April 30, 2019 Day 1 SIngapore to Hat Yai (940km)
First day of the trip and I wanted to get through Malaysia into Thailand. I left home at 6 in the morning and got to the Tuas border station. Because of having acquired the Carnet de Passage I had to go through a special procedure at the border and it was obvious that customs rarely go through this procedure and it turned out they did not have the correct stamp, so the lady had to phone to get the stamp brought to the office… Still, the whole process did not take more than half an hour so can’t complain too much.
The north-south highway in Malaysia is great for a quick transfer through the country and I made good time to Kuala Lumpur. Going on the road west of the capital it started raining and the traffic got really bad and I had to stop for a while in the thought I could wait the rain out. However, the rain did not let off so I had to don my rain gear and set off at a slow pace.
It was then raining on and off all through the Malaysia. Pretty miserable! Nevertheless, I persevered and got to the border with Thailand around 4pm. Since I was there last, the border crossing is completely redesigned and newly constructed. Getting out of Malaysia was no problem but the procedure to get into Thailand took a bit of time so the whole process took an hour and then I was on my way to Hat Yai where I found my hotel after the GPS got me lost a few times.
Once settled in I went to the Post Laser Disc Pub where I had dinner and some fluid replenishment. While sitting there this geezer had problems starting his moped and he spent a lot of time trying to make it go. He cleaned the spark plug and it would start but then stop and repeating the process several times. He did not let this affect his mood but had a good laugh while working. I started talking to another angmo (non-asian), turned out he was a British guy who had been in the town for 30 years teaching business English at the Songhkla university. He loved the town and the freedom of Thailand in general and had no plans to move back to the UK. Interesting!
May 1, 2019 Day 2 Hat Yai to Prachuap Khiri Khan (700km)
I felt so knackered after the first day that I thought I might stay another day in Hat Yai but when I woke up I felt reasonably OK so I set off towards Khiri Khan. It’s the 1st of May holiday so the traffic should be pretty good and in general it wasn’t so bad. I was surprised to see a lot of trucks towards the afternoon on a holiday, however, the traffic flowed well the whole day and I made good time and reached Khiri Khan around 4 in the afternoon. It was hot at 35C most of the day but I managed to keep going.
The main and state oil company in Thailand is PTT and their petrol stations are well equipped with stalls serving Thai food and 7-11 stores as well as Amazon coffee shops serving nice lattes. They are also air conditioned giving a respite from the blazing hot weather.
Khiri Khan is a small town on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand set beautifully close to the water.
The nearest restaurant was German(!) so I went there and had a pork schnitzel. I talked to the German owner who moved here a few years ago after retiring. He loved it here and has a good crowd in the high season which is when northern Europeans come here to escape the cold and darkness of their home countries in winter. The low season has started and there weren’t many guests in the restaurant. However, outside there were a number of Europeans having beers and discussing football!
Khiri Khan days 3-4
Relaxing for a couple of days before going on towards Laos. The last couple of days have been sizzling with temperatures as high as 38C and high humidity. Unbearable to be outside in the mid-day sun.
Feels like 49!
May 4, 2019 Khiri Khan to Nakhon Sawan (500km)
I got up very early at 5 to set off at first light because I knew it was going to be very hot. Nakhon Sawan is 200 km north of Bangkok and rather than go through Bangkok I turned north to the west of the city. I had no real problems apart from handling the hot weather getting up to 41C as I was nearing my destination. When you’re up to speed the heat is still bad but bearable while when stopping at a traffic light you really feel like melting. Luckily there were not so many stoplights so I managed to survive.
Nakhon Sawan to Lampang (370km)
Repeat of yesterday, pretty much. Still very hot! Did a shorter distance and arrived at the guesthouse in Lampang at 11. It’s located beautifully on the edge of the river Wang with a balcony area overlooking the flowing water. Very serene.
It’s run by a European woman who said she’s been here for 38 years. Her Thai husband has a garage with several bikes, the latest acquisition being a 2014 BMW GS.
After meeting Andy, who is also joining the group through China, we went for a walk and take in the night market. A whole km of various stands selling everything from food to clothes.
May 6, 2019 Lampang to Chiang Kong (319km)
Today I’m riding with Andy. Rather than riding the main road we took minor, but good, roads and stopped after 60km to look at a Buddhist temple high on a hill. This involved going up a few hundred meters from the main road and taking a car ride up a very steep road and a further one km walk up a steep path to the temple. We met with two Russian bikers that I’d met the day before in Lampang who had also stopped to view the temple.
May 7, 2019 Chiang Kong to Louang Namtha in Laos (310 km) Total distance so far: 3051 km
Northern Laos was the destination today so we had to go through exit procedures in Thailand and entry procedures in Laos. It took a couple of hours and with a lot of papers with various stamps. Laos has introduced a new rule for bikers meaning payment of around USD 50 to the tourist police. I had a letter from the Laos ambassador in Singapore saying I was allowed to ride the bike in Laos but this, I was told, had no value so I still had to pay up. Never mind, I’m sure as we get into border crossings in the Stans there will also be unexpected charges so I’d better get used to it…
Laos is very hilly so the road was twisty with a lot of ups and downs and was reasonably good for 150 km, but after that it got a lot worse with stretches of gravel, huge potholes and washboard surface. The road is trafficked by big trucks going from China to Thailand and back and the road was not built for this kind of traffic. Maybe the China belt and road program will spend the money to improve the road?
I decided to split up and go straight to the guesthouse where we’re meeting the China ride organizers for the ride into China on Friday. I felt, I needed a few days off the bike and get some rest before China. I have done 3000 km in 8 days so I don’t feel so bad about it.
When I came to open my bag I found the lid of the skin moisturizer had partly come undone and there was cream everywhere and on everything – what a mess! It took me an hour to clean it up while swearing under my breath, damn, can’t I remember to close it tightly!
After this ordeal I found a bar and sat down with a beer to calm myself. Then three young Irishmen (do women count as Irishmen?) came in and we started a conversation covering many topics including what beer people in Ireland drink and the demise of local beers with big international companies buying up the smaller local breweries. There are quite a lot of young back-packers at the guest house, they come here for trecking in the national park and also river rafting.
Spent a couple of relaxing days in this town and met up with the group going through China. It’s an interesting bunch of characters with people from the UK, Switzerland, New Zealand and possibly others with varying professions like helicopter mechanic, plumber, solicitor and management consultant.
I put together a video for this part of my trip…