Those of you who watch the Farangbowl YouTube videos – and like motorbikes and riding – might have seen our recent 2part road trip to Hua Hin. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you do. James’ editing has made a quantum leap improvement. So much so, that when I watched it, I felt as if I had been transported back to that ride. It made all the extra stops and camera preparation in 36 degrees Celsius worthwhile (even if it did add around two hours to the trip).
I’ve ridden from Phuket to Hua Hin at least seven times over the years (mostly solo), but each ride has been different. Sometimes, it might be as a result of mixed wet and dry conditions, sometimes just wet (think monsoon) and others just plain hot and dry, as this last one was. Each trip there, as well other destinations, has in its own way added something to my knowledge/experience and, occasionally, my wish list of equipment needed for the next trip. Although I would never claim to ‘know it all’, I would like to share a little of the knowledge I have gained and hope that if you are planning this type of ride in Thailand, it might just help make your trip smoother and more fun.
Time of the year
We undertook this ride in the early part of April, just before Songkran. This is pretty much the hottest time of year. If you don’t like riding in the rain, this is a good time to go, but you will need to prepare for it. For this, I strongly advise you carry electrolytes with you. While you might feel okay – just hot – and don’t think you need to bother, be aware that the effects of heat exhaustion can come on suddenly and hard. Dizziness, loss of concentration and energy are extremely dangerous symptoms that can cause you to lose control of your motorbike. The cost of an accident on the road can be horrendous (not just to your wallet or purse). The cost of a bottle of water and a pack of electrolytes, Bht40 – 50? I know which I would prefer to pay for.
“Please don’t make the same mistake!!!”.Ad – Farangbowl Magazine.
For a long trip such as Phuket to Hua Hin – and at this time of year – I would suggest you take a pack of electrolytes dissolved in a bottle water at the beginning of the ride and another around two or three hours later. This is what I do. Now, for all its faults and old injuries, my body is quite well conditioned to this type of hot environment, but if you’re just starting to ride in these conditions, perhaps your home country is much colder, you might well need more. However, do not exceed four packs in a 24-hour period. Also, just because you’ve taken electrolytes, don’t forget to drink water at each stop as well. Another, and natural, source of electrolyte is coconut water, which tastes great too.
Wet weather conditions
This bit of advice covers something you would probably never consider until it happens to you – at least I never did. On a previous ride to Hua Hin, I had been riding through three hours of heavy rain and was approaching Prachuap Kiri Khan. The ride from Phuket had been dry (if overcast), but the weather had changed after Chumphon. While I did have rain gear packed, and was wearing it, I was now getting cold and in need of a coffee and cigarette. As I pulled into a fuel station, I realised it would be easier to ride through the space between the pumps as the coffee shop was directly ahead.
Please don’t make the same mistake. The area where the pumps are placed is covered in a smooth and shiny surfacing. It’s used because it stays clean-looking no matter what is spilt on it, which is great. However, when it rains, that surface becomes very, very slippery. I wasn’t riding quickly and I applied only the lightest of pressure to the right handle bar to line up with the coffee shop. But that was all it took for the bike to disappear from underneath me. Fortunately, my panniers (luggage boxes) are big enough to prevent damage to side mirrors, indicators and fairings, but my foot brake lever hit me directly under my right ankle. My boot did its job; there was no damage to the boot or cut or broken bone to my foot. But the pain was still excruciating and I had actually bent the foot brake lever!
Though I was able to finish the ride to Hua Hin, I could barely walk for over a week after, as my foot swelled to the size of a grapefruit despite dunking it in a bucket of ice every day. The moral of the story here is if it’s wet and you don’t need fuel, just coffee and/or food, ride around the outside of the pump area, not through it. If you do need fuel, roll up to the pump slow and straighten up for it before you get on to that shiny surface.
These two tips, which will cost little to no money, can really make the difference between a good fun trip and a nightmare on two wheels.