We have a very comfortable room at Koh Lanta and a day off – yeah! The boys plot the next three days of routes and put them in their GPS’s. Beautiful food, cheap alcohol – all while looking over the beach and the sunset – food for the soul!
The roosters wake us early so we head to the ferry, then north hugging the coast – one road was the best we’ve been on to date through hilly jungle. Stopped at Khao Lak Beach for lunch – a spot that was devastated by the tsunami. Lots of the hotels and restaurants are new. The lunch was just perfect – washed down with cold, mango smoothies. The tourists in these areas seem to be from Scandinavia and Europe. This may be our last glimpse of the ocean for a long time (scary thought for little ole’ Lee from Waipu!).
The haze is quite thick now from the fires (they burn all their rubbish) and this is the dry season when they burn all their old crops. You spend part of every day realising how lucky we are in Australia and NZ with our clean air and clean countries! “Plastic” really has a lot to answer for – it is everywhere and mostly empty water bottles. I find the smells almost overwhelming at times on the bike and at the end of the day feel like I’ve swallowed enough fumes for a lifetime! But it won’t kill me and we are seeing so much that outweighs this issue. Further up the coast and the smell of rotting fish just won’t stop! We are seeing glimpses of Burma just across the little channel. When we reach our destination for the night of Kra Buri – Burma is a stone’s throw across the water. We take a couple of very cheap local bungalows – to wash we throw the cold water over ourselves, soap, and then throw more! And we wash our clothes from the day – always wringing wet with perspiration by the end of 9 hours of hot riding!
But we are doing well, the three of us – carving up the roads and making good progress. Thailand is such a long, skinny country – and we have a lot of “k’s” to cover. Our 82 year old host finds us a taxi from across the road so we can go to “town”. It’s a scooter with a five seater carriage on the side! What a hoot! We head out to the evening markets and find some cold beers. Next day is a huge day riding in the heat – mostly fast-paced motorway with lots of trucks belching out black smoke!! We divert and take a look at Bangkok’s “Gold Coast” strip – millions of deck chairs all along the beach front. The beach is not that nice and it’s very densely populated – can’t see anything for the haze! Bypassing Bangkok is definitely a good idea. We pass a group of interesting temples on a hill – there’s so many temples that pop up everywhere – all intricate and colourful – such a contrast to the brown, burnt off countryside.
We pull into Kachanaburi (Bridge over the River Kwai) early evening and find a great guesthouse right in the main hubb street – lots of bars, restaurants and girls!
Paul and I discover BBB Triple Bar in Bungkalathed Road which turns out to be owned by an ex-Aussie, Brett, who has paid great attention to detail doing up the premises with a nice Aussie touch. Very friendly and casual atmosphere. We tell him about my leaking coolant problem and it turns out his brother-in-law is a bike mechanic who luckily is on his 4 weeks off from the rigs! We arrange to meet up next day. Drank cocktails at the bar across the road with a live band doing very heavy rock covers – great way to celebrate our ride so far!! Met up with Glynn at breakfast down at BBB’s and he took us round to his workshop where his Thai mate works on modern bikes. He discovered my o-ring had gone so we left it with him for the day.
At breakfast we meet Andre, a Dutch expat who appears to live in town and, as a lot do, spends all his money on alcohol and women! He is a real character – doing pull-ups on the beams. He’s really skinny and tells us how he does extras on movies where they want someone to look like a death camp survivor! His most recent claim to fame is on The Railway Man. He was shotting Jaegermeister with a mate and washing it down with Heinekins!
Headed off to the War Cemetery and Museum in town – it’s a very beautiful and well cared for outdoor space with a steady stream of visitors. Read up on all the history of the war and the railway. My emotions always come to the fore in these sorts of places at the cruelty of man.
Walked on the Bridge over the River Kwai then headed out of town to Hellfire Pass which is purportedly the worst of the passes the soldiers had to make through the solid rock to put the rail line through.
It was a sobering day all round but well worth seeing. The temperatures reached 40 again and it was very hot riding in our gear. Glynn explained to us how the King of Thailand has spent lots and lots of money researching around the world and they now fire canons of chemicals into the air when the humidity is “right” and it makes it rain!! Weaved our way north to Sukhothai where we took a guesthouse opposite the “old town”.
It is a steamy and busy ride north to Chiangmai and we share our last “on the road” lunch before Pete and Tili arrive tomorrow night to join us. Pete is flying to Melbourne for three days to attend his Mum’s funeral.
The Riders Corner Bar is a renowned hangout for bikers and expats so we check in. The first cold Changs of the day are on the table and the message comes from Pete that Tili has had a bad accident and they are on their way to hospital an hour or so west of Bangkok!! This is a disaster for all of us and devastating news. Messages go to and fro all night as Tili is moved to a second hospital and they perform surgery in the early hours of the morning – she has a compound fracture in her lower leg.
We organise the servicing and any niggles with our bikes and order new tyres for the next big leg of the journey. Then we hear that Tili’s Mum and brother have flown in and they have moved her again down to a hospital in Bangkok for more surgery. During the night Paul and I decide he should ride south to help Pete – locate the bikes, sort things out and accompany him north to join us. The flights have been cancelled for the funeral and the adventure is over for Tili!
So Paul is on his way south, Mark is going to head out to Pai and surrounds for a few days, my bike is waiting for parts from Singapore…we had allowed extra time in Chiangmai for servicing (which Pete will need when he gets here) so our date to be at the Chinese border of April 8 will happen…
Reckon this could be a goer in Oz?!
Do NOT put your Qantas Cash Card into an ATM machine when there is a global glitch happening!! Mark’s card is never to be seen again…..
We are trying to find the main street with all the hotels in Gerik – it is early evening, and I decide to just stop and ask someone – so we all pull over. I go up to a little truck parked beside a street stall with a guy sitting in the driver’s seat and say “Rumah” for room and use the “put my head down to sleep” gesture. He looks me up and down and in pure English says “I’m gay!!” Say no more….
Malaysian Fried Bananas are a real treat:
Plain flour, palm sugar, a pinch of salt, some turmeric and turn it into a batter with water.
Use lady finger bananas to be like the Malays (but any ‘nanas would do).
Best eaten when hot!
This interesting dish in Thailand is made from coconut milk and water to a form a batter.
When you bite in to them, you discover about half a teaspoon of corn kernels!
They are quite sweet and best eaten straight from the irons.
They could easily be made in the old gem iron pans.
And you could vary the fillings to your liking.