Thursday, 22 March 2012

Kanchanaburi to Buriram bike trip.

I am currently in a Hotel in Buriram Town in North-Eastern Thailand. It's brilliant to be travelling again after 3 years in classrooms. I barely have time to do these posts as so much is going on.

The 3000km bike journey from Phuket to Buriram:

My bike will be 7 years old in June. It has done 36000km in the last 3 years (since I've had it). It only did 2000km in its first 4 years. 38000km is about 95% of the way around the Earth's equator!


So after the temple I hadn't shaved in 10 days and was starting to look a bit grizzly. I remedied this in Kanchanaburi with a 100bt haircut/shave.

You can get shots in Kanchaburi for 10bt (20p)! I did not partake but a young Dutch friend was well into this.

This succinct statement could be the best advice for anyone coming to Thailand! It could also save you a fortune.

On a day trip around Kanchanaburi passing Tiger Temple. I like the entrance but I didn't go in.

I carried on to Sai Yok waterfall about 60km NW of town.

Nobody went to the top where the waterfall serenely cascades over the cliff.

A view towards the remote Burmese border region.

I left Kanchanaburi and headed to Supanburi on my way to Ayuddaya - Thailand's ancient capital. This sign tells you 2km to Ayuddaya and 78km to Bangkok.

The first thing I noticed were that the tuk-tuks are similar to Trang's. The packed buses look ropey too. This is outside one of the many ancient ruins scattered around an island formed by the confluence of two rivers.

Another ruin right near the middle of town.

A larger complex.

Posing near a shrivelled stupa.

I'd been having toothache for about 4 months when I passed a dentist in Ayuddaya. A lady examined me immediately. She said my teeth look fine. She x-rayed them - still nothing. She said she could change the filling that was on the sore tooth - it might be old. She did and my tooth hurt worse for a week. It has now calmed down but it still hurts although less than before. What is going on? That's two dentists who've said 'There's nowt wrong with your pearly whites'??????? It cost 400bt (£8) for an x-ray and filling change and it was all done within 45mins!

I then drove the 80km through the metropolis of Bangkok. I went to my old haunt near Khao San Rd for a coffee. It is 100bt (£2) for a night here if you don't mind sharing a bucket of water with immigrant Burmese families. I met Bee the bird I first met in Feb 2007 - she was talking of going to work in Korea again as she is now 39 and her youthful beauty is vanishing as quickly as her previous customers/boyfriends.

Driving a bike through Bkk is insane but I made to Khao San Road in the epicenter. This is the decompression chamber for newly arrived Western backpackers to Asia.

A view down KSR.

However, I didn't linger in BKK. After my coffee I was off to do battle with the famous Sukumvit Road and Bangkok's legendary traffic. Here I am stuck behind all manners of transport heading out of BKK.

BIG buildings everywhere. I was feeling like a country hick in the big smoke!

BIG SHINY buildings too. The south has no shiny buildings. Once you see shiny buildings you know you're in a place of global significance.

The famous sky-train that runs along Sukumvit. I finally got out of Bkk and headed to Bang Saen beach near Chonburi. I then went to Sri Richa to meet a lass who works in a factory in the sticks. She wouldn't let me stay with her so I headed to Pattaya late at night to find a room. I found a room at 11pm near Pattaya South Road near the big Tesco . They asked if I wanted the room all night? Of course I did! Then I realised I was sleeping in a knocking shop! The rooms were great with free WIFI and only 400bt/night which is OK for Pattaya if you can handle the whoring.

I woke up early in the morning and decided to visit one of the schools I had contacted in Pattaya. They agreed to meet me and here I am at Photisamphanwittayakam School. This could be the longest school name in the world. They offered me part-time position teaching A-level maths and physics to 17/18 year old kids for only 3 days/week at 30,000bt/month (£600/month).

I accepted and got changed. They said I could leave my big bag at the school for the next 7 weeks since the job doesn't start until 1st May. Now I only have to strap a tiny bag to my bike every time I go anywhere! Look at the size of the bag now - I don't have to drag my whole life around!

In the afternoon I went to see an American lad in Rayong Wittayakom school. He was a nice guy and he offered me a job implementing the M4 English Program. I declined telling him I had accepted a position in Pattaya but I wanted to hear his offer. He was cool saying he'd have done the same thing. I AM GOING TO BE LIVING IN PATTAYA FOR THE NEXT YEAR OF MY LIFE.

One of the reasons I need a job here in Thailand is for visa purposes. If you're not married, retired (over 50) or studying, staying in Thailand is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive. A part-time job not only provides some income in semi-retirement, it keeps the mind active, keeps you off the booze and provides you with the all-important visa. If I stop working I'll have to either live in Cambodia or marry a Thai bird - both bizarre options.

It was 1630 when I finished my afternoon chat with James in Rayong and I decided I could make it to Chantanaburi for the night before it got dark. I passed this impressive building somewhere near Glaeng on the way. No idea what this is but it was massive!

I got further than Chantanaburi into the middle of nowhere on the road connecting Chantanaburi and Sa Keaw. It got dark and started to rain. It was at this point that disaster struck and my bike chain came off. You can see how loose it was the next morning. I could feel the panic rising as there were no lights or houses anywhere in the pitch black. I somehow managed to fumble the chain back on although it took me around 30mins and I was filthy. I then thought 'I'll drive and take the next room I come to - whatever it is'. It was about 40km before I found a 'resort'. It's alarming how frightened you can become when you're alone and helpless in a foreign country in the middle of nowhere in the middle of night. (I'm glad I got the chain on otherwise I would've been f**ked, although, like the Falkland's war, it was no certain thing - I was lucky as there's no RAC here).

This is probably the best room I have ever stayed in. It was 600bt (£12). The bloke was looking at me suspiciously as I enquired about a room. I'm a white man, arriving alone in the pitch black on a bike and covered in oil! Mmmmmm! I think I would have raised an eyebrow. The next morning I did an oil chain, had a link taken out of the chain and continued...........


...........onto Aranyapratet on the Cambodian border. You can see how I was really in the sticks here.

There were Army checkpoints everywhere near the border. Reminded me a little of Sungai Golok in Naratiwat province.

I finally made it to Matt's awesome new 'wooden-blue-house-on-stilts' on the edge of Aranyapratet. Look at it! I love it and it's only 3000bt/month (£60). Matt has spent the last 3 years in Trang. We were good mates during my year there.

The first thing I did was buy a hammock from the border market and string it up underneath the house. I spent some considerable time down here.

As this collection of 51 big bottles of beer indicates. Matt and I drunk all those over two days with a little help from English Russel and Karl. This is where I fell off the booze/tab wagon after 28days :-(

My room. I had to buy those two pillows at the nearby Tesco Lawtaat.
The scenery south of Aranyapratet.

At the border market (Talad Rong Gluea - Salt Market) there are many Khmers on bicycles that you have to pedal with your hands? I've never seen those before. Mostly, they pull overloaded handcarts.

This is the Cambodian border. A shitehole called Poipet is on the other side. Despite the heat, locals dress as if they're going on an Arctic expedition.

My bike tyres have done 38000km over 7 years. Some friends were telling me I ought to change them. Here's my bike about to receive two brand-spanking-new tyres for 2500bt (£50). Hopefully I won't have to do this again until 2020 if I'm still alive given the perils of attempting a motorbike trip around this 'road-death-trap' country.

Aranyapratet's central clock tower. I can't decide if it's better than Trang's or not. It's not as good as Morpeth's surely?

Matt's lass Oom on the left. Mi on the right who I took for dinner one night.

Thailand sometimes does my heed in. It's almost impossible to watch NUFC games if they're on at the same time as MUFC or LFC. This was the case last week so I drank some shop beers with these two Sa Kaew supporters. The Toon won too - aaahhhh.

I was drunk as I headed, alone, to the Aranyapratet's local disco Fusion. I'm glad people can't take guns in.

Inside is the typical Thai nightclub scenario with a live band and people drinking wiskey standing around small circular tables. Nobody would come with me so I was the sole individual Westerner drinking in their alone. Locals were probably wondering who I was.
A big Army base near Matt's place.

I headed to Isaan yesterday. Here I am crossing from Sa Keaw province (central Thai) to Buriram province (NE Thailand (or Isaan)). I had to ride up a large incline to enter Buriram since most of Isaan is on a raised area known as the Korat Plateuax.

Isaan is the most traditional area of Thailand. There are rice fields on the flat Korat plateuax plains as far as the eye can see in every direction. Isaan has its own dialect, food and traditions. It is also the poorest part of the country and many of the bargirls/prostitutes in the tourist places originate from here. Yesterday i enjoyed the vistas of emerald green rice fields, water buffalo and traditional farming methods. The tractors look like motorbikes with long handle bars. The farmers wear hoods with only three holes for the eyes and nose. It is very chilled out although the town of Buriram doesn't strike me as vastly different from other Thai towns.

I met this crazy Farang from Halifax yesterday. His wife stabbed him in the arm and leg. He was just out of hospital. He told me where to stay and helped me get my bearings. I was lucky to find him as I was lost. I was stuck at lights as I noticed him sitting in a bar having a Chang.

Buriram United is the best team in Thailand. They won the triple last year. They have a 24000 all seater stadium which is also the best in Thailand. The above sign explains that their last match was against Chiang Rai United. Buriram Town also has a clock tower - maybe every Thai town has one?

Buriram were actually playing last night and this bar was packed!

By the way, since the 1st February, I've spent 36,000bt (£720) in 51 days. This includes a trip to Penang, visa fees, fuel, accommodation, food, new tryes, tooth filling, helmet, maps. However, I spent nothing in 10days at the temple and I basically spent time at Matt's and Tom's for free. You have to agree though that's not much if you avoid the piss/tabs as much as you can.

I'm staying here for one more night before hitting either Surin (went there with Fen before in Feb 2007) or Si Saket tomorrow.

Lingo:

Ootfan - filling
Pentee - map

1 comment:

Please be nice.