Saturday, 5 January 2013

Northern Thailand Winter Trip. Buying a Honda CBR250r.

Update

Xmas and New Year in 2005 was in Morpeth, UK. 2006 Singapore. 2007 The Philippines. 2008 Su Ngai Golock, Thailand. 2009 Trang, Thailand. 2010 & 2011 Phuket, Thailand. 2012 Bangkok.

Dry

I quit drinking on the 12th of December and smoking shortly thereafter. I have now been smober for almost one month. I am determined to stay dry throughout 2013 as I am finding life far more rewarding.


Bike Trip

Back in February I left Phuket and did this motorbike trip covering about 8000km in around 10 weeks before starting a job in Pattaya.


My school broke up for Xmas holiday on the 14th of December. I then headed on this less ambitious but just as rewarding trip around the North of Thailand. This trip covered about 2400km and took 7 nights. The route was BKK - Khampaeng Phet - Mae Sariang - Pai - Fang - Chiang Saen - Chiang Rai - Nakon Sawan - BKK.







On the first day, just south of Nakon Sawan I got covered in pig piss as I trailed a truck for a while. I thought the truck was carrying ice or something but as I overtook it I saw all the pigs in their cages. Not good. Later I decided to stop and snap this large statue of a monk in the distance. He's looking quite serene. I'm quite a distance from this so I guess it looks massive close up. The first thing I did was have a shower in Kampaeng Phet!


After Kampaeng Phet I went to Mae Sariang via Mae Sot. This was a thrilling ride but I rarely stopped for pics as I was enjoying the twisties too much along with the scenery. I did, however, notice the temperatures dropping here - particularly in the mornings. On arrival in Mae Sariang I rewarded myself with an alfresco haircut and massage.
Enjoying a bowl of noodles after the haircut. This cafe is packed!


It was so cold I had to buy a jumper. I plummed for a traditional hill tribe design! The woman had me in stitches trying to take this picture. She was useless!

Before leaving for Pai I had to pump my tyres up. I used this automatic machine but I lost both my dust caps in the excitement. The Thai says Derm Lom which means 'fill with air'.
The stretch from Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son I did with Terence from Singapore. He has a 990cc beast of an adventure bike! We took some video shots of us tackling the twisties. I mastered video editing software in one night and managed to produce a video that I posted on youtube. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH5ypU280zU

In addition to that, Terence also interviewed me and produced another excellent video which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGRCke3vXig . I particularly like the bits where I'm having a pee after doing a star jump.



On the way to Pai I stopped at a viewpoint and noticed this beautifully-dressed little hill-tribe girl. Her Mother was smoking a massive roll-up! I couldn't understand their language but managed to ascertain that they were from the Lahu tribe as they could speak Thai.


The room I stayed in in Pai in April was 200bt. Now it is 600bt. I ventured further out and found a family offering this room for 150bt. I had a wonderful time with this couple. I didn't need any fan or AC during the night - in fact I could've done with an extra blanket. Loving the ornamental radio!
It crept up to 13C around 0900 but at 0700 it was even colder (11C) as I could see my breath. Like a true submariner I was pleased to avoid a shower under these circumstances.
Here they are shivering away on my bike. The bloke is exactly one year older than me! The lady sold weird perfumes in her shop. My language skills weren't up to exactly what they were for but they had special properties beyond smelling nice.
I left Pai but had to keep stopping as my attire was no match for the temperature. I stopped to take this shot of the morning clouds being slowly burned away by the sun.
A place I've always wanted to visit: Ban Sandindaeng Village,
Tambon Maesoon Subdistrict,
Fang District,
Chiang Mai Province.

The locals thought I was barmy. It's like a Chinaman taking photos of the Pegswood sign! A totally non-descript village.
My best room of the trip in Fang Town. £5/night! TV, sofa, balcony, hot water shower, massage lady who came to the room, spectacular views. Stay away from the tourist traps man!
The sunset view from the balcony.
From Fang I headed to Mae Selong where I found the cheapest rooms in Thailand. £1/night. You just can't beat that! I saw some fat western girls riding horses here and I couldn't help but feel sorry for the horses.
Many Chinese folk are here involved with tea. There are more tea shops than anything else. The mountainside tea plantations are huge. The North of Thailand has a profusion of Chinese language signs underpinning their influence on the area.
I got lost and ended up on some unmapped roads. This was one of them with a precarious drop down to that river far below. These roads were not for the faint-hearted. These mysterious highways merely added an extra dimension of danger to an already adrenalin packed adventure.
There is a stretch of road that runs about 20km southwest of Mae Sai along the Thai/Burmese border. The views are amazing once you negotiate the army checkpoints. 
I'm sure this little patch of barbed wire will stop the illegals. When I think of borders I think of Hadrain's Wall, The Berlin Wall and great rivers etc. However, this little stretch of border was just random pieces of barbed wire strewn recklessly every now and then!
I stopped at an army checkpoint for a cup of tea with the guards. This picture shows the border. To the right of the sandbags is Burma and to the left is Thailand. I have one foot in each country.
They had an impossibly tall piece of bamboo as a flag pole to mark the demarcation. 
I then carried on to the Golden Triangle where Burma, Laos and Thailand form a tri-point on the Mekong River.
This was cool. You could roll coins down tubes that went into this fat Buddha's bellybutton! There's merely a lot of gimmicky stuff at the Golden Triangle. Not an abundance of heroine that the CIA promised after giving the area its name!
Elephants and golden things brighten up an otherwise dreary Mekong backdrop. I then went and found a room in Chiang Saen where I chilled with a German couple in the night market.
Call this a mall? Pffaah. Only two stories? Pathetic. Chiang Rai has a long way to go before it can match Bangkok's maga-malls. This one didn't even have an ice rink. I met Mike here for a Starbucks which was strange after days in the wilderness. Mike and I worked together in Phuket.
We then went and looked at his new school which is a fantastic place. You never know - I could be teaching maths there next summer! This school uses the American curriculum which would be an interesting career diversion.
Mike kindly offered me a bed for the night. Here we are after an intense game of Uno with the twin girls: Cake and Cream. I love those names. I forgot the young lad's name??
On Xmas Eve I drove from Chiang Rai to Nakon Sawan. That was a long ride on a motorbike!! I slept at Matt's before heading back to Bangkok on Xmas day. I then went for a steak followed by a massage at the Dr's before heading to see my new girlfriend. There she is on the left eating some Isaan food with her two friends. Needless to say this food was nuclear spicy.
On Boxing Day I got sunburned in Dave's condo pool. It was a scorcher. My skin is still peeling.
New Year's Eve was spent at Yui's watching DVDs and fireworks from her window. The next day we headed to Bang Pu which is a coastal area near Bangkok. The shoreline is mangrove and there are no sandy beaches, however, plenty of seagulls manifest themselves here. It was great to come here as fresh as a daisy and not be in bed all day with a stinking hangover!
I had to be a guide last week as Hans and his Filipina lass wanted an abortion. As Bangkok's resident expert on this issue I assisted them and was rewarded with a Spaghetti Carbonara.
The day after that I got up early and took a minivan to Cha Am to buy a new motorbike. After 3 years and 3 months with the trusty old Honda Phantom it was time to move on. I bought this one year old Honda CBR 250cc with 4000km on the clock for £1400. They go for £4000 in the UK. Here we are swapping the famous green book or ownership document. We got it changed to my name within 2hrs which is lightening fast by any standards.


I then took it for a spin around Cha Am to try and familiarise myself with it. It is a totally different feel to a cruiser. Way faster too. This is Cha Am beach - very nice. I then drove it home at about 140km/h. A fantastic ride! The acceleration is thrilling as you work up through the gears from 0-100km/h
The old and the new. I have just put the Phantom up for sale. This is the ad: http://www.bahtsold.com/view/2007-honda-phantom-ta200cc-for-sale-45-000thb--122790

I am reluctant to sell this as I have become emotionally attached. We have had so much fun together over the last three years but I need the cash.
And here I am after the deal. Outside Yui's apartment on my new machine. Loving it!! I have just finished reading Phileas Fogg and I intend to mimic his adventures on this vehicle this year.

However, rather worryingly, I was watching the Thai news yesterday about the amount of traffic accidents here and found these following stats regarding the UK and Thailand who have similar populations: 


Road deaths per 100,000 vehicles per year: UK = 7, Thailand = 119. Says it all really. Shows how careful one should be on these roads. Touch wood I've had almost 4 years of relatively safe riding here but this bike is a different beast exhibiting so much more power than what I've been used to.

Nice to see Newcastle have lost 9 out of 11 league games and sold their best player to Chelsea! Back to work on Monday after 3 weeks off!!

Lingo

Oobatihet - accident
Lem see keow - green book
Sawat dee pee mai - Happy New Year

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