Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Asia' started by aterry1067, Mar 9, 2012.
I should have mentioned earlier. I am in Chiang Mai,
Careful this weekend. It's Songkran so don't be surprised if while out on the bike you get a bucket of water thrown in your face. This is the one weekend a year that I don't ride.
Its a good time to get outa town, or find someplace to hide! Gonna be lots of carnage.
Don't forget to post some nice photos.
When I went to Chiang Mai I downloaded all of Tailand for free from OSM. It's routable for Garmin and even found some 12th century ruins and view points marked that had no signs etc. You just hook up the Garmin via USB and replace the map file.. it was easier than using Garmin's own maps, and it also includes any unofficial paths etc that people have added
Guess it's time for a quick report.
OK so I did lots that I was told not to do. I was told:
Don't ride during Songkran
Don't ride at night
The drivers here are crazy and are out to kill you.
Songkran. I rode around the moat in the middle of Songkran. It was a blast. I rode in the mountains during Songkran. It was a blast. It was pretty easy to spot in the mountains. If the road is wet and there are people beside the road, you're about to get wet, again. Slow down, play the game, and get wet. If you wave at them off, they typically won't throw water (in the mountains), but I usually stopped and let them wet me down, and then returned the favor for them. They all got a kick out of it, and so did I. They seemed to especially enjoy it if I knew what the celebration was about.
Night. I rode at night, and I rode at night during Songkran. I didn't have any problems, but I wasn't on any of the backroads at night. In the city though, I didn't have any problems.
Crazy drivers. Actually, I found it very easy to ride in traffic. Once I was on the road, it all made sense. I just rode as if I was on ice; no sudden moves. As long as I made my intentions clear, everything seemed to flow very easy. I keep reading that turn signals are never used in Thailand. I think this is BS. They didn't use them to change lanes in the road, but to leave the road, turn signals were regularly used by the locals, and myself. IDK, maybe it's just me, but I found it very easy and relatively safe to ride a bike in Thailand.
Of course, the people were 90% of the trip. I would often get up early in the morning, determined to ride to the GT, or to MHS, only to find myself on the side of the road 20 kms out of town, bs'ing with a local for a few hours. I didn't make the MHS loop, nor did I make it to the GT. But I don't think I missed out. There are some amazing people all over the world, and I feel honored that I got to meet a few of them around northern Thailand.
I will be back.
Oh yeah, the smoke and haze, while it was detectable, I think it detracted very little from the trip. I still had an amazing time.
Thai road rules: Largest mass or biggest cajones wins. Who am I to argue?
Songkran at the Tha Phae gate..
So happy to hear that you had a good time in Chiang Mai!
A positive attitude is so helpful in determining the success of a trip, and I can tell that you are definitely a glass-half-full kind of guy!
Many long time expats like to whinge about Songkran but after 6 year here it's still one of my favorite holidays and embodies the Thai spirit of "Sanook" aka FUN!
That said, if you knew how many road fatalities occur every year during the Songkran holiday you might think twice about venturing out on the roads on two wheels. The carnage is quite shocking; there were over 300 fatalities this year and injury accidents exceed that by a factor of 10! :eek1
I'm very happy to know that you escaped unharmed and had a great time!
I love Songkran, but usually leave the bikes at home and celebrate it at the beach.
Hello, very informative report. Where did you rent your KLX from and how much was it?
I will be heading over from Korea in 6-8 weeks.
I got the D-tracker from POP rental, which has shops all over the moat area and beyond. There are several other places as well. I think the going rate was 700 baht a day. Really, like others said, there are bike rentals Everywhere around the moat. The bike rental shops probably outnumber the 7-11's around the moat.
Tony, thanks for the kind words man, and you're right, I do try to see the positive in everything. I had a great time, that is for sure. I knew riding during the festivities would heighten the risk factor, but given the limited time I had, I felt the risk was acceptable if I wanted to get out of the city. The biggest problem I had was around the moat when the drunk western college(?) kids would do their best to aim their high pressure water guns directly into the eyes through the helmet opening. I had two slightly black eyes and sore eyeballs because of it, but this was while sitting still or at walking speed, so not terribly dangerous, per se. Just annoying. Most everyone else aimed for the back, body, or lower body. I did take the holiday into consideration though, and limited my forecasted riding to half the speed of normal. And even then, I till didn't ride as far as I intended.
Again though, the people are what really made the trip. I found that as my thai language skills improved (however limited they may be), the less I was actually riding and the more I was stopping. I was having more fun talking to people and learning about them than I was riding around on the bike. While stopped at the little road-side food huts, I think I would ask about every item on the menu, even though I couldn't read a word of it. The response I would get was often hillarious as I'm sure I had the deer-in-the-headlights look when it was plainly obvious that I had no idea what they were saying. But everyone taught me something (language, food, family, life story, etc), and I found a new favorite dish, KowSoi. I'm suprised I didn't gain 100 pounds in those two weeks. And the Chaing Mai sausage from the markets, just.......wow.
I can't wait for the next trip, and I am hoping I can make it for Loi Krathong.
Edit: I do think the one thing I would change for next time is, I would bring my garmin GPS along. For $30 (THB900) Eagle GPS in Santhip Plaza has the northern thailand gps routes and tracks. I'm sure there may be better files, or more files, but that's probably where I would start. Since I mainly ride alone, a gps would have made my riding much more comfortable. I still had no problems, and the maps were great, but not as easy to follow as I had thought. For instance, I could see that there is a dirt road that goes from point A to point B, but once I started looking for the road, I would find MANY dirt roads in the area that left the pavement. Thus, I didn't know for sure which one to take. But, then again, this was part of the fun. Riding in the city however, a gps would have come in very handy.
Tard Mok waterfalls
Glad you enjoyed Thailand!! True, Moat water in the eyes at 30kph is no fun. Tony has it down. Beach time!
2 months before I get to Chiang Mai, this time I am taking my son, 17 for his first international trip.
Chiang mai is nice.. Plan to visit there again end of this year.
Agreed. Hoping to make it back for Loi Krathong in November.
Glad your trip was a success
I also road at night in the city sometimes to get around and I also didn't find the drivers crazy. Actually, I completely love riding a motorbike in Thailand. In Canada, people are severely offended if you pass them in the middle of nowhere let alone in traffic. I was worried about the smog from what I'd read on gtrider, glad it wasn't an issue for you. Your pictures all look very familiar, except for those.. gray things blocking the road!
(For the GPS, I took my Garmin and loaded it with free maps from opensourcemaps (it's like the wikipedia of gps) Very awesome once you figure it out. They actually have some POIs and unofficial roads I doubt many paid maps would have, and they will only get better over time.)