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Old 02-03-2012, 08:32 AM   #76
Frey Bentos
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Eeek! That seems to be an easy way to enter a whole world of shit.
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Old 02-03-2012, 12:24 PM   #77
pirate63
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Wow i hope cat recovers quickly
Yeah that would be very helpful if you could post up the insurance you have
Cheers clive
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:22 AM   #78
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thanks for the reply guys both on the last 2 blogs, i appreciate it. Well the plan was for cat to go to Oz to rest and i was going to do the dirt roads in Laos solo, BUT the bike has been playing up so after 4 days riding northern Thailand im back in Chiang Mai waiting for a guy called Herman the German to look at the bike.

Jeeez i feel a bit mentally flat tbh!! Time for a beer........ or 6
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:45 AM   #79
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Superb report. Hope she mends soon!
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:33 PM   #80
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Thanks for the update…

So sorry to read about your accident.....
That collarbone don't look right! At least She is alive and safe. Hope you can continue on soon


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Old 02-15-2012, 03:13 AM   #81
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What’s Next?? Decision time!

Big change of plans indeed, well kind of. We threw around lots of ideas and initially the plan was to spend 4 weeks “relaxing” maybe in Chiang Mai, Bali or Vietnam, before hitting the road again. I was in the process of planning the rest of the route and it was at this point we noticed some problems - a fair amount of the route was on very small unpaved roads, even in 4 weeks time Cat's shoulder is not going to be up to being bounced all over the place or be able to save her from a small drop/crash on dirt roads.

So it was this that threw the questions - do I only stick to the main routes in Laos or does Cat take a small break and come back to meet me in Cambodia and we then go back and see anything worth looking at in Laos. I think Cat also wanted a bit of a break from it after her accident, she is as strong mentally as anyone I have ever met but she should make sure she recovers properly or otherwise she may have limited movement in the future.

So for about a week in Chiang Mai we hung out and went drinking: we had met Mikey and Leigh in the hospital and met up with them after getting out for a few beers a few nights in a row. We went to watch Thai boxing one night and on one of the days I went for a ride with the guys from Rider's Corner and www.rideasia.net It was really fun to be out with them, they know the area well and most of the ride was on “unpaved” roads and gravel, it would be totally impassable in the winter and big ruts were all over the roads in places.
After a nice break together in Chiang Mai it was time for us to part company for a month. It's not something I look forward to, Cat is my best friend and we get along so well. Being apart is odd for us and as we worked together as well it's not something we have done often. So I left on the Saturday and she flew out at 6am Sunday morning. I left a day earlier as I wanted to try get a bit of a tour of Northern Thailand in before I go to Laos as my visa expries on the 2nd of Feb. My plan was heading out to hit the Mae Hong Son loop again. I got lots of options to meet people - Phil the owner of Riders Corner is in Mae Sariang and Eddie might meet me to ride around Thailand for a few days before I head into Laos. Also the Canadian guys I went fishing with are in Pai so I might meet them for a beer also.





The Mae Hong Son loop is one of the best road riding routes I have ever done, it's fantastic, it's a little dangerous as there is generally not great visibility round the corners due to the thick bush and forest. But the road is great. The first day I pushed on after Mae Sairang and made it to Mae Hong Son village, and after a looking at a few hostels I found a place which was a bit more than I wanted to pay but included breakfast so was not a bad deal over all. I had a walk around the night market and bought a couple of bits before getting some food and then sat in a bar, huddled round a 7inch TV watching Liverpool BEAT Man U. I was pleased Man U lost and the Thai people were as surprised as me.

I also met 2 guys from Singapore on BMWs who were on a 17 day trip and were also going into Laos. I should also give a mention to the Thai guys I met on route who I have continued to bump into for the last 2 days, at one point me and the guy on the GSXR had a little play, needless to say he was bloody surprised at what the KTM could do!!!
The next day I woke at 7am, had a quick breakfast and packed and left. With only a few kms to Pai, I was in no rush but I had also heard it was hard to find accommodation in Pai due to a reggae festival being on and I wanted to give myself plenty of time. I went to the Long Neck hill-tribe village, but I've got to say I was a little disappointed, it was very sales-y with everyone trying to get me to buy stuff and only about 25% of the woman had the Long Neck getup on, I was expecting a lot more. It was however a very nice ride out towards the Burmese border with the morning mist rolling over the hills in front of me.

Then I got a text from Eddie saying he was going to meet me in Pai and ride with me in Northern Thailand for 2 or 3 days but he could not find a bike to take into Laos. So I hit the road again and climbed up and down the mountains until I reached Pai. Pai is pretty, its like Pokhara in Nepal, it took me about 5 mins to find somewhere to stay after a good 10 mins chat with an American guy who was gobsmacked I had rode over from England. By the end of the conversation he was convinced he was going to ride round the world, gotta love their enthusiasm!!
I plan to meet Adam the Canadian for a beer and Eddie should be here around 5pm so I have lots to do. Tonight I may or may not venture to the festival, it sounds very messy and it's not really what I'm looking for especially if I'm going to be on the road early tomorrow. A couple of beers and some good food is in order I think, but I got to watch the weight, the last month and a half has seen me put on a few pounds that I now plan to lose in the next month or so!!

So I met up with Adam and I also bumped into an Austrian guy I had seen on the mountain a couple of times on a moped so he joined us for a beer. Then Eddie turned up and he had a look at my coolant to see why it was going down all the time before we settled in for another beer and then a guy called Beanie joined us. The other Adam also met us and we were well on our way for a good night out. Pai has a nice vibe. We had a few beers and some food and hit a couple of bars before they decided around midnight to go to the Reggae festival and I decided it was time for me to call it a night as we were planning on doing some riding the next day.
The following day I had a bit of a hangover but I got up early for breakfast. I packed the bike and I was missing Cat as she is the master of all things packing, whereas I tend to go by the "sling it in a bag and squash it down so it fits" theory. Eddie met me at the breakfast bar and we had a good chat and planned a route before hitting the road at about 10.30am. We had decided to go from Pai to Chiang Dao then up to Chinag Rai but via Ban Lisu Lao De on the offroad trail that is on the fantastic map we bought from www.rideasia.net.

The road down from Pai was excellent just like the rest of the Mae Hong Son loop: it is a very challenging ride and I can see why so many tourists crash mopeds on it. About 50km along we turned off into the national park towards the Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Reserve, and the road got lots more pretty with us cutting through and over the mountains, about 15k along the sat nav was telling me to turn right and up to a view point so we headed in and stopped to take a couple of snaps before getting told we could not park there buy a friendly but over keen policeman.
Then we headed down what looked like someone's drive before seeing a small turning onto a track. Another policeman asked "where you go" and we showed him on the map and he said oh very bad road I think you cannot go there on motorcycle. This half excited and scared me but onwards we cracked. Eddie is on a Kawasaki D-tracker 250cc, super moto style with road tyres but he's a bloody good rider so we decided to crack on. We made our way down the mountain off road, with a mix of single track, concrete and packed down mud with some loose rocks, at times the mud was deeper or there were some big cracks in the road due to lots of rainfall but as we moved down into the valley and up the next mountain the roads slowly got worse and worse.

It was a lot of fun but very very tiring especially after spending a month being very social and I was getting a hell of a workout on the KTM with full luggage on the back! Eddie was astonished at how well the ktm handled the dirt and how well it gripped and just kept going. Soon our 4x4 track was down to a walking track that looked like there were no cars using it. The views in the valley were beautiful and we kept passing the odd village with tree-leaf roofs made of sticks and mud. The roads were mostly compact mud but had huge ruts all the way along so you had to pick your route very carefully and when you came to a hill it was often very dried out but loose gravel and so the rear would slip and slide as you got on the power to climb.
We did 3 or 4 river crossings before I came to one that was pretty shallow but long: as I started to move in the big KTM sank and before you know it, it was sunk to the guard on the bottom. Bugger I thought, Eddie said don’t worry the d-tracker is light I will get across and help you out and 2 minutes later was also sunk next to me! So we both had to get off the bikes and lift them out a bit before walking them out whilst running them and this led us to the next problem - a very very steep hill that was very very brittle with lots of stones and loose mud. It was so brittle and steep when you stood on it you slid. I plucked up the courage to go first and managed to negociate my way past some huge ruts and clicked the bike into second. The hill was steep and went to the right and was far deeper to my right and sloped in a big way with a huge rut before the wall, clearly where the water comes rushing down after it has rained.

I was making good progress but the rear started to slip down the slope, bugger, more power, but I found myself slipping round so I brought myself to a stop about 70% of the way up. I came to a stop, but it was so steep even in gear with the brakes on, the bike started to slide. Not wanting to back into the huge rut, I tried to turn the bike but the front slid so quickly and the next thing you know I was front first into the big rut, the bike was near enough parked on it's G-unit undertray. Eddie came up laughing as it looked like I had crashed into it, until he stopped next to me and found himself sliding backwards! He managed to scramble a bit further up and then stop and he came back and we lifted the KTM out. He went back and rode off and I managed to get going, but as I tried to ride out the steeper side I dropped the bike again, Eddie came back and helped again and the next time I got away, only to have to go back myself to help Eddie as he was stuck as well!!
Relieved to be past the hard bit, with a smile on our faces we continued. The route looked hardly used and we were ducking past trees and bushes on a single track. Our next challenge came in the form of a deep but very wide river that had a fallen tree as a bridge. Eddie went first ensuring me it was strong enough to hold the weight of the bike and me, so carefully I crawled over it. Along we continued, dealing with the road changing from mud to sand to stones and then we had to ride up the bank and over due to a fallen tree and soon we came to another “wacky” bridge: this was man made but I was not sure it would hold the weight of the bike, slowly I got over it much to the suprise of the local guys on Honda Heros!!

Then we emerged onto some broken tarmac again and into a small village where we stopped and had a fantastic fish soup with noodles and drinks for a crazy 40 baht total (less than £1). We then headed down between the mountains on a beautiful road and enjoyed some great views towards Chiang Dao. Once we hit Chiang Dao we headed on along the 107 and onto the 109 towards Chaing Rai. My bike was drinking a lot of coolant and it was starting to worry me and Eddie, lucky for me Eddie is a bike mechanic and garage owner so he was keen to help me fix it!! We found a place in Chiang Rai pretty quickly even though it was late and we were both tired. We had quick showers and decided to go for some food and a couple of beers with the plan of going on another ride the following day.
I had to top up the bike with coolant again in the morning and that day the bike drank it like it like a fish. The ride itelf was another great day, but much different to the previous day. We rode from Chiang Rai out to Chiang Saen along to Chiang Khong, right along the Mekong river through all the villages. We stopped in Chiang Khong for some lunch - thai chicken and rice - and then about 40 mins after lunch we stopped again at a stunning little coffee and tea hut that was growing the tea and coffee right behind us. It was so nice we sat and chatted and tried the local tea for over an hour and a half before realising we better move on if we wanted to get back before night fall.

We rode back down the 1020 and onto the 1152 where we came across a huge reclining buddha and massive green buddha and some beautiful temples where I got a some great pictures with the KTM in front of them before joining the 1173 back into Chiang Rai. It was a very pretty and great day, the only problem was my bike was drinking coolant like the world was running out!!!!!!!!
That evening we went out for a few games of pool and for a few drinks. Eddie agreed the bike needed to come apart so we could find out what was wrong and with the suspicion of a head gasket it wasn't looking good. The following day starting early we took the bike apart, pretty early on we found a lot of coolant stains on the engine, but when we got the air box off there was some mayonaise on the front throttle body, which is not disaster but it can be bad news with a coolant-hungry bike.

Digging deeper we then found the the small samco hose had been fitted slightly wrong and the clip was very very loose and this was leaking a lot of coolant so we found a new clip and cleaned the bike down before putting it back together with the tanks on so we could run it for 5 mins. We ran it, then as we checked again it looked like coolant was leaking straight out of the gasket, not good from the point of view that my visa ran out the next day, Eddie also noticed a little condensation on the front throttle valve.



I then went to email Cat to ask about helping me sort a visa run with exactly what I would need to do, Eddie was sorting the bike (sorry to give you a bit of a busman's holiday mate) and then I came back. Eddie said was was looking at it and he thought the coolant could have run out of some of the engine lines from where we fiddled with the hose and couldn't clean it properly, so he had cleaned it all down and we were going to put it together and run it to see if it would leak. We got it running again and good sign - no leaking. The radiator was nearly empty earlier in the day and we topped everything up and got it together so I could take it on a 40 km test run. I had rented a bike so I could do the border run to Burma to extend my visa, but when I came back from the 40k the coolant level had dropped but only a little on both the coolant bottle and the radiator, so I returned the rental bike. There was no blue smoke coming out the exhaust and the bike was running well, so the next day we planned to ride it to the border and back to see how she ran.



I woke early worrying about the bike but thinking how lucky I had been to have met Eddie, he's a top bloke and was up and packing to ride with me to the border, prepared to wait for me to get my visa and stay with my bike if for some reason it did not make it all the way. The good news is she did make it! It drank some coolant but only from the top mark to the bottom and Eddie explained it was probably some air still in the system. I topped it up after I got my visa and we came back to Chiang Rai stopping at another beautiful little cafe to have a fantastic lunch of prawns with noodles. The bike drank a little more coolant but we hit the road again and road back to Chiang Rai. We found a guesthouse called the Golden Triangle and parked the bike up. I unpacked and sat and drank a coffee and the coolant level has not gone down so it's looking like it could have just been the leaking hose all along. But I'm going to do a 200 km day tomorrow just to double check before I head into Laos!!
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Old 02-22-2012, 06:28 AM   #82
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Guys, great report!

Can't wait for the next update :)
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:00 PM   #83
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Travelling Teaches Flexibility – Change of plans again!!

Travelling Teaches Flexibility – Change of plans again!!

Well, the 200km day never happened as Eddie and I went out for a “few” whiskey and coke’s and all of a sudden it was 4am. It was a fun night though - we went to the Reggae bar where we met another French group and hung out with them most of the night.

The next day was a funny day, I woke early and grabbed some breakfast with Eddie and said bye as he was heading back to Chiang Mai and I was going to go to Laos. Then I went back to bed for about 2 hours and woke up about 1pm (well I AM on holiday ;-) ) and I decided to have a shower to help me recover from my hangover.
I was in the shower washing away and I turned around to see what looked like a snake on the tiles! It made me jump but then for a minute I thought it must be painted on, then quickly I could see it wasn’t but I thought I was dead. Then as these thoughts were going and coming at the same time the bloody thing moved and slid over the tiles onto the door frame and into my room! Shocked, but to be honest a little confused and wondering if maybe I had drank more than I thought the previous night, I got a towel and held it up, blocking the area where I had seen the snake, and slowly went back into my room.

Sure enough the snake was still there! It was brightly coloured black and yellow. I pondered for a minute and then thought I better get some help as I was not sure if it was poisonous and either way it was not supposed to be in my room!! I went to reception and said to the very friendly girls would they please come to my room and have a look at what I found (I figured if I said come to my room and look at my snake it could all go wrong – this is Thailand after all!)

One of the girls moved to come and I said no no you will all want to see this, so the 3 girls followed me asking what it was, chuckling saying I was scared of big geckos. Then when they saw it they could not believe it and they got the handy man to come get it. It wasn’t big: it was about 50cm long but it was thin and it turns out it was a Wolf snake which is also not poisonous. But still it was an interesting morning and my hangover had disappeared!!

But not feeling great I just took a day off and relaxed around the cafes in Chiang Rai. That evening I went home and had an early night after getting some pasta, then I packed my stuff and planned my route out of there and went to bed looking forward to exploring Laos.

............................

Sh*t F**k C*** Bas***d.

Woke up early, packed the bike then had breakfast with a big smile on my face, looking forward to leaving. There were some German guys around on hire bikes all going into Laos as well. They spoke a little English and I only speak a little German but we had a nod and point and a smile. After breakfast and a joke about snakes in my room, I jumped on the bike and fired her up: it lasted until the end of the drive way before the oil light came flashing on with the cam chain making a clunk clunk clunk sound which would not go off.

I turned the engine off and went to call Eddie but I had no credit so I pushed the bike around the corner to the 7/11. I got some phone credit and rang Eddie explaining the symptoms, he said start her up so I did and everything had gone back to normal, but either way I was going to head back to Chiang Mai to get her looked at properly. It seems something is telling me not to get to Laos right now!

On the way back she switched from solid oil light to no oil light to a flickering oil light, this combined with some cam noise or no cam noise all at different times. The bike was running ok and it was only 150km to Chiang Mai so I carefully rode her back.

So here I am, to be honest thoroughly annoyed and over it, now a month behind my plan and after talking with the mechanic and going over it with Eddie and looking for known faults, it could be as simple as a spring and ball bearing, or it’s the oil pump, or it could be more serious, either way it’s not going to be looked at for 4 days – then, say, 2 days to find the problem, then order parts which take about 2 weeks to get here then another week for Herman the German to find a day to fit it in and do the work, so it’s looking like a I’m going to be another month behind!!

The good news is Cat is going to fly back out. I have had a couple of days moping around feeling a bit sorry for myself, and yes I know I’m on a good thing but we cannot be happy all the bloody time!! The current plan is to go to Ko Tao in the south and do some diving which we WERE going to do after Laos and Cambodia, then depending on if the bike is fixed, maybe go to Cambodia and Laos and back-pack and hire bikes to do day trips etc. But for now I have hired a little KLX 250 and I’m going to run afternoon trips out on the dirt track, then Thursday which is also my birthday I get the best present ever with Cat coming back and then we can pan to leave to the south by Saturday/Sunday.

Tuesday was great fun: I took the little KLX off and had some fun for 5/6 hours. I was nackered and at one stage I thought I was stuck - the only thing that kept me going was that it didn’t look silly far on my Sat-nav and it seemed like I was over half way. It was the dry river beds that were killing me: I could see others had used them in the past as there were some big single track tyre marks but they were so steep, 3 or 4 times I fell off trying to get up the bank the other side but it was a lot of fun. I know this is the bit normally where I stick photos up, and I did bring the camera, but left its battery on charge – what a wolly!!

The following day I told Eddie about my route and he suggested we head out in the afternoon together and go repeat it. I was keen also as I had not taken any pictures or videos and with the 2 of us there it would give me the opportunity to do both. So about 1pm we met and we rode back and hit the track again, a bit more confident this time, knowing there was someone there if I got stuck. We hit it a bit harder and got through it quicker without any small falls. It was a relief when we reached the dirt road the other side and it was a fantastic ride back to the city.

We stopped again in a small village and had a nice strong coffee. There was no one else there apart from the Irish guy who also lived in Thailand and we got chatting before we headed back.

That evening I chilled out and at midnight it was my birthday so Tim from Thai 1 On bought me a few drinks and I hung out there and chatted with the guys and the 2 girls I met from Vancouver called Wenny and Samantha. It was a nice evening and at the end of the night I said would be around the following day as Cat was coming back.

The next day I woke at about 10am and my original plan was to just spend the day relaxing but I decided I would go for one last ride before Cat came back and I would have to spend a couple of weeks off the bikes. I asked Phil from Rider’s Corner for a route and with a sly smile he said you like your river crossings, so do this one and gave me the route. I packed the bike up and put it in my sat nav before saying I was only expecting to be a couple of hours, Phil smiled and said I think you will be longer than that, but I didn’t think much of it!!

The beginning of the interesting stuff was about 60km out of town, it was so pretty and to begin with I was thinking that the route was very easy going, being mostly packed down mud or loose tarmac. But soon this ran out and became single track before becoming very muddy and then I hit the river. It must have had 30 river crossings and at times the route WAS the river, sometimes for up to 500 meters or more, it was a tiring day and I was nackered!!

At one stage though I very nearly came a cropper!!! Basically I lost the trail and was trying to figure out what direction it went in. There were 3 options, across in front of me, up and along the river again or a very faint looking walking trail. I went up the river but it was too deep to get to the bit of bank on the other side so I guessed it was back, it really did look like the direction and I thought I could see a couple of bike tracks which by this point I had been following for a while. The river was pretty deep to get up the bank so I took a bit of a run up: in the water up the bank on the power and then blasted into the trail then bam I was sinking up to my knees in mud whilst on the bike!! SHIIIITTTT!!
I quickly got off, well dragged myself off whilst the bike seemed to stop sinking. I could not stand as it was making me sink to my knees quickly. The bike was stood up and appeared not to be getting too much worse and so I managed to get myself 3 meters away to the bank. There was some big sticks and bamboo and after a minute I built a little platform to stand on and life the bike out on to, to give myself a bit of time. Problem was I would lift the front and then the back would sink, or visa versa!!

So I got more bamboo and made a platform to lift the rear wheel onto so I could then pull the front round. Anyway after a hour of pissing about moving bamboo around I managed to make myself a ramp into the river and finally got back to the other side. I was totally spent and lay on the floor for a minute thinking about Phil’s sly grin!! I was thinking about heading back but I could not imagine it would be that much further!! So I decided to have some water, took a video of the mud and me sweating lots and then headed onwards.

The rest of the route was still a big challenge and I was nackered! I came across some crab hunters or fishermen in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised to see them and they were definitely surprised to see me, laughing and I think saying I was crazy!! They told me it was 6km to the road. And so I pushed on and eventually hit the 4X4 track again and soon found some tarmac to ride out. It was an excellent day and I was sooooo tired and looking forward to getting back. So I rode home, had a shower and then had some food and a beer before heading down to Thai 1 to meet Eddie. The girls from Vancouver were there and I had a drink with them before Sam and I went back to meet Cat at Rider’s Corner. She turned up earlier than I thought and we had a few drinks back at Thai One before we headed off and had a relatively early night!!
The next day we moved to another hotel and a bit of a birthday treat for me for 1 night before booking in some fishing at Dreamlake!! I was excited as I love my fishing and when we got there I was very pleased with the set up. I was not hoping to catch much as I knew it was a hard lake, but 1 hour on the bank and BAM I had a huge run which nearly pulled me into the water. I had hooked the fish and was away then all of a sudden bang, the line went even though the reel was set properly! Annoyed and disappointed I went and got a new rig, the owner explaining the lake is 8 meters deep and there is a few boulders in it!!

Anyway to cut a long story short, this happened a second time and I was not a happy camper having probably lost 2 fish that would have broken my 77lb record. After that first half day I didn’t get another run like it, I did get about 15 fish in total: I caught a Siamese carp, a Mekong catfish, some Talipia and some Mud carp, none of which were bigger than about 5kg apart from the Mekong which was about 10kg. This said it was still a stunning place with food and drinks served to the bank and I think when I get back to Chiang Mai in a months time I’m going to go and have another go.

So whilst fishing we discussed our plans and we decided we would either head out to Laos or hire a car and drive down south if the girls from Vancouver were up for it, cos it would be much cheaper than flying there and back. When we got back we went for a drink with the girls and they said they thought hiring a car would be a great idea and so we went ahead and did it the following day. Pop gave me a brand new Toyota with only 150km on the clock and we drove to Burma so I could do a border run. The drive was nice but a bit long as I left the city the wrong way. We got to Burma in the afternoon and so we only had 2 hours before we had to leave again, which was a shame as it would have been good to have a proper look around.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:14 PM   #84
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:19 AM   #85
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Great update,i like the look of that setup on the lake
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:18 PM   #86
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cheers guys, yeah the lake was great they got some big fish in it too some over 120 kg!!
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:41 PM   #87
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Road Trip and Ko Tao - Then back to Chaing Mai

Road Trip and Ko Tao!

Our first day of the road trip was great fun! We went to Thai One to meet the girls for breakfast and then we loaded up the car and headed for Mai Sariang. We stopped off at a waterfall and at a huge Buddha garden with a massive reclining Buddha, it was such a pretty place. We also stopped and had a really really yummy coffee at a roadside/forestside cafe, and 4 coffees and some treats came in at 160 baht (about £3). There were lots of monks there as well and they were as interested in us as we were in them even though we could not speak to them. We arrived in Mai Sariang and found a beautiful place to stay by the river. Cat and Sam went for a “swim” in the river but it was only ankle deep so they waded around and then gave up!




It’s so nice and chilled out and has given me time to update the blog and website as I have not done it for a while!! And also to think about our trip as we’ve not been very bike-travel-orientated in a while.





After Mai Sariang we went to Sukhothai, the old Thai capital, now in ruins. It was a pretty impressive place and we walked around with Sam and Sumo to have a look at the crumbling temples. We have now seen a lot of temples but these were very interesting as they were pretty different to the others we have seen in Thailand so far, so we spent a few hours driving round looking at them and stopping off to investigate the bigger ones.

After the morning’s sightseeing, we did a big drive day all the way down to Chumphon, and stayed overnight to catch the fast ferry in the morning.

My first impression of Ko Tao was not a good one: there was a lot of hassling when we came off the ferry and once we got to Big Blue diving centre their grounds were a little messy and as we came to the beach the tide was far out and it looked like a parking lot for boats, plus it was cloudy so the water was not sparkling and everything looked kind of dull - not the beautiful tropical island I was expecting and both myself and Cat were very disappointed. We walked up and down the beach and eventually found a great little hut to stay in for about £10 a night, and it was right on the beach.

We have now been in Ko Tao for 9 days and it has been fantastic. The place is a lot cleaner than it first looked and I have not seen the tide go anywhere near as far out as that again since we have been here. I finally got around to doing my open water course and then in the last 5 days I have been diving 9 times seeing some of the most beautiful and biggest schools of fish I have ever seen without question, including thousands of barracuda which swam all around us. I also saw some big stuff including Giant Morwray eels (2m in length) and turtles, for which Ko Tao is names after. No whale shark but I would have been very lucky to see one even if they were around!!

We have had a lot of fun. Serena, my Dive Instructor, was fantastic, and Wenny and I really liked her, there was only 4 of us in our group and so we got to know each other well. I also met Owen who is from England but lives in Canada who is mates with Serena back home and so we had lots of nights out with the whole group. Having a bit of time off has also given me time to look back over the trip and discuss it with Cat. It’s been one hell of a journey but we are getting near the end of our desire to be on the road. We miss our friends, our family and business and we are looking forward to getting back to leading some sort of a normal life. Today is our 8th month on the road, and as we look back at the trip this is what we think.

It was great to set out with no agenda as such. But I’m also very disappointed that I was not more aware from the charity point of view. India has changed our lives forever; the children in India and Nepal and some of the other poor areas we have been in break my heart and I must at some point in my life help somehow – and yet I don’t know how!!

Iran was fantastic and I cannot believe what I read in the papers and see on the news, it has made me realise how manipulative the media is, and how the “people” can suffer under the hands of greedy and evil people in power – which let’s be honest is something we all know about, but to actually see it happening in the year 2012 is not something we should still be having to deal with in a modern world.

I feel a bit silly looking back, there are lots of reasons why but I take it as a massive positive that we have learned so much and seen so much and I so happy to have seen so much of the world and I encourage anyone who is thinking about doing a bike trip to do it!! I know that I won’t do another big bike one for a while but I also know that at some point I won’t be able to resist!!!

Anyway Ko Tao was great – we volunteered for a beach and dive clean up for one day: we spent 2 hours in the morning cleaning the beaches which look alright at first glance, but once you start picking bits up, you see they are covered in straws, cig butts, and scraps of paper! The biggest worry is the bars on the beach really don’t give a shit about how much mess they make, which is fine for now but don’t be surprised if there is no fish in the sea in 10 years time – and ironically no one will go there if there is no diving!!

Anyway we then moved on to the dive site clean up – it was amazing what we found! We went to the main port area and split into teams of 4 or 5 and then headed out with bags, I didn’t know what to expect, the water isn’t dirty but there are lots of bottles and things on the bottom. Believe it or not, glass bottles are not too bad for the environment under sea as they make great houses for fish and other creatures. But there was lots of plastic, some sheeting, I personally found 3 pairs of board shorts - 1 pair had really damaged a pretty piece of coral and I got to thinking what kind of fucking moron throws beer bottles, crisp packets and boardshorts off a ferry?!

I have since decided that if I see anyone do any of the above I am going to presume it’s an accident and that they really need that item and I am going to give them a helping hand off the ferry to recover it and I encourage you to do the same. “Dear shit for brains - Next time you think about doing something that fucking stupid take a good look around and make sure you can swim!!”

Right, rant over!! So, after a damn fun night out on Ko Tao, and Owen deciding he fancied a bit of a road trip back to Bangkok with us, we decided it was time to pack up and go – that and the fact our Visa was expiring again so we needed to go to Burma to do a Visa run.

On our last night in Ko Tao we got the best send off ever, we watched Arsenal go 2 nil down to come back and beat Tottenham 5-2 – now I don’t mention football too often and I’m sorry if I just made you roll your eyes into the back of your head, but man it was a good game (if you’re a gooner) and so we went to bed happy and laughing!!

We left Ko Tao on the ferry in the morning – don’t worry no-one misbehaved so I didn’t have to throw anyone (I mean “help” anyone) in – and soon we arrived back in the mainland and onto the craziest jetty I have walked on, I thought it was going to collapse at any moment!! Then we jumped in the car and drove south west to Ranong for the Visa run before heading up to Bangkok all in one day and arrived at midnight, not bad going!!

We were so tired when we arrived, and went for a beer after check-in, but after 2 pints I was falling asleep whilst talking so we called it a night. The next day we woke late, grabbed some brekkie and did some shopping before Cat decided she wanted to take me to the VIP cinema. It was bloody cool, the best cinema experience I have ever had and then we headed back to meet Owen who had pointed out it was his last night in Bangkok and so we made up our minds to have a big one!

Owen was already on his 3rd cocktail (Strong Island Iced Tea) when we got back at 6pm and had lined us up one each. We had a drink, Cat went and got changed and then we got some spring roll and chicken (well I think it was chicken) for a snack, then we hit Khao San Road to find a bar.

We actually walked along it back and forth a couple of times, drinking street beer and mucking around with the people selling tat. We were all in good moods and there was a good crowd about, we then decided to go play pool and they gave us talc instead of chalk, this lead to some pissing about and ended up with Owen covered in blue chalk spots and Cat covered in talc!! The bar staff laughing their heads off and the waitress sneakily drinking with us!! Then we moved up the road to another bar and Owen wanted someone to play pool with so this bubbly young Thai girl volunteers. The game was fun and after me and Cat won, we went and joined the group of Thai girls and carried on drinking before it was suggested we go to a nightclub.

It turned into a good night and it was lots of fun. The music was great, as evidenced by Cat’s non-stop rave-dancing, and the Thai girls were so much fun so we hope they had a great night too!

Needless to say the next day we had sore heads and so it was a pretty uneventful day where we said bye to Owen – hope your hang over on the flight was not too bad!!
The following day we decided to drive to Chiang Mai and so we are back to our old haunts Rider’s Corner and Thai 1 On. It’s weird as this place almost feels homely now!!! This afternoon we get the bike back, I’m going to take it for a blast and then tomorrow we plan to pack and leave for Laos – cross your fingers, rub a buddha head, pray or whatever else sends us some luck so we can move on to the next stage of this trip!!
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:50 AM   #88
mav1234
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Hope you had good time in India, if not the best.

Everybody has their own feelings, when they land in India. Some has good, some has bad. But here the thing is how well you tackle it, and well you enjoy it.

Hope next time ( when you will come ), we can extend our warm welcome to you.. :)

BTW, very nice pictures, and nice Log. Keep it up.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:43 AM   #89
Rixxy OP
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India more than other places was "hard work" but im dissapointed to have to turn around due to the tyre which was really the main reason.

India is prob the most diverse country i have ever been to, esp if you get out the citys its mind blowing, and i think you do the best food in the world.

I will def be coming back just not on a big bike prob looking to do another 4 or 6 weeks in a year or so on a 125 or maybe an enfield!!

J
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:38 AM   #90
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Yeahh, Absolutely Right, Inside City, its suffocating, once you are on the Highway, or the Hills, its just a treat for us Tourers.

Hope to see you soon here
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