Vietnam to the Himalayas, then the Moon?? The Great 2016 Trans-IndoChina Hemi Run

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ExodusRider, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    My first ride report here at AdvRider:

    Flying out Sunday @ midnight (Nov 28th, 2016) to Bangkok, Thailand for a few days then to Hoi Chi Minh (Saigon) to start a "Trans-IndoChina" solo motorbike ride all the way to Nepal/Tibet and the Himalayas.

    What will I be riding some might ask? You guessed it, not the RNineT :jack, though I wish she was coming!
    RNineT2.JPG



    More like a new 2016 130cc Detech (Honda Win replicate) café style bike.. for $650? Sure why not!! https://stylemotorbikeshanoi.com/detechmotorbikes/

    They ought to be pretty simple to maintain and parts/consumables easily found while on the road.
    Detech.png

    There are tons of older 2000-2009 ones out there for $250-$350, but most of them been beaten up, rebuilt, repainted, and lord knows what...

    But then again, I did it last year from South Vietnam all the way north to the Chinese border ( about 2000 miles in 12 days) on an old 2Kyr bike. Cost me $250 for bike & $150 in repairs / maintenance in route. So was it worth it? Absolutely! We spend that much on a decent adventure helmet, lol :-)




    The goal is to get to one of the highest roads/passes between Nepal & Tibet (need Chinese Visa to enter Tibet though) and stand at the pearly gates of a Tibetan monastery and say “Give me the knife” -EM Golden Child.

    The rough route would be to ride north west from Hoi Chi Minh:
    1. Cross southern Vietnam
    2. Southern Cambodia
    3. Southern Thailand
    4. Southern Mynamar
    5. Bangladesh
    6. Dip through eastern India abit
    7. North to Nepal / Himalayas
    8. Then Southeast through Bhutan, Myanmar
    9. Finally, north Laos south down to Saigon or Bangkok
    2016 IndoChina to Himalayas.png
    I calculated to be about 10,000 km / 6000 miles, which is nothing since I did 12K miles in 30 days last trip through North Eastern Canada (Newfoundland, Labrador, etc) , except this time, average speed will probably be 45 miles/hr this time around. Who knows how long that will take? :p


    I have budgeted a month. :imaposer Yes, I hear laughing in the room... you there in the 3rd row..:y0!. How and why??

    Because I have buns of steel, and my perception of being any place more than a day or two starts to feel more like a vacation, less an adventure.. so I tend not to linger anywhere for too long. Plus, one has only so many days of vacation .. In the spirit of "it's not the destination but the journey", ride on and on ..


    From my past couple of trips, in particular the trip in this region last year, I definitely packed too much gear so I'm trimming the fat this time:

    With the rainy seasons wrapping up, it'll still be mildly warm/humid.. leaving all that super armor goretex BMW/KLIM crap at the house :D

    Clothing:
    1. 3 or 4 days of smartwool / superdry type socks, boxers, T/A Shirts
    2. A pair of motorbike jeans (w/ pads), a pair of AD1 Aerostich paints (only because they are light, fit like jeans, and waterproof - almost).
    3. Light waterproof jacket.
    4. Gonna just pick up a helmet, mesh armor jacket, and gloves on site, they are inexpensive to buy. Besides, won't be breaking any 70 mph speed posting (there aren't any that high:jack)
    5. My favorite pair of adv riding boots of course .
    6. Hiking shoes, pair of shorts, and a baseball cap.
    General Gear
    1. 2 x GoPros & accessories
    2. 15 thin Dell M3800 Laptop & accessories
    3. IPhone 6s, battery pack, & phone mount/charging accessories
    4. WhatsApp for texting/chatting with international folks
    5. MapsMe App for offline Nav and Step-By-Step directions
    6. XE App for currency exchange rates
    7. basic tire repair kit, toolkits, air tire pump, leatherman, zip ties, electric tape, etc.
    8. May consider 1-man tent, sleeping pad, pocket stove, 1-man portable potware
    9. some basic 1st aid / meds / sun blocker / baby powder (humid there)
    10. camel pack/water filter (life straw)
    11. Sadly, leaving Phantom Drone & DLSR cam at home. IPhone takes decent photo. Still waiting for DJI foldable Mavic drone to ship.. geezzz..
    12. 35L drybag backpack for everything listed
    Documents
    1. US passport
    2. International Driver's License ($15 from AAA)
    3. Vietnam Visa
    4. Laos & Cambodia Visa can be obtained at border crossing
    5. India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Bhutan Visa can be ordered electronically a couple of days in advanced per my research.
    6. traveler's Insurance (World Nomads)
    7. decoy wallet / copies of original docs
    8. waterproof doc case
    Anyhow, I've got two more days before I deploy. If anyone here have any suggestions, questions, feedback, and/or recent pass experience with traveling in that region, border crossing advice, documentation requirement knowledge, etc.. feel free to chime in.

    One neat thing about traveling solo is the only level of comfort you'll have to worry about is yourself, ha... which means you can go as cheap or as expensive as the mood calls for, in terms of food and shelter. I truly enjoy camping out in the wild, we'll just have to make a judgement call on the area..

    So I have already set the mental expectation that if I have a misfortunate like the bike gets totaled, stolen, broken down beyond repair, I'm an avid hiker so I'll just walk to the nearest spot to get aid and continue the trip.

    Mentally, I'm also okay with not getting to the final destination or if route / schedule changes (they often do). When you make this kind of trip, I think you're just have to accept early on that something / someone may go afoul and you deal with it. "Plan for the best, prepare yada yada..

    So long as you are healthy and financially able to recover from it, we push on. Safe travels to all during the holidays. Be Joyful and God bless.

    Hope to keep this thread filled with funny stories, awesome people, fantastic food, breath taking scenery and perpetuate the inspiring notion that "People are Innately Kind and Good.."
    #1
    Creekside, DyrWolf, bullfrog and 9 others like this.
  2. plumer1kt

    plumer1kt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,138
    Location:
    Hellas
    have a safe trip!
    i'll be watching you!:lurk
    #2
    wallacefrances71 likes this.
  3. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    I absolutely agree with your philosophy!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #3
    DelHess and wallacefrances71 like this.
  4. dmkim01

    dmkim01 Hope Ridelong

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Conyers, GA
    Watching . good traveling .
    #4
  5. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,327
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Best of luck. Ride safe.
    #5
    DirtyDRE likes this.
  6. BayerischeMotorrad

    BayerischeMotorrad Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2016
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    USA
    Ride On Hermano! God bless your journey...
    #6
  7. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Where to go and who to see about crossing the borders??

    So last year after getting to Northern Vietnam from South, I had attempted to cross into Laos near the Vietnamese border town of Dien Bien Phu (Northern West side of the country). Was told I wasn't allowed to take the Vietnamese registered bike over to Laos at that junction, though I could get a visa and walk/take bus across. I tried to explain my desire to head through Laos and south to Cambodia and back to the motherland. My Vietnamese is good, but apparently, it AIN"T that good !!

    So I headed south and stayed on the western side of the country back to Ha Noi.

    ( A little side note: I was born in central/south Vietnam but fled the war in 1975 w/ all the other "boat people" when I was 2 or 3 years old. Last year was the first time in more than 40 years (I'm 43 now) I set foot on my "motherland", it was surreal . I was expecting to see what RAMBO saw in the movies. But funny thing, no one drew "First Blood"..

    People were so friendly for the most part, it felt like I never left.. Outside the lack of hot blondes, RVs, concealed handguns, and super fast bikes, it's almost like USA.. ALMOST :D

    As I learned, there are ways and border points that are easier than others to cross so the best thing to do is research the internet and see who has recently successfully crossed and what advice they had, making note where, when, and what process to cross in the least painful manner.

    With that said, there seem to be some basic information / documentation we'll all need:

    1) Your Passport (w/ more than 6 months before expiration.. naturally)
    2) The Blue (or Green) Registration Card ( the "Title" for us Mericans ) for the Bike (make sure the plates / VIN number matches (if there IS a VIN :p )
    • I'm told it's easier to get a Vietnamese registered bikes through Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand (for Thailand, stricter with name of registration / passport matching) than from the countries back into Vietnam.

    • What's interesting about these cards are, for the most part will be registered under a Vietnamese company or resident. Even when you buy the bike and they hand you a Reg Card, it will remain under the previous owner's name. Best to save the receipt, photo of you, the bike, person, and place you bought the bike from. Unless you actually living in Vietnam, it's a lengthy process to get it under your own name (a week or so I'm told) and a local address, if possible at all. I'll find out soon enough.

    • Nevertheless, apparently, it's common that Cambodia and Laos will allow to cross so long as you have the Reg Card.

    • However, going through Thailand and Myanmar, unless the bike is titled under your name, gonna be tricky.. might be ways around it like a Power of Attorney doc , or some certified letter. These countries are more strict, requiring Temporary Import Permit of bike and proof of insurance..
    3) Receipt of where you bought the bike if possible.
    4) International Driver's License to be safe

    There are so many variables such as
    1) What country that bike was registered / plates are from
    2) Which regional was the bike from
    3) The import /export requirements of each country and
    4) most importantly, if at the particular border crossing if the agent a) had a fight with his wife last night, b) if the washing machine broke and they need a new one, and/ or c) if their son /daughter just got accepted to Ha Va ( the equivalent of Harvard University... not really :p ).

    In any case, my route is really going to depend on how well / how lucky I'll be when crossing into these countries. I have a feeling, I'm gonna be able to cross to Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand okay with the Vietnamese bike but end up hiding it in the forest / bushes of Thailand / Myanmar and buying another cheap bike to ride across to Bangladesh.. once in Bangladesh, getting the bike through Bangladesh, India, and Nepal should be fine. Time will tell.

    There's a weath of knowledge and experience our fello adv riders have gone through. I have to add success stories to the articles below.

    References: Very useful, thank you guys for all the great information in the articles below
    https://nomadasaurus.com/crossing-the-border-motorbike-southeast-asia/
    http://www.gt-rider.com/touring-information-overview/s-e-asian-border-crossings
    #7
    PDX Alamo, orbiter and Scubalong like this.
  8. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I'm adding a few pictures from the last trip to kick things off and give you guys a taste of what is to come.
    I was totally comfortable riding in Vietnam since I spoke the language. In fact, I faked it a couple of times that I didn't speak the language, that I was actually Philipino from America, looking for a New Wife and Young Bike.. or vice-versa.:clap

    Man, the kind of stuff people will say when they don't think you understand them. Needless to say, there were a lot of red faces when I spoke up afterwards.. mostly was in good fun.
    It's definitely going to be foreign once out because I really don't speak anything else but Spanish so will sure respond with "Si Senor, gracias!" when I make out of Vietnam.

    A few things I noticed in traveling through Vietnam.
    There's never a 1) eatery 2) a mechanic/garage 3) motel and 4) Karaoke place further than 5 miles from any point. At least it seemed.

    IMG_3457.JPG


    IMG_3671.JPG

    IMG_3849.JPG


    IMG_3884.JPG
    #8
  9. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    So the big departure day is upon us as I feverishly prep final steps. I wanted to add some traveling, visa type info. I am no way an expert on this stuff, learning as I go. What I'm posting is what I can essentially research online.
    There are a lot of 3rd party visa websites online that will essentially take your application for a fee on top of what the country immigration department is charging so best go straight to the source.

    The following countries do provide the ability to get tourist visa in real time at the border crossing (assuming the check point you get to does provide that service, the bigger/busier will surely do; the little remote ones, perhaps).
    Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Nepal

    These countries provide eVisa (electronic / emailed / online App, no immigration office visits to submit app / pick up app). Though the app normally requires date of arrival, hotel name /address, and/or airport arrival/ departure.

    Since I'm riding through, I just "pricelined" a hotel where I think I might end up by evening of crossing the border, and the closest airport to the border crossing. Figured when I got to border, I could talked them into letting me cross, using my Asian Texan Cowboy twang naturally; ya herr ?:rofl

    Mynamar, India, Bangladesh

    These countries accept application visa online but Visa will require it be physically picked up / mailed, etc.
    China

    These countries do not need a visa (for US citizens, Canada, most of West European). They may try to charge a "tourist visa fee" at smaller crossing; make a little fuss if they try, .. ask for a receipt if that's a case and see if they back down)
    Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Signapore.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Here's list of fees and website links in case anyone is interested:
    1. Myanmar (28 days single entry / $50)
    http://www.evisa.moip.gov.mm/NoticetoTourists.aspx

    2. Bangladesh (single, reentry, multiple: same $160 fee, yikes! Will by-pass this one)
    https://www.visa.gov.bd/

    3. India ($60 )
    https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
    https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/eTV_revised_fee_final.pdf fee schedule

    4. Nepal ($25/ 15 days, $40 30 days, $100.00 90 days - all multiple entries)
    http://www.online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa
    http://www.nepalembassyusa.org/tourist-visa/
    Tourist visa may also be obtained at any of the following entry points:A. Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu Immigration Offices along Nepal-India border
    I. Kakarbhitta, Jhapa,
    II. Birganj, Parsa
    III. Balahia Bhairahawa,
    IV. Jamunaha, Nepalgunj,
    V. Mohana, Dhangadi,
    VI. Gaddachauki, Mahendranagar
    C. Immigration Office along Nepal- China border I. Kodari, Sindhupalchok
    D. Immigration Office, Pokhara (not the entry point)

    5. China Embassy ($140 for single/multiple entries, 6 to 12 months)
    http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fees/t1236036.htm
    http://www.china-embassy.org/chn/lszj/bgxz/P020130830121570742708.pdf

    I would probably by pass Bangladesh and China as it seems silly to pay $150 to cross it for a day or so.. In any case, feel free to add / comments on any information presented.
    #9
  10. EdChap13

    EdChap13 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2016
    Oddometer:
    151
    Location:
    Lansing Mi
    This sounds awesome! Love the small bike setup.
    #10
  11. yaw

    yaw lost

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    85
    Location:
    Republic of PDX Oregon
    Can't wait to see this one unfold. I spent time in Myanmar and Bangladesh back in 86'. I can still vividly remember crossing the border from Bangladesh into India and how the smells improved and art began to appear. You will be traveling through some fantastic country!
    #11
  12. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Lol, the smell improved when leaving Bangladesh to India ?? India .... now I'm intrigued :)

    Speaking of smell; about to board plane so figured I'll visit the throne first .

    Lucky me, 8 free stalls open; as soon as I sat down, two guys came and used the stall left and right of me ... what the heck ???

    Can the brother get some personal space here ?? Lol

    Line at 9:30 , IAH Houston, TX on a Sunday night ..

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #12
  13. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    As I'm waiting to board, thought I might teach everyone some basic Vietnamese.

    First of all, unlike any other / most other Asian languages, Vietnamese is natively Latin based characters.

    i.e. There is not a separate version / representation of the language for foreign eyes to read (i.e. No tic tac toe signs to make out :)

    2) every word is one syllable, not like those crazy Thai names !!

    Lol, there may be compound words (normally no more than 2 words) that give rise to another word but still comprised of 2 mono-syllable words.

    Example would be something like a direct translation of sailor in Vietnamese being "water soldier" etc.

    in that aspect, It could be conceived as a mystical / floral language .. like the America Indian language .. "woman who walks on water" = a swimsuit model , "woman on one wheel" = bad ass bike chick ?

    3) no F, by PH has F sound ; like what the Pho?

    4) two Ds
    a) a hard D like Dog has a little dash cross the stem of the D

    B) a soft D sounds like a Z ( just written as regular D)

    5) no Z, but Nh and D has Z sound

    6) Th has the T sound , the T has the Th sound .. I know .. crazy aye?? So New Years is Tet ( but pronounced THet ) - you remember this one and the locals will be amazed.

    Done with lesson 1; about to take off.
    #13
    bullfrog, wallacefrances71 and Len like this.
  14. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,728
    Location:
    vancouver bc
    looking forward to following along.
    #14
    ExodusRider likes this.
  15. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    276
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    On the visa and paperwork front, I assume you will need a carnet de passage for India for your bike?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #15
  16. ExplorerFrog

    ExplorerFrog Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Really looking forward to your report. I spent 6 years covering SE Asia for an electronics manufacturing supplier. Spent a fair amount of time in Ho Chi Minh City and only ever learned to say em dep lam. :killen Lots of lovely women if you're young and single.

    Glad to see you discovering your home country and roots. It really is a beautiful country with beautiful people. It's been a few years since I've been, but in the 2000s there were lots of "Việt Kiều" going back to start businesses or just to see for the first time the land they left when very young like yourself.

    Only change I'd make to your route would be to go from Vientiane across northern Thailand and avoid China. Lots and lots of great riding there and many places to cross the border into Myanmar. Some great rides in the Chiang Rai area.

    Good luck!!!
    #16
  17. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #17
  18. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Excellent feedback, will surely add that to the planning . "Em Dep Lam" (You are so beautiful!) is definitely be the universal phrase to learn lol
    #18
  19. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Profound Clown Moment #1: Thanks for the “Lift”

    Last night, I had a dream I was digging a hole in my backyard back in Texas. I dug long and hard.. 15 hours straight it felt like. This morning when I woke up?? Bam, CHINA baby!! Not an urban myth after all..


    It’s amazing what mankind has achieved in the last 200 years. A trip like this would have taken years to cross the globe and the likelihood of getting injured or killed was extremely high. Now, you’re likely just run into a rude passenger or a hot flight attendant.

    Today, one could take a few Benadryl during a red eye and be in the land of “Marco Polo”. Some near tomorrow, take a few more Benadryl, be in the land of “Han Solo”. I like to take this opportunity to thank my past awesome brethren Newton, Bernoulli , the Wrights Bro, et al for the “LIFT” (pun for fun?)
    #19
    orbiter and Len like this.
  20. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    8,888
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    in!! spent a few weeks (not on a bike) in thailand, laos and vietnam a couple years ago and loved it! gonna return to ride next year. i am sure you will have a great adventure!
    #20
    ExodusRider likes this.