Esso Fuel Station at the Gelang Patah R&R, Johor, 8.30pm, 10th April 2000, Monday.
Day 1 & 2, 10th & 11th April 2000, Monday night & Tuesday.
With as little fuel as possible, proceed across the Tuas 2nd Link, paying the appropriate tolls (Toll coupon S$0.50 for Singapore end & RM1.00 for the Malaysian end), into Gelang Patah and head for the Esso Station at the Gelang Patah R&R along the highway, 2 km from the customs checkpoint. Fuel top up will cost about RM1.10 per litre, unleaded.
Hit north on the North-South Highway towards Malacca/Kulua Lumpur. Keep an eye out for its directional signs.
Stop at Pagoh R&R along the highway for fuel stop and coffee break (fuel about RM15.00).
Proceed north on the highway again towards Kuala Lumpur and turn off before K.L. into the KLIA highway. Look out for the KLIA / Ipoh directional signs after passing the Nilai exit.
Arrive at Denkil R&R along the highway for lunch and fuel top up (fuel about RM15.00).
Head down the highway again keeping an eye out for Ipoh directional signs. Head in that direction. Stop at Tapah R&R for tea and fuel top up along the highway (fuel about RM15.00).
Proceed after the break and head north again until the G. Semanggul R&R before Penang State along the highway for a break and another fuel top up (fuel about RM15.00).
Get back on the highway and head north once again. This will be the last stretch before arriving at Bukit Kayu Hitam and the Thai border. The last fuel stop in Malaysia will be at the Changlun Petronas Fuel Station. There will be no other fuel stations in the 30 km between here and the Thai border. Topping up here will get you to Hatyai. Fuel cost will be about RM15.00.
Prepare your passport, Malaysian immigration papers and a Certified True Copy of your bike's Log Card or Book. Go through immigration and customs and stop at the border police checkpoint. Here the Malaysian authorities will want to inspect your passport and true copy log card or book. Smile and talk sweet. Being polite can sometimes make things easier here:) Prepare another copy of your log card because they may want to keep one copy here sometimes.
Once through the Malaysian end, head up into the Thailand end. The Thai border will be opened everyday betweeen 6am and 6pm, Thai time. Go before or after that period and you'll be sent back. Park your bike and be prepared for about 30 minutes to an hour of paperwork and queueing.
Firstly, fill up the immigration form obtainable from the immigration officer booth. Get a few extra copies for next time. Fill up this form and clear your passport with the immigration officer, making sure he or she stamps it.
Next move over to the customs counter just next to the immigration booth and give the lady there your passport and true copy of the log card or book. She will key the necessary information into their computer system and you will be given an Import Certificate for your bike.
With this certificate, queue at the insurance company booth, near the immigration counter, to buy 3rd party coverage for 2 weeks (minimum period). This is required by the customs authority and it will cost about 200 bahts.
With this policy, trot over to the customs booth. The officers here are in smart white uniforms (looks Navy to me). Hand them the insurance cover note, the true copy of your log card or book and the Import Certificate. They will record the necessary information and prepare a Customs Note for you. This note has to be handed over to the customs inspection station about 2 km away from the border.
Thats it! Gear up and get ready for Thailand! The road to Hatyai will be through several towns with heavy traffic and lots of local folks. Ride with care and mind the way the locals drive. There is a speed limit so look out for the white signs with strange black characters and large digits indicating the allowed speed.
Along the road in the border town of Sadao, you will be directed by road barriers to turn into the customs inspection station. Here surrender the customs import note to the officer there and ride on.
Follow the Hatyai directional signs for about 60 km. There are no major turns until Hatyai. Just head north and straight ahead along the highway.
After about 55 km into Thailand, look out for a large "Marko" sign on the right side of the road just after going over a bridge across a large river. Turn left at the next junction. Welcome to Hatyai!
Once again mind the heavy traffic and pedestrians. Good and reasonably priced hotels dot this little city. But if the impossible happens and you're lost, hail one of the many tuk-tuk (taxis) there and ask them to lead you to a hotel. This ought to cost you about 30 bahts. Insist on a hotel with parking security. Its relatively safe here but simple measures that may prevent unecessary problems will go a long way to make your ride enjoyable.
Total time taken to get to Hatyai from Gelang Patah would be about 10 hours at a comfortable pace. Remember to adjust your time an hour back to the local time. ie. 5pm (Singapore time) will be 4pm (Thai time). The nights start early here!
Day 3, 12th April 2000, Wednesday.
After a replenishing breakfast (you'll need it after last night...), check out of the hotel and prep your bike for a day of riding. Distance to Phuket from Hatyai is about 500km.
From the hotel in Hatyai town, head for the Railway Station. Look out for the bridge that goes over the tracks and go on it. This road will lead you to an Esso petrol station about 3 km away. Top up your tank there and get ready for an adventure.
Get back on the road and ride on straight keeping an eye out for Rattaphum directional signs. There no major turns, just follow the main road.
Turn right towards Rattaphum at the junction of Highway 406.
Before Rattaphum, turn into Highway 43 following directional signs for Phattalung.
Wonderfully paved roads will lead you to a junction with Highway 4 before Phattalung. Turn into Highway 4 and head for Trang. Follow the directional signs again.
Upon entering Trang, you will see a hotel in the shape of a ship! Stop at Trang for fuel top up and some lunch. You will be about 155 km away from Hatyai now. There's this little food stall at 6/6 Jempenya Road that sells the best Tom Yam Soup I've ever tasted. Ask around for it. Its well worth the effort!
After lunch, ask for directions on how to get out of Trang towards Krabi as the roads there may be confusing and has no directional signs.
Follow the directional signs for Krabi once you get out of Trang. The road will lead you to a junction after which you will have to head for Phangnga. Again follow the directional signs for Phangnga.
About 20 km before Phangnga, you will come into some hilly terrain. The corners here are simply wonderful! It's just like riding to Cameron Highlands from Tapah! But look out for sandy patches and mudslides if its raining. So not too fast on the bends here ok?
Coming into Phangnga you will have travelled about 215 km from Trang. Top up fuel here, have coffee and freshen up. There's this really nice bakery that serves tea and pastries opposite the Esso station. You can even strike up a conversation with the proprietor in Cantonese!
Phuket town will be about 89 km from Phangnga. There will be plenty of road works going on as the authorities are widening the highway leading to Phuket. I estimate heavenly rides by the first quarter of 2000. Riding at night here will be a terrible idea. There are no lights and reflectors on the highway. If possible avoid riding at night in Thailand.
Follow the directional signs for Phuket. They'll lead you right into the heart of Phuket island. You know you've arrived once you cross the Sarasin Bridge, the gateway to beautiful Phuket.
About 15 km from Phuket town, on the western coast of the island, is Patong Beach. That is where you want to be in Phuket. There are lots of nice hotels that will fit your budget and needs, while food and fun is never a problem.
Phuket Bike Week starts on Wednesday, 12th of April 2000. Festivities will go on until Sunday, 16th of April 2000. Bikers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and all over will congregate for this annual pilgrimage of sun, sand, sea, bikes and never ending fun.
Welcome to Phuket! Have fun and ride safe always!
Please note that all fuel costs mention above are based on the consumption of a well maintained Honda CB400 Super 4 Version S, doing an average speed of about 160km/h. Fuel consumption will vary from bike to bike and is dependant on riding styles, machine performance and condition as well.