Lek assertively told us to be ready for our sightseeing tour by 9:30
a.m. the next morning. We were scheduled to go to the Grand Palace. This
did not sit well with us as we had just gone roughly 24 hours without
any sleep, and here it was aLReady 12:45 a.m. as we pulled up to the
entrance of the Dusit Thani hotel. The correct pronunciation is: "Doosit
tani." The hotel was said to be a 5 star hotel, and from the looks of
the lobby it appeared to be in that category. The room was nice, but I
didn't feel it to be in the 5 star range...showing wear and tear from
the many guests who had been there before us.
I was hungry by this time, and I knew that I would not sleep well if I
didn't find some food to settle my growling stomach. I convinced Peggy
into going with me to the Pavilion Coffee Shop. We had no idea what to
expect, and with our worn out condition, we were hardly able to keep our
eyes open. The menu did have some familiar choices, listing items both
in Thai and English. After looking through the menu, we both decided on
the hamburger and fries, reassuring each other that this was not the
time to sample anything risky. Halfway through the hamburger I gave
updisappointed with the quality of the meat. It was at least 60% chunks
of gristle, which I couldn't even swallow! Disappointedly we went back
to the room, feeling a bit of frustration about what kind of food we
could expect the following day.
Completely exhaustedwe finally dosed off about 2:30 a.m., Friday.
In the morning we made our way to the Coffee Shop for our inclusive
buffet breakfast. Thanks to the hamburger incident from the night
before, I immensely troubled about the food quality. But our fears were
short lived once we filled up our plates with an irresistible selection
of fruits, pastries, meats, cereal, and eggs. By 9:00 am we were in the lobby waiting for Lek. Minutes later she
arrived and was a personality you would have to see to believe. She was
so cheerful and displayed her enthusiasm openly while greeting us. We
were treated like royalty as Lek ushered us out to the mini van and the
chauffeur opened our door. I have been to a few large cities that have been known to have
congestion, concerning traffic, such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles
or Munich, Germany...but this was by far the most accurate example of
absolute gridlock we had ever seen. In Thailand traffic drives on the
left side of the road instead of the right. This did not feel dangerous
or unusual if we were continuing in a straight line, but if the driver
made a left or right turn it felt as if we were going to end up in a
head on collision at any moment. No one would stay in his or her own
lane. They were regularly straddled over the lines, unconcerned with
anyone behind them. This had me feeling tense, and was not following
what we consider to be the simplest of rules in the United States: "Stay
in your own Lane."
Pollution from automotive emissions was absolutely terrible. Considering
the probability of absolutely no regulations on emissions, then
realizing how many Diesel driven buses, trucks and pickups were moving
about the city, throw in a tuk tuk for good measure (3 wheel
motorcycles), then top it off with literally millions of 2 stroke
motorcycles!! You get the picture? That's right...heavy, nauseous smog!
Inside the limousine van we had normal breathing, thanks to the air
conditioning. But out on the streets the smog was always noticeable. The
smog seemed extremely visible in the early morning hours as the sun was
just beginning to bring daylight. The haze would not even allow us to
see the buildings off in the distance clearly until mid morning. The Grand Palace was only special to me in one way; the diversity of
color that was present...dressing up the buildings with a unique
cultural setting that was obviously traditional Thai style. But other
than that...being a spiritually reborn Christian who believes in God the
father of creation, I felt concerned for this nation that is 95%
Buddhist. I really don't understand they're religion (philosophy) nearly
enough, so I won't say anymore, because the last thing I really want to
do is offend someone without being well versed in they're particular
Around 11:00 am that morning I found a pay phone on the Temple grounds,
and delved into my pocket for a one Baht coin (it takes 37.55 Baht to
equal 1 U.S. dollar) to call the Jammer motorcycle shop, which according
to my last e-mail, was waiting for my call. The coin was just about
equal to 3.7 cents in American money, and I was surprised that such a
meager amount would be enough. I really had no idea where the shop was
or how any of this would work out, but I had optimistic intentions of
following through with my part of the promise. I got a-hold of "Tui,"
the owner of the shop. He seemed to be happy to hear from me even though
we had never spoken together before. Actually the contacts I had used
through the Internet were acquaintances of Tui's, since he had no
experience at using a computer. He does however, have a computer in his
shop and his daughter, who is proficient in computers, is usually able
to take care of whatever may need to be done. My admiration for the
economical phone system evaporated instantly, when the phone went dead.
I asked Lek what happened, and she informed me that the coin was only
good for 3 minutes. So I called right back, and when Tui answered again,
he was not irritated in the least, apparently knowing exactly what had
happened. We formulated a plan to get together the following day around
11:00 a.m. at the Jammer store.
Lek was somewhat unhappy to hear that we would not be able to make the
tour on Saturday, which was to include touring the river market along
with some other interesting sights. I explained to her that tomorrow was
my only chance to pick up the scooter, because Tui informed me he was
going to be leaving town and riding to the beach area in Pattaya for the
weekend. The next day we received some help from the concierge in getting a taxi,
and had the hotel people write down the Jammer Store address in the Thai
language, so the non English speaking taxi driver could find the place.
The driver seemed confused but shook his head to the doorman that he
understood where the place was. He drove out onto Rama lV road and
immediately pulled over by a couple of other taxi drivers, and mumbling
something we could not understand...jumped out of the car and hurried
over to one of them, apparently getting directions. A minute later he
came back and signaled for us to get out of his car and to climb in
another taxi, because he didn't know where the address was. So we gladly
obliged him. Once again, we were on our way to the other side of
I spotted the Jammer sign on one of the buildings, and hurriedly pointed
to it, signaling for the driver to turn in the alley. I was impressed with how quiet the location of the Jammer shop was
merely a block off of the busy street. We walked into the shop and met
Tui's wife and asked her for change to cover the taxi fare. Tui was sleeping on a couch. Turns out that one of Tui's buddies had
just gotten in from the South China, where he worked on an oil platform.
Apparently they had been doing a little celebrating the night before.
Kind of looked like Tui was feeling a bit of a hangover. Just then a
Harley and its rider pulled up outside. A middle-aged gentleman hopped
off and came into the shop. He introduced himself as Ross. Ross is an
Australian citizen, who has lived in Thailand for 4 Ѕ years. He talked
with a down under accent...continually referring to me as "mate," while
we exchanged comments.
Originally the plan was to have a motorcycle taxi (motorcycle riders
that pick up passengers, and taxi them by motorcycle for a fee), come by
and lead us back to our hotel. But after visiting with Ross...he said he
would be happy to guide us back, eventually leading us to the
intersection where he would go one way, and we would turn the other
way...leaving us on our own to deal with the atrocious traffic.
Tui was really a nice guy, and offered help of all sorts. I sensed that
he knew what we were about to do was an enormously challenging venture.
The bike Tui decided to loan to us was a 93 FLSTN. In other words...it
was a "Heritage Soft-tail Nostalgia." This was one of Tui's personal
motorcycles. We had already discussed the rental price and had decided
on 8000 baht. That comes out to roughly $216.00 U.S. dollars. For 3 days
of riding...about $68.00 per day. Now that is a real bargain for a bike
of this magnitude! I began to understand that he wasn't your typical
authorized rental agency. He had me fill out a small form that he felt
comfortable with for his protection and mine, and I signed it. Other
than that, we simply, verbally agreed on the liability issue (me being
responsible for any damage to the bike or us). This certainly wasn't
like home. There really aren't many regulations to worry about in
Thailand (other than drugs, theft or murder).
I did feel at ease during those moments shortly before we would take
off. Tui told me to fire up the Heritage and ride around the parking lot
a few times to get a feel for the bike. The handlebars were a different
profile than normal and spread out kind of far, but it only took me a
few minutes to adjust.
Having all the essentials ironed out, Ross jumped onto his bike,
suggesting we get going and fired it up. I mounted the Heritage, and hit
the starter button...feeling the strong current of adrenaline flowing
within, as the engine responded to my command. This was unquestionably
going to be an undertaking of extremely treacherous conditions. I
already had witnessed the traffic in Bangkok, and felt a lot of
pressure, being a visitor to this weird and wonderful place. Both Peggy
and I prayed hard for safety, trusting in God to protect us from harm.
From that time on we felt a calming sensation of tranquility surrounding
I was glad Ross was leading us out into the congestion, instead of a
motorcycle taxi. The taxi's behaved more like kamikazes than chauffeurs.
And besides...Ross was on a big Harley, just like us. He didn't have the
same advantages as the little motorcycles riding everywhere around us.
They could fit through the narrowest of lanes in between cars, trucks or
He did have an ability to feel his way into and through tighter spots
than I cared to, occasionally leaving us feeling stranded and alone. We
oftentimes would be stuck in traffic, waiting for the flow to continue,
hoping to motor through tiny spaces amid the jam to catch up. This had
me gunning it, much to Peggy's chagrin. I was thankful that Ross was
laying back just a tad for our sake, because we could have been left way
Stopping at one of the traffic lights, Ross told us that motorcycles are
only suppose to ride in the far left hand lane. I assumed the reason to
be because the average motorbikes are so slow. But a Harley Davidson is
very rare in Thailand...where do they fit in? I knew that the "rules of
the road" were lax to say the least, knowing sensible riding practices
would be the safest way to stay out of trouble, and I certainly didn't
want any confrontations. So instead of getting competitive, like a
racer, I attempted to relinquished my typically aggressive personality
and introduce in its place...patience. But we still had to put up with
the constant sound of literally hundreds of little ear-piercing
motorcycles screaming past us. Didn't they know how to fix their
mufflers around these parts?
On a few occasions we did manage to get to the front of the procession,
and when that happened...once the light turned green, we were out of
there in a flash, leaving all the bumblebees behind instantly, blowing
past all the cars as well. But by the next traffic light, all the
buzzing, two-stroke, antagonists were back along side us. Only this time
they showed interest; inquisitively examining our scooters with
admiration. I guess it was notably an extraordinary machine for this
country and you know...I was irrefutably enjoying their interest!
We made it to the intersection at Rama lV road, and Ross motioned for us
to get in the right lane to continue our course to the hotel, so we
overtly saluted him, thanking him genuinely, for helping us get this
far. Instantly I felt overwhelmed with the up-and-coming challenge of
negotiating the rest of the way on our own. I really had to concentrate.
And I felt confident that we would make it back to the hotel without
I was thinking to myself how it couldn't be more than a few miles to get
there, when suddenly Peggy jabbed me saying; "Isn't that building right
next to our hotel?" I tried to turn around and look, but with so much of
my effort needed to keep from crashing into someone, I had to wait until
the next traffic light. Once stopped and firmly planting both feet on
the pavement...I twisted around looking to the left, but could not
recognize anything. "I know that building" Peggy said, "it's right next
to our hotel, because I remember standing out on our balcony and seeing
it!" I figured if she was wrong, all we would end up doing was going
around the block.
I whipped into the left lane, and we proceeded to try and find our
23-story hotel, which was starting to feel more like a needle in a
haystack, than a big building in this enormous city. As we headed back,
looking for the "elusive hotel", my confidence grew, somehow believing
this to be our neighborhood. We had one of those skinny little streets;
the Thai's call Soi's, straight in front of us. It didn't look to be a
throughway, but I really felt like it was our best chance to get to
Silom Rd. And we both knew that if we could find Silom Rd. we would
positively be able to find our way to the hotel. I did see motorcycles
parked here and there on the Soi, so I didn't feel like it was an
illegal area, as I skillfully maneuvered over speed bumps and around
vendors. "Ah! Silom Road," I erupted. "There it is, and what a happy
sight indeed." It had to be Silom, because the sky-train monorail was
right above us. So I turned left, and within a couple of city blocks I
knew we were going to make it.
There was our hotel up ahead on the right. I steered into the right
lane, preparing to turn right, directly into the Dusit Thani parking
lot, when for a split second my concentration faltered...leaving us
vulnerable, I headed for the wrong lane, and nearly ran right into a
car, whose operator was by this time, honking the horn furiously at us!
I abruptly braked and angled left, barely leaning out of his way.
Finally, we found ourselves entering a haven of neutrality. Though at
that moment I was immeasurably shaken up. Just seconds ago; I had nearly
ended our maiden voyage with an incident that could have been nasty.
I found a parking place and was pulling into it, when the security guard
came running over and signaled to us that we could not park there. I
could not understand why, and not being able to communicate with him
with anything other than sign language, I continued pulling into the
spot. He became frantic and began shouting and waving his hands in the
air. By this time we noticed other people watching our little
altercation. Personally; I don't like disagreements anyway, so I backed
out of the space and rode up the ramp to the main entrance.
The doorman knew we were coming back with the Harley, and we noticed his
smile, larger than usual. He told us to take the Heritage down
underneath the ramp we were on and park it there. Whew!! What a relief
to finally climb off that machine still alive!
The rest of that day, I voiced my concerns to Peggy, about riding the
Heritage out of the city in morning. I was still extremely shaken from
the parking lot ordeal, truly worried about the traffic. Peggy was
equally worried. Eventually, by later that evening, I calmed down and
began to look at the earlier misfortunes as valuable lessons that were
useful tools to help me keep my perspective.
That night I studied the map, making sure I knew the precise route we
would need to take, to get out of Bangkok and onto the bridge linking us
with Thon Buri (pronounced Ton Buri). Thon Buri is really just an
extension of Bangkok. From Thon Buri we would need to make the
transition onto highway 4.
Lots of prayer the evening before, had me waking up with lofty
expectations...willing to climb back on the motorcycle and get out of
town before the Sunday morning traffic got worse. Peggy also seemed
eager to seize the moment.
After we gorged ourselves on the buffet breakfast, we grabbed all the
gear we felt we would need for the overnight adventure, loaded up the
bike, and headed on our way.
We were pleased with the volume of traffic for a Sunday morning, feeling
a lot less pressure than yesterday afternoon. I kept asking Peggy to
remind me about the need to stay on the left side of the road, and she
confirmed that she would. I do feel that the challenge of the opposite
driving rules would not have been nearly as harrowing if we had been
seated in a car. On a motorcyclethe seating position was actually in the
same familiar spot (smack dab in the middle for balancing). But cars had
the steering wheel on the right side...allowing a neophyte to perceive a
Shortly after turning onto Charoen Krung Road I noticed the bridge I
initially planned on crossing to get into Thon Buri, but I could not
find the entry to get onto it. Not to worry...I also knew that in about
5 or 6 more blocks there was another bridge we could cross. So when I
got close and noticed the bridge I watched carefully to see where the
entrance was to get on the bridge. "Alright!" I hollered ecstatically,
as we found our way on and across the bridge. My confidence growing, I
felt like if we could only find Phet Kasem road, then we would really be
in luck! There we were riding in the proper direction on Phet Kasem road
(the problem was we didn't know it, cause it was really hard to spot and
read any of the street signs). So I pulled into a shell station for gas.
The attendants were standing at the pumps, just waiting to fill our
tanks with gas (This was the custom at every gas station we pulled
into)! I cautiously grabbed the nozzle from the young man, not wanting
to offend him and shoved it into the left hand tank, filling it up all
the way. Then I gave the nozzle back to him, and removing the right hand
cap, I gestured at him to shove it in and finish filling up. By the time
he completed our fill up, I had our map out and began grilling his
companion for information as to where highway 4 was. Like all previous
attempts we had trying to communicate during our brief stint in
Thailand, we could not seem to break through the difference of our
languages. Then finally I mentioned "Phet Kasem" road. One of the young
Thai men responded with affirmation that the road we were on was indeed
the road we were looking for! It was a big relief, knowing that we
already had accomplished the most difficult part of the journey, by
finding the road that was actually the very highway that would
eventually take us directly into Pranburi.
We were off and running and I was still very concerned about the
aggressive driving techniques of the Thai people. The left lane was
always crowded with buses and trucks, and they frequently belched out
clouds of black from their diesel exhausts. After a while, I was having
sinus difficulties and found myself randomly sneezing. Getting somewhat
irritated with the excessive emissions, I decided that going around them
as quickly and often as I could, would be better than sitting behind
them and breathing in their polluting un-burnt gases. Once I figuring
out that the highway, which still appeared to be more like a wide city
street, was actually giving us 3 lanes going in our direction, I became
more willing to use the 2nd and 3rd lanes. The cars on the inside lane
continued to go dangerously fast. Traffic signals were not as frequent
by this time, and bigger motorcycles would occasionally come blasting
past us, doing probably about 80 or 90 km/h. The appearance of the road
continued to feel more like city than country for another 50 kilometers
or so. It seemed like we had been riding in the saddle for at least a
couple of hours by this time, so we pulled into another gas station, to
grab something to drink, since our throats were so dried out from all
the nasty exhaust fumes.
Eventually, as we continued south on highway 4, we finally saw the rural
landscape. Plants were different and unusual to anything we have ever
seen before, appearing to have a dense growth within each plant or tree,
but not densely growing on the land. This gave us the opportunity to see
out into the distance. There were palm, coconut, and several others
species of trees, within view.
There were no restaurants along the route, other than a couple of small
vending stands. We didn't trust the quality of food at those places yet,
so we decided to buy bags of Lays Potato Chipsa safe alternative. The
bags were cheaply priced compared to in the U.S., and they were big
enough so that one bag would satisfy our hunger for a good long time.
And all of the stations had either cold pop, or bottled water.
It was nearing the noon hour by the time we reached the area around
Pranburi. Unfortunately, we didn't have a good map that showed enough
detail, to figure out where the road was, to head southeast towards the
South China Sea. Then I realized we were already almost to the southern
outskirts of Pranburi. I pulled over into a parking area on the left
(Ha! Ha! Got to keep thinking left), and told Peggy that we would have
to turn around and go back a little ways to find the right road. There
were Thai people going up the road in the direction we wanted to go, so
I bellowed at three people, all riding on the same moped and they
stopped for me.
I walked over to them, wondering how I was going to overcome the
language barrier this time? Predictably, they didn't understand a word I
was saying. So I started to act out a diving motion to them,
embarrassingly feeling like a mime. Suddenly their eyes lit up with
acknowledgement. And the three of them (it appeared to be a women with
her two children) signaled for us to follow them.
Off we went riding down the shoulder of the road, in the wrong direction
(typical as so many of them would do that instead of crossing the busy
highway). They ended up taking us through some plantations and down
these dusty half sand and gravel roads. But I knew they were leading us
in the appropriate direction. We continued to follow them...at times
finding the road rather treacherous, with huge washouts from the heavy
irrigation. Eventually we came across an intersection where the other
road was paved and looked to me like it would lead to the beach and
possibly, get us close to our evening accommodations.
I did know that the resort we were looking for was just barely north of
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. And I also knew that we had not gone
south far enough to be near the park. Also, I still couldn't tell if our
Thai guides had understood us well enough to know exactly what we meant.
Maybe, good Lord willing, they would take us right where we hoped to go.
So we kept on following them on their little 2-stroke moped, keeping a
reasonable distance behind, because the fumes were making my nose itchy.
It wasn't long till we could see the aqua blue waters of the ocean. Now,
where was our resort? Just then the boy who was operating the moped
signaled that they had run out of gas. I was bummed out, because I felt
responsible for taking them this far out, just to help us. So I found an
empty juice can on the edge of the path, thinking that I could take
loose the fuel line on the Harley and give them enough to get back. A
guy and his girlfriend came by in a Toyota pickup truck and our presence
on the sandy trail caught their attention. The man pulled up and rolled
down his window, and I asked him if he knew anything about the Dolphin
Bay Resort? He didn't, but he did know a little bit of English, and that
in itself was a relief. I told him how the Thai family had run out of
gas, and he volunteered to throw the scooter into his pickup and take
them to a gas station, apparently nearby. Then I pulled some Thai money
out of my pocket and offered some to the family, only they refused it. I
tried being even more persistent, but they gracefully continued to
decline my offer. The Thai man in the pickup truck defended there
honor...explaining that indeed they would not accept my gratuity.
Another lesson learned, I asked him to make sure and thank them for me.
Once again we were back to searching for the "needle in the haystack."
The beach looked and felt fantastic and I found a place that seemed
great for snapping a couple pictures. I told Peggy that we would find
the place we were looking for now, since we were right on the ocean
beach. Luckily we stopped to take pictures where we did, because the
guys who had been helping us came back up the road in their pickup, and
I guess the road became a dead end a little ways farther down. So they
turned inland right where we were. We jumped back on the hog, and
followed them again. A little while later, we finally found the resort
we had reservations at. The sign was in English as well as Thai!
The resort was simplistic but clean, and for a modern air-conditioned
bungalow...850 Baht ($23.00) a night was incredibly reasonable. We sat
down at the patio restaurant and ordered some prawns, freshly caught
from the ocean! They were delicious! Then we went for a walk on the
beach. We couldn't believe all the shells along the beach, as Peggy
began picking up one particular kind, we had never seen before. I
started picking up some other types, and every one had tiny crabs living
in them. Truthfully; we were amazed at how many living creatures there
were on that beach.
The fellow who owns and runs the resort is a British guy, who has lived
in Thailand for the last 14 years. His name is Gary, and he has a Thai
wife who knows English very well. I got directions from her for getting
to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.
Turned out the park was really close. We rode to the entrance, and were
amused at how excited the rangers were about the Harley
Davidson...squawking to each other loudly in that unrecognizable
The entrance fee was 20 Baht, roughly equivalent to about 55 cents
"American." I asked one of them where the monkeys were? He showed me the
map of the park, which had some of the key destinations in English,
pointing to the visitor center.
The park was really scenic, and we were glad we rode over. We continued
to ride down a few different roads, taking us to places of various
special interests. At each place I would try to find someone to ask
where the monkeys were, because I wasn't sure if the rangers had
understood me. And every time we were told they were indeed at the
At this one place which was an entrance to one of the park caves we
pulled in and parked the bike by the path that went up over the mountain
to where the cave was at, and grabbed a bottle of water at the outdoor
store (a woman standing behind a big ice chest). Four guys standing
there could not contain their curiosity and walked over to the Harley to
check it out. They were really jabbering about the Heritage to one
another! I have no idea exactly what they were saying, but I did sense
that they were noticing a disparity from the average Thai two-wheeler
and discussing the differences with one another.
Another time...one of the young park rangers could not contain his
excitement at seeing our Harley Davidson. He seemed to know a little
about the Motor Company. He asked if he could twist on the throttle, and
I said yes. As he twisted the handlebar grip...immediately feeling the
response of the motor and the vibrations penetrating through the palm of
his hand, he shrieked with delight. Unusual as it was; he did know how
to speak our language quite well and asked me how much it cost to own a
Harley Davidson? I pulled my calculator from my pocket, and did some
calculations, knowing the price in Thailand was double what it would be
in the United States. In American dollars being about $29,000.00, I
calculated a price tag of roughly 1.3 million Baht. He couldn't believe
it could cost so much and shrugged his head in disbelief. We were
beginning to understand that the average Thailand citizen could never
ever possibly afford a Harley Davidson.
At times during our ride through the park...parts of the paved road were
so deteriorated that the roadway was nothing more than gravel, making it
difficult to go very fast. But we had to see the monkeys that were
living wild in the jungle. So we continued south, until we finally
reached the visitor center.
I looked around, and told Peggy I didn't think we would spot any monkeys
here, but as I pulled into the visitor center to park the bike and take
a break, another ranger came up to us and asked us what we wanted? I
told him we wanted to see the monkeys that I'd heard about. He knew
instantly what I meant, and told us to follow him and he would show us.
We followed him into the thickness of the tropical growth and right away
he pointed up into the trees and sure enough, there were the monkeys. I
snapped a few pictures frantically as the monkeys retreated deeper into
the forest. We were ready to go back to the visitor center, but the
ranger insisted on taking us farther down the pathway. Mosquitoes were
biting us and we felt concerned about getting malaria, but he told us
there was no malaria in their area. He kept showing us everything that
would move in the brush, and he really had a well-trained eye...spotting
every single creature for all we knew. Every time he pointed at
something moving, he would say"Naaaaaaammmme"and then pronounce it
correctly in Thai. I tried to repeat it exactly as he said, and he would
keep correcting me until I got it right. My responsive efforts seemed to
encourage him even more.
Happy that we had finally seen the monkeys, we rode back to Dolphin Bay
and settled in with some good food (other than the Thai soup I tried,
which turned out to have way to much raw ginger in it for my palate),
and soda pop. Being exhausted from the long day, we retired early that
evening. Awakening at 4:00 am the following morning, and unable to fall
back asleep, I flipped on the television and began watching some
interesting programs on some world news network with an Asian viewpoint.
We had been doing this all week...waking up so early and not ever
getting a good nights rest. The small resort was completely quiet, so we
just had to bide our time until we would get a chance to get some coffee
After breakfast we had some acquaintances we met at the resort take our
picture out by the resort, and we took theirs. Their names were Dan and
Theresa, and they were originally from southern Ohio. Dan's job is
related to ATM machines, and his current position has him involved in
upgrading the system in many countries around the world. He mentioned
that he would be stationed in Bangkok for the next 14 months. Previously
he was in Singapore, and before that he was in South Africa. Wouldn't
that be a great way to see the world? Having your job pay your way!
Riding back to Bangkok turned out to be relatively easy. I was already
familiar with the highway, and I had no trouble getting from the resort
out to the big road. I was much more at ease with the traffic
conditions. Since the cars and small pick up trucks were cruising at
anywhere from 120 to 160 km/h or for our standard system that is 75 to
100 mph, I picked up the pace a little bit...cruising at about 110 to
120 km/h. Someone had told me that the maximum speed for motorcycles was
suppose to be 80 km/h, and I was much more careful on the way down to
the beach. But now after being exposed to the attitude of the country,
concerning driving behavior, I figured since I had never seen a cop yet,
why should I ride at a speed that was so slow, while others were going
The cars were still blasting past us, and every so often I would need to
get around a slow moving truck, so I would just roll on the throttle,
and thanks to the 93 FLSTN'S hopped up motor, I never felt concern about
blasting around our obstruction and back out of another cars way. The
people in the 4 wheelers were naturally surprised at a motorcycle in
Thailand having so much top end.
From Nakhon Pathom, which has a population of about 750,000, we had
solid heavy traffic the rest of the way to Bangkok, about another 60/40
kilometers/miles. Peggy was starting to get nervous. She had a strong
grip on my belt loops by this time, and I could really feel her tension.
"Peggy could you relax a little bit," I said. No comment, but I felt the
loosening effects of her hands to my waist. "Your gonna have to relax,"
I repeated assertively to her. We both knew we were in for the most
challenging part of the entire motorcycle adventure, for the next how
ever many kilometers until we could reach the safety of the Dusit Thani
It was like a free for all the rest of the way. All the motorists seemed
to be positioning themselves, every time the traffic came to a halt. It
was if they were all in a contest, waiting for the signal...purposely
seeking the best possible position to get a good jump on the rest of the
heap. Once again, the motorcycles were unrelenting as they added to the
chaos, by forcing their way through the most minuscule paths I have ever
seen. The Heritage was not even close to fitting through!
Our plan was to continue riding conservatively, by taking our time and
waiting patiently behind the other traffic. I just wanted to stay out of
trouble, that was the most important thing. I honestly wish we could
have gotten a good picture of us ensnarled in the gridlock, but how
would we even try to pull that off? So you'll just have to believe me,
or take a trip over to Bangkok yourself, rent a Harley Davidson.
Subsequently; I had made serious efforts to memorize the map and knew
exactly how to get back to the Dusit Thani (if I could spot the road
signs in English soon enough).
We made it to the circle, where we had to get around to the 3rd turnout,
and I have to declare...during those moments, I maneuvered the Heritage
just like as if I were the leader of a professional drill team. Now we
had to get to the 1st major left turn, which should lead us up onto the
bridge. But there wasn't any bridge! An old man riding on his motorcycle
next to us could see my dismay and motioned for us to follow him,
somehow knowing where we wanted to go! I didn't have any better plan, so
we did exactly that.
About 2 kilometers later we could see the bridge connecting Thon Buri to
Bangkok. Whew! Was that ever a relief! Knowing that once we traversed
the bridge, we would be back in Bangkok city proper with merely 4 or 5
kilometers to go.
The only other incident we had was when another impatient motorcyclist
tried squeezing past us just as the traffic started moving again. We
brushed against each other ever so slightly, barely enough to even
notice, but I had to put my feet down to keep the bike
upright...stopping momentarily and causing all of the traffic behind us
to stop as well. The people of Bangkok seem to be so use to the
congestion, that we didn't even hear a single car horn.
Finally; safely back at the hotel, Peggy didn't want to have any part of
riding on the Heritage, the last leg, back to the Jammer shop. Actually,
I wasn't very enthused about the idea either. "You can just wait here
and I'll take it back," I said. Her facial expression showed jubilation
at the notion. "I don't want to see you have to go back out there in
that mess either," she sympathetically replied.
For the next half hour or so, I listened to Peggy's persistent worries
about how terrible the traffic was in Bangkok, until the phone rang, and
it was Kamthron Supatt (better known as Tui to us) on the line. "How was
your trip?" he asked. "Absolutely fantastic" I commented. "Did the bike
run well?" "Yes it ran excellent!" Then he asked? "Say; I could send my
mechanic over to pick up the Heritage from you if you want?" "Oh you
could?" I said. "Yeah, it would only cost you 1000 Baht." "That much
ha?" "Yes, I have to pay labor costs to keep my mechanic you know," Tui
insisted. Peggy was shaking her head frantically in favor of Tui's
proposal. Figuring the danger of the city streets to a farang such as
myself, and realizing that it would cost about $6.00 U.S. to get back by
taxi meant an actual cost of about $21.00. That was barely the price of
a decent meal. "Okay, we can do that," I acknowledged. "Good; He should
be over there by 5:00 or 5:30, okay?" said Tui. "Sounds good," I said,
Even though we took the easy way out of our obligation at the end, I
still have no regrets from the adventure. If Ross had been available to
come over and meet up with us and lead us back to the Jammer store, then
I would have finished like I had planned to. But since he was not around
that afternoon, we did the next best thing...thus avoiding any more
perilous circumstances, which may well had been dangerous.
Riding in Thailand was a great experience. The weather was better than
any conditions of summer riding that I have ever had. I realize that we
were there during the cool season (Winter), which is typically dry, but
that's the way it was, and if I were to do it again that is precisely
the time of year that I would plan for. The temperatures were bearable,
due in big part to the low humidity (never higher than 50%) and the
nighttime temperatures never dipping below the high 20's Celsius or the
mid 80's Fahrenheit. Daytime highs were about 33 degrees Celsius/or 92
degrees Fahrenheit. Considering the temperatures being about 70 degrees
F. / 33 degrees C. warmer than back home, it was quite a difference.
I wore long sleeves all the time just to keep from dealing with the
misery of sunburn. But I did forget my riding gloves in the room, and
carelessly forgot to add sunscreen to the back of my hands. So I did end
up getting minor sunburn on the top of each hand.
Starting mileage was 19,922 Kilometers registered on the odometer.
Odometer reading was 20,200 kilometers at Dolphin Bay Resort. So we rode
278 kilometers/ 173 miles on Sunday. The odometer showed 20,520 once we
returned to the Dusit Thani. That adds up to 320 kilometers (which
included our run through Koh Sam Roi Yot N.P., or 198 miles. Overall we
ended up riding approximately 598 kilometers / 371 miles in two easy
days. Granted that really isn't a lot of distance, but I guarantee you
it felt like more, because of the unique surroundings and conditions of
the journey. Truth is...I really wish that we had been able to go for
several more days. Oh well...maybe there will be a next time, right?
So my final comments are: Don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Take a
chance on seeing new places and riding in diverse circumstances. Life is
short, and each day is unpredictable. We always have many interesting
twists and turns waiting for us, whether we step outside from our homes,
walk across the street, or travel to a far away land. People ask me why
I would go there? The answer is easy; because I've never been there!
It's the same reason I try to find new roads to ride on, even in my own
The understanding and respect we gained in our own willingness to see
first-hand another culture, that is so different from our own, gave us a
special appreciation for the place we call home. In the United States we
have so much to be thankful for. We both commented how we will not
complain about trivial matters in our daily life's...as quickly as we
did before our trip to Thailand. Eventually...the memories will fade
away and then we will probably be right back to our predictable routines
of whimpering about all the rules and regulations we have, keeping us
secure in our comfortable, complacent society. But before that happens,
I have to say"God Bless America;" What a country!
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