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

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

  1. AusStealth

    AusStealth Bohican

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    Weather and visibility were great in Phuket over the Easter weekend, but I'm sure not as interesting as your outings and a lot more pricey.
  2. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Glad you got good weather there... and no smoke. A mate of mine in Chiang Mai just packed his family in the car and drove down there until the smoke dissipates. Another mate from just south of here has done the same...

    .... and my trip north this time wasn't that cheap. I hired the Suzuki V-Strom for 1,700 baht a day - about US$50 a day. I didn't get to see Tachileik - other than from across the bridge - but it was a nice ride and I stayed in a nice resort at Chang Rai. How could you not stay at a place called the Rim Kok Resort on the banks of the Kok River (the river that featured in Top Gear's Burma special)

    Sorry, crappy room photo

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    Rack rate according to the card on the reception desk was 3,900 through to 8,000 baht... but I got in for 1,200 baht - about US $36.

    Place has an ageing feel to it with, for example, a bit of brass showing through on the bathroom taps.... but the grounds are great.

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    Crossed that bridge to the right in the morning and headed down the back way onto Route 118 and back to Chiang Mai. IIRC its the 1112. Nice way around the traffic.

    The food was good at the resort, but pricey. A Leo beer (large) at 170 baht was a sting - I buy them in shops at about 54 baht. Foot massage wasn't cheap either... but it was good. Breakfast was excellent and included in the price. Pretty much everyone else in the restaurant for brekkie was Chinese.

    Two minute review of the Suzuki V-Strom. This one is a 650 vee twin. There's a 1000 cc version, but I don't know if they have them for hire here. This was the only one in the shop when I went in.

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    I'm no fan of the beak school of fashion.... but at least you don't have to look at it while you're riding it

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    Likes to be revved

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    To overtake from there, I'd go back to 4th and go. About 135 kph and it's OK in 6th.

    Took it to 181 (112 mph) and the speedo was still climbing, but not rapidly. Redlining away from the lights cleared the mirrors. Had one nice drag, which the V-Strom won easily with some old two stroke Yammie with an expansion chamber on it. We had a cop car a couple back from us. No worries, of course.... but back home, that'd have seen both bikes confiscated for 3 months and some pretty severe licence implications.

    Bike is equipped with ABS. I didn't manage to rattle it into action, but when I did stir the bike along a bit, the brakes were damn good. Less so the handling. It wallowed in the sweepers a bit... but it was a pretty bumpy road and carrying a fair weight. It reminded my of my old Honda 750/4 in that respect. I guess some fiddling with the rear shock adjustment may have helped.... but I couldn't figure out how to get the dashboard set up right... let alone the suspension. Damn trip meter disappeared and it stuck on consumption figures (4.7 litres per 100 km on the outbound leg... managed to get that up to 5.0 on the way back).... and having no mileage indications didn't help with a GPS that was living in the pocket.

    Hit something very, very slippery yesterday in the mountains, as I mentioned the other day. I saw it, managed to get plumb upright and slid both wheels through it, doing about 85 kph at the time, but it recovered well once I was through it. Made me a bit wary for the rest of the trip to the Burma border and back. I mentioned that to Auke last night when I caught up with him for dinner.... and he told me exactly where it would have been. "Always oil spills there... about 4 km of road".

    Seat is diabolical for someone my height. Too low... and it puts pressure on the tailbone. 2 hour stints had me almost crippled at the end of them. Had to stand for a minute before I could get off the bike. Vibration isn't unpleasant or intrusive.

    Best feature of the bike... the mirrors. Would I buy one? Nah.... but I'd sure as hell recommend it for anyone who wants to ride road up in this area (as long as they aren't tall). I couldn't own one without having the seat re-made, which is easy up here. Get it done top class work for under $50.... or slightly less quality for a lot less $.
  3. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    .... and in other news, after I posted the above, I spent 5 minutes stitching this panorama together. It's the mountain range near Lak Xao, in Laos - shot from 500 metres up. Posted it to a Laos FB page.... one I haven't been banned from by expats with silly phobias... and got an immediate response from a guy who works at the Laos Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism... "please, can we use this in our promotional material?"

    Sure...

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    goodcat and OldPete like this.
  4. Salsa

    Salsa Been here awhile

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    What byline do you ask them to use -- The Bigfella ?

    Don
  5. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Ha ha, not sure they'd go for that one. They spotted it on FB, so they've got my name... which might not be a good thing, given some of the places we've been. Then again.... having some contacts may help in the future. I suspect that the only contacts that would really help would need to be in the military...
  6. AusStealth

    AusStealth Bohican

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    I have the 1000 version, complete with ABS and traction control. Seat height is a bit high for me with a 30" inside leg. Top speed upwards of 215 and for anything over 85-90 kph top gear is all thats needed.

    The haze and the inversion layer show quite clearly in that panorama.
  7. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    The 650 had ABS... haven't got a clue whether it had traction control... although I got the sense that the front wheel would have been coming up if it didn't. The extra grunt would make it very nice (and a seat to fit guys like me).

    Yeah, I 'de-hazed' each of the 5 shots separately in Lightroom before stitching it, which cut the close smoke out... but it's sure visible in the distance. There was a huge mis-match in exposures, from the one looking at the sun, to all the way in the other direction... and I just guessed at the levels. Worked OK, but I might try again today.

    Auke took a waypoint where we flew that time... I was more interested in making sure the snake I'd scared off as I got set up didn't come back.

    We flew at Wat Pae at N18.18815 E104.94054 a bit north of Rd. 8 just before Lak Xao
  8. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    The guys at Tiger Trails asked if they could use some of my drone footage for a video they were making on Khammouane Province in Laos. I've removed it from here in the short term until they officially release their video. Sorry folks
    OldPete likes this.
  9. AusStealth

    AusStealth Bohican

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    Working fine for me.

    EDIT: Getting a 'try again' error this morning.
  10. gperkins

    gperkins graeme

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    Hat off to you BigFella for humping around that drone. The results are really starting to come through though. :thumb
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  11. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I've edited that earlier post and removed the link. Sorry... but the guys haven't released it yet. I'll post it again later - when they've released it.
  12. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    I stumbled across a private message in my Youtube account... the BBC want to use some of the footage from our Cape York video. I've heard from 3 of the other 4 so far, so it looks like they'll get it. My view on these things is that the more people who see it, the more who will get out and enjoy it.

    Meanwhile, I'm at a "better" computer now - although the blue screen keeps making an appearance - and I will endeavour to process and upload some more footage ASAP.

    Here's the panorama that fits with the second photo from the stay at the Rim Kok Resort, above. 7 shots, after sunset.

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    and a couple of women from Phongsaly and nearby. The lady in gold runs a guesthouse in Phongsaly. We didn't stay there... the rooms were a bit grotty, but we ate there. Hmmm.... thinking about that for a minute, I'd rather eat where cleanliness features more. Oh well.

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  13. fire88dog

    fire88dog CaptainStache

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    Hope all is well there Bigfella, patiently waiting your return....:knary
  14. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    All's good thanks. Sorry for the delay. I've been getting things semi-organised and I'll update with photos soon.

    In the meantime... here's a new short video that covers the beaches that are being lost at Luang Prabang. There's going to be some upset locals over this issue. As the Xayaburi dam fills up, these beaches that only appear in the Mekong River at the height of the dry season will be covered... and never reappear. The locals hold festivals on the beaches, building sand stupas and the like... and it's wall to wall people at those times.



    We just thought that it was a lovely place to go down and relax at with a beer in our hand and our toes in the sand as the sun set. I posted some photos from there a couple of pages back, but here's some more.

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    It's nothing special along the shore... but walk out onto the sand, past where this guy's washing his truck... and it's great

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    I'll dig out some new photos from on the beach. I seem to recall a healthy young lady playing volleyball out there...
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  15. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Hmm - very healthy.

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    Her friend made me feel better about my weight

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    Speaking of which. Auke picked up my camera while I was flying the drone. The table was the launch pad, to keep sand out of the motors.

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    The kids were inquisitive, of course, so we gave them some chips

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    This young bloke was fascinated with the drone. The guy running the grog shop on the beach wanted to shoo him away... "he idiot" or something like that. The poor kid clearly wasn't operating with a full deck of cards, so we were nice to him, showed him how the drone worked, etc. I suspect life isn't easy for him.

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    We saw the sun set, then headed off to dinner with some friends who live in Luang Prabang.
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  16. River Rat

    River Rat Greybeard

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    G'day mate, great video of Luang Prabang beaches, you're not going to believe this (I can hardly believe it myself) but I was on that boat in the video on the 10th March on a sunset cruise, there were only 6 on the boat, four of us tourists plus guide and skipper, remember seeing the drone fly up and thinking WTF.....must be some locals with a bit more cash than average!!!
    Love your work, cheers, John
  17. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    John, that's pretty damn amazing eh? I'll dig the videos out - I may have some that show you but that I might have been embarrassed to put on air.... flying too close or whatever... if so, I'll put them on dropbox and send you the link. I'm just trying to get a proposal done... I've been sent a link to a short project over that way that's in my area of expertise, so I'm having a shot at actually getting paid for being there, for once.

    Meanwhile... some random photos.

    Oudomxay, northern Laos. We were staying in a hotel not far from here, but drove up to the Wat, given the amount of smoke in the air. The smoke had gotten so bad we'd abandoned our plans and were heading home. This was a restricted flying area - near an airport... so I just took the drone up a few metres above the stupa. They were preparing a wedding feast up here... which I've trimmed off - just a big marquee

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    Same day. There's a few things about this shot that I think are worth mentioning. The smoke. The state of the truck... we'd seen him coming the other way, with the wheel working loose. He'd stopped when I took the photo... and we'd turned around to warn him, but he woke up in time. The timber. Maybe coming from the protected area... ie, illegal logging. Maybe not, but the chances are

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    Washing is done... hanging out to dry... time for a rest and a natter. These minority tribe women are among the poorest of the poor in one of the world's poorest countries. Their clothing is probably (almost certainly) all donated - except for the sin the lady on the left is wearing (local name for the sarong style skirt is a sin)... and she's probably hand woven that herself. We took a truckload into Laos ourselves on this particular trip and Auke is back there again with another 3 bags at present.

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    This one's a friend's soaking tub... carved into a 6 ton block of stone. A lovely spot to sit back and look out as far as the Mekong.

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    ... got back to Chiang Mai and discovered my scoot has a new girlfriend

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  18. AusStealth

    AusStealth Bohican

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    "... got back to Chiang Mai and discovered my scoot has a new girlfriend"

    I hope you don't get tempted......
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  19. The Bigfella

    The Bigfella Big Adventurer

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    Me tempted? Never.

    Meanwhile.... here's two shots for River Rat - a couple of stills from that fly-over of his boat at Luang Prabang. I could see as I went through the video, that the woman sitting at the front of the boat took a photo of the drone.... but I was going too fast to get clear shots of the individuals.

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  20. River Rat

    River Rat Greybeard

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    Yep, that's me on the port side at the front (back to camera in the first shot), still can't get over how freaky that is.........