JackLs Thailand/Cambodia Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JackL, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    A brief background & then on with the pictures.
    In the spring of 2005 I took a volutary layoff from the game company I was working at because of diferences with my managers. They pictured themselves as decent managers & good people & I pictured them as elephant like buffoons.

    After a few months of hanging around partying to much & living off the government dole I tracked down a buddy who I thought was in India, hoping to hook up with him & ride a few months. It turned out he was back in the US & even in Seattle. So I loaned him my house & took off for where he had been: Thailand.

    I arrived in Bangkok with a few thousand bucks in my account & a vague idea of buying a bike & riding up north to the Chiang Mai area. I found a great old place on Sukhumvit Road, Hotel Atlanta.
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    I met up with a friend of a friend, Jon,
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    & he showed me the sites, like Soi Cowboy,
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    After a few days in Bangkok & way too many hangovers it was time to head north. I had determinded that it would be easier & cheaper to buy a bike in Chang Mai where I wouldn't have to worry about registration paperwork.
    I first caught a train to Ayutthaya, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayutthaya_%28city%29) a previous capital of Thailand. I stayed just across the river from the train station at Tony's Guest House.
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    The first night I just wandered out from the guest house
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    The next day I got up & rented a bike for the day ($1.30). Much of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage site, like the Giant Budha
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    Here's me checking out the sites.
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    It's also famous for the Reclining Budha
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    and other UNESCO areas
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    Ayutthaya sites on an island in the convluence of a couple rivers & there are only two bridges in or out of it, but many ferry crossings & boats.
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    and of course, the locals
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    at the bar
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    Next, by overnight train to Chiang Mai.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,658
    Great pics :thumb

    :lurk
    #2
  3. The Fist

    The Fist Knulp

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
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    Location:
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    ....must go to thailand.....

    :lurk
    #3
  4. Bgunn

    Bgunn Mucha distancia

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Rockford Wa
    Must go back to Thailand.....:freaky :lurk
    #4
  5. Thumpercrazee

    Thumpercrazee Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Nice pics! Great report. Waiting for more....

    Thanks for sharing

    TC:D
    #5
  6. MK96xj

    MK96xj 100% Seat Time

    Joined:
    May 6, 2007
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    Asheville NC
    $1.30 TO RENT A BIKE? Is that a bicycle or motorcycle?:huh
    #6
  7. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    That's a bicycle. Scooters were a little more, but not much.

    JackL.
    #7
  8. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
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    Location:
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    I caught the night train to Chiang Mai. In the morning, before arriving, I met David & Curt, 2 Americans that were headed to Chiang Mai as well. We all ended up staying at the guest house of a friends friend, John. Jonadda Guesthouse (http://www.geocities.com/jonadda2002/JONADDA.html) I highly recommend it if you're in Chiang Mai. John is an old sidecar racer from Australia.
    I was still looking for a motorcycle so rented a scooter to get about for a couple days. Led David & Curt on a ride out west of Chiang Mai on the Sameong Loop.
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    After a couple of days I finally found the bike I liked, a 1995 Honda Baja 250 for $600US.
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    Did some great rides around the area & met some of the locals & other travellers including an American & French girl. They were heading out on a jeep trip up north & then crossing into Burma (Myanmar) to renew their visas, so I went along as their driver since neither had driven on the left side of the road before.
    We headed north out of Chiang Mai & through Fang
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    and spent the night in Mai Salong, a town mostly inhabited by Kuomintang Chinese refugees. Here is the local outhouse.
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    Not sure why there are giant sperm on the side.

    Interesting town.
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    Checked out a tea house.
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    Here's the girls.
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    This picture is funny if you know the Thai slang for hot white foreign (farang) women is Chicken.

    It's strange the things you see driving along in Thailand.[​IMG]

    On our return to CHiang Mai I snapped this pic because I thought the sign captured the stereotypical western kids you see everywhere.
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    The bike needed a little work. After new brake pads, tires, filters & the correct plug it was in great shape. I learned from John of Jonadda that there were many great loop rides out from Chiang Mai so set off on the Mai Hong Son Loop.
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    I've always wanted one of these.
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    The royal family.
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    My first stop was in Pai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pai%2C_Thailand) where I stayed in a great old wood guest house right on the river, the Bwan Tawan. I'm not sure if it is still there because much of the town was washed away by floods a few months after I was there.
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    Checked out the local temple up on the hill over looking the town.
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    It had these crazy murals of Hell on the wall.
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    The national footwear of Thailand, & most of SE Asia, is the flip flop. My footwear always stuck out.
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    I did some exploring in the area on the bike. Just taking off on random roads & seeing what I could find.
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    You could take these guided treks up into the hills to meet the Hill people but with a map & a bike you could get there on your own.
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    I took a break at a little mountain village. Just cooling off, having a drink & talking to the locals. A big tour group hiked into his place where they had told the trekkers you could only get on foot. They weren't very happy to see a white guy on a big motorcycle sitting there.
    After some relaxing days & crazy nights partying with Ben, your stereotypical blonde haired, ponytailed, blue eyed Aussie, who was a dwarf, I headed on my way.
    One quick aside here. While talking to a guy who was working at a streetside bar we realized that not only had he been to my neighborhood in Seattle, he'd been in my tenents house next to mine. I had already run into a bartender I knew form Seattle a number of times in Chiang Mai. It's a small world.

    Next it was further up into the mountains to Soppong & the Cave Lodge Guest House (http://www.cavelodge.com). Also owned by a John who is the friend of a friend. Did a river rafting trip there down this river & through a 200m cave.
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    These kids lived just down the road. One had good taste in eye wear.
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    Did some amazing riding out in the mountains towards Burma in some of the slipperiest red clay mud I've ever entountered.
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    I eventually moved on to Mai Hung Son.
    I'm not sure how welcome this sign made me feel.
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    Beautiful city though.
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    I didn't take many pictures on the rest of the loop back. It was a bit cold & rainy up in the mountains. Here's a final gas stop before Chiang Mai.
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    These places had mostly hand crank pumps.

    My girlfriend flew in from the states to see & ride with me. Here she is with my Thai buddy Aeh (pronounced Aye). He owned a restaurant, the Hug, & had been a famous professional Takraw player (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takraw).
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    She arrived on July 4th so we went to a very surreal Fourth of July celebration at the American consulate. Complete with a Thai Elvis impersonator.
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    We then put on a 4th of July Beach Party at the Heaven Beach bar. It's amazing the things you'll agree to do when you're drunk in a foreign country.
    Jessica, the girlfriend, rented a 225cc Yamaha Sarrow & we set off on the Nan loop, heading east of Chiang Mai out near Laos.
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    The first day we stopped at one of Thailands many waterfalls to cool off.
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    Then made our first destination, Phyao, where my buddy had taught English. Nothing like ending a long hot day riding with a cold beer.
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    on a lake
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    at an outdoor restaurant in Thailand.
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    Aeh had arranged for us to meet his friend Jug, who lives in Phyao, owns some organic farms, & is running for the area legistalator. He insisted we stay at his families home.
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    Of course Thai hospitality insisted we take his room.
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    Later, after dinner, we met all the neighbors & his family, including his mother who taught Jess & I how to make thread from one of the local plants, while telling us stories of what life was like under the Japanese occupation.
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    The next day we packed up & headed on to Nan where we stayed at the Amazing Guest House (http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/thailand/northern_thailand/nan/nan/all/486) which was.
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    Next we headed out through the countryside
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    and up into the highlands.
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    We had intended to stay in Chiang Kham but it didn't offer much. So after a late lunch, which turned out to be at the restaurant/home of a fomer Thai motocross champion, we set out again. We had one of those perfect rides that occasionally occur, at twilight as the day cools & the sun sets where you do 100 km & never have to slow down when passing a truck or tractor. When all the Thai families are out & talking to neighbors or family. When the light is just right & the bugs aren't splattering your goggles.
    We arrived at Bamboo Guest house, owned by Aehs friend Jib, in time for sunset over Laos on the Mekong river.
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    #8
  9. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    This was one of the best guest houses in Thailand in a town that few tourists get to. (http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/thailand/northern_thailand/chiang_rai/chiang_khong/all/1765)
    Our room:
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    The view from our room:
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    and the obligatory breakfast shot:
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    The also serve the best Mexican food you'll find in Thailand (unfortunately no Margaritas though).

    We set out to find a waterfall, but never did. We did get in some good dirt riding though.
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    On our return to town we passed this.
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    We went back & met them. A classic biker gang from Chiang Rai. Spent a bit of time having a drink with them. Then we played tourist & took a boat trip up the Mekong.
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    Our Sam Pan pilot, Odd (yes, that was his Americanized name).
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    The nice thing about a trip like this in a place like Thailand (as opposed to the US) is you can have a beer.
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    and bring your own lunch to have a picnic on an island.
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    The best thing is that if you give your pilot a beer he lets you take over & pilot home.
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    In the next e-mail to my friends it was great to say "I spent my Saturday piloting a Sam Pan down the Mekong. What did you do?"

    That night we wandered down the river & partied with the Chiang Rai bikers.
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    The scary thing about this picture (& Thailand in general) is 3 people in it are male.

    Ah, the devil Thai Rum, Samsong
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    Next it was off north towards the Golden Triangle. We stopped at a local bazar.
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    It was a bit bizarre.
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    Passed some monochrome dragons.
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    and reached the Golden Triangle.
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    where Thailand, Laos, & Burma meet. They are all visible in this photo.

    Then on to Mai Sai.
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    We finally ended the day back in Mai Salong where I'd been on the jeep trip. We stayed at the same guest house, Shinsane, but got a bungalo.
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    The next morning we left through the dining area.
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    We stopped at some caves on the way. This reminds me of a line from the song One Night in Bangkok.
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    Back in Chiang Mai we took one more ride before Jessica headed back to the states. We headed west up the hill towards Doi Suthep & followed directions to the 'hidden temple'.
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    We also caught Aeh & his friends playing Takraw.
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    I spent the next while partying too much in Chiang Mai, watching MotoGP at a local bar, and recovering from a cold. At almost 60 days in country I headed up to Burma so I could get a 30 day visa. I took a different route & passed through Mai Sun.
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    Then went on up to Chiang Rai for a few days with a quick up & back to the border. Found this cop stand.
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    After returning to Chiang Mai I did a bit of riding out to the east.
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    Encountered a road hazard, Thai style.
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    And other strange sites.
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    Dragons, American Indians, & busts of dead presidents.

    Finally, after 50 days in Chiang Mai I left my bike with John to sell (got a bit over $400 for it) & flew back to Bangkok.
    I checked out the palace area.
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    Next, by tuk tuk, Metro, riverboat & train I travelled to Kanchanaburi in western Thailand. I stayed at:
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    The front left corner is where my room was.
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    And my view on the way there.
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    The first night I met the proprietors of The Ant Bar just down the street & spent most of my nights there.
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    But what makes Kanchanaburi famous is the bridge.
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    It is the Bridge on the River Kwai.

    Built as part of the Japanese railroad into Burma during WW II the whole length is known as the Death Railway because of the number of Allied POWs & slave laborers who died building it.
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    I rented a scooter & headed out west following the railway. As I wouned around roads following it I ran across these guys.
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    and shared their Whisky for breakfast.

    I continued west into the mountains.
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    This terrain made me think that at any moment King Kong would come climbing around one of the peaks.
    I toured a very good Death Railway museum which I highly recommend if you ever get to the area.

    From here I returned to Bangkok & then took 'The Worst Road in the World' to Cambodia. Ankor Wat, Phnom Penn, & the south will have to wait until next week though.
    #9
  10. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    A few hours from Thialand you reach the Cambodian border.
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    Where the money changers rip you off & then you get on a bus for a 14 hour journey on the worst road in the world'. I'd heard stories about this road from my father & others. I later talked to a rider from Wales who had ridden all the way to Cambodia & he said this was the worst one the entire trip. Another biker from Libya said it was 2nd only to one in Libya.
    Finally, after 19 hours on buses, mostly standing up, & one breakdown, in the dark, where I was the only person on the bus with a flashlight, after we finally reached pavement, we made it to Siam Reap.
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    The only reason this town exists is because it's the staging area to see the Ankor Wat temples.
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    While wandering around Ta Prohm temple
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    there was a tremendous thunderstorm so I hid out with some of the workers, under their tarp, who took the opportunity to take a shower, wash clothes, & play a game.
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    Then more of the temples
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    I had hired a guy from the guest house to run me around to all the temples. They are quite spread out but you could easily get there by just renting a scooter or even bicycling.
    My "guide".
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    Local kid.
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    By now my bargaining skills were becoming pretty good so when they tried to sell me a baby girl for $100.
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    I was able to get them to the point they were going to give me the girl and $100. Of course I couldn't get a baby back into the US so I had to decline.
    So more of Angkor Wats locals.
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    And temples.
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    I saw this column of ants coming out of a temple wall so I followed them up, around, down, & back into another crack about 100m away. Never seen anything like it.
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    Finally the last temple, of the Queen.
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    From Siem Reap I caught a riverboat to Phnom Penn. I wanted to go there because I had taken UN troops in from Indonesia in 1995, while in the Air Force, to monitor their first democratic elections.
    It was a much more modern boat than I expected.
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    We first cruised along through the Floating Village.
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    Then past one of the old riverboats.
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    We arrived in Phnom Penn & I had a guy on a scooter waiting to take me to the Green River Guest House.
    The view from the GR GH over the lake.
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    I thought this would be an interesting government agency to work for.
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    Maybe we should start one in the US. We have enough Cult & Religions.

    Phnom Penn is a beautiful
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    and interesting city.
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    It's also the only place I've had someone on the street offer to sell me Hashish, Marijuana, Heroin, & then a sandwich. Odd.

    After 5 days in Phnom Penn it was time to head south to Kampot. Took another bus and got a flat on the way.
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    A quick repair while we ate lunch & we were on the way.

    Kampot was a colonial French town which was hit pretty hard in the Khymer Rouge - Vietnamese war.
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    I met one ADV rider there. Oliver, a French kid that had bought a Russian Minsk in Vietnam, grabbed a helmet, & hit the roads of SE Asia.
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    I also met some British expat bikers, especially Christian who owned the Rusty Keyhole & had a nice new Yamaha 450.

    Above Kampot on a huge mountain is an old French hotel & casino called Bokor. My intention was to rent a motorcycle & ride up there but everyone in Kampot I talked to about it said the roads were too bad & you had to go by 4WD. I signed up on a tour & the people who told me about the roads were obviously not ADVrider quality. They would have been a piece of cake.
    Anyway, our first stop was a waterfall.
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    We had a really crappy lunch of rice & chicken feet.
    Then, as the clouds closed in, an old church.
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    And then the Hotel/Casino of Bokor.
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    In this last shot you can actually see the clouds blowing through.

    As we began our trip home we encountered a roadblock.
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    Fortunately there were a number of us & after about an hour taking turns with a dull hatchet we cut our way through & returned to Kampot.
    #10
  11. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,410
    Location:
    Great White North
    Great adventure, complete with some Rhum:thumb

    DW
    #11
  12. lashmoove77

    lashmoove77 n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Philly, PA for now
    Awesome pics and even better story to tell....I wish I could go on an experience like this.

    Did you ever run into any problems with the authorities? Did they ever try to take advantage of you as a tourist?
    #12
  13. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

    Joined:
    May 17, 2004
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    3,938
    Location:
    Rotoiti, North Is, New Zealand
    Very Cool! Gotta do that sometime. It looks like a cheap moto-holiday, especially from this side of the planet. How do you get on language wise while touring round in the hills there?

    Cheers
    Clint
    #13
  14. AJ..

    AJ.. Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,724
    Location:
    Singapore
    very nice...close but yet faraway...:freaky
    #14
  15. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    No, no problems with the authorities. I'd heard lots of stories about crooked cops but all the ones I met were nice. There were a lot of checkpoints in Thailand & the cops would be eyballing me as I approached but as soon as they say I was a whie guy they'd wave me on through. One even held up a line of trucks so I could go around them & take off. He gave me the universal 'give it throttle' sign.

    JackL
    #15
  16. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    Ah yes, Rum. In case you're wondering where my screen name & nickname came from this is from last Halloween.

    JackL

    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
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    Location:
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    Yeah, I arrived in Thailand with $3400, bought the bike, put a couple hundred into it, & lived very well for 2 1/2 months & still had money when I returned to the states.
    The most expensive thing there is beer & liquor. There were times that a cocktail would cost me as much as my guest house for the night. The secret is to buy your booze at a grocery store & take it with you to the bars.

    JackL
    #17
  18. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    435
    Location:
    Colorado
    One more shot of us clearing the tree out of the road on the way down from Bokor.
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    The next morning it was up and out. Had to wait with a bunch of the locals for a driver heading our way. No buses or public transportaion down here.
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    The next stop was Sihanoukville, on the Cambodian coast. I stayed at Apsara Occhueteal Beach guest house. I wouldn't recommend it. I spent a lot of time in the Victory Beach area.
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    At the Rusty Keyhole in Bokor I met the owner, Christian. While discussing bikes & AC/DC he told me to look up his buddy who owned the Angkor Arms in Sihanoukville.
    I hung out there long enough watching AC/DC Live at Donnington Park & similar videos & drinking beer that the owner decided he was going to show me around the area. So the next day I rented a 250cc Yamaha & we took off around the countryside.
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    We snuck in the back trails to this waterfall
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    After a few hours he had to head back but gave me directions on where to go & I headed out to see the country. I found this big fishing villiage on the coast.
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    I spent a few more days in town, just bumming around on the beaches during the day & hanging out at a great bar I found the first night, The Endless Summer. It's owned by Chad an ex-LA surfer. The first night there we watched a documentary called Riding Giants about the first guys that road big waves back in the 60s. The next night one of those guys was sitting there at the bar with me. I forget his name but if you ever see it he's the first guy to ride the big waves at North Shore in HI. He looks like a slightly chubby, balding business man now.
    Finally it was back to Bangkok. You can take a boat back to Thailand but I get a bit seasick & had been drinking too much so I took the bus. What with really bad roads where we got stuck in the mud, ferry crossings,
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    extortion by the Thai truck drivers at the border & the connecting bus being full it took us 24 hours to go the 600-odd km to Bangkok.
    Then, with one birthday party for my friend Jon it was back to America.

    The Thai food just isn't as good here. I can't wait to go back to the Land of A Thousand Smiles.

    Jack Lowry
    #18
  19. Damir

    Damir AKA Pudla

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
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    379
    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Cool! :clap:thumb
    #19
  20. pikipiki

    pikipiki next!

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    65
    Location:
    Kenya
    Most excellent. Thanks for sharing.
    #20