My name is Marco Esposito and back home, in Italy I play-ride and race a TM 125 two stroke enduro bike in the regional amateur class championship. So, coming to Krabi for the holidays it seemed natural to wish my first tropical adventure in Southern Thailand on an off-road bike.
I found Thailand Off-Road Adventures on the always useful trip Advisor and I booked a ride asking for a challenging full-blown enduro experience. At 8.00 am on January 3 we were ready to roll. My group consisted of just the guide and I since it was considered of higher skills demand and not accessible to beginners. Less experienced riders that day were assembled together and guided to different areas suitable to their ability.
We headed to the mountains of the Khao Phanom Bencha National Park where I must say that there was nothing of a challenging terrain that I missed. Simply put, I loved to cross those jungle tracks that appeared to me to be like the crazy net of a labyrinth. Yes, I loved it all, but now I would like to tell Trip Advisor how I had to pay an extra dinner after that.
Thailand Off-Road Adventures is run by a lady called Janram who takes care of the women riders, Patrick (nicknamed “the Inventor” for his mechanical skills), and Mark, my guide. Patrick is bloody crazy when “extra riding” entertaining time comes, while Mark is a bit more sober thus giving the feeling of being almost like out of his natural environment when not dealing with the jungle stuff.
In that 3th of January I was challenging Mark on his own terrain riding a Kawasaki 250 four stroke. That guy was also challenging me from time to time and both of us were having a blast. The terrain ranged from hard pack, to sand, to mud, and to slippery rocks. It wasn’t crazy difficult but certainly demanding.
Back to the dinner I had to pay; it began with the sunset approaching while we stopped on a high trail overlooking the impressive evergreen Krabi Valley. I had the sensation, long the entire day, that I was riding a labyrinth of intersecting trails with no chance of orientation to me. It came naturally to ask Mark how he could remember all those intersections and more than that how the hell he had been able to find them since they seem to not exist in any available map. His answer was as simple as surprising: “I don’t really know… I just feel I know where I have to go…,” he said. I reply with my natural challenging attitude: “Would you be able to take me back to Krabi in the dark of the night without headlights?”. “I did it few times already. I didn’t like to ride in that conditions but I had to do it if I wanted to spend the night in my bed and not in the jungle, said Mark”. I insisted: “I bet a dinner on not to be back to Krabi by midnight”. “Well… let disconnect the headlights and wait for the darkness to come,” Mark said without showing any apparent emotion. Our bet was on, and honestly I felt sure of my chances.
That night ride was the first for me without the help of lights, and sure it will be the last in the dark even with the help of an almost half moon. As Mark previously said, I didn’t like it because in that wilderness I could not even see where I was putting my front wheel. That was not riding, it was just surviving.
I’m sure you have never met Geronimo the Apache chief, so did I until I followed the tracking skills of Mark. We were home by 10.00pm and I have no idea how. While riding I just followed Geronimo’s lines as close as possible in the struggle of stay on two wheels while the slippery obscurity of a real intimidating jungle seemed almost to swallow me. Adding more shame to my fear was the voice of Geronimo while occasionally spotting wildlife: “…Did you see that snake on your left inside. Sure it was beautiful!”
I have no more words about it. After all I was looking for the adventure I love, wasn’t I?
Our dinner turned out to be delicious and fun. Those guys at Thailand Off-Road are entertaining, helpful, and surprising. I will miss them.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.