Learning to ride a motorcycle up in the northern Golden Triangle region of Thailand was something my Dad set up for me in the Easter holidays. The aim was for me to get trained up for us to tour Laos in August on Honda XRs, all the way to the Vietnam border and on to the secret headquarters of the Pathet Lao. I had been to Laos & Cambodia before, riding pillion on the back of Dad's GS last year. But this time I would be riding my own bike! But back to training, I had Thai Enduro ace Khun Nop training me on his training course outside Chiang Mai. I stared out on his ratscoot but it wasn't long before I graduated to the Honda XR which was going to be my ride for the rest of my time in South East Asia. though it wasn't until the second day that I finally got some "air"! On the third day we went up the dirt track to Doi Suthep Mountain above the city of Chiang Mai. This was great hair-raising fun, especially the very steep sections - I didn’t think I would make it up to the top as the deep ruts sometimes didn’t give you much of an option, barely inches from the edge. Terrifying but incredibly exhilarating at the same time. But Nop had taken all the indicators and headlight off the XR making it cheaper to crash. Apparently, I still bent the handlebars and broke both brake & clutch levers – 500bht – cheers Dad! April is the hottest month in Thailand and understandably the time the Thais celebrate Songkhran the water festival celebrating the lunar new year. In Chiang Mai they stretch a one-day holiday into seven days of water splashing mayhem. No one is immune no matter how cute We had to adjust our riding accordingly - it is safer to pull up and be drenched than trying to continue through a wall of water. Some of it had blocks of ice! After three days riding mostly way out of town on dirt tracks I knew I had been bitten by the biking bug and was only too keen to come back. As they say in Amazing Thailand anything is possible. But protection is necessary and Dad insisted in ATGATT. So when I returned in August the emphasis this time was on road work as our time in Laos would be primrilly riding on tarmac but on narrow roads. So Dad had arranged another 3 days of XR riding with Khun Nop. On the first Day we headed out towards the stadium, where Nop put me through slow control exercises. Riding fast on the roads, on the whole, presented little problem; but controlling the throttle in conjunction with the clutch, I was finding, determines your ability to ride slow & steady - whilst hopefully keeping the bike under control. Nop, as you can see, demonstrated his one-sided riding technique. Very Cooool! After a morning of skills, we headed out to Houai Kao Lake, where we had lunch at the lakeside with fried chicken & rice. Meanwhile a brief shower came down. Biking in Thailand, especially during the rainy seasons, can be a soggy affair. But it never gets cold so it is not a real problem, providing you take account of the sometimes slick surfaces. Back on up the hill, hanging a right, along a scenic side road, which I was told would be similar to the roads I would be riding in Laos. Eventually we reached the top where we took a dirt road through the Hmong hill-tribe villages. We had to be careful of oncoming traffic as the road was barely a car’s width wide. The next two Days Nop and I went out together. We rode the Samoeng Loop in its entirety and did a lot of traffic work in Chiang Mai, culminating in ten circuits of the moat. In the evening we would meet the other GT Riders www.gt-rider.com including David Unkovich who set it up, and Beamer Boy back from his epic China trip. All of them helped my dad in putting my trip together. By now I had clocked up some 700 kms of riding in the north and Nop declared me ready for the next part of my adventure. Next stop Laos!