|04-25-2012, 11:19 AM||#1|
Joined: Sep 2011
A solo 7000-mile ride in Southeast Asia
I would like to share with all my recent motorcycle adventure across Indochina from January to March 2012. This report takes the form of a photo diary, as I believe this will best bring out the beauty and mood of the places and people I have visited during this trip. Hope you all will enjoy the read !
So why did I do this trip alone ?
First, it was really challenging to find a riding partner among my friends who can take a long leave from work. More importantly, a solo ride across Indochina have always been on my bucket list since I had a bad motorcycle accident in Thailand six years ago. Deep inside me, I knew that if I don't act on this opportunity now (while I am still young and physically fit), I will one day look back and regret.
I am deeply grateful to Phil and the biking community for all the very updated and useful sharing of trip reports as it made the trip preparation so much easier. And I really enjoy my stay at Phil's inn in Chiang Mai, as well as bumping into some of you during this trip. Hope my photos bring back some fond memories. Live to ride !
Here are some interesting statistics of my Indochina ride before I jump into my trip report ....
Countries covered : Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam
No. of cities visited : 30
No. of overland border crossings : 11
Total distance covered : 11,200 km (7,000 miles)
Total trip duration : 67 days
Total riding days : 31 days
Total riding time : 185 hours
Motorcycle : BMW 1200 GS [2005 model]
Total petrol consumed : 615 litres
No. of traffic accidents : 0
No. of times bike dropped : 8
No. of vehicle breakdowns : 0
Here's a map to give you all an idea of the route I took.
Riding Day 1 – SG to Hatyai (946km, 11hrs)
Went to bed early at 8pm the previous night, but kept tossing around in bed. Guess I was too excited about the trip to sleep well. Felt relieved when the alarm clock finally rang at 3:30am. After a simple breakfast at a coffeeshop downstairs, I got on my bike at 4:30am and started making my way towards the checkpoint at Second Link Tuas. Topped up petrol at GP Esso station and began the boring ascent up north along North-South highway. Other than making a few petrol stops, the journey was smooth except for a couple of traffic police roadblocks near Ipoh.
Reached my preferred Padang Besar checkpoint at around 1pm. Cleared the immigration and got my temporary import forms sorted out within 30minutes.
Stopped by my favorite Cafe Amazon at the PTT petrol station to have a much-needed caffeine fix while I dry my t-shirts.
Arrived Hatyai town and checked into my favorite Hat Yai Rama hotel. I love the secured carpark just behind the hotel, which have a direct access to the rooms without having to leave the building. Got the usual walk-in rate of 690 Baht. After a quick dinner, I went for a much needed 3-hr foot + body massage nearby the hotel, before heading back for an early night rest.
(Hat Yai Rama Hotel - 6.998105, 100.471615)
Day 2 – Hatyai to Phuket (430km, 7hrs)
Woke up early at 4am, cleaned up and checked out of hotel, hit the road at 5am. Visited my friend at his medical manufacturing plant in central Phuket and then followed him to his nice 3-storey house inside Loch Palm golf course. My friend’s maid then whipped out a nice home-cooked meal while I chilled out at his pool.
Day 3 – Phuket to Hua Hin (628km, 10hrs)
It’s now become a routine for me to wake up at 4am ! I enjoy the peace and cool weather at this time of the day to pack my personal belongings and load them on the motorcycle.
Stopped by a local vineyard on a mountain which is 20km from Hua Hin town. Managed to have a complimentary wine tasting session and took a quick tour of the vineyard before I head to the town to check in. (Hua Hin Hills Vineyard - 12.527376, 99.705048)
Stayed at Baan Manthana hotel for only 900 Baht a night. Excellent location near to Chatchai night market with sheltered carpark.(Baan Manthana hotel - 12.570046, 99.955705 )
Had my usual dinner at Chatchai night market. Went for my usual favorite dishes….braised glass noodles and stir-fried morning glory for 210Baht !
Day 4 – Hua Hin to Bangkok (200km, 4 hrs)
Decided to make an early start with the hope of getting into downtown Bangkok before the morning rush traffic, so I woke up at 4am, and checked out of Baan Manthana hotel at 4:30am. Traffic was smooth until I hit the traffic lights at Rama 3 around 6:30am. Took me 30 minutes just to crawl slowly across one traffic light as locals pack the roads with cars and motorcycles to send their kids to school.
This short 200km journey took me close to 4 hours ! Arrived in Bangkok at around 8:15am. Checked into my friend’s condo and parked my bike at the underground carpark. After a quick shower, I made my way for a 2-hr body massage at my favorite Health Land joint at Ekkamai.
Day 5 – Bangkok to Khao Yai (160km, 3hrs))
The journey to Khao Yai is only 3 hours, but I decided to leave Bangkok at 5am to beat the traffic and give myself plenty of time to visit all the vineyards and farms in Khao Yai before checking into the hotel.
Made my first stop at PB Valley winery, and had a sumptuous american breakfast with an excellent view of the vineyard. (PB Winery - 14.569306, 101.235333)
Checked into Eco Valley Lodge in Khao Yai. Got a nice bungalow for 1,200Baht comes with hot shower, wifi, The Danish owner Morten was very friendly and himself rides a BMW F650, and spent a while explaining to me the off-the-beaten-track routes I should try on my way up north.
(Eco Valley Lodge - 14.622787, 101.387168)
There was still some daylight left, so I decided to check out the Khao Yai National Park. Nice winding roads and playful monkeys !
Day 6 – Khao Yai to Mae Sot (483km, 8 hrs)
Reached Mae Sot and checked into Phannu House. (Phannu House - 16.714109, 98.561973)
Paid only 400 Baht for a nice cosy room (comes with wifi, air-con, tv, fridge and hot shower!) and rented a moped from the guesthouse for 150Baht(petrol included!) to go to the border 6km away to renew my Thai visa. Was told I can do some sightseeing at the Burmese side as long as I return to the immigration before 5pm.
After leaving my passport at the Burmese immigration, I spent 2 hours roaming around the streets of the border town Irrawady and had lunch there before heading back to the border.
Day 7 – Mae Sot to Chiang Mai (360km, 7 hrs)
Woke up with a stomach upset and feeling pretty horrible. I suspect it was the fried Burmese chicken balls I ate at the border yesterday. The time is 5am in the morning and cold at 16 degrees outside. Took a couple of aspirins and headed to a nearby 7-Eleven store at the petrol station to get a cup of hot 3-in-1 coffee to warm myself up. The next 2 hours were really challenging as I had to brave the strong cold wind up in the mountains with a feverish weak body. After an hour of riding, I had to put on the rain coat which acted effectively as a windbreaker.
Stopped by some gigantic road markers on the way to Chiang Mai !
finally arrived at Rider's Corner cafe at 1pm on a very sunny hot day.
Parked my bike nicely inside the cafe and headed to my room for a much needed shower !
(Riders’ Corner - 18.794867, 98.993433)
Next morning, I had a really delicious breakfast at Phil's cafe, and spent my time chatting with his adorable gal.
Then I booked myself for an afternoon cooking class to brush up my rusty knowledge of Thai food.
The market tour and cooking lessons were relaxing and fun, a great way to spend a lazy afternoon in Chiang Mai.
Had a few ice cold beer with fellow Singaporean biker Glenn who is riding a nice KTM Adventure.
Day 8 – Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (200km, 4 hrs)
Phil bid me an early morning farewell as I left Rider's Corner for Chiang Rai
Arrived in Chiang Rai just before lunchtime, and checked into PS Guesthouse, which is really good value at only 400 Baht a night. (PS Guesthouse - 19.915529, 99.835789)
My Thai friend owns a huge tea plantation in Mae Chan, so I went to visit her and had tea and dinner at her place.
I also had the opportunity to ride up to Pu Chi Fa National Park, which is one of the seven wonders of Thailand !
From the dramatic cliff of Phu Chi Fa can be seen spectacular scenes, especially the sea of mist at sunrise. (Pu Chi Fah summit - 19.851089,100.447633)
Unfortunately the strong wind at the cliff top caused my tripod to lose balance, and broke my expensive camera lens filter. I tried without success to remove the filter, even after going to a few upscale camera shops around Chiang Rai. Finally, I managed to find a run-down camera repair shop that did a superb job at salvaging my lens !
Chiang Rai was celebrating their 750th anniversary, so there were plenty of festivities and celebrations all over the city.
Here are some of the highlights which caught my eye.
Day 9 – Chiang Rai to Mae Salong and Doi Tung (200km, 5 hrs)
I spent the whole day riding the bike up to the mountains of Mae Salong and Doi Tung.
The nice winding roads up the mountains to Mae Salong are indeed breathtaking and legendary !
Day 10 - Chiang Rai to Golden Triangle (70km, 1.5hrs)
I left Chiang Rai to visit the infamous Golden Triangle, and on the way made a visit to the very impressive Hall of Opium museum. A classmate happens to own a casino on the Myanmar side of Golden Triangle, so he invited me over for a free night stay at his casino resort. Why not ? :) I parked my bike at the resort carpark on the Thai side, and there was a boat to ferry me across to the other side. I paid 500 Baht at the Burmese immigration checkpoint and left my passport with immigration officials. (House of Opium - 20.351427, 100.081887)
Day 11 – Golden Triangle to Luang Namtha (via Chiang Khong) (278km, 6.5 hrs))
Reached Chiang Khong border crossing at 9am. It was Sunday and was told by some bikers that the river crossing and ferry does not operate on Sundays. So I just tried my luck and boy must be my lucky day. There was a ferry leaving at 10am, and there were already a lot of cars waiting to board the car ferry. So I quickly got my exit stamp, and bought myself a ferry ticket for 500 Baht.
Once I reached Huay Sai, I bought a 2-week Laos insurance for the bike for only 200 Baht :)
Glad I made it into Laos on a Sunday without any hiccups. Now, I have to start getting used to riding on the right side of the road. Watch out for those animals that love to hog the roads :)
I checked into Zuela guesthouse in Luang Namtha, for only 10USD a night, i get a nice cosy twin room with a clean and spacious private shower with hot water ! (Zuela Guesthouse 21.002429, 101.409621)
After a really long day, it's time for an ice cold BeerLao !
Day 12 – Luang Namtha to Boten, Boten to Udomxai, Udomxai to Luang Prabang (355km, 10hrs)
It was a very misty morning to Boten, and I accidentally dropped my bike when it rolled forward on a down slope while I stopped for a break. Fortunately I was able to get it upright by myself. Was a real good morning workout though !
Reached the immigration customs checkpoint at Boten around 8am, and there was little traffic.
Stopped by a Chinese restaurant to have some hot spicy noodles. It was so good I had 2 bowls !
After Boten, I went through some very rough roads with lots of potholes from Udomxai to Pak Mong !
But the reward was some nice landscape after Pak Mong :)
Checked into Rattana guesthouse. They have a gated parking area for motorcycles, so I was really happy.
I paid 15USD a night for a double room with a private shower. (Rattana - 19.888695, 102.131792)
Headed to the local market for some tasty street food, bbq chicken and fish.
Spent the evening walking around the lovely night market in Luang Prabang.
As I was travelling light, I had to resist the temptation for buying anything bulky !
The restaurants in Luang Prabang are mostly very quaint and relaxing, excellent for chilling out !
Next morning, I woke up early at 5:30am to catch the monks collecting alms.
After a nice breakfast at the famous Joma bakery cafe, I decided to cross the Mekong river to walk around a local village to get a better feel of the people living in Luang Prabang.
Spent the next morning at the impressive Kuang Si waterfall, which is half an hour car ride from downtown Luang Prabang. Nice place to cool down and enjoy nature at its best !
Huge coconuts !
Some random snapshots of downtown Luang Prabang in the day
Day 13 – Luang Prabang to Phonsavan (270km, 6 hrs)
Road blocks like these are getting increasingly common !
Checked into Nice guesthouse for only 10USD a night. Clean functional room and you can park your bike just outside your room literally ! Receptionist was very friendly and provided good guide on where to eat in town. (Nice guesthouse - 19.450214, 103.218902 )
The MAG museum provides a great level of detail on the problems of unexploded ordnance that still remains in Laos today, and how MAG is helping to remove them. You can also donate to their cause by buying their T-shirts.
I spent the whole of next day visiting the Plain of Jars, covering all the 3 sites.
Plenty of off-road riding to get to these sites. Admission fees to these sites are very cheap.
(Plain of Jars Site 1 19.430698, 103.154744
Plain of Jars Site 2 19.321592, 103.152952
Plain of Jars Site 3 19.29620, 103.14694)
Animals are kings on dirt roads in Laos !
Mid-day sun can be really scorching and dehydrating .... do drink plenty of water !
|04-25-2012, 11:22 AM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2011
Day 14 – Phonsavan to Vang Vieng (280km, 6 hrs)
Was a very foggy morning on the day I left Phonsavan, with very low visibility even in the main town.
Took around 2 hours for the fog to clear, so I had to ride slowly.
I dropped my bike again on a very muddy slope up the mountains, and this time round, it was impossible to recover the bike on a very awkward position. As it was in a remote part of the province, I waited almost an hour before a vehicle passed by. This is one of those moments that I wished I had a riding partner by my side. Fortunately the helpful driver and his passengers stopped to help me push the bike.
Absolutely loved the local kids in Laos. They are so adorable and friendly !
Finally arrived in Vang Vieng after surviving the worst potholes so far.
Found a cheap guesthouse called Dok Khoun 1 which is right in the heart of all the action.
For only 8USD a night, I get a clean room with private hot shower, cable TV and wifi, not a bad deal ! (Dok Khoun 1 - 18.926037, 102.448188)
I quickly made friends with the friendly staff at the guesthouse, and soon we were drinking away bottles of BeerLao !
Time for some local Laos food for dinner. Laab beef, sticky rice and spring rolls ! Yummy !
Here's a glimpse of life in Vang Vieng. Slow pace of life, fascinating landscape and river views !
egg sandwich to die for ! along the streets of Vang Vieng
Day 15 – Vang Vieng to Vientiane (156km, 3 hrs)
The distance is only 156km to Vientiane, but it took me close to 4 hours to get there as the road condition is pretty bad. Many stretches of potholes and dusty trails and heavy truck traffic force me to slow down to a crawl, s I managed to average 30-40km an hour !
Stopped at Syri 1 guest house, then saw a big ‘We are full’ sign just at the entrance, so got on my bike and rode around the area to look for other options. Passed by this interesting villa-turned-hotel called Laos Heritage hotel, and when I saw that they have a private parking, I iwent in to check availability and pricing. Quoted a single room without window for 13USD. Comes with air-con, fridge, wifi and hot showers…. wow great deal ! I took up the offer straightaway ! (Laos Heritage Hotel - 17.967936, 102.606436)
Spent the afternoon walking around the central of Vientiene and visited the landmarks Patuxai (which looks like Arc de Triomphe of Paris) and Pha That Luang.
Had a great time feasting on the street side food along Vientiene, and a nice night market to help digest all the food!
After 2 weeks in Laos and countless bottles of BeerLao, I have become a big fan of this very drinkable beer!
Spent the next morning at the Xieng Khoun Buddha Park which is 20km away from Vientiene.
Managed to get into the park at 7:30am and had the whole park all to myself :)
The busloads of tourists started arriving at 9am, so do try to go there early for some great photo opportunities. (Xieng Khuan Buddha Park - 17.912736, 102.764354)
Gosh ! I looked tiny in front of the gigantic sleeping buddha statue !
Day 16 – Vientiene to Khon Kaen (280km, 5 hrs)
I checked out of Laos Heritage hotel at 6am, and headed for the friendship bridge at Nong Khai. Reached the bridge at 6:45am, and there is no queue at all at the immigration. Done with all the formalities within 10 minutes. On the Thai side, I spent half an hour to get my temporary import documents processed and passport stamped.
Once past the border, my first stop was 7-Eleven for a quick breakfast. Ordered my favorite chicken steak burger. Took the highway and before 10am, I reached D’Ma hotel in Khon Kaen.
The room in D'Ma hotel looks a bit kinky with its inappropriate pink curtains, but it's clean, spacious and most customers are local Thai working professionals on business trips. Only 350 Baht a night, and comes with the usual comforts of private hot shower, cable TV, wifi. They have a nice sheltered carpark for vehicles too! (D’Ma hotel - 16.426914, 102.840837)
Wanted to learn how to cook some Isaan dishes, so called up a Thai friend who agreed to get her mother to teach me some tricks. Within a couple of hours, I was at her house cooking away !
Day 17 – Khon Kaen to Battambang (505km, 8 hrs)
Waking up feeling great, I decided to try my luck with the reception first thing in the morning to get a 2-day refund for early check-out. (Previous night, the receptionist was not able to get in touch with the manager, so she couldn’t do much) The receptionist on duty offered an upgrade after I came up with an excuse that I didn’t sleep well and the mattress spring was horrible. I politely declined the offer and insisted to leave. After a few calls with the manager, I got my refund, and by 10am I loaded up my luggage on my bike and headed out of Khon Kaen for Aranyaprathet.
The road to Aranyaprathet was very good, and I reached the border town at 2:30pm, much earlier than expected. So I made a decision on the spot to push on and crossed the border rather than spending one night in a boring town.
My experience at the poipet border experience wasn’t very pleasant. The signages are confusing and too many touts offering their services to arrange your visas and fill up your forms. The Thai side was pretty straightforward, except for the border gate officer who insisted I needed to surrender the conveyance form before I can cross. I threw away that form earlier in the hotel thinking I didn’t need that, so I tried to pull a fast one. I told him I already handed in at the immigration office, and he requested me to re-submit a photocopy of my vehicle log card and passport.
After immigration formalities at the Cambodian side, it took a few attempts before I can find a local to give me the correct directions to the Cambodian customs office. The customs officer demanded a photocopy of everything including the form that he is going to give me, and he expects me to go find someone who can do the photocopying ! So I spent the next hour asking around for help just to do this. Super inefficient use of time.
Checked into Royal Hotel in Battambang, and paid 15USD a night for a twin room on the second floor. (Royal Hotel - 13.102395, 103.197085)
Ordered beer at a local coffee shop, and it came with a straw ! something new :)
Next day, went for yet another cooking class to learn how to make Cambodian dishes :)
Paid a ridiculously cheap fee of 10USD for a half-day session and get to eat all the food I cooked too ! (Nary’s kitchen - 13.103330, 103.197058)
My first attempt at cooking beef lok lak, a very popular Khmer dish all over Cambodia.
Next morning, I went to see the sunrise at the lotus farms outside Battambang, and a few rural villages including a school. (Kamping Puoy Lotus Farm - 13.073626, 102.982578)
here are some of the highlights :
(Banan temple - 12.951196, 103.145142)
Do you know there is actually a vineyard in Cambodia, and it is in Battambang !
This vineyard produces red wine and brandy, and for a small fee of 6USD, you get to taste them all ! (Phnom Banon winery - 13.005896, 103.158059)
The popular bamboo train is still in operation when I visited, and visitors love the fun ride !
(Bamboo Train - 13.068953, 103.217457)
Day 18 – Battambang to Siem Reap (173km, 3 hrs)
While waiting for my coffee, I had a nice chat with the owner. Owner shared his plans of building a new high-rise hotel just across the road, and his challenges getting approval from the money-sucking authorities.
After leaving the hotel, I headed to the petrol kiosk in the city centre and decided to give yellow bird a rare treat premium RON97 fuel ! Not a single traffic light in the entire 173km journey from Battambang to Siem Reap, no wonder everyone drives like crazy ! Traffic junctions are especially challenging when there are trucks, cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians all trying to cross the road ! Trying to anticipate who will give way becomes an art ☺
Siem Reap city centre has changed a lot since 2001. Traffic lights, nice wide roads and posh hotels, and lots of cars on the road. I checked into Happy Guest House for 10USD a night.
(Happy Guest House - 13.359629, 103.862123)
The nightlife in Siem Reap has improved so much. Lots of vibes and interesting new restaurants, boutique hotels and pubs, especially close to Pub Street.
I spent the next 2 days visiting Angkor Wat, and managed to sneak my bike into the temple compounds.
Was fortunate to catch the sunrise on the first day, as it was very cloudy the following day.
Day 19 – Siem Reap to Kompong Cham (via Kompong Thom) (257km, 4 hrs)
Nyta has kindly introduced me to her friend from Kompong Thom and suggested I visit their hotel for lunch. I decided to show up for breakfast instead so I could make it to Kompong Cham before noon as planned.
Morning traffic out of Siem Reap was chaotic as usual, but once out of town, the roads were good, and I was able to cruise at 90-100km/h. Other than light showers for the last stretch into Kompong Thom, the ride was smooth.
The Soung brothers run Arunras hotel, which is the biggest hotel in Kompong Thom and right smack in the city centre, so I had no difficulty finding the hotel. The brothers warmly greeted me, and invited me to their VIP room for a nice private chat and breakfast. I had a plate of nice chicken rice and 2 big cups of local Cambodian coffee, and spent the next 2 hours in a very interesting chat with the brothers. (Arunras hotel - 12.711312, 104.888816)
I told them their hotel has been getting bad reviews on Tripadvisor, and they were open to share their challenges in running the hotel and restaurant. I could see they are very hungry to learn and improve themselves. We also talked about their last trip to Singapore, and some of my mutual friends. It’s really nice to be able to make new friends in a foreign country and exchange views and opinions about life, talk about our dreams.
I then left them and headed to Kompong Cham, and found a run-down guesthouse to stay over.
Paid 5USD for a night...the room was functional, but the TV did not work and the fan had some issues too. The only good thing is they allow me to park my bike inside the lobby !
(Bopear Guest House - 11.988696, 105.465861)
Some snapshots of how Kompong Cham looks like. Basically a very laid-back river town.
Day 20 - – Kompong Cham to Phnom Penh (200km, 3 hrs)
Highlights : Meeting up with Pove @ Flying Bikes
checked into Circuit Hotel which is right in the centre of downtown Phnom Penh.
Paid 18USD a night a very cosy room with all the creative comforts.
(Circuit Hotel - 11.567715, 104.923237)
Day 21 – Phnom Penh to Ha Tien (154km, 4 hrs)
Left Phnom Penh for the border crossing at Ha Tien. The stretch of road before reaching Ha Tien was extremely dusty with trailers going at crazy speeds and churning up dust all the time.
It was a real pain crossing Ha Tien border with a big bike. Went to and fro the 2 immigration checkpoints SIX times, and had to pay 20USD bribe + 10,000riels tips to get the ok for the bike.
(Ha Tien border crossing - 10.426914, 104.453480)
Finally I got my bike into Vietnam after all the haggling at the border checkpoint !
Checked into Dong Tam hotel along the main road in downtown Ha Tien.
The hotel is very bike-friendly and allowed me to park my bike inside their lobby!
For 13USD a night, I got myself a very spacious double room.
After a quick shower, I headed out for lunch, and bumped into 2 more bikers who just arrived outside the hotel. There's Nils from Sweden and Heiko from Germany, both riding dirt bikes.
Made friends with them both, and they took up my recommendation to stay in the same hotel. We then exchanged our border experiences dealing with the corrupt officials.
Ha Tien is a small laid-back border town, so we finished walking the entire area in one afternoon.
Day 22 – Ha Tien to HCMC (368km, 7 hrs)
Nils and Heiko decided to go to Phu Quoc island, while I wanted to go to Ho Chi Minh City instead. So, we parted ways, and I hit the road alone yet again. But we promised to keep in touch and maybe link up again back in Cambodia. So, I started my long journey up to Saigon.
Checked into Saigon Pink 2 hotel, which is just next to the popular Ben Thanh market. Paid 20USD a night which is good value for the excellent location. However, it was a big hassle finding safe parking for the bike. Most hotels have either no carparks or really tiny ones. I managed to park the bike in another hotel nearby. (Saigon Pink 2 Hotel - 10.771794, 106.696858)
After washing up, i made my way to my favorite Pho24 shop near Ben Thanh market for lunch.
Some highlights of my walking tour around downtown Ho Chi Minh City....
I had a really good time eating at Ben Thanh market. Cheap and good !
The Vietnamese filter coffee is best experienced at Trung Nguyen cafes.
|04-26-2012, 04:39 AM||#7|
Joined: Aug 2010
Thank you for the wonderful report. Photos are great and the ride is very interesting. Just wonder what camera and len did you use?
|04-26-2012, 09:03 AM||#9|
Joined: Sep 2011
Day 23 – HCMC to Can Tho (165km, 3 hrs)
Checked into a cheap local hotel Nhu Ha Hotel for 12.50USD a night
The impressive Can Tho bridge
(Can Tho market - 10.035647, 105.788389)
Fake Apple store in Can Tho
Day 24 – Can Tho to Kampot (260km, 7 hrs)
Checked into Borey Bokor hotel for 15USD a night.
As I arrived the hotel, coincidentally the two dirt bikers Nils and Heiko also just arrived.
What perfect timing ! We quickly checked in, then headed out for an ice cold beer at an English pub nearby.
Day 25 – Kampot to Koh Kong (260km, 8 hrs)
Heiko and I headed up to the summit of Bokor Hill hoping to catch the sunrise, unfortunately the morning mist up was very thick and it was impossible to see anything up there !
We met up with Nils at the petrol station at foot of Bokor Hill, then we left together for Kampot.
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We stopped by a waterfall on the way into Kampot.
Some parts of the road proved too challenging for the heavy GS !
Checked into Asean Hotel for 15USD a night
(Asean Hotel -11.615126, 102.979386)
Day 26 – Koh Kong to Pattaya (380km, 7 hrs)
The new toll bridge at Koh Kong. Only 11 Baht per bike !
Above : paying 100Baht for fast-track check-out service at Cambodian border. discovering a new untouched beach 30km from Ban Hat Lek … with only a handful of tourists and 2 beach resorts
Checked into Sutus Court for 700 Baht per night. Spent the evening roaming around the town and met up with Nils and Heiko for drinks later the next evening.
(Sutus Court - 12.928472, 100.882001)
Day 27 – Pattaya to Bangkok (120km, 2.5hrs)
Checked into Somerset serviced apartment in Bangkok. They have a huge multi-storey carpark with security guard at the entrance, so I felt relieved. (Somerset Lake Point - 13.731021, 100.561058)
Headed out to Siam Paragon for my favorite Thai food, pomelo salad and grilled pork.
Day 28 – Bangkok to Samui (780km, 12 hrs)
Reached Don Sak at 1pm, the ferry just left, so had to wait an hour for the next one. Went for a quick lunch at the café in the terminal, and freshened up.
Paid 250 Baht for the one-way ferry ticket. Wanted to buy round-trip, but the ticket office said I have to buy the return portion at Ko Samui. (Don Sak Ferry - 9.317339, 99.737406)
Ferry journey took 1.5 hours, so I took a nap. Arriving in Ko Samui, I took another 20mins to reach my hotel, Tongtip Mansion in Chaweng. I was happy that there are lots of parking space right in front of the hotel. Paid only 750Baht for a nice room with air-con, balcony, fridge and hot shower.
(Tongtip mansion - 9.534236, 100.062393)
It was a religious holiday, meaning no alcohol ☺ So, I visited my friend who runs a nice boutique hotel along Bo Phut beach and chilled out at his beachside restaurant.
The same evening, I booked the speedboat for the full moon party the next day. Round-trip ticket to Koh Phangan including transfer costs 800 Baht.I took the early 5pm ferry hoping to catch the sunset. Unfortunately the weather got quite cloudy so didn’t manage to see much of the sun.
Paid 100 Baht for entrance ticket (in the form of a cute yellow wrist band) to the full moon party.
It’s really amazing how the entire beach is lit up by the moon ! It almost looks like late afternoon ! Impressed with the huge scale of the full moon party, stretching over 1.5km of beachline.
All kinds of cocktails are sold in buckets for 250-400 Baht, with this cheap prices, it’s really difficult not to get drunk ! By 11pm, the whole beach was packed with mostly Western backpackers and some locals all dancing away to the thumping music.
There are lots of local flame throwers and performers to entertain the party goers.
Day 29 – Samui to Hatyai (315km, 5 hrs)
Left Ko Samui, managed to catch the early 6am ferry, and by noon I reached Hatyai.
Journey was pretty smooth, and I checked into the bike-friendly Hat Yai Rama hotel for the usual walk-in rate of 690 Baht a night.
(Hat Yai Rama Hotel - 6.998105, 100.471615)
Time to reward myself to a big feast of local Thai food in Hatyai !
Day 30 – Hatyai to Penang (200km, 4 hrs)
Penang is indeed a food paradise ! I must have put on at least 3kg in 4 days !
Day 31 – Penang to Singapore (720km, 8 hrs)
Finally, it's come to say goodbye to my friend in Penang, and head back home. The last leg of this journey is a smooth 8-hour ride along the North-South highway.
So, after 67 days on the road, I am finally back in my hometown Singapore.
As I looked back, here are some of the most memorable moments of my trip.
Most enjoyable ride : sweeping bends up and down the mountains in Mae Salong and Doi Tung
Most stressful ride : Tackling the rush-hour traffic in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, and crossing those roundabouts with the endless stream of local motorcycles streaming through.
Most helpless moment : Dropping the bike on a really remote hill near Phonsavan, trying in vain to lift the bike over the mud, and having to wait more than an hour for help from a passing car.
Most difficult border crossing : Getting stuck in Ha Tien border crossing, back and forth for 6 times and having to negotiate a bribe to get across
Most enjoyable local experience : Khmer cooking class in Battambang
Most painful ride : Banging through the countless potholes from Udomxai to Pak Mong, and from Phonsavan to Vang Vieng
Most amazing sunrise : The dramatic view on the summit of Pu Chi Fa national park
Most amazing sunset : the fascinating limestone caves along the river of Vang Vieng
Most memorable breakfast : chicken rice breakfast & 3 cups of illy coffee with the Suong twin brothers in Kompong Thom
Most memorable evening : A wet full-moon party at Koh Phangan
Favorite beverage : BeerLao !
Favorite local dish : Beef Lok Lak
I hope you have enjoyed this photo diary. I like to leave you all with my favorite quote, and I hope this quote will inspire you to make your dreams come alive, just like mine.
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – “WOW – What a Ride ! "
If I can be of help in your trip planning across Indochina, feel free to drop me a note.
:::: www.DanielTan.net ::::
|04-26-2012, 09:09 AM||#10|
Joined: Sep 2011
Thanks glad u enjoyed the photos.
I used a few cameras... Gopro helmet camera for all those bike perspective shots, Canon EOS5D MkII + 24-105mm F4L & 50mm F1.4 lens for the landscape shots, and a compact camera Canon S95 for those casual random shots.
|04-26-2012, 10:57 AM||#11|
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Southern Maine
Absolutely a magnificent trip with an equally as impressive report, BRAVO!
ktm950se screwed with this post 05-15-2012 at 01:40 PM
|04-26-2012, 07:07 PM||#13|
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Northwestern Ontario
Great report and fantastic pictures. I thought those looked like GoPro pictures, how do you trigger the shot while it is on the helmet or is it timed?
|04-26-2012, 08:46 PM||#14|
Gnarly Poolside Adv.
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Darnestown, MD
Amazing ride report and photography, and really nice that you included the location of the places you visited! Thank you for taking the time to write up and post your adventure!
|04-26-2012, 09:18 PM||#15|
Joined: Sep 2011
I set the GoPro on time-lapse mode, in which it automatically captures a shot every 10 seconds. This frees my hand to focus on riding the bike :)
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