Touring Thailand

 

Touring Thailand


Bangkok or Bust

Chiang Mai to Bangkok

Prelude to the Adventure

Although Chiang Mai is the Jewel of the North with the whole culture thing going on. it's a very mature city, perhaps too mature for a lot of younger expats. Sugar daddies gone to pasture whose ladies want them kept away from the naughtyness elsewhere often end up here.
There are other cities with a certain vibrance and energy and Chiang Mai, while once having this, has gone a bit quieter and sombre nowadays. Hardly any folks venture out much into the city. The outskirts have the vibe still but the time has come to seek new adventures.
The Navigators hosted a fine weeks activities for the OTRT crew. The day prior to setting out all our kit was getting ready and prepped at the High-On-Thai Workshop at the Pitstop.

Bike Workshop Thailand

It was a late night before the last adjustments and tweaks done to the bikes were finished.
I was heading southwards, Bangkok was to be my destination of choice for some well earned R and R and to gather some materials. With the others setting out to Isaan, and the northern borders I was on my own for this one and would have no assistance in case of trouble. But that's ok cause I always travel better solo and having to rely on myself.

This time I'd be taking no chances, toughened leather jacket and and hard armour on my elbows, gloves and padding on my knees.
With all my backpack and case shouldered the weight was about 12 kilos. This is ok, but any more and you will start to fatigue quickly. Wearing a mask is another wise decision. The air quality on the roads, even in the countryside can turn nasty when the toxic brake pads/discs start getting hammered along with the stinking diesel engines. So a good quality air filter was another bit of vital kit I packed. The drawback is that for long periods of use you'll get a bit of air-starvation when wearing a full-face helmet, so expect some headaches.

Highway 107 to Fang

Part 1

Setting off from Chiang Mai

At 7:30 am I was up and ready. As I pulled away from my living quarters the trip got off to an ominous start, a gloomy, mean looking thai man I'd never seen before was sat nearby against a pillar. He just kept looking at me and wouldn't stop staring, like he was in his own place somewhere.
Strange folk some of these Thais. I nodded but no reply so I roared off and left him to his own world.

By about 8 I was on the superhighway heading around Chiang Mai towards Lampang.

I passed a petrol station after a while but despite the petrol prices being near rock bottom the price was still in the 23 - 29 baht range. Much higher than last year. Times are definitely tougher now and even the famous thai smile may be waning a bit.

Petrol Prices - Late 2008

The road after the city traffic died off was a blast you could just rip the throttle and blast on by the slower cars with ease. All the gear does weigh down your shoulders a bit but once you lie down onto your tank the strain disappears. This means you're a bit more tunnel visioned for all-round visibility though, so after a while it's a good idea to straighten up a bit to look around and see what's going on around you. You can still do your lifesaver checks lying down at the handles but it's a bit more arduous when fully loaded.

After a while the highway took on a series of turns, it got fairly twisty for a while with some really good offsets and challenges for getting your lean-on.


These two pictures were taken at the end and after this it was pretty easy going again.

The Elephant Hospital - An Interlude

I'd completely forgotten that the much trumpeted elephant hospital, established by royalty no less, lay on my path to Lampang. Once I approached the sign I wasted no time checking it out.

As I probably wasn't going to be returning for quite some time I figured it would be worth a look, if nothing else but to say I'd visited the place.

It's actually split into two areas - The Elephant Conservation Center and the Elephant Hospital. I turned off the highway and took a right, a left then another right onto a gravel track taking me to the latter.

I didn't want to have to de kit and mooch about here though, the place was pleasantly deserted, but a free roving elephant stood gracefully nearby, by the time I'd turned around to get some photos though, a Thai lady came strolling out (see above photo). Hardly the smiling type she reeled off in gobbledygook english. When I raised my visor she then switched to machine-gun thai! From what I could gather of both ramblings she inexplicably mistook me to be looking for the other elephant center. She then suggested that only people (I think she meant farang!) as part of a tour guided party were welcome at the hospital. I replied I was just traveling and not part of any travel company. In fact I made it known by my demeanor that I was my own man and didn't do the tourist thing, but still in a polite way of course. At this she turned on her heel and skulked off.
Most unusual behaviour! Perhaps that strange man I saw by the pillar has indeed weaved some jinx on me! This little adventure might getting even more surreal!

Here's a photo of the elephants, not a very good one I'm afraid but I wasn't hanging around.

Lampang

By about 9:30am I was in Lampang, a good way to describe it is a large town / small city with a bustling crossroads, from the crossroads the city spreads out along the road with smaller soi's and roads leading off. The roads aren't very wide though and you need to watch out a bit in rush hour as the traffic is fairy aggressive. I rested the for the rest of the day here. A big dilemma for any rider whose on the move somewhere is always the riddle of how far in one day you should travel. For me it's variable and depends on a few things though. As a writer I depend on getting the stories together and getting them onto a medium before they fade away and this day was no exception. The hotel I rolled into was about 450 baht a night and was just about worth it.
I went out to roam and found that the locals do like to stare and look upon the farang as a curious entity indeed. I saw one english teacher, and (so far) that's it for other farangs.

 

Lampang - City Streets

Some cool views in certain areas

Is this the builders wanting to give the building some dystopian edgyness or is it a fire-escape... Thai Style??? Who can tell!?

The monsoon cometh! Well, not a real monsoon this was more of a heavy shower, it lasted about 45 minutes. Then it was back to the nice and sunny weather we all know and love.

That was pretty much it for Lampang, the night scene is so-so, with the usual kareoke and cafe-restaurant-bars.

The Farang Factor : Not a single one spotted!

To continue to Part 2, click here

Bangkok or Bust!
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Copyright OTRT

Chang Mai Province Phitsanulok Bangkok Koh Tao Koh Pang Yan Koh Samui