Bangkok to Hua Hin
Friday 8 July 2022
The drive out of Bangkok to Hua Hin was less frenetic than usual. Unwarranted Covid caution is preventing the city from getting back to 100% pace.
Construction work (new freeway) extended for many, many kilometres.
On arrival at Hua Hin a short drive around the beach nightlife area made our hotel self selecting. City Beach Resort.
Hua Hin was suffering from over-zealous Covid caution and a lack of Farang tourists. Just enough activity to keep a selection of restaurants, bars and massage premises open
Sad to see but not as sad as it was only weeks earlier.
Rain was imminent so we headed back to the hotel. Covid fear restricted the number of restaurants, bars and other establishments that were open.
Hua Hin to Chumphon
Saturday 9 July 2022
Twenty kilometres north of Chumphon we turned towards the coast to visit the self described Thailand Riviera. Accurate as far as being by the beach. The comparison pretty much ends there although the project is in its early stages and, further, it was stalled by Covid. It was a pleasant 25 kilometre coastal drive.
While looking for accommodation Google Maps Thailand did its usual peripatetics, wanting us to turn right, turn left, and do a U turn. At times like this it is best ignored.
Chumphon is small, semi-seaside town, 380 kilometres south-south-east of Bangkok As with most provinces, the capital has the same name as the Province. It serves as the gateway to the tropical south, being situated on the very narrowest part of the Thai portion of the Malay Peninsula, the Kra Isthmus. It is here that it is proposed to build the Kra Canal, also known as the Thai Canal or the Kra Isthmus Canal, that would connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea across the isthmus.
The canal would provide an alternative to transit through the Straits of Malacca and shorten transit for shipments to east Asia by 1200 km. Cost, environmental concerns, and geopolitical concerns have been weighed against the potential economic and strategic benefits. 1n 2018 Thailand declared that the canal was not a government priority.
The Chinese seem very keen on the Kra Canal as part of their Belts and Roads Initiative but the Thais are clever enough to see it for the subversive plot it is.
Chumphon is a reasonably small town and finding a sit down restaurant was a challenge, however, there was lots and lots of street food on offer.
In Chumphon walking street and the main road are one and the same. Street food vendors blocked the footpath forcing pedestrians to tangle with the traffic. Patrons sat a small tables on the footpath – further obstacles to walkers. And those walkers needed to be cautious to step over electric cables running through puddles of water on the footpath on their way to powering lights for the street vendors’ cooking carts. Nothing too daunting to an experienced tourist in Thailand, As ever, the biggest challenge a visitor faces is the uneven footpath.
We found a restaurant purporting to be Japanese that was actually Korean-Thai fusion and had a pleasant meal before embarking on the challenging walk back to the hotel. Better than staying at home.
Chumphon to Khiriwong Village
Sunday 10 July 2022
To Ratchaprapa Dam
We drove 250 kilometres south to Ratchaprapa Dam. The inclement weather and the consequent paucity of customers meant that the boat tours on the dam were not operating. The Dam and the surrounding scenery were beautiful.
The not nice weather (and unnecessary fears of Covid) meant that this stunningly beautiful location was bereft of patrons. So sad to see the con job being perpetrated on innocent locals trying to make a living.
It was time to head to our planned overnight stay at Khiriwong Village. We retraced our route out to Asian Highway 2 and it was then another 150 kilometres to our destination.
To Khiriwong Village
Khiriwong Village is surrounded by mountains and promotes itself as the fresh air capital of Thailand. Fairly successfully it would seem because, apart from the Pong River running through the middle of the village, it’s like every other Thai village. Breathing is not optional, even in pure air Khiriwong.
Homestays/hotels everywhere – underpopulated – and our choice of accommodation was cleverly disguised at the end of a maze (or so it seemed). In actuality, Mine Hosts had converted part of their farm into lodgings.
The more upmarket hotel restaurant on the banks of the river served good fare, was well priced and we returned there for breakfast the next morning.
Khiriwong to Tangsurat Resort
Monday 11 July 2023
Before we left the next morning we had to work our way through a street parade/festival as we attempted to follow up the river further into the mountains.
Our route took us through Nakhon Si Thammaret and as we turned north towards Surat Thani we hugged the coast.
To Tangsurat Resort
We took the ‘ring road’ around Surat Thani and then headed north to Tangsurat Resort situated right on the beach.
Dinner was at a beachside restaurant a few kilometres back on our route. There is an air of despondency about the place. Numerous facilities but no patrons. Locals are unnecessarily worried about Covid but can’t be convinced. It will take another 6 to 12 months to undo the con job.
Tangsurat Resort to Kanchanaburi
Tuesday 12 July 2022
We departed from Tangsurat and within 12 kilometres were presented with the challenge of crossing the Bang Nan River. The road we took ended at a locked gate across the road on the south-east bank of the river. We returned to Bang Nan, interrogated the locals and ascertained how to get across the river. Easy, really. But no signage.
Once across the river we again hugged the coast. Constant rain restricted when we could do some sightseeing.
Had Sai Ri Sawi seemed to be a laid back location.
We drove on to Bo Kha, a small fishing village.
It was a long drive to Kanchanaburi (600+km) so we pushed on.
The pictured bridge is conveniently located near the centre of town, restaurants are positioned immediately downriver from it and a train crosses it regularly, all making it convenient to tell tourists that it is the famous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’. However the bridge built by PoWs during WWII is further upriver.
Kanchanaburi to Uttai Thani
Wednesday 13 July 2022
Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
Our first destination in the morning was the meticulously maintained War Cemetery in the centre of town.
Leaving Kanchanaburi we made our way to Hellfire Pass, 80 kilometres to the north-west on Saeng Chuto Road.
The Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre and Memorial Walking Trail is located just above Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting). It was built and is maintained by the Australian Government. It was refurbished in 2018 and in the process many of the diaromas, photographs and information boards were removed or sanitised. It is now suits the narrative of woke bureaucrats but it is not a fair recall of the atrocities that were perpetrated there. Shame on the Australian Government for disrepecting all who suffered on the ‘Burma Railway’.
The museums in Kanchanaburi, fortunately, have the spine to tell the real story.
From Hellfire Pass we continued north into the Tenasserim Hills to the Sisawat Ferry, a six kilometre ride/drive across an arm of the Sinakharin Dam that saves a 24 km drive around the edge of the dam.
We made the drive up the mountains of Sinakharin Dam National Park along Route 4041. A truly fearsome drive through driving rain, fog/low cloud, twisting, turning roads with landslips on blind bends. Some of the debris on blind bends forced us onto the wrong side of the road. We encountered only three vehicles which, while it made driving safer on the blind bends, wasn’t comforting contemplation in case of a breakdown, obstacle on the road or some other issue. It was dark mid afternoon. Not a good place to have anything go wrong.
While this unnerving section of road eventually straightened out there was more to come after Tha Lam Yai, a few kilometres further on. With the prospect of even more mountainous terrain and the consequent twisting, turning, fear inducing bends and switchbacks another few kilometres further ahead, I thought it best to take Route 3480 around the hills to Uttai Thani. A little longer but not as mountainous. And a good decision.
Uttai Thani to Khon Kaen
Thursday 14 July 2022
The 415 kilometre drive to Khon Kaen was uneventful.
© Kim Epton 2022-23
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