We arrived in Thailand on first of December by crossing the border at Poi Pet (Cambodia)/Aranyaprathet (Thailand). Immediately we could see a huge difference. First of all, the road surface changed into a fantastic smooth tarmac and no potholes to be seen, then we saw a Seven Eleven shop which we happily rushed into to buy some snacks.
Again we arrived to a new country without any plans and therefore ended up travelling up, down, west and east like idiots. Actually we had two dates planned. One was the date when two of our sons were coming to visit us and the other was when we were supposed to be in Chiang Mai to hold a presentation at Riders Corner. The latter we missed do to problem with my bike.
Anders doing a 180 degree turn and crashed
After we left the small town Aranyaprathet we took a quick decision and headed south on a small narrow road. There was no traffic at all and we passed some picturesque farms on the way. At one place there was a small dam, which had an overflow we had to cross. The surface was smooth concrete with only some shallow water on, too shallow to call it a water crossing really. Anyway, it looked safe to ride on and I think Anders wanted to have some fun and started off at a relatively high speed, probably wanted to show off a bit ;). I just watched him and the bike doing a 180 degree turn before he and his bike crashed to the ground. Both Anders and the bike were pointing towards me instead of the other way around. First of course I was dead worried that he had hurt himself but as soon as I became aware of him being ok I couldn’t stop laughing. It looked so hilarious and Anders looked so surprised. When he was down on the ground a local came riding over the dam at a very very slow pace so he obviously knew about this jelly slimy surface. After we got Anders bike up again and he very slowly this time crossed the dam, it was my turn. I did it very slow in the safe albatross way and whoops I was over the dam.
On the way to Bangkok we stopped at a few nice places along the coast. One place with a stunning beach was Chantaburi. It was a lovely rather empty beach except from some locals playing beach volleyball. We were told that this is a place where Thai people spend their weekends and hardly any western tourists have found their way to it yet. Next stop was Rayong, another holiday place for Thai people where we stayed in a bungalow at Rayong Sea View Hotel. We were the only guests at this resort and got the lovely big swimming pool for ourselves. This is when you think that travelling around the world on a motorcycle isn’t that hard really 😉
We also travelled through Pattaya and the only thing I can say about that place is that we tried to get out as soon as we could….
We LOVED Bangkok
Bangkok, WOW, what a city. I think both Anders and me fell in love with Bangkok straight away. In total we stayed in Bangkok for about three weeks. We got the well needed service done on our bikes at BMW. We were also very lucky to get new chains and sprockets for our bikes as a Christmas present from BMW Motorrad in Sweden, which then BMW in Bangkok fitted for free.
Not only that but when Anders’ navigator stopped working he got a new one from Garmin in Sweden, even though the warranty had run out. Finally we also got our lovely very well used Fjällräven tent (Akka Endurance 3), that had started leaking water, exchanged for a brand new one.
With that we just want to say a huge thank you all for these gifts and the support which will definitely make our around the world tour much more pleasant.
While in Bangkok we also got the visa for India sorted. At this time we thought we would be flying from Bangkok to Kathmandu in Nepal as we heard it was nearly impossible to ride through Myanmar/Burma to India. However, that changed and I will tell you more about that later.
The Bangkok Shut Down and the demonstrations started on the 13th of January. We got warnings to stay inside, buy a lot of food, take out money and most of all leave Bangkok as soon as possible. What we did was none of these (except withdraw extra money). Instead we walked from Lumpinee Park to Central World and there were people absolute everywhere, not many tourists though. Everyone was smiling and very happy to be photographed. It felt like a big party. To mention is, that after some weeks the smiles started to disappear and we could see less people on the streets and the ones still there looked very tired. They had blocked some roads and we thought it would be difficult to get through with our motorbikes but they kindly let us pass.
In Bangkok we also met the three French bikers who we met coincidentally first in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and then later on the Thousand Islands in Laos. This time though we had had contact via Facebook and knew that we all would be in Bangkok at the same time. It was lovely to meet them again and share some travel stories.
Two wonderful weeks with two of our sons.
We spent two wonderful weeks with two of our sons, Simon and Emil, who came to visit from Sweden and of course we had to show them Bangkok. Like us they love electronic gadgets so we took them to Pantip Plaza, which is a five floor electronic shopping centre for geeks like us. One day when we walked through Lumpinee Park were we met a gardener who gave us head and shoulder massage. He used something that reminded of tiger balm that made our eyes watering and though we had several showers we had greasy hair for days.
We also had some wonderful days on the island Koh Samui where we stayed in a bungalow next to the beach. One day we rented quad bikes, which was so fun, especially when Anders and me changed the quad bikes for the guides’ dirt bikes WOW that was fun. As we both are used riding our big bikes, which are always heavy loaded, we found it so very easy to ride off road on these. We promised ourselves there and then that when we have settled down,… wherever that might be, we are definitely buying ourselves a dirt bike each….. you are never too old for that… or?
After Koh Samui we headed the 740 km back to Bangkok in one day, which was a challenge in itself with all the traffic, scorching heat, boring road and of course we arrived in Bangkok late when it was dark and the traffic insane, which we promised ourselves never to do again but we of course did…
After two weeks, with tears in our eyes, we saw Simon and Emil leaving us in a taxi heading for the airport. The only thing that actually sucks with doing this trip is being away from family. However, thank God that Skype is invented.
North of Thailand
Now it was time to explore the north of Thailand. After a few days while travelling through some National Parks we stopped at a place called Biker Haven on route 2089. In this place you can either stay in a very nice house or put up your own tent and of course we chose the latter as we both love camping. We were only supposed to stay for one night but the owner and his family were so lovely we stayed for three nights.
The second night we had a little party with the owner Ron and his family. Ron had some nice red wine, which was so lovely and nothing we are spoiled with nowadays so we ended up drinking a little bit too much.
The day after Ron and his family took to a very nice restaurant next to a waterfall that had delicious food. We were not allowed to pay for anything during these days and I don’t know how to pay them back except recommend this place to other travellers, which I do with all my heart.
While camping at Bikers Haven we left half a watermelon in the tent… not a good idea, as when we woke up, we had thousand and thousands of small ants in the tent. It probably took us an hour to get rid of these little bastards who bit us time after time.
Ron, the owner of Biker Haven, owned another house further north in Khao Kho that he kindly offered us to stay at for free. We only had to pay the lovely lady who took care of us. She could go shopping and cook for us if we wanted but as I really like cooking myself, especially when I for once had a proper kitchen to use, we made a delicious pasta dish.
While in Khao Kho we took a trip to Route 12, which is a well known café that bikers usually stop at. When we arrived we could see that there were a lot of people but unfortunately no bikes. We parked the motorcycles just outside the café and when we got off the bikes we noticed that there was a big film crew filming a car. We were later told that they made an advertising film for Toyota. The funny thing was that some of the people in the film crew and the groupies who were there for the mega famous actor started to photograph Anders and me instead.
When leaving Khao Kho we went through the town Nan to get to the famous route 1148. We had heard that it is one of the best roads to ride in Thailand and I must agree that it was an absolute fantastic road with perfect bends, not much traffic and stunning views.
We stopped one night in Chiang Rai to see the famous very white temple, Wat Ron Khun, which was something different to all other temples we’ve seen while riding through Asia.
Opportunity to cross Myanmar
At last we arrived in Chiang Mai and to Riders Corner where we should have been a month earlier for a presentation if I hadn’t had problem with my bike. The problem turned out to be a deformed wheel that was making a strange noise, which BMW in Bangkok manage to sort out.
We met a few bikers at this place and Phillip, the owner, kindly gave us contact details to a guy who was planning to ride through Myanmar/Burma to India in a couple of weeks. To be honest, at this point, we didn’t have much hope as we heard that it was very difficult and that it would take a long time to arrange. However, we sent an email to the guy and got an answer straight away. Unfortunately the answer was that he had changed his mind and was heading towards Japan instead but he knew another couple that wanted to go within a few weeks. Still not very hopeful, we sent this couple an email and we got an answer immediately that they were very eager to go. They told us that a guide in Myanmar/Burma could sort the paperwork out within two weeks, now we started to get really excited. The price for Anders and me crossing Myanmar was 3100 USD and that included everything except for fuel. Considering that it would cost a lot to ship the bikes and us from Bangkok to Kathmandu I think the price was quite reasonable. However, 25th of February was the date we had to be at the border Mae Sot – Moreho.
Problem with Anders bike
The morning when we were ready to leave Chiang Mai and Riders Corner, Anders bike wouldn’t start. We could hear the start engine running but nothing more happened. Anders checked the Haynes manual (BMW F800 & F650 twins) if he could get any help but unfortunately it didn’t this time. We were both suspicious about the fuel pump. We were also comparing the sound of Anders and my fuel pump and could hear that it was a slight different noise. We removed the fuel pump and noticed that one tube had come loose which was quickly fixed with some cable ties. After putting back the fuel pump the engine started with a wonderful sound and we had the biggest smile on our faces when riding out of Chiang May.
On the way from Chiang May to the hippie town Pie we, of course, took a wrong turn and ended up on a very narrow, twisting dirt road that winds its way through a thick and green rainforest. This mistake turned into a fantastic mistake as we really enjoyed riding on this road. The road went up and down and had a few hairpin turns that were not only fun to ride but also terrifying with all the heavy luggage that we have.
When we at last arrived in Pie we saw lots of hippies and a lot more wannabe hippies dressed in trousers with elephants on. We kind of liked the town as it had a relaxed feeling over the place and we had the best thai food ever in this place.
After Pie we rode to Mae Hong Son and visited the Long necks. I had read about that it is like a zoo but with people. I don’t totally agree with that and I guess the reason for that could be that I was the only tourist there at the time and could therefore take my time and talk with them before I put a camera in their face. I only took a few photographs and of course I asked if it was ok first. Though I don’t have any space left in my pannier I felt that I had to buy a few of their lovely scarves.
After the long neck village we headed south. There was a nice road until we came to Mae Sariang where the road changed from two lane perfect tarmac road into a narrow, twisting gravel road in a split second and we had to brake violently. After that the radio discussion between Anders and me went “pothole left”, “chicken right”, “dog…” yes that is how it went on and on. (On bigger roads our radio discussion is more like “Idiot coming left”, “another idiot coming towards in the same lane…”, “watch out an idiot trying to overtake you on the inside” etc., etc.)
After some time we stopped at a market to buy some fruits. We noticed that the people looked very poor in this place. I took my camera with me, as I always do, to go and have a look. There was a military guy who immediately came up to me and told me that it was forbidden to photograph this place, as it was a refugee camp. Of course I agreed that I would not take any photographs with my fingers crossed behind my back. I made a quick decision to try to photograph from the hip… never been good at that and I was also a bit nervous if the military would see me. Anyway I wasn’t caught but I didn’t get any good photos either from the place, which still annoys me.
My first puncture fixed in + 35 degrees
After about 30 000 km I got my first puncture, which I sorted out nearly by myself and I promise you, I was so very proud. As my bike is factory lowered it doesn’t come with a centre stand, which makes it a little bit more tricky. However, when on a trip like this you learn to be inventive so I just used one of my panniers and that was enough to get the rear wheel of the ground. It probably took a couple of hours to get the tube out, find the hole, repair it and put it back again, but I did it. We only have a tiny hand pump so Anders and me took turns with filling it with air again. When it was done we took off again and me with a very big smile…. And the day after with some severe muscle pain…
Back in Bangkok again. This time to change tyres at BMW Bangkok. We had been riding 18 000km on the Continental TKC 80 and were now going to try out the Metzler Karoo 3. Will be very interesting to see if these will be as good as the Conti ones.
We had a about ten days until we needed to be at the border at Mae Sot and thought we could spend a few days on the island Koh Chang. First we went to Lonely beach and stayed for two nights but we didn’t really like the place so we headed to the other side of the island and found a place that was lovely. We rented a small cottage in the middle of a rubber tree plantation. There were no tourists, actually there were hardly any people around at all. I would have loved to stay longer but Myanmar/Burma is waiting so off we went after a few days heading north again. It took us two days to ride the 880 km of boring and busy roads to get to Mae Sot.
Random photos from Thailand