We had a great weekend in Buriram watching the races and being shown around the city by our AirBnB hosts, Jinny and Pea Jim. But now it's time to hit the road again. Our route today takes us further south into Thailand.
On the road by 7AM to beat the heat
Jinny and Pea Jim told us about some fantastic ruins just south of Buriram, so we head down there.
Some monks also had the same idea
To get to the Prasat Hin Phanom Rung temple, you have to walk down a 160m processional walkway.
Quite the buildup watching the temple get bigger and bigger as you get closer.
Phanom Rung is a Khmer temple built in the 10th century. With its Hindu shrines dedicated to Shiva, it looked very different from the Buddhist temples that we saw in the north. It reminded me that the geo-political borders on the world map are both arbitrary and temporary and these Cambodian temples in Thailand are a great example of that. There are only five Khmer temples in Thailand and we've seen two of them already!
Phanom Rung sits on the summit of an extinct volcano
Maybe I'm getting tired of all the lotus blossom temples in Thailand, but Phanom Rung was a great change and a seriously impressive complex. I'm looking forward to seeing the larger Khmer temples in Cambodia, like Angkor Watt. However, by the time we arrived, the temperatures had already started to rise and the grounds were so extensive we had to find shade several times to escape the heat. And yet, we saw monks walking around with woolen caps!
Beautiful dragon motifs
Even the temple dogs were hogging all the shade at Phanom Rung to escape the heat
A bunch of school kids on a field trip. Some of them were wearing jackets. *SMH*
Water lilies on the temple grounds
Tons of bats inside the temple! Stuck to the wall ready to fly out at you and get stuck in your hair! :)
Monks checking out the view. Pretty Phehom-enal, isn't it?
After a couple of hours at Phenom Rung, we walked back to our motorcycles. We should have parked under some shade because the seats were blisteringly hot from the overhead sun. On our BMWs, there's a game we like to play called, "Hey, who turned on my heated grips?" when the bikes are parked. Actually, it's only me who likes to play that game. When I touched the grips on the CRFs, I thought Neda was getting me back. Then I remembered. We don't have heated grips on the CRFs.
So hot out here....!
There's not a lot of good motorcycling in the province of Issan. It's flat and the roads go through either urban sprawl or uninteresting farmland. However as we near the Cambodian border, we hit the Ta Phraya National Park.
It's like an oasis of greenery and we soak it up
But it's short-lived and we find ourselves back on the boring highway again, headed westwards
We are stopping for gas so often. I hate the teeny tiny tanks on these CRFs!
There are some curious habits that the Thai drivers have when they're parked at gas stations. We see them lift up their hoods when they're stopped, presumably to cool the engines faster? Does that really work? Also, when they're parked for a long time, they lift their windshield wipers off the glass. I've read that it stops the rubber from sticking to the glass or warping because it's so hot. Kind of like what Canadians do in the wintertime for the exact opposite reason! 555!
At another gas stop we stop and chat to these two farang bikers!
We saw these guys as we were heading into Bangkok, we were all riding in formation at one point and then we all turned into the same gas station to fill up. Neda and I sat down to have a drink under the shade to cool down and I saw the tall guy looking over at us, so I walked over to say hi.
It turns out they recognized us from the WSBK races on the weekend! They were Turkish and their English wasn't very good, but we were still able to communicate a little bit. The taller guy has been touring around Thailand for a few weeks on his CBR250, and the shorter guy was his friend visiting from Turkey. They were so open and super friendly. When I told them about our trip, the taller guy beamed and told me that was his dream, just to live on his bike all the time. Then he hugged me in joy. That was funny. Two grown, sweaty men celebrating motorcycle freedom in a gas station in rural Thailand! :)
The tall guy was very proud of his friend who was visiting him. He bragged that the shorter guy was very rich and owned several race bikes that he took out on the track. Then we started talking about racing and I asked them if they were cheering for Kenan Sofuoglu, the Turkish rider in the lower World Supersport class.
Their eyes bugged: "You know about Kenan Sofuoglu? He is #1! Kenan Sofuoglu!"
I replied, "Yes, Kenan Superglue!" His last name rhymes with Superglue so people call him that. They looked at me with confusion and corrected me: "Kenan Sofuoglu". I guess people in Turkey don't call him "Superglue"... :)
The shorter guy took out his smartphone and showed me a picture of him and Kenan taken at some black-tie event. "Kenan is very nice. Very nice man".
I smiled and said, "Maybe he is a nice guy off the track, but on the track he's not very nice..." Superglue has a bad reputation for unsportsman-like behaviour when racing.
When I said that, both Turkish men grew silent and glared at me. Uh oh... Then a couple of seconds later they both broke out in huge laughs and clapped me on the back. "Yes, Kenan not so nice on the track!!! That's why he's #1! HAHAHA!!!"
These guys were so nice and friendly. If they're representative of all Turkish people, I can't wait to visit Turkey! They were headed for the beaches in Pattaya, so after another round of sweaty man-hugs (haha, so awesome!), we wished each other well and continued on our separate ways.
Looking back, the Phenom Rung temples were nice and all, but what stuck out in my mind for the day was chatting to these two enthusiastic Turkish bikers.
Battling the terrible congestion in Bangkok. But not for our bikes!
It's so nice to have tiny motorcycles. We weaved in and out of stopped traffic as if it was a metal labyrinthe of cars and trucks. I may have smacked a couple of SUV mirrors while doing so... Oh well.
We parked our bikes and grabbed our stuff off of them and hailed a taxi to Bangkok International Airport. Our trip is going to take yet another tangent...