About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 37 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 10 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Umphang Death Highway Trip

“My goal is to be filthy rich... Rich in adventure, in health, in knowledge, in laughter, in family, and in love…”

Date: 1 – 9 September 2016
Route: KL – Surat Thani – Kanchanaburi – Mae Sot – Umphang – Tak – Samut Prakan – Chumphon – Hatyai – KL
Total Distance: 4,760 km

"Fare Thee Well Northumberland"

Come drive me down to the central station
I hate to leave my river tyne
For some damn town that's god-forsaken
Fare thee well, northumberland

Although I'll go where the lady takes me
She'll never tell what's in her hand
I do not know what fate awaits me
Fare thee well, northumberland

My heart beats for my streets and alleys
Longs to dwell in the borderlands
The north-east shore and the river valleys
Fare thee well northumberland

I may not stay, I'm bound for leaving
I'm bound to ramble and to roam
I only say my heart is grieving
I would not gamble on my coming home

(Mark Knopfler)

Umphang Trip Day 01: KL - Surat Thani

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That makes you a winner right there… “ – Venus Williams

(Route 41 - Western themed Rest and Recreation Area)

Day 01: 1 September 2016 (Thursday)
Route: K Lumpur – Surat Thani
Distance: 865 km
Hotel: Princess Park Hotel

It was a beautiful sunny day to travel.

Hubby and I are still having slight fever and still taking our medications. Instead of riding our KTM 1190, we planned to drive across the border and brave the ‘Death Highway’ to Umphang, Thailand, just the two of us. We are celebrating our 37th anniversary there!

(A beautiful bright clear day)

Our 4x4 Ford Ranger Extreme is still in the workshop, waiting for spare parts since a week ago so we will be driving our Mercedes E300. This is a first time for the E300 to drive across the border. Around 10:30 am we started driving north from our Bidara House. We stopped at Simpang Pulai for refuelling. Around 2:30 pm we took a break for lunch at Restoran Mee Udang at Sungai Dua. It was not as good as expected. We have tasted better Mee Udang than this, elsewhere!

(Mee Udang and Nasi Goreng Udang Sungai Dua)

We refuelled again at Changlun, completed documentations, insurance and bought some Bahts. We finally crossed the Malaysia/Thailand border at Bukit Kayu Hitam around 5:00 pm.

(Many more eateries to be opened at Route 41)
(Our E300 crossing the border for the first time)

We made a brief photo shots stop at Route 41 and drove direct to Surat Thani where we had a late dinner at our favourite Muslim stall. By 11:00 pm we checked in Princess Park Hotel Surat Thani at B600/night with complimentary breakfast.

Umphang Trip Day 02: Surat Thani - Kanchanaburi

“Life is simple, complicating it is the problem…” - Margaret Mara

(A wet day at the Bridge over the River Kwai)

Day 02: 2 September 2016 (Friday)
Route: Surat Thani - Kanchanaburi
Distance: 685 km
Hotel: Luxury Hotel

We had breakfast at the hotel café. By 8:45 am we started driving on Highway 4 towards north and stopped for lunch in a Muslim Restaurant by the highway in Prachuap Khiri Khan and performed our prayers at the restaurant musolla.

(Princess Park Hotel owned by a Muslim)
(A Muslim Restaurant in Prachuap Khiri Khan)
(Having my favourite Iced-Cappuccino at the Amazon Cafe)
(Cloudy sky ahead on Highway 41)
(Intermittent rain along the way)
(A welcoming sign of Kanchanaburi)

We made a few more stops for coffee break at the Amazon Café. By 7:00 pm we arrived in Kanchanaburi and drove direct to the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. There were a large crowd at the bridge, obviously waiting for the beautiful sun set. We bought fried rice-to- go from a Muslim stall near the Train Station.

(Visiting the Bridge around sun set)
(Street vendors selling local delicacies)
(A street artist capturing the local scene)
(The historical majestic bridge at sun set)
(The notorious bridge over the River Kwai)
(Floating Restaurant bustling with customers)
(River Kwai Railway Station)
(A Muslim stall by the River Kwai)

After checking-in Luxury Hotel at B700/night, we went for an hour of relaxing foot massage and had crispy banana pancake for supper.

Umphang Trip Day 03: Kanchanaburi - Mae Sot

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation…” - Arthur Ashe

(The western most point of Thailand)

Day 03: 3 September 2016 (Saturday)
Route: Kanchanaburi – Mae Sot
Distance: 505 km
Hotel: Arisa Homes Hotel

We had our complimentary breakfast at the Luxury Hotel café.

(A clean comfortable hotel) 

By 8:45 am we started driving on highway 4 towards north. We had a short coffee break at the Amazon Café by a river in Chai Nat. We stopped for lunch around 12:30 pm at a Muslim Restaurant by the lakeside in Nakhon Sawan.

(A nice view from the Amazon Cafe, Chai Nat)
(A coffee break by the riverside in Chai Nat)
(Following the signage to the city of Nakhon Sawan)
(A busy road entering Nakhon Sawan)
(Hot steaming rice with beef soup and omelette for lunch)

From Tak we took the main road to the Thailand/Myanmar border town of Mae Sot. The road is undergoing massive road works and traffic was slow as there were many lorries carrying goods and produce to and from the border town. We arrived in Mae Sot around 5:00 pm and checked in Arisa Homes Hotel at B570/night. After a short rest and performed our prayers we drove to the Thailand/Myanmar border and visited the Western Most point of Thailand.

(Signage to the Thai/Myanmar border)
(Welcome to South Asia Gate)
(Massive road works from Tak to Mae Sot)
(A better part of the highway)
(A glimpse of the signage to Umphang)
(Our lodging for the night, Arisa Homes)

Mae Sot is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees. The town is part of Tak Province and is the main gateway between Thailand and Myanmar. The Moei River serves as a natural border between Mae Sot and the Myanmar town of Myawaddy. Mae Sot is where Asian Highway AH1 links Thailand and Myanmar. 

It is one of the only three transnational roads and cross-border points across the Tenasserim Hills to Myanmar, along with Three Pagodas Pass and Phu Nam Ron. The Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge crossing the Moei River was constructed in 1997 completing the link between the two countries. At the entrance of the bridge is the immigration office which is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

(The Thailand/Myanmar border complex)
(A road side cafe at the border)
(The Thai/Myanmar Friendship Bridge)
(Capturing the moment at the border)
(The map of Mae Sot tourist attractions)
(The Rim Moei Market next to the border)
(Buying Thai and Burmese products)

We bought some souvenirs and t-shirts at the Rim Moei Burmese Market. It rained heavily when we left town and drove 7 km to the Mae Sot 360 Viewpoint for a good view of the surrounding area. We had cappuccino and espresso with orange cheese cakes while waiting for the rain to stop.

(Taking a 360` view of the surrounding)
(Having some fun with the Spiderman)
(A stroll with the Incredible Hulk in the rain)
(My kind of Superman)
(Delicious orange cheese cake for tea)

We later had dinner at the Muslim Restaurant in front of the Darul-Islam Mosque in the middle of Mae Sot town.

(Mae Sot Clock Tower, a landmark)
(The Darul-Islam Mosque during Magrib)
(Roti telur with hot spicy curry)

Umphang Trip Day 04: Mae Sot - Umphang

“Every day holds the possibility of a miracle. Worrying will never change the outcome.…"

(At the Umphang milestone, a great achievement)

Day 04: 4 September 2016 (Sunday)
Route: Mae Sot - Umphang
Distance: 168 km
Hotel: Wiriya Homes Resort

We had breakfast at the hotel café before we checked out. We drove to a nearby 7-Eleven and bought Tomyam Maggie and bread as we may not find halal food in Umphang. By 9:00 am we started driving on highway 1090, the only accessible route to Umphang.

(Toasts and Bulls Eyes fried eggs)
(A loaf of bread from 7-Eleven)

Route 1090 linking Mae Sot and Umphang is also known as the notorious ‘Death Highway’. It is Thailand's high altitude road to Thailand's ultimate isolated spot. The road of some 1219 twists and sharp curves through untouched jungle is famous for its magnificent mountain scenery as it follows the Tanon Tongchai mountain range that separates Myanmar from Thailand.

(Highway exiting from the town of Mae Sot)
(The start of a long and winding road)
(One of the many Police and Military road blocks)
(Beware of obstacles in the middle of the road)
(The road is narrowing at some parts)
(A panoramic view from the top)
(Karen Hill Tribe Villages)

The 'Death Highway' bears witness to the murders of many of its construction workers, 40 in one single massacre at the hands of a Communist Party of Thailand not wanting to see the road built. More recently the unending number of fatal accidents has confirmed the road's nickname. In 1995, 25 teachers died in a bus crash. The road is said to have a history of hold-ups and robbery.

(Passing through the National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary)
(Virgin Ancient Black Fern Forest)
(A good panoramic view of the mountains)
(The mountains separating Thailand and Myanmar)
(We are above the clouds, experiencing cool climate)
(A lonely, high altitude highway to Umphang)

Because of last night rain, the road became slippery. It was a challenging four-hour drive from Mae Sot to Umphang. We made a stop at a view point half way and took photo of the mountain scenery.

(A lone biker, on a lonely road)
(A vast corn field cultivation in the valley)
(A first sign of civilization, what a relief!)

We arrived in Umphang around 1:00 pm and drove around town for some photo shots. From town we detoured and took the road leading to Thee Lor Su waterfalls, often praised as Southeast Asia’s most beautiful waterfalls which has become a popular destination for both Thai and foreign tourists.

(The archway to Umphang town)
(Colourful welcoming sign when you enter town)
(Umphang main street, quiet and peaceful)
(We are not far from Myanmar)
(We braved the 1,219 corners of the Death Highway. Yeay!)

Hoping to get a glimpse of the waterfalls, we drove our E300 and braved the unpaved road fit only for large off-roaders or 4x4 trucks. Half way we declared defeat and turned back because of the very bad road condition full of ruts and pot-holes. Even our 4x4 Ford Ranger Extreme will not survive on this type of road condition!

(The waterfalls is 60 km from Umphang town)
(A few kilometers of good paved road)
(The beginning of a rough road full of holes)
(A road accessible only by hard-core 4x4 or off-roaders)

We retraced our journey back to Umphang. As there was nothing much to do in town, we decided to drive back the same 1090 Highway back to Mae Sot and planned to spend the night in Tak.

About 30 km from town, and in the middle of nowhere, our E300 experienced a flat tyre. We tried to use the sealant and air pump but to no avail. The side wall of the tyre was badly torn. The other front tyre also experienced the same fate.

A Thai couple on their way to Bangkok stopped to assist. As they were locals, they made a call to a mechanic in Umphang and an hour later the mechanic came with a few tyres but none fit.

(Leaving our faithful Merc on the roadside overnight)

As it was getting dark, they advised us to stay in Umphang. The mechanic arranged to purchase two tyres from Mae Sot to be delivered to his workshop in Umphang by noon tomorrow. We had to leave the Merc by the roadside overnight. The local assured us that it would be safe there. The mechanic brought back our two tyres to his workshop and his friend sent us to Wiriya Homes Resort for the night for B500/night.

As there is no Halal food stall in Umphang, dinner tonight was Tomyam Maggie and bread.