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Friday, 27 December 2013

SOUTH EAST THAILAND RIDE: IPOH - BETONG - YALA - PATTANI - SONGKHLA - NARATHIWAT - IPOH (1245KM)

 
I did this ride during the Eid Adha holidays. As I didnt had much days, so I only covered the deep south of Thailand, also known as the 'Black Zone'. I had never rode this route before, so its kinda new experience for me. New border....new road....new route....new exploration. The area was called 'Black Zone' due to the Tak Bai massacre tragedy which happened in 2004, resulting in 85 deaths. Ever since then, the area had seen lots of long-running conflicts, violences, attacks, bombings and deaths involving the government militaries, the seperatist terrorists, the people and even foreigners became victims. Some of my friends advised me not to proceed as I am going solo, but I assured them that I will be alright and I will take extra precaution. Afghanistan pun wa masuk sorang2 beb....ajal maut di tangan tuhan, thats my principle...
 
12th Oct 2013
 
I left home around 2pm. I stopped at R n R Sungai Perak to put on my rain coat as the rain suddenly fall heavily. I exited the highway at Kuala Kangsar and proceeded toward Gerik. The road was okey, but I made a mistake by not refuelling at Sg Perak R n R just now. There was no petrol station after I left Kuala Kangsar. I had to ride slowly as DREAM's fuel was getting low. I only managed to refuel about 10kms to Gerik. The ride from Gerik to the Thailand border was nice. Road was deserted, and its always the same environment - jungles on both side of the road, mountains, fog, and.... a solo rider. I made the crossing without any problem. I didnt have to pay, unlike when crossing at Dannok. The Thai officers were friendly.
 






 
I done both borders in less than 30 minutes and after that, off I go. It wasnt difficult to find my way to Betong town and searched for a cheap guest house. I settled at cheap Jackie Chan GH, the kind of u-got-what-u-paid-for-room, minus Jackie Chan himself, of course. No problem for me as long as its safe for me and my bike and most importantly, free wifi. That night, while walking around in search for a money changer, I bumped into none other but my bff's husband, King Jack and his Lanun friends. What a small world lah :)
 
 
13th Oct 2013
 
As I am checking my bike in the morning - a normal routine before starting for the day, suddenly a girl asked me if I am Anita? Upon answering "yes", she said that she had read about me in the newspapers and watched me in TV.
 

I explored the small town of Betong a bit before exiting. I managed to find the world's biggest mail box here. Can u believe it? The world's biggest mail box was located in Betong? Its still operating until this date.
 

My first destination for today was Piyamit Tunnel, once the base of Malaya Communist Division 2. It was very foggy when I rode DREAM along the winding road to the tunnel. The tunnel was built in three months in 1976, winding through the mountain for about one kilometer, about 50-60 feet wide with multiple entrances. It was used as the air raid shelter and food storage area. Entrance fee was RM5. Before entering, I had a nice conversation with the taker (forgot his name), who was a Malaysian communist but now was given a Thai citizenship. I also talked to a lady who was also a communist before. When I asked her if she had any regret for joining the communist, she firmly said no, but I guessed, her eyes cant lie to me.


After that, I proceeded all the way to Yala via route 410. There were lots of abandoned military check points all the way. The road with jungles on both sides was narrow, winding and not in a good condition. It was uneven with pot holes. Apart from having my eyes focused on the road, while riding, I also made sure that I scanned the area from far ahead, ready to act if I noticed something suspicious coming out from the jungle. Thank god there was none. I made a right turning at Bannang Sata and rode on a good paved road heading to Bang Lang Dam. The dam was 85 metres high with a crest of 422 metres long. It was used for irrigation, flood control as well as to produce electricity. The road climbing up to the dam was really steep with hair pin bends and one need to be extra careful when ascending or descending it. However, the view was nice. The workers there chatted with me and was surprised to see that I'm alone.
 
Bang Lang Dam
 
Once arrived Yala, I had a splendind lunch at a street stall. The price was cheap, the food was really good, but so so spicy. After lunch, I headed east to Pattani, before turning left to Songkhla via route 43 and 408. The road was good and the weather was fine. I reached Songkhla and searched for a cheap guest house near the fishing village...and this was what I found.


Khao Seng Resort, B400 only
 
The night was spent eating seafood on sticks near the beach front while listening to loud music which came from the 'disco cars', and later to the night market to do a lil shopping.
 
 
14th October 2013
 
After checking out, I rode to Hat Pattaya to say "hi" to the mermaid and after that rode the same way back to Pattani. The road ran parralel with the lovely beach and I made a mind note to camp here one day.


Upon arriving Pattani, I visited the famous Masjid Krue-Se. This was a historic 16th century mosque about 5km outside the city itself. It was currently in use for the five regular daily prayer-times, but not for Friday prayers. An incident happened here in 2004 when the Thai military stormed in and killed 32 suspected insurgents inside. This incident caused a lot of controversy and was considered an important moment in the current conflict.



 
 
After Pattani, I rode on route 42 heading to Narathiwat. I stopped for another visit to the oldest mosque in Thailand, the Wadi Al-Hussein mosque. This mosque was 300 years old and made totally of wood.



 
 
I arrived Narathiwat and head to Ao Manao beach, hoping to find a good beach front accommodation. However, there is only one accommodation there and it was not so beach front. What a waste for a beautiful stretch of lovely beach. I had to return to Narathiwat town and settled in at Ocean Blue Mansion.


View from my room
 
In the evening, I rode to Narathat Beach, and was spotted by someone, who happened to be my FB friend. What a co-incidence. After that I went to the night market and buy some stuff, including nasi kerabu for only B15. Dirt cheap.
 
 
15th October 2013
 
After checking out, I made my way south to Tak Bai Immigration post. There were no sign boards so I was lost few times and had to ask for direction from locals. Unfortunately, after finding the place, the officer told me that the ferry to Pengkalan Kubor didnt operate that day as it was Eid Adha public holiday. So I had to ride to Sungai Kolok and enter Malaysia from this border instead.


 
 
I headed east to Kampung Bunohan purposely to have my picture in front of the sign board. I was so fascinated by the movie 'Bunohan' starred by Faizal Hussein, that I promised myself then that I will set my foot on this village one day. Along the way, Eid Adha was celebrated merrily and I started to wonder why and what the hell am I doing here during this festive season. I remembered last year, during this same celebration, I was doing my 2nd solo ride to Koh Lanta.   

The sign board feat Faizal Hussein is a prop,
the one feat me is the real one...
 
After that, it was a sprint ride along the East-West Highway from Jeli to Gerik. This was my first time doing this route by motorbike. There were not many vehicles on the road. I rode fast yet carefully while enjoying the corners, greens and the beautiful Titiwangsa Range. I stopped for lunch at the Titiwangsa view point, and again, surrounded by fans. LOL...
Nasi Lemak @ Titiwangsa Range

 
 
Upon reaching Gerik, I visited and old school friend, Suzie, whom I had not met for almost 30 years. She served me delicious rendang and soto. Thanks pal. After that, another 2 hours ride and I arrived back to home sweet home. Alhamdulillah....



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

ANDAMAN RIDE - RANONG & KRABI (1800km)

 
 
This ride was done only about 6 weeks after I came back from my Central Asia Stans Solo Ride. As always, even though the former ride really tired me out, once I felt that I had regained my energy, my palms will be sooo itchy to press the throttle again. So, on the 6th day of Eid Fitri, I made up my mind to have a ‘Balik Kampung’ ride to Thailand. The destinations I’m covering this time would be Ranong and Krabi.
13th August 2013
I made my way up north in the early morning, around 5.45am. I hardly had gone for 15 minutes when the rain started to fall heavily. I kept on riding slowly, and the rain finally stopped when I had reached Gurun. There was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.
 
I stopped at Changlun to purchase and renewed my anually Thailand insurance which costed me RM80 (a RM10 increase compared to last year). Border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam and Dannok was smooth. Not too many bikers could be seen at the border as it was now Eid Fitri (only crazy person like me will feel bored staying at home during Eid doing nothing). By 9.30pm, DREAM was already rolling its wheels on Thailand road. It was a nice feeling as the last time I rode into Thailand was in February. I missed this country sooo much!!!

 
I took the normal route 4 and 41, until I reached Lang Suan. Then I took a left turning via route 4006 to cross to the western part of the Kra Isthmus. Well, actually, there was another left turning that I could take at Chumphon, but I would waste time and fuel by doing this. Besides, I wanna try the 4006 as this was a rural road and in the map, it showed that I will be riding on winding hilly road. The one in Chumphon was a highway, which will be boring. However, by choosing route 4006, I missed the Kra Isthmus sign board. Never mind. Its just a sign board.
The winding single lane hilly 4006 road ride was fun. There were several road construction parts which I had to ride on gravels. How I had missed offroad ride sooo much. The view was quite nice....but I didnt stop for pics as I had seen much more beautiful view before, so I didnt want to waste my time. Once I reached Ratcha Krut, I made a right turning into route 4 which was a single lane highway and there were quite many vehicles on the road. There was a western overlander guy riding behind me and after a while, I lost him when I need to refuel about 10kms before Ranong.


I finally reached Ranong after riding for 900kms in 13hrs (inclusive border crossing and rests). My new personal best record for longest distance covered in a day.


I continued on and searched for a guest house. I found a nice cheap guest house with free wifi, air conditioned, TV, fridge and drinking water, and I could park DREAM right outside my door.
Only B350....only in Thailand lah...
 14th August 2013
After checking out in the morning, I rode to the Andaman Club pier to catch a boat to the Andaman Club Resort. The fare was B950 and the ride was merely 23minutes. In my opinion, this was expensive. I had to wait a while for the boat to arrive. While waiting, I chatted with the Austrian overlander whom I noticed yesterday on the road, and happened to be waiting for the same boat. Unfortunately he couldnt speak much English, so our conversations were limited.






Once arrived, I had to stamp my passport as this island (Koh So) was already in the Myanmar region.



The Andaman Club Resort, as the name said, had only the resort and its casino to boast about. I had never been in a casino before, so I spend 20 minutes here alone. After that, I had to rush to see the other part of the resort as the time allowed for visitors was 30 minutes only (if I had known this earlier, I wouldnt hv wasted my money to come here). As I didnt hv much time, I had to forgo the idea of visiting Kawthung, another island attraction further west.

 

 

I took the boat back to Ranong and viewed the famous spa which everyone seemed to be talking about, but I didnt enter as I didnt quite feel like soaking myself in it. I crossed to the other side of the road and enjoyed the ‘teh tarik’ colored river, but still beautiful in its own way....LOL...





After that, as I was getting late (already 2.30pm), I had to do a sprint ride to Krabi via route 4. In the beginning, I had thought that its going to be a two lanes highway, but reality was, its a single lane quite narrow road, winding, and I had to climb up and down a deserted mountain road near Khao Phanom National Park. It took me 5 hours to reach, only stopping twice to check on my GPS. Thank god that I managed to arrive Krabi before it gets dark, and I straight away checked in at PK Mansion Hotel. That night was spent checking for tour prices at the travel kiosks along the beach road.

 

Only B490 per night....a good hotel deal in Krabi, 100m from the beach

Tom yam kung for dinner....

15th August 2013
I woke up early as I had registered for a Hong Island tour this morning. The price was B700 (after nego). The guide took us all to the awaiting boat at the pier. The boat stopped at few spots for snorkeling. I didnt snorkle this time as I forgot to put on my contact lenses, so I just watched the other snorklers  with envy. The last stop was Hong Island. It was said that UNESCO had recognized this island as the 2nd most beautiful island in the world. I had to agree with this. There was a Bollywood movie shooting done on the beach. I spent more than an hour watching them and in the end, I felt exhausted. Why? Bcos for a mere 10 seconds singing and dancing scene, they took countless takes under the hot sun. Euwwww....acting definitely is not for me. I dont hv that patience.




Bollywood movie shooting, starring Karan Nath & Natalya


With the actor, Karan Nath
 

After the island tour, I got back to my hotel and rest. The night was spent window shopping and eating my heart out...HAHAHA....

I cant finish, so had to tapau lah...

16th August 2013
After checking out, I made my way to Emerald Pond @ Pool. Not many people knew about this place. I need to walk about 1km from the entrance to reach the pond. It was indeed a beautiful pond. The waters were as green as the emerald.







After that, I sprint ride to Hadyai. Instead of taking route 4 all the way, for a change, after bypassing Trang, I took the secondary road of 404, 416 and 406.The ride, especially at 406 was fun as there were some ascending & descending winding road. However, there were some constructions going on, and quite a number of vehicles to overtake which slowed me down. I finally arrived Hadyai around 4pm. The night was spent on massage and eat, eat, eat :)





17th August 2013

After checking out, I sprint ride again all the way as I had to attend my friend’s reception for her son’s wedding. It had been sprinting in, and sprinting out ride for me...and thank god, I arrived home safely...

NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')