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Old 07-08-2012, 01:53 AM   #1
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Default Early Morning Ride; Phuket, Thailand

Phuket has a few potentially enjoyable roads and a number of interesting places to visit, all on an island about 50 km long and 20 km wide. However, particularly in the southern half of the island, roads are congested with ill disciplined traffic. They are poorly designed, and poorly maintained compared to roads in other provinces (for various administrative and political reasons). For the most part getting around is a battle, not a joy.

Early morning, however, provides an opportunity to enjoy a ride in cool fresh air, with little traffic. Sometimes I like to do just that. This is a trip that I started before dawn recently. Covering a loop of less than 50 km (30 miles) in three or four hours, it included a variety of roads, and some interesting sights.

To illustrate this report I have mostly used pictures taken at the time, but the first few of the Patong Hill Road were taken at another time, during the day.



https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=M...UqIuQ&t=m&z=12

The first part of the trip, was just a couple of km through town, and then several of dual carriageway. Boring stuff, but by day you always have to keep your wits about you in the traffic. It was easy going early in the morning.

The road over Patong Hill, one of Phuket’s busiest roads, is more interesting. In about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) it rises from about 15 metres (50 feet) to I guess 100 metres (330 feet), then falls to about sea level. It has a number of tricky corners. Add in some heavy traffic with crazy drivers, and you get over a thousand accidents a year, or about 3 per day.

When it rains after a dry spell, on some of the steep sections it gets hilarious. Impatient drivers in overpowered cars often lose traction and land up spinning their wheels, going nowhere.

Patong Hill starts with moderate slope increasing to a steep pitch around a 140 bend



From there it is a gentle slope on a short straight and for the first part of a 160 bend. Toward the end of the bend it gets into a fairly steep incline. Large vehicles often break down here; buses with inexperienced drivers stall, and trucks shed insecure loads. Concrete mixers frequently spill some of their contents, so it is quite bumpy in parts.



Leaving that section, the road goes around a sharply rising 80 bend, which is quite challenging.



There is a Chinese Temple at the highest point. The deity that it houses likes drivers to toot three times as they pass by, so it is a noisy place. He also likes movies and brawn. If prayers are answered supplicants pay for a movie to be shown by the roadside in the evening, or make an offering of a pig’s head.





From the top the road falls away sharply over a blind brow, and into a tricky blind 70 bend, a bit like The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca.



The road continues down steeply through a series of gentle bends, into a sort of a big dipper, where sink holes occasionally open up after heavy rain!



Soi San Sabai in Patong, is a busy thoroughfare on privately owned land. In the early hours of the morning it would have been chocker with motorcycles parked 2 deep, each paying 20 baht to be there. At 5.15 there were just a few left and night owls were making their way back to their digs before dawn broke.



To be continued, if anybody is interested..... If you prefer Nantucket, Empty Sea may oblige
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Last edited by Michael; 07-16-2012 at 04:08 AM.
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:04 AM   #2
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Interesting, educational and entertaining......great photos. Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:19 AM   #3
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You're getting very good with that new fangled digital camera of yours, Michael. Great pics, very interesting. Keep 'em coming.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
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To be continued, if anybody is interested.....
Yes, please continue. Great pictures and narrative! I'm enjoying your ride.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:52 AM   #5
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Nice report. I'm trying to figure out how to plot the map the way you did and then save it, but I'm not having the best of luck with google maps. Great pics and narrative.
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:24 AM   #6
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Yes, I find the narrative to be the best part.
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:37 AM   #7
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Nice 😣- how do you incorporate the photos with the words?
I know I must sound dense.
Cheers Paul


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Old 07-09-2012, 02:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feliz View Post
Interesting, educational and entertaining......great photos. Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redeye View Post
Yes, please continue. Great pictures and narrative! I'm enjoying your ride.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsonder View Post
Yes, I find the narrative to be the best part.
Thanks all; it could be next weekend before I get on to the next leg. Even then, depends on how much work I have to get done (hopefully a lot will come in this week), and the weather. The past few days have been quite stormy, so I was inclined to stay home more than venture out.

Thanks to Aargee for inspiring, and then prompting me to have a go at doing a trip report.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wynne G Oldman View Post
You're getting very good with that new fangled digital camera of yours, Michael. Great pics, very interesting. Keep 'em coming.
It is fun checking out all the functions and trying different things. Good to be able to do some editing with iPhoto too.

I miss the optical viewfinder for framing shots, and keeping the camera steady. In due course I'll go for something like a Canon G series, or a Fujifilm 10X. Still I appreciate the ruggedness of the Olympus TG310, which makes it a good choice to carry around on a motorcycle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Empty Sea View Post
Nice report. I'm trying to figure out how to plot the map the way you did and then save it, but I'm not having the best of luck with google maps. Great pics and narrative.
Thanks to Autfitt, spdklls, and etiainen for pointing me in the right direction in this thread:

belatedly going digital

First plot the route using the "Get Directions" function on Google maps. That gives the route marked in blue.

Then I took a screen shot as suggested by etaiinen for Mac. ERrunner tells how it can be done on a PC.

That left an image on the desktop to upload to the image hosting service. Once there it can be used just like any other picture.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
Nice ��- how do you incorporate the photos with the words?
I know I must sound dense.
Cheers Paul
Not dense at all. A month or so ago I knew nothing about all this. With the help of others, and some experimenting I now know a little. The Test Forum is there for you to try things out.

Incorporating photos with words..... as I tell my students, it is all about taking time, and planing. When I went out I already had in mind some of what I wanted to do.

I chose the pictures I wanted to use, and uploaded them to Tinypic.

After writing the text off-line and planning where to put the pictures, I went on-line. There it was copy and paste the text, then formatting it as I added the pictures from Tinypic individually, in the appropriate places.

..... And then I appreciated the effort that others have put into their trip reports!
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Last edited by Michael; 07-09-2012 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 07-15-2012, 02:27 AM   #9
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Bangla Road in Patong is a walking street from 6.00 PM to 6.00 AM, so the next part of my jaunt was on foot. About 250 metres long, it is Phuket’s Party Central from dusk to dawn. Within a 500 metre radius you can find everything from international class nightclubs where the Beautiful People hang out, to humble bars where beauty is often in the eyes of the beer-holder. Of an evening Soi Bangla is a mass of humanity, from honeymooners through party people to honey-hunters from all over.

Depending on the mood of the constabulary, bars close at 2.00 AM, but clubs and discos are usually allowed to open until about 4.30. By 5.30 it is just the stragglers left, but they are still being catered for from motorcycle mounted kitchens.

Pad Thai (stir-fried noodles) for sale.



BBQ chicken an other morsels such as dried squid (yummy with a beer).



Beer on ice in a polystyrene box attracts post club honey. The girl leaning forward wanted her photo taken. I though she had quite an attractive face, so I obliged, without realising it also caught rather unflattering view of her bosom until I downloaded the pictures.



I bought a beer for those who didn’t have one, and joined with them for a few minutes to be entertained by a Thai ladyboy having an argument with a drunken Westerner across the road.



At the seaside end of the road there were some “tuk tuks” (the local version of a taxi) waiting for fares. They use Japanese “kei” class utes, which are usually pimped out with fancy light and sound systems. The drivers are the bane of life for tourists and locals alike. Rude and expensive, they charge 3 - 400 baht ($US 10 - 13) for just a short trip. For half that you can rent a 110cc motorcycle for a whole day.



There are those like to end their night at the beach, before heading off to bed at dawn.





When I returned to my motorcycle Kung played up to the camera. She stopped and we chatted for a few minutes. She had left her kid with her mother (common here) and come down from Bangkok to check out Patong a month ago. She looked at bargirl life, but reckoned it wasn’t for her, so had taken a job as a cleaner in a small hotel. She was heading to the beach before going to work.



At about 6.30 it was well and truly daylight on Soi San Sabai. I resumed my journey on two wheels.



Last installment to come, maybe next weekend
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Last edited by Michael; 07-15-2012 at 03:07 AM.
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Old 07-15-2012, 03:34 AM   #10
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Your pictures and narrative are great Michael; thanks for posting.
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