Firstly I must apologise for the state of my photos - I'm the world's worst photographer and my phone's not much better. I hope they at least portray the flavour of the area .
I've just returned from a month in Thailand - mostly spent finishing the renovation/alteration of my home near Khao Yai. I had hoped to get a week or so in travelling on my bike but the house took priority so my 'road trip' was cut down to just 24 hours.
Nevertheless, I discovered a beautiful area - the mountains in Petchabun Province and will certainly return there as I've only seen a fraction of what's on offer.
I left Khao Yai on the Friday luchtime at 12:00 and headed up through Pak Chong and onwards to a town called Lam Narai where I joined highway 21 northwards. There's nothing much to see before Petchabun city so its just as well that the 21 is a dual carriageway in good condition. You can really eat up the miles on that road and I arrived at my hotel in Petchabun city at 3.15pm having taken 2 x 15 minute breaks for petrol/coffee. 2h 45m was a little faster than the 3.5h I'd been told the trip would take but I had the hammer down - and so did everyone else it seems. I was surprised at the speed of the traffic once I got on to the 21. On most of the highways and motorways I travel on in Thailand, I'd say the faster traffic is travelling around 120kmh regardless of the speed limit. However, most of the time on the 21 I was doing around 140kmh and I was being passed quite often! Still, the traffic was not heavy and the road good so it didn't feel at all unsafe to travel at such speeds. I did once hit an virtually empty stretch so I took the bike up to 195 to see what it would do as I've never had it flat out - quickly back to 140, 195 without a fairing is punishing.
I checked in to the Kosit Hill Hotel in Petchabun city which although dated, was clean, funtional and everything worked. The price of 850 baht per night must also be taken in to consideration. Anyway, I was happy with it and would certainly stay again. The owner must be an avid collector of memorabilia as every corner, nook and cranny is packed with showcases containing such things as 70's and 80's guitars, amplifiers, TV's, cassette decks etc. etc. I found it a pleasant place to stay for the price.
By the time I'd checked in and got settled it was almost 4pm - I decided against a quick blast up into the mountains as I could have ended up returning in the dark - I hate riding/driving in the dark in Thailand, it always seems so much darker, I don't feel safe and avoid it wherever possible. So after a shower and a snooze, I checked out local restaurants on the internet and found one that appealed. Apart from breakfasts (Pork and Rice will never substitute for Bacon and Eggs), I'd been eating near exclusively Thai food for almost a month and I really fancied something English. A place called High Heels & Coffee was descibed as serving great Fish & Chips and having staff that spoke good English. High Heels & Coffee it was then.
I asked the staff at reception to call me a taxi - it would be 30 minutes so I took the alternative Saam Lor which arrived in 10 minutes. The old guy driving must have been 80 if he was a day and had no teeth at all .
The hotel staff told him exactly where the restaurant was and he 'confirmed' he knew it. We set off but after about a mile the Saam Lor ground to a halt, much blowing into the tank took us another 100m but it was plain, we were out of petrol!!! Thailand - you just gotta love it!!
Another Saam Lor was flagged down and 15 minutes later arrived back with a 'bottle' of petrol . Once underway it was clear that the driver had absolutely no idea where the restaurant was and we finished the journey with me calling out directions using Google Maps. Keen to earn some commision, the driver then offered to find me some 'company' for the evening - I declined (what's happening to me? ). I think it was his lack of teeth and dirty clothing...... sort of made me disbelieve his description of 'pooying suay mak'.
The Fish & Chips at High Heels and Coffee were indeed very tasty and the Chang went down well too. The staff were very friendly and did speak English well. I chatted with a great bunch of folks from all corners of the globe - most working in the area but declined their offer of going clubbing. I wanted to get up into the mountains the next morning and that would not happen if I had a 'Changover'.
Up bright and early, breakfast wasn't bad - no bacon and eggs but this is Petchabun, not Bangkok (or even Pak Chong). The reason for this trip was that I'd seen a photo of the area showing a road, rising like a snake up to the top of a mountain. Anyone who rides a bike will know that to a biker, those roads are heaven.
I'd looked at a map and chose the 2196 (hang a left 8 to 10km North of Petchabun) to Khao Kor. Bang on the money! Stunning scenery, fantastic roads and great coffee! There's not much more I can say about the area - its just stunning and I will be back to sample the delights of Pu Taberk and other places I've been recommended to. The roads were indeed 'biker heaven' - fantastic corners, cranked right over, going on and on - pure heaven. I think I need a new rear tyre .
Great coffee at 'Chattanooga'.
Looking forward to the next trip which will be 4 or 5 days. I'm told December is the best time - mist rolling around the mountains.