Day 2. 12feb2011[/
b]Today we ride into the unknown. Two days ago I read in the papers that two civilans were killed in a roadside bombing incident.
The when the soldiers got to the scene, another soldier was killed, victim of a booby trap. The incident took place near Ban Patae,
a small settlement we will be passing through.
We have a relatively short 320kms to cover, but road condition was an unknown, and I gave us 8 hours to cover the journey. The idea was to avoid the main highways,
and choose the shortest most rural short-cuts we can find.
The RouteWe started early.Heading for breakfastLocal fare never tasted so good.After breakfast we headed for Waeng and Lochut before heading North towards Sukhirin.
Waeng to LochutLochutRoad got more rural. We passed through secondary bushes alternating with rubber trees.We entered the Ban KakiBokit Forest Reserve.There was a Military Roadblock halfway through the forest, and the checks were very thorough. The troops were puzzled and could not decide what to do with us. They were intrigued why a group of Malaysian Bikers are riding around this area,
especially on this route. There were lots of Radioing the HQ. They eventually let us through when I explained to them our route to Betong,
mentioning about the places we planned to stop for food and petrol. Initial tension defused, all smiles now.Happy TerryWe rode for another 10 minutes.When we reached the crossroads at Sukhirin, there was another Military Checkpoint, and the soldiers told us to pull to the side for more questioning. It took us about 15 minutes to explain why we chose to ride through the area. The word Danger was mentioned many times by the soldier.He let us through, and we took a picture with him.We left Sukhirin, and continued our way to Si Sakhon, 60kms away. The roads remains rural, and the surface quality varies from tarmac to gravel. Another Checkpoint at midway point. This is near Chang.There were a number of uncompleted stretches.We stopped at Chang to regroup. The boys from the village were curious. The Muslim influence here and everywhere is very obvious.
There was no language barrier as I spoke the native tongue, Yawi, identical to the Kelantan dialectAs we were having a drink we heard some gunshots in the distance. A short while later a few Army trucks passed by.
Apparently there is an Army camp nearby.We continued our ride to Si Sakhon.Yet another few Roadblocks before Si Sakhon.We reached Si Sakhon at midday, having covered just over 100kms. Lunch was at the main town crossroad. The next section is something totally unknown to me. We were prepared for the worst, expecting really jungle areas that needs to be ridden through on poor roads.
On leaving Si Sakhon, the roads were excellent, sportsbike suitable.Then, after a few Kms, we turned into a gravel road shortcut towards Bang Lang Dam. The short cut took us onto the road that leads to Bannang Sata, not towards Bang Lang. The GPS had no roads so can only be used as
orientation rather than a guide. I decided to skip Bang Lang and leave it for another day.
Asri, another Yawi speaker, talking to the locals at Bannang Sata.We left Bannang Sata for Ban Patae, then Kabang before entering Rt401 to Betong.
This roads are as rural as can be, with very little settlements along the way. We will ried through one jungle shortcut that I found on an earlier trip with Sean and Amir. This gravel road cuts across the San Kala Khiri Forest Reserve. I wrote about this on an earlier post when I rode this track a few months ago.The dirt road meets a semicompleted road that twists its way up a 2,200 ft hill, which is also just metres away from the Malaysian border.
We stopped there for photos.The Parallel GS looking towards Malaysia.The road to Betong runs along the banks of the Bang Lang Lake, a man made lake that was formed with the damming of the Yala river.
The lake serves as a reservoir for te Narathiwat / Yala river, and is the biggest in Thailand. as this is my third trip here in the last one year,
I have made it a tradition to stop at a local coffee shop 50km from Betong. The place is called Kok Chang. We eventually arrived Betong at 6pm, already dark. We checked in at the RiverView Motel, about 5 minutes from the centre of Betong town.
Nice place.We took a Tuk Tuk to town for a big dinner......Having done the rural roads that follows the border from Danok to Betong previously, I am pleased with myself for doing the Golok - Betong border route.
This means I have already ridden the coast to coast most southerly route in Thailand. Sean, who was with me on the earlier ride also did the same. The violence is there. The deaths are real. The cause is complicated. The end is still elusive. The future looks bleak. But the people we met along the way belies this environment. They are generous, cheerful and very friendly. The soldiers are also courteous despite working under constant threat of sudden attack. The riding is great all the way.
Tomorrow we go home. But we intend to return again soon.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 11:40:37 AM by nikhuzlan »