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Old 06-10-2013, 10:37 AM   #1
chenghisean OP
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Coyote and Saint: A year (in Asia) in service of the heart



Hey ya'll,

Thought I'd finally get around to starting a thread for our trip. My fiance and I are planning a year-long motorcycle trip through Asia, starting this October, we'd like you to join us (virtually or actually). We'll be posting here about it, and also on our:
We're both in Brooklyn, currently, but will be riding around the Western US for three weeks this August and September. We'll be doing a loop from San Francisco, out to Utah, north to Yellowstone, then over to Seattle, then back down to the Bay Area. If you're along that route and are open to hosting tired travelers, let us know.

We'll be married on October 5th in the redwoods south of San Francisco. A week or so after that, we'll be flying to Bangkok, thence to Chiang Mai to start our travels. The rough route is:
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Back to Thailand and down to the beaches!
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • Fly to Mongolia for monsoon season
  • Mongolia, including horse trip
  • Fly to Nepal in September
  • Nepal
  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • head home to San Francisco, December 2014.

While we travel, we'll be working with local NGOs. I do this professionally, and I'll be helping Coyote (my fiance) put together mini-documentaries about the groups we work with. We're hoping to tell some great stories about great people doing great work. My best guess is we'll be working with a group in Thailand, one in Cambodia, one in Mongolia, and one in Nepal. If you have favorite NGOs along our route, let us know! We're still looking for groups to partner with.

I've been doing a lot of research in preparation for the trip. Our plan is to buy two CRF250L's in Chiang Mai and ride them around SE Asia for the first six months. We'll be using Giant Loop Great Basin bags for our stuff.

In Mongolia we'll be on horseback. (I was Peace Corps there and speak Mongolian. I've done multi-day horse trips there before and LOVE it.) In Nepal we'll probably just be trekking, but may buy bikes to take into India. We hear mixed reviews of riding in India, so anyone with experience: please weigh in. I understand Royal Enfields to be nothing but a royal pain in the arse.

Looking forward to sharing our travels with everyone. If you have advice you think is useful, let us know! If you have suggestions for places to visit, let us know! This trip is the culmination of many years of dreaming and now I can hardly believe it's almost here...and I get to do it with my best friend. Life is good.

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"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Heinlein
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Old 08-16-2013, 12:04 PM   #2
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Prequel: the move from NY to SF!

Coyote and I just moved from NY to SF, before we get married in October and then take off for Thailand. We're practicing our writing, drawing, filming, and editing skills beforehand. Hope you like it!



Off in a Cloud of Dust
by Coyote

That was what my pops shouted each time we’d hit the road.

Being 5, and quite literal, for a long time I’d always reply, “There’s no dust, daddy.”

Now, there looks to be quite a lot of dust in my future. At least 16 states’ worth in the last twelve days, not to mention the dust bunny contingent, which managed to smuggle itself out of our old New York apartment and into the truck, hell bent on fuzz-balled procreation all the way to California.

What would we do without our dust?

What are we made of if not that?

If dropping our careers, negotiating a 20-foot vehicle across the United States, planning and executing our wedding while homeless, and running away on a year-long motorcycle adventure in the far East, all within the same three months doesn’t hint at what were made of, I’m not sure what will.

I’m good on Revolutions, Kidnappings, Grisly Wounds and Open War though, thanks.

Leaving was hard.

Foremost, because we were leaving behind some damn good friends, many of whom turned out to see us off in a grassy park and a bookish bar with hugs, dry wit and vermouth.

And I still love New York. It will always feel like a home to me, despite the filth and how tough it is to live there. The City was good to me, even when I was low. As a gentleman in Humans Of New York said, “Living in New York is a struggle, because you’re always trying to make $5 last for three days. But in a way it’s romantic, because The City always gives you little ways to make it.”

I moved there to be an artist, with all the ironic well-wishes with which one might send off a Kansas starlet, and went from painting Easter bunnies on diner windows for food, to designing commercial graphics with an up-close and personal view of the Chrysler building.

And then I joined the circus.

New York’s got chutzpah. It’s got class. (It’s got my beloved uncles, David & Bill!)

It is the most honest city on Earth; the truths around you are so bare, you have to be honest with yourself.

When we passed through Colorado, my godmother gave us a dense book of photographs; images of the city and its residents curated from the New York Times, and I was immediately struck with nostalgia.

Those stilled moments, historic and mundane, managed to capture just a whiff of that ineffable brass and grit of New York.

I Heart NY.

Jersey, on the other hand, can go suck it.

Sorry, Jersey, I’m sure you’re full of verdant hills and friendly people and many things other than The Turnpike, but since I can never seem to get on or off it without paying out the unmentionables, I’m going to spend a few moments hating on you, your mandatory service stations and lack of left turns.



Exhibit A: THOU SHALT MAKE RIGHT TURNS THREE TO BEAR ANY LEFT.

Exhibit B: THOU SHALT NOT PUMP THY OWN GAS, BUT SHALT ALLOW THE SERVANTS OF THE STATION TO PROVIDE THEE WITH GASOLEEINE. AND THOU SHALT TIP UPON RECEIPT OR SUFFER THINE SERVANT’S EYE TO BE EVIL.

Exhibit C: IF THOU HAST BORNE THY HEAVY GOODES FOR MANY HOURES WITHOUT FAIL AND HAST PACKED THINE TRUCK AND TRAILER AND REJOICED IN THY FAT APPLE EXODUS, AND THOU HAST BOURNE A MERE 100 MILES INTO THY JOURNEY AND THE MANY-AXELED-TAXATION OF THY STATE ROADE, AND IF THOU HAST SUFFERED A SPARK-PLUG TO BE BLOWN, HAILED THE HELP-HOTLINE OF THINE U-HAUL AND WAITED UNTIL THE MIDNIGHT HOURE, THOU WILT BE INFORMED THE JERSEY TURNPIKE WAS FORMED IN DAEMONIC SACRED UNION, UPON WHICH THE U-HAUL MAY NOT SET TIRE NOR FIRE, AND THAT THOU MUST FAVOR A NEW JERSIAN TOW.

THOU WILT ALSO BE INFORMED THAT LO, THE TURNPIKE IS DIVIDED INTO MANY TOW-KINGDOMS AND THAT THY FIRST TOW-MASTER, UPON REALIZING THAT THY TRUCK IDLETH A MERE 500 METERES BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF HIS KINGDOM, HATH GONE HOME WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE.

THOU SHALT THEN BE RESCUED BY THY SECOND TOW-MASTER, BUT HE SHALT CALL YET A THRID TOW-MASTER FORE HE HATH NOT ROOM FORE THEE, THINE FELLOW AND THINE WEE CAT. THE FOLLOWING DAY, ONCE THOU HAST SMUGGLED THY CAT INTO THE WINDOW OF THY HOSTEL, WITH THE HELP OF THAT 3RD TOW MASTER (A FYNE FELLOW WHO WORKES FORE A WOLF REHABILITATION CENTERE WHEN HE IS NOT AT HIS OTHER 3 JOBES) THOU WILT DISCOVER THE TRUCK MEANT TO TOW THY TRUCK HATH BROKEN DOWN.

That happened. Also this:



Unfortunately, our (physical) break down (mental pending) meant missing friends and family in Annapolis, as we drove straight on to our next destination to try to keep The Western Migration on schedule.

The first layover was with my 1st cousin, once-removed, whose home is a beautiful place along the finger lakes in the Shenandoah Valley, replete with great conversation, doe-eyed dressage horses, mouth-watering food and treasured company. After the stress of leaving New York, Trish and her incredible hospitality were a true oasis.

[Also: BEST MILKSHAKES EVER. Thank you, Anababtists. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR INCOMPARABLE MILKSHAKE CRAFT.] Seriously, you guys. The Glory.

Thus refreshed, and due to our mutual lactardation, we drove on, windows open, to Saint’s sweet mum, a recent retiree of Asheville, NC. Asheville is a charming town composed of artists, hippies, old folks and gorgeous architecture; Victorian and Edwardian and Art Deco, with copper domes mimicking those of Florence. It’s stunningly green, with an ancient, winding river, rolling mountains on all sides and gorgeous, violet vistas. The air is clear and breezy, and every cranny seems to be full of flowers or homages to Tom Wolfe, which, incidentally, is rather hypocritical, as they ran him out of town.

We left our fat little cat to be fostered for the year by Saint’s mum. Though she is in great hands, and at worst, will simply further inflate, letting her go hurt. She is a furry piece of my heart and home, the best of friends, and I will miss her terribly.



From North Carolina we pushed through a grueling 14-hour day to arrive sometime in the black morning of Stanwood, Iowa for a stop-over with Saint’s grandparents. Both of whom, I think, for us, are an inspiration.

They are kind to one another and keep their sense of humor and devotion to a life fully lived, with the other. As Saint’s grandfather, Doc Speer, a renowned large animal vet of marvelous stories of Personal Aviation and Cows On Fire, recently suffered a stroke and has been struggling to regain speech and mobility, Saint’s grandmother has moved into an apartment within Ed’s facility and makes sure he is well-fed, attended to and that no one washes his nice shirts but his wife.

Adventurers themselves, their last journey being to visit Saint in Mongolia, they were full of curiosity and excitement about our trip. We promised to keep them abreast of our amebic tally.

Iowa to Boulder, Colorado, was another long slog, but we were greeted by flowers, a sweet bed-side note and a cheerful handmade sign from my dad and godmother which read, “Wilkommen!”

At the family storage unit in Greeley, CO, which, incidentally, is named for Horace Greeley, of ”Go West, young man!” fame, we discovered our true Tetris powers. Our truck was already full when we left New York. Now, we unpacked, restacked, stuffed, cuffed and trussed another 15 boxes, 5 pieces of furniture and various other inherited sundry.

I wore a baseball cap for maybe the second time in my life. It was amazing. As was the heat.

And that Wendy’s Frosty.

On we drove, from Colorado to Utah, to visit our eccentric buddy, Morgan, whose incredible, abstract home offered stunning views and generous hospitality, a few moose, aspens, and an impressive array of guns. He also has a gorgeous, meat-eating cat named Monster who became a constant source of fascination and petting compulsion for Saint and I both.

After that, it is was basically endless roads, hazy vistas, lonely trains and the kind of landscapes which stir the heart-strings, steel guitar strings, and the empty bellies of cowboys.

Nevada does go on forever and the salt flats of Utah are very white.

Coming into California there was a wildfire on the horizon which filled the valleys with sunset smoke, and which went beautifully with the long, purple shadows of pines and rock. Coming over the rise into that hazy mountain range, I felt my heart unclench. We were here. The first part of our journey was done.

The next day we un-packed the U-Haul and after a celebratory burrito, rode home on our motorcycles. I couldn’t have been happier. I was tired to the bone, but the sky was blue, the sun was warm and the breeze was cool.

The golden hills flew by as we rode the winding back country roads, past tangled vineyards and the last blackberries of the season. I felt free.

Then my bike coughed. And died.

Exhibit D: THOU SHALT KNOW THINE OWN DUST.

Towed in a cloud. Off!

http://www.coyoteandsaint.com/off-in-a-cloud-of-dust/
http://www.coyoteandsaint.com/new-yo...san-francisco/
__________________
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Heinlein

chenghisean screwed with this post 10-09-2013 at 08:12 PM
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:23 PM   #3
Balanda
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Good Stuff

This will be one of the most unfortgetable years of your life. I rode an Enfield around South India with a mate about 20 years ago and would do it again tomorrow. We had a second hand "old generation" 500 Bullet and found it great. Right size, even two up, right speed for India, and when it won't go there is always help right there. You could rebuild the whole bike for less than it costs to import expensive parts for something else.

And Thailand? What a party! Great place to begin it all, it'll put your heart into the correct alignment. I just love those people.

Looking forward to your adventures and perspectives. Sawadee.
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:56 PM   #4
aboveangkor
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Look me up when you get to Cambodia.Been living here for years.
Which NGO are you working with here?
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:59 PM   #5
Natnewt
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Can't wait to see this adventure unfold!
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:01 PM   #6
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Subscribed!
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Old 09-29-2013, 02:12 PM   #7
chenghisean OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aboveangkor View Post
Look me up when you get to Cambodia.Been living here for years.
Which NGO are you working with here?
Hey AboveAnkor,

Not sure yet who we'll be working with in Cambodian, but looks likely that we'll work a bit with HAGAR International. I'd spoken with them a fair bit in my previous job but we never actually did a project with them -- mostly due to time zone differences. (I was based in New York City.) They primarily work with former sex workers and the sex trafficking trade.

Since I work with Salesforce, we need to work with groups who already use it or are thinking of using it. But we'd definitely be open to doing short documentaries on any NGO that we come across. If you have suggestions, let us know!

I'll put you on the "to visit" list -- where are you located exactly?
__________________
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Heinlein
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:07 PM   #8
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Highway 1 Goodbye Trip



Highway 1 Goodbye Trip
by Saint

If there’s anything the last three months have taught us, it’s that things never go as planned. The best you can do is chart a course and hope for the best.

Coyote and I hoped to ride together on a trip from San Francisco to Boulder, Colorado, with a stopover in Park City to visit a friend, then we’d split up, with her heading south to New Mexico then LA then back to SF, and me headed north to Yellowstone then over to Seattle and back to SF. But Coyote’s bike has an annoying and unknown electrical problem (endemic to the Suzuki Boulevard series) that we haven’t been able to fix. Even the professional racing shop down the street couldn’t figure out the problem. We canned our trip and made other arrangements.

Instead, I planned a trip from San Francisco up to Seattle to visit an old college friend. He rides a custom Triumph Bonneville, modified with subtle and clever modifications that improve the overall aesthetic of the bike. The plan was to meet up in Mt. Hood, Oregon, and then ride the rest of the way to Seattle together.

I packed up some clothes, camera equipment, and camping gear and stuffed it all into a Great Basin saddle bag and backpack. The backpack was strapped to the top of the Great Basin using their beaver tail. A Triumph Thruxton isn’t a touring bike and this puppy was carrying a decent load. But, to paraphrase a well known saying, “The best touring bike is the bike you have on hand.”

I left San Francisco on a beautiful sunny day, riding up Hwy 1 as far as it would take me. I attached a GoPro on my left passenger peg to capture some of beautiful scenery as it passed by. Nights were spent at national camp grounds, sleeping in my Hennessey Hammock. Afternoons were spend eating lunch by the side of the road and swimming in clear-flowing rivers.

I met my friend, Danya, in Mt. Hood after a brutally long day of riding through the flats of Oregon. We met up at a local brewery and it was like no time had passed. For good friends, it doesn’t matter how long you’re apart: you just pick up wherever you left off and enjoy whatever time you have together.

The next morning, we packed up our campsite and headed north. We made it about an hour into the twisties before I took a corner a bit too fast — following Danya in his unloaded Bonnie may have been a bad idea. The front tire lost traction and both she and I went straight out the side of the road and into a log. The bike flipped over the log and landed on her side. I crashed into the log, fracturing my collarbone in two places. The brand new camera gear in the backpack that we’d planned to take to Asia was crushed to bits.

It took about 20 minutes before I was able to flag down another rider and have him get Danya to come back to the site. The guy offered up his RV, which his wife had up the road a bit, to take me to the hospital in Mt. Hood. I clambered inside the RV and was greeted by three friendly pug dogs who kept me company on the way to the ER.

The rest is mostly logistics, hotel beds, planes, and beds at home. Four weeks later I was getting married. My job until then was to heal up enough to walk the aisle. Luckily, I was able to recover and participate in the greatest week and individual day of my entire life. But that is another story.

This video is a love letter to a great bike that left me far to early. [It's HD, so watch fullscreen and enjoy!] [Link for those who can't see embeds: https://vimeo.com/76568031]
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"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Heinlein

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