I am going to act like an adult and stop complaining about the Thailand Department of Land Transport. We made it in a second time, this time entering from Cambodia, and that is really all that matters. We will never have to jump this hurdle again and I am going to shut up about it. Our second pass through Thailand is more out of necessity than a tourist desire to ride in interesting places. We are eager to explore Malaysia and Indonesia so we stuck to some dull highways and made steady progress south through Thailand. Our stops along the way all involved people, these rendezvous were the highlight and focus of our return trip to Thailand but make for a pretty mundane post in regards to adventure motorcycle riding.
We had a long wait getting into Thailand. So once the border formalities were complete it was late into the afternoon. We arrived into Bangkok well after dark and riding at night is something we never set out to do. But every cloud has a pearl inside. By arriving into the city after 9pm we avoided the searing daytime heat and we missed the abysmal traffic that Bangkok is known for, win-win.
We stayed with our friends Kim and Andrew and used their condo on Sukhumvit as our home base from which to explore Bangkok as well as a safe place to store our bikes when we flew back to Laos to holiday with Shannon’s parents. We played it smart leaving Bangkok and headed out of town at 8am on a Saturday morning, again we found cool temperatures and light traffic, easy peasy.
There are world class hospitals in Bangkok that cost a small fraction of what we would have to pay back home. We opted for the executive physical. Four hours of tests, consultations, blood-work, ultrasounds, EKGs, and even gave poop in a cup. The hospital served us brunch after the fasting blood draw, nice touch. Clean bill of health all around in a very professional and comfortable environment.
Call a special phone number in Bangkok and a message responds with a numeric code; our friend Sarah had a tip on a secret speakeasy in Bangkok. In a dark back alley off of Sukhumvit road there is a graffiti covered telephone booth with a broken telephone. If you punch the code from the message into the keypad the back wall of the phone booth clicks as an electric lock is opened. The wall then becomes a door into a hidden Cuban dance hall.
We were early and the salsa dancers were just arriving at this secret Cuban club. There was even a dress code: no shorts, bare shoulders, or flip-flops allowed.
Once inside the speakeasy we honestly felt like we were back in Latin America instead of the heart of Bangkok.
You can see the the back wall opened up in the phone booth as Sarah is buzzed out of the club.
After Bangkok all we did is ride. Hua Hin to see Steve, Krabi to see Carita, and finally to the Malaysian border. We had a few unremarkable stops in unremarkable towns to break up the ride but pretty much stuck to a simple plan – go south.
In the seaside town of Hua Hin, Shannon, Steve, and Boom digging in at the all you can eat and drink U-cook seafood buffet. Steve, an old friend, is a retired detective from Scotland Yard who now calls Thailand home.
To break-even the restaurant gives you a time limit on how long you can stay. We had 75 minutes to cook and eat our fill of very fresh and tasty raw food.
Mike and Steve saying a sad goodby on Steve’s front porch before we hit the road once again. Our time in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia has been made incredibly special by all the friends and family we have been able to see while passing through on our motorcycles.
After our stay with Steve in Hua Hin we headed to the beaches near the town of Krabi in Southern Thailand. Crowded and far from pristine, the scenery is still stunning and a pleasant place to visit, for a day. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand.
The shade of the overhanging cliff makes for perfect swimming out of the hot noonday sun. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand.
Phra Nang Shrine, north end of Phra Nang Beach. Dedicated to the spirit of a drowned princess, the shrine is in a small cave and is notable for the stacks of carved wooden phalluses donated by fishermen seeking good fortune. Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand.
West Railay Beach at a very low tide. Krabi, Thailand.
We knew Carita from Phnom Penh, Cambodia where we all lived in the early 90’s. Carita was on holiday from her home in Australia and made a travel detour to intersect with us in Krabi for a few days.
Enjoying the food and atmosphere of the weekend night market in Krabi, Thailand. Note the bouncy castle in the background. As I have repeatedly pointed out, I hate those things like some people dislike clowns, we all have our quirks. After our visit with Carita we made quick miles to the Thai Frontier and into Malaysia.
We have been to Thailand so many times over the years it is hard to wax poetic about it, we are just too familiar with the country and our awe and wonder is harder to muster in our old age. Thailand remains an amazing country with splendor, friendliness, and kickass food. Travel here is easy. Thailand will always be, like Cambodia, a place where we feel at home and connected, it is a part of our history.