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

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

  1. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Thanks Jacl.

    No, I didn't get a new sidestand fabricated, the guys at one of the bikeshops did some repairs and modifications to the existing. I'm glad you mentioned it though, because I'd forgotten that right at the end of the trip - the last time I used it, the sidestand seemed to have seized... and I had to give it a kick to get it down - probably due to a bent pivot bolt. I've got all the other spare parts sitting there ready for me to get back to it... so all I need now is another sidestand... and me.

    After two months on the sidelines, I did manage to get back in the saddle yesterday, sort of. I guess I shouldn't have, but there was a funeral out at Mae Rim Wat for a Norwegian expat who was married to a local lady. I rode a scooter out to the service. John went under a truck earlier this week. It wasn't the best of news to arrive back here to. This from rideasia.net

    John Olson, known affectionately to his Chiang Mai riding friends as "Crazy John" was one of the nicest, fun-loving guys you could ever meet, no one had a bad word to say about him -ever!


    On the 12th May, 2013, after riding off-road on a Honda CRF 250-L from Mae Rim to Mae Hong Son, while John & a friend were returning, John hit a Telephone company truck, killing him on R 1095, his body was taken to Mae Hong Son hospital.


    John's is from Norway & his family have decided to repatriate his body to Norway.


    I have to say, its the first time I've attended a funeral (and I've attended far too many) where there were bright flashing LED lights adorning the casket.

    The farang riders present (of approx 150 attendees in total) were asked to come forward for a photo. (photos by Phillip Gibbins of Riders Corner in Chiang Mai)

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    RIP John and best wishes to his friends and family in moving on from this tragedy.

    I'll update my progress later.
  2. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I'm very conscious of the fact that I need to do an update. Things are on the up here and after my last post, I wasn't in much of a mood to do it.

    I'm mobile again... still using a crutch on stairs and for anything other than a very brief walk. I've ditched the damn leg brace and (shhhh) I've been belting around on the scooter.

    When I got here, my Burmese massage lady said "You fat" and poked me in the gut.

    Last night she was saying "You very fat". No tip for her last night.

    Sheesh. Its a bit tough - a bloke cuts out a hell of a lot of his diet, misses meals, etc.... but because he can't exercise much he gets hounded.

    I'll do the write-up later, including a road trip down to NE Thailand with Auke, the local map-maker to check out some war history. Came back from that fairly knackered. Been out with some of the lads too. Have the wedding to write up... have forgotten all details from the bucks party, of course.

    [​IMG]

    More in a day or two
  3. ontic

    ontic

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    Good to hear the recovery is going well.
    I'm sweating my ass off here over in Vientiane, wish I had a pool to jump in. Lots of fieldwork in the sun for me... aaarrrgh.
    It is hard to loose weight working with Laos people- even if I am working hard. I eat half as much as these people who are usually literally half the size of me, and in between meals they are still eating. Then after dinner it is endless beerlao in that good old forced drinking game thing until late and the food still continues to come out. Then we are up before dawn again...

    Recover well.
    I'm heading back to Melbourne winter in a week. Thats gonna hurt.
  4. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I just had a look back through some videos from my rides in Asia.

    Here's one on Route 4B in Laos. This road is marked "impassable in wet season", but with a bit of care, its OK. It got quite sticky in places... and no-one had been through the day I rode it. There's an old tyre track full of water... could have been there a while. The only other signs of traffic were a tracked vehicle.

    The route is around 120 km from Hongsa to Luang Prabang. A doddle in the dry season, but its as greasy as... well, grease.. in the wet and damn steep in places. It defeated us on our first attempt on the big bikes (I was on the SE) and we had to turn around at about the 30km mark.

    It took me 7 hours or so - which is about a 10 mph average - but that includes a couple of stops... and the last couple of hours of that was reasonably flat and open. Some of the worst downhill stuff was done engine-off, both feet down, bike in gear, using the clutch and engine as the brake... and truth be told, the front brake too - at dead slow... sliding down the hills. I have my doubts as to whether I'd have made it in the other direction.

    The ruts were bad, up to three quarters of a metre deep in places... where the rain had gouged them out.

    I love the way this bike handled it. This video shows how well it tractors up the really steep stuff.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gwYlxDaxASQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  5. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Same road (Route 4B), once I'd got down out of the mountains. Its a lot more open... but with plenty of creeks of indeterminate depth.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/LHKrYniRDrs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  6. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    And the last of these on Route 4B. Two parts, crossing the same creek. Note the lady having her bath on the left.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/9IF5nQ1_95Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Ji7BBJAIk_s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  7. overlandr

    overlandr Dystopist

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    Hopefully you're fully recovered by now, Ian. Got any photos of the engines and the details on exact age, model, yard? I have a friend who would be interested.
  8. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Not fully recovered, but I can ride. I'll see how it stands up to the Cardamoms

    The boat was built in '37 by Holmes Bros. Engines are rebuilt 4.53 Detroits. I just fitted new props too. She's in the Hawkesbury River.
  9. ontic

    ontic

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    4B was a nice run. It was mostly dry when we did it, but the rivers/creeks crossings were just as full. We went LP to Hongsa direction. A few steepish bits but absolutely nothing on the recently new track through Nam Phouey! That thing was scary in the dry, dry tested the traction limits of new knobbies, and really will be an impossible nightmare in the wet:eek1

    Good to hear you are back on your feet.
  10. jab1026

    jab1026 Adventurer

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    wow what a very inspiring ride report.. :clap
    I hope i could do that someday.. I am dreaming of riding from Philippines- Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos and Cambodia.. Still working hard to earn money for that dream.
  11. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Thanks Jab and Hans.

    So.....

    I'm heading back to Asia. I've just got off the phone from my Cambodian mate who has been minding the 525. He's moved house.... but he took the bike with him. Phew. I've made contact with some other mates and things are happening.

    I fly into Phnom Penh at sparrowfart on November 25. I've booked my favourite PP tuktuk driver for the day. That's Mr Mao. A seriously good guy.

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    ...although I was a tad embarrassed when he paid a monk to pray for us...

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    That was three years ago, on my first travels through Cambodia and Vietnam, with Kylie.

    There's not a huge amount of planning (how unusual, eh?) gone into the trip. Here's the plan

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    A friend's girlfriend owns a bar in PP... The Fire Bar... so its only fair and respectable that I call in and say G'day.

    I'll try for a boat through Lake Tonle Sap the next day and get things happening with the KTM. As I recall it, it needs some bits.... all of which I hope I have.

    Justin and Marc are due in Siem Reap a couple of days later, coming in with their bikes on a ute (that'd be a truck in the US). The plan is to do some easier rides near Siem Reap to prove up my knee's fitness... then head into the Cardamoms.

    I'm flying back in January. Between the Cardamoms and then... who knows?

    I've got some friends' places I want to visit in Thailand. I'd also like to take a new bra back to that lady in Ban Pindong - and do the missing 40 km or so of the road that drowned me last time

    [​IMG]

    So, perhaps a bit of southern Laos? I want to get the KTM back up to Chiang Mai, where I'll leave it at the end of this trip. I also want to revisit Mrs Mon, the lady we took to hospital. That's in NW Laos... a day's ride from Chiang Mai... but maybe I'll spend a week in there around Christmas?

    Time will tell.... but, we have a start. This Aussie, an American and a Belgian rode into a forest......
  12. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    whoo-hoo.....:freaky

    i mean, what could happen?....:evil
  13. RDT953

    RDT953 Been here awhile

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    Hey there Big Fella, glad to see this RR getting back on track. I read it from the start and it along with other ride reports inspired me to just get moving and start my own adventure. I'm in Dompu on Sumbawa and making my way towards Lombok. I eventually hope to get up through Malaysia and then start on that part of Asia. I'll keep following with interest.

    If you get really bored you can see the RR on this forum. "Following the Front Wheel".
  14. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Funny you should mention Dompu. I must've spent a whole two hours there. I was high-tailing it towards Lombok, to make sure I got to the Gili Islands before my daughter showed up.

    One of the guys who grabbed me as I went through Dompu is in Sydney for a couple of months on a youth program that I think is connected to Sydney Uni.

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences.... the bush telegraph lets them know there's an English-speaker in town and they come up and say G'day. Two guys studying tourism and English at uni.... wanting to practice their English

    Worked out well for me, as I was rather hungry and scoffing some horrid dry bread at a roadside stall outside town when they showed up... and they showed me the way to a decent restaurant in town. They got to practice their English ... and got a free lunch into the bargain

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    They introduced me to this cop... one of many eating in the same restaurant.

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    I haven't caught up with them here yet, but will in the next week or so.

    ........ and Dave..... mate..... anything could happen. Time will tell.
  15. RDT953

    RDT953 Been here awhile

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    Mate, my Postie is attracting tons of attention, admiring audiences and offers to purchase, I can't imagine how much attention that beast is getting.
    I got lucky and made contact with Blek from the Indonesian ADV forum, Blek lives here in Dompu and seems to know just about everyone.
    One thing I would say to ADVriders transiting Indonesia either way is to take the time to get a visa extension and explore a bit rather than just making a transit. This is every bit a destination in its own right and moving just a little away from the Lonely Planet recommended route gets you well off the beaten path. Not directed at you Big Fella, just general info.
  16. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I couldn't agree more. I'd intended to blast through Indonesia - in and out on the one 30 day visa. I ended up spending over 3 1/2 months in-country.... and yes, its the "off the beaten track" bits that I remember most fondly. Same in mainland Asia.

    ... and yes, the big bikes do get some attention. Note that the cop on my bike is a good foot short of reaching the ground.

    After all my time there, with five or six trips through Bangkok airport... I still haven't been into Bangkok city... I still haven't been to the capital of Laos (Vientiane) despite three forays into Laos.... and so on.
  17. blek

    blek Adventurer

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    Wow, from the pics I can know that surely was Rinjani Hotel and Restaurant. The most expensive restaurant on Dompu. Lucky you. :D
  18. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    It wasn't that expensive... from a Western dining point of view.

    Meanwhile, I've been taking a look at few of the videos I shot in Cambodia.

    This time last year... check out this van, just east of Siem Reap - must be damn near 30 people hanging off the back, on the roof, or crammed inside. Four motorbike there too:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/yXZi3Aws7zw?list=UUOya2nUxV0zel9EMcS9ZT5w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  19. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Here's another video that I've uploaded just recently. Crossing one of the rivers in central Laos. Skip to about the 1 minute mark to get an appreciation of the water flow. There's a rude word at about 1:45.... I stalled and I was having some difficulty keeping the bike from going over the weir.

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OGfcZJ9DqSQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
  20. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Its big silver tube day. I'm off to Kuala Lumpur, then Phnom Penh tonight.

    All packed and ready to go

    [​IMG]

    The Giant Loop bag weighs in at spot on 20kg. The black/orange backpack is purely for transit packing and will go in the bin when I get the bike serviced. There's a stack of spares in those two... split with as much as I can get away with carrying on in the backpack. I've managed to get disk rotors in as hand luggage before... so, fingers crossed. The rest of the stuff in there is wheel bearings, camelback, knee braces - stuff that either goes on the bike, or me.

    I'll have to wear the KLIM Dakars and the body armour.... and the boots. The boots are just a cheapy pair... the only size 49s (US size 14) in the shop - AXA Boxers. I sure hope they work out OK - I have trouble riding my old Funduro with them... can't change gear properly. I'll carry the helmet and the tank bag on (the tank bag being effectively a laptop bag). The bumbag is my stay-alive medical kit. Adrenaline, etc.

    Once I'm sorted out with the bike, I'll post some photos of what I carry in the spares / tools / medico categories.

    Here's what I've got in the way of black spaghetti

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    Most of that stuff lives in the tankbag, with a bit of foam under and over the computer. I've just thrown in a 1Tb backup disk with photos and videos from the earlier stages of this journey... as I'm pencilled in to speak at the Asian Horizons Unlimited meet in Chiang Mai in January. That'll be fun... putting together a presentation on the Notebook, eh?

    OK, here's what's developed for the first part of this trip.

    The bike is in Siem Reap... just above Lake Tonle Sap in the map, below.

    I'll get there on Tuesday, all going well. The plan is to go by boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, if I can. Failing that, it'll be bus. I've got a couple of days to get the bike going. I'll be checking valves, replacing clutch slave cylinder and putting a kit in the master cylinder. There's new wheel bearings, seals, output shaft seal, radiator cap, sprockets, chain, brake rotors and pads (and fluids). I'm taking over a Ballistic lithium battery too.

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    Once I've got the bike done, Justin (Team ftb on here) and Harri the Finn are due in Siem Reap. The purple track is our day 1 plan, with a side trip that should be good. We've got some options in there (eg the yellow track is only there if the aqua one is no good). The day 2 plan is to touch the Laos border at the Mekong and grab a passing boat down to Stung Treng, or... ride down the river bank.

    We'll pick up parts of the Death Highway, I believe, (Justin and Auke have done the route) with some other bits thrown in to get away from where the bulldozers have spoilt things. We'll touch the Vietnam border, before heading south. I've got a mate at Kampot who's stacked his beer fridge. After we empty that, its off to the Cardamoms.

    The three bikes are my 2005 KTM 525 EXC (570 kitted), which I bought from Justin, then Justin on his new KTM 500 EXC and Harri on his Husaberg 570.