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Old 03-02-2012, 10:45 PM   #91
Frey Bentos
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Superb. Glad I'm stuck in the rain and at work.
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Old 03-03-2012, 04:12 AM   #92
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Yeah not long now mate and i will be stuck back there thinking about this trip............... wonder how long i last before i sell the wife and do another one!!!
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:42 AM   #93
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Alright..... Who Didn’t Rub the Buddha’s Head?

Well we have made it through Laos, and all the way back to Bangkok, not exactly how we had planned though ………. all will be explained!

The ride to the border covered a lot of road I covered with Eddie before but it was nice for Cat to see it with me as well. It was also great that I got to stop off again at the fantastic coffee shop that’s in the middle of nowhere and right next to the coffee and tea plantation. At the border we had a quick stop at the customs office where lots of smiley Thai woman ran (literally ran) around the office sorting out the paperwork for me to help me get on my way. Then we went down the ramp and loaded onto the ferry which we paid 500 baht for – I think it should have been free, but it’s the first time in ages we have been ripped off so we weren’t bothered!


Once on the Laos side, it was very easy to get the bike into the country. They used the carnet and it literally took 2 minutes with lots of smiles and Welcome to Laos being repeated, then we were told to ride 1.5 km through the city to go to the passport office. Yes, in typical laid back Asian style we were already in the country but we had to ride through the town of our own accord to get the stamps in our passports and our visa sorted. It would be so easy to just not bother and carry on, but we felt it best to do the right thing, after all you don’t want to get banged up in a Laos prison!!

It was late afternoon by the time we got everything sorted, so we soon found a nice little guest house for about £10 a night, which gets you a very nice room here and breakfast included.

The following day the plan was to head to Luang Prabang, about 550 km from the border town we were in. It’s actually only about 200km away along the river, but the only tarmac road does a big loop to the north close to the China border, via Luang Namtha and Oudomxai, so we followed that. We woke around 9am and we were on the road by 10.

Laos is so much better than I expected: the people are all smiles and waving at us as we go past. It’s very poor in places like India, but it’s much cleaner than India and I realise that makes all the difference. It is how I expected India to be before I left home I think.



The bike was running well although a little hotter than I expected to the point it had 6 bars lit up out of 7, but it was a lot of first and second gear corners. I wasn’t feeling great, and neither was Cat and it meant we were banging heads a little. At one point we stopped to have a quick look over the bike and a water break and who should come around the corner but Phil from Rider’s Corner and owner of www.rideasai.net! He was with his wife and had his KTM, they stopped for a minute and had a chat. I explained that my confidence in the bike is a little low at the moment which is a shame but I have decided really it’s just in my head and I need to stop worrying. It’s probably only hot from the constant slow speed cornering.



Once we reached Oudomxai (pronounced Oo-dom-sh-eye) I was feeling very irritable and Cat told me she wanted to stop, as we still had 200km to our planned destination. I decided we were carrying on, but got 30km up the road which then turned into bits of gravel and pot holes and was very twisty, and with only 2 hours of light left, I re-decided the smart money was really on heading back. We turned around and found a hotel that Phil had told us about, again coming in at about £10.

Cat and I were both a bit ratty with each other but both putting it down to feeling a bit ill and being tired. We had a drink then some food, all the while I was feeling very apprehensive and unsettled, then just after we ate I knew I needed to lay down so left Cat to pay the bill and rushed upstairs. We managed to watch 1 episode of Spooks on the laptop before I rushed into the loo and tried to push my intestines out my mouth. Never have I been so ill! I ended up going back 5 times until I had nothing left in my stomach. On the 3rd time to my horror it started to exit from the south too, but at 10 times the normal speed with a tenth of the normal warning, so I was a very sick boy, and I f**king hate throwing up!!!

Cat felt really bad for me, I think she had thought I was not feeling too bad and was just a bit grumpy. Lucky she was straight on it, calling cousin Mike the paramedic and posting on facebook to see if anyone had any remedies, whilst being on google and after about 50 minutes (or a lifetime for me), she said ah-ha we have those from Nepal and rummaged around in the pill bag to bring out some stomach pills we had bought in Nepal, thinking we might get sick there or in India.

I took 2 of them and threw them up 1 hour later but this at least stopped the puking after that stage. She also gave me some valium to help me sleep during the night. I had to sprint to the loo twice but other than feeling sick I wasn’t sick again. The next day I felt weak and crappy so riding a bike was off the cards. We spent the day in bed while I recovered, slowly eating more stuff (it being a very local town, the only things I found that were identifiable were some seeded biscuits, a packet of crisps, water and oranges. Not even any bananas in the town which I found weird since we passed so many banana trees on the way!), with my loo breaks growing more manageable distances apart and getting more predictable. More pills and by the end of the day I managed to eat some duck and some rice.


After that day of rest, I woke with a still upset but predictable tummy, so we hit the road. My energy was a little sapped so Cat had to work a bit harder helping me get the bike on the centre stand etc. But on the plus side, the drive to Luang Prabang was beautiful. I love this country it’s just great, so many smiling happy kids waving and shouting all excited to see us, wooden villages with 100s of house without a brick in site but all with a big old-school satellite dish outside!! The roads are ok, part tarmac part sand/stone for about 70% of the way then the last 80 km was good tarmac, although the new bits had laid stones in places that were very deep so I had to be careful not to wash the front end out when cornering.

We arrived in Luang Prabang and it was a bit hard to tell where the city began, as it’s bigger than we expected, but we quickly started to see the odd western face and soon we came on to the main street. It’s very very beautiful. It looks like a French village in the south of France, all the old houses and buildings have a real French feel and the whole place is extremely cool and very beautiful. But the guest house game is a bit of a joke here - first places we looked at wanted 70 – 80 dollars a night, and weren’t really worth it, but in the end we got a place for 13 dollars just off the main street which is far nicer than some we looked at for 30 dollars in other places. So if you come here make sure you have a good look around!

We booked in for 2 nights, and then ventured out to the city. They have a great night market on every night, so we found a little bistro and sat with a cup of chai while we discussed our plans for Laos.

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


We enjoyed our 2 days in Luang Prabang, mostly wandering around the city and taking in the sights. One morning we went to the nearby Kuang Si waterfalls which were so beautiful. It’s more like a natural park where families can have picnics. The falls are in all different levels, you can wander right through the forest, up to the different tiers and can swim in the pools. There’s also a bear rescue centre at the foot of the falls and they’ve got a big open enclosure with about 10 rescued asian bears who all look pretty happy and healthy.


We had quite an eventful morning the day we left LP. I had snapped our only ignition key the day before, but not a problem – KTM told me over the phone how to start the engine with a screwdriver, and I was able to pull the seat up enough for Cat to slide her hand in and pull out the tools. But it wasn’t until we got to the petrol station that either of us remembered that we also need the key to open the tanks! So we parked up, got out our tools, and got to work trying to get the tanks open. We managed to use the broken key shaft in one tank to turn the lock, but it wouldn’t come out again, so I unscrewed the lock from the inside to try to get to the key barrel. I couldn’t, but in the meantime, I dropped a tiny spring (or two) INTO the fuel tank. So off came the side of the bike, Cat found a bucket to tip the fuel into, and we shook the tank while looking for the springs. We found one. And after investigating a bit more, we are pretty sure we’re missing a second spring, but can’t HEAR it rattling inside the tank, and it doesn’t seem like it will either be sucked through the hoses or cause an obstruction, so we just put the bike back together.

We now only run on 2 fuel tanks (lucky we had the third one installed!) and start the bike with a screwdriver.

Non-deterred, we headed east out to Phonsavan which is where the Plains of Jars are. The city’s a pretty small and dusty place, with only a handful of westerners around, but it was fine as a base for exploring. We had a walk around the city before dinner and discovered the local night market, complete with sideshow games, rides and a bouncy castle. But I wouldn’t have got on the ferris wheel if you paid me! We then found a small restaurant called Bamboozled run buy a Scottish guy and decided we would eat there the first night.

The food was very good and we sat and planned out the following couple of days. We are both really enjoying being back on the bike again and slowly my confidence is building back up in the KTM. We rode over to the Plains of Jars the following morning, visiting the 3 main sites and tacked on a bit of sightseeing – some of the old Russian tanks still litter the roadside, and we went to a village where they make bits of bombs into recycled spoons and jewellery. It’s run by a charity and there are several villages like this, to help them make money for local people and to make a legacy from the bombing.


The Jars are very intriguing things - there is a lot of publicity surrounding them and they simply don’t really know when or why they were put there, so it makes them very interesting. The most common theory is that they are used for burials. You also get an idea of how badly Laos has been treated in the “Secret War”, in fact there are bomb craters all over the place, and even a lot of shells still lying around in the villages. People are still getting killed by live unexploded bombs and unfound landmines, in fact we found out that Laos is the most bombed country in the world, even though they never actually fell out with anyone.

After our exploring we visited the MAG (mines advisory group) centre in the town, and made a donation to their cause. It’s a huge job that MAG are doing and the north-east and south-east of Laos are a far cry from the touristy cities like Luang Prabang.

Anyway we actually had a really great couple of days and were looking forward to exploring the rest of Laos and at this point decided we wanted to do some of the Ho Chi Minh trail in the south. The following morning we woke early and headed over to get breakfast at the place run buy the Scottish fellow. We were toying with the idea of riding the dirt road to Pakxan rather than going via Vang Vieng and Vientiane, but it had rained in the night a little so we were unsure of the condition of the road. We decided we could do 200k then turn around and come back if it was bad and spend another night here. But as we headed for the south road, the clouds gathered above us and it was clearly raining over the hills in the distance, so we spun around and headed for the tarmac road we came in on, which was very very twisty. (It was on this road on the way into Phonsavan that we found a blank distance marker on the road, and wrote our story. I wonder how long it will stay there?)

It seemed to go quicker than when we headed in and the clouds were dark above us but no rain as yet. We soon hit the turning point and were headed for Vang Vieng. About 50 km in, much to my horror, the cam chain noise came back and the oil light came on! I pulled over, took all the gear off the bike and laid the bike on its side, opened it up to have a look at the oil filter and it was all misshapen - the exact same symptoms as before! I took it out and cleaned it off with some petrol and put it back. It lasted about 20km so we were still 30 out of Vang Vieng before it came on again, only now the rain decided to come, monsoon style! We had to pull into a service station for some time, and then slowly push on until we reached a town with phone signal. I spoke to Herman the German mechanic in Chiang Mai who was surprised and baffled, but I had a sneaking feeling I knew what it was.


We got a hotel in Vang Vieng and I started to google the symptoms, and spoke to KTM Hemel Hempstead who again were super helpful. I took the clutch cover off and it was full of a white goo and the oil was milky coloured......... water pump seal, as expected. I spoke to Herman the following day, needless to say I was pretty annoyed - I'm not sure about anyone else but I don’t believe in coincidence and I think he just didn’t want to do the job in the first place, I had told him I thought it was the water pump seal and he said it was a big job and he didn’t think it was the problem. It's a shame as it's not the bike that has been letting me down, it's the mechanics that touch it!!

So I got the online "how to" guides and after a couple of days of chilling out went to work on the KTM. It took us ages, it is a very fiddly job but by 5pm I had the new seal and shaft fitted. Problem was the engine cases and exhaust were still off and it was getting dark, I was starting to rush and then I slipped and dinked the engine case on the floor, BUGGGEEEERRRRR!!!!! I had managed to crack it!!!! All that work had messed up something I had done a thousand times!!!!!!!!! I was so pissed off but Cat got the superglue and we glued the snapped part back on, then just fitted it all back together and left it until the morning. I still needed to clean the oil filters and replace all the oil, so after another day of chilling out (Vang Vieng is very good for chilling out), we came back to the bike and started her up, but she just pisses oil out, so I have managed to cripple the bike!!! What a wolly!! The good news is it was easy to get a truck sorted to take us to the Thai border, but we get on really well with the crew down at Gary's Irish Bar so planned to stay here chilling out until Monday (after St Paddy's day)!!


We went tubing, which is what Vang Vieng is pretty famous for, it's not the prettiest side of Laos but as I have worked in nightclubs all my life I am always interested in how a good party works. This was very interesting and it's amazing really as you're never going to be able to do something like that in the West as Health and Safety would have a meltdown. We went to a few of the bars along the river and slowly made our way down the river, and who should we bump into but the owner of Ultimate Party from Cairns in Australia - someone who we have not seen for over 6 years! That day we had a few drinks but didn't get hammered and had an early night as it was St Pat's day tomorrow. St Pat's day was a lot of fun, there was a great atmosphere and it was good to have one last night to have a few beers with Gary, Mikey, Johnny, Paulie (or Whiskey Joe as he is sometimes known) and the others.



The following day the van picked us up (actually it was more like a tuk-tuk), and we had to put the bike in backwards as the roof was really low and the bike didn't fit all the way in! It was a lot of fun and we got lots of help from locals getting it in, I bet it looked pretty crazy going along in a Songthaew with a KTM hanging out the back! The road to Vientiane and the border was a mix of broken tarmac and sand, it was very very dusty and bumpy. It took 6 hours to get to Vientiane and we thought we may have to settle there or at the next closest town to the border, but very quickly we found another truck and driver willing to take us straight to Bangkok. I must say if you are considering doing a trip like this, and if like me you can just about give it an oil change and re-fuel it then you should be confident knowing that no matter where you break down there will be a guy with a truck who is willing to help you out for a few American dollars!! In this case it cost about $250 to take us the 600km to Bangkok, which is not bad considering we didn’t get there until 1.30am. KTM were great and the security guard was waiting for us and showed me where to store the bike over night.



So now we are in Bangkok and expect to be here for a week or so, the good news being the bike will be fit again once we leave. Our plan is to head to Cambodia to visit Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and Sihanoukville, the beach town.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:16 AM   #94
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Great update guys,we cant wait to get back to laos.
Love the road sign artwork,will check it out next year
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:45 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by pirate63 View Post
Great update guys,we cant wait to get back to laos.
Love the road sign artwork,will check it out next year
Its just great, and is on my list to return to with a 250 and a back pack as there are some mind blowing tracks around as well!!
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:30 AM   #96
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BKK - Cambodia - Sien Reap

Cambodia - Siem Reap

The two weeks in Bangkok has been hard work, not because Bangkok is a bad place to be, it's great, but we have been in Thailand for a long time in total and we are keen to move on. It's VERY hard to stick within our budget in the city as we end up bored, drinking coffee or eating in western places. One of the things we are finding about traveling like this especially recently, is that one of the toughest things to do is to have nothing to do: you don't realise how much you get up to in normal day to day life, especially me - I'm very social and when I have free time in England I'm out with friends, on the bike, fishing or doing track days and this takes up a lot of my time. Now we're stuck in a strange city trying to spend as little amount of money as possible and not wanting to commit to anything long term (such as a side-trip) as the bike MIGHT be ready soon. It's a little frustrating to say the least, especially when we were finally in a place where we were consistently coming in under budget week after week eating local foods and generally impressing ourselves!!

This said, Bangkok IS a great city, the cinema is cheap, we have been 5 times in 7 days and caught up on most the movies we wanted to see or have missed. I bought a new Mac since the cheap sony laptop got dropped, simply because there about £200 cheaper here than in the UK, but trying to keep it in mint condition until we get home is going to keep me awake at night!!



We have started using the BTS (rail) network to go everywhere, it's REALLY good here, and as the taxis are mostly rip-off artists, it's by far the cheapest and fastest way around town. I'm still annoyed at the fixing of the bike in Chiang Mai, 2 weeks I left it up there to be fixed - obviously he decided to cut corners (unless someone else can explain all my identical symptoms) and now it's cost me a small fortune waiting for parts and the putting of the bike in the trucks. It's very very annoying. I really wanted to do southern Laos, I'm such a big fan of that country, I'm half in the mind to go back and carry on when it's ready, but money is a working factor and so I need to be conscious of how long we have been on the road and how much time we have to get to our destination. I figure maybe in a year's time I will come back here after I have worked for a bit, maybe the end of 2013 with a mate and we can hire a couple of 250cc dirt bikes and really give Laos a good going over on the dirt stuff.

After a couple of days in Lub'd, a boutique hostel in Siam Square, we moved around the corner to a much cheaper one (A One Inn) to save on cash. We went for a meal with Geoff Thomas (www.poorcirculation.com) and his girlfriend and he took us to a fantastic place called Condoms and Cabbages. What a great place! The food is good and it's not too expensive, there are decorations all over the place made out of condoms and the idea behind the place is to help spread sexual health awareness among the local Thai population, particularly the sex workers.



We had a good talk, Geoff has become one of Jupiter's Travellers and has lots of usual info and tips around traveling. We also talked about the option of carrying on, it is something that is on and off the cards, money is a big factor, that and the fact we don't want to get "behind" in our careers as we want to be able to have a family soon and not struggle to pay the bills. But I have to remind myself I'm not 40, I'm not even 30 yet and I have got myself to a unique position and seeing the world is on everyone's "if I won the lottery list" and so I should probably stop worrying and just do it while I can!! Geoff was adamant we should carry on, he is such a great bloke and an inspiration to motorcycle travellers all over the world, doing his trip, and on a very small budget.

Then we also met up with Allan Roberts (www.hardwayhome.blogspot.com) He spent 899 days on the road, riding through africa, asia and down to Oz, a truly long way home and has a lot of stories. The interesting thing about Allan is he was our age when he did it and is back to his "normal" life so to speak although he's out there living still, doing rallies in Dubai and has big plans to compete in the Dakar rally after beating Simon Pavey in the Dubai desert challenge!! We also had the "should we continue" chat with him and he had also only planned to be on the road for a year or so but ended up extending about a year and a half and rolling into Oz with his last $5 in his pocket, and suggested we do the same. But of course it's tough for me to think like that as I love my job and working in general, always have and always will do, so for now and over the next 2-3 months I need to mull over my options before we reach our planned destination of Australia!

After 2 weeks I was able to go and collect the bike. I found that the bearing had also gone in the water pump seal but it was all repaired and ready to go. So gingerly I got on it and rode it back. We packed our stuff up and had a bit of a clear out and hit the road early the following morning. Getting out of BKK was pretty easy, you find a lot of people say the traffic is crazy and its dangerous, I don't think it's too bad, well no worse than London can be, and certainly nothing like India!



We got to the Cambodia border, Poipet, pretty quickly on a boring motorway ride. We left Thailand to smiles and waves of the officials and entered Cambodia, far less organised and immediately saw clear corruption going on as an Iranian traveler was copping a lot of grief off of a officer. He was accused of not telling the truth, then he was lead off to another room where we could no longer see, and emerged 5 mins later, wallet in hand, shaking his head but clear to move on.

Our visa was sorted for $20.00 (standard price, no bribes paid, we've done this a few times!) and then told we needed to go to customs for the bike which was 2km in the town on the left. We drove in and talked our options through as Phil from Rider's Corner always told us never stop at customs in Cambodia as it will be a lot of hassle and you will end up spending a few dollars to get it all sorted. When we arrived at the customs building, they told us the customs guy was sleeping, we asked him to wake him up, the guard just shrugged his shoulders, said can you come back tomorrow? We said no and he just shrugged again and waved us on!

And so we just rode into Cambodia! We were a little apprehensive to begin with but we have since found out that you get a bit of paper that is no real help anyway and some travellers had paid as much as $50 for it. The police here are MEGA corrupt, they stop bikes all the time and you pay fines for nothing, it's a max of only $2 for any motoring offence but new tourists are often threatened with prison and part with much more cash, up to $10 in some cases, when in reality nothing is going to happen. This said, people who spend any real time here soon cotton on to the scam police and so don't stop when asked. Some wave a stick at you, some even swing it at you but in reality they don't care, they are just looking to earn easy money out of stupid tourists!!



After we cleared the border we saw an amazing thing: 3 pigs, alive, strapped upside-down to the back of a moped, I have seen some crazy stuff on mopeds but this is in my top 10!! (It must be a unique thing to Cambodia - haven't seen it anywhere else but saw many more like this here!)

We were headed for Siem Reap, hoping to make it all in one day. It's a pretty boring ride to be honest, the roads are in ok condition but it's flat and straight. You would think this means I can hum along at 130kph but the traffic is pretty bad, the worst we have dealt with since India. Only 2 weeks ago 5 people were killed on a tourist bus as the driver lost control on a bend after going too fast, and they speed along here easily doing 120kph or more, overtaking where they want regardless of what's coming towards them, very very scary stuff. But I took it easy and stayed very alert and we soon made it to Siem Reap and home of some of the greatest temples in the world.

We drove around the town and found a fantastic little guest house, there were a few people around and as usual the bike struck a bit of interest from people who noticed the side panniers and the various flags. We chatted to a few of them and got the low down on the temples and the best way to deal with things. The following day we woke pretty early and headed off to have a look at the various temples. Cambodia is quite the hustle: people telling us we couldn't take the bike and needed a tuk-tuk, but we rode to the gates, got a ticket and were allowed in no problem.



The temples are breathtaking, we saw Angkor Wat, the main one, plus Bayon, with the faces made from stone, and Ta Phrom, the one with all the trees growing out of the stones, where Tomb Raider was filmed. But we feel a bit bad as I'm sure if we had come to them first we would feel even more blown away, because we have seen so many amazing temples on this journey. Cat and I keep joking that we are looking forward to watching the discovery channel to see which ones we have been to and to compare notes!!


After the temples, we rode out to have a look at a small landmine clearing charity that also had a school attached to it to help orphaned or injured children. Landmines are still a huge problem here and in Laos with an expected 100 million still buried in the ground. People are getting killed daily and even in places where you would not expect, for an example a car pulled off the road only 5km from Siem Reap and got blown to pieces by an anti-tank mine only 3 weeks ago!! It made for some sobering reading and makes you realise how horrible we can be to each other!!



Anyway, that evening we came back to town, relaxed and had a few drinks and some Cambodian food. We tried out the fish feet thingy for the first time and found it very tickly, but our feet were so clean after! We ate that night at a traditional Khmer bbq restaurant where you have a hotplate on the table and cook our own food. It's VERY cheap here with beers being 50 cents and very good food being around $4 a dish. The food was great and Siem Reap has a really good atmosphere, we thought about hanging out for a few days more but decided we would rather do that by the beach. Plus I had read that BigTom was down in Sihanoukville and so we made the plans to ride the 600km from Siem Reap to there.
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Old 04-20-2012, 04:27 AM   #97
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Howdy

Thanks for the update
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Old 04-20-2012, 04:57 AM   #98
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Another great update guys
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:55 AM   #99
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thanks guys, the next one is a good one, i just need to finish it and its quite long as i ended up doing 4 days on a 250 with 6 other lads, lost in the jungle, ran out of food proper bike craziness!!!
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:26 AM   #100
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A very inspiring ride indeed. Salute to you both.

Anyway I would be glad to help out on anything in Malaysia or Singapore.
Would luv to chat you up n hear abt all your adventures.

I am residing in Singapore by the way.
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Old 04-25-2012, 10:40 PM   #101
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Cambodia - Otres Beach and Off-Roading Adventures

Cambodia - Otres Beach and Off-Roading


We woke early and
hit the road, not a lot to report as it's flat and boring most of the way, until we hit the hills near the coast, over which we got caught in a storm. It was a bit of a mission to find Otres Beach since we arrived in the dark, and there's not a lot of signs anyway, but so worth it! Straight away we found Tom, then went to find somewhere to stay and met Jade who recommended Done Right, and this is how friendly everyone is: before we'd even unpacked and gone back to meet Tom at his place, we'd made friends with the owners and other guests and had planned a 3-day dirt-bike adventure for the weekend!




Otres Beach is FANTASTIC, so chilled out and we have become part of the family here. We have now been here for a week and it took only 2 days - cat has been enjoying cheap manicures and pedicures and we have been to the weekly pirate party and the guys to all got time off and 7 of us to have a HUGE ride for 4 days though the jungle! Cat stayed on the beach with Ali, one of the girls we had met on our second night, and made friends wit
h the rest of the beach.




We all rented 250 XR's or Baja's and we left around 7am in the morning. The first thing that happened was my bike packed it in before we even got to the town and so I had to take it back and we all waited for 2 hours until another bike was returned! The good news being it was in much better condition than the previous one.



Finally at 11am we left Sihanoukville but we were behind so in a bit of a rush. We followed the coast along, hitting as many trails as we could but nothing any harder than a dirt track. Then we turned off the motorway to follow the trail for about 80 km north west to Chi Phat, a small village by the river. We had a small rest at a shack a coke each and watched the family gut a buffalo for dinner! After a couple of false starts, the road started to have less and less joining points and we soon picked up the main trail as we hit the edge of the jungle.



Boy was the riding getting hard and it didn't stop getting hard! Myself and Chris and sometimes JD took the lead as we were the more experienced guys. The bloody trail was getting very rough indeed, and the jungle was soon thick around us. Rocks, mud, rivers, ditches, downed trees…

we were hitting the whole lot and the trail was not taking us in the direction we expected according to the Sat Nav, which soon died.

We all came off at some stage, be it in deep mud or on very slippery rocks which were covered in a green moss/algae on the other side of a crossing: you could not touch the brakes unless you wanted to kiss the dirt!! Slowly we all worked our way though, we had fallen trees to get bikes over, bamboo to cut our way though and at one stage had to slide the bikes underneath a section of fallen trees, one bike at a time, working in 2 muddy exhausted teams.

We were stopping for breaks from time to time and we were a little disorientated being in such thick jungle, the one thing we all knew after about 3 hours was we needed to get a move on as it was going to be dark in about 2 hours. The problem was we didn't know how far from the end we were and we kept getting small clearings every 30 minutes or so, giving us false hope but this would be followed by a deep river crossing or fallen trees and that hope would soon slip away. We WERE reaching the end of the trail, I thought, we must be since we have covered over 60kms.


Lucky, just as it was getting dark and we had switched our lights on, we emerged from the jungle for real. We were all tired and very hungry having not eaten since breakfast. We regrouped in the tall grass and tried to work out which direction we should be headed in, the good news was
there were small mountain ranges both sides of us so we tried to stick to the middle. Big problem was we were losing light fast and had nothing other than a small track to follow. We were also running out of water and in the 40 degree heat we were starting to dehydrate and get very hungry!!

Nearly an hour of riding went by in the tall grass and cutting in and out of small sections of forest before we hit a wide river crossing. Hats off to Chris who just went for it in the dark and after slipping all over the place made it to the other side! I was next across, I tried to follow a similar path to Chris and ended up slipping big time on the wet/greasy rocks and the bike came down on top of me. I had fallen the other side of a rock and the bike had trapped my leg, I had managed to hold the bike up but I was slipping fast and my strength was sapped from being dehydrated and I was struggling to stop the full 100kg or more of bike crushing my tibia/fibula.

Help! I shouted to the guys over roaring engines, HEEEELP!! Then some of the guys slowly dismounted and I shouted HELP - LEG waited 5 second then shouted HELP my fucking LEG!! Then 2 of the guys dropped their bikes and ran over, realising I was approaching a bad situation. They lifted the bike off and I was relieved to get my leg out from underneath it. I got the bike started again and we all got across the river. Two of the others also crashed in the river and it meant we all worked together and it tired us out even more. Very exhausted now, we regrouped and Chris led a discussion about stopping the night next to the river where we had running water. But we decided we would do another hour or so and if we hit more thick jungle turn back to the river and sleep there.

Again we pushed on and hit a VERY deep river crossing, more of a very steep ditch, but it was very wet/muddy and deep. Deeper than the height of the bike. We all got past it after a bit of a fight with the mud on the exit, then we looked at the sky ahead of us and saw we had a huge thunder storm brewing. Not good. We moved on along the trail and the grass got shorter and the trail more clear to the point it looked like it was used by 4X4 or trucks.


Then much to our delight we came across our first proper sign of civilisation - a fenced-off area/field. In the pitch black we stopped as the trail seemed to go in 5 direction into the dark. Over the bikes and forest sounds I thought I could hear a loud thumping of bass DUF DUF DUF!! The other guys agreed and we decided to ride towards it. After a few minutes we came to a river, a wide VERY deep river and that's when we realised we were only about 1000 meters from Chi Phat, a small village with guest houses and restaurants, problem was there was a big deep river and no bridges across!!

In the dark we doubled back to try follow the river along and find a crossing. We dipped into some forest and I lost sight of Chris. The track forked, I went one way with JD and Marcus, and Chris, Nick, Sam and Ryan must have gone the other way. It was 5 mins before we stopped and it was in my head light as I went to turn around that I saw a structure with a big plastic tarp. This we could s
leep under and stay dry in our hammocks.

We headed over to the structure thinking the other guys would come. Marcus went for a walk and found the river and another crossing point but it was only by boat and the guy would not take the bikes. But we explained we were hungry and soon an old drunk guy appeared rambling out of the night and just 200 meters away he had a small wooden house on stilts. Marcus speaks a bit of Khmer and he tried to explain our situation. We rode the bike towards the house and the man and old lady looked on confused, "we are staying here" Marcus said, we couldn't get any sense out the old man but we needed to sleep.


Whilst Marcus was off hunting round we had been trying to signal the other guys, beeping horns and flashing lights, we knew they were close but it was impossible and none of us wanted to go on our own to explore incase we got lost in the pitch black and it was about to poor down with rain. I thought we would set the hammocks up under the house but the old guy seemed to show a small amount of clarity and showed us to a porch area where there was some food in bags and some old tools, basically a shed on stilts. He moved a couple of bags around and we got the idea he was happy for us to stay there.

It was pouring with rain by the time we unloaded the bikes and we were praying the others weren't looking for us or still stuck in the rain, in a weird way we also hoped they had not found the crossing, as we were so hungry, tired, and thirsty, and JD and I were suffering with really bad cramps, so the idea of them eating good food and drinking beer would be enough to make us cry!! We got into our sleeping hammocks on the floor pretty quick, there were a few creepy crawlies around but we were all so tired we didn't care. Just as I was settling down, JD remembered he had a small pack of Oreo's with 3 biscuits in it, so we had one each, then Marcus gave us a multivitamin - it's amazing how much of the edge those two things took off! Then just as I was about to fall asleep, JD thought he saw a big cockroach about to crawl over me so I flicked the light on and it turned out to be a bloody scorpion killing the big ants around us! I jumped back and JD jumped up and squashed it!! Damn that was close if I had rolled over I would have been stung and those little scorpions are VERY poisonous!!!

That night we managed to get about 5 hours sleep in total on the wooden floor on the shack. The next day I woke as the sun came up and was still worried the others had been stuck in some field or trees and got soaked in the storm. I decided the best time for me to try find them was now so I took Marcus' bike and went for a ride for over an hour but our tracks were pretty difficult to follow thanks to the rain, and I didn't find them.

As I got back the others were up and had managed to knock a couple of coconuts out of the tree. Man coconut milk gives you a kick when you're mega hungry!! Wow what good stuff, then just as as I was finishing off my first half we could hear their bikes in the distance, we all ran towards them shouting and screaming "this way this way! Over here!!" For a bit it sounded like they were coming towards us, then away, and then finally Chris appeared as I had reached the other side of the field. I pointed in the direction of where we were staying and we all regrouped, anyone would think we had been missing days!! Slowly their story came out, very similar to ours only they took great joy in sharing the fact that they had been given some rice, chilli fish, and water, and the fact that they had seen my track this morning led them to us.

We soon packed our bikes and got ready to try find the magical river crossing. We were looking for a bridge, well that's what we expected as it was a very wide, deep river. But the other good news was the farmer Chris, Sam, Ryan and Nick had stayed with spoke enough English to tell them there was a crossing about 2km up. So we headed up about 1.7km and then there was a steep but well worn track down to the river. We slowly made our way down it and sure enough that was our river crossing: it was some rapids!!

Water level was a little higher as we had much rain the night before, and I'm not sure we would have crossed here if some of the group had their way, but we knew this was the only crossing point and so we had no choice, which is something I love about this type of riding: every now and again you've got to club together and get on with it. Then as we talked over our options, a guy on a moped turned up and just rode over it like it was not big deal. He did nearly get ripped sideways as it was obviously deeper than he expected but it didn't faze him at all. That sealed the deal, we were crossing!!

Using our brains, we decided to use a ratchet strap to lead the bikes and we had one guy behind the bike to steady it at the rear. The rocks were very slippery and the guys thought the ratchet was a bit unnecessary but it turned out to be perfect as one bike got wiped sideways, with the rider off, and if it was not for the ratchet we would have been trying to find in it the Mekong delta!!

Finally we got all the bikes across and then decided it was time to go for a big swim, man what a way to start the day! A huge swim in a stunning river, it put us all in a good mood and a western girl turned up and informed us there was a village and food only 3km away! We dried off and headed for the village and after a bit of messing about found it and ordered some food!! Man what good food and we all had a beer even though it was only 10.30am!

Well fed, we made a plan and ironically needed to cross back over the river, but there was a ferry 2km away. We ran down and got the ferry - 2 longtail boats with wood stuck to them to form a platform and a well trained 10 year old captain ferried us across the river in 2 loads. Then as we headed out there was a small crowd gathering, and being born men (this automatically means a bit stupid) we all gunned off into the distance but JD was more aggressive with his showing off and ended up high siding the bike into the big dirt puddle in front of everyone, the second time in as many days he had crashed showing off in front of people!! We all nearly fell off laughing and JD sprung up and got back on the bike and managed to cover me in dirt as he left!! We cracked on through our trail, and soon we found the tarmac to finish off the ride to Koh Khong.

We settled into a nice hotel in Koh Khong, went for a few beers and some food and just relaxed. The plan being the following day to hit the road about lunch time and go and attack the old Chinese road, which was supposed to be particular fun, then return to Koh Khong for the evening. Two of the bikes were beyond going anywhere, so poor Marcus was going to have to miss out, but Sam decided to rent a bike for the day. We made our way towards the Chinese road and missed the turning the first time, heading about 30 minutes the wrong way on a new road before we turned back, then we hit the good stuff.



I got my GoPro and Nick's GoPro working and we got some epic videos. It was one hell of a ride: we all got stuck, all came off and all had grins from ear to ear, we even came across a small tiger which ran across the road in front of JD! We hoped to have it on film but I was just in the wrong place as I was 2 bikes back. The big shame was the ride was cut a bit short due to a thunder storm rolling in and since we had crossed 3 or 4 very deep river streams which would flood if it rained, we had to turn around, plus it was tough enough going with the mud we had to deal with, without it getting worse!!

So we turned around, and since we all knew the way back, myself and JD decided to split and really open up on the way back. It was some fantastic riding indeed and some of the most fun I have had on this trip. Big respect to Nicolas who stayed with us despite being one of the less experienced guys, but I must say his bravery in the videos shows as he hasn't come off quick enough to know how much it hurts yet. It was a good day, lots of spills, laughs and us working together to dig each other out the mud. On the route we met up with Chris who was on another ride with guides who also used that road the day after us and not much further along they came across a stuck 400 bike just abandoned and they later found out it had broken down and the guy had to leave it and walk 50km back to town!!!

On the final day we were all tired, we did about 60km of track runs but nothing as complicated as we had the previous days, before we finally made it back to Otres beach. The following day I took the bike back, I had to put a new chain on it in Koh Khong as mine was totally nackered and the guy at the rental place was trying to tell me it was $10 for a lever and $10 for indicator lenses, I was so fucking annoyed as we had spare levers with us and they cost us $2 each but this guy would not let it go and I don't like to admit it but he started to get under my skin. I hate people who rip people off and I ended up telling him to go get the chain removed and I wanted to fix the lever and lights myself. In the end he called it quits as I did still have one days rental outstanding ($20) so $10 for the other bits was not so bad. Then we took back JD's bike and his guy was great - $3 for the lever and £10 for the whole front break unit, totally fair and honest!!

We then spent the next 10 days chilling out at Otres beach, and spent two nights camping on gorgeous Ko Ta Kiev for Khmer New Year. If you go to Cambodia then you must go to Otres beach in Sihanoukville, it's stunning and SO SO SO relaxing, plus the guys who run Done Right, and Moonlight Rock, along with the bars: Mushroom, Blame Canada and Oocha are all great fun guys and we became part of the family very quickly. It was great to just hang out as it felt like we had been friends for years. The beach is sandy and shallow and clear, the beers are cheap, the food is fantastic, especially Papa Pippo for italian (7 meals in 10 days speaks for itself!) and Moorea Bar does the best tuna salad IN THE WORLD. I think we are going to do the bike run for a week every year from now on so if you're interested in joining us next time then watch this space!!

Eventually time came to say goodbye to Otres, mostly as time is moving on and we want to get back to being bike travellers. I had to head back to Bangkok to get a new tyre and so we packed up our stuff, said goodbye to our new good friends, paid off our tabs at various bars along the beach and hit the road. We were worried a little about the fact we had not got the bike into the country legally thanks to sleepy customs officers, but once at the border no one even asked us, they just smiled and waved us though and very quickly we were back on fantastic twisty, well-tarmaced Thai roads!! 800km later and we were in Bangkok!! (again)
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:36 AM   #102
pirate63
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F''ning epic guys
Otres beach is on our list for next year
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:03 AM   #103
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great shots of bikes in the mud, the beach is great also
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:00 AM   #104
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couple more pics












From the left JD - Nick - Ryan (done right hostel) - me (Rixxy) - Sam (Owner of Done Right) - Chris - ADV member and Owner of Moonlight Rock we where missing Marcus also of Done Right hostel as he was off trying to fix his bike!
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:34 AM   #105
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Thanks for the pictures of the girls getting pedicures on the beach! Not for that reason, you bunch of pervs, I will use this to convince my wife to do this trip! Sold!
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