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Old 06-13-2007, 06:55 PM   #1
JackL OP
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JackLs Thailand/Cambodia Adventure

A brief background & then on with the pictures.
In the spring of 2005 I took a volutary layoff from the game company I was working at because of diferences with my managers. They pictured themselves as decent managers & good people & I pictured them as elephant like buffoons.

After a few months of hanging around partying to much & living off the government dole I tracked down a buddy who I thought was in India, hoping to hook up with him & ride a few months. It turned out he was back in the US & even in Seattle. So I loaned him my house & took off for where he had been: Thailand.

I arrived in Bangkok with a few thousand bucks in my account & a vague idea of buying a bike & riding up north to the Chiang Mai area. I found a great old place on Sukhumvit Road, Hotel Atlanta.

I met up with a friend of a friend, Jon,

& he showed me the sites, like Soi Cowboy,


After a few days in Bangkok & way too many hangovers it was time to head north. I had determinded that it would be easier & cheaper to buy a bike in Chang Mai where I wouldn't have to worry about registration paperwork.
I first caught a train to Ayutthaya, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayutthaya_%28city%29) a previous capital of Thailand. I stayed just across the river from the train station at Tony's Guest House.


The first night I just wandered out from the guest house




The next day I got up & rented a bike for the day ($1.30). Much of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage site, like the Giant Budha


Here's me checking out the sites.


It's also famous for the Reclining Budha


and other UNESCO areas




Ayutthaya sites on an island in the convluence of a couple rivers & there are only two bridges in or out of it, but many ferry crossings & boats.


and of course, the locals


at the bar


Next, by overnight train to Chiang Mai.

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Old 06-13-2007, 07:21 PM   #2
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Great pics

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Old 06-13-2007, 07:54 PM   #3
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....must go to thailand.....

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Old 06-13-2007, 09:40 PM   #4
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Must go back to Thailand.....
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:53 PM   #5
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Nice pics! Great report. Waiting for more....

Thanks for sharing

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Old 06-14-2007, 02:19 PM   #6
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$1.30 TO RENT A BIKE? Is that a bicycle or motorcycle?
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Old 06-14-2007, 02:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MK96xj
$1.30 TO RENT A BIKE? Is that a bicycle or motorcycle?
That's a bicycle. Scooters were a little more, but not much.

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Old 06-14-2007, 05:24 PM   #8
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JackLs Thailand & Cambodia Adventure, Pt II

I caught the night train to Chiang Mai. In the morning, before arriving, I met David & Curt, 2 Americans that were headed to Chiang Mai as well. We all ended up staying at the guest house of a friends friend, John. Jonadda Guesthouse (http://www.geocities.com/jonadda2002/JONADDA.html) I highly recommend it if you're in Chiang Mai. John is an old sidecar racer from Australia.
I was still looking for a motorcycle so rented a scooter to get about for a couple days. Led David & Curt on a ride out west of Chiang Mai on the Sameong Loop.


After a couple of days I finally found the bike I liked, a 1995 Honda Baja 250 for $600US.


Did some great rides around the area & met some of the locals & other travellers including an American & French girl. They were heading out on a jeep trip up north & then crossing into Burma (Myanmar) to renew their visas, so I went along as their driver since neither had driven on the left side of the road before.
We headed north out of Chiang Mai & through Fang


and spent the night in Mai Salong, a town mostly inhabited by Kuomintang Chinese refugees. Here is the local outhouse.

Not sure why there are giant sperm on the side.

Interesting town.


Checked out a tea house.


Here's the girls.

This picture is funny if you know the Thai slang for hot white foreign (farang) women is Chicken.

It's strange the things you see driving along in Thailand.

On our return to CHiang Mai I snapped this pic because I thought the sign captured the stereotypical western kids you see everywhere.


The bike needed a little work. After new brake pads, tires, filters & the correct plug it was in great shape. I learned from John of Jonadda that there were many great loop rides out from Chiang Mai so set off on the Mai Hong Son Loop.


I've always wanted one of these.


The royal family.


My first stop was in Pai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pai%2C_Thailand) where I stayed in a great old wood guest house right on the river, the Bwan Tawan. I'm not sure if it is still there because much of the town was washed away by floods a few months after I was there.




Checked out the local temple up on the hill over looking the town.


It had these crazy murals of Hell on the wall.




The national footwear of Thailand, & most of SE Asia, is the flip flop. My footwear always stuck out.


I did some exploring in the area on the bike. Just taking off on random roads & seeing what I could find.




You could take these guided treks up into the hills to meet the Hill people but with a map & a bike you could get there on your own.


I took a break at a little mountain village. Just cooling off, having a drink & talking to the locals. A big tour group hiked into his place where they had told the trekkers you could only get on foot. They weren't very happy to see a white guy on a big motorcycle sitting there.
After some relaxing days & crazy nights partying with Ben, your stereotypical blonde haired, ponytailed, blue eyed Aussie, who was a dwarf, I headed on my way.
One quick aside here. While talking to a guy who was working at a streetside bar we realized that not only had he been to my neighborhood in Seattle, he'd been in my tenents house next to mine. I had already run into a bartender I knew form Seattle a number of times in Chiang Mai. It's a small world.

Next it was further up into the mountains to Soppong & the Cave Lodge Guest House (http://www.cavelodge.com). Also owned by a John who is the friend of a friend. Did a river rafting trip there down this river & through a 200m cave.


These kids lived just down the road. One had good taste in eye wear.


Did some amazing riding out in the mountains towards Burma in some of the slipperiest red clay mud I've ever entountered.




I eventually moved on to Mai Hung Son.
I'm not sure how welcome this sign made me feel.


Beautiful city though.




I didn't take many pictures on the rest of the loop back. It was a bit cold & rainy up in the mountains. Here's a final gas stop before Chiang Mai.

These places had mostly hand crank pumps.

My girlfriend flew in from the states to see & ride with me. Here she is with my Thai buddy Aeh (pronounced Aye). He owned a restaurant, the Hug, & had been a famous professional Takraw player (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takraw).


She arrived on July 4th so we went to a very surreal Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate. Complete with a Thai Elvis impersonator.


We then put on a 4th of July Beach Party at the Heaven Beach bar. It's amazing the things you'll agree to do when you're drunk in a foreign country.
Jessica, the girlfriend, rented a 225cc Yamaha Sarrow & we set off on the Nan loop, heading east of Chiang Mai out near Laos.


The first day we stopped at one of Thailands many waterfalls to cool off.


Then made our first destination, Phyao, where my buddy had taught English. Nothing like ending a long hot day riding with a cold beer.


on a lake


at an outdoor restaurant in Thailand.


Aeh had arranged for us to meet his friend Jug, who lives in Phyao, owns some organic farms, & is running for the area legistalator. He insisted we stay at his families home.


Of course Thai hospitality insisted we take his room.


Later, after dinner, we met all the neighbors & his family, including his mother who taught Jess & I how to make thread from one of the local plants, while telling us stories of what life was like under the Japanese occupation.


The next day we packed up & headed on to Nan where we stayed at the Amazing Guest House (http://www.travelfish.org/accommodat...an/nan/all/486) which was.


Next we headed out through the countryside


and up into the highlands.










We had intended to stay in Chiang Kham but it didn't offer much. So after a late lunch, which turned out to be at the restaurant/home of a fomer Thai motocross champion, we set out again. We had one of those perfect rides that occasionally occur, at twilight as the day cools & the sun sets where you do 100 km & never have to slow down when passing a truck or tractor. When all the Thai families are out & talking to neighbors or family. When the light is just right & the bugs aren't splattering your goggles.
We arrived at Bamboo Guest house, owned by Aehs friend Jib, in time for sunset over Laos on the Mekong river.

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Old 06-15-2007, 05:16 PM   #9
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JackLs Thailand/Cambodia Adventure Pt III

This was one of the best guest houses in Thailand in a town that few tourists get to. (http://www.travelfish.org/accommodat...khong/all/1765)
Our room:


The view from our room:


and the obligatory breakfast shot:

The also serve the best Mexican food you'll find in Thailand (unfortunately no Margaritas though).

We set out to find a waterfall, but never did. We did get in some good dirt riding though.


On our return to town we passed this.


We went back & met them. A classic biker gang from Chiang Rai. Spent a bit of time having a drink with them. Then we played tourist & took a boat trip up the Mekong.




Our Sam Pan pilot, Odd (yes, that was his Americanized name).


The nice thing about a trip like this in a place like Thailand (as opposed to the US) is you can have a beer.


and bring your own lunch to have a picnic on an island.


The best thing is that if you give your pilot a beer he lets you take over & pilot home.




In the next e-mail to my friends it was great to say "I spent my Saturday piloting a Sam Pan down the Mekong. What did you do?"

That night we wandered down the river & partied with the Chiang Rai bikers.

The scary thing about this picture (& Thailand in general) is 3 people in it are male.

Ah, the devil Thai Rum, Samsong


Next it was off north towards the Golden Triangle. We stopped at a local bazar.


It was a bit bizarre.


Passed some monochrome dragons.


and reached the Golden Triangle.

where Thailand, Laos, & Burma meet. They are all visible in this photo.

Then on to Mai Sai.




We finally ended the day back in Mai Salong where I'd been on the jeep trip. We stayed at the same guest house, Shinsane, but got a bungalo.


The next morning we left through the dining area.


We stopped at some caves on the way. This reminds me of a line from the song One Night in Bangkok.


Back in Chiang Mai we took one more ride before Jessica headed back to the states. We headed west up the hill towards Doi Suthep & followed directions to the 'hidden temple'.


We also caught Aeh & his friends playing Takraw.


I spent the next while partying too much in Chiang Mai, watching MotoGP at a local bar, and recovering from a cold. At almost 60 days in country I headed up to Burma so I could get a 30 day visa. I took a different route & passed through Mai Sun.


Then went on up to Chiang Rai for a few days with a quick up & back to the border. Found this cop stand.


After returning to Chiang Mai I did a bit of riding out to the east.


Encountered a road hazard, Thai style.


And other strange sites.

Dragons, American Indians, & busts of dead presidents.

Finally, after 50 days in Chiang Mai I left my bike with John to sell (got a bit over $400 for it) & flew back to Bangkok.
I checked out the palace area.




Next, by tuk tuk, Metro, riverboat & train I travelled to Kanchanaburi in western Thailand. I stayed at:


The front left corner is where my room was.


And my view on the way there.


The first night I met the proprietors of The Ant Bar just down the street & spent most of my nights there.


But what makes Kanchanaburi famous is the bridge.

It is the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Built as part of the Japanese railroad into Burma during WW II the whole length is known as the Death Railway because of the number of Allied POWs & slave laborers who died building it.








I rented a scooter & headed out west following the railway. As I wouned around roads following it I ran across these guys.

and shared their Whisky for breakfast.

I continued west into the mountains.

This terrain made me think that at any moment King Kong would come climbing around one of the peaks.
I toured a very good Death Railway museum which I highly recommend if you ever get to the area.

From here I returned to Bangkok & then took 'The Worst Road in the World' to Cambodia. Ankor Wat, Phnom Penn, & the south will have to wait until next week though.

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Old 06-19-2007, 06:20 PM   #10
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JackLs Thailand/Cambodia Adventure Pt IV

A few hours from Thialand you reach the Cambodian border.


Where the money changers rip you off & then you get on a bus for a 14 hour journey on the worst road in the world'. I'd heard stories about this road from my father & others. I later talked to a rider from Wales who had ridden all the way to Cambodia & he said this was the worst one the entire trip. Another biker from Libya said it was 2nd only to one in Libya.
Finally, after 19 hours on buses, mostly standing up, & one breakdown, in the dark, where I was the only person on the bus with a flashlight, after we finally reached pavement, we made it to Siam Reap.


The only reason this town exists is because it's the staging area to see the Ankor Wat temples.






While wandering around Ta Prohm temple

there was a tremendous thunderstorm so I hid out with some of the workers, under their tarp, who took the opportunity to take a shower, wash clothes, & play a game.




Then more of the temples




I had hired a guy from the guest house to run me around to all the temples. They are quite spread out but you could easily get there by just renting a scooter or even bicycling.
My "guide".


Local kid.


By now my bargaining skills were becoming pretty good so when they tried to sell me a baby girl for $100.

I was able to get them to the point they were going to give me the girl and $100. Of course I couldn't get a baby back into the US so I had to decline.
So more of Angkor Wats locals.


And temples.








I saw this column of ants coming out of a temple wall so I followed them up, around, down, & back into another crack about 100m away. Never seen anything like it.


Finally the last temple, of the Queen.


From Siem Reap I caught a riverboat to Phnom Penn. I wanted to go there because I had taken UN troops in from Indonesia in 1995, while in the Air Force, to monitor their first democratic elections.
It was a much more modern boat than I expected.


We first cruised along through the Floating Village.




Then past one of the old riverboats.


We arrived in Phnom Penn & I had a guy on a scooter waiting to take me to the Green River Guest House.
The view from the GR GH over the lake.


I thought this would be an interesting government agency to work for.


Maybe we should start one in the US. We have enough Cult & Religions.

Phnom Penn is a beautiful


and interesting city.


It's also the only place I've had someone on the street offer to sell me Hashish, Marijuana, Heroin, & then a sandwich. Odd.

After 5 days in Phnom Penn it was time to head south to Kampot. Took another bus and got a flat on the way.

A quick repair while we ate lunch & we were on the way.

Kampot was a colonial French town which was hit pretty hard in the Khymer Rouge - Vietnamese war.


I met one ADV rider there. Oliver, a French kid that had bought a Russian Minsk in Vietnam, grabbed a helmet, & hit the roads of SE Asia.


I also met some British expat bikers, especially Christian who owned the Rusty Keyhole & had a nice new Yamaha 450.

Above Kampot on a huge mountain is an old French hotel & casino called Bokor. My intention was to rent a motorcycle & ride up there but everyone in Kampot I talked to about it said the roads were too bad & you had to go by 4WD. I signed up on a tour & the people who told me about the roads were obviously not ADVrider quality. They would have been a piece of cake.
Anyway, our first stop was a waterfall.


We had a really crappy lunch of rice & chicken feet.
Then, as the clouds closed in, an old church.




And then the Hotel/Casino of Bokor.







In this last shot you can actually see the clouds blowing through.

As we began our trip home we encountered a roadblock.

Fortunately there were a number of us & after about an hour taking turns with a dull hatchet we cut our way through & returned to Kampot.
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Old 06-19-2007, 06:42 PM   #11
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Great adventure, complete with some Rhum

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Old 06-19-2007, 06:54 PM   #12
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Awesome pics and even better story to tell....I wish I could go on an experience like this.

Did you ever run into any problems with the authorities? Did they ever try to take advantage of you as a tourist?
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Old 06-19-2007, 06:59 PM   #13
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Very Cool! Gotta do that sometime. It looks like a cheap moto-holiday, especially from this side of the planet. How do you get on language wise while touring round in the hills there?

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Old 06-19-2007, 09:23 PM   #14
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very nice...close but yet faraway...
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Old 06-21-2007, 05:48 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lashmoove77
Awesome pics and even better story to tell....I wish I could go on an experience like this.

Did you ever run into any problems with the authorities? Did they ever try to take advantage of you as a tourist?
No, no problems with the authorities. I'd heard lots of stories about crooked cops but all the ones I met were nice. There were a lot of checkpoints in Thailand & the cops would be eyballing me as I approached but as soon as they say I was a whie guy they'd wave me on through. One even held up a line of trucks so I could go around them & take off. He gave me the universal 'give it throttle' sign.

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