COMPLETION OF STAGE 2 SINGAPORE TO KOH SAMUI
Singapore to Koh Samui, total distance 2240km, and if you want to travel non stop it will take you around 33 hrs. Well thats what my GPS says!
I caught the vehicle ferry from DON SAK on the main land, about 70k east of SURAT THANI, it cost 90b and takes about 1.5 hra to THONG YANG on the west coast of SAMUI.
I gave my old mate Ken a call on the mobile and he had arranged a good room 2 minutes from LAMAI BEACH, a brand new appartment building for 600b ($20A) a night, good value for LAMAI. I have always had a good feeling about SAMUI, even though it has got more touristy over the years, perhaps its the hospitality of Ken and his wife Moo or the beautiful sandy beach of LAMAI.
Ken is the manager of the "Weekender Resort" at LAMAI, and also happens to be the Honorary Australian Consol for the area, not bad for a guy in his 70's who came to Thailand to retire! So if your over this way, call in and say hello, he always loves a yap with a fellow Aussy ove a cold VB.
Well I have travelled over 7000k so far, and just when you think you have experienced most crazy things in life. Up comes along the Thailand Traffic Police. As everyone knows who has ridden a motorcycle in Thailand, a helmet is compulsary for the rider only, apparently no one else gets hurt in an accident, even riding 3 up with a baby! Well hardly anyone rides here with a helmet, especially tourists, and I am one of the guilty parties,against all the riding rules that I have abided by in OZ, here I am riding along CHAWANG BEACH in a pair of shorts and sandles, when a German guy rides past shouting out "were is your helmet", I thought "bloody cheeky bastard" and give him the finger, well just around the corner, outside the local police station, the cops have a road block, pulling over all bike riders with no helmet.
There was about 100 people of various nationalities lined up to be booked and fined 200b, including 2 other young Aussies, who found a shop nearby and bought a 6 pack of beer, and merrily downed a few inside the police station, the cops just shook their heads, took our money and let us ride away. Rumours are they use the money for a pissup, and they do it at least once a week.
Well I have been on Koh Samui for the past 2 weeks, and its time to move on, I 've caught up with my old mate Ken, and made a few new friends, got a good tan up, and even went to a Rotary Diner at a 5 star hotel, dressed in one of Ken's old suits, now rember he is 70 years old, 5'8" and a slightly different size than myself, I also had to wear my motorcycle boots, but no one noticed in the dark!
THE START OF STAGE 3 - KOH SAMUI TO CHIANG MAI AND BEYOND
I left around 10.30am, just after a huge rain storm, and caught the vehicular ferry for the mainland. After a high speed expressway ride of 583km I arrive at HUA HIN.
This part of the Thai Highway isn't bad, however the abundance of trucks and "Farmer Namtaan's" (that's Brown in Thai) doing 80k is a total contrast to the maniac car and ute drivers doing 140k on the outside lane. I even come across the Thai equivalent to Ozzy road kill, dead dogs every few k's.
Highways in Thailand usually have 2 lanes each way, with a 3m green section in the centre for drainage etc, there is also a small lane on the kerb side for motorcycles, what the locals do, is build a totally illegal makeshift bridge over the centre and surprise you by creeping out behind a small tree on their bikes and play chicken, by crossing the road. They also have a habit of going up the motorcycle lane the wrong way, This lane is also used by cars and the ocassional bulldozer, also going the wrong way!
I arrived in HUA HIN around 7.00pm in the dark, never again will I ride on Thai Highways after dark, they drive even more erratic when the sun goes down. Booked into a good hotel for a few nights, and had a look around the town.
HUA HIN is famous for the Royal Families summer holiday house, and its proximaty to BANGKOK, so it's very popular with the local Thai's. As a beach resort it's ok, tidy compared with some resort towns, the beach is one of those sandy strips that is very flat, so the tide goes out a long way, leaving a long hot walk to the water. it suits the Thai's, because most of them can't swim.
Leaving HUA HIN, I got stopped by the local Highway Patrol at a road block, he approached me with a very official book and pen, ready to book me for something, until I took my helmet off, seeing that I was a foreigner, checked out my Ozzy number plate, then asked me "how much is that" pointing to my GPS, I replied "GPS?" with a smile, and he says "ok", and waves me on.
KANCHANABURI and the RIVER KHAI, 220k's later, I feel totally stuffed because of the deisel fumes, I finally arrived at the river front around lunch time, my ears are immediately confronted with Thai Disco Music, keep in mind this is around 12.30pm lunchtime, looking out over the river 3 barges approached, all tied together, the Bass music is intense as about 200 Thais are boogying away, after about 20 minutes they get off the barges, jump on a few buses and just disappear.
The government has spent a lot of money on tourism for the area, new waterfront, restaurants etc, and as you get closer to the bridge, you can see the incredable difference to when I was here 4 years ago. There is also a new museum, Thai style, as you wander through the pretty impressive building, (at the time of writing, not quite finished)it just shows you what the Thais thought of W11. A total different outlook than the West, They initially didn't think the Japs where that bad,only passing through, they did'nt rape the women, they brought their own, payed the locals to work, and generally brought commerce and a much needed railway system to the area. I t was only after the acceleration of the project, later on in the war, that the atrocities began.
However they have a very Budhist view of the war, even when the yanks finally bombed the shit out of the bridge, and the Japs sent hundreds of prisoners to stand on the bridge, presumably to try and stop the bombers. It failed and many prisoners of war got blown to hell. note that there wasn't many yanks in the prison camp.
I ended up staying at at type of motel usually found in OZ, about $10A, this place had AC, TV, and a carport for DORIS, it also had a huge night club at the entrance, it was off season and didn't look like it was operating, that was until about 9.00pm, I was walking back from a Thai restaurant, and was invited in by a beautiful girl called Pawn, (rain in Thai), so in I go, the place is the size of a small bowling club, and looks like a wild west saloon bar inside, with a great big stage.
I ordered cheap Thai Whiskey and soda and settled in to see what would eventuate, remember, I was all alone at "the ranch", smoking cigars and drinking cheap whiskey, all of a sudden the disco comes alive and belts out a Thai version of Gary Moores "Got the blues for you", I was settling right in by now when the stage lights up and out comes about 10 Thai girls in 6" heels and 3" shorts, remember I am the only person in the place. They all take turns in singing Karaoke in Thai, and as more customers appear, sit down beside them and help them drink their beer. I am the only sucker on my own (thank christ) I have to get up early in the morning.
Just when I was about to leave an Elephant appears with its Mahut just outside my window, it had a headlight attached to its head and a flashing tail light swaying off its tail. I bought a few bananas off it's handler and fed the beast, things arn't going too well for the big buggers in Thailand, they are a beautiful animal, out moded by technology.
Next morning, off to Kamphaeng Phet and the ancient city. Another short run of around 250k and I arrive at a quaint little town, just off the highway, I wanted to stay here for a night so I could have a look at the UNESCO world heritage listed ruins of the ancient city.
Posted by Tom Forde at July 24, 2004 08:41 AM GMT
I wasn't disappointed, unbelievable what the Ancestors of the Thais achieved over a 1000 years ago. Bloody smart cookies. Stayed in a good hotel for the night the TV was all in Thai, so I listened to some music and caught up with my reading.
Tomorrow CHIANG MAI.