Since 2006, I have been flying to Thailand regularly and I remember that I mentioned a couple of times to some random taxi driver and the waiters I knew in Bangkok that one day, I will ride up to Bangkok.
Finally on April 2011, I started my solo trip up to Chiangmai with stops at Hatyai, Bangkok along the way. The total distance covered both ways would be almost 6000km. I bought a Yamaha FJR 1300 (AGAIN) and prepared the bike for touring, bought a GPS and a tank bra so that i can hook on the tank bag. The bike was good to go.
I had to pack a fair bit of stuff, because I will be there during the Songkran period, I will need extra clothing because I will definitely be wet. I also brought along some liquor from the storeroom which I will consume at BKK. The entire load was pretty heavy and I managed to bring a pump and a laptop too.
On 7th April, I made my move up north. I left Singapore and refuelled at Gelang Patah, where I will start my 1000km ride to Hatyai in the darkness of the North South Highway.
(The bike fully loaded)
The initial 260+km to my first stop, Seremban, was fairly smooth. I had adequate rest and felt fresh. I was cruising at an average speed of 160km/hr and I made it to Seremban just when my meter started to hit the reserves.
After topping up and getting ready to move off, 2 bikes came in and they were Malaysian bikers.
One of them asked me where I was heading to and I said “Chiangmai”
He looked impressed and he said “I went there last year with my friend, but not alone. Where are you stopping in Thailand?”
“Hatyai, where is your next stop?”
“Sungei Buloh”. That’s pretty near I thought.
“My next stop is Tapah. Looks like I’ll see you guys at the border.”
“Yeah man, see you there.”
After that conversation, I rode off towards Tapah in the darkness again. The lack of light was not helping and after a while i started to feel tired, but luckily it was bright around the highways of KL, soon I pulled into Tapah and refuelled.
I decided to take a longer break this time round and had a conversation with the petrol attendant who also looked impressed when I said I was going to go up to Chiangmai alone.
(Resting at Tapah)
I had to rest my feet too, I don’t know why it should feel tired, its not like I’m jogging or anything but occasionally I have to rest on the heel, then after a while I rest on my toes while riding. Maybe just to keep the blood flowing. After about 20mins rest I decided to move off and the sun started to rise.
I had to stop to take a photo, I never stopped to take a photo like this before because I used to travel in a group and they never stopped. I stopped on the road shoulder, switched on the hazard lights and fumbled with the camera with my gloves on. I brought a Canon Ixus along. Yeah, its a point-and-shoot camera, I’m not going to lug a DSLR around and take up luggage space.
Soon the sun was up and the heat was on. My body went from sleepy mode to awake mode and everything was bright and warm. I could ride faster since I can see the roads clearly now. I tore down the highway and I arrived at Gurun.
I had to clean off all the dead bugs that got splattered on my visor and wind shield, there is just a lot more when travelling at night.
(All the lives I have taken)
After refuelling, the 2 Malaysian bikers pulled up at the petrol station. I learnt from one of them that I can actually purchase the Thai vehicle insurance at the Gurun station. I normally purchase it near the border. But this time round it is closed and the attendant told us that the boss hasn’t arrived yet to open the office.
“You can get the insurance done at the border?” asked the Malaysian
“Yeah, that’s the usual place I go to anyway… around the coffeeshops”
“Ok good, then we can have breakfast there”
The 3 of us moved off and very soon we were at the border. They ordered breakfast but I didn’t eat anything. I can’t eat anything while riding because it will just put me to sleep.
We got one of the shops to fill up our cards, purchased the insurance and waited for 2 more Malaysian bikers to arrive. The girl who filled up the card could speak Thai, I was tempted to say a few words.
When it was time to pay for the insurance, I asked her “เท่าไร?” (how much?)
She replied in Thai “40”
She laughed and said no. Damn, I thought I could get a super discount.
I handed her the money and we were ready to go to the border.
(Welcome To Thailand!)
Like all groups, they all just moved along when they reached the border. But I had to take my photo first, it was a solo trip after all.
The queue was long, and even longer at the vehicle declaration counter. The heat was increasing and it felt stuffy everywhere. I think we spent about an hour there before we cleared everything, mostly because there were other bikers from Malaysia and they were a pretty big group.
Once we were done with the paper work, we set off towards Hat Yai, I broke off from the group and checked into the hotel. I needed air conditioning badly.