Baan Ricky

Growing up with bikes along with a shared passion with his dad, S has been into motocross pretty much since he could say the word. Unfortunately motocross isn’t a well known sport in Thailand at the moment, so that passion has been simmering in the background just waiting for an opportunity to get out on the track. The motocross scene is set to change however, as since hosting the Motocross Grand Prix in March, Thailand’s interest has been captured and continues to grow on a daily basis.

There are a few tracks scattered across Thailand, but a mere three hours away from Bangkok is “Baan Ricky”.
The motocross track and home, of Ricky Giles. Ricky bought the land fifteen years ago and has dedicated both his time and money to it ever since. Located in Sai Yok (along the 323) in a beautiful area of Kanchanaburi surrounded with greenery and rivers – nature is at its finest. Waterfalls, hot springs and the Sai Yok national park are a short journey away, meaning there is plenty to see and do away from the track.

We arrived early morning around 10am and after jumping out of the truck to stretch our legs we head into the restaurant where we were greeted by warm smiles. Ricky was not in the restaurant, but a kind gentleman informed us he was at the house – he then hopped on a scooter and showed us the way. Ricky built his house in the middle of his land, around 6 years ago, changing the ‘Baan’ in ‘Baan Ricky’ from being symbolic, to literal.

Arriving at the house we walked around to the garage where we found Ricky working on a bike whilst chatting to his friend Joe, and a guest, Keith. We were immediately made to feel welcome and were soon engrossed in conversation. After a little chinwag Ricky showed me the kit, S didn’t need any as he had his kit and (matching!) helmet shipped over from the UK. There are limited boots, so if you are thinking about booking a trip, contact Ricky ahead of time to enquire about sizes as it might be worth renting a pair before hand to avoid squashed toes! The first pair of motocross pants I put on had holes in and irritated my skin, however Ricky was quick to swap them and gave me another pair, which were in much better condition. My only problem was that they were too big on my hips and too small on leg length. A problem I have all over Asia due to my “English build”. The jersey, although five sizes too big, was in top condition and after rolling the sleeves up, was perfectly manageable. Next we set off to find some safety gear. Ricky’s selection of chest protectors was much better, with one in every size and good quality. There was an array of helmets too showing that whilst the kit could do with updating, his priorities are in the right place because you are well catered for when it comes to safety.

After kitting up we checked out the bikes. There is one 85 YZ, one KLX 110, one 125 YZ, three YZF 250’s (all ’09 editions) and if you fancy exploring nature and hitting the trails for a bit of enduro there is a 250 WR. Having never ridden a bike before and being a mere 5ft4, Ricky allocated me the KLX 110 so that I could learn the basics on a bike where I could actually touch the floor. The bikes were all clean and looked well cared for. The garage was filled with bike parts, both for his current project and spares. Showing that this was the most used part of the house, and as a mechanic, where most of Ricky’s passion lay.

Having sorted our equipment we popped the kit in the back of the truck and drove down to our bungalow. Living in an apartment without a shower made me shamefully excited about having a bath, However S and I were told we had been moved to the smaller bungalow, (presumably due to the arrival of two other males) postponing my bubble filled dreams for another time.

The bungalows are both located near the pond. And by pond I kind of mean lake – the thing is huge! The smaller bungalow has a little bench by the front door (perfect for kicking off your boots) and the doors in the bedroom open out onto a little seating area overlooking the lake. The rest of the bungalow is pretty basic. A bed and two side tables are all that occupy the room, leaving it feeling a little empty. The air con machine is fabulous and the bathroom has a western toilet and a sink. It also has a hefty square hole in the ceiling. Which upon noticing, we also discovered that the bathroom had a shower (the shower head was attached to the ceiling with no other indicator of it being there!). I cannot tell you why there was a hole in the ceiling as when I looked up and saw cages surrounding the square, my overactive imagination decided it was time to stop playing detective.

Desperate to get away from whatever lay above, I retreated back to the bedroom to unpack…
Except I couldn’t.
Because there wasn’t anywhere to hang or put away our clothes.
A huge oversight it would seem, as wardrobes are ranked pretty high on the “things to include when creating accommodation” list. But alas, the show must go on and so S and I wriggled into our MX gear and set off to test the track.

Well. S did.
I stayed back, as up until this day, I had never ridden a dirt bike before. Ricky was very considerate and took me to one side to explained how it all worked. After mastering the start, clutch and gears without so much as a stall, I was off to the beginners track, where Ricky stayed with me for around half an hour, giving me tips on balance and arm positions.

The beginners track is a small section of Ricky’s lawn at the front of his land, a flat piece of land with a small table top makes it perfect for young learners, or nervous adults like myself!
The beginners track did have a more intermediate section with a few jumps, however this was quite overgrown with grass so I thought best not to explore it.

After lunch we were back on the bikes.
In typical motocrosser fashion S wanted some photos.
So we rode to the track so I could play personal photographer.
The track is a decent size but, speaking as somebody who has only watched motocross and not ridden, even I found the track to be neglected. You could make out the track, however grass has crept onto the track making it difficult in parts to see where the take off / landing spots are. When I spoke to the guys riding, they all felt the same.

As we sat there chatting, the heavens opened.

So we called it a day and head back for a shower.
As I sat on the bed catching up on social media, I noticed an extremely loud scurrying sound above my head. I assumed it was an animal on the roof, but as it grew louder I realised it was whatever the cages surrounding the hole in the bathroom ceiling, were trying to keep in.
As I sat and awaited my impending doom that was going to burst through the ceiling at any moment, S rolled his eyes at me and took a shower. He came out (alive and unscathed!) and told me how wonderfully powerful the shower was.
What he did not tell me, is how cold it was.
Now I’m no stranger to a cold shower, I actually quite enjoy them from time to time, but this was beyond cold. So after a shower where I could only bare to wash one limb in ice water at a time, we head to the restaurant for a few drinks.

It turned out that it was Ricky’s birthday a few days previous to our arrival, and he was hosting a little barbecue as a way to celebrate, very kindly inviting us to be a part of it. Keith, along with Martin and Gary (the boys that stole the bungalow with a bath!) were there and before long conversation was flowing freely.
The restaurant is the newest feature on Ricky’s land, and is currently receiving the most attention. The menu has a variety of options, including traditional Thai dishes and the usual burgers and pizza. The difference between this restaurant and others I have been to, is that the western dishes here aren’t an afterthought to an otherwise Thai menu. Instead, much practise goes into the dishes. Whilst the burgers and chips are your standard frozen jobbies, Ricky’s wife Boom has been hard at work learning how to make pizza, including the dough. She gave her pizza a trial run at lunchtime, eager to hear feedback from everyone. That evening she surprised everyone with more pizza – and had taken on board every piece of feedback given.
The result?
Rich flavour and the thinnest base you could ask for.
Perfect.

That night I let Ricky know about whatever was in the attic, to which he responded with laughter.
When I told him that it sounded like it might actually break through the ceiling, he chuckled once more and told me “It’s just the rats, we’re sorting it.”
I wasn’t reassured but seeing that no solution was presented I moved my conversation to more pressing issues…
His ice water.
Me: “Ricky, your shower is super cold, is it meant to be like that?”
Ricky: *Laughter*
Me: “But it’s really cold. I could only shower one limb at a time because I was scared of developing frost bite”
Ricky: “You’re English! You should be used to the cold!”
… Cementing my fears that this was not a blip, and there was indeed only ice-cold water.
(Update: Ricky contacted S a week later to let him know that he has ordered a hot water system!)

The night overall was pretty great, and after hours watching MX GP’s on a projector in the restaurant, we head back to the bungalow to get some rest ready for another day of riding.

Except our five headed friend had other ideas.
Our (un)friendly little house guest decided that he would take up running.
And not only would he take it up.
But he would love it.
He would love it so much he would do it ALL night.
He would run and crash into things until 9am the next morning ensuring that he made all the noise!
Meaning we didn’t get an ounce of refreshing sleep.
We originally planned to stay for a few days, however with a track that was more grass than dirt (to see a video of the track, click <here>) and a severe lack of sleep, we decided to leave that morning.
So we settled the bill and left.

Whilst a few websites claim that the price is 2000฿ for the day.
It is in fact 2000฿ for the first hour, then 1500฿ there after.
Kit is included and accommodation is 600฿ per night.
You can find his website <here>.

Overall, I had a great time, but that was down to great people and interesting conversation and not the standards of accommodation, nor customer service received.
Will I go back? Probably not.
The place is beautiful and full of potential, unfortunately at the moment it’s just not living up to it.