Monday, February 22, 2010

Ride: Surat Thani - Aranya Prathet, Thailand

Surat Thani - Aranya Prathet, Thailand (12/2/2010)


We left Surat Thani as early as 5.00 am as we knew the ride to Aranya Prathet will be the longest, hardest and it will hit us hard as we also had to go through Bangkok (BKK).. the word of Bangkok really scared us off.. we could imagine the busy traffic, narrow streets, hundreds of highways, toasty hot environment, getting lost, getting split up from the group, etc etc... we estimated the ride will be almost 1,000 km of distance..

From Surat Thani, we took Route 4 heading to the North.. we've passed Chumphon (also refilled fuel for those with smaller fuel tanks) and stopped in Prachuap Khiri Khan for lunch... the lunch was delish! with simple Thai chicken curry and salad..

We continued our journey through Route 4 and it was a boring and sleepy ride.. it was getting hot and we were riding on a straight motorway.. we knew the ride from Surat Thani to Bangkok on Route 4, we were gonna ride for almost 700 km of distance..

We stopped at Phetchaburi for our final resting place before we entered Bangkok.. we decided to ride close as we didn't want to split up in Bangkok..

Then we entered Route 35 via Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon heading to Bangkok city.. as bikes are not allowed to be on highway, we had to divert our route to Phra Pradaeng to cross the Chao Phraya River using a barge (a flat-bottomed boat for carrying vehicles, i.e. motorcycles)...

Before we reached  Chao Phraya River, i was very amazed with the traffic in Bangkok.. it is not advisable to ride big bikes in Bangkok as 'certain' big bikes can be overheated in the city... Luckily, my KLR 650 is Bangkok Traffic Approved!! It did not get overheated although the temperature only reached 3/4 of temp gauge... Brilliant! OooWieee!!

We've managed to reach the river and parked our bikes on the barge.. the ride to cross the Chao Phraya River took only 5 minutes.. we shared the barge with other small bikes.. snap couple of photos and continued our ride on the other side of Bangkok..

Since we left the barge, i have been following closely with Doc Holiday (Dr Nadir).. he is our group leader as he used GPS unit and has studied the Bangkok road map.. the streets were getting narrower and more cars, busses and lorries got stranded in the traffic..

As expected, our group split into 3 groups in Bangkok.. the other 2 groups got lost in Bangkok... when me and Doc Holiday reached Route 3 entry point, we waited for 30 minutes for the others... but only Zaini arrived at Route 3... so we've decided to continue our ride along Route 3 and find the exit to Chachoengsao.. we thought it will be a wise decision to wait for the others there instead in the middle of Bangkok city..

At the junction exit to Chachoengsao (along Route 3, Pillar #41), aka Charanyanon Road, we waited for the other 2 groups for almost 4 hours... Doc Holiday and Zaini tried their best to direct the rest to our location.. but it seemed others have got lost and didn't know their exact locations...

The day was getting dark.. it was 6.00 pm.. so the three of us decided to leave the rest behind and head to Aranya Prathet as we still had 250 km to ride ahead of us... it will be risky for us to ride in the dark...

Therefore we took Route 304 heading to Chachoengsao.. the traffic was still heavy as it was the peak hours... but we managed to reached Chachoengsao and headed to Kabin Buri via Route 304 (trunk road) for 55 km of distance..

It was already dark... we reached a junction before Kabin Buri and entered Route 33, heading towards Aranya Prathet border town.. it took us only ~100 km to reach the border town from Kabin Buri.. luckily, although it was already pitch black, the Route 33 is a dual-motorway.. this was my first night ride in Thailand... it was a great experience to learn riding at night in here...

Finally at 9.00 pm, we've reached Aranya Prathet... Doc Holiday's GPS pointed us to Phubesth Inter Hotel.. we checked-in, took shower and heading to the small town for dinner... we had dinner at a road-side restaurant and it was a superb authentic eastern thai dinner!!

For your info, Aranya Prathet is a border town of Thailand.. it is a gateway to Cambodia..

The total ride we did on the 2nd day from Surat Thani to Aranya Prathet was almost 1,000 km for 16 hours.. that was officially an Iron Butt Ride!!


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