Cape York & into Asia via Timor-Leste, Indonesia, etc

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by The Bigfella, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Hey Big Fella..

    I've caught up, great reading...we stayed in that Hotel last year, man where we pleased to see it

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    Same place?

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    Nice place with great food.

    Chock Dee..:clap
  2. motomuppet

    motomuppet Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the updates bigfella, loving the continued adventure. I have been in asia long enough that not much sets me off, but those dogs tied up in the baskets would have had me fit to be tied. Yeah, I know, everyone has to eat and all that, but I would have had a hard time being a passive observer with that...I have a soft spot for dogs I guess, and not much gets me as riled up as seeing them treated poorly.
  3. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Smacka - yes, I'd love a nice shiny pair of new boots... and did try to obtain some when I was in Chiang Mai, but they didn't even come close to my size. There's no point flying some up either... I have to spend a fair bit of time shopping for boots to get something to fit. There is good news though... I took a day off yesterday and finally found some gaffer tape. I've been able to keep the insulation tape on the leg of the boots - both zippers are shot - but keeping it on the soles has been impossible. Its gone after the first bit of water or pushing through mud. Hopefully the gaffer tape will last.

    Yes.... the airbox is an issue, I've been lucky enough to find boats at all the deeper crossings so far. I've had it deep enough to be wondering why it wasn't dying on me though. The Super Enduro is much better in that regard. The guys I was riding with up on Cape York told me the water got onto the headlights in one river crossing there on the Frenchmans Track. This thing wouldn't have a hope there. I believe there are both deep and muddy river crossings on the agenda for today.... and its probably time I got moving.

    Steve.... no. I'm in Attapeu at present. Stayed two nights at the Attapeu Palace. Quite nice. Good food too... even had Ostrich kebabs. I'm aiming for Pakse today... but will be staying cheaper there. There's a hard to get map of Cambodia waiting for me at a guest house.

    Motomuppet.... yes, agreed. I've got a soft spot for dogs too. I've even been known to pat some of the local ones. I'll not be deliberately eating dog.

    Sheesh... time to drag these weary bones down to breakfast and try out the southern loop to Pakse. I believe there's some nice waterfalls on the way.
  4. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Methinks I'm a tad stuck at present. I found the bike's water depth limit... and then some. It took on a bellyful and I've got water in the oil... which is no great worry, as I'm carrying enough spare.

    A dead flat battery brought the day's proceedings to an early end after I'd managed to get the bike running (kick started it). I'm 5km up the track from the bike.... with the battery and all my gear, which I paid some young lads to move up here for me. Hopefully I can get some charge into the battery tomorrow.... and "tomorrow", in Laos, is what the locals keep saying.

    I'll be heading back the other way... I've waded through a lot of deep water and clinging mud between the bike and this village and the locals say its more of the same further on. I think I've convinced them to take me back to the bike tomorrow on a farm chugger. What I really want is a hand back through the creek that drowned the bike. I reckon that with a bit of effort back in Oz, I could fashion up a MUCH better airbox setup. The bike would be safe in another foot depth of water.

    I had a rather nice rodent soup for dinner... with some forest birds thrown in too. What was that about not eating forest birds?

    The boots gave up the ghost today too.... and that's a problem. When I stalled in another mudhole, the right boot fully disgraced itself. Too much frigging rain. Fancy that in the monsoon season. Who'd a thunk it?
  5. ilrober

    ilrober Offshore Bloke

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    You are a fucken legend !!!
  6. RobBD

    RobBD Been here awhile

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    Hey BigFella you'd be better off with a pair of flip flops than those boots - at the very least you would save half a roll of gaffa tape everyday.
    Great report and yes legend status:clap:clap
  7. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Not so sure about that. It would be possible to get through there methinks... but not solo. A group of four could do it... or someone solo with plenty of time and maybe a couple of big tubes to float the bike across.

    I'm a tad worried that I might have a head shave coming up. The cushions I got last night for a pillow had never been washed and were somewhat grimy. Then I watched everyone in the village removing nits from everyone else's head for half the day until the solar panel got the battery happening and I could summons up enough help to carry the bike back out. That didn't happen until 2pm. Village life is somewhat relaxed.

    If I'd taken the bike back to the village, there'd have been two more carries just to get there.... and a lot more on the other side, so I came back to Attapeu. I'd have tried it but my visa is just about expired. Gotta get near the border.

    I got back here just before dark. Knackered. Had to change the oil, of course. Wasn't too watery, but better safe than sorry.

    .... and my boots did the trip back, thanks to most of a roll of gaffer tape.

    I'll post up some photos of the rat roast later.
  8. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Here's a short clip of what it was like trying to get through from Attapeu to Pakse. This was the easy bit.... then I drowned the bike

    <IFRAME height=315 src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/MVI8SN-3XeY" frameBorder=0 width=560 allowfullscreen></IFRAME>

    At least the food was good

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    In fact, rat seemed the most readily available protein.

    And, of course, the locals were friendly.

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    More later... the net's a bit thin here.
  9. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Getting back to my drowning the KTM.....

    I'd had a pretty decent, if tiring, ride out from Attapeu... The plan then was to do the southern loop to Pakse. It rained pretty heavily, as usual and the road out to the first river crossing was wet and sloppy in places

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    It pays to watch where you are going with the bridges. Its 20' down there...

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    and more here

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    These young guys tried to stay ahead of me and paid the price. They drowned it.

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    I showed them how to lift the bike up to drain the exhaust... and left them to sort out the rest of it

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    The rider was the small kid... second from the left.

    First river crossing... now a couple of hundred meters from where it used to be

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    It wasn't looking good

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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/MVI8SN-3XeY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    That was the easy part. I diverted around some real sloppy bogs, but got to a creek where there were no other options. I made it most of the way over. Here's where the waterline ended up, which is apparently too high


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    For once, I would have been better on the Super Enduro. It'll take much deeper water in its stride.



    I got it out of the stream, but she wasn't going anywhere.... until some local lads came along and helped me push her up through the mud to some flat ground.... which wasn't easy btw.

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    She'd gulped some but I drained the carb, cleaned out the airbox and got her where she'd almost keep running before the battery shit itself. I managed to fire her up properly with the kickstart... which wasn't doing my foot much good...

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    Dunno why it was hurting?

    Anyhow, I pressed on, trying to reach the village... but dropped into another mudhole and stalled it. Some more locals came along on foot and helped me push her out again... and we decided to push to the village when I couldn't start it again.

    That lasted for about 500 metres until it became a bad joke. I pulled the battery and left the bike on the track and we walked and waded the last few km to the village. The lads were carrying my gear at first, but ducked into the jungle and came out with a trolley

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    Plenty of this stuff on the way... with my boot flopping around. The "dry" bits meant I grew about 40mm in height with a layer of clay on the boots... which felt like they weighed half a tonne.

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    We went through two spots where the bike wouldn't have made it....

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    I'll admit to being knackered by the time I got to the village. This is where they lodged me... one of the little "shops" attached to a hut.

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    The locals were welcoming

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    Nothing like a bit of Giant Squirrel to pick things up again though...

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    All such protein gets a quick roasting to remove the fur or feathers.... creating quite a stink, before being gutted (and the nice bits, like the liver, being thrown in the fire and cooked. The meat goes into a stew or is roasted. Yep, we had squirrel, rat, bird and lots of jungle vegetation. My gut hasn't recovered yet.

    Boots are fixed now and I've picked up another four rolls of masking tape to keep them together for a while longer

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    I had a really nice time in the village. Its dirt poor. Lots of naked kids wandering around... simply no clothes for them. My large breasted friend with the training bra simply had one shirt... and if it was being dried, she wandered around in that little bra. Lots of people came over to see the Farang. I counted 30+ people in the kitchen area of our hut at one stage.... and its about 4 metres square.... under the main hut. All the huts did their cooking on one of those simple log fires under the hut. Water out of a barrel.... either rainwater or fetched from the paddy field. I still dunno if or where the latrines were. I didn't see one anywhere... and I was told to pee in the bushes.

    I entertained folks showing them some of my photos on the laptop. The only TV I saw was when a genset cranked up and a TV was on in another of the little shops, watching kickboxing for an hour.

    Some random village shots

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    My hostess

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    Her hubby slept just outside the shop in a hammock. Not sure if it was to make sure I didn't pilfer the stock... or to make sure I behaved with the locals?

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    Four or five rats, one squirrel

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    One guy wandered in and showed me some bullets he'd found

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    Getting out took some effort. I charged the battery off a solar panel. It was dead flat... 11.7 volts. I got it up to the proper 12.7... and then spent some hours assembling a team to get me and the gear back to the bike... leaving about 2pm, then the bike back to the deep creek... and then we carried it back across

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    Payoff time for the crew....

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    I was a happy chappie

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    I still had some trouble getting out. Here's me stuck in some bamboo that the locals could get under but I had to drag the bike back out and go through the slop instead.

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    I did a quick and dirty oil change.. sump plug and oil cooler only.

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    ... and had a shitty ride back down the same road... now even sloppier after more rain... lots of bogged trucks and motorbike crash marks

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    Interesting fish traps on the paddy field outflows

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    Here's some photos from yesterday. The day started with another totally collapsed wheel bearing.

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    Luckily they had that size in Attapeu. I've got a spare set coming down from Vientiane now, along with brake pads, filter oil, some synthetic oil (5 litres... a change now, a litre to use and a change for the next drowning.... a new undersized knobby and tube (all I could get was an IRC 110/80/18) Unfortunately I couldn't source a new front sprocket. I had a horrible noise happening yesterday which seems to be the front sprocket. $300 for the bits.

    I headed up the tar towards Pakse, with the thought in mind of doing the dirt track that branched off and headed to Paksong and then Pakse if it looked OK. I found that and slip slided my way along it for a while - it was quite slippery and I went down a fair bit on the rear tyre pressure. I found a dam construction site along the way

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    Not tall, but very wide

    I started to get a bit suspicious when the only visible tracks were bikes....

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    I was having serious doubts when a bad graunching noise... metal on metal started..... that front sprocket.

    There was a fabulous waterfall, visible by riding up onto the bank beside the road. It was a couple of hundred feet high at a guess... and absolutely thundering

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    It wasn't the safest perch up there though. These aren't rain ruts... its the start of a landslip.
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    It will go in the next big rain. I'd already found out why the trucks had stopped... landslides that had to be ridden over.

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    There's no getting a truck or 4WD over that... certainly not without some winching as just this little bit of it is about 15' up, very steep and soft and slippery, with a very nasty surprise off the edge if you make a mistake... you'd have a long time to consider your departure from the planet on the way down.

    I had to dig a few trenches... about 12" deep by the time I'd chugged through

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    I got through the bad landslips and came back into an area with people

    I headed into one of the little villages off the road to try and sort out what was going on with the graunching

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    It was all very National Geographic when I rode in, but I better not post those shots. The lads gave me a hand and a bit of sump oil on the chain quietened it down

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    I headed to Pakse, in a massive rain dump for 50km or so.... and met up with two fellow Aussies, Clarissa and Neil, who I'd met in Malaysia. They are on airhead BMWs - highly modified. A 1000cc and a 650cc.

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  10. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    We made some progress with the bike yesterday. The bus from Vientiane with the parts, oil and tyre was late, of course, but showed up eventually. Neil, who is a mechanic, and I found a bike shop and we set to on it. The bike shop owner, who, of course spoke no English, did the tyre. I supervised while Neil went off to get some baby powder.. It was the first time I've seen the bead broken with a cold chisel and hammer.

    The front brake pads were just onto the metal and the rears had about a half mm left. Its almost laughable, but I've retained the rears as "spares". Despite me using engine braking where possible and also having run out of fluid in the front master cylinder.... I rode a couple of days with zero front brake.... I only got from Nakia to Pakse on a brand new set of EBC red front pads. Without spending an hour on Basecamp... I'd guess at maybe 600 to 700 kilometres from brand new to totally gone. The mud here is rather abrasive.... and its deep, so the caliper is in it a lot. The disks are shot too, of course... but they aren't getting replaced just yet.

    The new rear wheel bearing already have some movement in them... they've got 200 km on them. I'm guessing Chinese manufacture. They seem to have perfected micro-thin hardening as a manufacturing technique. At least I'm carrying good spares now.

    This workshop had some decent tools and I was able to get the short screen out... the intake screen for the oil pump that handles the gearbox. I'd had a set of scooter forks on a T-bar at the first place I changed the oil... and was twisting the T-bar.... but with a decent 1/2" drive socket and breaker bar, I got it here. Just as well. The damn thing was covered in silicon. When I pulled the main oil filters the first time, someone had siliconed the o-rngs. I'd cleaned all that out of course... and hopefully this is the last of it gone. None came up anywhere else. It was a good ten minute session with a toothbrush and petrol to get it all sorted.

    Everything done, I did the usual and bought some Beer Lao for the lads at the bike shop. It was Red Bull while they worked on my bike... Beer afterwards. Of course. A local came in on a Honda Shadow.... 200cc cruiser... for a new front tyre. His was totally bald... with a 2" round patch of canvas showing. I've got a photo of that somewhere.

    We were watching a Farang woman in the street opposite. Her body language wasn't good and her boyfriend turned up and spoke with her a couple of times as she walked down the street and then rode off again. It didn't look good and we decided she needed to be asked if she required rescuing. So... my brand new IRC knobby.... slick, of course, with the new tyre coating... and still with bead seating pressure.... about 4 times what its designed to be ridden at.... left a 30' black arc down the road with a 2' chord in it. A nice sideways departure that Neil said really impressed the lads. Unintentional.... of course. Fortunately, we'd misread the situation with the woman. Nothing new with that. She and her boyfriend were simply gettng used to riding a scooter in a quiet street. Maybe her body language had something to do with how badly he was riding?

    I'd promised Neil and Clarissa dinner atop the Pakse Hotel as a thank you for his assistance with the bike. That's something well worth doing in this town. Get there early, grab a good seat overlooking the Mekong and watch the sunset. Lovely. Food was great too. Wine was even better. Lovely Rothschild Bordeau.

    Today is suck it and see what happens day. I'm off to the police station after brekky to see if they will give me a week's visa extension. I'm told its $2 a day and that they will. I'd like to have a look around here before dashing for the border. If they won't... my visa runs out today. I doubt they'll extend the bike import permit.... so I'll have to pay a fine for overstaying that. The guideline for the fine is $5 is reasonable $10 is unreasonable. I can handle that.
  11. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I've been a tad slack on the updates, and given last night was a bit punishing... I'll sit here and catch us up.

    I ended up dodging flying bullets in Pakse. At least one person appears to have ended up dead.

    I was riding over to the market when I passed an obvious "ruckus" at a tyre service. I pulled up for a stickybeak at how the local cops handled things (I developed a customer service strategy for a certain police force, once upon a time - a very interesting assignment). There was a plainclothes cop there with a handgun and I heard several gunshots from inside the building and then bottles came flying out, smashing on the road. I decided that being "different" might not be a good thing if events erupted into the street and I moved on. When I came back past an hour later, it was all over. I asked the plainclothes cop how it ended and he gave the thumbs down sign.

    I went to the market to get a new rucksack to replace the one that had a minor, losing, altercation with the rear wheel the other day. I guess I better start safety roping again. The only damage was to the rucksack and an oil container... but it could have been nasty if the oil had got onto the tyre in the rain

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    The volume of gear I'm carrying had increased, of course. I got extra oil in - and this stuff is packed appallingly - a one litre bottle has damn near a two litre outside space the way its packaged... handle on it, etc. I'm carrying gaffer tape too - as can be seen above. The only other extras are a MAG t shirt and a string hammock.

    I like this photo Neil took the other night when I shouted he and Clarissa at the Panorama restaurant atop the 5 or 6 storey high Paske Hotel as a thank you for his assistance with the work on the bike.

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    The farewell feast for Neil and Clarissa was our best effort at a wine and cheese evening here. We got the only bottle of olives we could find, the only cheese (sliced cheddar from the US... think Big Mac cheese), some nuts, Pringles and a bottle of plonk from France.

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    The Bigfella numberplate was a bit of an afterthought.... and it didn't last long. I lost it on my first offroad ride, heading down the west bank of the Mekong to the border. That's why the bike's plate is in my backpack. Neil and I bought a few other stickers too...

    I'd said goodbye to Neil and Clarissa a day before I left Pakse. They headed to Vientiane or thereabouts. I'll probably see them again in Chiang Mai... before they head back to KL and fly their bikes to Europe.

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    After leaving Pakse, I headed down to Wat Phou and then stayed in a guesthouse near there. The guesthouse restaurant consisted of wooden poles, floorboards with 1" gaps, tin roof, no walls - and also doubles as the accommodation for the family of, I think 7 that run the place. It is 25' above the Mekong and 15' from the water's edge.... grey. overcast but bright and the air has been hazy... like smoke .for several days.

    My waitress was, oh, maybe 7 years old, and well polished at the art. It turned out there were five of them there in the morning plus the parents... all sleeping on a long bamboo mat on the restaurant floor. This one, the eldest, was my waitress. All kids work here it seems.

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    The Mekong at Champasak is wide - I checked on the GPS and its over 2km wide - and still fast flowing. I had the pleasure of a race boat going past for a training run. I saw it being repaired on the way in... all the seams had been filled with epoxy and they were scraping it down as I rode past it on the bank.

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    They had 33 paddlers in it... chanting as they went hard at it. I love these boats.

    They were doing some chainsaw slabbing for boatbuilding there too. The boat was being repaired at the spot the bike ferry lands.

    I shared a small ferry with a Corsican guy and his Balinese girlfriend.

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    30,000 baht per bike. $4. The guy had tried for 50,000 and I offered 5,000. So... 30,000 it was.

    There's a lot of water out there - all headed that last 100 metres down to sea level.

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    I came across the river (yet again) to visit the ancient Pre-Khmer ruins of Wat Phu.

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    There's a lot of similarities to the temples at Siem Reap.

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    Yeah - I climbed the damn thing wearing cordura/leather trousers - and my taped up boots. Sweated like 40 bastards. At least I had water.

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    I knew by now that my Chinese rear wheel bearings weren't going to get me far. They wern't too flash... at about 250km on them. The bike had a leaking front tube too, but I wasn't in the mood to fix it. I pumped it and rode the day before ... and did the same again. I decided to do that until I saw a bike shop or it started going down too fast. I've been carrying 3 spare front and 2 spare rear tubes, so that wasn't an issue... just the lifting it up (or laying it over) and doing the damn tyre. I would, of course, regret not fixing it then. I damn near bit the bitumen as a result.... with a rather wild and exciting 95km left hand corner and flat front tyre featuring strongly.... but that was two days down the track.

    I ended up escaping rom Laos that day... about 3 days ago now. It felt good to be back in Cambodia (I spent a bit over a week here a couple of years back). The friendly nature of the Cambodians hasn't changed. I love it.

    I'll admit to being less than friendly in my last Laotian encounter... just a few km from the border. I went in to see the cascades, which are the largest in SE Asia... where the kilometre wide Mekong drops 15 metres. Its a lot of water. I arced up when faced with a sign that said:

    "Entry, locals 5,000 kip... Foreigners 30,000 kip".

    I complained about the discrimination and the guy at the gate's attitude got up my nose. I ended up throwing 5,000 kip at the guy's feet and riding in (he wouldn't take it out of my hand). They had a go at me at the falls too and we had a "discussion" about racism... although, I guess if they charge Cambodians as foreigners, maybe it isn't racism. Nothing pisses me off more than this sort of tripe. Its illegal in Thailand I think and I did refuse to pay this sort of stupid premium at a museum in Melaka, Malasia. Some places handle it better... eg the temples. They don't flaunt the price discrimination on a big sign, they just tell you the price and hand you a VIP ticket. Yeah - they still rip off the Farang, but it hasn't got the "up you" element to it.

    The Mekong at the cascades

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    ... and earlier in the day.
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    I posted a photo of the local race boat being tuned up. Here it is in the morning, they were taking it out for a training session blast

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    Yep. 33 of them.... plus the coaches in another boat

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    Not a lot of freeboard there when they all dig in

    .... and one more of the guys training... heading back upstream

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    The local tourist boat for the southern Mekong in Laos came past. The smoky looking humidity haze is apparent.

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  12. Finch.

    Finch. Adventurer

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    Epic as usual - thanks for the update, it's a great adventure to follow.

    I'm back on Koh Tao after a few weeks in Adelaide and a few days in Penang. I'm trying to get a few people together for a white water rafting trip in northern Thailand but everybody here is too cheap to do it!
  13. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    .... and there goes over an hours writing. Poof. Gone. The second half of that update. Just about to post and the window decided to close and that's it.

    Why don't we get autosave on this forum? Seriously. I've never had this issue on another forum. If that happens it comes up "Restore Autosaved Content?" Yes please.

    Compiling in Word doesn't work.... unless there's some merlin magic I'm not aware of for getting photos and videos to work.

    I guess its just me and my big boofy hands. I don't like writing a five-photo post.... but I guess I'll have to resort to that.


    .... and Finch. Thanks. So when are you thinking of going rafting? I've seen some amazing white water up here... and a hell of a lot of brown water, of course.
  14. Finch.

    Finch. Adventurer

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    There are autosave extensions for Chrome and Firefox and Opera, you should check them out. No idea if there's similar for Internet Exploder but that's a shitty browser anyway.

    We're probably going to do the typical overnight Pai to Mae Hong Son thing, though I've heard that there is one operator that does a multi day trip somewhere else in better water. Will have to investigate further, at this stage I'm still looking for recruits.
  15. Mike_drz

    Mike_drz Banned

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    well behave :evil:rofl the middle man in between :1drink

    after found out who they, thou shall not save anymore bullets :clap

    :D
  16. Mike_drz

    Mike_drz Banned

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    I think you forget to feed the goats :evil
  17. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    ... at this stage, I'm stuck with what's on the 'puter. Feed the goats?

    Setting out from Champasak, the bike had a failry flat front tyre, but I wasn't in the mood to fix it just then. I'd pumped it and ridden the day day before... and decided to do the same again until I see a bike shop or it starts going down too fast. That turned out to be a big mistake two days later. I gave the adrenaline system a workout when I discovered the air had all gone away.... in a 95kph left hander. But I'll get to that.

    The ride from Champasak was one I put together on Basecamp, using the Laos GPS map. I really liked that map and going back to Garmin's crap in Cambodia is a real downer. I wanted to avoid the bitumen as much as possible and to take in a bit of the 4,000 islands area.... so I stayed on the western side of the Mekong as close to the river as I could.

    I'll admit to being less than friendly in my last Laotian encounter... just a few km from the border. I'm pretty relaxed about most things and try not to be the ugly tourist. I saw a sign for the cascades, which are the largest in SE Asia... where the kilometre wide Mekong drops 15 metres. Its a lot of water. I arced up when faced with a sign that said Entry, locals 5,000 kip... foreigners 30,000 kip. I ended up throwing 5,000 at the guy's feet and riding in (he wouldn't take it out of my hand). They had a go at me at the falls too and we had a "discussion" about racism... although, I guess if they charge Cambodians and Thais as foreigners, maybe it isn't racism. Nothing pisses me off more than this sort of tripe. Its illegal in Thailand.

    Anyhow... the day was long and good - I rode alongside the Mekong from Pakse to near the border. Did stick bridges, cable bridges, including one with a BIG sway, three small ferries and so on. Single track to no track in parts - riding through paddocks. Bumpy, muddy, dusty and every variety in between. Stopped at a temple fund raiser and just escaped after two Lao Lao shots that would have melted a breathalyser.

    There's plenty of rice being harvested now. They don't compost the rubbish.... they burn it

    [​IMG]

    I had the odd interesting moment, trying to follow the Mekong south. This one took me through some paddocks and up some thorny single track

    [​IMG]

    Lots of small bridges during the day... of varying quality. One of the cable suspension bridges was a shocker. I hit it at a reasonable pace and it did its best to pitch me off. The others were rock steady. The worst of the bridges had very thin planks and one gap of about 12" where three planks were missing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Stick bridges are fun

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    [​IMG]



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    They got better

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    There were three moving bridges too. This one was a rope pull

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    This one, back across the Mekong onto one of the islands was only 10,000 kip. Driven by a kid.

    [​IMG]

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    Hard to see it there, but the wheel was made of reinforcement rod and the steering column was a tree trunk

    I came across this truck along the way... having a bit of trouble

    [​IMG]

    ... and the temple building fundraiser. Sometime in the future, my name will be on the wall. They write the donations up. I didn't twig to why they asked my name at first.

    [​IMG]

    Its hard to convince the kids to get onto the bike... but once you do, they are a hero with the other kids. The 27 is there as a quasi Aussie flag. Its well known anywhere with tv

    [​IMG]

    Another charcoal producer. They load it with wood, seal it off and burn the wood in a low oxygen environment to produce charcoal

    [​IMG]

    The track got dodgy at times

    [​IMG]

    and disappeared. I got directed around a washout by the locals, lost the GPS route, but eventually got sorted out

    This was pretty typical. Service time. Dump the oil and fill it up again. Pity about the ground.

    [​IMG]

    It was Sunday and there were four distinct groups.... those working the rice paddies, those lounging around under their houses, the temple fundraisers and these.... community groups out repairing the roads at the end of the wet season.

    [​IMG]

    I stopped for fluid intake and got mobbed, as usual. Cost me about 3 times as much, as I bought all the kids a small orange juice.

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    This is a kid going for his bath in the Mekong.

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    Its a big river by this point

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    I was watching this guy as I crossed the river. I saw him haul a lot of net, but didn't see any fish. There's no doubt they are there... the markets are full of some decent sized fish

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    Another crossing, to get off the (big) island. That's my ferry on the left.

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    That ferry wasn't exactly symetrical

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    Once off the island, it was a bitumen run for the border. I had to stop and take a snap of these little tackers, who were having fun in a buffalo wallow

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    This was the Mekong doing the big drop at the Khone Kha Pheng falls.

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    The falls are 1km wide... but its hard to see more than a bit at a time

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    Its sure thundering down....

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    .... and here we are at the exit point from Laos. I had to pay the cop to stamp my passport. $2.60. Not sure that's an official tax btw. If it isn't, its a breach of an Oz law to pay it. They know where to find me.

    [​IMG]
  18. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,517
    Location:
    One of the Burj's
    Border control was at an old shack, but like most border crossings I've seen, big dollars are being spent on making things look flash....

    [​IMG]

    All the Laos cops were in watching a kick boxing tournament on tv. One of them finally wandered out and opened the barrier. I loved the multi-use approach for the satellite dish

    [​IMG]

    The Cambodian side was a bit problematic. I got directed to customs first... and I'd intended to ignore their existence. Luckily they were playing cards and just glanced at my stuff and I got waved over to the visa mob... and made it through unscathed. It could have been uglier.

    Cambodian roads and drivers are "interesting"

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I made it through to Stung Treng, and ran into the fellow Aussie from hell

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    I'm coming back to Laos. I want to have a more leisurely ride up the HCM Trail before they destroy it. More village stays.

    It was "one of those days" Monday morning. I bought this fellow Aussie breakfast... and I'd bought her dinner Sunday night too because she had no money. Her scamming got up my nose a bit and I ended up refusing her request for a loan. The government have cut her unemployment benefits and her tour of Asia is turning ugly. Stupid woman (40yo). Thinks the world owes her a living. She's lived all over the world and discovered a gold mine in Oz 12 years ago... but they've finally had a gutful of her and Centrelink have refused her appeal.

    I told her to contact the Oz embassy.. "they won't talk to me because I owe them money from when they flew me back to Oz from Taiwan".

    Her argument is that she should be on a disability support pension and that there's no decent health care in Australia, so she's got to travel to southern Taiwan for treatment. You can't fly to southern Taiwan from Oz, only northern Taiwan and "its too hard to get to the south from there". Bullshit. So... she, with the supposed bad back that's scored her 12 years on the dole at disability rates... is backpacking from Cambodia via Laos to Hanoi so that she can get to her medical treatment in Taiwan. Yeah... sure. She'd been out on the back roads (read really rough) on a motorbike for 5 hours that day. Yep... my heart bleeds for her. How do I get 12 years of taxpayer funding..... nah.... I couldn't do it... I just couldn't do it. Her back's no worse that mine's ever been.

    So, I wheeled the bike out of the lobby on Monday morning, pumped up the half flat tyre and decided that I'd replace the tube during a lay day in Kratie - before or after a Mekong cruise to see the dolphins. They appear to be making a comeback after the Khmer Rouge almost wiped them out... killing them and rendering them for their oil.

    37km out, my front tube decided that it didn't want to hold air any more. I'd done 200+ on it Sunday, with only one pump up. It decided to do it on a 95kph corner... which was "interesting" to say the least. I couldn't believe I finally wobbled to a halt without dropping it. I wheeled in beside a house with a "shop" out front and set to on it... with too much help from the locals. This is the second time I've had a local help me and the replacement tube has ended up pinched... which almost pitched me off again 15km down the road. I'd have discovered the leak before I set out again, but they packed my tools into my Giant Loop while I wasn't looking and the tyre guage ended up in there. They also did some other damage... and I had to keep stopping them trying to help. They were bashing away with a hammer, trying to get the axle in, but the disk was wedged outside the caliper... very ugly.

    Anyhow... I made it to Kratie, got a room and I'm smelling the roses. I bought 10 or so beers for the "helpers" and a soft drink for the kid who actually did help... and one of the women packed me off with a couple of banana leaf rolls of sticky rice stuffed with banana in one and beans in the other. It was lunch in the end. Lovely. Photos of all that lot another time.

    I better update folks on the current situation in Cambodia. The ex-King is dead. Monday I believe. I didn't quite pick up on it at the market earlier on when a woman took my banknote (they use both their own currency, the Riel, and the US$ here)... she pointed to the King's image, made the sleeping sign (I use it often... two hands under an inclined head) and pointed to the ground. Yeah, OK, so its an old banknote. Nope. Flags are half mast now.

    I just hope I'm out of Thailand when it happens there. Could be anarchy there.

    So, I've stayed on in Kratie, been out in a nice wooden boat and seen the dolphins and I've put (another) set of bearings in the rear wheel of the KTM. I'd scored one Japanese Koyo and one unbranded, presumably Chinese, bearing in Attapeu. The unbranded one was stuffed at 200km... but I've run it for 500. I've kept the Koyo as my now only spare. I'm not overly happy that the ones that have gone in are Chinese. I've lost one of my spare fronts too.... so its fingers crossed from here. The roads aren't good, so they cop a real pounding, but it seems the monsoon is over.... I haven't had rain since I got to Pakse, and it was raining every day (or night) up until then.

    The spots for the dolphins are where the river is a bit quieter. There's a broadwater about 15km north of Kratie and that's the local spot... across the other side of the Mekong around some flooded islands. The boats are all pretty much the same and its a regulated enterprise. I pulled into the carpark and a cop came over and told me, nicely, to go buy a ticket AusAid have a sign up, so presumably Oz had some input into saving the dolphins.

    The Khmer Rouge slaughtered thousands and rendered them down for oil. Its lucky they survived. Wiki says there are between 78 and 91 of the freshwater population of the Irrawaddy Dolphin, all in a 190km stretch of the Mekong in Cambodia and Laos.... and they are regarded as critically endangered.

    Here's "my" boat. Just me. Its $7 a head for 3 or more... or $9 if you are by yourself. I was impressed by my boat skipper's attitude and unobtrusiveness with the dolphins. He killed the engine early and sculled us around... and even in the quieter areas, there's a fair flow to the river.

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    Some locals fishing with rods near the dolphins

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    They are hard buggers to photograph. They are slow swimmers, stay down a long time.... sometimes many minutes and don't show much of themselves mostly. You have to be quick when you hear them blow.

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    There were at least three in the area, maybe more. They are slate grey on top and a much lighter colour underneath

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    They rarely show the tail fluke... only when doing a deep dive (up o 12 minutes)

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    There's two in this shot too...

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    Very blunt head, no beak

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    and a view of another boat

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    The planks were all chainsaw hewn

    I got on the piss out of town a bit yesterday with the guy who runs the guesthouse here and half a dozen of his mates. We took a slab and 5kg of ice... and some local snacks. Added to that was a whole heap more snacks... everything from garlic cloves (I bet I reek), dried deer (it stank but tasted good), fried catfish and so on. Then it was off to the Karaoke. Nothing naughty, but the lads enjoyed themselves.

    I've spent the day lazing around on the balcony overlooking the Mekong and had lunch with a French woman who works for a large NGO working with poverty-stricken and at-risk children. They've got 500 staff and 2,500 kids they work with. They target kids whose family income is below 50c a day. Tossed around a few project ideas with her.

    .... and tomorrow, I'm going to do another "local roads" day and head down the other side of the Mekong again... towards Phnom Penh. The run to Kratie from the border was on bitumen and I've had a gutful of that.

    Incidentally, I spotted 3 guys on chook chasers heading out of Kratie yesterday... going north, wearing full dirt bike gear. I got a wave off to one and stopped... but they didn't. Foreigners on hire bikes by the look of it.
  19. Satonic

    Satonic n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Bangkok
    The double pricing isn't illegal here in Thailand Bigfella. The national parks are 100b for a Thai and 500b for a farang. Same as admission to zoos, museums, aquariums etc.

    Wonderful pics again, I always look forward to your updates!

    Good on ya :)
  20. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,517
    Location:
    One of the Burj's
    I reckon you'd get in at the lower price if you argued. They are only allowed to display one price....

    " PRICING POLICY AND GUIDELINES FOR TOURISM ATTRACTIONS IN THAILAND

    The pricing policy and guidelines for tourism attractions, both public and private, around Thailand are all based in law.
    There are specific legal guidelines that apply for natural and cultural attractions under the supervision of the various state agencies belonging to the Royal Thai Government
    versus those applicable for tourism attractions that are wholly-owned, funded and operated by private sector operators. Any changes to these laws are a matter for parliamentary deliberation,
    and not for the state agencies charged with their correct application.
    * Pricing guidelines for natural and cultural attractions under the supervision of the various state agencies under the Royal Thai Government

    The pricing for natural and cultural attractions supervised by the various state agencies belonging to the Royal Thai Government, and funded by the national budget,
    are governed by ministerial orders and announcements issued by the respective ministries based on various acts of parliament that have already been promulgated.The spirit of the law assumes that natural and cultural attractions, including sacred and historic sites, nationwide are part of the national heritage, belonging to all Thais equally.
    The provisions set out in the ministerial orders are designed to ensure fair and equal opportunity for each and every individual Thai to have access to national treasures,
    and the natural and cultural heritage inherited from their forefathers.
    The rationale underpinning existing legislation argues that each and every individual of Thai nationality is an equal stakeholder within the community.
    Fair and equal access must be granted to all Thai nationals, regardless of their social and economic status. Entrance fees to such attractions must therefore be made affordable for Thai citizensfrom all walks of life. Thai citizenship is determined by the presentation of a valid identification card issued by Thai district or provincial authorities.

    National parks and natural heritage sites come under the supervision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment&#8217;s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
    Places of cultural or historic importance, including archaeological sites, come under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture.
    An example of existing legislation is the National Park Act 2504 BE (Buddhist Era) for natural attractions under the supervision of state agencies under the Royal Thai Government.
    NATIONAL PARK ACT,
    2504 BE
    -------------------
    BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ, REX. NATIONAL PARK ACT
    CHAPTER 3
    Protection and Maintenance of the National Park
    Section 18. Any person entering the national park must comply with the order of the competent official given in compliance with the rule prescribed by the Director-General and approved by the Minister.
    CHAPTER 4
    Miscellaneous
    Section 23.

    If the Director-General thinks it appropriate to require from the public any payment for services of facilities given by the competent official in the national park,
    or to require any person to pay a fee or remuneration for permission to carry on any activity or to sojourn therein, he is empowered to fix the rates and lay down rules concerning
    the collection of the said service charge, fee or remuneration, with the approval of the Minister.

    Money collected under the preceding paragraph, funds donated for maintenance of the national park, fines accruing from settlement of the case conducted by the competent official
    under Section 28 and other kinds of income shall be exempted from any tax or duty, and kept as the expenditure for maintenance of the national park according to the rules and methods prescribed
    by the Director General and approved by the Minister.
    &#8220;Director-General&#8221; means the Director-General of the Forestry Department.

    In the case of temples and shrines, Thais do not regard these sites as tourist attractions. They are sacred places of worship they visit to practice their faith.
    Places of worship in Thailand of all denominations are generally open to the public at various times of day and welcoming. Most happen to be Buddhist.
    Buddhist practice embraces all individuals and does not exclude the participation of individuals who are non-Thai or non-Buddhist.

    All visitors to Thailand who wish to learn more about the country and its culture, Thai customs, tradition and Thai ways are welcome to witness and experience all aspects of Thai life
    up close and personal. It is hoped that their experiences are positive and memorable, and that they will be happy to make a small donation to help keep alive Thai customs and traditions, and generally support the country&#8217;s cultural heritage.

    Fees charged and voluntary donations go towards the maintenance, conservation and care of the sites.
    In the case of Thai citizens, their share of the contribution to the state budget is made through the payment of income tax and regular payment of other forms of indirect taxation.
    The payment of entrance fees, where applicable, is therefore in addition to the payments they have already made as taxpayers.
    Following the establishment of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports in 2002, various regulatory duties have been transferred from TAT to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Office of Tourism Development.

    Contact information:
    Ministry of Tourism and Sports Office of Tourism Development
    The Office of Tourism Development
    National Stadium, Rama I Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.
    Tel: +66 (0) 2283 1500
    Web site: www.mots.go.th
    For specific enquiries, or to report specific incidents, please contact the Ministry or state agency responsible for overseeing the particular attraction directly.

    * Pricing guidelines for tourism attractions that are wholly-owned, funded and operated by private sector operators

    Current legal guidelines on pricing stipulate unequivocally that there can only be one price charged for entrance/admission fees and that this must also be prominently displayed upfront.
    Businesses are, however, granted the freedom to undertake marketing and promotional activities, and may for example legally offer non-discriminatory group discounts.
    Thailand abides by internationally-recognized consumer protection practices. In the event that an individual consumer feels that they have been subject to unfair business practices,
    these grievances can be filed with the Consumer Protection Board for Thai nationals or the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Office of Tourism Development for visitors to Thailand. "

    Reporting unethical practice
    Tel/Fax: +66 (0) 2216 6512
    E-mail: co_service@tourism.go.th