Phuket Bike Week or simply PBW is a yearly biker pilgrimage that’s spanned decades. Any biker worth the crystalized sweat-salt in his leathers knows about PBW, and has at one time or other dreamed of riding there someday. Many have, and may still do, yours truly included. And you don’t need American Iron to be part of the gathering either, sometimes all you need is the will to get there.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that PBW is not just a gathering of HoGs (Harley Owners Group), but rather anything on two-wheels (sometimes three as the photos show) including custom-made bicycles, has a place at PBW, so why not four? As you may have guessed, this year, thanks to my bike throwing a hissy-fit just a couple of days before I was scheduled to leave, I decided to drive to PBW, in a car.
I wish I could tell you I drove that really nice old classic American Muscle Car pictured up there, but no. I drove a clapped-out, decade old, about to blow-up anytime, Proton Wira 1.5 auto. Oh the humanity. It’s a simple enough journey that takes about 2 days, with one overnight stop in either Danuk or Hat Yai. Yes, it can be done in a day, it’s only about a thousand kilometres, but since I had time on my side, I decided to break up the journey.
One great thing about driving a car to Phuket, Thailand is that there are no toll gates, at all, once you get across the border. Petrol is not cheap though, and after factoring in the conversion rate, it’s about double what you pay for a litre in Malaysia. Hang a left at the signboard that says ‘Phattalung’ and its a straight shot all the way.
PBW is a glorious time for bikers from all walks of life, some of whom come from as far away as Australia (no they don’t ride across the sea, they ship their bikes in before hand), Singapore, The Philippines, and even the USA. It’s like the ‘Sturgis’ of Asia for the HoGs too, but the variety of bikes that make the pilgrimage to PBW are as diverse as the riders and people that throng the beach-side area where PBW is held.
Words cannot even begin to describe the atmosphere there, and while the pictures may do it a little more justice, there’s no substitute for actually being there. The sights, sounds, smells and general vibe of PBW is something that only those who’ve experienced it can comprehend. It happens around April or May every year, and if you’ve never been there, make it a point to do so next year. Not having a working bike to ride there is no longer a valid excuse, I’ve proven that because the clapped-out Wira made it there and back.
Ok, so it promptly died the day after getting back, but that’s not the point. – Chris Wee.