Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fill her up!

It seems like yesterday we were still relaxing and chatting with Ronnie over a good feed at his local Coffee shop. Alas today we're about a good few hundred kilometers north and in our third county of our journey. Shamefully the slow update blame falls upon our acclimatisation to the copious amounts of Pad Thai and cheap beer that has to be consumed. Also the difficult task of surveying the gorgeous tropical locations here in southern Thailand. Filled with more 'farang' than we seen in all of two and half months of Malaysia combined.

Pad Thai. This is the goods. Especially for $1.20AUD.

Bikes loaded up and riders armoured up, we left Ronnie's humble abode to ride north to visit George Town, Penang. A popular spot for tourists (which we didn't notice too much) and traffic (which was a bit extreme). It was certainly a good ride on the main highway as it winds up the hills and through a tunnel and carving back down the mountain. We had decided on our choice of hotel with the help of Ronnie earlier. This was purely due to its excellent location to the Thai Consulate.

George Town BMW motorrad... If you ride an 'Airhead' BMW, don't look here an oil filter.

The 'Waterfall hotel' was a little more expensive than we usually aim for but it did the job. We donned our sunday best and wandered down the embassy to politely request a 60 day tourist visa. There was a few individuals doing passport photos and photocopying. Extremely cheap and gave us the visa forms to pre-fill out. Our new mate told us he drove the school bus in the morning and then did the passport photocopying/photos whilst waiting to take the kids home. Simple job and he was a happy guy. Noting too that the school bus had his mobile passport studio in the boot.

We certainly didn't do George Town its due justice though. We sort of shot through without seeing a great deal. Clarissa had no problem finding a great sushi bar and we sort of stumbled upon the botanical gardens too. The botanical garden seemed a little strange too me until I found a very slippery path through the jungle to explore. The monkeys were good value until one of them decided I was not an orangoutang with a camera but actually a human spy with a camera. His proceeding actions and facial expressions gave me the hint that my face was about to become his next snack after his ice cream he stole from his last human victim.

After retrieving our visa's and spending one more night in George Town we planned and executed a daring early morning escape from the island. The islands ruthless and cut-throat traffic was thankfully subdued significantly by the heavy rain and the fact that it was half past sleeping rooster (about 6:30am). We dashed back across the big bridge and followed our coastal route towards our baby border crossing we had been planing to try out. Good time to mention that we did the right thing in running the waterproof liners as the rain/overcast weather made for an almost chilly ride! We stopped for a 'we have no idea what your talking about so lets laugh instead' breakfast in far north Malaysia. This was not only hilarious but a good time to dry out after the soggy ride.

Jungle at George Town Botanical Gardens.

Investigations led me to believe that the smaller border crossing into Thailand would be not only a scenic and motorcycling friendly ride but also administratively easier. This proved true on all fronts.

That's 25AUD converted, Malaysia, cheap as chips for petrol. This sign mentions no more than 20L for foreign registered vehicles...

It was a solemn farewell to Malaysia as we filled with her cheap petrol and waved good bye as we disappeared through an uneventful border crossing. It cannot be stressed that for our first real country (no Singapore, you didn't make the cut) we have been spoilt with the love and hospitality of a beautiful country.

Terima Kasih Malaysia!

As far as the border crossing was concerned we were feeling comfortable. Considering my previous travel in south east asia and two jaw-dropping/kick arse Rooney Specials how could we go wrong. Worth noting that we haggled a little to get our 180 day blue slip (Temporary Importation Permit) as we knew it would be easier to enter Laos with it. Our friend Ian on his KTM950 had crossed a week or so more earlier before us and they let him go without one. We were offered the use of our Carnet's but I politely declined. This was for us a personal choice. Due to our overall dislike of the carnet system it was shunned. Insurance cost was a horrible 50 Ringgit/$15AUD per bike for three months. This was laughable after I had wasted two hours negotiating a better deal on insurance for Malaysia. Mental note to make sure the insurance vendor knows side of the border we want it for next time.

We spent our first Thai night in Satun. This was not to be confused with Saturn, as I did, and was extremely let down at not being able to fly on a spaceship with our bikes. Satun was a very wishy/washy Malaysia/Thailand mix and it was probably a good place to nut out the new money conversion and language change. I spent sometime 'tuning' and test riding both bikes and managed to get both bikes in much happier state of running. We started the trip with new throttle cables on both bikes so after our current 4000kms or so around Malaysia they were ready to be adjusted again. After a some adjustment both bikes are idling and running the sweetest under my care so far. Big blue Zeus takes the prize for first oil 'weep'. The BMW two valve twins are know for their eventually weepy pushrod tube seals, alas its not worth the effort to stop a negligible oil loss.

Maintenance completed, local currency converted and wearing of bright yellow clothing accepted! Clarissa and Neil are ready for the great and marvellous kingdom of Thailand.

Personally, I've always wondered about these 'touristy' places that many Australians call home for their holidays. Ko Samui, Phuket, Ko Chang, Ko Lipe... There's more islands than you can possibly ever hope to visit in a lifetime of holidaying. The only problem is just how far and how long we could be without our bikes. Figuring we could get the most out of this part/scene of Thailand by going to Krabi was our first thought. We could work out what island was for us and where to hide the bikes. Needless to say that after a few days of researching/relaxing in Krabi Town and planing we realised that we just needed to head down the road to Ao Nang.

Horrible looking place Ao Nang beach.

Ao Nang... Looking out to the picturesque island dotted ocean its easy to forget the plethora of Italian restaurants and suit salesmen behind you. The Pizza is good though. The suit salesmen maybe not so much. Although one exception. Our friendly suit salesman, Tony, did an excellent job of having our sleeping bag liners joined together, into one giant liner. This will be beneficial to the 'non-freezing-of-arses-camping-in-Japan/Russia-in-winter'. Vastly different to our current weather luxury - don't ask me how I remembered to do this just now...

You have to do it. It's beautiful.

Going on a four island tour was great way to check out those little rocky islands out there and test the underwater housing for our camera out. The snorkelling was shit hot and the harsh reality of running out of breath free-diving kept reminding me that I had no scuba gear on. Needless to say most of the boat were seemingly afraid of the ocean (probably not a bad way to think) and I got free run of most of the snorkelling sites. Snorkelling with baby Barracuda, Nemo's, Rainbow Paddle pop fish (my personal name, not scientific) was golden.

Castaway 2 being filmed (apparently).

We got to lay our eyes on the Princess's Cave (aka, the doodle cave). This was interesting but even a proven man myself, felt slightly pregnant after walking away. We also did see the amazing chicken island.

Doodle cave. Those things laying everywhere are doodles. Its a 6.9 on the doodle scale.

Chicken Island/boat master - chicken looks better from the other side.

The next day we spent with Rudy. Our Bavarian dive master from Stingray Diving.

Rudi, attentively double checking our gear.


I could spend a day and Clarissa almost two, detailing the sights of the two dives completed. Alas the only part absolutely worth mentioning was being circled almost six times by a 1.5 meter black tip shark. All four of us underwater explorers spent the 60 seconds or so of that surreal time entranced as the little beauty swam elegantly around us. Most of the time I spent fumbling and trying to take a good photo (epic fail) whilst deciding if we would be eaten or not. Later reflection on the occasion led me to believe that catastrophically being eaten was unlikely. Clarissa is super keen on diving with great whites and that's why she started diving. Choo choo! Neil's riding that train too now baby. I'm sure many other a diver has dived with bigger/more sharks but this was a big first for both of us. Next diving stop for us will probably be Egypt now.

Research led me to a relaxed place close by called Ton Sai beach. A quick $3AUD boat ride put us in relaxation/rock climbing heaven. Needless to say the number of reggae bars and hammocks/cushions sets the pace. My plan was set on doing some climbing with another Aussie guy but we just ended up lazing around taking in the beauty of the natural surroundings. Not a great loss but certainly a killer spot to do some rock-climbing if you wanted, or nothing at all like we did.

Not only artwork but a menu too!

If we can escape the good food and the beautiful beaches we will be stopping at Khao Sok national park next!

 A mixed assortment of photos below! Because I can!

Until next time.

Clarissa's sushi radar is alive and well in George Town.

Real coffee in Thailand. I will miss you ridiculously cheap and sweet Malaysian coffee!

The coffee girls requested photos before we left!

Our good friends at Samran Residence Hotel in Krabi. Highly recommended for a place to stay in Krabi Town.

Pad Thai Ninjas in Krabi town.
She had to end angry birds later on as the elephant didn't have a dock installed...yet.

Had to be done... Don't think you can legally leave Thailand until you have ridden the big fella. 

Cold river to slew in after an elephant ride? Hell yea!

Can pose.

Leaving our friends at the Samran Residence. Excellent spot for yoga on the roof too!

Not sure how to spell 'Eh's name but she had the winning nail polish. So we chose her guest house due to her  extremely powerful 'that's gold' voodoo! Popeye's guesthouse in Ao Nang. Good to go!

Mobile BBQ man. You need a small highly dedicated and skilled professional force trained in unconventional food vending to feed an army of impatient western tourists!

Clarissa and Louise at the small bar. Had to bring the bike over for  show and tell after a few beers...

This guy took my stability demonstration as gospel when he jumped on the bike.

Show and tell.

Clarissa wants a cat now. These little fellas were cute though.

Louise - Dominates the small bar business!

Free kiss too from random girl in a hat! Oh, that's Clarissa!


Little orange fish was hard to photograph, especially for me and my limited free diving skill.

Horrible photo...Mainly because he swam about 60cm's from me!  Magnificent!

Slug thing!

Happy scubu Clarissa.

Slug things brother!

Slug things mates he met at the pub.

Fish with stripes.

I could only scratch the surface of the power of the underwater case and good lens could capture.

Another Nemo - these guys are really fun to play with.

Artistic shot of some white coral stuff?

More updates soon!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh, as always, a fantastic update on your amazing travels. One word (actually 4) don't eat the slugs!
    The photos are really great, especially the underwater ones - well done. Sounds like you are 'still' having a ball. Enjoy, lots of love from home.


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