As we left the city behind, the view gradually changed from concrete to organic. I activated the cruise control and settled in for the ride, but the stifling heat (36 deg C, according to the bike’s gauge) meant it was not long before I started looking at the GC in my mirrors with a tinge of envy. At our next stop, I switched to the comforts of the car, and just in time, too, as we reached the entrance to our destination soon after.
Covering 2168 sq km, Khao Yai is Thailand’s third largest national park and home to some exquisite driving roads. The park’s tree-lined switchbacks, accompanied by perfectly surfaced tarmac, were like gold at the end of a very straight, tar-coloured “rainbow”. Naturally, my right foot got feisty and I turned the setting for the GC’s suspension, steering and throttle response up to “11” (Sport+ in BMW lingo) for the task ahead.
What this grand tourer lacked in delicateness and nimbleness, it made up with stability and composure, despite its size and weight. The familiar 3-litre, twin-scroll turbo inline-6 was a real peach, delivering creamy, instant torque alongside a throaty purr that warmed my heart like hot cocoa on a rainy day. I adopted a smooth, flowing driving style, and the GC rewarded with equally elegant poise and unwavering momentum.
What halted our journey abruptly at the next turn was of epic proportions – quite literally. When a fully grown wild elephant stands in front of you, blocking your path, you have two options: Scream and pray he doesn’t flip your car over, or scream and pray he doesn’t flip you over while you poop in your pants.
Being dignified people, Seth and I chose the first option as the massive mammal sniffed our vehicle, then nonchalantly walked away, unaware it had almost made two grown men cry.
After that near “skid mark” experience, the roads straightened again on the way to our overnight stop, giving the car a chance to stretch its legs. The GC wafted along silently, pampering both driver and co-driver with its effortless performance and sophistication. It might not be as versatile in a park as the GS, but it absolutely shone on the motorways.
After a good night’s rest, we made our way back to the capital without much fanfare. I hopped between car and bike to decide which tool was best for a road trip like this – a journey that was memorable for an awesome elephant, beautiful countryside, friendly people and mouth-watering cuisine.
Being cocooned inside a 1.8-tonne steel cage, however luxurious, meant I was inevitably isolated from the scenic surroundings. On a bike, however, the bond I forged with the environment, from being exposed to the elements, intensified my sense of adventure. Therefore, even with the 640i Gran Coupe’s dynamism and undeniable strengths as a grand tourer, the fun factor and functional qualities of the R1200 GS meant that on this road trip at least, I preferred to ride.