Destinations

Motorcycle trip from India to Singapore – Part 2

Continuation from the first part.

Day 16 : Mon 21 Jan – Pong Nham to Kamphaeng Phet (Thailand)

Up early and ready by 6:45am. Fuel stop for 8.85 ltrs of 95 octane (27.20 baht / litre). Scheduled to ride to Lampang via Chiang Mai to BMW motors for Kiran’s bike fix. Reached BMW Barcelona Motors (on Google Maps), Chiang Mai by 11:30am. They didn’t have any spare parts for the bike. Covered 232 km so far. Continued on by about 3pm. On the highway from Lamphun to Lampang, we passed the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. On route, at an intersection at Lampang, due to the road work going on there was heavy traffic on narrowed road, I missed Vish and Kiran. Didn’t know where to go, so logically rode in the South direction towards Tak. Ended up riding in reserve to nearing empty tank with no fuel station in sight.

Finally, at about 4pm and 98km to Tak, stopped at PT fuel station and fueled up full tank. Lots of local super bikers on road – mostly BMW and Kawasaki. 4 wheelers we’re mostly Toyota, Honda sedans and pickup trucks. At nearby Punthai coffee shop (on Google Map) (Lampang), ordered for latte. Got to know they didn’t have free WiFi and I had no way to contact either Vish or Kiran. Requested one of the lady staff of coffee shop to share her phone WiFi for a bit and she obliged. They had shared their location and they were way behind as they had stopped at a fuel station to fuel up and wait for some update from me. Shared my location and stayed put till they turned up. Reached place of stay by 8pm. This home-stay is run by an Austrian gentleman-Thai lady couple. We had dinner with beer. Vish got a small cupcake, and with a lit candle on it, they wished my birthday. The moon in the clear night sky appeared larger than usual and from being bright white (previous night) had changed color to dark orange. It happened to be a Lunar eclipseSuper Blood Wolf Moon.

Distance covered : 581 km
Average speed : 93 km/hr
Road : Very good
Stay : Malee Resort (on Google Maps), Kamphaeng Phet 4/5

Day 17 : Tue 22 Jan – Kamphaeng Phet to Kloug Wan (Thailand)

Up by 6am ready by 7:30am. Started out. Filled up full tank fuel at Shell petrol bunk at the main road. Little further, on the service lane, got my bike chain lag fixed at a small mechanic shop. Cleaned sprocket and chain of my bike and that of Kiran’s bike myself. 12:20pm reached PTT station for a break at Amazon cafe. 390km / 6.5 hours more to go. Stopped at PFF station for a break. 271 km/4.5 hrs. more to go. Vish filled up fuel here. Stopped little after Phetchaburi at 5:50pm to refuel and coffee at Inthanin Garden. Later a stop at fuel station. By 8:20pm, we reached the changed place of stay. Dinner at restaurant close by, run by German ex-sailor and Thai lady couple.

Distance covered : 601 km
Average speed : 73km/hr
Road : Very good
Stay : Kalla Pangha Resort (on Google Maps), Kloug Wan 4/5

Day 18 : Wed 23 Jan – Kloug Wan – Ko Lanta (Thailand)

Up by 6am. Start by 7:15am. First filled fuel. Next stop at 10:30am where refueled and had a coffee break. 312km/5hrs. more to go. up to Hua Hin Pier from where we need to take a ferry across to the Ko Lanta island and resort Lanta Casa Blanca. One stop for refuel for Kiran and Vish. Later at 1:30pm, a stop at PTT for fuel. 102km/1:50hrs more to go.

Reached the ferry boat by 3:30pm. Got to the resort by 4pm. By this time (after several days of riding motorcyles so far) my butt cheeks started to hurt. Let’s face it. It is bound to happen, even more so, considering the Duke’s seat isn’t the comfiest for long distance travel. Quickly freshened up, rented 2 scooters and rode out with our dirty laundry to the laundry store. Vish relaxed back at the hotel while Kiran and I explored the road that had just about every kind of store possible… Mostly restaurants. Got back with our washed laundry by 8pm and relaxed.

Distance covered : 550 km
Average speed : 54 km/hr
Road : Very good
Stay : Lanta Casa Blanca, (on Google Maps) Ko Lanta 5/5

Day 19 : Thu 24 Jan – Ko Lanta (Thailand)

Easy day off. Good breakfast. Kiran and Vish went out to the market on the scooter for some shopping. They got the chain lubricant and later we went out for lunch at the nearby restaurant. Went to the beach at 5:30pm and back by 7pm. Had dinner back at the resort and tried to work out alternatives for getting into Singapore with motorcycles. My schoolmate Srinivas who resides in Singapore got in touch and having known about my trip, he connected with two of his friends Naveen and Panduranga, both of whom have done a similar trip in the past. Just as the other biker friends has advised, these two also suggested that we do NOT attempt getting into Singapore as it would extremely difficult and not worth the effort, time and money. However, with all his prior planning Vish was determined to follow it through and made sure that we ride into Singapore.

Even connected with another friend Sushil, who has done a similar trip on his Triumph Bonnieville, just a month back. Spoke with Jayanth (ex-collegue, friend and guitarist in the metal music band Neolithic Silence) who resides / works in Malaysia. They provided with a lot of useful information, advice, suggestions that helped us figure out our next course of action.

Day 20 : Fri 25 Jan – Ko Lanta (Thailand)

Up and breakfast done by 9am. Lunch at Ni restaurant close by. Chill out the entire day exploring the town a bit, lunch outside at closeby restaurant and later chilling by the beach. Dinner and early to bed.

Total distance covered in Thailand – Tachileik to Bukit Kayu Hitam : 2100km (approx.)


Thailand

Chilled out country known for tropical beaches besides its ornate Buddist temples. Currency is Thai baht. Good roads and infrastructure. Friendly people. Fuel stations in Thailand – Caltex, Esso, Shell, PPT, PT and Bangchak (green leaf logo). Each station have a coffee shop and departmental store. For eg. PPT has Amazon Coffee. Bangchak has Itinan coffee…etc. Vehicles mostly Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Isuzu. Some Chevy, Mitsubishi, Ford and of which most are either sedans or pickup trucks. Two wheelers are mostly Hondas and Yamahas 110-135cc and some superbikes too. Similar to Myanmar, for tea or coffee it was milk powder/dairy whitener sackets and never fresh milk except for a few well-known Coffee shops. The island of Ko Lanta at Krabi for some odd reason attracts German tourists aplenty. Thailand doesn’t recognise Carnet. So after stamping the passport along with the eVisa, one can simply drive/ride into Thailand in your vehicle. Similar situation when leaving the country. However, if the Carnet is asked for and is stamped on entry, make sure to stamp out at the border crossing when exiting Thailand.


Day 21 : Sat 26 Jan – Ko Lanta (Thailand) to Bukit Kayu Hitam (Malaysia)

Ready by 8am. Fuel at 9: 15am on main land PT fuel bunk of 5.14 ltrs. for 140 bahts. No sooner after fuel bunk, I crashed into a moped ridden by a local teenager who came onto the road sudden without looking back for oncoming traffic. Right foot brake lever broke. The kid had two lightly bleeding fingers. Gave him medical aid. By which time Kiran returned. The kid’s mother came over. Finished dressing his wound. By then Vish returned. The kid and his mother thanked and left. Parked my bike to the side of the road under shade of tree and fixed my bike. Started from there. Nearing Phatthalung, roads get superb and so does the hilly landscape. Pass the Phatthalung Wildlife Breeding center.

On the highway, not to take flyover but take a right below flyover going towards Sadao. Ride a few kms past the town of Hat Yai, when Vish’s bike gives problem. Figured its the rear wheel ball bearings gone bad. Inquired with local mechanic shops for big bike repair shop and they direct us to Hat Yai. Slowly rode back to find ‘Hard Bike‘ Service and Accessories shop (on Google Map). The bike’s rear wheel ball bearings were disintegrated. The mechanic arranges to procure the needed ball bearings. Kiran and I walk down to the ‘Central Festival‘ mall (on Google Maps) in Hat Yai (650 mtrs. away). Picked up coffee and Chicken Satay parcel. We walk back. Bike gets fixed by 6:30pm.

At 7pm, stopped at PTT to refuel fuel full tank. We had cold coffee. Not wanting to do night riding in through Malaysia for it being a new country and searching for good/safe accomodation would be time consuming and difficult. So to stay at Sadao was the plan but when we got there, we decided to go through the border. At Bukit Kayu Hitam, the border crossing was serpentine line ways with no clear directions. Staff were helpful though. Couldn’t get vehicle insurance as it was 9pm and late. Took the required form to submit per person. So we rode into Malaysia to find closest good hotel to stay for the night. In the midst of searching for the hotel, removing / putting on my (recently purchased Rynox Scout) gloves was getting annoying, so tucked it away into the tank bag handle that was in front of me. Reached the hotel to realize that somewhere along the way, the gloves fell out. There was no point going back to look for it. It’s gone. Checked into the hotel to freshen up. We were hungry and on checking with hotel staff, he said… ‘No food now. Order tomorrow morning’. Damn it! So we ate bread that we had on us and slept.

Distance covered : 345 km
Average speed : 64 km/hr
Road : Very good tarred roads
Stay : Hotel EDC, (on Google Maps) Changlun 3/5 (No food or staff to help with luggage after dark hours)

Day 22 : Sun 27 Jan – Bukit Kayu Hitam to Putrajaya (Malaysia)

Up and breakfast at 8:30am. Returned back to the border to get vehicle insurance, stamping of carnet and ICP. At the JPJ ofice, we were now told that we would have to get the insurance in the city. (Grrr!! Couldn’t he have told this yesterday?). So we had to get out again to get Insurance. It’s just a kilometer away from the border, take the first left and the building is on the right. Took us nearly an hour here to get the Insurance. One hour! Why? Kiran’s bike number plate was different. It had the IN sticker to the left of the vehicle registration number. His vehicle registration plate was visually different from Vish’s and my motorbike’s registration plate, hence the problem which we had to clarify.

For Malaysia, one would need the below additional documents / permits that can be obtained at / near the border.

  • Malaysia vehicle insurance (Got in Malaysia, 1 km from the border. Minimum validity is for 1 month)
  • Malaysia International Circulation Permit (ICP) (Got from JPJ office at border customs. Valid until declared date of departure)

Returned back again to JPJ for ICP. The documentation and border crossing is pretty straight forward, however there being no clear sign boards for directions to assist and getting through each section is like trying to get your way up the snake & ladder board game. We were finally done with the customs stamping the carnet and getting the ICP by 12:50pm. Continued to ride till we stopped at Petronas fuel station for some quick snack and soft drink at Mesra store. By 1:30pm we started out towards Putrajaya bypassing KL. Next stop at Petron Station (8.5 ltrs. of fuel) at Penang. Just before the petrol station was Benelli CK Motorworld (on Google Maps) service center and so I got my bike’s chain tension fixed here from the helpful staff there. Rode on until the next Petron fuel station. Fuel tank was near empty. Filled 9.5 ltrs of fuel. Some soft drinks and wafers at Treats store. Reached hotel of stay by 9pm. After freshening up and dinner, we got talking with the head of security (retired air force personnel) and he was kind enough to show us the beautiful view of the city from the top floor of hotel.

Distance covered : 510 km
Average speed : 84km / hr
Road : Very good tarred roads
Time taken 8hrs (including breaks)
Stay : Zenith Hotel (on Google Maps), Putrajaya 5/5

Note : If riding in a group, make sure all the vehicles riding together have the registration plates be consistant in font and size. No additional stickers or personalisation of vehicle registration plate.

Total distance covered in Malaysia – Bukit Kayu Hitam to Woodlands Checkpoint : 820km (approx.)


Malaysia

Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand in the north and maritime borders with Singapore in the south, Vietnam in the northeast, and Indonesia in the west. Currency is Malaysian Ringgit. Roads and infrastructure are simply superb. However, we were warned by many that vehicle/vehicle parts theft is quite a rage, even more so if the vehicle is an expensive one. So be on guard to not to leave your vehicle unguarded/out-of-sight. If staying at a hotel, look for one with safe designated parking area with security. On the highway, besides the fuel stations, there are these rest stops along the way that have prayer rooms. Its easy to mistake these rest stops for fuel stations, so keep a keen eye sign boards by the side of the road to identify them correctly. At coffee shops / bakery, do try out Teh tarik/Teh Halia (hot tea blended with condensed milk) and Pandan cake (egg based).


Day 23 : Mon 28 Jan – Putrajaya (Malaysia) to Singapore

Up by 5am and started out by 5:45am. Decided to hold back and ride at Kiran’s riding pace of 80-90km/hr and this happened to be a good decision. At Pagoh, 2km before fuel station, my bike went dry. Kiran informed Vish who was much ahead. Strapped the Btwin straps (that I had bought along with me) onto my bike’s handlebar and the other end to Kiran’s bike’s rear carrier. Towed along slowly and carefully so neither of us don’t loose balance. Reached Pretron fuel station by 8:45am where Vish was waiting by the side of the road. He emptied his can of fuel into my bike. We all then fuelled up full tank and had a short break for tea/coffee. 150km more to go for Johar Bahru city – (South border of Malaysia). 9:15am we started out. 40km before reaching Johar Baru it started to rain. So we put on our rain gear and continued on. At about 11:30am reached woodlands border and exit Malaysia stamped passport. Carnet emigration next a little further. Distance covered 336km. Average speed 85km.

Now besides the Passport, Visa and Carnet, there are additional documents and permits required to enter Singapore in self owned vehicle. We got to understand in due course of time that Singapore don’t encourage outside vehicles coming in and even more so if they are motorcycles (bikers/biker group seem to have a bad image built up for them). The roads and public transport system within Singapore is so good that one wouldn’t need their own vehicle at all. That apart, there is the toll fees system for personal vehicles plying within Singapore that will make it expensive.
Below is the list of the required additional documents / permits.

Note – Be warned that the process to get these is arduous, cumbersome, time consuming and not worth the time / money spent on. It will be beneficial if person (family / relative / friend) living in Singapore can help quicken the process physically. No influence will work. Bribe is a definite NO NO.

After speaking to the ICA officer and the Road Transport Officer for nearly an hour conveying our best of intentions, that we had only one entry visa and that we needed to just get our motorcycles dropped off to the shipping warehouse in Singapore, Vish got permission to go to city by train to the AAS office (which is in the city) to get carnet stamped and the ICP. Meanwhile, the officers check our luggage. We then fill up the AutoPass forms. Nearing 4:30pm and Vish returns with ICP and carnet. With these documents in hand, getting the AutoPass was next which we got in stort time. The officers there were very helpful. We were then escorted to the customs office to get our Carnet stamped. Finally, we ride out into the city. Dropped bikes by 7pm at the shipyard. Vish’s SIL came over in her car to pick us. Get to stay at Vish’s friends’ condo.

Distance covered : 510 km
Average speed : 84km / hr
Road : Very good tarred roads
Time taken : 8hrs (including breaks)
Stay : Vish’s friend’s condo


Singapore

Singapore is an island city-state (off southern Malaysia) with a tropical climate. A multi-cultural population with languages used being Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English. Currency is Singapore dollar. It is a global financial center much like Dubai. Tall buildings, clean city and superb roads and infrastructure. Very safe for native residents and tourists alike. Fast life as in any developed urban city in the world and maybe that’s why I didn’t see any happy faces contrary to Myanmar. Owning a vehicle in Singapore is very expensive. This is done so to encourage people to use the local transport which has nothing to complaint about…it’s well connected and easily accessible. For the same reason, Singapore doesn’t allow non-Singapore vehicles inside with ease. Even living in Singapore is rather expensive. It’s a common sight at the Singapore border to see many people who live in Malaysia (being cheaper) but work/study in Singapore to travel into and out of Singapore in their vehicles, daily. When in Singapore, keep some local currency handy (for some quick small purchases), get a local sim card, a metro card and your good to go. It’s that simple. Do try Teh tarik/Teh Halia (ginger tea with condensed milk) and Kaya toast – happens to be Kiran’s favourite and we never got enough of it. These are not available in all restaurants / coffee shops, so make sure to ask at the counter.


We extended our stay in Singapore (as flight tickets were close to double the regular fare) for a week more to explore but that’s another story.

Meanwhile, the shipping of the motorcycles from Singapore took about a month to land at the Chennai port where it is kept at the Warehouse awaiting custom clearance. The cost of shipping works out to about Rs.70,000/- per motorcycle. Unloading of container takes about a week, so we wait for further information. The shipper logistics guys arrange for a temporary ICE form (valid for few days) wherein the authorization letter and all original documents of carnet, vehicle and vehicle owner/s (that includes the passport) have to be presented for duty-free clearance at the customs. This takes 2-3 days to process. A week later, we are informed to go to the Ennore Cargo Container Terminal (ECCT) at Chennai and be present for inspection of the goods (in this case …our vehicles) and finally get our motorcycles out from there only to be back out to riding through horn-blarrring, traffic heavy, speed breaker/pot-holes filled roads in India.


Some Do’s and Dont’s

Below are few things to consider and keep in mind when doing such a trip.

  • Did NOT use the horn on my motorcycle (never had to) during the entire trip in India and out through the various countries we crossed. This is something I wanted to prove is possible to anyone who thinks otherwise. Honking is rude and extremely annoying. So no matter what your gender, age, experience and know-how, social and monetary status, if you still use the horn you have much to learn, my friend!
  • When you step outside your home, you need to be mindful so as to not dirty the public surrounding. Even more so when outside your country for you are representing your people. This applies even when in a hotel / homestay. The hosts take the effort to provide for a neat room, so as a guest the least one can do is when checking out is to not leave the room messy but orderly and clean as much as possible. Giving a good impression matters.
  • Following the previous point, a good impression of self also makes a difference, even more so at border crossings. Being well groomed with clean non-flashy clothing, being polite in conversations and a genuine smile takes the tensions off and gets you much further with ease.
  • If you have fancy prefences or ‘addictions’ to cigarettes, vapor cigarettes/ e cigarettes, cigars, gutka (chewing tobacco), alcohol or any other such items, please leave them back at your home and do NOT bring them along. They are not welcome and even banned in certain countries and so will be confiscated and disposed off at the custom check during border crossings. (For eg. Possession of drugs is punishable by death in Singapore).
  • If you own / ride a motorcycle with aloud exhaust such as the RE Bullet, kindly leave that noise machine tractor on 2 wheels behind. Instead, take an audio clip recording of that bike’s exhaust sound and listen to it using headphones for your personal pleasure. Consider a reliable motorcycle with a mild exhaust instead.
  • There is no need for a mammoth sized expensive 600-1200cc “adventure” motorcycle unless you are wanting to do extensive off-roading (which there isn’t much of on this route) or just that you can afford one or more. For such a trip, a 250-300cc motorcycle with a little bit off-road capability will suffice, both practically and monetarily. Recommend any motorcycle of Japanese make.
  • For those of you who are considering driving/riding your own vehicle all the way into Singapore. DON’T! It’s just not worth the time and effort. Keep Malaysia as the end point or consider doing a loop via Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Even better option would be to rent or buy a vehicle in each of the country travelling into and surrender/sell it on your way out.

Of the countries we traveled on this trip, Myanmar unexpectedly turned out to be our favorite – simple, sweet and not commercialized. But then, this is my personal opinion. Hope this experience and information here comes of some use to anyone wanting to do something similar.

The most frequently asked pertinent question for a trip such as this would be…
How much did this trip cost per person?
Taking into account visas, permits, carnet, flight tickets, shipping charges, hotel stay, fuel, food besides other small impulsive purchases during the trip, it costed us close to INR 3 lakhs.
Of this, 2/3rd went out just for carnet, permits and shipping. That’s how impractical and illogical it is to take your own vehicle for such a trip.

We were time bound and on a tight schedule to do this trip which shouldn’t be the case. If this trip were to be done any differently, then the first thing would be to take twice the time/no. of days i.e., 2 months at the least to cover the same distance but in a more relaxed pace thereby getting to see more of each country as much as possible.

This trip was done with our money and for our interest in travel on motorcycles. We were not sponsored by anyone or company. We had no social/economic/political cause to promote. Links shared herein have no affiliations and we have no monetary profit to gain from it.

6 Comments

  • Vish
    March 18, 2019 - 5:48 am | Permalink

    Awesome! You HAD to make a comment about RE 😉

    • pavan
      March 18, 2019 - 7:22 am | Permalink

      Yup. Most definitely had to. 😀

  • Manjunath Reddy
    March 18, 2019 - 6:35 am | Permalink

    Thank you brofor sharing very important information this will be very useful to every riders whoever wants to ride to Singapore ️️

    • pavan
      September 19, 2019 - 9:39 am | Permalink

      Thank you Manjunath. 🙂

  • Vignesh
    September 4, 2019 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    This was a great read and is very helpful. I’m also considering such a trip early next year and I will certainly get in touch with you, if the plan materializes.

    I have one query – you mentioned that Carnet is not required in Myanmar and Thailand. Is it only required in Malaysia and Singapore? And would you know if Cambodia and Vietnam require it? Considering it alone is 1/3rd the cost, I don’t mind skipping a country which requires it!

    • pavan
      September 19, 2019 - 9:35 am | Permalink

      Thank you Vignesh. Good to know that you too are considering doing such a trip. 🙂
      Yes, Carnet isn’t mandatory in Myanmar and Thailand, however it is definitely needed for both Malaysia and Singapore. Cambodia and Vietnam would likely require Carnet too. Besides, they also have restrictions on maximum limit to the motorcycle cc allowed. So you will have be thorough in your homework and plan your trip accordingly.

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