One girl, one XT250, many kilometers from Australia to The Netherlands, Chick on the Chook Chaser

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. The Virginian

    The Virginian Long timer

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    I'm really looking forward yo your ride report. Love the writing style too.
    #21
  2. Krummemusic

    Krummemusic Adventure Dreamer

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    Your report is really great. Unfortunately I will not be able to add to many "clicks".....each time I read it and imagine your journey and all your upcoming adventures and experiences......I get envious and have tears in my eyes
    We missed each other by a day at Fraser Hills...was a bit rainy those days....but the mist over the mountains was indeed mysterious
    Anyway.....reassured....you will have a great time
    #22
  3. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    71
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    The Netherlands
    Another week on the road...

    Feb 26 2016

    In the morning I took my time packing up and having breakfast. Socialized with the expats a bit more and grabbed my laptop to find places in Thailand or Cambodia that might have a sprocket. Now in my previous motorbiking life, the life that was spend in Western countries, all I’d have to do was go to the Yamaha dealer, tell them what I want and they’d arrange it for me. In my current life a lot more creativity was involved. Being a total newbie at chasing down parts in Asia I made the best of Google, facebook, contact with friends of friends, phone calls with people who didn’t speak English, waiting for calls to be returned (they never were), and finally a lot of help from friends with much more experience than me. At 3pm it seemed like I found a place, in downtown Bangkok, that had my sprockets. It took another half hour staring at a photo of this guy’s Thai business card (they use different letters then our alphabet) and google mapping with the help of the owner of the resort to piece together the upcoming journey to Bangkok city centre. At this time of day it didn’t make much sense to get on the bike, so instead I went for a last ocean dip, read a book and used the infinite powers of the internet to buy my grandma, who’s 92nd birthday is next week, a present that will be delivered to here doorstep. All and all a great day employing the wonders of 21st century communication.

    Feb 27 2016

    My alarm went off at 5.30AM. In the dark I rolled up my sleeping bag and mattress and strapped my belongings down on the bike. During breakfast people around me started waking up. The old lady of the resort even woke up early so she could see me off. A small photo shoot followed. Then at 7.30 I was riding along the beach, towards the sunrise. Bangkok was about 6 hours away. On the way the scenery changed from palm trees and forest to concrete buildings and little shops. The highway leading into Bangkok was lined non-stop with car dealerships, shopping malls and petrol stations. One thing remained the same, country side or city, there were big statues of the entire animal kingdom everywhere. Lots of elephants, zebras, 5 meter tall roosters, a duck bigger than a house etc etc. The best thing were the shops selling these giants. In their collections they even had a 4 meter tall Hulk along site Santa and a golden Buddha, just pick your religion ;) The GPS was guiding me through the outskirts of Bangkok when suddenly I found myself on a raised highway… I’d been warned you’re not allowed to take the toll roads with the bike, but here I seemed to be the only two-wheeler too. A little uneasy about the road choice, but thoroughly enjoying the raised view over this metropolis, I continued. Five kilometres without a single off-ramp, and when I finally saw an exit it came with a police officer frantically jumping up and down, waving his arms to stop me. Long story short, I bargained a $4 dollar bribe and was told never to do it again. Down on levelled ground I continued into the heart of Bangkok and found the parts shop. Two front sprockets and I took a new air filter just to be sure. Now the choice, stay in Bangkok, or get out of the craziness. I decided the latter. So I jumped on the bike, went the wrong way down a one way street, over the sidewalk, through a red light I hadn’t noticed and continued outbound, making sure not to get on any raised roads again. In the middle of rush hour traffic this part of the journey consisted of constant wiggling between cars and riding in the gutter to get ahead. I was actually enjoying the challenge of it. If my mirrors could get through, then so would the rest, sometimes hitting car bumpers with the panniers. At one point there were some poles on the side walk, the buckles of my panniers making a happy cloink cloink cloink noise with every metal to metal contact. Ow the joys of soft luggage! As the sun was setting I found myself in the industrial port part of Bangkok. Not the greatest spot to find a hostel. But then the roof of a big temple stood out over the offices. Other bikers told me that you can always stay in temples in Thailand. Let’s have a look. The friendly monks instantly understood why I was there, they showed me a place to sleep, the bathroom and shower and they even gave me some food. You gotta love Buddhism!

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    Feb 28 2016

    At 5.15AM it was still completely dark, but through my eyelids I spotted the first monks moving around. After the long day of riding yesterday I wasn’t ready to leave the comfort of my little mattress just yet. So after the sun showed its face I left my bed and performed my usual routine of packing. One of the female monks brought me rice and vegetables for breakfast, I ate and she sat with me. We made eager attempts at a conversation but didn’t get further then the Thai names for cat and dog and my destination with the bike. After taking some pictures of the temple it was time to go. Again it was a challenge to avoid the highways motorbikes weren’t allowed on, but with a few detours I managed. It was a good, hot day of riding and at the end of the day my arms, knees and behind were really hurting. Luckily I found a nice beach to camp, not far from the Cambodian border. There I met Herman, a German bicycle tourist, he bought a simple bicycle in Vietnam and now just rides around for a few months (with only 5 kilos of luggage, impressive!!). We shared a meal and stories from the road. It’ so inspiring to hear other peoples’ stories! After dinner I was exhausted, I pitched my tent, crawled in and fell asleep listening to the sound of the waves.

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    Feb 29 2016

    The light of the rising sun and the sound of the waves woke me up in the morning. There was no way I could resist the call of the ocean so I started the day with a swim. Then I had a great, warm shower, thanks to Herman who allowed me to make use of his bathroom. Before hitting the road I sat down and stared out over the ocean. This will be the last time I see the sea for at least 6 months, so I better enjoy it for the moment. Then, off to the border. The usual formalities, but all easy and good. When I’m about to cross I see a big dirt bike parked next to mine, and a man next to it. Naturally we have a chat. He informs me of a few very important things; 1. In Cambodia they drive on the right hand side of the road (uh, yes, thanks, this clearly shows how prepared I am!) 2. They drive like nut cases (ok, I will take care) 3. You are not allowed to have your headlight on during the day (Now my headlight is wired to be on all the time and sometimes if the police wants a nice dinner they’ll stop you… So to avoid that I duc taped my headlight right in front of the border) 4. The most important piece of information, in 10 days there will be world superbike races in Northern Thailand. It’s on my way and timewise it might just work out, so I’ll try to make it there! We agreed to meet again in 10 days. I went off, did the formalities on the Cambodian site of the boom gate and continued to Phnom Penh. The ride from there on got more and more interesting. Here I’ll give you the short version (please check out the long version on my website chickonthechookchaser.com). It started with 150 km without real fuel stations, then crazy drivers pushing me of the road while coming at me in my lane at 100+ km/h, cows everywhere, dust, total disregard for any road rules and signs and it finished with traffic being totally gridlocked in rush hour Phnom Penh. Somehow it felt like some crazy real-life Mario kart… At some point I realised it was dark and there was duc tape covering my headlight… But no one seemed to have lights on their bikes so I couldn’t be persuaded to try and park in this mayhem to obey rules no one seemed to care about. Genuinely relieved and surprised to have both me and the bike in one piece I made it to the hostel.

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    March 1 2016

    After yesterday’s craziness and the overall mileage of the last few days I granted myself a good sleep in. Then I went for a walk, smiling nicely but politely refusing all attempts of tuktuk and motortaxi drivers to ride me around. For one day I was happy not to have a seat under my ass! Around the corner was a print shop where I could get the paperwork printed for the Indian visa application. This was my job done for the day, the rest of the day I spend just relaxing allowing my body and mind to recover from the last few long days.

    March 2 2016

    My appointment at the Indian embassy was at 9.45. So anticipating Phnom Penh’s crazy traffic I left the hostel well in advance. Somewhere halfway I was waiting at a traffic light when the guitar sounds of the intro to the acoustic version of “Hotel California” were pumped across the intersection from huge speakers. Loved it! Upon reaching the road to the embassy it was blocked, a police man had no interest in listening to my arguments as to why I should be allowed to enter the road (or he didn’t speak English, who knows). So taking two right turns I arrived at the other side of the same street, repeated the one sided conversation and here the gate was opened. I later found out that a relative of the prime minister had died and the street was now the scene of the funeral. Anyways, a more friendly policeman made space to park my bike, ordering others around to reposition the scooters and other vehicles. Inside the embassy it appeared that one of my photocopies wasn’t correct. No worries, around the corner from embassies are always copy shops so 10 minutes later I was back in line. There is this thing about applying for visas, most people applying for it are grumpy inpatient and annoyed. They arrive with a lousy excuse why they need their visa quicker than anyone else, try to cut lines and thereby upset the people who should grant them a visa even before they get to talk to them. Here is my approach for getting visas (it tends to work for borders too so far): Just Smile. Expect to be there most of the day (anything less will be a win), take a book to kill the time. Prepare your paperwork as best as you can, when it’s not good enough, say ok with a smile and go arrange it. Be patient, friendly and give compliments. Usually this will make things a lot easier, and if nothing else it will at least make you feel better. Around lunch time I was back at the hostel, here I met someone who was interested in riding his bike back to Europe. Just too eager to share knowledge we spend two hours talking about paperwork, possible routes, luggage systems and spare part availability. The rest of the day I indulged in the wonders of unlimited wifi, sometimes I just love these 21st century luxuries.

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    March 3 2016

    Service time! The bike needed a serious service. The chain and sprockets collected over the last 3 weeks now needed to be put on the bike. And, as I’ve covered 10.000 km since the last full service it was time to go see the mechanic. My intention was to take the bike to “Flying bikes” a good bike shop in Phnom Penh referred to me by friends, have the mechanics do the things I can’t do myself, or don’t have the tools for, and do the rest of the service getting my own hands greasy. However, I seem to have this misconception of male mechanics capabilities. I’m not pointing at their technical capabilities, no I’m referring to their capabilities of letting a female even near a motorbike. After I explained about changing the sprockets and some other things they said to come back at 5pm. Ok, I climbed on the bike again, ready to explore the city. But that wasn’t what they meant, the bike was to stay there, I was to come back at 5. Well, sorry my friend but that’s not gonna happen! So I followed the bike into the cleanest and tidiest workshop I’ve seen in the whole of Asia. They allowed me to watch, and give advise but as soon as I picked up a screw driver there was loud protest. Under my scrutiny they did a good job. But please, I call to all men: if women can handle riding across continents, on sand, on gravel, on roads of dubious quality, through rivers and all of that, why is it so hard to believe we can handle a simple screwdriver!

    March 4 2016

    A little history lesson today. In the late seventies Cambodia was taken over by the Khmer Rouge, their leader, Pol Pot, established a totalitarian dictatorship which in just four years caused the deaths of 25% of the Cambodian population. Today I visited one of the killing grounds where prisoners of the regime where taken to be executed. It is very hard to believe that what today just looks like an uneven field, surrounded by flowering trees, was once the site of the most gruesome acts. A memorial, housing the skulls and large bones of many of the victims stands close to the actual killing field. The idea that every one of those skulls once was a person, an innocent person, just living his or her life… You know, travel isn’t only about the crazy adventures or the happy moments, it’s also about expanding your view and taking in the realities you otherwise won’t see. It’s then that you learn to be grateful for what we have and to decide what you stand for.

    To end this day on a happy note. After the killing field I went to a market and had some beautiful food. Here I met an Australian guy who has a hostel on a riverbank here in Cambodia, where he and two friends build swings, ramps, flying foxes, they organise tubing tours and all things adventurous. The place is a massive hit, fully booked all year round. They take great care of their staff and make a difference in the community. Which shows me that when you do the things you love and do them well you can really help others.
    #23
  4. aguim

    aguim Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
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    904
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    Northern Quebec
    Your icon is on the desktop!
    It's good that you can handle the wrenches, I'd let you work on my own XT any day!
    #24
  5. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

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    Dec 15, 2011
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    Frederick, MD
    Good report. Yes women can handle tools. Especially if they are overland riders. You have to be. It seems in Asian countries people are very proud of there job and the work they do. They may even get scolded by their boss if a coustomer try's to help. Keep smiling.
    #25
  6. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    The Netherlands
    Thanks for your replies! You are right 10ecjed, don't want any of these nice guys to get into trouble with the boss for my over protected-ness :p
    Smile always!
    #26
  7. oldsole

    oldsole Delurking

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    Tips about dealing with bureaucratic paperwork are filed for future use... Subscribed.
    #27
  8. Old fool

    Old fool Road rider

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    Sep 11, 2012
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    Ottawa
    Fantastic report - I spent some time there last year and I'm definitely going back.
    #28
  9. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Oddometer:
    71
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Here we are, been a bit busy at the Superbike races this weekend so the report is a bit late... But there are some awesome pics on the facebook page to make up for that https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/

    March 6 2016

    This morning I had one of the most dubious breakfast conversations ever. A drunk, self-proclaimed mafia dude was just left behind by his girlfriend. The guy had no idea how to handle the situation, and could clearly do with a bit of womanly advise and a simple smile. After my good Samaritan deed I geared up to explore Udong, a city about 40km from Phnom Penh. When I started my engine one of the guys from the guesthouse asked if he could join me, he had the afternoon off. So two ups we went northbound. It was great to have a friendly knowledgeable local to share the afternoon with. He showed me places I otherwise wouldn’t have seen as well as providing some background info. We visited a pagoda, a temple and a little silversmith village. Before today I had no idea of the difference between a temple and a pagoda, but my pillion taught me a pagoda is a Buddhist place of worship with monks living there, everything else is a temple. The temple was built on a hill with amazing 360° views over the surroundings. On our way back we took highway number 5, a numbered highway leading into the capital, this must be a fine road right? Well, I’m sure it will be, but for the moment they are resurfacing the thing… Lots of dirt, dust, deep gravel and as it was getting darker also many motorbikes and tuktuks without lights. At some point we were all directed to the opposite side of the street. The entire two lanes leading towards Phnom Penh were occupied by 100 meter long tent, filled with tables and chairs with crisp white covers. A wedding! It looked like a pretty chic and uptight affair, but why on earth would you want to have your wedding celebrations on dusty, dirty highway 5? We arrived back at the guesthouse safely, where a woman came running towards me with napkins as soon as I took my helmet off. I was covered in dust. Jumping into the shower I found a new use for the water hose they have here to clean your behind with. It serves as an excellent pressure cleaner for boots and bike pants!

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    March 7 2016

    Time for a little more history and culture. I visited a museum used as a prison during the horrific regime in Cambodia in the late seventies. It was the most emotionally draining building I’ve ever visited. In my last post I told you that at the killing fields it was hard to imagine what things must have been like. But here it was right in your face. The tiled floors still stained with smudges of blood, the instruments for torture still there. Men, women and children were separated but all in the same prison and all waited the same faith. Walking through the endless cells sent chills down my spine. The more horrific idea is that somewhere in the world these kind of practices still exist. That in ten or twenty years we’ll travel to another country, another museum and read that on the same day, that you are reading this, that I walked through this heartbreaking prison, people were still going through horrific situations. Well, that’s enough bad, sad, negativity for one day. For now all we can do is raise awareness and do the things that make us happy, which will make the people around us happy, which will hopefully give us no incentive to harm. My next stop today was the Indian Embassy to pick up my visa. As I arrived in the street there were still ceremonies for the funeral of the same high ranking important person as last week. Again I manoeuvred the bike through rows of expensive government 4x4’s. Parked right in front of the Embassy, walked in, got my passport with stamp, jumped back on the bike and with an audience of at least twenty police and military and a few government people rode the small dirt caked bike past the rows of big, shiny, air-conditioned boxes on wheels. I returned to the guesthouse, had dinner and prepared to get on the road again tomorrow.

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    March 8 2016 International Women’s day

    This morning Facebook was boosting with happy riding messages from fellow women riders. A great way to start the day. I packed my belongings, they had, in nearly a week in Phnom Penh, magically spread themselves all over the room. It’s a good habit to check under the bed before you leave a place ;) The road out of Phnom Penh was under construction. Under construction in Cambodia means: it’s a dusty, gravelly mess, breath only if you really have to and beware oncoming traffic might just appear (on what you claim as your side of the road) out of a massive cloud of dust. Today, in roughly twenty kilometres of Cambodian road works I got served more dust in the face then in the entire 7000 kilometres of Australian outback… It’s all part of it, and the roads that were finished were amazing. Smooth black tar, lined with cute houses and tall palm trees. The odd cow or dog crossing couldn’t spoil the fun. My nerves were tested when a piece of snake skin sat behind the toilet bowl in the petrol station’s restroom, for a second I thought it was the real deal… But all was good. Just before reaching today’s destination, Siem Reap, I passed two cyclists. In one year this Polish couple had cycled all the way from Poland. Respect! We talked on the side of the road for a while and then both headed our own ways. In front of me the sun was setting and just before entering the city I spotted two hot air balloons, forming a perfectly idyllic picture with the pink sun.

    March 9 2016

    Angkor Wat! Angkor what? Ok, a quick 1-0-1 … This temple complex just out of Siem Reap houses over one thousand temples (some just a pile of rubble, some still proudly standing. I got a three day ticket and headed towards the biggest temple, named Angkor Wat (guess where the name of the complex came from ;)). When five cars in front of me turned left at the t-junction I decided to go right. This road, much less crowded, lead to the back entrance of the big temple. A simple track through the forest with a handful of tourist was a pleasant welcome to the sacred place. Only when climbing the massive stone structure did I realise how many people must have gone left at that intersection! The temple was big and impressive. After this grand opening I continued to some other temples. I met a Canadian and a Danish guy who were doing the same loop, so we stuck together for the rest of the day. The most impressive of the temples was, Ta Prohm. Trees are literally growing on the temple walls which makes for a surreal effect, this is where parts of the movie Tomb raider were filmed. I can go on for hours about every little detail, because every one of these temples is great but I rather let the pictures do the talking ( https://www.facebook.com/chickonthechookchaser/) . At the end of the day we watched the sunset, looking at a temple, having a bananas & Nutella picnic until a security guard decided it was time for us to home. Then for the rest of the evening we hung out by the pool at the hotel the Canadian was staying.

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    March 10 2016

    Angkor Wat day 2. Three blue shirted Ankor security types had already waved at me, before the fourth one decided to throw himself on the road in front of my bike. I’d thought it was a bit odd they had taken such an interest in me, but I’ve seen way crazier things then this, so assumed the men just liked waving at a girl on a bike. Mister blue shirt number four however, was determined to make me stop. As he got me off the road he began his speech :”Do you know why I stop you” now that’s a great question, as far as I remember I didn’t hit anything, didn’t break a speed limit as there aren’t any and didn’t commit high treason. “No sir, I don’t”. “Why you not stop at checkpoint”, “Checkpoint? Which checkpoint?” “To get ticket, you don’t have ticket!” “Of course I have a ticket”. I produced the required piece of paper, he was still grumpy but no longer mad. It appeared that I should have known to stop at the ticket booth to get a hole punched in my ticket for today. Now they had radioed over the entire complex that a girl on a big bike was ticketless and on the loose. Oops! After the hole was punched I was allowed to continue. At one of the temples I spotted an intriguing bike. A reasonable amount a CC’s, phone holder on the handlebars and a suitcase-ish box tied on the back… At closer inspection it had a Chinese plate. A Chinese overlander! Fang Chao and his girlfriend went from Xi’an in China, to Laos and Cambodia together in 44 days. Now she flew home and he’ll go through Vietnam back to China on his own. Awesome right?! Unfortunately his English didn’t allow lengthy conversations, but the love for bikes is a universal language. I visited a few more temples, the most impressive, a temple where all the towers had four Buddha faces, each of them facing a different direction. Hereafter I went back to the main temple, Angkor Wat, where I watched the sunset and played with some local kids.

    March 11 2016

    The alarm went off at 4.30 AM. As quietly as possible, to not wake up the other 7 people in the dorm, I grabbed my things and strapped it all in place on my trusty steed. The town was surprisingly busy at this ungodly hour. But then again, this place lives on tourists, and tourists love sunrises in eccentric places, like an ancient temple. I had breakfast while watching the sun appear from behind the towers of Ankor Wat. Not a bad breakfast view! Then I jumped on the bike and rode to the Thai border. To get the bike stamped out of Cambodia the paperwork needed to be taken to the office, 500 m down a gravel track from the border. An officer drove me in their 4x4 to the office and back. Now that’s customer service from customs! On the Thai side it all took a bit long, but while waiting I had a large public to entertain and they gave me free coffee and water. From the border it took about 3 hours to Buriram, the home of the superbike races for the weekend. The track was easily found and I got myself a ticket. While gearing up to find a place to sleep I got talking to a guy waiting in a car. When he was joined by his friends they questioned me on the license place of the bike. Yes I did ride from Perth to here and with a few detours on the way. They invited me to stay with them as they had more than enough space in their hotel rooms. After checking in, doing the who-sleeps-where dance and a much needed shower we went out for a drink. The town was full of motorbike fanatics which created a great atmosphere. One drink quickly went to two, three and then I lost count. It was a great bike-loving story-sharing night.

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    #29
    ouwediekster, BillUA, Tytanek and 4 others like this.
  10. 10ecjed

    10ecjed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
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    Frederick, MD
    So Cool.
    #30
  11. marcos45

    marcos45 n00b

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    Mar 15, 2016
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    netherlands
    Cool! I'm in reading.

    Groetjes uit Limburg !!
    #31
    Chick on the Chook likes this.
  12. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Very cool report so far!
    #32
  13. Old fool

    Old fool Road rider

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    Sep 11, 2012
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    Fantastic! I did the whole three day deal in Siem Reap last year but I was on foot and Tuk Tuk which was actually fine. My friend and I did a three day loop to the south coast on rented bikes from Phnom Penh and it gave me enough of a taste that I know I'll be back.
    #33
  14. Chick on the Chook

    Chick on the Chook Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
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    The Netherlands
    First of all, thank you for your great responses! It really motivates me to write this every day. And it’s amazing to see when you can relate to my experiences. The weekend was spend at the World Superbike races in Burriram, Thailand. It was an absolutely amazing experience. But too much to put it all on here. I will write about it and make it available to you later. As usual, here a short impression of my life in the past week.

    March 14 2016

    After an unforgettable weekend it was time to leave Burriram. I tightened and greased the chain with the chain grease that came straight out of the Ten Kate Racing team’s workshop. It must be a fast day today! It was hard saying goodbye to the three grey Aussies and the Englishman who made my first Superbike experience into such an amazing weekend. But after two and a half days our ways parted. Some last hugs, safe ride wishes, photos and promises that if we are ever within a 200km radius from each other we will meet up. Then we all went our ways. I set course for Dear’s place, who I met at the races. Her car is much faster than my two wheeled steed, so we met up again in Khon San. Her family lives in a group of houses on bordering blocks of land, so in no time mother, sister, a little girl, a cousin, Dear and me were on our way for a miniature road trip. It was such a change to be around 5 women after a weekend filled with motorbikes, racing and beer! First stop, a spring with clear blue water for a refreshing swim. Second the local market for some snacks. Then on to the bat cave where at sunset millions of bats leave their cave, forming the most fascinating spiralling formations. Really impressive! Then last, back to the market to shop for dinner. We had a cook in the family so dinner was a small buffet of the most delicious Thai dishes. Important side note: I was really impressed by the vehicle preference of Dear’s sister. An 1100CC Yamaha, she is the first Asian women I meet who rides a big bike!

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    March 15 2016

    We all woke up at 5.30 AM. Dear’s mother cooked food to take it to the temple as an offering. I said goodbye to Dear who went to work and went to the temple with her mum. Here, I followed the other women when they offered the rice, took pictures of the temple and the people and was allowed to participate in the ceremonies. A beautiful way to get a real insight into the Buddhist traditions. Then at 8.30 it was time to get on the bike. My ride today would be the longest since leaving Australia, 550km. The family send me off with waves, smiles and a lunch packet. Thai highways are perfect so for the rest of the day I sat at 80-90 km/h. Unfortunately this time of year they burn a lot of the grass and bushes to prevent real bush fires, so most of the time the view from the mountains was obstructed by a smoky haze. Road signs instructed the traffic to watch out for elephants, which I gladly did but with no result. Later in the day the road passed a huge Buddha statue, I mean massive (see photo, the bike is in the photo!). As the sun went down, me, my sore behind and cramped wrist arrived in Chiang Mai, 550 km done! After a quick bite to eat I met up with fellow bikers Leonie and Peter (we met before in Malaysia and will do Myanmar together) and Florian and Nina (we met all the way back in East Timor). It was a good night sharing biker stories at the Bikers Corner in Chiang Mai.

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    March 16 2016

    Being in a city it was time to catch up on emails, photos and website uploads. Sitting in the hostel lobby my head was buried in phone updates and photo watermarking when a guy approached me to ask if that motorbike out the front was mine. Nowadays this question is more common then: How are you? I answered him yes, it’s mine, I brought it from Australia. The expected usual response: drop of the jaw and outcries of impossibility, didn’t come. Instead he just said: “Nice, I rode one of those from Beijing to France a few years back, nice bike. I’m Fredric by the way”. Now it was my turn to have a jaw-drop-moment. Not often do random people tell you they’ve done massive overland bike journeys! While the two of us are admiring my bike he tells me that at the moment, he is waiting for his Ural bike with side car to be shipped into Bangkok. With a friend he travelled through South & Central America. Now it’s on to Asia. We decide to all catch up for dinner tonight. So here we are, another night of sharing travel life, stories of corrupt border officials, how to ship your beloved vehicle and how to make money while on the road.

    March 17 2016

    The last day in Chiang Mai. The morning I spent with Helionor, we met at the hostel and got along really well. She asked to interview me. Yes, that’s right, with a camera and the whole lot! But in the end we spend too much time talking life and girlie talk, so we rescheduled the interview for tomorrow. After this I met up with the French biking guys. Frederic had to fly to Bangkok after lunch, but Rafael was staying around. In fact, he was planning on some riding around Chiang Mai, so we decided to ride to Mae Sot together. Then, as an early bike-buddy bonding experience I served as his guinea pig during a Thai massage class. I’m telling you, if you ever volunteer as a guinea pig, this is the place. Fully relaxed and full of new experiences we had dinner. Then, this being my last night in Chiang Mai I wanted to upload some photos and sent some emails. There was a little run in with the internet café owner (when they say they close at 11 don’t expect them to be open at 10.30…). Back at the hostel it appeared that everyone was either partying or asleep. This was good news to me because the usually overloaded wifi was all of a sudden more than happy to upload all my pics.

    DSCF4341.jpg

    March 18 2016

    Packing is becoming second nature. The only challenge was to get all the gear down from the third floor, without the sweat dropping from my forehead. Helionor brought her microphone and camera and we set of to the garden of the temple across the street. The interview was all done in one take, 15 minutes. It should be online some time soon so I will share the link. Time to meet up with Rafael. He had his bike packed and together we set sail for the Customs office. Without going into the details, my paperwork wasn’t quite in order, so they “solved it” by calling someone and now there are two names in Thai letters on a piece of paper which should get the bike and me across to Myanmar. Fingers crossed. After the boring stuff we could really rock and roll. Out of town the houses and shops were replaced by forest and mountains. Later we followed a river for a long time. To top it off, there would be a big golden temples and Buddha statues every so many kilometres. Wow, what a ride! We planned to do 200 km but there were so many little side roads that caught our attention… Like pirates looking for a treasure chest we were on a mission to find the perfect camp spot. The first side road we tried lead straight to the communal rubbish dump, but the second was a success. We found a great spot, hidden away from everyone yet accessible with the bikes. We pitched the tent, watched the sunset, made a fire, cooked noodles and roasted bananas (tip: put them on a stick but leave the skin on!). Some relaxing music and a clear sky full of stars made it extra special.

    DSCF4377.jpg

    March 19 2016

    We had 240 km ahead of us. A good distance, but very do-able. So when we passed a sign for hot springs the decision was easily made. It was a 10 km detour, with a kilometre of gravel in there but so worth it! We arrived at a river, buffaloes grazing the extremely green grass, local hill tribe people in colorful clothing waving at us and a bamboo bridge across the river to the hot springs (picture above). The owner filled a big bath with hot spring water for us and we enjoyed a most relaxing morning dip. After more than an hour we really needed to kick our own butts to get back on the road. But wow, was that road worth it! The mountains higher and more impressive then yesterday and again we were treated to river view. It was a great scene to celebrate my 50,000th kilometre on the bike, a milestone I’d never even thought of reaching. We continued and passed some refugee camps, people from Myanmar who came to Thailand but live in camps, not allowed to go into the country. Naïve as we were we went under the barbed wire and were welcomed with handshakes and high fives from many kids. As we walked, flanked by a growing group of children, between the fascinating bamboo huts we were quickly spotted by a man in military uniform and urged to go back to the other side of the fence. The children who had welcomed us and followed us around were now separated from us behind the barbed wire boundary. There was nothing we could do other than continuing our journey. And so we made it to Mae Sot. Here we found Peter and Leonie and a guesthouse with a nice room, Rafael deserved a decent bed after literally sleeping on a pile of leaves yesterday. We all had dinner together and prepared to cross the border to Myanmar early tomorrow morning. It was great to have a riding buddy for these two days, thanks Raf!
    #34
  15. PHILinFRANCE

    PHILinFRANCE Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,570
    Location:
    S W France my little bit of paradise
    You got me :clap
    #35
  16. Ironbone

    Ironbone n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Sweden
    Hi!

    I'm writing a travel piece at www.motorcycleist.com, would you like to be featured and answer some questions? Your story would do great:)
    #36
  17. 125uCrazy

    125uCrazy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Good Ol' London Town
    loving the RR so far, and a huge fan of small bike tours.

    Please keep it coming
    #37
  18. TheNetworker

    TheNetworker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Germany, Lower Saxony
    I am in - safe journey.
    #38
  19. PropTP

    PropTP Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    262
    Location:
    Europe
    Subscribed!
    #39
  20. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    380
    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    Very cool report, following here and on FB!

    Groeten
    Ruud uit Barcelona
    #40