Issue 7/2010 – 4×4 Magazine
FLYING to the city of Bangkok is a quick and easy two-hour affair that we often forget how far the Thai capital really is from Kuala Lumpur.
For Chong Lee Siong, director of product development for Gophers Technologies, the challenge to drive up to Bangkok from Kuala Lumpur was something he couldn’t pass up, and neither could we.
Chong, who has no prior experience driving into Thailand, had planned to reach the capital in two days with the use of the latest Gophers Visi-O GPS (global positioning satellite) navigation device and Powermaps.
Powermaps, a navigation software and map database created by Thai-based Aapico ITS, has been in development since the company started in 2005, and is now regarded as one of the best digital navigation maps in Thailand.
The journey would entail 1 ,497km of the North-South Highway and Thailand’s regional highways, with only a hotel reservation in Bangkok at the end of the journey.
Between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, we were at the mercy of the Powermaps program, but Chong was confident Powermaps’ Thailand map database would guide us to our destination.
With the latest Thai maps installed in our Visi-O units, we set off for the Thai border just outside of Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah.
The first leg of our journey was a 340km drive to Juru Autocity, Penang where we stopped for lunch as it was easily accesible to the North-South Highway.
Then we crossed the border into Thailand and covered as much distance up north as possible to reach the Thai capital as early as possible the next day.
Due to a hiccup at the Thai border control we only set off from the border in the late afternoon. While the national highway known as Route 4 would head west towards the popular tourist destinations of Krabi and Phuket, we stuck to Route took us up north and deep into the Thai countryside.
With night quickly setting in we decided to make Surat Thani, a city located 35km from the tourist destination of Ko Samui, as our next stop instead of Chumphon which was another 190km north.
This was where the Powermaps’ Thai maps proved indispensable as the local populace could barely understand a word of our English which made queries for directions and location a near impossibility.
Powermaps’ comprehensive database enabled our GPS unit to easily locate an obscure motel near the city centre.
Called Palm Garden Resort, individual rooms come attached with its own parking lot in front, which is ideal for travellers who are driving.
Due to time constraints the next day, we only managed a quick tour of Surat Thani before setting the Visi-O for Bangkok and started the 637km journey.
Stopping only for food and fuel outside the city of Prachuap Khiri Khan along the highway, the Powermaps software guided us from our SuratThani motel doorstep right up to the hotel lobby of Arnoma Hotel, which was located right in the heart of Bangkok city.
With some detours along the way we noticed that direction re-routing was noticeably slower.
But the software’s re-routing didn’t take longer than a minute despite having to sort out more than 500km worth of road.
When we entered the bustling city of Bangkok, the Powermaps’ 3D landmark renderings did cause a slight lag in the Visi-O’s 3D view when rotating, but this problem was quickly alleviated by selecting the 2D view option or switching off the 3D landmark view option all together.
To give us an idea of how large the Thai maps are, Chong says data on the Thai maps are five times larger than that ofthe Powermaps we receive in Malaysia, which covers the whole of Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak included) as well as Singapore.
Going by the smooth Thai journey, we can say that Powermaps is easily one of the best route guidance software and navigation maps packages out there.
- AC Syndication