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  #241  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/10 Ride to Koh Lanta

One drawback to our hotel is that they do not have rooms with one big bed. So this morning, after the alarm went off, Re came and snuggled up in my bed. One thing led to another... and so we got up later than planned. But actually, we didn't, since I forgot to change the time when we crossed back into Thailand. When the alarm went off at 7:00 am, it was really 6:00 am local time. We decided to take advantage of our free hour to actually go out and enjoy breakfast. We found the morning market, where we had some fried dough and really excellent and strong coffee. Back at the hotel, we packed up the bikes, showered, and rode out the front door, heading north for Koh Lanta.

While the roads weren't as good today, it was a pretty ride.



The road wound its way through large tree covered hills with dramatic limestone faces. We also found ourselves cruising through pineapple orchards and watermelon fields. The roadsides were lined with fruit stalls, some places advertising three pineapples for 20 baht (66 cents). Unfortunately, we had no way to carry any of this delicious fruit, so we rode on. After a couple of hours, we arrived at the first ferry of the day, where we paid a grand total of 56 baht (under 2 USD) for both of us and both bikes for both ferries. What a bargain!



After all the cars and trucks boarded the first ferry, we made our way up the ramp and onto the large, flat deck.



This ride only took about 15 minutes. It was nice to catch glimpses of the ocean between the islands, and the water was beginning to turn a nice shade of green. Once we disembarked from this ferry, we made the 8-mile ride across Koh Lanta Noi to the next ferry, which would take us to Koh Lanta Yai. This short ride was fun, since it wound up and back down the spine of the island.



The second ferry ride was similar to the first but much shorter, and the water got even greener.

Our bungalows were only about a 20-minute ride from the ferry dock so we pulled in around 12:30 pm. We were both hungry, so we ordered lunch and then unpacked our bikes while we waited. We were both a little underwhelmed by our bungalow and its proximity to the beach. While we could see the Andaman Sea from our porch, it was about 150 ft from the beach. I know lots of you are going, “waaaa,” right now, but we really thought we'd be closer to the water and that the beach would be wider. The other odd thing about the location was that only two of the ten bungalows were occupied. It is getting toward the end of the season on Koh Lanta, but we didn't expect it to be this deserted.



We did have a nice lunch overlooking the water and later, walked on the beach and waded in the surf. One of the nice things about our bungalows is the collection of local cats. We met a couple of adult cats who were nice and friendly, but our favorite was a young kitten who was full of energy and apparently, had no fear.



Because of this, we christened him, WFO.

A little later, we walked up to the main road to check out the dinner options and pick up some water at the 7Eleven. Since my last haircut was about a month ago, I was beginning to feel like a long-haired, hippie freak, so we took advantage of our open air bathroom, and Re gave me a haircut. After a quick shower, we hopped on the bikes and rode out in search of dinner. We picked up a couple of recommendations from Travelfish.org, but we didn't have any exact directions, so we planned to do a little bit of riding. As I bounced up the dirt path toward the main road, I heard a rattling from my chain case. I assumed that the bouncing had caused my chain case to shift, so when we got to the main road, I tried to adjust it by hand. No such luck. I ended up removing the chain case under a street light and found that two of the four bolts that hold the rear sprocket to the hub were loose AGAIN. FFS. I didn't feel like fixing this in the dark, so we rode slowly back toward the bungalows. On the way, we found a small noodle stand, where we had dinner. We stopped at the 7Eleven for some Changs and cookies before calling it a night.


105 miles in about 3.5 hours, including two ferry rides. I shed a small tear when we had to stop for petrol today, and 7.5 liters cost 11 USD.
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  #242  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/11 Tsunamis and Sunburn

After another 7Eleven breakfast, we unrolled the tarp and got to work repairing my rear hub. We went through the now too familiar process of removing the rear wheel and rear hub. A quick inspection showed that two of the bolts had backed off by several threads, one was starting to loosen, leaving only one still snugly fastened. We once again, put it back together with Loctite and as much torque as I could put on it. I received an email from an experience mechanic who suggested that our problem now was probably due to the threading being overstretched, and that replacing the bolts and nuts is next step. If I had access to a drill and a couple of 1/16” high-carbon bits, I would safety wire the bolt heads. I actually brought several feet of safety wire with us and should have brought the matching drill bits. Until I can do one of those two things, I will just have to be sure to inspect the bolts every thousand miles or so. Both Re and I seem to be infected with a bit of forgetfulness, since I got the rear wheel completely installed without reinstalling the chain (!) and Re reattached the brake rod without the spring (double !). We should be able to do this in our sleep by now. After putting everything right (or so we thought), we packed up the tools and got cleaned up.

About 10:30, we jumped in the water for a quick swim and a little sun before grabbing some books and spending the rest of the morning reading in one of the berugas (a beruga is a raised platform with a roof, usually thatched, to protect you from the sun and rain). Since we're both still pretty pale, we wanted to stay out of the direct sun during peak hours. We were comfortable where we were and ordered lunch from the kitchen and ate in the beruga as well. In the middle of the afternoon, we went back to our bungalow to work on some ride reports. At around 4:15 pm, Re headed back to the beach, and I followed about fifteen minutes later. After a quick dip, we were walking along the beach picking up shells, when we slowly noticed that we were just about the only people on the beach. Huh. Re walked up the steps from the beach in time to see the managers of the bungalows and their daughter heading out the front gate with suitcases and their pet rabbit. Double huh. Obviously slow on the uptake, we returned to our shell collecting on the beach. About ten minutes later, we were joined on the beach by another woman, who had just waded into the water, when the owner of the bungalows one row back from the water motioned for all of us to come talk to him. Mr Hutyee does not speak a lot of English, but he was able to explain to us that there had been a big earthquake off of Indonesia, and that there was now a tsunami warning for Koh Lanta. I guess that's where everyone went. We asked him if it was dangerous and if we should leave for higher ground with everybody else, and he said we would know when it was time to leave. Unlike the people managing our bungalows, he was a local guy and seemed a bit smarter too. Re and I went to our bungalow, packed the essential stuff, and placed it by the front door. The rest of the stuff, we put up on the furniture or hung on hooks on the wall. The floor of our bungalow was about five feet off the ground, and that ground was probably another five feet above the beach level. Feeling as prepared as we wanted to be, we walked back down to our beruga and waited for something to happen.

After a while, Mr Hutyee joined us in our beruga, and with his limited English, told us the story of the 2004 tsunami. He witnessed it from this exact beach, and told us that the water receded between a quarter and a half mile before the wave appeared. He said people were actually out on the sand, picking up the fish that were left behind when the water receded so rapidly. Then about 20 to 30 minutes later, he could see a large, black wall out on the water, heading north and west towards Phuket and Phang-Nga. He said that on Koh Lanta, which was partially spared a direct hit, the wave crashed on the beach, and then the water rose to the level of the ground we were sitting on, and that area was covered with one to two feet of water. He told us that if we saw the water recede quickly, it would be a very good time to leave. Awesome! Fleeing the incoming water with the waves lapping at our little wheels would be an awesome story. So we sat and waited, and waited, and since it was low tide, the water did go out farther than we'd seen so far, but nothing ever happened. We sat and watched for about two hours, until the sun set, and then decided to go get some dinner.

When we went back to our bungalow, there was still no one to be seen anywhere, except for Mr Hutyee and his son. We took a quick shower and got dressed for dinner. In the shower we both discovered that we were a little sunburned. Apparently we didn't account for the angle of the setting sun and the fact that the beruga was no longer protecting us. When we rode out to get some dinner, we found that most of the restaurants on the main road, which has another hundred feet of elevation from the beach, were closed. One of the few places that was open was the Jumrat, which we'd looked at last night. They were packed, and we ended up waiting for nearly an hour for our food to arrive. But it was very good. We hit the 7Eleven for and cookies and made the short ride back to the bungalow. The managers had still not returned, and we were the only people here again. All in all, a strange day.
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  #243  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/12 Ride Around Koh Lanta

While we were eating our 7Eleven breakfast on our porch, we saw that the managers had returned and were now standing in Reception and eyeing us. In a couple of the online reviews of the Nautilus Bungalows, one thing mentioned is the odd and not exactly friendly attitude of the hosts. They are a Swedish couple who have been managing the property for the last two years. On arrival, they seemed polite but reserved. I commented to Re how they were looking at us this morning, and then they started walking over to our bungalow. For all the world, they looked like they had done something bad, and their mom had sent them over to apologize. While they walked slowly toward us, they were looking at the ground and only occasionally glancing up at us. We said hello when they neared the porch and what followed was a rather odd conversation in which they more or less apologized for leaving without us yesterday. The husband seemed especially shocked when we told them we were right on the beach and saw them leave. The wife looked kind of appalled and gave him a hard stare, especially when we could describe what they were carrying when they left. Just so you understand, we were not upset at all about them leaving without us, but it was funny to see their reactions now. After this short exchange, they simply stood there, silently, looking between the ground and us, as if they were waiting to be yelled at or forgiven. Uncomfortable with the situation, we told them about what we saw and experienced while we waited and related Mr Hutyee's story to them also. They looked even more surprised that we hadn't evacuated when we heard about the tsunami warning and said as much. We explained that we aren't very bright. We told them of times we've gone to the beach in North Carolina during hurricanes and snuck into the water while the beaches were closed. They looked even more confused, and after spending some more time silently looking at the ground and each other, they left. Very strange.

Our biggest concern of the morning was that Turbo, the little kitten, was nowhere to be seen. (We decided that WFO was not such a good name, after all) Hopefully he's okay, but we missed seeing him at breakfast. The big plans for the day were to ride around the island and see some of the other beaches. We also wanted to check out one of the bars that was advertising a big Songkran (Thai New Year) party for tomorrow.



We first headed south along the west coast of the island, all the way to the national park at the end. The first few miles of the ride were relatively level, but then the road became twisty and went dramatically up and down hill. Some of the uphill sections required second or even first gear, but it was a beautiful ride.



We stopped and walked on several of the beaches to see if there was a place we liked better, but all the beaches seemed to have their pros and cons. Since the road didn't continue around to the east side of the island, we had to head back north, then turn east, and then south again. Before we headed east, we stopped to look at the Mong Bar to find out what was up for tomorrow. While we stopped to look, we noticed that while they did have and alcohol, the prominent items on the menu were a couple of different kinds of mushroom milkshakes and some “special” brownies. I don't know what they put in those milkshakes, but it must be good, since the milkshakes are 400 baht (13 USD). Maybe we'll need to find a different place to celebrate Songkran tomorrow...

Since it was after noon, we decided to stop for lunch at a small roadside restaurant, where we both had excellent Thai dishes and petted the first and only neutered male cat we've seen in southeast Asia. Apparently, there is a low cost spay and neuter clinic on the island. After lunch, I noticed my rear brake pedal didn't feel right. Normally, when you release the rear brake, the pedal snaps firmly back up. Mine now seemed to be returning slowly. Since we had the rear wheel off yesterday, I assumed this was simply down to a different adjustment on the rear brake free play. However, once we started climbing and descending hills again on the southeast side of the island, I began to notice that it felt like my rear brake was dragging. We stopped on the side of the road, got out the 14mm wrench, and I backed off on the brake free play adjuster a few times. With both bikes on the centerstand, I spun the rear wheels, and while Re's seemed to turn a little bit more freely, mine seemed okay. We continued south as far as we could go on the east side of the island, but then, I heard and felt my clutch slip a couple of times when we climbed some of the steep hills. We pulled over again, popped the bike on the center stand, and spun the rear wheel, only to find again that it wasn't turning very freely.



We rolled the bike to a shady spot under a cashew tree, got out the tarp and tools, and pulled the rear wheel off. I couldn't find anything wrong with the way it was assembled, but once it was reinstalled, it spun freely. I still have no idea what was causing the drag, but after reassembly, the brake pedal felt normal and the bike also felt normal when accelerating and decelerating. The bad news is, I have now ridden the bike for 15 to 20 miles with this condition, and I hope I haven't damaged my clutch. A clutch pack was one of the spares that I tried to get before we left on this trip, but I was unable to get one. Hopefully, it won't be a problem.

We continued our ride north along the east side of the island until the road turned west again. On the way back to the bungalows, we picked up some fruit and some water. Back at the bungalows, we headed out into the water for a swim and spent some time, once again, trying to figure out what comes next after this trip. While we were floating and bobbing in the water, I turned my right knee very wrong and felt a tendon or something pop in it. It was very painful, and my knee immediately swelled up, so I limped out of the water and back to the bungalow for a shower. After watching the sunset, I walked gingerly up the hill for dinner at Jumrat again. Re was kind enough to act as my crutch when I had to step over barriers. After dinner, we stopped for and ice cream before limping back down the hill for the night.

41 miles in many hours.
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  #244  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/13 Songkran and Conversating

After a snuggly morning (yet another NSFW link) and breakfast on the porch, we spent the whole morning talking about the future, the past, and paths not taken. Turbo the kitten is still missing. Hopefully, he is okay. After a while, we realized it was lunchtime, so we ordered lunch from the kitchen and ate it in the beruga on the beach. After some swimming and sunbathing, we hopped on the bikes in the mid-afternoon and rode out to find some Songkran festivities. There were a number of bars advertising that they had parties with deejays starting as early as 11:00 am, so we figured that by mid-afternoon, we should find something going on. But no. None of the three places we checked had anything going on. But we did get wet. One of the principal activities during Songkran is the waterfights. Sure, there's cleaning your house, bathing the monks at the local temple, respecting your elders, but most people know Songkran for the squirt guns and 55 gallon drums of ice water. There was some traditional reason for splashing water and smearing people's faces with powder, but it has evolved into an all day, water and powder throwing fest. In some parts of Thailand, it's a three to four day long waterfight, but on Koh Lanta it is just one day. As soon as we pulled out onto the main road, we came upon scooters whose passengers acted as tail gunners with outlandishly huge, super soaker-type squirt guns. These were fun to dodge and weave, and we only got a little wet. The real menace on the roads are the pickup trucks. These trucks ride around with several people in the bed crowded around a 55 gallon drum full of water and usually ice. The people in the bed use large bowls to scoop out the water on whoever they happen to pass. We managed to avoid most of these icy dousings, but Re did get splashed directly one time. One motorbike ahead of us that had two large farang on it decided to overtake one of these trucks on an uphill stretch of road, and it was not pretty. The rider and passenger each shared four to five large bowls full of what appeared to be very cold water as they slowly passed the truck. We, on the other hand, waited for a downhill section and were able to nip by, while the water throwers were still celebrating the previous dousing. Then we got wet in earnest, as the clouds decided to take part in the festivities. We pulled over to the side of the road and put on our rain jackets for the wet ride back to the bungalow. It seemed funny that the rain would put a damper on the water celebration, but most of the revelers seemed to disappear when the rain began.

Back at the bungalow, we were a little chilly, so we decided to walk up to the 7Eleven for some hot coffee. The shortcut by foot to the main road cuts through Mr Hutyee's (our friend from the tsunami watching party) bungalows. As we were passing by one of his bungalows, we spotted Turbo on the porch! Except that it wasn't Turbo, unless somebody had cut off his tail in the past day. Re then spied another small kitten that looked sort of like Turbo but wasn't him either, and then, snoozing on the porch, was the real deal.



It was Turbo. While we were petting all three of them, Mr Hutyee appeared and asked where we were going. We told him we were heading up for coffee, and he insisted that we join him, his son, and his grandson for coffee. A short while later, some of the guests staying at the Hutyee Boat bungalows showed up, wet and cold from Songkran, and joined us all for coffee. It turns out that Turbo and his siblings were the kittens of one of Mr Hutyee's cats, but that recently, the daughter of our Swedish hosts had absconded with Turbo. A couple days ago, the residents of the bungalow where the other kittens lived, spotted Turbo on their way to the beach and brought him back home. As it should be, since he looked too young to leave his mother. We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening talking with the other Hutyee residents. In retrospect, we should have stayed at the Hutyee bungalows, since, while basic, they were only 350 baht (12 USD) per night, and only 100 meters from the water. The atmosphere was certainly more friendly and lively, and the hosts are a lot more personable, even with limited English. The downside to the location of the Hutyee Boat bungalows is that it is farther back in the jungle, and there were plenty of mosquitoes. Then more Thai food for dinner before heading back to the bungalow for the evening.

12 miles and a couple of gallons of water. My knee is feeling better, it just feels a little swollen.
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  #245  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/14 Beach, Writing, and Rain

After another breakfast on the porch, we spent the morning working on ride reports in the shade. We both got too much sun a couple days ago, and our shoulders are still pink. We walked up to the main road to pick up fried chicken and sticky rice for lunch, and then went back to the bungalow, where Re worked on some blogging. We put on some sunscreen for a swim and some sun. Mid-afternoon, we returned to our porch to do some more writing and to wait for the sun to go down a bit. We hit the water around 5:00 pm, in time for the threatening afternoon sky to release a deluge. We've had some rain each afternoon, but nothing like this. It simply poured. We stayed in the water for a while, but eventually headed back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner. The bathroom on our bungalow is open air, and while the toilet itself is somewhat protected by the roof overhang, the shower and sink are open to the sky. For some reason, it's very odd to shower in a rainstorm (sexy, too). We returned to the Jumrat for dinner before picking up ice cream and for a nightcap. Tomorrow we ride!
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  #246  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/15 Ride to Krabi

On her walk back form the 7Eleven this morning, Re saw a snake in her path that had a dark body with a distinct red head. She Googled this later and is fairly certain it was a Red-headed Krait, which is a highly venomous species. Good thing she didn't try to pick this one up or pet it as it slithered across her path! After eating, we loaded up the bikes and showered. Before we left, we walked over to the Hutyee Boat bungalows to bid farewell to Turbo and his siblings.



We gave them a quick cuddle before thanking Mr. Hutyee for his hospitality and wishing them all well. Back at the Nautilus, we settled our bill and hit the road around 9:15.

The ride back to ferry and the ferry rides themselves were unremarkable except for the beauty of the water and the one slight slip of my clutch when going over the spine of Koh Lanta Noi. Back on the mainland, we rejoined Highway 4 for the short ride to Krabi Town. The land here is surprisingly hilly and green, the dramatic limestone faces make a nice backdrop to the good roads. We arrived at the turnoff to Krabi around 11:30 and decided to give it a look. The guidebooks don't say much about Krabi, other than it is a ferry port for boats to some of the Andaman islands, so we didn't expect much. We were prepared to continue on to Phuket if we didn't like what we saw, but we were pleasantly surprised and decided to spend the night.



The town itself is set along the water and there are many limestone karst islands in the bay/river that runs along the main road. There was also a sign for a mangrove trail at the edge of town, which looked interesting as well. But the real attraction was the market set up along the main road and all the good looking food stalls! One drawback to Krabi Town is that accommodations seemed fairly expensive. There were some very posh places aimed at farang, all in the 20 to 25 USD range. I stayed with the bikes, while Re went in search of something more in our price range. She shortly returned with our choice for the evening.

After unloading the bikes, we walked out to the market we saw earlier for lunch, where we picked up some fried chicken and sticky rice and some little deep-fried sausages wrapped in dough.



We ate them on the riverfront promenade before walking back to the sign for the mangrove walk. The sky was getting increasingly dark as we walked, and we didn't bring our rain jackets with us, but we were feeling optimistic. The mangrove walk itself was actually quite interesting, since we saw a variety of different colored, small crabs.



Some of them were turquoise, some were bright red, some butter yellow, and others were multicolored. The canopy of the mangroves hid the rapidly darkening skies, and it was only when the thunder and lightning started that we realized we were now about a mile from our hotel, and the sky was very black.

We started walking quickly back toward town, but no luck. The rain started gently at first, but soon turned into a downpour. Not realizing quite how far we'd walked out, we tried to make it back in the rain, but eventually stopped because we were soaked and the rain was falling even harder. After hiding out for 30 minutes or so, the rain slacked off enough for us to try to get back to our room. For the last five or six blocks, we were able to run between awnings and made it back to the room. Since we were thoroughly soaked, we pulled off our clothes and jumped in the shower to warm up. We hung all our wet stuff under the A/C and took advantage of the wifi to post some of our writings. Later, I saw that my parents were on Skype, so I talked to them for a while before we headed out for dinner.

We'd hoped that our clothes would dry by dinnertime, but they didn't. We ended up pulling on our still damp clothes and headed back out to the market. The rain had stopped by now, and many, many more food stalls had popped up. I've never seen so many varieties of little clams and shellfish, all steamed and for sale in one place, but after a bad reaction to a cockle omelet I ate on our last trip, I skipped the bivalves. Instead, we bought an assortment of small, grilled squid on sticks, different noodle dishes, and some more of those deep-fried, dough-wrapped sausages. We picked up some soda waters and cookies to round out the meal. Later, we went back to the room and spent the rest of the evening catching up on emails, news, and snake identification.


65 miles in about 2 hours. My rear brake is acting normally, but I am a little concerned about my clutch. We are overdue for an oil change, so hopefully, that will fix it.
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  #247  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/16 Ride to Phuket (It's Really Pronounced, Poo-get)

A peek out the window this morning revealed that the sky was still overcast and a bit threatening, so we decided to push on to Phuket Town today. After breakfast, we started loading the bikes, where I was again cornered by an interested passerby. Consequently, our 9:00 am departure was delayed until 9:30. When we pulled out, we were happy to see that the sky had begun to clear.



Today's ride was very much like yesterday's, scenery wise, with jungle covered hills and the occasional exposed limestone face. The bad news is that my clutch is slipping more frequently. Come on, oil change. As we passed Phang-Nga, the sky grew rapidly darker, the humidity increased, and inevitably, it began to rain. The rain quickly gathered strength to become a pretty steady downpour. The rain continued on and off, all the way to the bridge to the island of Phuket. Once we crossed the bridge, the sky became a mixture of dark clouds and patches of blue. My clutch continued to slip either when I tried to exceed 42 mph or when climbing hills at more than three-quarters throttle. I elected to baby it as much as I could, since right now, I really don't have a Plan B.

Once we got into Phuket Town, we found our way to the Nanachart Mansion. We stayed at the Nanachart on our last visit here, and remembered it to be a cheap and clean option. We were glad to find that it still is and has secure, gated motorcycle parking as well. The rate is still 350 baht (12 USD), but one new feature is wifi in the room for an additional 50 baht (2 bucks). We walked down to the market for a late lunch of noodle soup with pork and then into the mall for a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen. There really isn't much to do in Phuket Town proper, so we spent the rest of the afternoon planning on which beaches to visit tomorrow and after discovering that there is indeed ferry access, decided on the island of Koh Phangan as our next destination.



One other reason we returned to the Nanachart is because it's located less than a block from an excellent little restaurant we discovered on our last trip. We headed there for dinner tonight, and it was as good as we remembered. My favorite from the last visit was the “fired grums and crispy pork.” I liked the Engrish so much last time that I ordered it on a whim, and I was pleasantly surprised when I received a plate of fried morning glory leaves, and some really delicious crispy pork. The chef here is also a treat to watch, since everything is cooked in a wok over a single burner, with one hand he's flipping, mixing, and adding ingredients, and the other hand is on the valve of the gas cylinder, regulating the heat. Re had the fried tofu with minced pork, and we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Due to the rain earlier in the day, it was a very humid evening, so we cut our postprandial walk around the town short and headed back to the A/C comfort of our room.

115 miles in about 3 hours. I really hope an oil change will fix my clutch.
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  #248  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/17 Touring Some of the Beaches on Phuket

I woke up with a bad “dehydration headache” today, and Re was feeling very achy. After breakfast, we put on our swimsuits under our clothes, grabbed sunscreen and towels, jumped on the bikes, and headed south. We attempted to follow the coast as closely as possible around the southern tip of the island and and back up around the west coast. We visited Phuket island once before and really didn't care for the popular beaches like Patong and Karon. Too many old, fat, European guys in too small Speedos spread out on lounge chairs next to their “Oh my god, Grandma, put your top on,” wives. Somehow, they've all gotten enough sun to turn their skin into something resembling the leather on a well broken in baseball glove (honestly, the topless women look like they have two Coach leather duffel bags laying on their stomachs). Not a pretty sight. Instead, today we were searching for some of the other less populated beaches.



The ride wasn't much fun since the vast majority of where we rode was one long urban strip. The amount of development on this island is astounding. We stopped for lunch as Rawang Beach, where we found a woman selling fried chicken and sticky rice next to the 7Eleven. We picked up some soda waters next door and ate our picnic at the beach. Re does not appear to be feeling well. She seems a bit listless, and says she's feeling very achy, but she wanted to continue, so we hopped back on the Symbas and rode north.



Poking around on the southwest coast, we did find a couple of nice beaches, which I marked in my GPS for us to return to over the next couple of days. All day, the sky was a mix of black and blue, and we finally ran into the black in Patong. Patong is the epicenter of what is wrong with Phuket. You can literally see the next McDonald's from the front door of the first McDonald's. We were here because a friend of ours from our last trip was supposed to be renting an apartment for a year at the north end of Patong Beach. Bernie is a creature of habit, and his habit has been to be at a certain spot in the water after lunch. We didn't get a reply to our email, so we decided to try to catch him by chance. Unfortunately, as we entered the south end of Patong, the thunder started to roll, and it began to sprinkle. As we slowly made our way to the north end, the beach was clearing. By the time we reached Bernie's little spot, there was nobody on the sand. At about this time, the sky opened up and began dumping buckets of rain on us. This was our cue to end our tour and head back to Phuket Town. As we rode up the hill out of Patong, the road was crisscrossed by two inch deep puddles of water, and when we started descending back down the hill toward Phuket Town, we passed through several areas of equally deep standing water.

Back in the room, we changed out of our wet clothes and took a quick shower. Re had spied an honest to goodness laundromat a block away, so she took our dirty clothes down for a wash. When she got back, she wasn't looking or feeling very well, so she laid down for a nap while the clothes washed. Later, we walked out for dinner at the market. We did finally stop and buy some sunscreen since we are down to less than one tube. At the market, we looked at several seafood restaurants and ran into the worst case of “farang pricing” that we've seen so far. At one place, we picked up a menu, flipped it open, saw that it was in Thai, and that all the prices were all between 80 and 120 baht. The waiter quickly snatched the menu out of our hands and replaced it with one in English. Funnily enough, all the prices in this menu were 200 baht or more... We laughed and politely declined. A little further on, Re spied a familiar pile of yellow rice and baked chicken that is khao mok khai. Expecting to get the farang price treatment again, Re asked “How much?” The lady smiled and said 50 baht, which is about right, so we sat down to have two delicious plates of our favorite southern Thai Muslim meal. After dinner, Re still felt achy and was now feeling less well in general, so we called it an early night and headed back to the room.


55 miles in about 6 hours
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/18 Sick Day

When the alarm went off, Re said she'd hardly slept because her body ached so much. Still, she insisted on going out to the 7Eleven to pick up breakfast. When she came back, she looked pale and collapsed on the bed. Apparently, she had passed out on the counter at the 7Eleven. She told me she remembered going to the counter, paying, and the next thing she knew, someone was rubbing her shoulder and she was face down on the counter. She said she felt warm, sweaty, clammy, and faint. I suspected she was running a fever, but she declined my offer to get the thermometer off the bike. Instead, she went back to bed and stayed there most of the day. I spent some time reading and then went down to the grocery store to pick up some lunch.

After lunch in the room, I walked out and found a motorcycle shop, where I bought some much needed oil. We spent the rest of the day reading and hanging out in the room. Later in the afternoon, I grabbed the thermometer off the bike, and we found out that Re did have a fever of about 102. We went through the symptom checker on WebMD, and it said the most likely causes of her trouble were either the flu (which we ruled out due to the lack of coughing, and congestion) or a viral infection, which appears to be a catch-all diagnosis. Fifth on the list was dengue fever, which we ruled out due to lack of rash and lack of sudden, high fever. While Re was feeling pretty bad, she hadn't really lost her appetite, so I walked out and picked up some fried chicken for dinner. We spent the rest of the night in the room. Hopefully Re feels better tomorrow, because she sure seems miserable today.
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/19 Banana Beach Bust

When we woke up this morning, Re seemed to be doing much better, or at least she said she was. I stuck the thermometer in her mouth, and it only read about one degree high. While she took it easy, I walked out in search of breakfast from a roti restaurant that I had read about. I don't think I found the one I was looking for, but I did spy a griddle full of roti at a restaurant full of locals. If it's good enough for Granddad... I ordered roti, coffee, and chicken curry for takeaway. Back in the room, we enjoyed our breakfast in bed. After taking a shower, Re said she felt good and wanted to go to the beach today.

We read about Banana Beach online, and it was supposed to be one of Phuket's hidden gems. I was able to find its location by comparing a map to the map in my GPS and marking the spot. We pulled on our jackets and helmets and hit the road. Phuket Town is on the east side of the island, and Banana Beach is on the west, so we had to navigate quite a bit of erratic traffic to make it there, but we eventually found ourselves at the tiny pull off, barely wide enough for our motorbikes. We scooted the Symbas as far off the road as possible, locked our helmets and jackets to the bikes, and climbed down the steep path to the beach. It was a beautiful, secluded beach, with only one problem: the trash. None of the pictures of the beach that we saw online showed the rafts of trash, bobbing in the surf and covering the beach. Maybe it was a change in current or the unfortunate result of somebody dumping trash nearby, but most of the beach was covered with garbage, and worse, the water in the bay was littered with trash. We walked up and down the beach trying to find a clear spot, but no luck. Since it was still early, we decided to head back up to the bikes and head south to one of the beaches we had marked in the GPS on our ride two days ago. I didn't want to go too far today since the area is very hilly, and my clutch is still not enjoying the ride.

We did make our way south, but about halfway there, Re signaled to pull over. She was not looking or feeling well, and regretfully, wanted to head back to the room. So we did. Again, the sky was a mixture of black and blue, and we almost made it back to the hotel before the skies opened. We rode the last mile or so in the pouring rain and then pulled the bikes into the gated area. Re was feeling okay enough to head out for lunch, so we walked down to the market area for soup with pork and wontons. We looked for some fruit, but none of it struck our fancy, so instead, we headed back to the room. When we checked Re's temperature again, it was only up about two degrees, but she was feeling very achy and uncomfortable. The aches have been keeping her awake at night, so she took a couple of paracetamol and napped the rest of the afternoon. She felt up to going out for dinner, so we walked to our favorite place up the street, where we shared a large order of the fired grums with crispy pork, and a large bowl of tom yum soup with prawns.


42 miles in two plus hours. I hope tomorrow's oil change does the trick.
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/20 Oil Change and Sick Day

Re's achiness has gotten much worse. She said she barely slept last night from the pain. She got up in the night to take more paracetamol, but it doesn't seem to be helping much. She still has a low grade fever, but no other real symptoms other than itchy elbows (?). After another 7Eleven breakfast, it was time to finally change the oil in our bikes. Re said she was feeling well enough to help, so we went downstairs and got to work. We changed the oil in both bikes and installed the new sparkplugs we bought in Georgetown. I also adjusted the clutch on my bike and hoped that this would cure (or at least help) my ills. Re was starting to fade, so we wrapped it up quickly and headed back up to the room. We worked on a little writing before lunch and then headed out to a different local restaurant that always seems to be full when we pass by. And we found out why.

Phuket was also a stop along the old trade route plied by ships between China and points westward, and so there was, and still is, a Chinese presence on the island. In addition to the architecture and culture, they also brought (more importantly to us) food. What this restaurant served was a version of the Hainanese chicken and rice and pork and rice that we enjoy so much in Malaysia. We ordered the combination plate that included chicken, roast pork, and crispy pork on rice, with their local versions of the dipping sauces. While different from what we've had before, they were a delicious variation on some of our favorite foods. While whatever Re has hasn't seemed to dampen her appetite much, it has dampened her spirits. She is certainly frustrated with feeling this badly, and reluctantly returned to the room since she wasn't feeling well enough to do anything else today. She is still popping paracetamol and has begun to get progressively itchier.

We spent the afternoon working on some more writing and reading and planning our escape to the islands in the Gulf. We were both getting a little stir-crazy by dinnertime, so we walked out for dinner around 7:00 pm. I offered to pick up dinner and bring it back to the room, but Re is really tired of the same four walls. Neither of us had a strong opinion about where to go for dinner, so we ended up at McDonald's. There are plenty of other food options in Phuket Town, but I think a taste of home (no matter how greasy) was attractive to us both, and the fact that the Dairy Queen was next door didn't hurt either. After another Blizzard, we went back to the room for the night.
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/21 Ride to Surat Thani

Re had another lousy night's sleep and developed a new symptom as well. Last night, she got up and barfed. She, however, assured me, that she was feeling fine and frisky and ready to go this morning. I was still skeptical, so decided to wait until she returned from the 7Eleven and ate breakfast before making a decision. After eating, she seemed to be doing better, and the thermometer said her temperature was back to normal. We decided to head for Surat Thani, which would be the next stop on the way to Koh Phangan. It took us a while to get going this morning, since we'd unpacked a fair bit during our five days in Phuket. We rolled out of the gate at around 9:30 am and headed north, back to the mainland. Of course, the rain started less than a mile after we started riding and stayed with us through most of the day. The rain this morning was relatively light, and didn't do much to slow us down. My clutch, on the other hand, did slow us down. Any time I tried to ride faster than 40 mph, the engine would spin up, but I wouldn't go any faster. Sigh.

I periodically checked with Re to make sure she was still doing okay, and while her thumbs up said yes, her face wasn't as convincing. Later in the morning, she said she was feeling queasy but that she wanted to continue. Sometime around 1:00 pm, I spied a roadside stand with chicken prominently displayed. We pulled in and bought some chicken and sticky rice that we sat and ate (or at least, I ate) during one of the breaks from the rain. Re ate some, but not very much. As the afternoon wore on, we cruised in and out of the rain and through some scenery that would have been more enjoyable if it wasn't so wet. My clutch continued to slip either at higher speeds or when climbing hills, cutting our overall speed significantly. Obviously, the oil change didn't cure the problem.

In the middle of the afternoon, we took advantage of another break in the rain to stop and refuel our bikes. Re said she was feeling sleepy and wanted to take a short break. I decided to make use of the time and tried adjusting my clutch once more. I still had the 14mm wrench in my daypack from my brake adjustment in Koh Lanta, so I didn't even have to get off the bike to adjust it. Extremely bad move. Sitting in the seat, I leaned my head over, put the wrench on the nut that locks the clutch adjuster, and gave it a turn. It seemed stubborn, so I pushed a little harder. And then I felt the unmistakeable feel of bolt threads collapsing. Somehow, from my vantage point in the seat, I was not loosening the bolt, I was tightening it. As I have said before, the fasteners on the Symbas ain't no grade 8.8. I got off the bike, attempted to loosen the lock nut this time, and to my dismay, the nut simply rotated in place. To make matters worse, there was now oil dribbling out from around the clutch adjustment bolt. The clutch adjustment bolt sticks out through the engine side cover and passes through an oil seal on the way. Between the lock nut and the engine side cover, is a washer. Apparently, if this washer is not held tightly to the side cover, the oil seal doesn't really seal. Now that the lock nut was stripped and loose, oil was dribbling out. Oh no.

We broke out the tools, and after much fiddling, were able to get the lock nut off the clutch adjustment bolt. I had hoped to have only stripped the nut, but unfortunately, the threads in both the nut and the bolt were crushed. There were a few good threads left on the bolt near the oil seal (they had been protected by the washer), and so we looked around on the bike for another nut that could maybe work on the bolt. We couldn't find another suitable nut, so I gingerly threaded the stripped nut back onto the bolt and hoped that it would catch on the remaining threads. It did, and so I tightened it as much as I dared. It seemed to be holding the adjuster, and so I reached up and thumbed the started button, only to watch oil come pouring past the nut. Huh (that's not actually what I said, over, and over, and over). We were in the middle of the countryside, with no real place to get parts or help, so we needed to fix this now. I explained what was going on to Re, and she said, why don't we just use some Gorilla Tape? I think she meant to use the sticky side against the engine case, which might hold the oil in momentarily, but not for long. But it was still a good idea, which I changed a little bit.



We took a small piece of Gorilla Tape, folded it over, sticky side to sticky side, and then cut a tiny hole in the center. We slipped it over the clutch adjuster bolt, carefully pressed it against the oil seal and engine side cover, and then threaded the nut on top. Basically, the double layer of Gorilla Tape was taking the place of the washer. We adjusted the clutch and then carefully tightened the nut as much as we dared, crossed our fingers, and I reached up and thumbed the starter. Yay! No oil ran out this time. I have no idea how long this fix will hold, but since we still had 60 miles to go to Surat Thani and the rain was catching up with us, we hit the road.

For the first 20 or so miles, Re pulled alongside several times to make sure that no oil was leaking. Everything seemed to be holding fine, so we continued on. Just outside Surat Thani, the threatening sky finally unleashed its full force. The rain began as a downpour and turned into such a deluge that even the cage drivers were seeking shelter. We spotted an underpass, dove off the highway, and took shelter for about 30 minutes. From here, the GPS only showed us about eight miles from Surat Thani, and it was now about 5:00 pm. Given our situation, riding in the moderate rain seemed better than trying to find a hotel in Surat Thani in the dark. We left our shelter and continued down the road. We were looking for the Tapee Hotel, and we knew the name of the street it was on, but that road was not listed in my GPS. We ended riding around in the rain for about another 45 minutes until we finally spotted the road and then the hotel. The price listed on Travelfish was 440 baht per night, but the rate card on the counter said 550 baht (18 USD). Whatever. We were too wet, and it was too late for us to care about continuing the hotel search. We unpacked into a very nice room and hung up our thoroughly soaked gear to dry.

Re had been a real trooper all day. I know she wasn't feeling well, but she made it through the entire day without complaining, and was in fact, a big help. Re decided to take a shower to warm up, but not before stopping to dry heave in the toilet. Needless to say, she didn't feel much like dinner, so I went out for a quick market dinner before picking up some crackers, soda water, and a Thai version of Gatorade. Back in the room, Re ate her crackers and drank her electrolyte drink before calling it a night. The good news is, Re's aches seem to have subsided. Unfortunately, they've been replaced by nausea and itchy palms and soles.

175 miles in 8.5 hours, including a couple of hours worth of stops to make my clutch worse and hide from the rain. Between the rain, the self-inflicted bike damage, and Re's odd illness, it's been a crappy day.
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/22 Ride to Koh Phangan / Happy Anniversary

The ferry to Koh Phangan leaves from the town of Don Sak, approximately 35 miles east of Surat Thani. The ferries leave at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, and then there isn't another departure until 2:00 pm. Our plan today was to catch the 10:00 ferry, which meant we needed to leave by 8:30 to safely make it. Re was feeling better this morning, but the rash that began on her palms and soles now seemed to have spread everywhere. She insisted that she was good to go after eating some more crackers and drinking another electrolyte drink. However, we did not make it onto the road until 8:40, so it was now a race to catch the boat. The weather cooperated, but my clutch did not.

The road between Surat Thani and Don Sak passed through some gently rolling terrain, but each incline required that I slow to keep my clutch from slipping. After we'd covered about 20 miles, Re signaled for me to slow down so she could say something. She said she was feeling a little queasy and wanted to know how much farther to the ferry. I told her we had about 15 miles, and reminded her to flip up the front of her helmet if she had to barf (since I have actually seen the aftermath of somebody barfing inside a full-face helmet, with the shield down ). We followed the GPS directions to the Raja Ferry pier and made it with ten minutes to spare. I paid for the tickets (280 baht or just over 9 USD each) and then we rode down to the dock.



Since we had a few minutes, Re decided to run into the bathroom and barf. On her way back, she picked up some water and potato chips for the trip.



While she was gone, they tooted the horn to signal the imminent departure of the ferry, so I rode over to let them know that we were coming. As soon as we rode down the ramp onto the boat, they raised the ramp and got underway. Fortunately for Re, the ferry was huge, so the ride was smooth. Re was able to eat some food on board and generally felt better before we arrived at Koh Phangan.

The ferry docked at around noon, and we rode off into a scorching hot day. We didn't know where we were going to stay but had written down the names of some promising beaches to scout. The beaches we were interested in were on the northwestern coast, so we headed in that direction, through the center of the island. Once we reached the north shore, we turned left onto a smaller road that was extremely hilly. As we made our way south down the west coast, my hill climbing ability continued to diminish. Just before we got to Had Yao (Long Beach) I found myself in first gear, only at about a quarter throttle, and actually duck-walking my bike over the top of a hill. Afraid to go any further, we decided to stay in Had Yao. Re started scouting bungalows, and soon returned with great news. We had expected to pay somewhere between 400 and 600 baht (13 to 20 USD) for a fan bungalow on the beach. Instead, Re found us a beachfront bungalow, with A/C, a fridge, and a hot shower for only 600 baht. The beach here is beautiful, Re is feeling better, so maybe things are looking up.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and walking on the beach before turning our attention to dinner. In one of the little tourist guides in our bungalow, there was a review of a restaurant here in Had Yao called, Crave. The reviewer said they serve excellent burgers, and since the owner/chef is French Canadian, they also make some great poutine. Both of us have been craving a really good burger for a long time, so we decided to try it for dinner. Today actually is our 23rd wedding anniversary, which gave us all the more reason to skip a cheap Thai meal and splurge on something different. Crave lived up to the review, with great food and friendly owners. I had a thick, juicy, most excellent burger with real blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and onions, while Re had the “Monster Meatloaf,” which was a one-inch thick slab of meatloaf on a bun, with bbq sauce and homemade dill pickle rings. Their fries were excellent as well, and we really enjoyed our meal. On the way back to the room, we picked up and ice cream before heading back to the room for the inevitable.


75 miles in about 4.5 hours, but 25 miles of it was by boat. My clutch is in even worse shape than I feared, so we may not be doing too much riding on the island.
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Old 21 Jun 2012
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4/23 – 4/27 Koh Phangan Lazy Days (No Motorcycle Content)

4/23 Lazy Day #1

There was a massive storm overnight that killed the power, and it didn't return until about 7:00 am. Consequently, there was no A/C or even a fan. This made for a very hot and sweaty night (not the good kind). The good news is, Re is feeling much better in general, but is very itchy. She is taking antihistamines to try and control the itching, but we are beginning to suspect that this may indeed be dengue fever. The morning was beautifully clear after last night's toad strangler, so I set myself on the porch, while Re walked out to the 7Eleven (yes, they even have them in paradise). We spent the rest of the morning reading on the porch and generally being lazy. Around lunchtime, we made the quarter mile walk into town and had a lunch of curries at a small Thai place. Back at the bungalow, we did some more reading before putting on sunscreen to head out on the beach.



The water here is fantastic- clear and warm, and the beach is powdery, white sand. After the sun set, we returned to the bungalow to shower and then head out to dinner.

One of the reasons our bungalow is such a good price is that it is the end of the season. One downside to this is that all the restaurants on the beach are basically empty. We chose the best sounding place and sat down at a table on the beach. We spent the next ten minutes trying to get the attention of a waiter or waitress, but to no avail. While we sat there, we both decided that the poutine at Crave sounded pretty good. So we gave up and walked to Crave via the main road. Unsurprisingly, the poutine was delicious. Re had hers with ground beef, and I chose pulled pork. While we waited for our food to arrive, we made use of their free wifi to research dengue fever. After reading about the illness and its distinct phases (including feeling better, then worse, and the rash, and the nausea) we feel fairly certain that that's what Re's had. The restaurant was fairly slow tonight, so we ended up sitting at the bar and chatting with the owners for a couple of hours.

4/24 Lazy Day #2

Re is still itchy but feeling fine otherwise. After another 7Eleven breakfast, we spent the morning reading and talking about future plans. We had lunch at the same place as yesterday, and afterward, Re did some writing while I read. After the peak sun hours, we applied sunscreen and went to the beach. Same as yesterday, we were out until sunset, then a shower, then off to dinner.



We tried a different beach place tonight and had some delicious pastas. Despite the bug spray, we both got some sandfly bites, which are very itchy, as if Re needed more itchy. We swung by the 7Eleven for mosquito coils and some before returning to our porch, where we lit a mosquito coil and some candles and spent a pleasant evening listening to the water.


4/25 Lazy Day #3

After another breakfast on the porch, we decided to stay here a few more days. Our original plan was to change beaches every few days, but considering the state of my clutch, that plan is out. This is a great bungalow, on a beautiful beach for a good price, so why fight it? For the rest of the morning, we worked on some writing before heading out for lunch. In the afternoon, we did some more writing and then headed to the beach.



The sunset tonight was particularly beautiful, and the tide was further out that we had seen before. We enjoyed our dinner at the beach place last night, so we returned again tonight. This time, we had massaman curry, panang curry, vegetable tempura, and somtam (spicy green papaya salad). We washed it all down with some Chang and it was all delicious.


4/26 Lazy Day #4

There was another massive storm overnight, with lightning that lit up the room, and wind that shook the shutters. At one point, the wind was so strong that it actually blew rain into the room around the edges of the window. Fortunately, the power stayed on all night this time. When we opened the door, we found that everything on our porch had been blown around. After picking up the debris, we had another breakfast on the porch, followed by reading, talking, and some writing. The afternoon was a carbon copy of yesterday, with reading, writing, and then to the beach.



Then a shower, and a return to Crave for another terrific dinner. As repeat customers, we were introduced to a couple of off-menu options. We ordered a burger that had brie, crispy bacon, and mayo, and a pulled pork sandwich with bbq sauce, blue cheese, and homemade pickled jalapenos. Yum! After stuffing ourselves, we spent the rest of the evening standing at the bar, talking with the owners and a couple of particularly fun and interesting patrons.


4/27 One More Lazy Day

Fifth verse, same as the first. Breakfast on the porch, then reading and writing. The twist today was that Re opted for a beachside massage (with no happy ending - that's my job ). Then lunch, beach, shower, and dinner.
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4/28 To Hat Yai

In danger of growing roots, we decided we needed to get on the road today. Since we had many miles to ride after returning to the mainland, and not knowing if my clutch would cooperate, we decided to take the 7:00 am return ferry. To that end, we rose at 5:00 and got to work. We did the majority of the packing last night, so we were easily on the road by 6:00. Before leaving, I adjusted my clutch and said a small prayer to the gods of friction and oil retention. It must have worked, since we were able to make it back up and down the hills to the ferry dock by 6:30. It was an extremely humid morning, so we were happy to get our bikes loaded onto the boat and pull off our gear. The ferry today was much larger and slower than the outbound boat. While the ferry to Koh Phangan cruised at about 13.5 mph, this one only made about 9.5 mph. Consequently, the return trip took almost three hours and 15 minutes.



It was a pretty ride, but we were both sad to see Koh Phangan disappearing in our wake. It really is a beautiful island and a great place to spend some time. On the ride we met a Swiss couple who were riding their bicycles from Switzerland to New Zealand.



We spent some time chatting with them before plugging in our earbuds, plopping ourselves on the deck, and watching the islands slowly slide by. It was a beautiful morning, with clear skies and a nice breeze.

Around 10:15 am, the ferry docked at Don Sak and we were, once again, riding toward Malaysia. Our plan for today is to ride to Hat Yai if my clutch cooperates, or if not, at least try to make it to Trang. The clear morning turned into a hot morning, then an even hotter afternoon. The good news was that the ride was mostly level, which made for decent speeds. The bad news was that on our second fuel stop of the day, I noticed oil leaking out from under my Gorilla Tape “oil seal.” Crap. As I carefully removed the nut from the clutch adjustment bolt, it nearly burned my fingers since it was so hot. When I pulled off the Gorilla Tape, the adhesive was squishing out from between the layers. Since we were still 15 miles from Trang and 75 miles from Hat Yai, I decided to try a new piece of tape and hope that it would work. The replacement tape seemed to be holding, and Re pulled alongside every five miles to check for leaks. With about 25 miles to go to Hat Yai, Re gave me the thumbs down signal. Double crap.

We pulled off on the side of the road and got out the tools and tape once more. Once again, the adhesive was squishing out from between the layers of tape, clearly the heat of the engine is causing the adhesive to liquify, and this means the nut is no longer held by the “springiness” of the tape layers. As we worked on the bike on the side of the road, a group of old Honda Cubs with interesting paint jobs and loud pipes blew by. A few minutes later, they all returned to see what we were doing. Old Honda Cubs must be hip in Thailand now, since these riders would be “hipsters” in the US. They all wore skinny jeans, had funky haircuts, pudding bowl or three-quarter helmets, and goggles. None of the seemed to speak English, but they did all stand around until my bike was running once more. I ended up using yet another piece of Gorilla Tape, but this time, I was barely able to get the nut to catch the few remaining threads on the clutch adjustment bolt. I tightened it as much as I dared, and nervously thumbed the starter button. Re and I were happy to see that it was holding oil, so we packed up the tools, waved goodbye to the “Cub Club,” and hit the road again. In an effort to minimize the vibration and heat, we rode the last 25 miles at a reduced speed. Re continued to check for oil leaks, but thankfully, we made it into Hat Yai, and to the Park Hotel, with no further dribbles.

After unloading our stuff into the room, we walked out to the night market to find our favorite khao mok kai vendor. As we approached the familiar corner, there was no KMK to be seen. What?! While Re went to look for another vendor, I bought fruit shakes and a nearby stand. The woman making the fruit shakes was Muslim and wore a headscarf and veil, so only her eyes showed. The farther south you go in Thailand, the more Muslim it becomes, and English seems to be less widely spoken. So I was pleasantly surprised when the fruit shake vendor turned out to speak English fairly well. She was able to explain to me that our usual KMK vendor was taking a ten-day vacation to go to Phattalung for his sister's wedding. Since she seemed so friendly and knowledgeable, I asked her if there was another KMK stall around. She was able to point us to another stall that was just a few blocks away. We quickly found it, ordered our dinner, and sat down to another delicious meal. On our way back to the room, we stopped again at the 7Eleven for a couple of Changs. Back in the room, I had a moment of ennui when it occurred to me that this would be my last Chang of the trip and maybe for many years.


285 miles in about 12 hours, but 25 miles took over 3 hours by boat. Hopefully my clutch makes it through tomorrow and can get us as far as Georgetown, where I am sure I will be able to sort out this problem.
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"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

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Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!




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