Thursday, March 12, 2015

Narathiwat : South Thailand Unrest

Its always been a fly and ride for me. Far away exotic places are always greener than home. While my neighbours, like a backyard , familiarty and within reach doesn’t excite me as much.
Maybe it’s time I should give it a second look.
Shamefully the furtherest I’ve taken my TEX to is Cameron Highland.
I will need to take it out for a real ride before it’s first birthday.

Phuket and Hatyai are too touristy, not my cup of mocca.
Narathiwat province it will be, a region plague by violence from separatist insurgency. 6000 have been killed and 10,000 have been injured since 2004.
Is the situation really that bad ?
(Last incident was on the day I left, 9th March, with 9 casualities and previously in Feb with 13 casualities injured by a car-bomb)
I’ve learned to read news with only a pinch of wasabi.
The only way to find out, is to go in and see it for myself.
The two objectives - to overcome my fear of riding solo and to enter the ‘troubled' South Thailand - an unknown to me (well I did enter once with my first bike back in 2011, shamelessly only for an hour, guided by a motorcycle taxi, all because we need to assure my riding partner’s wife’s girlfriend that ‘what are the two man going into Thailand for ?’
That’s just one of the frustrating reason that make me decide to go solo.
Not a big deal for those seasoned riders, so save your ‘so what?’
The only person I need to challenge is the me of yesterday.

This trip was hastily planned. With the next destination decided only on the day of arrival. Due to the uncertainties of the local situations, I could not stay for too long at any spot. Hence I am left with only few photos and mostly lame bikefie.

This region was the former Sultanate of Pattani, until it was conquered by the Siamese in 1785, present Kelantan were spared. Patani Malay are spoken here, which makes me feel so ‘at home’ with my limited Indonesian, since I can’t speak Thai to stop an oil leak.

Comparating with neighbouring Malaysia state of Kelantan. Narathiwat are obviously underdeveloped, however it is calm (among the storm). No doubt one will suspect the intended neglection from the central Thai government.
except for the numerous checkpoint manned by young soldiers and police.

A stranded ship along Narathat beach.
I have no idea where am I going.. just pick one and go!

Go with your Curiosity instead and overide your GPS!
One of the joy of not riding the expressway or highway .. you get to stop as you please!
You know you have to stop when you see this.
Go with your Curiosity instead and overide your GPS!

Found this Rocky Hill .. hmmm..
One of the perks of riding solo, in a deserted and isolated place. You get to ride your bike along the shore and with no one to judge you.
You can misbehave! Oh wait.. the word 'mis-' and 'behave' itself is judgemental.
Let's just say be myself - 'self' of that moment captured in time, as 'self' itself is not indefinite.

End Note: Aparently I am not alone. Shortly after this photo was taken. I was caught for trespassing. The owner, Encik Amin, was an opportunitist. He offered me to sell me this Rocky hill and the surrounding land. There must be a divine reason i end up in this isolated land and meet this guy while acting like a monkey.
Contact exchanged... I'll be back!

Kilometers of beautiful, quiet and deserted beach. with only a few fisherman dryng their catch at interval.

Riding within the village that is off the main road was a scary challenge.
Reports of people being shot within this village road still ring in my head.
I don’t know what to expect, but I am not turning back with the same stories that I was told to read.

Tips to self : Retract your helmet sun visor or remove your sunglass.
so even when you smile in your full face helmet, the recipient can still see your smiling cheek and eyes.

All fears subside the moment you give a waving Hi and the Makcik (Aunty in Malay) return you will the widest smile in the Land of Smiles. They welcome my presence more that brighten up their uneventful, dull and hot lazy afternoon.

Surely there are some who look hostile to your presence.
Likewise I will never fell obliged to entertain any damn tourist like a caged animal.

I am just a guest here.

"I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly"

Mother Nature is taking over this under utilised roads. We need to sent more bikes here!

Sure enough, the road is gone!
Swallow up by the Gods of the sea.
Are you serious ?
Not one but 2 roads from my GPS are missing!
Either my GPS are not updated or the Thai government are seriously neglected this part of the country!
Surely kilometers of beach and roads can't disappear ovenight!
Then again!.. I should never doubt the power of Mother Naure.
Bukit Fraser, Pahang, Malaysia - Spend a night here on my way back. Included here because it is worth a mention.
I like this place very much, as compare to Cameron Highland.
Quiet and peacful (maybe it's weekday when I'm there).
This is my place!
Most importantly the bends and roads are so narrow that can only fit 1 1/2 car width. a major no-no for the Valentino Rossi or Initial D wannabes!
Bukit Fraser, Pahang, Malaysia
Bukit Fraser, Pahang, Malaysia
Bukit Fraser, Pahang, Malaysia

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Series : Faces of India

It's not just about motorcycle, the roads and the scenic backdrop for your profile photo.
It is also about the people you met along the way...

Curious children of tea plantation workers.

A plantation worker pruning the Camellia sinensis or ‘tea plant’.

A orange gatherer who is very delighted to meet me, as I’m one of ‘her own kind’.
Here she is conscious about her look as she is not in her best dress for a photo.

A kind orange farmer, who offered us a free ‘pluck all you can’ orange fest. 'those here on the floor is already sold' he said.

The farmer’s child helping out in the field.

A child from the Adi tribe.

Mother and child. Adi tribe.

Inspiring the Adi children to travel and see the world beyond their territory.

A Dao (pronounced ‘dhao') wielding Adi elder. A few decades earlier, he will be hunting for my head.

An Adi man with a dao, an essential multi-purpose working tools now rather than a weapon.

When I grow up…

After the Adi hosted us on a Christmas night, we share our Christmas joy (Santa Claus version only)

A family on 3-up waiting to cross the wooden bridge on bike.
The baby boy is suspecting whether we could make it across without wetting our padded pant.

It’s winter time. wood gathering for cooking and heat to keep warm is a daily task for the tribeswomen.

The two tribal woman near Ranaghat, who sold me the ‘Hottest natural chilli in the World’ - Bhoot Jolokia or Ghost Chilli (its 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco)
Two handful at 10 rupees for an hour of oral organsm (a few hours for some non-chilli eater)

An Idu tribe woman, at a pitstop for us riders.

Mr.Jibi Pulu, a Mishmi tribesman and our host for two nights.
While most of his fellow villagers have converted to Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism, Jibu insist on maintaining his faith of Donyi-Polo , an indigenous religions of animism. A religion that predate Buddhism in his ancestral home in Tibet.
A dialogue session on this religion gave us a very valuable insight to the essence of this practice, to live harmoniously with Mother Nature who provides for all the living sentient beings. A teaching where other organized religions failed to emphasis or addressed.
Upon his death, according to Jibu, his spirit will return to Lhasa, his ancestral home, via the migration path of his ancestors passing through the present day Myanmar.

Two wary Nepali kids. Felt sorry that their house was accidently burn by their farming father while clearing the field (together with the Marijuana plant and seed.. oh well!)
Mud covered house will provide a better fire resistant.
This is development, upgrade, an evolution!

Attracted by the light and songs in the middle of darkness. We found ourselves gatecrashed into a new year party in front of a chapel of the tea plantation workers of Assami origin.
Our only form of communications - ‘Hello’ , many handshakes and few smiles.

The last of Arunachal Pradesh, beyond the border guards we are relunctantly heading to Assam and back to the ‘Mainland’

Our support vehicle driver. if you think 2 wheels is tough, try 4!

Our Chef and Sous Chef. I have never eaten so much onions as a salad by itself in my life. The variety of indian cuisine and especially the momos are excellent, worth a few diahorrea.

Tapir Darang, the most popular Adi and our local guide for this region.

He also discovered at least 20 WWII downed planes and help the US family to retrieve the remains of the love ones to be sent home.

There are still at least few hundred crash sites remained to be found.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Arunachal Pradesh - One Crazy Ride [Video]

I have thousands of photos to sort out, and pages of travel notes to tag with it.
A picture is only worth a thousands words.
It can't tell you the full story.
The best way is to ride your own.
or .. till I complete my trip report.

In the meantime, here's the trip video.
Pardon the music! We did ride through the Christmas and New Year of 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

8 hours to Malacca

Singapore to Malacca is only a 3hrs drive (according to Google Maps)
But what if you take the trunk road, ride within the kumpungs and have 8 hours to spare (before your check in time at 2pm)

Date : 12th Dec 2014 on a Royal Enfield Classic 350