Saturday, November 10, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 6: Vientiane, Laos - Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand


It was on Day 6… at 6 o’clock in the morning..
I had a heavy breakfast provided by the wonderful AV Hotel and checked-out the hotel.. Surprisingly I was the first and only coffee house guest that morning and the friendly staff were delighted to serve breakfast for me.. Hey, who wouldn’t wanna serve a Solo Rider and watch him departing that morning? Of course everyone would want!! Hahaaa..

I warmed up the 30 Years Anniversary GS Adventureit was covered with thick Laos dust and dirt.. That kinda state is how a GS should be.. and same goes to its rider..

The ride was from Vientiane, Laos to Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima district, Thailand.. Pak Chong is located in North East of Thailand along Highway 2.. The distance would be at least 480 km and I did within 5 hours to reach Pak Chong.. The ride would be easy as Thailand highway condition is perfect, straight with good road signage and I could find plenty of gas stations along the highway…
A day earlier, I had found the short-cut route to the Friendship Bridge between Laos and Thailand.. I needed to go there as the Laos’ Immigration and Customs checkpoints are located.. As I reached the checkpoints, the traffic was building up with tourist shuttle vans and trucks, leaving Laos for Thailand..
The border control checkpoints on Laos side was pretty smooth.. The Laos Immigration were not fussy and there were few documentations needed to be signed on the Customs upon leaving Laos..
Both Immigration and Customs departments were very friendly towards me..
Previously, almost 3 years ago, there were a bunch of bikers (led by pilot) went to Laos and told me they had massive problems when entering Laos from Nong Khai to Vientiane and they got stranded at Vientiane border control for 3 hours as the Laos immigration officers didn’t allow them to enter Laos.. until they were helped with a translator and couple of US Dollars, they were finally allowed to enter Laos..
These bikers were full of Bullshit!! Please Cut the Fucking Crap!

As my passport and Customs declaration form had been stamped, I rode along a weird pathway which changed the road system from Left Hand Drive to Right Hand Drive system.. The road led to the Friendship Bridge between Laos and Thailand..

It was 6.30 in the morning, there was no other vehicles using the bridge other than me.. Therefore I managed to stop in the middle of the bridge and witness the sunrise between Thailand and Laos, separated by Mekong River..

Absolutely Beautiful!!

I decided to ride to Pak Chong because I needed to make selections for my dairy cows at Chokchai Farm.. For your info, Chokchai Farm is one of Thailand’s leading dairy farm when it was established in 1957..

They do not sell their dairy cows to outsiders as they produce their own yogurt ice cream and milk products.. Anyhow, I got lucky as I managed to buy few pregnant dairy heifers from them.. But I needed to work at Chokchai Farm for at least 1 month.. They have set the regulations so I have to meet their dairy standards and maintain their good reputation of their dairy cows outside of Thailand..

At the Nong Khai Border Control, the procedure was very simple, just like at Sadao Border Control.. Just needed to stamp my passport and signed the customs declaration form.. the form will be handed back at Sadao..

As I was entering Nong Khai town, I was very delighted to see clear road signboards and petrol stations.. Unlike in Laos, the road signs were pretty bad.. they were not set-up high and most of the time were hidden by shop-signboards..
Along the Highway 2, I passed big towns of Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Phon and Nakhon Ratchasima aka Korat.. Geographically, the land is pretty flat in the Issan (North East of Thailand).. There were many agricultural activities in Issan region..

The ride to Pak Chong was pretty interesting unlike riding along Phet Kassem (Highway 4) in the Southern Thailand region.. It was my first time to ride in Issan region..

Along the Highway 2, you can find lots of street stalls selling grilled meat / chicken and Thai sausages, to be eaten with sticky rice.. Sticky rice is very popular among the Issan people..

I reached Chokchai Farm in Pak Chong nearly at 12.00 noon.. the manager and his staff were waiting for me as they wanted to give me a tour around the dairy farm, lunch and dairy cows selection for my dairy farm..

I had a superb 1-month dry-aged T-Bone steak lunch at Chokchai's own steakhouse..

I spent a night at Khao Yai at Muthi Maya Resort..


Burger King Sweet Carolina Whopper

During my previous visit to Burger King, I was frustrated when i had the cold and cheap BBQ Beefacon Cheese..
But i was tempted with Burger King's new Western Whopper menu... it's called Sweet Carolina Whopper..

Forget about the BBQ.. most of the BBQ burgers taste almost the same and you can find BBQ burger at any fastfood outlets nowadays..

I was looking forward with its new Sweet Carolina Whopper which has Honey Mustard sauce..

Initially, Sweet Carolina Whopper is only a normal Whopper burger but with Honey Mustard sweet sauce..
It totally changes the taste of the Whopper.. usually, Whopper burger tastes dry and beef patty is lacked of juice because the heat from the grill has absorbed all its juices..
But with the Sweet Carolina sauce, combined with mayonnaise, i would say the Sweet Carolina Whopper is my favourite burger in town!!

Thumbs up for Burger King for bringing up the new Whopper menu.. By the way, a set of Sweet Carolina Whopper burger with medium fries and Coke costs only RM15.95 exc tax..


Thursday, November 1, 2012

McDonalds Spice & Ice

I was very disappointed with McDonalds because they have stopped serving Samurai Burger and replaced with Spice & Ice meals..
The Spice & Ice meals consist of Spicy Chicken McDeluxe, BBQ fries shaker powder and Coke filled with Vanilla Float..
Generally, I’m not a big fan of Spicy Chicken McDeluxe as I am more into Quarter Pounder and Big Mac..

I did not order BBQ fries shaker because I have been disappointed with most of the fries shaker flavours.. Nothing compares with the regular McDonalds French Fries..

The Coke with Vanilla Float tastes totally awful.. I don’t know how people can drink this stuff.. Coke and Vanilla Ice Cream do not match together.. Even my dog would not have it..  It’s Absolutely Awful!
The only good soft drinks with vanilla float has to be the Classic Root Beer at A&W restaurants…
As usual, McDonalds would offer you for a free glass which has been given out free since World Cup, Euro Tournament and Olympics..

If you love the Spicy Chicken McDeluxe, I would recommend you to have a normal set meal of Spicy Chicken McDeluxe and order a dessert of Chocolate Hot Fudge Sundae.. And that’s a real treat..
Bring Back The Good Ol’ Samurai Burger!!

So No HooRahh!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 5: Vang Vieng - Vientiane, Laos


I had a good night stay in Vang Vieng.. I just wish I wouldn’t leave the small beautiful town with amazing sceneries..

The next journey was from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.. As Vang Vieng is located in Vientiane district, I knew Vientiane, the Capital of Laos, won’t be far away.. And based on the Laos Road Map, I can estimate the distance is around 160 km therefore it could take easily 1 and half hours of ride..

As I woke up early, I decided to leave Vang Vieng town during sunrise.. I wanted to catch the sunrise during riding, the view is surely gonna be awesome..

It was still dark when I checked-out from the guest house.. as I was warming up the bike, there was a litle café next to the guest house which has already opened its business.. They opened early because most of their customers are truck drivers.. I had toast bread and ice coffee for a light breakfast..
The sun was rising, simply beautiful.. Then I continued my journey to Vientiane.. The journey was very easy.. the road condition was great, smooth and no hills to be encountered at all.. Nice!

As I was approaching Vientiane, the distances between villages became closer and there were more vehicles and traffics can be seen..

I had grilled chicken with sticky rice for my brunch at one of the towns near Vientiane.. They also served grilled pork and beef..

I continued riding and without noticing any of the sign boards, I have entered the Vientiane city.. I only realized after I saw the signage of Vientiane International Airport.. I believe I reached Vientiane city before 10 o’clock in the morning..
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos and it is located along Mekong River, which is the border of Laos and Thailand.. Vientiane became the capital of Laos since 1563 due to the fears of Burmese invasion.. Previously, Luang Prabang was the capital of Laos..
During most of my rides, the first challenge of reaching in a big city would be to find an accommodation.. It would be challenging as I do not wanna stay too far from the city center and tourist attractions.. I always prefer the hotel to be within a walking distance with tourist attractions.. It is one of the reasons why I would prefer to start riding early so and I could reach my destinations early.. Therefore I could have plenty of time to find an accommodation place and have plenty of time for sight-seeing in the city..
Normally, I would find couple of tourists attractions in the city.. I would be a new stranger to the city.. I will ride between these places and try to find a hotel.. Also having many pubs and restaurants are the advantages.. It will be easier for me to find food and chill out with new friends at bars / pubs..
Sometimes, when I’ve found a great location of a hotel, the hotel could be fully occupied.. even most of the hotels would be already occupied..
But luckily, I’ve found a beautiful and new hotel within the tourist area.. It’s called AV Hotel.. The Patuxay Park, Royal Palaces, Mekong River and Restaurants are within walking distance to the AV Hotel..
Ironically, one of the hotel guests from China noticed me because we’ve met at Luang Prabang before and she was staying at the same hotel with me..
As usual, I would check-in, grab a shower, change to the usual pair of flip-flops & shorts and get ready to venture the city..

The first tourist attraction was the Patuxay Park.. Patuxay Park is located at the end of Lang Xang Avenue.. Patuxay means Victory Gate (Patu – Gate; Xay – Victory) and was built in 1957 to dedicate the Lao soldiers during the World War II.. It is also a symbol of independence war from France in 1949..
The Patuxay Park was crowded with tourists and I’ve met lots of tourists from Thailand and they were impressed of me for riding up from Boten to Vientiane, and will be back to Kuala Lumpur via Nong Khai..

Then I went to Laos Royal Palace and Temples which are surrounded the palace.. The temples are called Wat Si Muang and Haw Phra Kaew..

Within the Royal Place and Temples, the King Anouvong statue is located nearby.. The huge gigantic bronze statue is located along the Mekong River and faces Nong Khai, Thailand..

Then I went to find the Laos – Thailand Friendship Bridge.. The Friendship Bridge is approximately 20 km from the Vientiane city and it is where the Laos Immigration and Customs are located.. The friendship bridge connects Laos and Thailand at Nong Khai..
It was near 5.30 pm so I decided to find a good restaurant along the Mekong River to have a great sunset view..
As usual, when I travel near Mekong River, I would normally have a grilled carp fish which was freshly caught from the Mekong River.. They grilled the carp fish in coarse salt and served it with spicy thick dipping sauce and lemon.. The grilled carp fish can be eaten with sticky rice, along with Lao beer..

The sunset along the Mekong River was perfect and breathtaking.. i was lucky because it had been sunny all day long with clear skies.. Knowing I have travelled from Boten to Vientiane, I felt I had such a great journey as a solo rider, tackling the thousands of corners, rough road conditions, challenging terrains and beautiful sceneries.. 
The sunset dinner in Vientiane was the last sunset I witnessed from Laos country.. it was such an emotional moment for me..

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