Vietnam-Laos-Thailand-Cambodia... On Minsks

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mullet5, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    Hopefully this won't be frowned upon, but this isn't a "live" ride report, we took this trip from 12/19/2009 to 1/10/2010. Between having 3 motorcycles and 12 cars that need constant attention, and being an Olympic level procrastinator, somehow I haven't managed to get around to writing this until now.

    My wife Larisa (Audigirl) and I, along with our friend Aivars, decided that we should go ride through South East Asia on motorcycles, but couldn't find very much useful info about doing it. There are companies that do guided tours, but none that crossed borders, and we wanted to see Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. There are companies that rent bikes (usually XR250s), but we were unsure if we would be able to cross borders with rented bikes. Would they want ownership papers? Would they take the bike from us and throw it in a river, thereby making the rental agency slightly annoyed with us?

    So we set off for Hanoi with no real plan except "Find motorcycle, ride far"

    We spent a day in the Old Quarter of Hanoi just wandering around, getting the lay of the land, and realizing what an awesome place we were in. It is amazing what a two wheeled culture this is; Everything is delivered on a bicycle or a scooter.

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ZD4TevNsoGEoeTeJ9fN4EA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWJu2PEOvI/AAAAAAAAIK4/cKloSmIcc6E/s800/IMG_5237.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/x9DXcdyEwXo1DakTZ7jfGA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWJvgfh2ZI/AAAAAAAAIK8/ThHiC5KM88E/s800/IMG_5238.JPG" /></a>

    This is not an uncommon sight
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/sLY7o_BUQayL0amZADWARA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWJw0WI2-I/AAAAAAAAILA/gKnMTrSltm0/s800/IMG_5240.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/CiLeuaFePvUfeSL1-W_qDw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWLOBTOskI/AAAAAAAAILI/zPyKQimj70s/s800/IMG_5258.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/CIKxYEK9-Mfrecinlc-0Ag?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWLrNjHWxI/AAAAAAAAILM/L5GasTsfvAc/s800/IMG_3958.JPG" /></a>

    Legends Beer, our favorite place to hang out. They have great food, $1 500mL beer, and a view of this uncontrolled six way intersection.

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/B1Xaw7i8fFCprh8yZCBOKw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWNb8s9xDI/AAAAAAAAILU/TYN-D2hlXos/s800/IMG_3982.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/bk_3418tPUCu4bWGMICYoA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWNu5dMdOI/AAAAAAAAILY/ISXaQJo-nIo/s800/IMG_3986.JPG" /></a>

    Left to right - Me (Grayson), Larisa, and Aivars
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/2O8wxBv-omXKeHwrosPXlA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWOag6zECI/AAAAAAAAILc/i3kQ_WbxR4s/s800/IMG_5265.JPG" /></a>

    We spent a lot of time at Legends, enjoying good beer and watching the crazy intersection. Here's just a few highlights...

    Need an awning delivered? Scooter!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/axLiA_M5X4LQB9hQzE8VcQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWPP-3SjbI/AAAAAAAAILk/hV6Fqzefzrs/s800/IMG_3987.JPG" /></a>

    Need flowers delivered? Bicycle!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/pNdBRnoWAQHRDB7rSVe3qg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWPUQT8OGI/AAAAAAAAILo/UJYKCxVoDGM/s800/IMG_3989.JPG" /></a>

    Need a small child delivered? Scooter!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Op0I3ysntPsoFZe7OomA2w?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWPYbexOPI/AAAAAAAAILs/C8o_PtK5Uqk/s800/IMG_3990.JPG" /></a>

    Need 18,000lbs of rice delivered? Scooter!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/osldo-BiMZme8fts1CQPcQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWPsgnKjPI/AAAAAAAAILw/d_GGxMaNIDE/s800/IMG_4000.JPG" /></a>

    Pictur frames? You guessed it!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Y4JreoAHla_xUwHky62p7A?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWSrHTEC_I/AAAAAAAAIMM/c_5Smvt5j28/s800/IMG_4023.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/DxnaVDsm0vqRQRJLzX_7yA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWSf2j7uhI/AAAAAAAAIMI/Bp9wG2O7jXw/s800/IMG_4020.JPG" /></a>

    Our first End Of Day photo. If you cant make it out, the sign says "SFO-TPE-HAN, Walked 6 miles around Hanoi. Tired."
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9bDikyAgi935RxbkPg57mg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIWTnGowBAI/AAAAAAAAIMU/_EHASST5lzI/s800/IMG_5290.JPG" /></a>
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    61,133
    We like live reports... Let's ride :thumb

    :lurk
    #2
  3. carmima

    carmima All Orange :-)

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    well at least they're wearing helmets now :huh

    Lookin forward to the rest :thumb
    #3
  4. Icecream

    Icecream Adventurer

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    May 15, 2006
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    on your mum
    Always love an Asia RR. Can't wait. :1drink
    #4
  5. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Bay Area, California
    So after a couple days of wandering around the Old Quarter, we found Mr. Cuong, the Minsk Master. He sold us three Minsks for $450 each, and the next day we were off.

    Unfortunately things were too hectic to take any pictures of the bikes when we picked them up, so the first pics are about 60 miles outside of the city, at our first coffee stop
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/7izpeWzFaJ03dHrKBrUCwg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZa1gFpPsI/AAAAAAAAIMg/Ir-ZvACXgkA/s800/IMG_5597.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/G8ew85FhdpwFi50C5akiow?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZa6GgfLHI/AAAAAAAAIMk/1xefspKoDU0/s800/IMG_5598.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/m2Tc1zmI55_hkF2iHvlIgw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZbIF1Il7I/AAAAAAAAIM0/U1ThkK9KOqM/s800/IMG_5601.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/RHzHrBh5DzaiEZC3CEVhLQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZcykCy99I/AAAAAAAAINE/6B1ihNw1MwI/s800/IMG_5611.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/XAWmV-uoD1m8qkuiNfYHLQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZc0FN_DII/AAAAAAAAINI/FsITiyaU0B8/s800/IMG_5608.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IPriJFvjidPSd4AIYOVNMg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZc2CpgFTI/AAAAAAAAINM/8v3ty5g9bZg/s800/IMG_5609.JPG" /></a>


    Parked at our hotel, we covered 190km that day.
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/LPa_OkQtAb4eFIDeaokaeA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZeYiY42qI/AAAAAAAAINc/Vy-Ebcx3l1U/s800/IMG_5612.JPG" /></a>

    indoor parking!
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/eL7bdCjVmv2Hy_rE6i0dZw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZeVmK9biI/AAAAAAAAINU/ta-og8bGAo4/s800/IMG_5613.JPG" /></a>

    190km, Hanoi - Tanh Hoa
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/oI_x7zrqgTTvlB7IjfGbMQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIZeW_BjuOI/AAAAAAAAINY/DSdKapxHjsQ/s800/IMG_5620.JPG" /></a>
    #5
  6. pfdavidz

    pfdavidz Been here awhile

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    this is the exact report i was looking for! im planning on doing the same trip.

    where is the rest???? come onnnnnn
    #6
  7. mcc66

    mcc66 Been here awhile

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    Location:
    forrestfield, western australia
    :lurk

    Look forward to reading more. Enjoy reading Asian ride reports. Thanks for sharing
    :thumb

    mcc66
    Michael
    #7
  8. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    I'll try to do at least one installment a day. Pfdavidz, how soon are you planning on doing this trip?
    #8
  9. pfdavidz

    pfdavidz Been here awhile

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    im planning on doing this in about a year or so. BUT I WOULD LOVE TO READ THE WHOLE REPORT - LIKE RIGHT NOW!!!!!! just kidding. i ll be following your report so you will definitely hear from me
    #9
  10. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Location, Location.
    What he said
    #10
  11. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    I didn't mention in my last post that Tanh Hoa (the city we stopped in the first night) sucks. Wide streets, big grey box shaped cement buildings. Hard to find anything to eat. After walking around for the better part of an hour, we found a restaurant that looked half way decent. This was the first encounter with what we began to call "Hammered Chicken". I don't think we have any pictures of this dish, but we ended up getting it A LOT (many restaurants don't have a selection, they just make one thing, and that's all you get).

    Here is how I think Hammered Chicken is made:
    1. Do not feed your chicken, because feeding it will put meat on its bones.
    2. When your chicken dies of hunger, pluck it and clean it.
    3. Once done plucking and cleaning the chicken, chop it into small pieces using a dull hatchet. Don't forget the feet!
    4. Lightly fry.

    So basically what you get is a plate of chicken bones with teeny little pieces of meat clinging to them, and it's your job to extract the meat somehow. I think it was so much work that it turned out to be a negative calorie food.

    So after this lovely meal we decided to find a grocery store to get some chips or something. We found one on the 3rd story of a department store... strange.

    I don't think very many tourists come through this town, because while we were walking around the store, we were drawing crowds. People following us, waving to us, taking pictures of us. All of it was super friendly, just unusual. You couldn't feel more out of place if you were an NBA player in Loompaland
    #11
  12. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    This is when things started to get really cool. We were getting comfortable with the bikes, the Chatterboxes, and the roads. As soon as we were out of Tanh Hoa we were on these great meandering roads through rice paddies and over small hills. Great pavement everywhere. I kept thinking about how much I would love to be here on my '75 XS650 or one of my cars.

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/BBz_HNsFVNiW7AabdJlNJw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6SJr1teI/AAAAAAAAIR8/Y0kKqMyZ_Z4/s800/IMG_5638.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/lyJx3klYMXccuz2FJsv6_w?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6TOglcNI/AAAAAAAAISA/yBRYGGifUm0/s800/IMG_5641.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/uHCHHxNJgKs0RUaPnEJNWA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh3.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6T4zz3pI/AAAAAAAAISE/mV9ktx520yE/s800/IMG_5644.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5HdXJYfGcdeLxx1Sv4Y0kA?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6US6ueeI/AAAAAAAAISI/hhIfm_cOIlg/s800/IMG_5646.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gV8wglc4qPBWnKph5IPqpw?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6VfUKdTI/AAAAAAAAISM/4UEv-q9oll0/s800/IMG_4134.JPG" /></a>

    Stopping for a Clif bar and some water.
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/igbd5e3ufGpxBHI3RkioSQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh6.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6W0M-YLI/AAAAAAAAISQ/uY7uWSnMCoc/s800/IMG_5662.JPG" /></a>

    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/1k2Rbel_W7KlYqO1KPw8Bg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6aOtnYqI/AAAAAAAAISY/HTyQoTUwQ94/s800/IMG_5665.JPG" /></a>

    This was the day we realized how easily the Minsks fall over. The two feet of the center stand are about two inches apart, so if you even look at the thing wrong it'll fall down. Same goes for the side stand, which you can probably see in the above picture does not rake forward at all, so the slightest push on the bike from behind and it all goes toppling over.

    We landed in a little town called Con Cuong. Found a great little hotel, and when the owner saw our passports he said "ohh, America, very good. Hockey, Obama, Hockey!" I didn't know we were such Hockey fanatics in America.

    This is the view out of our little hotel room window
    <a href="http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ZyZRHa96RlI13pOXOIhhrg?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_QMRLyAEclGA/TIj6aZb-qyI/AAAAAAAAISc/YBcOd9QvOeg/s800/IMG_4141.JPG" /></a>

    Running out of time, have to leave for work. I'll do more soon!
    #12
  13. Suqsuda

    Suqsuda Secret Sharer

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    Seattle, WA
    :clap
    #13
  14. Indochine

    Indochine 'Bikes are OK, but . . .

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
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    356
    Location:
    Bangkok
    Americans? Canadians? All same same :lol3 to Viet, I guess.

    OK, I'm subscribed. Love VN trips and especially food. Lots of food shots, please, and see if you can show us the "hammered chicken".

    Will be doing similar trip in coming year. Ride on, brothers and sister.
    #14
  15. Josh69

    Josh69 Uhhh

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
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    Location:
    Euroland
    Great Minsks :)

    :clap:clap:clap
    #15
  16. RunningBare

    RunningBare Been here awhile

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    Keep it coming! I love VN, I was at that same intersection 15 years ago and a guy was walking across the centre of it and found some shoes so he sat down and tried them on for about 10 minutes, everybody just went around him, nobody blinked an eye, must have decided didn't like em, threw 'em away and walked off. Love the live and let live culture.
    #16
  17. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    Bay Area, California

    If you are into the food aspect of the report, stay tuned for my next update, it's all about food. Hopefully I'll have time this evening...
    #17
  18. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

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    That night in Con Cuong after we stopped riding for the day. We checked into our hotel, got cleaned up, started charging our Chatterboxes (which by this point had already started to get a bit annoying, batteries not lasting a full day even with minimal use, etc.), and wandered out of the hotel to find somewhere to eat. It was dark by the time we got out.

    Larisa snapped this photo while we were walking
    [​IMG]

    In rural Vietnam, it seems that most restaurants really only have one kind of meat. Beef and Chicken are the two main ones. The sign in front of the restaurant will say Pho Ba (Ba being beef) or Pho whateverthewordisforchicken.

    We only got a few buildings down the street before this older lady started gesturing for us to come in to her restaurant. We didn't recognize any of the words on the sign, but she was quite insistent, and after our problems finding food the night before, we figured we should probably just go for it. We went inside with her, and she sat us down in little plastic chairs at a little plastic table. This was pretty common, kindergarten furniture seems to be the norm for most restaurants and coffee shops. After a week of this I began to have an overwhelming urge to draw with Crayons.

    The building itself was cement with a flat tin roof, no windows, just a sliding garage door at the front where we had come in. The woman and her daughter began preparing food for us; the "kitchen" was right across the room from us, maybe 15 feet away. It consisted of a large prep table, a shelf, and one burner.

    [​IMG]

    The first thing she brought us was a big plate of sausage. After a few days of noodles, rice, and hammered chicken, Aivars and I were feeling a bit malnourished, so we dug in. It was dark colored ground meat, a bit strange and grainy, but not bad.

    [​IMG]

    Larisa, being some sort of a vegetarian, just watched us and waited for something else to come along. "What kind of meat is in that?" she asked. "Don't know, just glad to have meat"

    At some point we noticed an older guy, sitting at the back of the room on a kindergarten chair, sort of facing a wall. He was blind, and he was talking to himself, then he would explode with laughter at whatever hilarious thing he just said. Over and over, talk for a few minutes, then BAAHAHAHAHAHAA!

    Then came the most amazing lemon grass soup, warm noodles, cold noodles, rice, salad, and at least one more plate of sausage. All of it was delicious, and our host seemed ecstatic to have the Big Strange White Folks in her place. Whenever she wasn't cooking she would come over and sit with us and show us how to eat certain items. I'm sure we were a train wreck, like watching someone try to eat a cheeseburger with one chopstick and a spoon.

    When we finally convinced her to stop bringing us food, she rounded up everybody in the building so we could do a group photo.

    [​IMG]
    From left to right: Blind dude, the chef, Larisa, me, chef's daughter, daughter's boyfriend, and Aivars.

    Then she ran into the back room, and came back out holding this picture, and wanted us to take a picture of her holding it. Not sure why...
    [​IMG]

    After this she got Larisa to follow her into the back room somewhere. While they were gone, Aivars and I decided to try to translate the sign out in front, which we could see from where we were sitting. The biggest word on the sign was "Dog". Oh, that's what that sausage was...

    Right about the time we figured that out, they both came back out, in dresses!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. If anybody is going to ride through that area, let me know, I would love to have someone bring her these pictures.
    #18
  19. Icecream

    Icecream Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
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    Location:
    on your mum
    "The biggest word on the sign was "Dog". Oh, that's what that sausage was..."

    :puke2
    #19
  20. Mullet5

    Mullet5 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Bay Area, California
    Sorry for the long delay...

    The next morning we headed out on foot to find some breakfast.

    I just think this is a cool shot
    [​IMG]

    We came across this lady just around the corner from our hotel. I got a sandwich with a bunch of delicious unidentifiable things in it, and Aivars and Larisa got delicious unidentifiable things over rice.
    [​IMG]

    At this point in our trip, we were far enough off of the beaten path that we were something of an oddity to the locals. I don't think many of us White Devils wander through this town. In the time it took the lady to assemble our Delicious Unidentifiables, a small crowd started to gather. Everyone wanted to have their chance to smile, wave, and say "Hello!". They are very fond of "Hello!"; at least half of the people we came across seemed delighted to show us their best "Hello!"

    Larisa pointed the camera over her shoulder and snapped this
    [​IMG]

    Then on the way back to the hotel we stopped by this lady's stand to buy three bananas, but accidentally bought the whole bunch. Oh well, the whole thing was something like 30 cents. We ate a lot of bananas that day.
    [​IMG]

    Aivars and his breakfast stuff. It was some kind of chicken pate? with crushed peanuts? The most confusing part was some kind of garnish that was kind of a beige fuzzy stuff that was a little spicy. Maybe it was shredded ginger? If I had to describe it, I would say it looked like the pubic hair from a Swedish hamster.
    [​IMG]
    Anybody have any ideas?

    Left to right: Aivars (making a mental note to find smarter friends), our half of a banana tree, and me, showing off my impeccable manners.
    [​IMG]

    Out on the road, it was a great day for riding. Warm weather, great meandering road that followed a river, gradually gaining elevation all the time.

    [​IMG]

    We stopped to enjoy a couple knock-off Red Bulls.
    <table style="width: auto;"><tbody><tr><td>[​IMG]</td></tr><tr><td style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: right;">From For advrider</td></tr></tbody></table>

    <table style="width: auto;"><tbody><tr><td>[​IMG]</td></tr><tr><td style="font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 11px; text-align: right;">From For advrider</td></tr></tbody></table>

    [​IMG]

    Wow... It's almost 1 in the morning and I'm only half way through this post. I'll finish this one tomorrow because this turned out to be quite a day, I have much more to write.
    #20