Fellow bikers, I would like to share with all my recent motorcycle adventure across Indochina from January to March 2012. This report takes the form of a photo diary, as I believe this will best bring out the beauty and mood of the places and people I have visited during this trip. Hope you all will enjoy the read ! So why did I do this trip alone ? First, it was really challenging to find a riding partner among my friends who can take a long leave from work. More importantly, a solo ride across Indochina have always been on my bucket list since I had a bad motorcycle accident in Thailand six years ago. Deep inside me, I knew that if I don't act on this opportunity now (while I am still young and physically fit), I will one day look back and regret. I am deeply grateful to Phil and the biking community for all the very updated and useful sharing of trip reports as it made the trip preparation so much easier. And I really enjoy my stay at Phil's inn in Chiang Mai, as well as bumping into some of you during this trip. Hope my photos bring back some fond memories. Live to ride ! Here are some interesting statistics of my Indochina ride before I jump into my trip report .... Countries covered : Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam No. of cities visited : 30 No. of overland border crossings : 11 Total distance covered : 11,200 km (7,000 miles) Total trip duration : 67 days Total riding days : 31 days Total riding time : 185 hours Motorcycle : BMW 1200 GS [2005 model] Total petrol consumed : 615 litres No. of traffic accidents : 0 No. of times bike dropped : 8 No. of vehicle breakdowns : 0 Here's a map to give you all an idea of the route I took. Riding Day 1 SG to Hatyai (946km, 11hrs) Went to bed early at 8pm the previous night, but kept tossing around in bed. Guess I was too excited about the trip to sleep well. Felt relieved when the alarm clock finally rang at 3:30am. After a simple breakfast at a coffeeshop downstairs, I got on my bike at 4:30am and started making my way towards the checkpoint at Second Link Tuas. Topped up petrol at GP Esso station and began the boring ascent up north along North-South highway. Other than making a few petrol stops, the journey was smooth except for a couple of traffic police roadblocks near Ipoh. Reached my preferred Padang Besar checkpoint at around 1pm. Cleared the immigration and got my temporary import forms sorted out within 30minutes. Stopped by my favorite Cafe Amazon at the PTT petrol station to have a much-needed caffeine fix while I dry my t-shirts. Arrived Hatyai town and checked into my favorite Hat Yai Rama hotel. I love the secured carpark just behind the hotel, which have a direct access to the rooms without having to leave the building. Got the usual walk-in rate of 690 Baht. After a quick dinner, I went for a much needed 3-hr foot + body massage nearby the hotel, before heading back for an early night rest. (Hat Yai Rama Hotel - 6.998105, 100.471615) Day 2 Hatyai to Phuket (430km, 7hrs) Woke up early at 4am, cleaned up and checked out of hotel, hit the road at 5am. Visited my friend at his medical manufacturing plant in central Phuket and then followed him to his nice 3-storey house inside Loch Palm golf course. My friends maid then whipped out a nice home-cooked meal while I chilled out at his pool. Day 3 Phuket to Hua Hin (628km, 10hrs) Its now become a routine for me to wake up at 4am ! I enjoy the peace and cool weather at this time of the day to pack my personal belongings and load them on the motorcycle. Stopped by a local vineyard on a mountain which is 20km from Hua Hin town. Managed to have a complimentary wine tasting session and took a quick tour of the vineyard before I head to the town to check in. (Hua Hin Hills Vineyard - 12.527376, 99.705048) Stayed at Baan Manthana hotel for only 900 Baht a night. Excellent location near to Chatchai night market with sheltered carpark.(Baan Manthana hotel - 12.570046, 99.955705 ) Had my usual dinner at Chatchai night market. Went for my usual favorite dishes .braised glass noodles and stir-fried morning glory for 210Baht ! Day 4 Hua Hin to Bangkok (200km, 4 hrs) Decided to make an early start with the hope of getting into downtown Bangkok before the morning rush traffic, so I woke up at 4am, and checked out of Baan Manthana hotel at 4:30am. Traffic was smooth until I hit the traffic lights at Rama 3 around 6:30am. Took me 30 minutes just to crawl slowly across one traffic light as locals pack the roads with cars and motorcycles to send their kids to school. This short 200km journey took me close to 4 hours ! Arrived in Bangkok at around 8:15am. Checked into my friends condo and parked my bike at the underground carpark. After a quick shower, I made my way for a 2-hr body massage at my favorite Health Land joint at Ekkamai. Day 5 Bangkok to Khao Yai (160km, 3hrs)) The journey to Khao Yai is only 3 hours, but I decided to leave Bangkok at 5am to beat the traffic and give myself plenty of time to visit all the vineyards and farms in Khao Yai before checking into the hotel. Made my first stop at PB Valley winery, and had a sumptuous american breakfast with an excellent view of the vineyard. (PB Winery - 14.569306, 101.235333) Checked into Eco Valley Lodge in Khao Yai. Got a nice bungalow for 1,200Baht comes with hot shower, wifi, The Danish owner Morten was very friendly and himself rides a BMW F650, and spent a while explaining to me the off-the-beaten-track routes I should try on my way up north. (Eco Valley Lodge - 14.622787, 101.387168) There was still some daylight left, so I decided to check out the Khao Yai National Park. Nice winding roads and playful monkeys ! Day 6 Khao Yai to Mae Sot (483km, 8 hrs) Reached Mae Sot and checked into Phannu House. (Phannu House - 16.714109, 98.561973) Paid only 400 Baht for a nice cosy room (comes with wifi, air-con, tv, fridge and hot shower!) and rented a moped from the guesthouse for 150Baht(petrol included!) to go to the border 6km away to renew my Thai visa. Was told I can do some sightseeing at the Burmese side as long as I return to the immigration before 5pm. After leaving my passport at the Burmese immigration, I spent 2 hours roaming around the streets of the border town Irrawady and had lunch there before heading back to the border. Day 7 Mae Sot to Chiang Mai (360km, 7 hrs) Woke up with a stomach upset and feeling pretty horrible. I suspect it was the fried Burmese chicken balls I ate at the border yesterday. The time is 5am in the morning and cold at 16 degrees outside. Took a couple of aspirins and headed to a nearby 7-Eleven store at the petrol station to get a cup of hot 3-in-1 coffee to warm myself up. The next 2 hours were really challenging as I had to brave the strong cold wind up in the mountains with a feverish weak body. After an hour of riding, I had to put on the rain coat which acted effectively as a windbreaker. Stopped by some gigantic road markers on the way to Chiang Mai ! finally arrived at Rider's Corner cafe at 1pm on a very sunny hot day. Parked my bike nicely inside the cafe and headed to my room for a much needed shower ! (Riders Corner - 18.794867, 98.993433) Next morning, I had a really delicious breakfast at Phil's cafe, and spent my time chatting with his adorable gal. Then I booked myself for an afternoon cooking class to brush up my rusty knowledge of Thai food. The market tour and cooking lessons were relaxing and fun, a great way to spend a lazy afternoon in Chiang Mai. Had a few ice cold beer with fellow Singaporean biker Glenn who is riding a nice KTM Adventure. Day 8 Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (200km, 4 hrs) Phil bid me an early morning farewell as I left Rider's Corner for Chiang Rai Arrived in Chiang Rai just before lunchtime, and checked into PS Guesthouse, which is really good value at only 400 Baht a night. (PS Guesthouse - 19.915529, 99.835789) My Thai friend owns a huge tea plantation in Mae Chan, so I went to visit her and had tea and dinner at her place. I also had the opportunity to ride up to Pu Chi Fa National Park, which is one of the seven wonders of Thailand ! From the dramatic cliff of Phu Chi Fa can be seen spectacular scenes, especially the sea of mist at sunrise. (Pu Chi Fah summit - 19.851089,100.447633) Unfortunately the strong wind at the cliff top caused my tripod to lose balance, and broke my expensive camera lens filter. I tried without success to remove the filter, even after going to a few upscale camera shops around Chiang Rai. Finally, I managed to find a run-down camera repair shop that did a superb job at salvaging my lens ! Chiang Rai was celebrating their 750th anniversary, so there were plenty of festivities and celebrations all over the city. Here are some of the highlights which caught my eye. Day 9 Chiang Rai to Mae Salong and Doi Tung (200km, 5 hrs) I spent the whole day riding the bike up to the mountains of Mae Salong and Doi Tung. The nice winding roads up the mountains to Mae Salong are indeed breathtaking and legendary ! Day 10 - Chiang Rai to Golden Triangle (70km, 1.5hrs) I left Chiang Rai to visit the infamous Golden Triangle, and on the way made a visit to the very impressive Hall of Opium museum. A classmate happens to own a casino on the Myanmar side of Golden Triangle, so he invited me over for a free night stay at his casino resort. Why not ? :) I parked my bike at the resort carpark on the Thai side, and there was a boat to ferry me across to the other side. I paid 500 Baht at the Burmese immigration checkpoint and left my passport with immigration officials. (House of Opium - 20.351427, 100.081887) Day 11 Golden Triangle to Luang Namtha (via Chiang Khong) (278km, 6.5 hrs)) Reached Chiang Khong border crossing at 9am. It was Sunday and was told by some bikers that the river crossing and ferry does not operate on Sundays. So I just tried my luck and boy must be my lucky day. There was a ferry leaving at 10am, and there were already a lot of cars waiting to board the car ferry. So I quickly got my exit stamp, and bought myself a ferry ticket for 500 Baht. Once I reached Huay Sai, I bought a 2-week Laos insurance for the bike for only 200 Baht :) Glad I made it into Laos on a Sunday without any hiccups. Now, I have to start getting used to riding on the right side of the road. Watch out for those animals that love to hog the roads :) I checked into Zuela guesthouse in Luang Namtha, for only 10USD a night, i get a nice cosy twin room with a clean and spacious private shower with hot water ! (Zuela Guesthouse 21.002429, 101.409621) After a really long day, it's time for an ice cold BeerLao ! Day 12 Luang Namtha to Boten, Boten to Udomxai, Udomxai to Luang Prabang (355km, 10hrs) It was a very misty morning to Boten, and I accidentally dropped my bike when it rolled forward on a down slope while I stopped for a break. Fortunately I was able to get it upright by myself. Was a real good morning workout though ! Reached the immigration customs checkpoint at Boten around 8am, and there was little traffic. Stopped by a Chinese restaurant to have some hot spicy noodles. It was so good I had 2 bowls ! After Boten, I went through some very rough roads with lots of potholes from Udomxai to Pak Mong ! But the reward was some nice landscape after Pak Mong :) Checked into Rattana guesthouse. They have a gated parking area for motorcycles, so I was really happy. I paid 15USD a night for a double room with a private shower. (Rattana - 19.888695, 102.131792) Headed to the local market for some tasty street food, bbq chicken and fish. Spent the evening walking around the lovely night market in Luang Prabang. As I was travelling light, I had to resist the temptation for buying anything bulky ! The restaurants in Luang Prabang are mostly very quaint and relaxing, excellent for chilling out ! Next morning, I woke up early at 5:30am to catch the monks collecting alms. After a nice breakfast at the famous Joma bakery cafe, I decided to cross the Mekong river to walk around a local village to get a better feel of the people living in Luang Prabang. Spent the next morning at the impressive Kuang Si waterfall, which is half an hour car ride from downtown Luang Prabang. Nice place to cool down and enjoy nature at its best ! Huge coconuts ! Some random snapshots of downtown Luang Prabang in the day Day 13 Luang Prabang to Phonsavan (270km, 6 hrs) Road blocks like these are getting increasingly common ! Checked into Nice guesthouse for only 10USD a night. Clean functional room and you can park your bike just outside your room literally ! Receptionist was very friendly and provided good guide on where to eat in town. (Nice guesthouse - 19.450214, 103.218902‎ ) The MAG museum provides a great level of detail on the problems of unexploded ordnance that still remains in Laos today, and how MAG is helping to remove them. You can also donate to their cause by buying their T-shirts. I spent the whole of next day visiting the Plain of Jars, covering all the 3 sites. Plenty of off-road riding to get to these sites. Admission fees to these sites are very cheap. (Plain of Jars Site 1 19.430698, 103.154744 Plain of Jars Site 2 19.321592, 103.152952 Plain of Jars Site 3 19.29620, 103.14694) Animals are kings on dirt roads in Laos ! Mid-day sun can be really scorching and dehydrating .... do drink plenty of water !