A Thai Dirt Bike Adventure - Dirt Rider Magazine

While on my trip around the world I decided to go for my own style of jungle trekking while in Thailand. On the island of Koh Phan-gan, there were a number of KLX bikes for rent. For a mere $20 a day you can ride around the island to any of the beautiful waterfalls or beaches. The island has a population of 10,000 people with a number of small towns throughout. If you are looking for an amazing low cost bungalow on the beach and still want some off road adventure then Koh Phan-gan is just the right place for you. Enjoy a nice ride in the mountains on a quad or KLX250F. The island has amazing hill climbs with one of five mountains reaching 2,100 ft into the heavens and one of the world's best beaches at its base.

There was a 2009 Kawasaki KLX 250F with a rear tire showing the cords that I wanted to rent. I told the man that if he were to get a new tire I would rent it from him. He said, "give you 30 minutes, me get tire brand new for you." So I took a short walk to the beach to grab some food then came back to a brand new Dunlop on the bike. I took off out of town with the hope of completing a circuit around the island on what looked like a two track on the map. After 1 km and two falls I had climbed the first extremely washed out hill about 1,400 feet high. As I was taking a break a man walked over and in a laughing jolly Thai voice said, "you professional not many do try this with big bike." After a short talk he offered me a seat on a chair located just under his house. He informed me that the road I thought I was on was actually a walking trail. I was disappointed to find out there wasn't an actual trail, therefore I set off on a clay two-track.While riding around I decided to check out all the waterfalls that were deep within the mountains. At the base of each mountain you could overlook and see all the beautiful beaches. It was around twelve o'clock in the afternoon when the temperature reached 90F which only increased as the day went on. At the end of one of the waterfalls I spotted a large pool of water that I could go swimming in and cool off.

While swimming, I got to talking to this couple about riding. They had ridden a 1994 YZ200 to this water fall as well. He said that two years ago he was at this island and heard that a path had recently opened up to the Ao Haad Khuat (Bottle beach) which was only accessible by motorcycle. They invited me to join them to go check it out and of course I accepted their invitation.We jumped on our bikes and went on our way, flying over hills, roots, and gullies to get to the location. Along the ride there were some water crossing's which did not amount to much. I even passed a few elephants in the tops of the mountains who were giving rides to some tourists. I do have to say, from riding in northern Michigan seeing a deer or an occasional moose was not the same as an elephant. We were keeping a very quick pace. It was a good feeling to hear a two stroke bike once again!

When we reached the turn off from the main paved road; it was a two track once again. With deep wash outs on both sides of the trail, there were also massive ruts running down the face. The mountain we were on was 236 meters tall. The decent was steep and after reaching one point there was a bunch of mopeds parked. With a sign reading 100 baht fine for any moped that can't make it out. This sign was in Thai but we later found out that if they had to haul your bike out it cost 100 baht ($3). After a day of riding through the dust and extreme heat we were rewarded with the most amazing beach EVER! This small beach had crystal clear water; mountains covered in palm trees that were completely surrounded you. This view was only accessible by bike or boat. There were a couple resorts located nearby where you could get something to eat.While we were swimming in this remote area, I thought about my dad and what he always says when we find an amazing place while riding, "Son this is why we work" this statement could not be truer. This was the best ending to an amazing day; sitting in the clear water and soak up the sun.

A thunderstorm blew in through the night causing massive down pours with some minor flooding and erosion on some of the local streets. I was not sure how this would affect my ride back since most of the hills were red clay with crushed coral dirt. I decided to leave at 9 o'clock in the morning only to find the roads were not as bad as I had originally thought. I was headed to the North West cost of the island where there was a road sign to a lookout. I took off down a road that quickly became a two track rather than a single track. It was a long uphill climb through the jungle on concrete paths no wider than ten inches in a few of the very aggressive uphill sections. I ran into a couple places where erosion was a problem. I was really happy that I had gotten the new rear tire put on in order to power through the wet rocks all the way to the top.I broke out of the jungle to find a white KLX250F parked next to a small shack. There were three thai guys and one Austrian guy sitting there smiling. It started to rain so the guys waved me in to join them in this small shack. It was no more than a few sticks for a floor, about three feet off the ground, and thatch roof. It was a great place to rest after the adventure of getting up the hill. We sat and talked for about two hours waiting for the pouring rain to stop. They informed me that just 100 meters away was this amazing waterfall that I just had to check out.

Shortly after the rain stopped, I headed off to find this water fall. I had two tour guides; a black lab and another dog that showed me the way. It was rather difficult to make it there but once I did, it was stunning. This amazing water fall with a small pool below was looking out over the jungle to the turquoise waters below. This was by far the most amazing ride I have ever taken in my life. Everywhere I turned there was a picture perfect view to be seen.

On my way back into town I had a small spill on the ride down the mountain. The left mirror and rear fender got a little scratch on it so once I returned to town I hoped it was not cost me too much to fix but oh boy did it ever. After a small argument with the guy who happens to have the name tricky (should have seen that before), he charged me 6,000 baht which is about $200 for the fender and mirror. Thankfully I only rented the bike for $20 a day; I still think I made off pretty well with all the beautiful sights I was able to experience.

Follow Travis on his adventure around the globe by checking out his website: www.trekkingwithtrav.com