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  #1  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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Northern Thailand with a Novice Biker

On Christmas Day I picked up my Sabre from a friend in Udon Thani, in North-Eastern Thailand. Another friend was driving up from Roi Et with the support vehicle. Many friends said that I was mad, as I'd never ridden a bike before, and they're probably right.



We caught the overnight train from Bangkok to Udon Thani, which is where the adventure starts. Red is outward and blue is homeward bound.

This trip report was originally posted on a Thai related forum and the other people involved in the tale are well known there and obviously we are more familiar with the territory than some of you guys might be. Feel free to ask me anything that doesn't make sense to you.
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  #2  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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Well, I guess my mid-life crisis has started, so I got myself a bike. After a kind offer from some kind folks in Isaan, I managed to pick up a bargain in the form of a Honda VF 750 S 'Sabre'. It had been rebuilt and that is what I had to pay for. The guy seems to have done a 95% job on it which is as good as can be expected out here.

We had a fair bit of gear to take to Udon from Bangkok, so I thought the train would be nice. And it was. It cost about 2,500THB for a first class cabin, but it was comfortable. The only downside was that it was bloody freezing as the AC was too high.



It smelled of & KFC, so it wasn't all bad. One had to go to the rear of the carriage to have a tab though.

We arrived in Udon at around 7.45 and thawed out in a tuk-tuk on the way to the Irish Clock for brekkie. I had arranged to meet Milo at 8am to get the bike, but he didn't manage to meet me until 10. Plonker!

He took me over to his house and I sat on a proper bike for the first time. Milo has a dodgy looking Suzuki, but his missus' bike is nice. A black choppery thing.

I rode the bike back to the Irish Clock and I didn't die, which was a bonus. Then, after meeting up with Norton, it was off to Texpat's place, just outside of Nong Khai. The road was straight and flat, and Milo came along for support (thanks mate). The midget rode with Norton in the pickup, as I wanted to get a few miles under my belt before she rode with me.



We spent Christmas Day at Texpat's and his lovely wife looked after us all very well. There was a fair bit of consumed and Tex announces that he was going to join us on the trip. He got rather excited and got his gloves and helmet out before proceeding to pretend to ride his imaginary V-Max around the garden wearing only his bike garb and boxers.



We woke up the next morning nice and late and I suggested to Tex that he rode the first leg (as I was chicken ). So he did.
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  #3  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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The road to Loei is long and wiggly, especially if you decide to follow the Mekong for most of the way. I didn't mind as Texpat did the entire ride.

After a few hours, we arrived in Loei and I managed to find my mate's place quite easily. It's not a bad little shack.



'G' was recovering from a rather heavy Christmas Day, so we didn't overdo it on Boxing Day. Some of us went into town to eat at the Thai House Restaurant, which was pretty good, before returning to the house a bit later.

No prizes for guessing where 'G' is from.



We went to be a bit earlier than last night as an early start was in order if we were to get to Phrae before sunset.
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  #4  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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Today, I was only allowed to be half a pussy as it was a bit unreasonable to expect Texpat to ride my bike the entire bloody way to Chiang Mai. I still made him do the first leg though. I would do the middle bit (about an hour and a half) and Tex would take it through Uttaradit and on to Phrae.

It's quite hilly and bendy after Loei, so I think I made the right decision. I got on the bike somewhere near Dan Sai. Norton took the lead and was nice and steady for me, apart from when he slammed on the anchors after spotting this little lake (it's behind the bike).



As we were near the main highway, I gave the bike back to Tex and we continued northwards to Phrae.

Thetyim had recommended a resort near his place to stay at, so I had booked them up a few weeks previously. Apart from the mozzies and being hassled to drink more after I was already in my jim-jams, they were pretty good.



It was also good to meet up with Thetyim again, as I hadn't seen him for a while. We were a bit worried about Texpat making an arse of himself, but he behaved impeccably the entire trip, never once threatening to call in an airstrike.

We spent a couple of nights at the bungalows and did the usual stuff (temples, , food) before leaving for the city of Chiang Mai.

Thanks to the Thetyim family for making us feel welcome.
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Old 30 Jul 2009
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Today I was going to be less of a pussy and the midget was going to have a spell on the back as well. I think I took the first leg today (someone correct me if I'm wrong) and just after Den Chai the midget joined me.



The roads were really nice. All trees and stuff and very little traffic. When there was an old fart in a truck getting in the way it was no effort to pass.



I was getting to enjoy this, but my arse was also starting to ache.



After arriving in Chiang Mai, I quickly took us to the area in which our guest house resided. It still took us an hour to find the bloody place though as we had to rely upon a Thai woman giving directions to a Thai woman.

Norton and I stayed and the Red Hibiscus, which was pretty nice.



We met up with some nice people later than evening at the UN Irish Pub and had a good night talking shit. DrB0b's missus was there to ensure the young anarchist didn't get arrested (again).
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Old 30 Jul 2009
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We were staying with Dr Andy for the rest of the time "oop norf". Andy and his missus have done a smashing job with the main house and the guests' houses.



This was our one.



And inside was cosy and welcoming.



Most of the windows were not glazed, but instead had a fine wire mesh to keep the mozzies out. The kitchen windows were glazed and looked great.

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  #7  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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We had planned on staying in the mountains for NY, but one of the older folks wondered if it wouldn't be better staying in the rather cosy guest houses instead. I must admit to finding sense in that.

We decided to go to the mountain shack for the day instead.



It was rather beautiful out there.



There was a wee problem that I noticed upon seeing the shack for the first time. There was no bridge.



Luckily, we found a bamboo pontoon and a boat wallah to transport us across the raging torrent.



More lovely scenery.



After having a nice somtam picnic we returned to Andy's place for the New Year celebrations. The girls cooked up a storm in the kitchen and the boys got squiffy.

We also had some big paper balloons 'yi beng' which we launched without needing any skin grafts...





...and some fireworks.



Then, it was time for bed.
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  #8  
Old 30 Jul 2009
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New Years Day blended gently into my conciousness. I let it seep slowly into my world, occasionally testing the waters of awakeness to see if it was safe to embrace the new year.

I got up fairly late. Everywhere beings were statues. Not moving. Not seeing. Not sensing. Only the buzzing of insects and the plop of leaping fish giving away the fact that the reel of life was playing and God hadn't pressed the pause button.





A caffeine injection gradually got the day rolling and we decided to take a stroll out to the dominating feature of an otherwise featureless plateau.



The air was warm with a cooling breeze blowing gently from the east. Farmers were toiling in the fields, getting ready to sow the next crop of rice. Black soil was being turned by tractor and by hand and flocks of birds crowded behind to gorge on whatever tasty morsels were unearthed by their endeavours.



The temple was deserted apart from a monk and a family who appeared to live there. The monk was touching up a bit of paintwork and a young girl was running around having her last few moments of fun before it was time for dinner.









The first day of the year was beginning to fade so we walked back to Andy's estate, which seemed to have woken up a bit during our absence. Well, someone was happy to see me return anyway.



It's not often you spot a Liver Bird out here.



Another gratuitous naked bike shot before I leave you with the remains of the day.







Many thanks to DrAndy and Dee for the wonderful hospitality shown to us.
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Old 30 Jul 2009
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That's all for the photos as it's bladdy tricky taking photos when riding a bike and we were in a rush to get from Chiang Mai to Phitsanulok before it got dark. Over 6 hours on the bike on that trek and we were both suffering from sore butts. When we got to P'Lok, I could neither find the hotel or remember the name of it, so that was 800 Baht down the drain. We found another place which was OK.

The next day (Saturday) we tackled the last long leg to Ayutthaya, which was an easy 4 or 5 hours on really good roads. Roads in Thailand have wide 'hard shoulders' which are for motorbikes and slow vehicles. They are also nearly as wide as a main lane and well maintained. It was easy to buzz down these lanes at about 65mph and we got to Ayutthaya mid-afternoon.

I lived there for a year so the evening was spent catching up with old friends before getting a lift back to the hotel in a Honda City - Oh the shame!

Sunday morning was a quick blast back to Bangkok and we were back home in time for lunch.

~ Finis ~
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  #10  
Old 31 Jul 2009
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I know Milo & his wife Bupk!!!!! Lovely people! Small world.
My daughter and I went to Udon Thai in Dec 07 whilst on a backpacking tour and I hired one of his bikes to do a bit of local touring with his business buddy Dave as well as Miles too.
The three mad days spent biking with them gave me the confidence to hire a bike on my own whilst in Chiang Mai a few weeks later & we had an absolute scream.
Glad you had a brilliant time. Would definitely recommend to anyone go biking in Thailand. Love the people, the landscape and the food!

I'd add a pic but I don't know how!!
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