day Golden Triangle

Ride Diary - Week 1

11 Nov (Mon) Singapore to Penang 800km
Intense rain requiring hazard lights - start & stopped 3 times...
Press on to Penang because clothes not dry yet... Reach Sheraton 8.30pm
simple dinner

12 Nov (Tue) Penang to Hatyai 222km
Fair weather, woke up late, start riding at 11am
Shoppinq at Duty Free between Thailand & Malaysia, bought compass & Pro Trek watch
Spent lots of time waiting at customs, arrived at Lee Garden Plaza 3pm
4-6pm Thai massage, dinner early & walk the streets... Early to bed as we wanted to start riding early the next day.

13 Nov (Wed) Hatyai to Chumphon 503km
185km mark we turned into a big petrol kiosk with 7-11 called 'PTT'
more hazard light rain! around 12-1pm
We stopped under a bridge, witnessed a tanker truck pour washing powder on top for rain to wash!
many creepy crawlies (centipede looking w long spikes) around - moved on to petrol kiosk for shelter
207km - Reach Thayang hotel at 3pm
Priced at B350, located at pierside with cruise service to Koh Tao for diving.
Quiet place, nothing happening here.  But very good dinner!

14 Nov (Thu) Chumphon to Phetburi
Fair weather - km203 + 180
Bought Chumphon bananas & salted duck eggs in a box
met a Swiss couple Claude & Ericka in a caravan. On the road for 2 1/2yrs. Going north too. Fully equiped w kitchen, bed & computer.  Very bumpy bad  roads all the way to hotel. Stayed at The Royal Diamond Hotel B700 per day.
Simple dinner, bought shredded egg yolk snacks & kuehs

15 Nov (Fri) Phetburi to Bangkok 180km
Fair weather
bangkok jam - whoa! - started from 35km outside the city centre.
Got stopped by Thai Traffic Police for using flyover. Sign language many apologies later, allowed us to go...
Reach Khao San Road - a backpackers area introduced by Steve Chia
Check in Buddy Lodge (B1260 x 3 nite) burst the budget again! But very nice rooms & secure parking on curb.
Go to internet cafe, had dinner w Ekachai & Ning.

16 Nov (Sat)  day 2 in Bangkok
visited Grand Palace & Chatuchak market w Ekachai
lots of walking, hot stuffy day

17 Nov (Sun) day 3 in Bangkok
day trip by car to Ayutthaya. Visit ruins of old palace & Royal Project Handicraft Centre.

Ride Diary - Week 2

18 Nov (Mon) Bangkok to Phitsanulok 450km
fair weather
Woke up at 5.30am hoping to start riding at 6 to beat the Bangkok morning rush hour. But last night's extra helping of hot & sour soup got us running to the loo... Finally we were on the road at 6.45am
Try to see sunflower fields in Lopburi but can't find! Instead rewarded with a scenic ride along a river.
Locals selling clay pots/vases & colorful windmills
Check in to Amarin Lagoon (B1050) at 4pm & too tired to ride out for riverside dinner in town.
Settle for hotel buffet dinner. No tomyam soup this time!

19 Nov (Tue) - Phitsanulok
check out of hotel, ride to nearby Phitsanulok Thani hotel (B980)
Going to Loy Kratong at the river toniqht. Bought a hot air lantern

20 Nov (Wed) Phitsanulok to Mae Sot
fair weather  - 250km
check in DK hotel (B450) in small town
Dinner - tried to locate Khao Mao Khao Fang (jungle theme outdoor rest ). Found only after dinner at crappy restaurant.  Had ice cream there - lush landscaped gardens, ponds with swans, eating under canopy of trees listening to water trickling + soft piped in music
Will come again tomorrow for breakfast

21 Nov (Thu)  Mae Sot to Mae Sariang
fair weather 260km
Started the day with brunch at  Khao Mao Khao Fang. Start riding at 12.
Decided to break the long 350km twisties into 2 days. The aim is to get the certificate when we reach Mae Hong Son.
Corners are good & not too extreme. But a few broken up roads with loose sand/gravel on a slope. 
2 portions where Seung had to ride over for me.  Took a while to get used to it
Checked out a nature reserve on the way too but didn't go in.
Reached Mitaree hotel at Mae Sariang.  300B got us a room w aircon & hot water. But temp was so cold, bed too small & compressor was very noisy!

22 Nov (Fri) Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son
cool weather
More twisties today. Had lunch at Jackie Wog's Table BBQ, sliced pork, cabbage & kang kong - restaurant on stilts overlooking paddy fields. Detoured 50km to see Buatong fields. In MHS, it is peak tourist season here! 
2 tries to get a room for one night in Panorama Hotel. 3 more tries & finally get a room in Mae Tee for total of 3 nights here. Pity Baiyoke is full! Street vendors with tribal decorated arts & craft.

24 Nov (Sun) Mae Hong Son
9am day tour (1900B for 2) in jeep to elephant ride, long neck karen village, fish cave & Phasua waterfall
back in hotel by 3pm we were so tired cos of bumpy jeep ride. Shower & head for 1hr thai massage.  Dinner & last walk of the street. Check internet for north Thailand good routes.

Ride Diary - Week 3

25 Nov (Mon) Mae Hong Son to Mae Maliang
early morning drizzle. Slept in & start riding at 11am
Road had lots of twists & turns, some sharp & steep
Stopped by a town with a nice cafe & guesthouses (Baan Cafe)
Progress is slow due to wet roads & riding thru clouds resulting in low visibility, & photo stops. On & off drizzle too.... Looks like we won't be able to reach Doi Ang Khang by sunset as planned.
Stopped by Mae Maliang for the night. Small town, no activities. Travellers Inn (400B) very run down place but good clean sheets.

26 Nov (Tue) Mae Maliang to Doi Ang Khang 150km
grey skies & drizzle still continues
Going to be a slow day.
Leave hotel by 8.30am - slow ride. Again thru mountain roads in clouds & rain.
Can't find a place for breakfast. Stopped at a provision shop & have a drink & crackers. Continued after putting on raincoat.
Finally reach Doi Ang Khang at noon both of us feeling very cold & I had soggy feet. 
Seung's feet are dry because of the SAF boots...  when looking for lunch place, we see Angkhang Nature Resort - 5 star place with wooden bungalows & dry porches.
Met the manager Marcoo & he offered us a discounted rate of 2000B when he found out how far we were from home!
Too tempting to resist when we're freezing & wet! (Temp is also 13 degrees!)
Heard that the whole town has a power failure & resort is running on generator power. Power conservation from 12 - 2pm. After that, still no hot water.  This resort is one of the King's projects to bring jobs for the locals.

27 Nov (Wed) Doi Ang Khang to Doi Mae Salong 110km
sunshine at last!
Visit the nearby villages & plantations in the morning. Went to the Thai-Myanmar border, up a very muddy dirt track.
When ready to leave after lunch, it starts drizzling again. Rats!
Descended the hills in different route - much shorter than yesterday's way up.
This area's local produce is oranges. Roadside stalls selling oranqes & passed by orange orchard on the way.
Reach Mae Salong around 4pm. Very Chinese town. Lots of tea houses & plantations. People here originated fr Yunnan. Many tribes people around this region too. Stayed at Mae Salong Flower Hill Resort (1000B)
Dinner at resort - air temp was too cold!

28 Nov (Thu) Doi Mae Salong to Chiangrai 80km
Breakfast at a hawker stall. Found out the cherry blossoms (which is known here) is not in season now.
The lady speaks chinese & said the population is about 20,000 in this town - including the tribes folk.
Checked out & had a nice ride down the mountains. Dry roads & getting some sunshine ahhhh...
On the way, stalls selling pineapples.
Took about 2hrs & found our hotel - for 350B. Staying for 3 nights.
Quite touristy place (pubs, massage, guesthouses, western food)
Took a walk around town, bought extractor fan. Visit Hilltribe Education centre & booked tour for tomorrow morning (3000B for 2)
Dinner at street stall, then walked around night bazaar.

29 Nov (Fri) Chiangrai
Do 1 day tour of hilltribes
pick up fr hotel 9am. Tour with a Swedish couple - Magdalena & Joakin.
Boat ride - 1hr on Kok river
See Karen village
Elephant ride - 2hrs in jungle & around ricefields. Very rough ride compared to previous ride. Back ache.
Lunch at Lahu village house
Trekking in jungle  in slippery & quite steep tracks. for 1 1/2hrs
See waterfall
Visit Akha village home of one lady. Offered tea & beans.
Visit Yao village - not too traditional, became more modern recently
Totally tired after whole trip.
Met Swedish couple at pizza restaurant & had good chat , exchanged contacts... They are teachers on 7mth holiday.
Foot massaqe together too...

30 Nov (Sat) Chiangrai
Day ride to Mae Sai (myanmar border) walked across.
Nothing interesting - just a HUGE street market
Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen, Chiang Kong
Back to hotel & 2nd foot massage

1 Dec (Sun) Chiangrai to Chiangmai 200km - sunny
Fantastic winding roads, cool & dry, no potholes or mists.
Starts getting warm in Chiangmai
Check into Phucome (700B x 8 nights)
Vinny calls up! His Catholic retreat is just nearby. He will meet us tomorrow for outing.
We go to the mall, & dinner at Old Chiangmai Cultural Centre - dances performed after dinner

Ride Diary - Week 4

2 Dec (Mon) Chiangmai
whole day of walking around town w Vinny & met Maqdalena/Joakim who arrived yesterday too...

3 Dec (Tue) Chiangmai
Riding out w Vinny to Doi Inthanon- highest point in thailand- 200B per person
Movie after dinner - My big fat Greek Wedding

4 Dec (Wed) Chiangmai
pool, massage, dinner, night bazaar

5 Dec (Thu) Chiangmai
Day ride to Mae Sa Elephant camp
Ride thru Samoeng loop & Doi Suthep.
Wash bikes at petrol station

6 Dec (Fri) Chiangmai
Bike week Day 1
Go to post office to send package home, do some shoppinq
Bikers start gatherinq at hotel. Ride out to a massive welcome party at sports stadium.

7 Dec (Sat) - Chiangmai
Bike week Day 2
Gather in the morning for bike rally thru Samoeng loop. Visit police station & pre-school
Bike demo by BMW, qames ,police guns demo,  Dinner

8 Dec (Sun) - Chiangmai
Free n easy day
Visit handicrafts road, painted our helmets at umbrella factory, bought plates at ceramic factory, visit silverware factory and silk factory too
Farewell Dinner at Chacha pub & rest.

Ride Diary - Week 5

9 Dec (Mon) Chiangmai to Lopburi 580km
9 hour ride. Check into Lopburi Inn. (500B) at 7.30pm
a town full of wild monkeys roaming the streets and telephone wires.
quite scary to be walking around at night!

10 Dec (Tue)  Lopburi to Chumphon 800km
Wakeup early to go to sunflower fields. Super memorable place, with sunflowers taller than a man!
Leave fields at 11am.
Reach Chumphon Thayang Hotel (350B) at 7pm. Drenched from the rain again... 

11 Dec (Wed) Chumphon to Ipoh 900km
Start at 9am, bought more dried bananas along highway as gifts for friends
Sunny but with heavy rain 80km before Ipoh
Reach Ipoh Eastern Hotel (RM65) 10pm (local time)
toasted, tired, crummy forgettable hotel, won't be back here again.

12 Dec (Thu)  Ipoh - S'pore 600km
tired out fr yesterday's ride.
Start riding at 11.30am.
Reach Gelang Patah by 5.30pm for an overdue bikewash & dinner.
Home at 9pm.

But this is the start of more bike trips to come :) 

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