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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Pcq, Jun 14, 2018.
Sunset Mekong cruise & dinner in Luang Prabang with the newly weds
Here are some Luang Prabang pics
And some more...
We visited the falls and bear sanctuary at Kuang Si which was only a short drive from LP.
The falls are packed with visitors but still absolutely amazing. We packed a picnic with amazing bread and avocados and enjoyed the break in the rain to swim in the pools.
From Luang Prabang we headed to visit Phonsavan. Ian from Riders Corner had told us that it was really worthwhile and we also wanted to see and inform ourselves more on the bombings during the “Secret War” and the UXO problems that Laos suffers even today.
I took the bike and Rosana rode a minibus.
Crazy truck accidents on the road. I’ll write a detailed entry about riding in Laos!
Sunset closing in and arriving to PhonsaVan
The following morning we rode to the famous Plains of Jars
It really is a sight to see... we saw sites 1-3 and the second was the most amazing atop a hill with magnificent views. Something very special and we were the only visitors there for nearly an hour.
It is scary to see the indicators where areas have been swept by MAG for land mines and unexplored ordenance.
Muchisimas gracias! If you ever feel like sharing info about the Plain or Jars and the (potential) remainings of the aviation ops, please feed us! Must be so interesting.
We did some tracks 2 up which was fun and then visited a cool waterfall. After we went to the UXO centre to learn more about the efforts to clear the country of dangerous explosives. Truly heart breaking to learn the extent and amount of ordinance dropped here...
I don’t have good internet now but the videos will be on my YouTube channel.
From Pho sa Van I headed to Vang Vieng. That was probably one of the toughest rides I had done so far, not due to the actual technicality of the route but due to the amount of insane truck drivers...
If you decide to ride Laos I highly suggest avoiding the main road that links north with China because it is literally hell.
This is the route
Halfway there I ran into a group of big bike riders from Bangkok, some multistradas, 1290 AT and GS of course. All loaded with panniers...my smaller 400 enduro had a hard time keeping up, and I’m not into riding big bikes or fast on tarmac. They rode too fast i mean too fast to ride like that through small villages with kids playing around, I hope they don’t take anyone out ...
Some nice views of the Nam Song river though, when I wasn’t looking through a dust bowl.
This truck had wiped out including its precious crates of beer...silly drivers
I got into vang vieng looking forward to a shower. Got one for the bike too as it was totally covered in brown.
We went to see the sunset at the riverside and got a nice curry dinner.
The next day I took off early to make my way back to Thailand. Rosana stayed on at Vang Vieng and hung out with a group of travellers.
She then headed to Vantien and onto Bangkok. I made my way back to Chiang Mai to return the bike and then to fly to meet her in Bangkok, to then fly to Manila and start the Philippine adventure...
From vang vieng I headed to the border at Muang Nguen.
I tried to shortcut with some off road tracks that looked interesting. 30 minutes into one of the tracks, I was stopped by locals who spoke no English whatsoever but would not let me through. They called someone on their phone (I still had no phone) who could speak English. The guy told me that it was unsafe territory as there were armed rebel groups around there. Good thing the locals stopped me!
Anyway I rode a long day and arrived at the border village just as the sun was setting. I got a run down room, but a nice dinner and a much needed beer from friendly locals.
The next day I was at the border early in the morning. This time all went extremely fast and smooth and I was in Thai sovereign land, Huai Kon, in no time.
I managed a coffee at a 7 eleven a few hours later. BTW make sure you refuel before as there is a long stretch of beautiful sweeping national park roads but absolutely no fuel stations.
This is the route from the border to Chiang Mai
Also I’d lost my front headlight so I had to make it to Chiang Mai before dark so I pushed on and did make it very close though...
I stayed in CM a couple of days. I returned the bike to Ian and gave him a brief of our travels.
Marc invited me to stay for a night at his place instead of extending my stay at a hotel. That was really cool because I really wanted to hang out with Niki & he and the rest of the family. They organised a bbq and had some really interesting fellow bikers over for dinner.
The next day after a leisurely breakfast and a very inspiring chat with Marc and Niki (they are such interesting and kind people) Marc took me for a short ride together around the back roads of his area and we took a small trek around the national park. I’ll always be grateful to them for their incredible hospitality. I really hope I get to ride with them for a longer adventure at some point. Marc is a pioneer biker and has travelled the entire length of Africa back when it was even more epic.
I booked my flight and got on the plane to Bangkok to meet Rosana again and fly on to Manila the following day.
I want to bring this RR up to date so this is me this morning. On a remote island of the Philippines. And before I banged myself up on the reef!
But now let me backtrack to how I got here and the past couple of months...
I was in Bangkok with Rosana again. We flew from there to Manila and after a couple of days flew from Manila to Siargao island.
Siargao is a small island well known for its world class surf, crystal clear waters and the green natural beauty of its coconut trees and mangroves. I had heard of the famous Cloud 9 break but not much more of the more than 7.000 islands of this massive archipelago. Soon enough I’d be wanting to explore much more of it...
We spent 3 weeks in Siargao and I’ll just post a few pics to illustrate how amazing it was. Amazing surf and people, but it was all rental scooter riding, with of course great potential for bike riding which was to come...
In the end this is an moto adventure travel forum !
We met some amazing people including locals who took us on their boat for remote surf and beach adventures.
Even on the small scooter I circled the island twice, because I’m a moto junky and also because I was very interested in seeing the less known north part of the island. Everyone knows the stretch from General Luna to Cloud 9...
And after the 3 weeks on the island I realised that I wanted to buy a bike, fit a surf rack on it and combine travel and surf through other of the islands and also return to Siargao on my own bike and with my own board. Surf safari on 2 wheels : )
Here are a few more pics of this jewel of an island... a truly amazing place
The north Burgos area which is much less frequented by tourists, check out the reef and crystal clear water...
Coconuts and mangroves as far as the eye can see...
Heading to an offshore break on a boat
From Siargao we flew to Dumaguete for a few days to meet some friends from Sydney.
I hung out a lot with Graeme, our host along with Antonia, they are super nice people and close friends of Rosana. Graeme is a really interesting guy, we talked classic sports cars, sailing and life, and I gave him a hand getting his hobbie cats ready again.
I cooked some Spanish paella style rice (with some mods!) for them and friends.
We met Pieter, a cool Dutch guy, who lived close by and was also into bikes. He generously offered to let me try his new Royal Enfield and go for a spin up to the twin lakes.
Beautiful ride...after so much scooter time I was really craving a proper bike.
We met another cool yogi friend of Pieter
We also took a boat to Apo island with Antonia and Graeme. They know the place since it was off the tourist radar screen so they gave us a fantastic tour.
We then flew back to Manila. I was going to look for my bike and Rosana had hooked up a great yoga training course through a friend and was taking off to Maui to do her teacher training.
In Manila I ended up finding a well kept 2009 XR 200. It was clean and only one family had owned it. Plus they were super legit people and a part of the biking community of Manila. That means I got super lucky and they connected me with all their buddies, I got to know the bike scene there and had 3 different custom builders make the necessary mods for my bike (later posts on each mod)
This is the bike as was
The owner of the bike Arvi and super friendly wife Michelle sending me off.
This is Jolly (the guy doing the thumbs up) Arvis cousin who is the number 1 guy here for air head Bmw classic restorations.
Beside him in the back his mechanic JoJo, Mark Laccay in the green polo who is a reference in the bike world in Manila (organises many events including the Lahar Challenge. He sold me the Bell helmet he had in stock and has provided me with immense tips and took me on a tour of Manila Bay Area.
Also in the forefront pic is Buck a super funny and talented photographer/sausage maker and simply hilarious guy. His wife manages Greenpeace in the Philippines (more on that later) and in the helmet is Andrew another cool buddy and bike enthusiast. Great gang !!
Having some local street Frankenstein meat with the guys.
The bike has been stopped for a couple of years so Arvi and Jojo has the fuel flushed and the oil changed. We checked the spark plug, brake pads, and went through the bike to make sure it was safe. The bike wasn’t running as smooth as is should and we realised the intake manifold was rotted and it needed a new one. The clutch was also slipping a bit so I decided to get that replaced, since I was going on a longer tour and didn’t want to get caught out.
Driving through the crazy traffic in Manila
Apart from these small mechanical issues the first things I needed to do was update the bike’s registration.
To go through the update of the registration Arvi arranged to have a trusted “fixer” Tito Mandy assist me in the steps.
The first step was emissions test. This turned out to be a funny situation. The bike is fitted with a trap type exhaust (to be exact a good quality Manila produced knock off). That means no exhaust hole where to insert a probe.
This is the emissions crew. Tito Mandy is sitting second from the left in a white t shirt
So after scratching their heads for a while and making it obvious this was a bit of a problem, the guys set up this hilarious contraption.
I thought oh no they’ll definitely melt the bottle onto the exhaust. No but they didn’t even start the engine! Haha they just set it up for the photo shoot. After a few pesos we were out of there!
Btw this was the state of the classics lying around the emissions garage
With the papers now legalised the next step was to go to Honda and have the manifold and clutch replaced. I located a main Honda dealer/service shop JT Triumph and rolled in.
In no time they gave me a quote and had the parts replaced without even an appointment. I asked them also to check the brakes, and make sure the bike was safe. Super service there!
Nice “police Ducati” there hahaha
This is how some do it to avoid the pollution in Manila metro
From there on to get the seat refurbished.
The original seat is very low and makes you bunch up onto the tank, definitely felt uncomfortable for me, being used to enduro seats.
Jolly had recommended Rog from Navatek so I arranged with him and drove over to his workshop.
Btw when in Manila you go for an errand you should know that it will take 45min + to go anywhere the distance is big and the traffic some of the worst I have ever driven! Not only due to amount of vehicles and the non existent laws for stop and go for jeepnees and trycicles but also the level of pollution. Insane ...
Anyway this is Rog’s place, his pals cool shiny Bristol is parked outside.
He makes café racers and is especially good at upholstering.
I told him what I wanted which he quickly understood. He took the seat off and tied some foam on so I could ride the bike back to my apartment in Makati.
This is Rog’s cool self built café racer also based on an XR
He would bring me the seat once it was ready. He did an awesome job, exactly what I wanted, a nice tall straighter position yet comfy and grippy. He brought it to my place and installed it. Great workmanship and service!
From then it was on to the luggage rack, Jolly had set me up with a buddy welder Ryan a really nice kid who could make me a custom one, so I headed there to get measurements and start building it.
The nearly finished rack
His cool Suzuki 4x4 project for restoration
The last thing I needed was a surf rack...
For that I’d contacted a super nice dude Borja, a fellow Spanish guy who also makes custom bikes and organises tours of the Philippines. He hooked me up with Alfredo of wild custom who is renowned for being one of the best bike builder/welders in Manila metro.
I went to see Alfredo and we decided on a “hanger” type rear rack with a quick release so I could also ride the bike without rack.
We arranged to bring the bike a few days later and I planned to take the few days to go for my first excursion on the bike with the luggage and try it out.
The next day being Sunday, Marc Laccay had kindly arranged an early breakfast tour of Manila.
We met at the location and went for a ride along the Manila harbour and got breakfast.
Alex and his wife Clarissa came for the ride.
Alex was on a Blackbird and his wife on a Bristol, Marc on his husky 650.
We had an awesome Filipino style brunch at a legendary restaurant and chatted bikes and aircraft. Alex is a Philippine Airlines 350 pilot and I’m a big aviation enthusiast.
Here’s Alex revving the beast
In the afternoon Buck had invited me to visit the Rainbow Warrior which was docked in Manila. His wife works for Greenpeace and was going to go on the ship for a month long campaign patrolling Philippine waters.
It turned out to be a very interesting visit. They are on a very serious campaign to improve the problem of use and bad disposal of plastics that is polluting the ocean around the islands here.
Buck and his family