Around SE Asia in 80 days - my next Edventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by flyingdutchman177, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    It was our one month anniversary. So we made a delicious pasta dinner at home. And I found this very special bottle of wine on the island - a Grand Reserva Rioja.
    We lit some candles and had a very nice, romantic evening together.........UNTIL.......
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    I spoiled the evening by eating too much of the home made guacamole too fast. Orsi didn't get her share and called me out on it. Lesson learned - don't get between this girl and her avocados.

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  2. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Hiking up the tallest mountain (hill) on the island. It was a real Butt kicker. It climbed a steep slope thru the dense jungle.

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    The view was nice but nearly as nice as the view from our deck of our abandoned bungalow.

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    It's about 2000 feet above see level

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    Making a splash here on Koh Phangan

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  3. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Our time in our little bungalow in the jungle on Phangan was coming to an end. We had to pack up, move out from our home and say Goodbye to Puppy.

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    We spent our last night together in Bangkok. Orsi was flying out the next day to return to Hungary and I was riding my bike back to Chiang Mai. I was leaving just a couple of days later to return to Southern California to figure out and plan my next move.
    In Bangkok, it was Songkran - it is the water throwing festival. The people take to the streets and throw at each other. It is fun for a while but it becomes sort of annoying when you want to be done playing and people continue to throw water on you - both day or night.
    This photo was taken on our last night together in an Indian restaurant in downtown Bangkok.

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  4. lqgsrider

    lqgsrider Been here awhile

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    safe travels
  5. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    How is this for a crazy story......and it all takes place right here in the US. But it set the tone for my 3 months in Thailand.
    I didn't want to reveal this story until I was safely back in the US for reasons that will become obvious.

    Just before I left the country in November of 2012 on my BMW, I stopped by the DMV office to inform them that I was taking the bike out of the country for an extended period of time. I wanted to register the bike on Non Op so I wouldn't be billed for the registration. I also didn't have a US mailing address any more and that any notices would go unnoticed. But they told me that they could not make any changes to my registration unless it was 2 months prior to the registration expiring and they could not even access it on their computer system. I left totally frustrated like 99% of people do when dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. I tried to tell them and take care of things but the DMV in their usual inept manner couldn't deal with it. So I just left and figured I would deal with it when I came back.
    A couple of years later, when I came back to California for a couple of weeks, I went back to the DMV to try and correct the matter. This time they told me that before they can make any changes to my account, I needed to come current and pay my registration fees for the peroded while I was out of the country.......plus huge penalties! I reminded them that I tried to take care of this before I left but they just said that they couldn't do anything on their computer system unless I paid more money. I also reminded them that the bike had been out of the country all this time but they just told me there was nothing more they could do. I needed to pay $300+ dollars before they could non op my motorcycle. I left again upset and totally frustrated.
    Fast fordward about a year more, I was in some far away place and checked my bank account online and noticed that $350 was missing. I called my bank (expensive phone call) only to find out that the DMV was able to dip their fingers into my account, take the money that they felt they were owed, plus a penalty, plus an additional amount for stealing my money! My next call was to the DMV. After being on hold for 45 minutes (very very expensive phone call) they told me that I owed the money and if I wanted to clear my account and place the bike on Non Op status, I would have to come current for that year on the fees due. And I screamed........BUT THE BIKE IS NOT EVEN IN THE COUNTRY ANY MORE! But again, there was nothing they could do.
    Fast forward another year and the DMV stole another $350 from me. I called them again trying to explain my situation and this time they put a freeze on my account. But I was still out $700 when I had tried to fix the situation from the start and the bike was out of the country the entire time. I just figured I would correct the whole matter when I got back in the US.
    When I did come back to the US last year, the DMV told me that I owed the money regardless and that I owed $750 MORE to come current. This was insane!
    I pulled what little money I had left out of my bank account in case the DMV raided it again. Out of principal, I didn't want any more of money to go to the DMV considering I tried to take care of this matter from day one and the bike had not turned a wheel since 2012.
    But the day I was leaving for Thailand, I checked my bank account and the DMV had stole everything I had in there - about $30. I called the DMV and they said that I owed $750 more and that they took all the money I had trying to collect what they were owed. I asked if they could put the freeze back on my account and I would deal with it when I got back from Thailand. My plane was leaving in 6 hours and I needed to put some money in my account so I could use my ATM card while traveling. The DMV told me that they would continue to try to take my money so I realized that using an atm card was not going to be possible. I tried to buy a pre paid visa card but in doing so, you need to activate it which meant providing your social security number. And that surely meant the DMV could tap into that as well. So that wouldn't work.
    So in the end, my only option was to carry cash. So when I got on the plane later that day and the entire time I was traveling around Thailand this past time, I was carrying all the cash I needed for those 3 months with me. I spread it out. I kept some in my wallet, some in my Givi box and some I hid on my bike. It was scary to be carrying all that money. And the worse part of it all was, if I did lose that money, I had no way to replace it while on the road. I had no money in the bank and I would have had to beg for food if my money got stolen.
    So now, I am back in the US. I have been pleading my case to the DMV. But if you have ever dealt with the DMV, you know how that goes. I am asking for them to return the $700 they stole from me. But in the end, I would be happy if they just kept that money, just cleared my account and put my bike on Non Op like I wanted to do right from the start. As it is right now, I can't legally ride my BMW until I clear things up with the DMV and I can't put any money in the bank for fear they will keep taking it. I need to have a debit card as the world is turning to a cashless system. And I can't keep taking a fist full of cash with me when I am traveling. It is too scary holding that much money and more importantly, not having access to more of it.
    America - land of the free.........yeah......right.
  6. Scubalong

    Scubalong Long timer

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    Ed you are back? Will PM you for number so I can call. BTW sorry to hear about the mesh from DMV. I am avoid DMV at all cost. AAA is where I go to for all my registration.
  7. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    You need a pro bono lawyer to fix that mess. Big Brother, oh boy.
  8. Scott_PDX

    Scott_PDX Leisure Engineer

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    Thats California for ya.
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  9. AtomicFlyer

    AtomicFlyer Adventurer

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    Unfortunately, your dealings with the DMV probably won't surprise most people. I feel your pain, but that won't get your $700 back.

    Marc
  10. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Why do we put up with this? They are supposed to be servicing us. Isn't that our government's real purpose?
    I registered my 1999 Honda CBR1100XX and it cost me $150.
    $150 for a 20 year old motorcycle? And premium gas is $4 a gallon here. I paid $2.09 in Texas in October.
    Californians are being taxed to death.
    They need more money to pay for the well over budget $100 billion train that seems to be going nowhere at this moment.
    The median price home in Orange County is now over $700,000.
    I love this place that I still call my home. But I am asking myself - is it really worth it? Is there a better option?
    I am thinking there is.
  11. #1Fan

    #1Fan Long timer

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    I'm sorry to hear about all this crap, Lalo. The government is nothing but one big extortion racket. It's no surprise people are switching to Bitcoin.

    A better option? Are you hinting at becoming a permanent ex-pat? After all of your travels, I'm sure you know of many better places on Earth to live than the US.
    Scubalong likes this.
  12. lqgsrider

    lqgsrider Been here awhile

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    California DMV is beyond incompetent! Better to register your toys in NV, AZ or Montana
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  13. go_modem_go

    go_modem_go Earth Crawler

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    Hey Ed,

    Sorry this bureaucr*p has caught you up....

    Maybe buy local & register in Europe - preferably in an EU country without technical control, no smog tests nor any road taxes on bikes. Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ireland spring to mind, and a whole lot more.

    UK is theoretically easy, but like Germany they have recurring MOT (tech check), tax discs and chose to be leaving the traveller benefits of EU membership. Hence they will (rightly so) soon be relegated to the legal status of a remote 3rd World Kosovo-style banana republic island somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, with North-Korean-style border checks and non-compatible vehicle registrations / lack of EU ID cards or passports.... ok, just joking, but UK is soon out when it comes to easily accepted EU residency / registrations / insurances etc....

    Upside:

    - It's only a small one-off fee for initial registration in your name and the number plate, and that was that - you'll need insurance though.
    - Cheap 3rd party insurance covering all 30+ countries in Europe (except Kosovo, and non-European Russia / Turkey) starting from €30/year (for my bikes I pay a max. of €70/year for a 1200cc >100hp bike).

    Downside EU-reg:

    - When touring inside the EU, you might get tickets sent to whatever address you use, your vehicle has an entry in the Schengen Zone police system...
    - Some countries want / need proof of address, i.e. a utility bill or national ID card / registered address of ID... Most do it via proxy address / local residant as registrant, but that's a legal grey zone, if not downright illegal in some places (like Switzerland)
    - Forget about importing bikes from outside the EU (such as US spec) - the authorities will give you an endless run-around... Easier in some countries like Germany or Netherlands, but it's a hazzle and involves 29% on the value in customs import fees...

    Anyway, if you complain about taxes, you haven't really ever lived anywhere in Western Europe!

    I suspect California is still taxation paradise by our Western European standards: We have 19-25% VAT on every purchase except basic food ("only" 5.5 - 10%), very high income taxes such as 46% starting from lower wages, petrol / diesel fuel taxed to over $8/gallon, housing prices that are not that much different than most of California, albeit coupled with much lower wages - average Californian disposable income is at least twice what it is in affluent places over here in the old country...

    Hell, in some countries like Denmark VAT is 25% on everything, yet they still slap 100% (ONE HUNDRED per cent) in taxes on the purchase price of any motorised vehicle (on top of the 50-100% manufacturer price hikes by manufacturers once a Thai- / Indian made bike hits our shores), AND gas is up to $10/gallon.

    Basically, for them, a recent Honda CRF250 or KTM 390 can end up in the same price range than a brand new BMW GS1200 elsewhere...
  14. locopny

    locopny Been here awhile

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    CA DMV is the worst I've dealt with. Was happy to leave that state many years ago. I don't suppose its possible to bring it current in another state is it? likely much cheaper. Where I am the state doesn't care if its unregistered for 10 years. Just keep it off public roadways. City says keep it out of sight if not current.
    Good luck and awaiting the next leg of the Ed-venture. Great photos and stories....thanks.
  15. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    Relatively speaking, California doesn't seem all that bad. But it is one of the worst states in the Union when it comes to Bureaucracy and over regulation. All governments are bad in this way. I am not planning to do anything illegal nor planning to overthrow any governments, I just plan to show a way to avoid as much of the BS as I can and limit my exposure to it all.
    JanSerce, #1Fan and go_modem_go like this.
  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Not sure what you have to do to escape the clutches of the CA DMV, but one option may be to register in another state. NH for example will allow your registration to expire with no penalty. We are also one of the only states where insurance is not required. You stayed at my place already once - makes you a resident. I also have a motorcycle (Buell S2) in Germany. It is no problem running there on NH plates (bike is not imported there). They do require German insurance when i ride there, but it is cheap and can be bought by the month. A big advantage is that the automatic cameras are no good to them when you run a US plate. My German friends there have gotten tickets mailed to them from Holland when we rode together there. No tickets for me though.
  17. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    I would imagine, even if I were to register my BMW in another state, the California DMV will be waiting like a vulture for me to open a bank account again so they can dip their greasy fingers in and collect what they think is owed.
    They say the money is owed, even if the bike was out of the country the whole time. And who am I to argue with them. They make the rules and they don't have to be fair. This is our new Democracy.
    #1Fan likes this.
  18. phoenixGSA

    phoenixGSA Been here awhile

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    My God. California sounds like Canada in many ways....Well current Canada anyways.
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  19. go_modem_go

    go_modem_go Earth Crawler

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    To avoid this in the future - (isn't your BMW stored in Europe somewhere?)

    -> Doesn't the USA issue expat / export / long term traveller’s plates?

    In most of the EU and all other countries, these are issued to anyone with intent to leave the country (respectively EU customs zone) for a longer period of time, or for export purposes. These plates have an internationally recognized format (red label strip on the side, with month and year of expiration marked on it).

    Subject to only a small one-off registration fee (€26,-), €15.- for the special customs number plate, from then on:
    - no more taxes, no tech control, no more registration fees / annual road taxes ever.

    With these plates, you basically opt out of the national bureaucratic state and are free to roam the earth. The vehicle is basically "nationless".

    In Germany, and most other EU countries, this type of reg. is available to any foreign non-EU national, even without residency.

    OTOH, insurance for these vehicles may come at a premium, and some non-EU countries' custom officials could make a case about "intent of import and re-sale" when confronted with those tax-free export plates (known issue during border checks in places such as Morocco, some of non-EU Eastern Europe / Russia, maybe soon UK, etc)... So chances are that you'll have to haggle about when not in possession of a carnet.

    Also, validity for this type of expat registration is limited. Your choice starts at a minimum 14 days up to a maximum of 1 year.

    Yet, you will likely have seen hundreds of cars and trucks running German export plates that have expired a decade ago all over Eastern Europe and Asia, especially in the Stans... You can get them for bikes as well, yet it's not a "legal loophole" that is widely used in the biking community... ;-)
    btrrtlwtr and #1Fan like this.
  20. flyingdutchman177

    flyingdutchman177 Adventurer

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    I tried to take care of all of this before I left so it wouldn't be a problem. But the DMV couldn't make changes to my account on their computer system unless it was within two months of my vehicle's registration expiration date.
    It is uncommon for someone to tell the DMV that they are going to take their vehicle around the world, especially here from North America. Most people are to scared to venture into Mexico, let alone 104 countries.
    JanSerce, RiderRick and Scubalong like this.