July 10, 2013 - Chiang Mai has been an incredibly welcome stop on the whirlwind that is world travel. It has been good to establish a routine again and live a somewhat more normal life, with working hours and some focused goals.
The first few weeks were consumed with pursuing an idea I'd had for a while around correlating publicly listed company information and dividend data. I won't bore you with the details, safe for the interesting fact that yield data for perpetual preferreds is mispriced on Yahoo Finance versus the Canadian exchange from which the numbers originate. After gorging on masses of data and getting to a point where I had a few "aha!" moments, it was time to dig up the camera and figure out what all the buttons did again, a mix of financial ideas and photographic composition floating in my Pad See Yie and yoghurt Mango shake nurtured brain.
There are a number of reclining Buddhas around Thailand, this one in Wat Chedi Luang.
Wat Chedi Luang at night.
A wat I had missed on previous visits was Wat Srisuphan. It's coated with plated silver.
One day I was out for a ride and cursed myself for having parked the rear wheel in an oil puddle, until I looked closer. I had a massive oil leak. Within seconds of parking back home, a small oil puddle formed.
Upon closer inspection, it was immediately obvious that I was not going to go too far with this.
A quick look-see after popping the wheel off confirmed my fear, a leaking final drive seal. A few postings to gt-rider.com, rideasia.net and thaivisa.com resulted in the phone number of the parts manager at BMW Motorrad here in Chiang Mai. I got lucky, as the final drive seal in the newer bikes is the same diameter.
Two days later, I had a new $28 seal in my hands. Another very welcome email was an offer of help from Marc, an expat Belgian with a rich history in the motorcycle community worldwide. I forgot how many bikes he has sprinkled around various continents, but he's in cahoots with a lot of the core Adventure Rider crowd in the US and Mexico and stores a few bikes at his place for various people.
He appreciated my predicament as he'd bounced on an R80G/S through Africa for about 100,000 kms while he lived all over the continent there. So on the lift she went.
The fix took some doing, as the newly purchased seal puller gave up the ghost after a few tries. We did it the old way, drilling holes in the seal and rigging a few drywall screws in it to yank the seal out.
Marc's place is huge and sits in the middle of a small walled forest which he landscaped.
The views from the top floor are amazing.
With the bike fixed, we chatted away the afternoon and had lunch. At one point I had my finger on the starter after saying my goodbyes when Niki, Marc's wife, convinced me to stay for dinner as well. A long evening followed during which I got the back story on life in Thailand, expats and their Thai "girlfriends", politics, business and all sorts of other bits and pieces that are never obvious when you are a mere tourist.
The surprises were not over, as the next day I ran into Lotte again, the impromptu model from Pai.
We spent a few days hanging around talking about life and drinking coffee.
During all of this, my motorcycle decided to spring another leak, this time at what looked like a dry-rotted pushrod seal. It seemed that with the bike sitting for a few weeks in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, some of the seals had succumbed to the heat and humidity. Or maybe they were just old. Not having any idea on when I would leave Chiang Mai, I decided to ignore it and shoot more pictures.
During the past year, I had kept in touch with Christina, a fellow traveler I ran into in Zaruma, Ecuador, back in October of 2012. Since then, she'd traveled the Silk Road and spent time in Turkey, Iran, the 'Stans and eventually made her way to Kashgar in China. Sick of China, she decided to detour and visit Chiang Mai. We spent a wonderful two weeks together before she went off to Vietnam.
"Hey dude, why are you drilling a hole in my engine?"
Eventually I had to deal with the leaking bike again. I spent a good few hours and a few liters of gasoline cleaning off all the crud and oil stuck to the engine. Still unable to determine the exact cause of the oil leak, I decided to contact Joe, a German expat and local bike mechanic. Since I knew I'd stripped one of the bolt threads holding the oil cover on, I would have to repair it eventually. Following advice from other Airheads, I used some RTV to seal the crumbling pushrod tubes. It's not pretty looking, but it works.
The thread was Heli-Coiled but still oil was dribbling out from under the oil filter cover. Upon much closer inspection, I found that the O ring was perforated when held up to the light. My last O ring went into the bike and magically, it stayed dry.
Riding away from Chiang Mai, you quickly leave the city, with roads meandering along rivers and through small villages. Wats in tiny villages pop up with alarming regularity and compel you to stop and take more pictures.
Hours can be whiled away in various coffee shops along the way.
My daily routine includes a stop at Pa Fruit Shake, the best shake in town, mere steps from the hotel I am staying at.
In a few weeks I will move on to Laos and potentially Vietnam, as I've found out you can actually enter Vietnam with your own bike at one of the border crossings. More adventures await, for sure.