Madrid-Europe (TET)-Asia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Pcq, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    We took a speedboat from Langkawi (Malaysia) to Koh Lipe (Thailand) with some very cool Brit friends of my friend from Sydney

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    We loved Koh Lipe, really not a big island but with a nice vibe and great food...we actually ended up extending our stay and took a boat trip to go snorkelling around the surrounding national parks

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  2. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    From Koh Lipe we took another speed boat to Koh Phi Phi. This time it was literally flying and crashing from wave to wave. The crew looked like three 15 year olds making the 3 x 250hp boat soar into the air...I had the time of my life although many torurists were nervous and green in the face hehe

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    Phi Phi was made so famous by the movie The Beach which was shot on its sister national park, Phi Phi Le. Too bad that Phi Phi itself which is naturally a most beautiful island has already been over developed and overrun by backpackers and the such. The smell of the sewage alone is enough to want you to leave despite the gorgeous setting. I recommend visiting the island circling it by boat and just taking a day trip but not actually sleeping there. From there are small boat trips to Le and other of the islands and that is definitely worth the day trip. “The Beach” is actually currently out of bounds for boats and swimmers to allow coral and wildlife to develop again, but actually seeing the beach empty from the bay or the smaller beach that is located on the opposite side of the bay is actually better than seeing hundreds of tourists there taking selfies...

    Sunset at Phi phi from the viewpoint
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    Phi phi bay from the hotel pool
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  3. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Phi Phi Le day trip and monkey beach. I never saw such friendly monkeys...

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  4. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    From Phi Phi we took a boat to Krabi and then headed inland to a small natural resort in the middle of the jungle. A beautiful place
    It was my friends birthday so we had a celebration pancake breakfast. It rained most of the time so we just chilled and met some really friendly french Swiss and Brits who were also staying there longer term and shared wine with us.
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  5. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    From there we took a bus from Krabi to Surat Than and then a boat onto Kho Pagnang on the Gulf of Thailand
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    The beaches in Kho Pagnang were amazing as well as the food. We met some local kite surfers and their friends and hung out with them. Too bad there are no waves for surfing here !
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    The view from our breakfast
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  6. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    From Kho Pagnang we hopped over to Kho Tao for a couple of nights, to avoid the masses arriving for the full moon party and to enjoy some snorkelling
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    We met two super friendly Brits with whom we had dinner and drinks. The snorkelling was amazing...
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  7. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Koh Tao back to Surat Thani by ferry from where we took a bus to Bangkok, where we spent a night and then flew to Chiang Mai.

    We arrived into Chiang Mai on Christmas Eve and were invited to a party through Mahsa, a fellow biker friend whom I had chatted with previously but hadn’t yet met in person.

    My friend Rosana also invited another girl she had contacted with, so it was a super fun evening of ex pats celebrating Christmas in northern Thailand. Many bikers there so I had loads to chat about. We started planning our road trip to Laos.

    At the party
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    Finally meeting Mahsa face to face at Riders Corner
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    Bikes at Triumph shop opening party
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    Cool scrambler
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  8. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    24h trip to the beautiful and colourful village of Pai, way up north and close to Myanmar border. We met some cool people and enjoyed the amazing food at the market
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    Spotted a cool classic XL in Pai
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    The gang at the Buddha overlooking town
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    Crossing the bamboo bridge to the Main Street night market
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  9. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    We went back to Chiang Mai for New Years.
    We met with a friend whom I’d met in September in Belgrade and was spending a few weeks in Chiang Mai.
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    We had a late dinner and went to the big temple for the chanting in of the new year. It was an absolutely beautiful and unique experience.

    Then we strolled to the gate and each lit a lantern and made our wishes and vows for 2019
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    What a way to start the new year... and I think it was the most inexpensive and hangover free New Years of my life. Often less is more : ) you just have to find a special way and the people to share moments with...
  10. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    So I was getting antsy about getting some riding in after more than a month of buses, boats and the odd scooter.
    A friend and his newly wed wife from the US were going to spend a few days of their honeymoon in Luang Prabang, Laos and I figured it would make for an awesome 2 week bike trip.
    So we rented a cool but aging DRZ 400 from super friendly Ian, the owner of Riders Corner.
    Frankly I was a bit nervous about putting my friend Rosana onto the back seat of an enduro to make a 1000km trip to Laos.
    But she’s an adventurous fit young woman so we agreed to give it a go!
    We met local expat Mark and his wife Niki, two extraordinary people who have that kind of bigger than life generosity and humanity that you don’t come across every day...
    They geared us up for the trip, especially Rosana as she only had a spare jacket of mine.
    This was the planned route
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    We had to get a ton of paperwork prepared as we were going to cross the border on a rental bike and it is not that easy to cross into Laos on a Thai registered bike. But Ian and his crew got us all sorted and we would have no issues on the trip (no issues of that kind at least !) hehe
    I’ll get into the details of each leg of the trip, border crossings, etc in the following posts...

    Pics at Mark’s getting geared up with the Suzuki
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    Ian of Riders Corner
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    Sending us off at Ian’s
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  11. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    Question, how long of a visa did you get when entering Thailand by boat?
  12. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    30 days with Spanish passport
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  13. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    In the running for best looking girls RR. :thumb
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  14. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Chiang Mai to Laos
    Part 1 Chiang Mai to Chiang Kong border crossing

    Apparently the rules and paperwork for crossing the border between Thailand and Laos with a rental bike change often and you must consult with the latest info so as not to have issues crossing over. Ian helped us draw a loose route from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang and then on to Phon Sa Van, and loop back to Thailand. With the help of his local agent we got the paperwork ready for the bike to cross at Chiang Khong / Huay Xai.
    In cases of rentals where the bike is not owned by the driver you need to get an authorisation from the owner to cross the border along with the rest of bureaucracy and it piled up to many copies of paper with numerous stamps and signatures from the owner, the agent and myself. Apparently the way back into Thailand would be much more simple.
    So with the bike, paperwork and all our kit ready, including a spare tube and some tools, we left Chiang Mai late in the day and made an overnight stop at a resort an hour and a half north of CM.
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    The next day we took off early, the idea was either to reach Chiang Khong or sleep in Chiang Rai.
    I had already spotted an alternative route to the fastest one google suggested and it turned out to be very windy, mountainous and beautiful.

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    However by the time we were halfway to CR Rosana was already in agony, her knee protectors were digging into her knees and she was exhausted from the cramped seat and position. We had to stop and put ice on her knees.

    Nevertheless we made it to Chiang Rai and with a good overnight rest and some chocolate treats we were reset by morning...

    Early the next morning we headed towards the border crossing...

    When you cross the border at Chiang Khong you can now opt to take the “friendship bridge” crossing whereas previously you had to board the vehicle on a ferry.

    A few things regarding the actual border procedure.

    - make sure you have the exact documents or you will run into issues especially if you are on a rental bike. This means having a local agent in Thailand take care of it who knows the latest rules concerning the specific border crossings.
    - At time of our trip the Chiang Khong/ Huai Xai border was open for rental bikes from Thailand to Laos, but other borders apparently not and they will send you back as we found out from other riders.
    - On the Thai side they will ask you where you’ll exit and then again at the Laos side so make sure to have that defined. Maybe later it doesn’t make a difference I don’t know but they will ask and you have to give them a return border crossing
    - Permit for the bike is good for 30 days
    - Its cheaper to pay the duties on the Laos side in USD rather than Baht, they will accept Thai money though. You can change Baht-USD right there at the border office on the Thai side BUT make sure the person there gives you untainted bills or the Laos officer will refuse the bills as we later found out.
    - Our luggage did not get checked at all by customs either side
    - Do not cross the border in a group (even 2 bikes together) or apparently the Laos authorities may consider it a group tour and then you’ll have to hire a guide/ escort. We didn’t have an issue as we were travelling on a single bike but we’ve heard it is an issue.
    - The crossing itself with all paper in place is not problematic but again make sure all paperwork is good and ready, including copies of your passports and international drivers license. It will take a couple of hours though, although bikes can jump to the front of the line.
    - It wasn’t too expensive in actual fees to cross but you do have to pay a Visa (depending on the passport it’s around 25-30 USD) and I don’t recall having to purchase specific insursance. Again with USD currency you pay less.
    - The actual bridge is really modern and you switch driving sides before the Laos border so just remember it’s on the right side there. Pretty cool but stay alert!
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  15. forgorin

    forgorin Stuck in Japan

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    Been following along. Sounds like your have a trip of a life time!! Lot's of excellent attitude! Hope the rest of the trip goes smother!!
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  16. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Part 2: Huay Xai to Muang Xay
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    By the time we had crossed the border, it was lunch time, it was hot and we thirsty and hungry.
    We stopped in Huay Xai to go through the usual process: get local currency from an ATM, local SIM card, fuel up and get some lunch.
    Trying to combat the heat.
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    It’s always exciting and there is a slight uneasiness that accompanies the first few moments when you’ve rolled into a new and very different country, culture and environment. In the case of Laos nothing that scared us at all, but there is a marked difference from Thailand. And I have to say a breath of fresh air also not to see 7 elevens on every block, rather local businesses. We didn’t have much info regarding the food either, and we were winging it accommodation wise, with no bookings for B&B or even a set destination for the evening. This turned out a bit hairy later in the day.
    So we sorted out currency and connectivity and found a simple but very satisfying lunch of chicken fried rice. I love that they give you a small bowl of broth with the meal. The hot sauce was also amazing...
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    As we were leaving Huay Xai, very excited about the ride up towards Luang Prabang, I overtook a huge truck. And just as I was passing it I hit a pot hole (of course) and I felt something fall on my leg. I thought that’s the bottle of water, but as soon as we stopped Rosana realised that my phone and case was missing off the mount... Damn !
    So of course we combed the entire last 200m of road and the surrounding area but couldn’t find even pieces of it... we rung my WhatsApp number and saw that the phone was switched off, a sign that it had probably been destroyed. Needless to say that I lost my phone, with the new SIM. I had another iPhone but had left it in Chiang Mai as we were travelling so light. We also lost at least an hour, and had to continue with my Garmin (but without loaded maps of Laos) and Rosanas malfunctioning Gps on her iPhone and with no local SIM.
    Anyway against most caution I pushed on, convinced that in the 3 hours of daylight left we would find accommodation.
    We passed many small villages. They were just rows of huts by the side of the road, children playing, dogs and other animals, families cooking over wooden fires... very rural. As dusk approached we realised little by little that there were no signs of any guest houses around to get a room for the night.
    As we drove into the night I gradually lost the rear brake completely on the bike. I could feel the need to pump the pedal more and more until it simply went completely soft. Clearly we had lost hydraulic pressure. I didn’t tell Rosana this as it would have just added nervousness to an already challenging ride.
    By 19h00 we stopped at a food shack by the side of the road and tried to see what are options were. With the most rudimentary communication we understood that about 20km away we might find a room for the night. Rosana was exhausted and very uneasy. In fact she was on the verge of breaking down. She was so desperate and felt so lost that she even thought we would drive over into China without even knowing it. That or that we would have to sleep in the open on the side of the road. I tried to reassure her by telling her that sooner or later we would find a bed for the night. I also told her that this formed part of the adventure we had come to experience. That on my travels I had made it through some tricky days and that we would make it for sure, that she should just trust me. And she did... she does trust me but it was a big test for her...:
    30 minutes later, with fuel running low, we saw a sign for a guest house and sighed with relief...!
    I think we almost hugged the lady owner as she greeted us with her flash light !
    We had hot tea in the garden, she made us some noodles and we got a wooden shack for the night. Very basic but we were happy.
    All of it with breakfast came to less than 10€ for both of us.

    I must admit this day was not the easiest and even I felt uneasy but I did know we would manage to get through. My biggest worry was driving us 2 up with luggage, a crappy headlight and only a front brake.
    The immediate priority the next morning was to find a workshop in the closest town and try to have the rear brake fixed...
  17. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Vieng Phou Kha to Muang Xay
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    We had slept at Thongmyxai guest house in Vieng Phou Kha.
    This is a pic of the place
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    Our next mission was to reach the next larger town of Luang Namtha and find a moto shop to try to repair the back brake.

    As we drove through Luang Namtha we saw a Honda dealer and pulled in.
    Not only did they fix the brake line on the spot, but they didn’t want money for it.
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    I actually had to insist and tell the family it was to help out with the kids. We would later see this often on in Laos where the local dignity and culture doesn’t allow them to take money for helping a traveller. Amazing experience...
    With the man of the day
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    We then were able to safely continue our adventure towards Muang Xai, that was our objective to arrive there before the night and find a decent place to take a shower and get some rest.
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  18. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    We continued the road to Muang Xai
    The views were spectacular
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    By now Rosana was exhausted. We stopped every hour or so to stretch our legs, drink some water and interact with the locals
    We drew quite a crowd, there are children everywhere. Quite shy in general and very sweet.
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    So this time we did make it to the town before sundown.
    We found a great hotel pretty much brand new. Boots and helmets stayed outside ; )
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    After a much needed shower we walked to a street food barbecue and had some of the best barbecue ever, all for a few $ for both of us. I tried to figure out the run and marinade but it was clearly a complex mix of spices, oil, lemon, herbs...and language barrier was pretty high. Lots of smiles though and happy stomachs!
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  19. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    I’m limited to 4 pics per post but here are a few extra pics that I didn’t want to leave out of this day...Rosana with the little girl at the guesthouse, the baby at the Honda shop with his breakfast of corn, and more pics of the amazing street barbie in Muang Xay
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  20. Pcq

    Pcq Been here awhile

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    Muang Xai to Luang Prabang
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    That evening we decided that Rosana would take the bus, I would ride solo, and we would meet in the evening in Luang Prabang. That way she could sleep in, get some rest and I would make good time as it was still a full day of riding away. And my friends would only be in LP for one more day so we had to make it within that day.
    Plus I was riding without a phone, just my Garmin with no map of Laos. Unfortunately I had left a paper map that our kind friends in C Mai had given us.
    I got up at the crack of dawn and took off into the misty mountain roads. It was beautiful although quite foggy and the road was slippery so I took it easy.
    The view above the clouds was fantastic
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    The views along the way were fantastic
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    I made it to Luang Prabang and asking around, finally found out guest house which was great. We arranged to meet my friends for dinner. I took a sunset cruise with them and Rosana arrived a little later on the bus, and we we all had dinner together.
    Pics in the following post ...