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Old 10-29-2012, 07:35 PM   #451
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Sorry SJ.... I've been meaning to, honest. I went through some pretty thin internet areas, but I've got plenty uploaded to work with now. Just need to find somewhere cool to sit.

Speaking of sitting... ata asked about how long people here can work like that... squatting on their haunches... seemingly forever. They all do it, young and old. They are damn flexible and damn fit.

Things are winding down a bit at this end. I'm in Siem Reap, which is where I'll leave the 525 for a few months. I need to be home by the start of December, as the missus goes in for her second hip replacement. I think I need to say something about her dedication here. She is a school teacher and she's struggled through this year in a lot of pain because she wouldn't desert her classes for a few months. Dedication above and beyond, methinks.

The 525 needs some bits replaced too. Its in pain....



Still, its got me here. I'll post up the ride from Phnom Penh to here later. I took a few detours to get away from the main roads. I still need to do the baa baa tourist thing and get out to Angkor Wat. I've seen it before, two years ago and I reckon I'll see it again when I come back to ride the Cardamoms.

In the meantime... for your sensory pleasure... how's this one?



And let me introduce you to Cambodia's newest adventure rider. Chin Chin is but 8 weeks old. That's her dad, who will be minding the 525 for me.



I've told him in no uncertain terms that it will NOT be in their room with them. There's 4 of them living in the one room... and I'll take the risk on it being outside... with a big chain on it.

I'm on a flight out of here on Nov 1... back to the SE in Chiang Mai. I want to ride the Mae Hong Son loop, with its 1864 corners (I've done the bottom half of it already). I need to get transport for the bike sorted, either by ship or plane out of Bangkok.... should be home by Dec 1.

Update later. Its my mate's day off today, so I might ask him to help me with an oil change and sourcing a chain and cover. I'm so nice eh?
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:36 AM   #452
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So, to finish off Phnom Penh, this time around at least, I guess I should explain a bit more of why I didn't get out to the Killing Fields.

I've seen enough death and destruction over the years.... and I don't think a second visit is going to inform me any more than the first.

Here's a couple of shots from my first Asian ride, a bit over two years ago. I came through here with a friend, we went down the Mekong and bought scooters and headed north on that trip.

The Killing Fields



There were signs there asking people to not walk on the mass graves... but this next shot is the pathway. That's human bones coming through everywhere and bits of clothing.



The Khmer Rouge were absolute scum... and there's plenty of them still breathing, unfortunately.

I guess the hangover of that and the impending end of the trip slowed me down a bit in PP.

Its a funny feeling. After 15 months, 10 of them on the road, and I've finally reached the end point of this trip. Sort of, and almost. There's a month to go in Thailand and I'll have the "new" bike here for a ride or two more up here. That'll be the Cardamoms in Cambodia and back to Laos.... in the dry, maybe. Then, it looks like Burma may be a possibility in a year or two. I'd like to set up a Cardamom trip with another rider or two along. Try the old smuggler's track maybe. Definitely not a ride to do alone.

I made it to Siem Reap after two dusty days on the road from Phomh Penh.... not in a straight line, of course. I stopped at Kampong Thom so that I could take a morning stroll through the three Sambor Prei Kuk compounds.

These particular temples are the start of it all in relation to the temples and monuments that would eventually include Angkor Wat some 800 years later. Sambor Prei Kuk is pre-Angkorian, started in 609 AD and we are very lucky it survives. The US Air Force dropped 200 bombs on it in 1971-72, destroying a lot of the temples. In the central compound, only one of the original 42 survives. What's left is still amazing.

Latest route map. Last two days is dark grey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.



I took some back roads from there and eventually rejoined the main highway for the last 100km or so. Lots of water out there on the plains... most people in it one way or the other... with fishing nets, scoops or whatever... chasing protein.

I've caught up with my mate, who's flat out with work at the moment, but we've had dinner a couple of times and I've been out to see his family. He's still got his old tuk tuk from when I met him a couple of years ago, but its his new van that's bringing home the money now. There's 10,000 drivers in this town now... mostly in tuk tuks. He's a good bloke and I was happy to help him get the van. Most days he's got both on the road.

It was good to catch up with Jeat. He's a guy with the right attitude.... and he's as crappy a subject for a photo as me...



Its also been good to stop in the one place for a few days, get some laundry done properly... starting to get the red dust out,,, and to recover from whatever bit of nasty food it was that churned my guts something fierce. I'm blaming this lady... she took me to a quality restaurant in PP... food was great going in, but, sheesh.....



Maybe it was her way of stopping me coming out to have a look at her NGO setup. She's got 2,500 kids and young adults that she (and 500 staff) are educating. All from families earning under 50 cents a day. Fascinating talking to her about it and some of the issues that I've been looking at on this trip. She cleared up a few of my questions.

Speaking of dining out, I saw an interesting side of things when I went out for dinner the other night with Jeat and friends. Four of us went to a "local" restaurant as he called it. When the bill came... four dishes, two buckets of beer (12 small bottles)... it was 180,000 kip.... $45. I commented that it was a bit much... he asked for it, looked at it, said something slightly heated to the waitress, who took it away. I asked what he said... "writing not clear". The bill came back... 80,000 kip. $20. The difference was "local prices". If anyone is coming here... and its well worth seeing... and wants a guide who will look after them, let me know.



Here's Jeat and Chin Chin

She's 8 weeks old.



and is giving him a bit of a hard time at night.

Here's the whole crew. I'm not sure whether to say this is in the kitchen or the garage... because its both



Jeat's settled down to married life since I was here June two years ago... during his last throes as a single man. Mei Mei was on the way and he wasn't too keen on settling down, but he's well there now. That's his original tuk tuk in the background. We went out the other night in his van, one of the many Ssanyong vans around here now. He's keeping it and the tuk tuk busy.

Its not an easy life though... he moved here because Mei Mei was too active around the main road he lived on before. This place is one room... and he was insisting my bike go in there, with the four of them. Um, no mate... the bike will go outside thanks.. I'll buy a big chain and a drop cloth. He's got a long way to go before he's what any of us would call set. Its well water there too, which I managed to avoid. His mum isn't too well either "her blood is very old". I reckon she might be around my age (he's coming up to 33, his wife 23).

We went to a live music venue the other night, one aimed at Cambodians, not tourists and were having a nice dinner, watching the singers when there was a scream and a crashing noise. A half dozen or so guys left and security put a human wall around a private room that was only about 5 metres from Jeat and I... and a cleaning team went to work. Turns out a cop smacked one of the hostesses in the mouth.... knocking a table flying in the process. Nice chap. Nothing came of it... and I doubt the cop(s) paid their bill.

Among all the singing, there was a middle aged woman come on... not dressed well, but when she started to sing.... her voice and songs were chillingly beautiful. We and many others tipped her.. the only singer to get money btw. She was a landmine victim.. no feet, on crutches.... singing to support her family. There's one new landmine victim every day in this country...

I said I'd "sort of" reached the end of the trip. I'm going to potter around here for a few more days, store the bike (petrol out, new oil, bit of oil in the cylinder, up on blocks if I can organise it) and then fly back to Chiang Mai on Nov 1. I've got a couple more rides to do up there... including finishing the Mai Hong Son loop... with its 1864 corners... and I've got to figure out how to get the big bike home. There's some bureaucracy involved and in the end it may be easier to fly it out, depending on how long my import approval takes to get. I went to fill the form in a while back, but I need to include a photo of the compliance plate, so I might be cutting it fine. Many guys in the past can't even get shipping agents to return a phone call. Time will tell.

Back to the ride. How's this for a load on a bike?



That was on the main highway... and I saw a couple of them like that. Its a Cambodian semi-trailer.

Then, there's this. If its sunny, you need a hat. Just grab a branch from the nearest tree.



That most certainly wasn't on the highway. Well off it in fact. It was back to kids looking up, seeing me and fleeing into the paddy fields. Sometimes, not always.

When I came back to the highway, I found this...



The load, including people, extended a couple of metres out the back of the van. There were 4 motorbikes out there... three of them bouncing along the road, a couple with people sitting on them. More on the roof. Maybe 30 or more people in a 12 seater van.

One of the earliest of the temples I mentioned (northeast of Kampong Thom by about 25km, half of it up a chewed out dirt road). Sambor Prei Kuk.



This damage inside one isn't from the USAF... its been raided for the gold under the floor... the stonework destoyed by a bomb



That's the female representative part of the show. The male part, umm, plugs in above ... like this (a photo I took in a museum in Vietnam, but its the same sort of thing)







One of heaps of bomb craters there










That's the clearance sign at the temple I visited today. They cleared 1.5 million square metres there, which isn't much, pulling over 400 mines and over 800 UXO items. There's an awful lot of mines and UXO in the wider area.

Nice temple. Beng Melea. It was built in the 14th century by the same king who built Angkor Wat. Its 63km from Siem Reap, so its less visited than most. Its sprawling... covering one square kilometre and quite heavily impacted by vegetation. Reminiscent of Ta Prohm (Tomb Raiders).








I'll sneak in s few more photos while I'm holed up in this restaurant, but most of them will have to wait.

This is the jungle track I backed out of a couple of days ago. Shoes and cotton trousers wasn't the gear to be riding in up 8' rock shelves... with 20km to go to the destination.



That, and the buggered sprocket on the bike convinced me to back down this trail.

The bike is still OK around town, but I'm taking it easy. I pulled up next to some traffic cops the other day. They weren't the slightest bit interested in checking out a bike with no rego plate.



This is the outside moat at Beng Melea (spelt at least 3 different ways in things I've seen)



I've seen heaps of old boats semi-submerged or abandoned as I've gone around.



Another typical warning sign. A branch on the road. In this case, go to the left... you die.... its a big, big hole.



some more from the Boang Melea temple. This was built in the 14th Century.



A Buddha or two among the rubble



I wasn't over enthused at walking on carvings.. there were obvious signs of wear... but it was an official guide who took me through. He was damn good too, pointing out some decent angles









Crocodile in the centre



Hey Hey, We're the Monkeys



I'm loading from the thumbnails, but I'm pretty sure this is the rhinocerous. There were also elephants, tortoises, etc



This one of a pair of the small libraries. Also two large ones



There's lots of Chinese tourists in town. Not lots of anyone out at this temple, but the Chinese made up the bulk. This guy was from Nanjing, where my daughter completed her TCM degree... spending 4 months there. She loved Nanjing.



Some of the blocks could use some re-aligning.



Some Roundup would help too.





.... and for something totally different... this lady was trying to earn a few cents selling waterlilly buds at a service station.



I was out on Tonle Sap ysterday - and got a couple of hundred shots of various boats and pier houses. I got to drive the tourist boat (did that last time I was here too)... I was quite surprised that they let me bring it up the channel... albeit with lots of piloting instructions.

Here's the road heading out of Siem Reap yesterday. It gets a lot worse than this.



I rode out to a small town east of Siem Reap, near Tonle Sap, the big lake that dominates a map of Cambodia.

This lake is 26 times more productive than the North Sea apparently... one of the most fertile fishing grounds on the planet. Those upstream will stuff it eventually. I read yesterday of another 3 dams being built in Laos... despite not having approvals. Big hydro stuff.

Here's a boat being repaired




On the water again...



This kid pushed off the side of out boat... about a 40'er, jumped up onto the fixed rat tail of the boat... with its exposed, spinning 14" prop.... and dived back in, while we were moving.



Local secondary school





Local seafood. Luckily the owner's daughter sat down and peeled most of my prawns for me.



The other daughter, our waitress, is 5 days older than my youngest.



21 in two months

Apparently I was a good customer.



That guy surrounded by our evidence is from someone else's boat.... carrying a couple of American women. They didn't buy his lunch (nor did I), but I did at least give him a beer or two... along with my driver and crew. Saw the same thing last time I was here. Not good folks. Buy your guides lunch and a beer or four... they'll love it and they'll look after you like a long lost brother.

... and when you ask "Can I have a drive"...





No worries, not even in the traffic.



Our skipper actually hit another boat on the way out btw.... just a glancing blow. You sure wouldn't want to have had your fingers on the gunwale.

I'll be back later with more. We had a thunderstorm here a few hours ago and its thrown my planning (ha ha) out. I need to get an oil change on the bike. I don't want to leave it for 4-6 months with old oil in it. I'm planning on taking in the sunset from Angkor Wat too... before heading out for dinner with Jeat.
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:55 AM   #453
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Great report Bigfella, I'll miss 'em when you return to Oz. I'll buy you a beer or three if you get to Perth
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:44 PM   #454
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Senses restored.

Thanks

SJ

How's business?
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:07 AM   #455
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Thanks guys.

SJ... I presume you mean Jeat's tuktuk / van business. He's got a couple of headaches tonight. His tuk tuk starter went today and he's got alternator problems too by the look of it. Its been a hard life for that little Honda... 7 years pulling the tuk tuk.. and it was second hand when he got it. When I dropped the bike out to his room for storage, he brought me back in the van. He's loaned it to a mate for 2 days. Brake pads are gone.... and he's got an 8am pickup.

They are pretty slack in their approach to things here. I did a bit of prodding and suggesting.

We had a somewhat damaging night last night. Not so much the frogs or even the eel or the steamed fish. More the beersssssssss. I saw 3am on the watch as I hit the sack... and then the alarm went off at 6am to do the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Ummm... no thanks.



The guys I'd all met out in the sticks over beer and fried crickets two years ago. One of them piped up today out at Ta Prohm... the Tombraider temple as its known.... "Hello Mr Ian" as I went past his tour group... sheesh. Can't hide anywhere here. The girl is from LA... one of two girls that one of the guys was showing the local food to. They handled the influx of extras well.

See.



Here's a couple from today for you. I had a good chat to these monks who ended up saying prayers for me after I made a donation for one of their causes.





I know this girl from two years ago. She's still the same bubbly kid. She saved me $50 last time. "Hey Mister.... you are losing your money" Anywhere else, she'd have followed me and scooped it up as it dropped out of my pocket.



As usual, there were wedding photos going on at Angkor Wat. Dunno how, but I seem to have missed the groom.



She spoke perfect English and thanked me when I asked her if the groom knew how lucky he is.





and on that note... I'm off for a massage. Tomorrow, I fly back to Chiang Mai

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Old 10-31-2012, 04:53 PM   #456
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Can't believe this trip is coming to a close...

For me your interaction with the locals is what makes it a great read.

Thank you for sharing your adventures.

Cheers

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Old 11-05-2012, 11:45 AM   #457
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Hullo Mr Ian.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:29 PM   #458
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Sorry John... you'll have to wait. The forum just ate the 90 minute post I just put together.

Arghhh
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:23 AM   #459
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Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
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Old 11-13-2012, 01:48 AM   #460
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Thanks Mark... I have to say, the friendliness of the locals has been a high point of the trip for me too. Its amazing just how welcoming they are. The trip's not over yet... and I've got some catching up to do on the writing.

I'm back in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The plan is to get the big bike shipping arranged, catch up with a friend's mate down the road a tad and take in some local events. I've just ridden the Mae Hong Son loop, with its 1864 curves. I'd done part of it before, but this time we took the dirt truck road and picked up the rest of the tar, so most of my planned riding is done.

There's also a couple of festivals here toward the end of the month (28th) - one entailing thousands of lanterns being released as hot air balloons at night, the other involving Hmong downhill cart races - although they are both on the same day I think and a bit apart. I've got my ticket already to fly out on the 29th. All that is as close to a plan as I've done the whole trip....

I had to take it easy for a few days. No booze, bland food, little activity. Damn near killed myself the last day I was in Cambodia. Food allergy. It hit me on the flight out of Cambodia to Bangkok... and my emergency pack ended up in the luggage after stuffups with carry-on gear. Late stage 1 treatment meant I got into stage 2 and the dreaded steroids. I was on the wind down of those last week and got hit again with a renewed and more serious attack. Never had that before... but have had anaphylaxis from it 10 years back which was intensive care hospital stuff for a couple of days. I was already having contra-indications from the steroids that'd have sent me to the hospital in Oz, but I just threw some more in and made it through. One of the staff here got upgraded to nurse duty for a while... sitting there with 5 Epipens lined up after a quick training session. I must remember to tip her when I leave. It was damn nice of her to do it for me.

I'd have been back to Oz already if it wasn't for all that. There's been a bit of death and destruction going on. My Dad's eldest sister died and I'd have gone to the funeral but for trying to stay breathing myself. I caught up with two other guys from Coffs Harbour here the other night (I was born and bred there for most of my younger years). Both here independently. Small world stuff. I used to race against one's father in Kittycats as a teenager (12' racing catamaran) and the other guy knew a mate of mine from many a year ago. Told me he was killed about 18 months back in a car crash. To make up the trio of death and destruction, the guy I bought the 525 off, Justin, went over the bars of his bike at speed the other day and has just got out of hospital, having had plates inserted into his arm.

Enough of the crap. Good stuff. The KTM 950 Super Enduro had sat gathering dust for 2 months. I drained a bit from each fuel tap... no water. Good. Cranked her up and she's running sweet. She coughed a few times the first time I rode her, but that's all done now. She's been yodelling in the mountains for the last five days. Two up this time and with an airhead BMW for company. Both of us threw it down the road... or should I say elephant track... no worries apart from me laying there in the mud with my pillion pounding away on my shoulder. Photos later.

So, medical emergencies aside, I'll see how I go getting some more Cambodia photos up. I've posted a few of these on other threads, but bear with me... I'll bring it all together here.

Siem Reap is a bustling town. Its got the high end places (Park Hyatt is opening in 2013 - but there's plenty of others)... right down to the $3 backpacker rooms. I went in for the lower midrange... $18 a night IIRC, including brekkie. There was a pool there, but my swimming trunks didn't make the cull for the smaller bike. Night entertainment ranges from dance restaurants, high end stuff, through local-oriented open air places, live music (mostly the hostesses singing a song and trying to get noticed) through to Pub Street... aimed at the lower end tourists. Here's the first of the Halloween parades






There's a lot of poverty and destruction still in Cambodia. I spoke at length with a Danish shipping guy who has a charitable foundation and he's built a couple of schools there. He was a bit cynical about the situation, but with good cause. An example.. a guy who's name I've forgotten, introduced high yield rice to Vietnam... turned them from an importer of rice to and exporter fairly quickly. Came to Cambodia and gave up after 8 years. The Cambodians introduced the high yield rice, but only planted half as much... why do more work than necessary. Also, lots of stuff being done as concessions for other contracts - build us a school so we look good in our statistics as part of the deal we do with you on xxxx deal... but then it doesn't get used, that sort of thing. He and I shared our views on NGOs and the problems in the sector. Smart guy... (thinks like me). I'll make contact with him again later. We covered off the issue of girls coming into the garments sector and ending up on their backs in nearby whorehouses too. This whole family issue - arranged marriages, bride price stuff creates a lot of downstream issues.

There's lots of professional beggars around the place. Many landmine victims. There's still 30 a month being killed / maimed, down from 300 a month a while back. The UXO / landmine problem is longstanding... back to the American war, the Vietnamese ousting of Pol Pot, troubles with Thailand and so on. I had some good discussions with folks, including victims, about it.... but that's not for here so much as elsewhere.

Professional beggars





I posted the one above earlier, but I'll run it again here because I didn't include the context earlier. I really don't like that professional begging stuff.

On a happier note, here's the guys I met two years ago, friends of my tuk tuk driver. We got some takeaway food and Jeat bought a carton of beer and some ice for us and took us to his friend's house. They threw in some fried crickets (taste good, hate the damn wings though) and we had a good chinwag about life in Cambodia.





These are mostly the guys I shouted dinner in Siem Reap in the photo a few posts back. It was lovely to return the favour from two years ago. They've been fast workers. That bamboo hut has been upgraded to house status and the owner, like Jeat, has had two daughters in two years.

Here's a bonus Siem Reap photo from two years ago... the storm that rolled across the lake while we were at the floating village.



I must dig out the rest of that panorama sequence... now that I've learnt how to stitch them together.

Here's some random ones from the temples. I spent a rather wet day riding around some of the ones I'd seen last time. Since I got back to Thailand, I've got some good leads on some really interesting ones to see when I go back to Siem Reap to collect the bike, including some remote stuff. One I really want to get to is a couple of animals carved from stone in the middle of the mountains... a full sized elephant.





My KTM with Jeat's tuk tuk



















Seen enough temples?

Meanwhile... look what found me

At a guess, its a 16C (C for Colonial) - derived from the Norton 16H (H for Home) model.



A sidevalve 500cc single. I believe it is a 1939 model - although someone said 1936. Not terribly important in the scheme of things. Its about the same weight as the Super Enduro but with one fifteenth as much power. 14hp. A nice ride half a dozen times a year to local cafe meets.





My father rode this model in Greece / Crete in WW2 - as a Despatch Rider / Provost - but much preferred the Indian Scout. These, along with the BSAs, Harleys and Indians were the bikes used by Commonwealth forces in WW2. Dad was wounded in Greece, left for dead - knocked out with shrapnel in his forehead (not removed until post-war) from a Stuka attack while he was directing traffic. When he came to, the Germans had advanced and he was behind enemy lines. He got back on his bike and rode past a German column, expecting a bullet in the back.... and made it back to the Allied lines. He was captured in Crete though and spent the rest of the war in holiday camps as a guest of Adolf.

I could "throw" this one in the crate with the Super Enduro (no particular customs issues involved... its old enough to not be a worrry for import approvals... just pay the $50 fee).... or, more likely, Neil, Clarissa and I will share a container and ship everything home if he can find another bike to throw in - and I do believe he's onto one.

I sorta like it. Its pretty original, except for the Bing carbie on it... should be an Amal. I doubt that's too much of an issue. It isn't running at present, but has been and wouldn't be hard to get going again. It isn't a project.... I need another project like a hole in the head... it just needs a service and re-location to Oz. I'd run it on historic plates. $28 a year rego IIRC.

It was carried out of Burma about 15 years ago and has no papers for here, hence its cheap. I'd have to export it as parts to get it out, but with import approval there's no issue in Oz.

I've also just grabbed a whole swag of KTM bits off Justin... the guy I bought the 525 EXC from. He had some motard wheels for it... with radial brakes. Big mutha of a disk... 320mm I think with a 4 piston caliper. They'll do the 950 as well... maybe with some playing with spacers, so that when I get everything home, I'll have two canyon racers and two dirt bikes... all achieved by just changing wheels. He finally got everything together and I'm still shaking my head at the fact he had two brand new front sprockets there,

I'm riding a Yamaha Fino around Chiang Mai. Just a getabout 115cc retro styled scooter for around town. - so much easier than the Super Enduro in the traffic. If only I could buy this sort of thing at the price in Oz. When I got home from Vietnam a couple of years ago, I went looking for something like this, but they were all in the $2,000+ range. Here, they are less than a third of that second hand.

It's got 11,000 genuine km on it. Never been dropped... 100mpg, etc Like this... but with road tyres, not knobbies.



I'll write up what's been happening back in Thailand.... later. Toy ride with the 1%ers, photos with the long necked women, etc. Oh yeah... snuck out of Thailand yesterday but they wouldn't let me ride into Burma. Photos later.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:53 AM   #461
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Love that Norton - get me one too.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:27 AM   #462
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Location: Dooral Dooral, Eastern Oz
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Anyone else? I guess you could rustle the odd one or two up, but all that takes time. If I'm lucky I might find a Vespa at the right price

Mine just got compressed... time that is. It looks like I'm back into Laos next week.

I've been to Hongsa in Laos twice and this would be the third time. There's three villages there that we are looking to get aid to. Two of them are only reachable by boat. 800 people all up. Very poor people. Clothes and blankets, basic stuff. Looks like we've got about $8k so far... $10 a person, but that's a start. We think we'll be taking two ute loads of stuff, I'll go on the Super Enduro if I can or drive a ute if I have to ship it beforehand.

Meanwhile... I've still got bikes (and me) to get home.... and after an "insufficient funds" message at the bank, I've been enjoying the vagaries of international transfers.....

Another update to follow in a day or two. There's lots to catch up on.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:13 PM   #463
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I went out looking for a Vespa yesterday. I can't see it happening. They are in the $2k to $3k range here. If I could pick one up for $1k, I'd probably throw it in the suitcase and take it home for the cappucino run of a morning. Too much else happening though....

The run back into Laos is on. Next weekend. It's a "give something back" run... kids clothes and blankets to three remote villages. One is reachable with the utes, the other two are working elephant villages that are only reachable by boat. Som is out buying 400 blankets now and a similar number of sets of warm kids clothes - winter is actually quite cold up in the hills. Its not a big event... its come about from a few guys who want to do something for some of the poorest people there... and they aren't into giving money to NGOs only to see large chunks disappear before things get to the needy. I won't say any more at this stage, but will write it up later.

So... Cambodia..... I guess I better finish off that section before I repeat myself too much.

Cambodia used to be my favourite Asian country. These days, I reckon I'd rate Laos as my favourite. I'm still in love with Cambodia, Flores & Sumatra (Indonesia) and NW Thailand... but Laos, away from the bitumen, is simply brilliant. I've had a few sessions at Riders Corner in Chiang Mai with guys who have a lot of riding (and running tours) in Cambodia. I've got some ideas for when I go back. One of the guys was riding in Cambodia back when Pol Pot was still popping people off. Hopefully, he might be in on part of my next ride. A few things I want to see are the pyramid temple (only one in SE Asia I believe) and the elephant sculpture that's a difficult single-track ride to access... and then I want to have a shot at the smuggler's track through the Cardamoms. That one's best done with a riding partner.

One of the things I really wanted to see in Cambodia was the lake with more water in it than when I was there at midyear last time. I'm rather worried for the future of Tonle Sap.... given all the dams being built in China and Laos in particular. I posted some photos of my trip out there... here's some more.

I posted a shot of me driving the tourist boat earlier. The controls on this boat were a lot more advanced than the one I drove a couple of years back. This one had a proper pedal box. Two years ago, the throttle was a bit of wire attached to the engine.... whack your foot down on the wire and go... not easy to finesse. Here's the good one::



At a guess, this is some sort of tourist development under construction





The villagers here are in the water left right and centre.



Every house had several of this style of boat tied up to it







Most of the powered boats were inboards, rather than rat tails





Like I said.... in the water everywhere



Not much paint used



This one shows the construction



In the dry season, these houses are 20' and more above water level



I'm not sure what the story is with these little shacks. I was told by Ellie that up in northern Laos little huts like this are retreats for lovers. Here?



It was nice to see waterbirds in their natural environment... rather than in the cooking fire



I showed the secondary school in an earlier post. This is the primary school




It was wall to wall boats up the channel













The shot above shows the stern tube on the boat, out of water here... and its missing its shaft and prop. These things are normally driven with a 5hp Honda stationary engine... or something similar. Very different to the rat tail boats on the rivers.

This next one shows them drying shrimp.... or as the Aussies would say, prawns.




I'll leave it at that with Tonle Sap. There's more, of course... but I think that's enough. Phew... not a single bike shot eh?
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Old 11-17-2012, 04:49 PM   #464
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What an amazing journey to follow! Kudos Bigfella! What you're doing, and the way you're doing it, is exactly the way I want to do it, to experience the real experience, to make real friendships with faraway people, to help where possible and to come home (America for me) with a greater appreciation for our blessings where I can't.

It's a shame you have to censor some of your postings, as it ends up being a "sanitized" view of your experiences. If only more people could really see and understand how fortunate we are - so many just have no idea.

Just fantastic! You are truly blessed; what an amazing wife you have, and your kids seem like they are quite well rounded like their dad! Just fantastic!

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Old 11-21-2012, 01:42 AM   #465
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Thanks. Its certainly been interesting over here.

I'm off to Laos at sparrowfart in the morning and will probably be off-line for four days, so I guess I better get an update in now eh? I managed to be the only guy around the place this morning when 400 blankets arrived... and the little Thai guy who delivered them wasn't going to help unload them. Muggins here got to lug them in... 50 at a time. I'd never thought of blankets as heavy before.

So... with one last gratuitous temple shot... and another showing where the 525 is having a holiday, I'll call an end to the Cambodian leg of the trip





I flew back to Chiang Mai via Bangkok... and for the second time in 20 years, I just transited through the airport.

Maybe I'll visit the city eventually....

It was back to my base in NW Thailand... and my first sight of the Super Enduro in just under two months. She cranked up pretty well, but spluttered a few times on her first ride. I'd run her dry, but not drained the dregs from the carbs, so I guess a bit of varnish went through. That first ride was a charity run to a school about 60km from Chiang Mai... up in the hills.

It was a quiet Sunday, so Phil and Som each rode their bikes, I doubled one of the staff... and one got left to cover coffees, etc. Som setting off on her Harley



and clowning around at our first stop. Breakfast at a bar where the rest of the riders assembled



along with a group of monks invited by the organisers




You wouldn't see this mix of shirts too often in Oz. Lots of different 1%ers involved





Our Norwegian friend and his wife on their Rocket III trike were up front, with us not far behind.


It was pretty orderly at the start, but we spread out a bit once we got into the twisties... KTMs (Phil was on one of his 990's and me on the SE) at the front... Harleys to the rear



Being a typical Thai event... there was a bit of stuffing around and speeches... and then we set off. Right up front was a police car, lights flashing, sirens on... the whole way. We did red light runs, blew through towns at speed and watched the cop force oncoming traffic off the road out of our way.

There were some interesting Japanese-based bikes





Lots of these things



.... back with more soon
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