A quick one day drive around Petchaburi province, South-West of Bangkok, exploring the Kaeng Krachan National Park and Dam, trying to conquer some mountains and the usual plantation ride, all together around 650 kilometers.
It was a sunny Saturday morning with absolutely nothing to do that day so I decided to go and ride somewhere. The weekend before I went North of Bangkok to the Kao Yai National Park so I decided to head South this time to Petchaburi province. I have been around here for endless times but mainly with a car or with my V-strom so no serious off roading so far, something I seriously need to change on.
The weather was great and as I left Bangkok a little bit late, the traffic was light. Normally when you are heading out of Bangkok on the Saturday morning the traffic is a nightmare, it was a bit congested on Rama 2 (the main highway towards the South) but nothing serious. Thanks for the CRF I can literally fly trough traffic, even if it means that I have to go off the road a bit.
A little over an hour and I was already far away from the smoggy city of Bangkok and all I seen is empty roads and long stretches of green rice fields. My first destination was the Kaeng Krachan Dam which is at the end of Thailand's largest National Park. The reason I like Thailand is that no matter how low ranking is the road you are driving on, it is guaranteed that you will see some sort of Buddhist temple, shrine or statue just like the one above.
After taking a few pictures at the dam I headed to the entrance of the park. On its website they said that no motorcycle is allowed inside the park, only cars but I hoped that I could convince the rangers at the gate that my bike is pretty comfortable on a dirt road. The reason I really wanted to get in is this national park has long stretches of dirt trails leading to stations where you can stay over night in rented tents.
As soon as I arrived to the ticket counter the rangers told me that motorcycle is not allowed in the park. I tried to explain the difference between a scooter and an enduro and its off-road capabilities but the lady was reluctant to let me pass. I used all my charm, all the little tricks normally work perfectly in Thailand. I was very cute, smiled a lot, being as polite as possible and firm in the same time but no luck. It did piss me off thought that regular passenger vans, Honda Jazzes and other four wheeled vehicles considered suitable for the trip but not my bike. At this point I was getting very furious and decided to find my way into the park.
As soon as I left the gate I started to look for ways to get around it. I thought if I can get pass then no one will bother me on the way to the station. I had a few attempts to cross the forest but even after driving towards the right direction I couldn't find the trail. As usual, I had no compass with me so I started to worry whether I will find my way back to the road I turned off from in case I don't find the trail.
The picture doesn't give back the real slope of the hill but if you ever tried to capture a steep slope you can have some idea that getting up on this one was pretty hard. Being alone added to it too. I couldn't stop thinking about all the hassle I would have to go through if the bike or one of my bone decided to brake down.
After I managed all the way up to the top I found a small trail which I believed not the right one but looked pretty promising to continue my way on it forward.
This trail was fairly good, I would say too good, made my Sunday trip feels like a Sunday drive but I didn't mind it so I could rest a bit. A few kilometers later the vegetation started to grow on the trail, first trees and then the lower greens started to take over what was once probably a shortcut for farmers in between their lands and to the forest.
I stopped here for a while just to fool around with the camera. I actually had to get off from the bike otherwise I couldn't get over this spikey tree arch which had thousands of ants on it.
After the fun in the forest I arrived to another trail which lead to plantations. At this point I knew that I am completely of the track and nowhere near the national park. Oh well, as usual I ended up driving around different sorts if plantations. To be honest I like the dirt roads on a plantation because they are pretty predictable, you can see the curves from a distance and they always have some jumps.
Also, different plantations tends to have different types of soil. The pictures above and below were taken only about a kilometers from each others but they provided completely different driving experience.
A trip in Thailand wouldn't be complete without monkeys. Soon after I got back to the sealed road I found this group of cuties hanging around. They weren't so friendly and trusting as the ones in Ratchaburi or Phrachuap Khir Khan so I couldn't take a picture with them. At least some of them showed some interest towards my bike.
This is a very rough outline of where I was riding around. Unfortunately I can't mark off-road trails on google map's directions option.
One of the greatest king of Thailand was King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. who happened to have a birthday on the 23rd of October which means a four days long weekend for me. Great, this little break came in the right time as I was desperately wanted a way out of my slave life.
I have been looking for new trails to explore and after reading endless trip reports on forums such as ADVRider and GT-Riders I noticed that no one really posted a trip report from I-Tong village to Sanghklaburi. The road between the two places are about 150 kilometers but it is a big detour as the distance between them is not more than 50 kilometers plus it is a sealed road which connects them and even though it is one of the most scenic road in Thailand I still don't find it fun to ride on. So on the morning of the 23rd I hopped on my bike and went to explore the region in a hope of finding the so needed trail.
Bangkok to I-Thong, Kanchanaburi Province
As my slave life took all my energy away in the first part of the week I ended up sleeping in on Thursday and only left Bangkok at 11 am. It was very late and felt bad about it in the first 200 kilometers so as a punishment I decided not to stop for a breakfast until about 2 pm. It was a mistake and a big no no but I had to cover some kilometers otherwise sunset finds me half way to my destination.
For me the first fun part started at the Vajiralongkorn Dam which is about 300 kilometers from my home in Bangkok. By the time I got to the dam the rain caught me at least three times. As an experienced traveler of course I left my rain gear at home so at least to say I didn't have any "overheating" problems in the lower departments.
The dam was very nice with the misty clouds around and luckily the bad weather kept the tourists away as well so I could enjoy the sight peacefully and almost by myself.
The way from the dam to I-Thong village is about an extra 80 kilometers still paved but I would rather call it a road anymore. It has lots of big holes, occasional dirt sections and lots of wood and debris on it. To be honest this was the only fun ride on this day.
Before going up the hills I took a little detour down to the Vajiralongkorn lake. It looked great and also has options to rent a floating house for the night. We did rent a similar house a few weeks ago on the neighboring Srinakarin Dam with my German friends and it was heaps of fun.
Not long ago a friend of mine lent me his GoPro 3 which is great, it takes great videos and pictures but I found it quite hard to use it. It really needs a wristband or handlebar kind of remote controller.
For this occasions and as I am always unlucky with electronic devices I brought my small Canon camera which I purchased second hand about 5 years ago in Japan and still makes excellent pictures.
Before turning towards I-Thong on the hilly road, I decided to stock up on fuel as I might wonder off from the road and I could run short of the mighty liquid gold before reaching my destination.
As the mountains got higher and the distance grew since the last village the reception for mobile phones disappeared as well. Luckily some spots had signals, not on my phone thought.
I've seen lots of mountains in my life but every time I'm seeing the sunset between the peaks with clouds around, it always makes me stop and wonder for a while.
About 10-15 kilometers from I-Thong village I found a small path going into the forest so I thought to give it a try and see where it goes. The wet muddy road was extremely slippery and massive fun. about 2 kilometers off the road I found this small creek with beautiful green water, last time I seen something like this was in Northern Territory, Australia.
I might have missed the sign at the beginning of the trail but this road actually lead to the Jokkradin waterfall.
I think the picture speaks for itself and don't need much of my commentary. The waterfall was trully breathtaking. The lights before sunset was perfect, not a single person around and the water felt cool but not too cold. I made a huge mistake not to stay here for the night but I haven't brought my tent and at this point I was fairly wet so I decided to find some place to sleep in the village. I do regret it now.
Here we go again, me playing with the GoPro without doing what I'm doing. I managed to take a few selfies on this trip, neither of them is particularly good quality.
So after I couldn't ran away fast enough from the GoPro's timed shutter I decided to use my good ole' friend Canon and take a proper timed picture.
After a bit of wandering around the waterfall I managed the remaining few kilometers to I-Thong pretty fast and arrived to the village just when the sun set under the horizon. Again the colors of the sky and the silhouettes of the cloudy mountain tops were amazing.
At first the village didn't look promising but it has actually a small walking street style of road with small restaurants and a few guest houses on both side. I was the only foreigner as far I know, mostly Thai travelers with 4WDs and some forestry workers were eating in those places. I found a very good looking local place where I had three dishes, two bottles of beer, some soap and a large botle of water for about 300 baht ($10).
The place I stayed is called I-Thong Homestay which is a large house behind the shop house where I parked the bike for the night. The rooms are clean and decent sized with enough room for at least 3 person. I paid 500 baht for it which is an okay price. Today I tried to find maps basically everywhere. I went to two tourist information place on the way to I-Thong but all they had is regular road maps. I guess I will have to interview the locals about my so wanted trail.