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Archive for October 12th, 2012

On The Road Again – Heading North

Posted by TravellingStrom on October 12, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I had another great breakfast at the hotel before booking out and saying goodbye to all the staff and packed the bike. This was an effort as I had been a backpacker for nearly a month, if you include Mongolia, China, Hong Kong and this past week. It was strange to learn how to pack again, but because I had sent all the unneeded stuff south, I even had space in the panniers and top box at the end of it 🙂

I still did not have a real clue where I was going to be today but just plugged in a northern town into the GPS and headed off. I ran into my first snag when I was on the highway, or toll road. I came to toll booth and was told off by the lady in there, the barrier was up but she came out after making a phone call and I think she wanted me to park over there somewhere? Well, I had no idea and as the barrier was up I took off. Leaving the sound of clanging bells and sirens behind me, I decided if I got stopped I would plead ignorance, I had tried to give her money but she would not take it for some reason. While thinking on this little problem, I had bigger issues, my brand new GPS was shutting down!!! Well, I call it a GPS but is really a SatNav, but there was this message on the screen saying Warm 1 – shutting down in 30 seconds, Cancel, Ok, Power Off I chose the Cancel option each time, but it kept on doing it, real weird and very unhelpful as I was on a bypass around Bangkok and did not want to get caught in the middle. I had to pull over to the side of the road to read the message properly as it was hard to read in the sunlight, wrong colours.

I knew it was low on power, but it was plugged in and charging but I battled this for about 30 minutes until I got caught out at a junction and went the wrong way. But, once I had stopped and found fuel I managed to get directions to the north and ended up being on the right road 🙂 It was about 15 minutes later that I noticed another problem, my chain oiler was not working, hmmm, so I stop and look under the seat and found the main power fuse that feeds the smaller fuse box had come adrift, this was an easy fix and guess what, my SatNav now worked fine!!! It turns out the message was a spelling error and should have said WARN, not WARM, it was shutting down due to low power not overheating!! I am glad that worked out for the best, I was not looking forward to buying another. From that point on it performed flawlessly 🙂 The place I picked to stop had this enormous Golden Buddah statue, they seemed to be doing a lot of building still, but this thing was huge, at least 15m or more tall and it was sitting on a roof. I did not get close, I was quite happy being in the shade, it was a steamy hot day.

It was good to be riding again, despite the heat, but I could see it was going to be very uncomfortable down here on the plains in the tropics, I needed the mountains. After 2 hours of this I grabbed a quick and cheap lunch at a roadside cafeteria, where you buy tokens and hand them over for food, chicken and rice, noodle soup etc. I continued on after this, when I had looked at the map I just picked a town that was on the main road north, the one I chose originally was Nakhon Sarwan and I had been thinking about taking some of the smaller roads to the west of here towards the Mayanmar border area, in the hills. I had done no study though, and when I checked some of the turn off’s they turned to dirt pretty quick, which could turn messy! As it was still raining or had been recently, I figured dirt plus rain equals mud, which is not for me and Flopsy 🙂

It was only 1.30pm when I went past this town, taking the bypass route, and I thought I could do another few hours, see where that takes me. The next large town where I could maybe find a room was called Kamphaeng Phet about another 100km or so. The roads were very good so far, the main road was a dual carriageway and although busy at times near towns, I was not having any dramas. A lot of the other drivers were going at the maximum posted speed limit of 120kmh, but I was dawdling along at 100, I was in no particular hurry. The air was very hazy around here, probably from all the rain and moisture rather than smog, but the views were just not quite there yet. There were a lot of temples along the way, plus rice paddies and road side stalls, lots of things to look at, but I did not bother to stop too much because without the airflow from riding, I would swelter!

It was strange also to ride on the left, like we do back in Oz. It came naturally to me, when I was in Hong Kong it was also on the left, whilst China was on the right. But, the last time I rode was in Mongolia, which was drive where ever you damm well please!!! Well, seriously it was drive on the right, same as Europe, but that is only in the towns 😉

As I got closer to this town I had picked, I decided that I had had enough for the day, my first day in the saddle for nearly a month and I was knackered, mainly from he heat, it must have been near 40C and 80% humidity. Anyway, I used the SatNav to pick a hotel, which was hard because there seemed to be mainly resorts around here. I chose a hotel and while riding down a connecting road I spotted a place called the Marlin Resort, so I thought, you can only ask eh, maybe it is not expensive! So I did, and as it turned out it was a cheap place, for 500Baht or $15, I got a room, aircon, WiFi and dinner and breakfast, how cheap is that, brilliant!!! It makes a change to my budget after all the expensive places back west.

The downside was the restaurant was not open until 6pm and they was no bar, nor pool? ❓ Why it is called a resort I have no idea, and I saw no Marlins nor other fish either, go figure. But, the front counter sold beer, so I bought one, did some research on the net and had a nice chicken and fried rice dinner later on, before having a quite evening. I had been reading on a website called that Chiang Mai is the place for bikers, with many many hills and different roads, paved or unpaved. There was also a contributor who had posted maps and ride directions for lots of ride loops out of this town and he ran a bar/restaurant/rooming place in the old city. So, I decided right then and there, I would see if there was a room and would ask hime, Phil who spoke English, about the quality of the roads to the west. I had tried to ask the people at this resort, but our language skills were not up to the task.

It was Friday night as I found out later, and after 1 beer and a nice feed, I had an early night after doing some blog updates. I am nearly caught up again 🙂

Cheers from Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand

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