June 7, 2006 - Wednesday
Kanchanaburi to Three Pagodas Pass to Kanchanaburi

The LP book says the the one-way trip from here to the "Three Pagodas Pass" is a full day trip. I'm thinking I should be able to do a round trip in a day. It's only 230 kilometers one way. The map shows roads that look, for the most part, to be riding in a valley so they should be straighter, quicker and not filled with slow hairpin turns. If they end up being 100 kph things then I should have ample time for a round trip. If they are slow or if I dally and stop for photos then I do have options to stay up near the border.

I told the hotel that my plans had changed and I would only be staying one night. They, without question, processed the 450 Baht full refund for the second night. I thought about telling them that the room was too noisy but they would have just wanted to move me to a different room. My plans had changed - I'm not planning to listen to thumping bass until 2 am.

Outside the hotel was a nice CB750 with what I'd call an air shifter. It had a "drag" sticker on a side cover. Grabbing the camera I didn't double check the lens covers - DRAT - I took several photos of it and all of them are blemished due to the lens covers being partially closed (darn camera - at least it is hanging in there and generally recording decent photos).

The road to "the pass" would be mostly quick though there was a stretch about 2/3rds of the way that was a tad slower. The pass itself is not some high mountain pass as I assumed. The LP book (or some website) stated the elevation as being 242 meters (800 feet). Heck, home is about 900 feet up in the flatlands of the Midwest. There was a section - perhaps that slower section - where the elevation jumped up a thousand or two feet before coming back down and kicking about the valley.

The town at the Thailand side of the border was active enough and things were much as expected - the three pagodas are in a poor state and the ride TO the pass was to be the main attraction. The border was open this day and I started to progress, wrongly, through to the customs / immigration area. Figuring I was headed where I didn't want to go I pulled off and turned about. The place wasn't busy enough for my deviation cause any issue. Some Thailand officers pointed that I should go to some other building first. I just pointed to me, pointed towards Myanmar, and shook my head no. I then made the "take pictures with camera" sign and they smiled and gave a thumbs up. I moved back and found some shade where I had a snack and watched life pass by. There were batches of scooters passing back and forth.

Nearby was a crew erecting a couple tents. We were diversion for each other and in the end I took a shot or two of them and left a card under their windshield wiper. Who knows if they'll see the photo?

I kept the trip to the pass free of diversion / photo stops not knowing how much time I would have and conversely knowing I'd be traveling back the same way. The return trip had my eye running in spotting mode and thus I stopped fairly often for photos. I ended up poking about the town of Sangkhlaburi and took a few shots of it's original "wooden bridge". The bridge has been bypassed by a current technology structure. The LP book lists the wooden bridge as being Thailand's longest wooden bridge.

Stops here, Stops there.... Back into town I popped out the LP book to review the hotel listings. The RS is at the edge of town - far away from the noise of last evening. It'll do nicely.

An unusual bike for Thailand. Most every "large displacement" bike is a rental - and outside of tourist cities "big bikes" don't exist. I commented on the lack of "big bikes" in Taiwan - well, Thailand notches that up a bit more - they are almost extinct here.

Picking up some additional batteries I parked next to this mod'd mochine. Bling and performance bling.

"pre-colored" exhaust system covers. Carbon look covers.

Chromed chain case covers. Anodized stuff here and there. A "hot rod" - Thailand style. (magazine racks are loaded with  rags and their bling'd bikes)

More questions at the morning fuel stop. The little one in green was somewhat interested - thought a bit timid.

I forgot to unload the GPS last evening (I don't know why - I had most of the evening to do it) so I found some shade and sat back for 5 minutes while it processed.

Looking back towards town. A sense for the valley ride today. The hills on the left and right would be fairly steep, jagged things - nice to look at.

And with roads like this - easy running.

These are common - I think this is the only photo I have of one. Dual and triple basket rigs. Slap a straight section of bamboo across the seat. Fasten it on somehow and hang two equal bags from either end. Load as desired.

At Thong Pha Phum, about 1/2-way. More photos of this, from the other side, later today.

There they are - the three Pagodas. The border crossing is over to the right.

Ah, there's the crossing area. Thailand security sitting in the hut in the center.

And the tents!

Time to head back - moving up out of town.

Turning back for a shot

Coming up on a checkpoint. Think I want to sit and wait behind the bus while it's checked? Nope. I slowly slid alongside the left of the bus and stopped near the front of it - making sure the officers saw me and made a decision if I should go or not - waved by again. No waiting for scoots - filter up as needed - efficient use of space.

I have the feeling that if I were to try something like that at an impromptu police checkpoint back home that the officers would have a fit and I'd get pulled to the side and yelled at.

To me a fundamental difference between societies is the amount of "order". The U.S. has speed limits and lanes. Follow the limit, stay in your lane (and your lane is "yours" while you're there) - deviation from these is not common and may strike unusual reactions from populace (and police). Here - that amount of "order" does not exist but that's not to say chaos then must exist. To me there's a fair bit of harmony - all tied with the "just get things done / get on with life" attitude. No harm - no foul, keep moving along.

I think some moderation between the two would be about perfect.

Brooms for sale - propped up alongside the roadway. The manufacturer / owner / sales agent was often sitting across the road at their hut / house. These were also only on the "eastbound" side of the road.

The wooden bridge at Sangkhlaburi

A masonry thing - but realistic looking enough - caught my eye.

Floating houses - the water level in this man-made reservoir is low (the rainy season is just beginning)

These five buddha's have different hand positions.

A campground at a park. Rather familiar to home.

A bit closer look of a campsite - bench, light with outlet, sink with running water (the sink is a nice touch). I hope this place gets used - it was vacant as I passed though one caretaker was there tending the upkeep.

Ah, yes, the wat from the other direction...

If you care to find the "fields" - here ya go.

The B.Spears "baby incidents" make the BBC World News (or more likely it was the lesser found Fox News). No head whipping, neck breakage here - the baby is properly secured between the adults.

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