With all of the bad news you have been hearing from Thailand, I thought it would be nice to share some of the true beauty of what the country has to offer.
About 2 years ago, I packed up and left Canada to work on a cruise ship. I found returning home to Vancouver too expensive for my 2 months leave periods so I decided to become a “Non-resident” and make Pattaya, Thailand my new home.
Life here is great for me and Charlotte (my British Girlfriend.) We truly love everything this country has to offer. The only thing that I was missing was my own motorbike and the freedom that came with it. I was presently renting a 125cc scooter/moped and hating every minute of it. After doing some research on the cost of importing one of my bikes from home, it became clear that buying new here would be most likely cheaper (and for sure easier). The Kawasaki DR Tracker 250, (KLX 250SM) was an easy obvious choice. It is small enough for the crowded streets, but big enough for the highway. As the bike was built (assembled) in Thailand I got it out the door, with one years FULL insurance for 160,000 Baht ($5000.00 USD) I then added the Yosh pipe, and replaced the fuel injection ECU to remove the factory H.P. restrictor, for an extra 10,000 Baht.
I am very impressed with the handling and power of the bike for a 250. It’s no CRF 450, but I truly enjoy it. The suspension easily soaks up the many pot holes, speed bumps, and the odd curb you find yourself driving over…..LOL
Charlotte and I decided to give Pattaya a rest for a few days and check out Ko Samet, a small island just south of Pattaya.
To make things go smoother, I decided to do a bit of a road trip on my own a week before she got here to find the ferry terminal, how long it takes to get there, and just see which ferry operator takes motorcycles. Thankfully with my GPS, the terminal was easy to find, only 1.5 hours away, and there was many ferry operators who would take a motorbike. (Not an easy feat as the pictures show). I also confirmed a “big boat” (bigger ferry) left everyday at 10:30
After reviewing the many hotels and resorts on-line, we decided that as it was low, low season (especially with the trouble in BKK) we would just wing-it and find a place there and try to negotiate a better than on-line price. We got all packed the night before and hit the road at 08:45, by 10:10 we were wheeling in to the ferry terminal, just as the rain really started to come down. I simply said to the ticket agent, “2, plus bike, need big boat.” “OK, no problem” she replied. 15 minutes later I was handing this other ferry agent my money, 800 baht (about 25 USD) and wheeled my bike down the jetty. The picture explains it fairly clearly; the loading operation is pretty “Hairy Scary” to say the least . The ramp they use looks to be only ¾” thick and bowed like a rubber band as we wheeled the bike onboard. My bike has a curb weight of 138 Kg and I couldn’t imagine getting a much large bike on the ferry (if you really want to call it that). To my surprise and a lot of assistance, the bike made it on unscathed, tied down, and off we went. The crossing only took about 45 minutes and was very pleasant. To off load the bike on the island, the ferry simple drove itself up on to the beach beside the pier and about 6 of us simple picked the bike up and “Carried” it off over the bow of the boat. Simply remarkable!!
Ko Samet is a small, rugged, white sandy beach, very beautiful Island. It has only about 15 Km’s of road (if you want to use the term loosely) but there are very many beaches and resorts. We wanted to check out a few resorts at Saikaew beach first as we had heard this was the party place. The first place we looked at was Had Saikaew Resort and Spa but were given crappy attitude by the staff and quickly left. Next was Samed Sand Sea Resort the staff were very friendly gave us a nice tour of the place and a great discount on a bungalow for 1800 Baht and was very close to the beach so we settled in for the day. Got a massage on the beach and enjoyed some very cold, 50 Baht, Leo Beers. That night we enjoyed a great barbeque Thai dinner on a beach restaurant and checked out a few beers bars but things were pretty quiet.
Next day we got up checked out at noon, and hit the road. It became quickly apparent that it had rained most of the night and the unpaved roads turned into a very slick mud bath. My bike with street tires on it, Charlotte, and a fairly heavy pack on the back became quite the handful to manage. We came across Vong Deuan Resort located on Vong Deuan Beach. We got a tour of the rooms, and checked into an even nicer “Garden View” Bungalow on Stilts for 1500 baht per night. In the evenings there are plenty of good quality restaurants and bars on the beach and big comfy sofa’s over looking the sea (very romantic) also having the standard connect 4 game if the fancy takes you!! Half our days there were spent enjoying the beach and the other half exploring the islands beaches, parks, and resorts by motor bike. We quickly learned that we are getting a great deal on our bungalow and decided to stay for our remaining two nights.
Nightlife was, as expected during low season, very quiet. Saikaow did have many more Bars than Vong Deuan but was also pretty much quiet by midnight. We always managed to find a nice place to relax and have a few drinks on the beach, obviously very different to the nightlife in Pattaya, but could be very busy and party filled during high season I assume.
Having the bike to explore Ko Samet is a ‘must’. Charlotte and I really enjoyed exploring the different areas and beaches but I must stress the roads are extremely bumpy, loose dirt/gravel (or slick, slippery mud!!!), full of deep ruts, sometimes steep inclined, and extremely difficult to ride on unless you’re an experienced rider. I was amazed to see the amount of mopeds easily travelling the roads until I noticed they are all fitted with off road, knobby, tires. There are many locations on the island that you can rent mopeds/scooters with fitted dirt tires for 3-500 Baht a day. This would make the roads, rough, but manageable for anyone. I loved having my D-Tracker there. It was great fun and showed it’s a true dirt bike at heart. The tires sucked but the suspension soaked up the terrain with ease. I might even get proper tires fitted, and really have fun next time!!! (there are many places in Pattaya where you can rent a D-Tracker for the trip if you think you would enjoy the freedom)
Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Charlotte and I have enjoyed together Koh Chang as well. We both extremely enjoyed Ko Samet and look forward to going again. If you are ever thinking of coming to Thailand, PM me if you want any information and I’ll see what I can do.
I know some of you will be wanting to “flame me” or “Jack” this tread for my lack of helmets and protective gear while riding and the political unrest in the country. Please don’t. While riding on the island the temp was 40+ in the sun and I never traveled faster than 20 Kph. The roads were just too rough and loose. We always wore proper gear on the highways.