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china, laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Solomon islands, mauritious, Indonesia, usa, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Malaysia
it never stops....
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Published 10:07 pm, 18 Dec 2014
OUR FINAL DAY ON THE ROAD - SI KHIO TO PATTAYA, THIS JOURNEY ENDS...
An early start the next day saw us take on another huge ride, with Capp’s bike now starting to play up a little, we made it as far as Si Khio (or Si Khiu) and checked in at Green View Apartment.
It was a fantastic place to stay for the night, quite flash really with large modern rooms and a great balcony that we took advantage of, with a few nightcaps after dinner. The town itself looked very interesting, with quite a few markets, plenty of eating choices and a great public park near the town centre with a massive pond, definitely not on the tourist trail but seemingly worth a second look. We paid a crazy 300 bt ($11) for our rooms, a hotel like this would set you back $150 in Australia! Don't hesitate to check it out if you're ever in Si Khio! After a well earned sleep, our final leg was here, 1 last day on the road to make it home and it turned out to be a long hard stretch. Going through Khao Yai National Park we got absolutely drenched for nearly 2 hours, it rained so hard and visibility was so poor that we had to stop for a while. We weren't getting any drier, but it was just too dangerous to be on the road. The heavy rain was clearly not going to stop in the next few hours so we simply rode on, our cheap plastic ponchos were no match for the forces of nature that day. Aside from getting totally soaked, we stopped a couple of times for food, drinks and petrol but just kept pushing on, the bright lights of Pattaya beckoning.
After dodging all the gigantic potholes on the last stretch into town, some large enough to lose a buffalo in, we were now within minutes of stretching our legs and getting some blood back into our numb asses. We arrived back to find a few friends waiting to have dinner & drinks, our trip was over.
It was with mixed feelings - relief, pride, joy, fatigue, achievement, but slight sadness that the trip was over, it is such a great lifestyle to ride all day, the freedom of going almost anywhere and stopping when you’d had enough.
An amazing trip with great company had come to an end, but had also reignited our desire to do it more often and it wasn’t long before the next, albeit brief, trip was underway.
Another funky place with crazy looking chalets and 4 wheeler motorbike trips
Roadside elephants, you never know what you'll find around the next corner
Capp checking for Cobra's
Lookout, it's a Gaur...... oh wait, it's Capp!!
No more pictures after the thunderstorm... except this solitary one... so i'll throw it in!
Published 10:47 am, 16 Dec 2014
ALONG THE MEKONG AND HOME AGAIN, SANGKHOM - CHIANG KHAN - LOEI - UDON THANI pictures cont....
Udon Thani Seafood BBQ Buffet
Our trail of destruction!
Fishing Park near Paul's
Heavy traffic day in Isaan!
Village bike, bet it still goes hard!
One of the coolest places I have ever seen, the Little Box, near Khon Khaen. Nearly the whole place and their guestrooms were made from sea-containers with funky art and furniture absolutely everywhere. This wasn't just a hotel/cafe/beer garden, this entire place was art. Don't miss stopping in if you're in the area.
Recycled drum sofas and piston head coffee tables...
This place was a little simpler!
Published 5:24 am, 16 Dec 2014
ALONG THE MEKONG AND HOME AGAIN, SANGKHOM - CHIANG KHAN - LOEI - UDON THANI
The next morning we continued west along the river still, passing many villages and small towns, in between the palm trees, jungle, mountains and crops that fringe the trail.
We finally hit Chiang Khan and stopped for a cold beverage after a few stops for pictures and taking in the magnificent river views. This town is geared up for tourists, predominately Thai's as it is a holiday hotspot for the locals apparently, lots of touristy type crap for sale up the ‘main street’, though it does retain a certain rustic charm. Chiang Khan is one of the biggest towns along the route and also our turning off point to head south to the major hub of Loei. It also appears to specialize in a type of cooked coconut treat - dried though soft, sweetened coconut pieces that are so tasty. We bought a heap for gifts but only a couple of packs survived the journey home! We were going to stay in Loei for the night, but receive a call from Gar in Udon Thani. Some other friends from a small village 2 hours east of Udon were heading to town and the plan was to hit the famous seafood bbq buffet that night. After a quick ride around town we make the run for home (Udon), another spectacular ride through the mountains rounds out our little adventure along the Mekong, as we finally roll back into town and go hit the buffet! It was a great night out, a ridiculous abundance of seafood, meats, vegetables and other assorted things to cook over our table top bbq’s, good friends and a few cold beers, the perfect ending to a long day (well, long few days) on the bike plus a few more coldies back at Gar’s place to finish up the night. The next day we all made plans to go out and visit Paul, who lives a couple of hours east of Udon in what is basically farm land, but a really beautiful and serene place to live. We finally got a break from the bikes, though Capp and I kind of missed being on them, and jumped in the two 4 wheel drives to head out to Paul’s for the night.
Paul and Nid have an amazing home, a large undercover entertaining area, tropical gardens and a huge beautifully designed fishpond. Like Gar and Bua, they are also fantastic hosts and as soon as we arrive there is an assortment of food and drinks being laid out.
A few more groups of friends of theirs from around the place slowly turn up and suddenly we have a huge party happening. The food, drinks and laughs flowed all night and it turned out to be a most enjoyable and memorable night, in what is often referred to as 'boring old Isaan'!
The next day we hit a local fishing park for a few hours and were back in Udon Thani later that afternoon, before making the late call to get on the bikes again and get a start on our journey home. We headed for Ubol Ratana dam again via a different route near some jungle temple and ended up a little lost… I mean found an alternative way to our destination,!
We were hoping to spend the night at Ubol Ratana and wake up to lake views in the morning, only to find out on arrival that the place gets absolutely packed with local Thai’s on weekends and all accommodation was full.
We eventually found a place about 6 minutes ride away, but can't remember the name of that tiny town. It was 500 bt a night and a really nice place, but after a late arrival we simply got some food and a cold beer or 2 before having a fairly early night, very much exhausted from the last few days.
Mekong River views - I was generally enjoying the ride too much to slow down or stop for pictures
A bit of nostalgia, as I used to work for Caltex...
Coconut treats being made in Chiang Khan
With views like this, who needs facebook.... oh wait.... a Thai girl!!
This would have been our accommodation for the night in Loei, Baiboon Place Hotel
On the ride from Loei back to Udon
The hotel we stayed at near Ubol Ratana
Published 7:26 am, 11 Dec 2014
UDON THANI TO NONG KHAI - THE HARD WAY! THEN WEST TO SANGKHOM ALONG THE MIGHTY MEKONG
Capp was up early the next morning and our friends, Gar and Bua, drove him up to Nong Khai, the town that sits just on the Thai border and is a gateway to the Friendship bridge that crosses in to Laos, one of a few exit/entry points into both countries. Noi and I enjoyed a decent sleep-in after all the early starts, and on waking up decided it was time to hit the road again! After a quick repack, we were off on the scooter again, heading to Nong Khai also, with no definitive plan other than to ride until we felt like stopping! I decided to take the ‘scenic route’ though and after a brief look at Google maps, picked out a rough course (that changed at least 50 times during the course of the day!) What a crazy day out on the bike - we spent most of it way out in the sticks, in the bush, through rice paddies, rivers and lakes, people’s farms and on tiny goat tracks. We did hit ‘civilization’ at one point in the town of Phen, where we stopped for an iced coffee, even in the smallest towns you will always find a coffee shop.
Another time during the ride we were navigating our way through a labyrinth of tiny tracks in the absolute middle of nowhere, then suddenly we stumbled onto a fairly nice looking golf course?! Victory Park was the course, but other than that we were soon back in the bush, eventually making it to Nong Khai.
What could have been a 45 minute ride up the bitumen highway, ended up taking us over 3 hours - but no matter, it was such a fun day and a unique way to get there. After a quick stop for cold beer and food in Nong Khai we decided to push on, heading west along the Mekong River to no place in particular, just enjoying a section of yet another of Thailand’s most amazing rides. It is very rural along there, no major cities, a handful of small towns randomly interspersed along the way, mostly nestled on the banks of the mighty Mekong. We stopped at one place to take in the views and before even getting off the bikes we heard the squeals and cries of ‘farang, farang’, then in Thai (quick, come up here, there is a farang here!) was shouted down to the workers putting in crops by the river’s edge. We were soon surrounded by a bunch of old ladies who wanted to know pretty much everything, especially when they learned I could converse with them in Thai a bit. Eventually we escaped the ladies, and their insistence that Noi and I be married soon, then kept following the scenic winding rode along the river until almost sunset and found a place to stay for the night, Banmai Rimkong. It was a beautiful little 'hotel', perched right atop the river bank, not a thing blocking our view of the river.
We paid 600 baht for the night, which included a decent free breakfast, the room was really nice and modern with a great balcony to relax on overlooking the Mekong River. It was such a nice place, friendly staff and great value, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again, though the dinner we had was pretty average. There were cheaper rooms available, but why would you miss out on those awesome river views.
This was in Sangkhom, not to be confused with Sang Khom which is the other side of Nong Khai to the east! A couple of well earned cold beers on our balcony finished the night out, as we sat, looked at the night sky and just soaked it all in, what an amazing spot to pull up for the night.
Scenery along the way
Now that is a HUGE highway marker!
Wat entranceLake ... somewhere..??
No idea what these were for..
Out on some of our ridiculous tracks
This is the way to Nong Khai ... right?!
Along the banks of the Mekong
Looking across at Laos
Banmai Rimkong Resort
Breakfast with a view
Our balcony, does it get any better?
Published 10:51 am, 10 Dec 2014
PATTAYA TO UDON THANI BY SCOOTER DAY 3 -
CHAIYAPHUM, TAT TON, MO HIN KHAO, UBOL RATTANA & UDON THANI. PART 2
All the sightseeing and tiny village tracks had left us with a fair way to go before making Udon Thani and we were now looking at a mad scramble to the ‘finish line’! We stayed on the rural roads and bypassed Khon Kaen, a major city of the Isaan region and aimed for Ubol Ratana Dam which turned out to be almost the highlight of the ride. After riding through tiny towns and never-ending rice paddies we finally hit the lakeside road and were immediately awestruck, this was the type of place bikers (hey a scooter is almost a ‘real bike’!) dream of. We had Nam Phong National Park on our right, a beautiful sprawling lake coming onto sunset on our left, and tight winding corners to lean into on the bikes. It would have to be some of the nicest riding I’ve done in Asia. It was too beautiful not to stop so we pulled up for some pictures and just took it all in, forgetting about the time schedule or that it would be dark soon, there was no point in riding to places like that and not taking the time to enjoy them. We pushed on further and came to some civilization by the lakeside, a quick explore and we had found a bunch of floating ‘restaurants’, simple bamboo rafts with a roof and tiny tables that you sat on the floor, cross legged at. It was getting dark by now and we still had over 100 km to go before hitting Udon Thani, once again it was a case of ‘how could we ride past without stopping for a beer here?!’. We didn’t bother with food but a couple of large beers were made short work of, while we sat in one of the most simple, yet idyllic locations you could enjoy a beer at. We really had to get moving though and were soon back on the darkened road, our final leg to Udon just had to be done, in any other circumstance I would have just stayed by the lake. Although a little sketchy now that it was pitch black, the remainder of the trip was fairly uneventful, we were pretty much in zombie mode now, running on autopilot just wanting to be at our destination, the thrill of the ride had well worn off! I have no idea what time it was but we eventually arrived in Udon Thani and to our mate’s house where we would be staying, no rest for us though, we were quickly whisked off nearby for some food before all getting a shower in and calling it a night - we were absolutely spent. It had been our longest day but also one of the best with all the scenery and attractions we had seen, our 3 day whirlwind trip of over 800 km and about 26 hours on the bikes, was done. For now! We still have to get home yet, plus Noi and I take another trip while Capp goes to Laos….
The Thai's were loving being hauled around the lake at high speeds on those inflatable things!
That is seriously a jetski with an outboard motor on the back of it!!