Thanks Mark... I have to say, the friendliness of the locals has been a high point of the trip for me too. Its amazing just how welcoming they are. The trip's not over yet... and I've got some catching up to do on the writing.
I'm back in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The plan is to get the big bike shipping arranged, catch up with a friend's mate down the road a tad and take in some local events. I've just ridden the Mae Hong Son loop, with its 1864 curves. I'd done part of it before, but this time we took the dirt truck road and picked up the rest of the tar, so most of my planned riding is done.
There's also a couple of festivals here toward the end of the month (28th) - one entailing thousands of lanterns being released as hot air balloons at night, the other involving Hmong downhill cart races - although they are both on the same day I think and a bit apart. I've got my ticket already to fly out on the 29th. All that is as close to a plan as I've done the whole trip....
I had to take it easy for a few days. No booze, bland food, little activity. Damn near killed myself the last day I was in Cambodia. Food allergy. It hit me on the flight out of Cambodia to Bangkok... and my emergency pack ended up in the luggage after stuffups with carry-on gear. Late stage 1 treatment meant I got into stage 2 and the dreaded steroids. I was on the wind down of those last week and got hit again with a renewed and more serious attack. Never had that before... but have had anaphylaxis from it 10 years back which was intensive care hospital stuff for a couple of days. I was already having contra-indications from the steroids that'd have sent me to the hospital in Oz, but I just threw some more in and made it through. One of the staff here got upgraded to nurse duty for a while... sitting there with 5 Epipens lined up after a quick training session. I must remember to tip her when I leave. It was damn nice of her to do it for me.
I'd have been back to Oz already if it wasn't for all that. There's been a bit of death and destruction going on. My Dad's eldest sister died and I'd have gone to the funeral but for trying to stay breathing myself. I caught up with two other guys from Coffs Harbour here the other night (I was born and bred there for most of my younger years). Both here independently. Small world stuff. I used to race against one's father in Kittycats as a teenager (12' racing catamaran) and the other guy knew a mate of mine from many a year ago. Told me he was killed about 18 months back in a car crash. To make up the trio of death and destruction, the guy I bought the 525 off, Justin, went over the bars of his bike at speed the other day and has just got out of hospital, having had plates inserted into his arm.
Enough of the crap. Good stuff. The KTM 950 Super Enduro had sat gathering dust for 2 months. I drained a bit from each fuel tap... no water. Good. Cranked her up and she's running sweet. She coughed a few times the first time I rode her, but that's all done now. She's been yodelling in the mountains for the last five days. Two up this time and with an airhead BMW for company. Both of us threw it down the road... or should I say elephant track... no worries apart from me laying there in the mud with my pillion pounding away on my shoulder. Photos later.
So, medical emergencies aside, I'll see how I go getting some more Cambodia photos up. I've posted a few of these on other threads, but bear with me... I'll bring it all together here.
Siem Reap is a bustling town. Its got the high end places (Park Hyatt is opening in 2013 - but there's plenty of others)... right down to the $3 backpacker rooms. I went in for the lower midrange... $18 a night IIRC, including brekkie. There was a pool there, but my swimming trunks didn't make the cull for the smaller bike. Night entertainment ranges from dance restaurants, high end stuff, through local-oriented open air places, live music (mostly the hostesses singing a song and trying to get noticed) through to Pub Street... aimed at the lower end tourists. Here's the first of the Halloween parades
There's a lot of poverty and destruction still in Cambodia. I spoke at length with a Danish shipping guy who has a charitable foundation and he's built a couple of schools there. He was a bit cynical about the situation, but with good cause. An example.. a guy who's name I've forgotten, introduced high yield rice to Vietnam... turned them from an importer of rice to and exporter fairly quickly. Came to Cambodia and gave up after 8 years. The Cambodians introduced the high yield rice, but only planted half as much... why do more work than necessary. Also, lots of stuff being done as concessions for other contracts - build us a school so we look good in our statistics as part of the deal we do with you on xxxx deal... but then it doesn't get used, that sort of thing. He and I shared our views on NGOs and the problems in the sector. Smart guy... (thinks like me). I'll make contact with him again later. We covered off the issue of girls coming into the garments sector and ending up on their backs in nearby whorehouses too. This whole family issue - arranged marriages, bride price stuff creates a lot of downstream issues.
There's lots of professional beggars around the place. Many landmine victims. There's still 30 a month being killed / maimed, down from 300 a month a while back. The UXO / landmine problem is longstanding... back to the American war, the Vietnamese ousting of Pol Pot, troubles with Thailand and so on. I had some good discussions with folks, including victims, about it.... but that's not for here so much as elsewhere.
I posted the one above earlier, but I'll run it again here because I didn't include the context earlier. I really don't like that professional begging stuff.
On a happier note, here's the guys I met two years ago, friends of my tuk tuk driver. We got some takeaway food and Jeat bought a carton of beer and some ice for us and took us to his friend's house. They threw in some fried crickets (taste good, hate the damn wings though) and we had a good chinwag about life in Cambodia.
These are mostly the guys I shouted dinner in Siem Reap in the photo a few posts back. It was lovely to return the favour from two years ago. They've been fast workers. That bamboo hut has been upgraded to house status and the owner, like Jeat, has had two daughters in two years.
Here's a bonus Siem Reap photo from two years ago... the storm that rolled across the lake while we were at the floating village.
I must dig out the rest of that panorama sequence... now that I've learnt how to stitch them together.
Here's some random ones from the temples. I spent a rather wet day riding around some of the ones I'd seen last time. Since I got back to Thailand, I've got some good leads on some really interesting ones to see when I go back to Siem Reap to collect the bike, including some remote stuff. One I really want to get to is a couple of animals carved from stone in the middle of the mountains... a full sized elephant.
My KTM with Jeat's tuk tuk
Seen enough temples?
Meanwhile... look what found me
At a guess, its a 16C (C for Colonial) - derived from the Norton 16H (H for Home) model.
A sidevalve 500cc single. I believe it is a 1939 model - although someone said 1936. Not terribly important in the scheme of things. Its about the same weight as the Super Enduro but with one fifteenth as much power. 14hp. A nice ride half a dozen times a year to local cafe meets.
My father rode this model in Greece / Crete in WW2 - as a Despatch Rider / Provost - but much preferred the Indian Scout. These, along with the BSAs, Harleys and Indians were the bikes used by Commonwealth forces in WW2. Dad was wounded in Greece, left for dead - knocked out with shrapnel in his forehead (not removed until post-war) from a Stuka attack while he was directing traffic. When he came to, the Germans had advanced and he was behind enemy lines. He got back on his bike and rode past a German column, expecting a bullet in the back.... and made it back to the Allied lines. He was captured in Crete though and spent the rest of the war in holiday camps as a guest of Adolf.
I could "throw" this one in the crate with the Super Enduro (no particular customs issues involved... its old enough to not be a worrry for import approvals... just pay the $50 fee).... or, more likely, Neil, Clarissa and I will share a container and ship everything home if he can find another bike to throw in - and I do believe he's onto one.
I sorta like it. Its pretty original, except for the Bing carbie on it... should be an Amal. I doubt that's too much of an issue. It isn't running at present, but has been and wouldn't be hard to get going again. It isn't a project.... I need another project like a hole in the head... it just needs a service and re-location to Oz. I'd run it on historic plates. $28 a year rego IIRC.
It was carried out of Burma about 15 years ago and has no papers for here, hence its cheap. I'd have to export it as parts to get it out, but with import approval there's no issue in Oz.
I've also just grabbed a whole swag of KTM bits off Justin... the guy I bought the 525 EXC from. He had some motard wheels for it... with radial brakes. Big mutha of a disk... 320mm I think with a 4 piston caliper. They'll do the 950 as well... maybe with some playing with spacers, so that when I get everything home, I'll have two canyon racers and two dirt bikes... all achieved by just changing wheels. He finally got everything together and I'm still shaking my head at the fact he had two brand new front sprockets there,
I'm riding a Yamaha Fino around Chiang Mai. Just a getabout 115cc retro styled scooter for around town. - so much easier than the Super Enduro in the traffic. If only I could buy this sort of thing at the price in Oz. When I got home from Vietnam a couple of years ago, I went looking for something like this, but they were all in the $2,000+ range. Here, they are less than a third of that second hand.
It's got 11,000 genuine km on it. Never been dropped... 100mpg, etc Like this... but with road tyres, not knobbies.
I'll write up what's been happening back in Thailand.... later. Toy ride with the 1%ers, photos with the long necked women, etc. Oh yeah... snuck out of Thailand yesterday but they wouldn't let me ride into Burma. Photos later.