First week…and a little bit more

Well here I am in Mae-Sot, Thai-Myanmar Border, Northern Thailand. Tomorrow I will find out whether my journey will continue in its current form. But before I get to that lets go back to where I was, at the very other end of the country, at the Thailand-Malaysia border. After having breakfast with the crew that escorted us up to there I had to duck back over to Malaysia to get rid of some ringget that I was unable to exchange in Thailand. It was an easy process even though I was on the bike but by the time Matt, Sarah and I got going it was about 1pm and stifling hot and humid. We drove until dark through some stunning scenery before it became too dangerous to continue, on a single lane highway, wet with trucks etc. We pulled into a surprisingly delightful roadside motel where the proprietor fixed us up with dinner and after a short while we were in bed. The next day we rode out the 200km to Phuket, again through stunning scenery for which Thailand is most famous for, the striking vertical limestone formations rising up from the otherwise flat land (and ocean). We arrived in Phuket for lunch and I set about getting some emails out, doing washing and finding a few minutes to myself (albeit briefly) to reflect on the last couple of days. We went out and had a celebratory dinner and a couple of drinks before turning in, fairly knackered. The next day Matt and Sarah headed out on an island cruise while I caught up on some sleep. I caught up with the guys for dinner before seeing them off and thanking them for joining me on the first part of the trip.

The next day I got going fairly early and set about continuing up the coast to Ranong. It was a relatively uneventful day but it took a while and I pulled into the seaside, port town of Ranong just after sundown. I had street food for dinner and caught up on my diary before hitting the hay around 11. The plan for the next day was to make it as far up the coast as I could, hopefully to Bangkok. As I was to find out, not making it to Bangkok was to be virtuous and that night I had my first camp out at Khao Ta Mong Lai National Park after driving 311km. The national park seemed to be an amazing find, I was one of the only people there, could set up a tent up on the beach and had access to free showers, free wifi and there was a restaurant within walking distance. Go Thailand!!

The next day I packed up camp and got going, destination Bangkok. Well nothing could have quite prepared me for it. Chaos, crazy, hell on earth come to mind, but what I can say is the traffic was simply incredible. It took me 3 hours to cover a distance of just 4.5km with my Sat Nav insisting on taking me for a scenic tour…of the centre of the city en route to my next stop with Sam, a couchsurfing host who lives in Lat Phrao. After entering the city just after 12pm I got to my location (with no navigational errors) at 6pm, just as it started to rain, I needed a beer. Apparently that is one thing Bangkok is good for and after relaxing for a short while I went out to see a couple of the sights with Sam. The next day I took the opportunity to catch up on emails and head out to see a few of the sights including Chatutuk weekend markets, a truly impressive sight being one of the largest in the world. That night I had an early night, pizza’s and episodes of My Family and Red Dwarf. The next day was more sightseeing and probably against my better judgement headed out with Snow to brave the traffic again. Not an entirely bad idea as I was sans panniers (which add considerable breadth to the machine) but nevertheless still tiring driving around in the stifling humidity. That evening Sam and I joined others at an ex-pat pub for a quiz night. Relatively early night as I wanted to get a good start the next day.

As it turned out be the time I bought some supplies including locating Lithium batteries for the SPOT messenger it was after dark by the time I left the city. It was like it was trying to trap me. Bangkok is certainly not for everyone but not certainly not for me. I was somewhat glad to be on the road again and I road through the night through Auttaya, when I checked out a few of the temples and on to Bon Sing where I arrived around 10pm. I checked into another clean hotel similar to that of Ranong, for 200baht and went straight to sleep. The next day I drove through to Mae Sot. The day started out relatively uneventful including the normal standing in the middle of the sun in full riding gear dripping with sweat thinking “why am I doing this” and getting passed or passing bus loads of air-conditioned travellers doing it the (normal?) other way. Once I took the turn off the highway at 55km to Mae Sot, the situation totally changed and I found myself quickly climbing into the highlands where the road topped out at 1000m, not long after it started bucketing with rain and I was fortunately able to find somewhere to shelter. I am sure it won’t be for the first time but I found myself racing to stay warm when just 30minutes prior I had been soaked in sweat. A bizarre situation for sure. Luckily the rain didn’t last too long and I was able to ride through breathtaking scenery to arrive in the border town Mae Sot for sundown. Not long after arriving I was quickly whisked off to a Buddhist temple for a natural sauna by my host Freddy. This was followed by dinner sitting on the floor of his home with various locals and a couple of crew from Indonesia (including Freddy himself). So here I am, after catching up on the usual business today I find myself looking forward to what’s going to be a real turning point in the trip.

Stay tuned for the next update!

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