daveg travels Rotating Header Image

Happy New Year from Chiang Mai, Thailand

Happy New Year, 2012 from Chiang Mai, Thailand!

To all my family and friends back home and everyone else I’ve met along the road over the last year and a half:
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!!!!!

Looks like this is my second NYE in Thailand of my life.  My first one was in Bangkok last year where my original plan was to going to bed at 9pm.  However, my internal clock woke me up at 11:45 (or was it the firecrackers) and I ended up staying out until 6am.

This year was more tame and I celebrated NYE with new friends here in Chiang Mai at Rider’s Corner.   After finishing dinner and a few drinks we went to the “Tai Pae Gate” and were partying with a diverse mix of locals and tourists all launching lanterns and fireworks.  I’m pretty sure none of these would be legal in the USA.

I’ll let the photos describe themselves.

This was our site as we came out of the restaurant. Thousands of lanterns and fireworks filling the sky.

There was a diversity of people launching lanterns and joining in the celebration

Some kids are too cool it seems

German motorcycle travelers and I join in the fun

Why use a camera when you have your iPad. I wonder if they're interested in Auto Bingo

We stopped at this bar, "The Wall" in Chiang Mai and they have signs in tons of different languages all saying something like, "Don't throw toilet paper in the toilet, use the bin". I was going to add a Texan translation.

Back in Chaing Mai

Well I’ve made it back to Chaing Mai and am staying at Riders Corner. Im trying to keep a low profile and spend most of my days and nights working.

The sooner I finish up my current work project, the sooner i will go to China.

The view from my room.

The Plan

Plans.. If you’ve talked to me about my trip you know how well plans have worked out for me for this first leg of the trip.  For posterity sake, I’m going to outline a plan.

The Plan:

  • Start off in Bangkok, Thailand and head up to Chiang Mai.  From there I’m going to take a couple of weeks and finish a programming contract I have that is based in the USA.
  • Either get a flight or bus up north to China
  • Take trains around China towards Szechuan.  Why Szechuan?  Because I hear that is where China’s spiciest food is from.
  • Figure out when Chinese New Year traffic starts and make sure that I’m out of China before then otherwise I’ll get stuck
  • 30th January 2012 make sure I’m at the starting line for The Ride For Cambodia.  It is a charity event that I’m coorganizing in Cambodia where a group of us are buying scooters (yeah Scoots!!) and will ride across the country for about 2 weeks.
  • Upon surviving the ride, head back to Spain to pick up the bike
  • Spend a couple of weeks in Spain in the Basque Country near Bilbao
  • Either head up to London via ferry to work on visas for the rest of the trip or just…
  • Travel through Europe eventually getting to Turkey.  Get any visas that I don’t already have for the rest of the trip
  • Ride through Azerbaijan frantically with the short transit visa to get the bike into customs to cross the Caspian Sea
  • Take a boat across the Caspian
  • Frantically ride across Turkmenistan because of their short transit visa
  • Check out the other ‘stans as time allows
  • Tour north to Kazahstan and Mongolia
  • Enter Russia and ride the “old summer road of bones” to Magadan!

That’s it.  That’s the plan.  What do you think?   I have a rough timeline to follow where I need to go late enough in the year that the river levels are low enough from snow melt but then the ambient temperature isn’t so cold that it is snowing.  Basically, I have to be done by August.

Today I’ve made it to Chiang Mai, Thailand and am staying at Rider’s Corner.  I started their website last year and it is great to be back!   Not only is it  a good restaurant, they have tons of excellent information about motorcycling for Thailand.  What do you think of that google??

The trip resumes!

I know that you think that I abandoned the blog. Well, you’re sorta right. I’m going to try to start again. Sadly I’ll probably never get to my stories from Europe, but I’m going to give it a go to capture and share future stories.

Again the goal is to have less refined text but focus on the pictures and keeping the blog current.

SO. I am leaving the USA again to return to south east Asia. Im flying to Thailand and will eventually end up in Cambodia to coorganize the Ride for Cambodia – http://rideforcambodia.com

More info to come about that later as I need to get on a flight!

I can’t wait to get back on the road


Laos New Highway Route

Less text, more pictures.

Unfortunately, these signs for Unexploded Ordinance are pretty typical for the Laos countryside. The US dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on Laos.

As things got more remote, it was only VillageLife out there

The walls are made out of bamboo and on piers and beams made out of hardwood
More village life
Things were pretty dusty in Laos!!

Driving through Landslides caused by construction

I'm somehow able to get the bike through without falling

Driving up the newly surfaced dirt road in Eastern Laos

Whenever we'd stop in a village, people would gather around to see what these two huge motos were doing in their town. Always friendly faces

The best all weather dirt road I’ve ever been on

The good road ended and it was switchbacks of sand. This was a section of road that was actively being recut. Unfortunately it wasn't ready when we got there. We stood there and wandered how we were going to get across.

The machine operator noticed us standing there looking confused and changed the grade a bit so it was not as steep so we could ride our bikes up it.

I'm pretty happy to be out of the mess.

After riding for 12 hours on dirt roads, Happy Dirt Dave arrives

Little bike, little ferry

More ferry action

Big Bike, Little Ferry

Laos Photos

After riding with John and Kelly for a while, I met back up with Dean in Laos.  Unfortunately, to do this I ended up skipping northern Laos, which is supposed to be the best riding.  Because I wanted to do some remote exploring with Dean, I will have to visit northern Laos on another trip.  We had fun doing a loop around Pakxe.  Ok.  Less words… more photos.  Actually, I’m going to only use photos this post.  I gotta get caught up somehow!!!

Human power was more common in Laos than any other country I've seen. People would be walking around in the most random of places pushing or carrying things.

This French guy was part of the MANY accidents of backpackers who rent scooters in Laos. It was very common to see people at hostels hanging out covered in bandages. If you rent a scooter, wear safety gear! This guy who we thought was seriously banged up just had a minor scratch on his leg. His scooter was unable to continue until we applied a dose of the engineering THWACK (hammer) to the foot peg.

Dean flying through one of the many rivers in Laos

Again.. no matter where we were or how remote we thought we were, there were people everywhere. They were always friendly and curious

I unfortunatley didn't get a good photo of this machine. I'm not exactly sure what it does, but I think it pumps water up from the river up the river bank to village. There was a woman bathing there and giving me the evil eye when I took out the camera so I just quickly snapped this photo with my little sony camera.

I think the only time we take photos are when we're in the water. That was really the only time that we were off the bike. It was a great ride!

The village rockstar

Propaganda posters were in the country in Laos

Dean and his KTM 950 SE powering out of a river in Laos

Another tractor cruisor showing us how a river crossing should be done. Also, if you look to the right of the frame, you can see how a woman stays modest while she bathes herself in the river.

Floating the river...

Always an audience... These guys were just chit chatting and I was speaking back at them in Thai. The question was always, "How much gas in that tank?" I learned to say 28 liters in several languages.

Only photos of bikes in a river

The DRZ is the ultimate adventure touring machine. I cheated this time and took off my bags because I knew we were just doing a loop.

More water.... There were tons of water crossings on this loop.

This time we had a big audience that grew every second while we scouted the route through the water.

This time it was mostly kids.

yearH!! Go!