Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by tonykiwi, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    Here I sit in my miserable little office in New Zealand, drooling over the photos and trip reports being submitted by others still in the beautiful country I miss so much. We must however always be grateful for the opportunities life throws at us and seize every day as if it is our last.

    Early on, John Gooding had asked me to respond at some stage regarding the advice I had received over the months preceding the trip and give some sort of reflection on how it had worked out for me.

    This was a certain advsnture for me. I am not sure how many of you were aware, but the reality was that one year ago I had not ridden a motor bike since my teens and it was only last June of 2008 that the idea came about of a motor cycle adventure in Northern Thailand. I took the year to take the necessary riding tests for full licence and of course make the relevant plans for the trip. This board has been an integral part of the planning as most of you are aware.

    The original plan was to ride through laos and Cambodia and that idea was squashed very quickly by those in the know. The end result was that I set up camp in a guest house in Chiang Mai and went out for single days or two or three days at a time but returned to base camp.

    I probably did not do half the things i had originally planned to do, but equally, I did many other things I had never envisaged. Just letting life flow is the answer for a fruitful result.

    The Bikes
    I started off with a DTracker. this was a great little bike and took me to some great planned (and unplanned) places. It was just a bit tough on my butt after a while (I rode every day, sometimes for a lot of hours) It was magnificent on the rougher sections and would have been a godsend for the downhill section of the Nor Lae road. I changed after six days to the ER6N which gave a totally different ride.

    In fairness, there are great sides to both and also downsides. I found the DTracker easier for carrying my luggage, handier on the tight turns and as I said, better on the more rough tracks. On the open road I had great fun on the ER6N.

    The riding experience
    I know I will be taken to task on this but I really did not find the Thai drivers to be at all bad. I found them mostly to be considerate and within the crazyness of their world, pretty careful. What I tried to do was think like a Thai and follow suit with them and it seemed to work. Taking a backwards step only caused hesitation and potential for problems so I joined them. Looking far enough ahead to anticipate is a must and riding to the conditions paramount. Has a few nice chats at traffic lights and took a few handy photos as I rode alongside them.

    The clothing
    This is always going to be a tough one. Safety over comfort on a budget. I erred towards safety and stuck with the tried and tested armour for most of the time. I discovered a few little tricks to keep cool on the move but the bottom line is that you sweat whatever happens. I certainly lost a few pounds on the trip. No gloves was a big mistake and one I regretted until I bought a light pair. Shorts under my protective pants meant that anywhere I ended up, food etc, I could just drop my tweeds and keep a sense of dignity.

    The people
    My intention had always been to do this alone and ride alone and enjoy the time out in the experience. My chance meeting with Liam and Brendon changed this a bit and we spent some good time together on various short rides. Realsitically, when riding you are almost always alone anyway (and my crap navigation meant that I would usually be alone anyway. My record for losing the others was at Mae Sarieng when I lost them less than 15 seconds after we moved off. I am pretty sure they all went the wrong way :wink:

    Everyone who has advised me and helped me from this site has done it with a good heart and generous intention. To meet some of these good people in person was a delight and an honour. I won't go into too much detail but there is a true sense of support for fellow biker/adventurers which is comforting when coming to a place such as this for the first time. I was always made to feel welcome and at home wherever I was. I was fortunate to meet with Auke, who has been so helpful on the GPS side of things. I was invited by Dave Early to the meeting of the Toy Ride group and meet the guys who give so much of their time to help others. It was great to hear of the plans and share the meeting with them. Meeting with David and John Gooding for a little while was cool, just sharing a few experiences and friendships. I met Pikey in his shop on my last day, a shame i didn't get a chance to see more of him but the time there was truly enjoyable and next time will be a different matter. I met Ian at the X Centre after a couple of visits, good to catch up with a fellow Kiwi. Meeting Brendon and Mrs BJ at the end of the trip for breakfast rounded off the time in Chinag Mai nicely and a friendship has certainly been forged with them both. (Mrs Tonykiwi wants to visit the health Spa where Mrs BJ works so I guess I will have to lose myself a while into the hills, detox doesn't really work for me)

    The guys I rode with on two or three occasions were great guys. Martin, Liam and Brendon. I guess most folks are the same but we did have a clear understanding of one another, no expectations at all and a simple agreement to meet at some stage if we got lost or separated. There was no pressure to ride fast, hard or get anywhere by any specific time. I am truly grateful for the friendship which formed and hope it can be repeated when I come back again.

    Edit : One thing I wanted to refer to was arranged by Liam on our four day ride. When we arrived he had prepared four sets of trip documentation, nothing heavy but all relevant. The first page was designed for each of the riders to have details of each others mobile phone numbers, each others bike details and most importantly, each others next of kin or person to contact in the case of a major problem. Then followed a print out of the route to take along with the stopover places. Finally some good reading material and advice for those riding in groups. Thanks Liam, it was a good idea and one I would recommend others follow.

    The rides
    Yes, I had maps and yes I had GPS but mostly I followed my intuition and whilst it led me on a few adventurous rides, there was always something cool to see which was unexpected. Not everything worked out as planned but that doesn't matter because sometimes that is a better result than the planned one. I was a bit saddened to miss out due to weather on the best of my second trip to the Northern border but the weather was so crap I couldn't see anything so just rode back to Chiang Mai.

    I guess the reality is that I am not a hardened biker. Whilst I enjoyed the bike riding, I am most certainly not an enthusiast that others may be. I have no idea what a catlyctic converter is and 'torque' is what my kids do when I am watching rugby on TV. My delight was to take in the scenery, enjoy the people and revel in the solitude that riding a bike can bring. I went places I would not have gone to by othr means of transport.

    There was also the excitement factor of riding in conditions I was pretty unused to. There were certainly moments going down the Nor Lae road (did I say road?) that I may have felt a bit better on my Honda XR 250 at home but the ER6 did it ok even if it did cook the back brake fluid by the time I reached the bottom.

    The ride from Mae Hong Son to Pai was an experience I will never forget, as was the first Sameong loop (all 330 kms of it, not even touching the Sameong loop, thanks Dave for pointing that out)

    Riding back from Chiang Rai in the pouring rain had its own delights.

    Thai people were amongst the most accomodating I have ever met.

    So, in closing I guess my thoughts are mixed. To my beautiful wifes dismay I have discussed a repeat visit next year however it is likely that she will join me for a week and do some of the touring with me. I just want to share this experience. For anyone who happens to read this, who has maybe been thinking about such an experience,, don't think about it, do it and don't stick ot the main roads, get away into the villages and enjoy the people

    Driving back from lake taupo in New Zealand yesterday, there was some beautiful scenery. This experience has taught me to check out where I live as well,so I'll be doing a lot more touring in this manner.

    Maybe one day, some of you may visit my own country, I will be pleased to return the hospitality and friendships.

    Thanks to everyone for contributing to a life changing experience.

  2. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    Thanks Colin, I am aiming at same time next year after a trip to UK.

    Got a fair bit more to add to the trip reports now I am back but it will take a few days.


  3. johngooding

    johngooding Ol'Timer

    Hi Tony,
    Really good to meet up with you although for a very short time as you on your way back South. Next time will try to share a few Km and experiences on the road with you.
    I have really appreciated your trip reports which show a great attitude to the country and finding the best in it. Now you have all the info, from personal experience, you need to plan another great trip.
    This site works really well because everyone is prepared to share their little bit of knowdedge/experience. All put together it is a great resource.
    Thank you for adding to that resource.I am sure that time will soon pass by till your next trip. cheers John
  4. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Thanks Tony, it was a real pleasure to meet you. After the generosity you have shown toward the Chiang Mai ToyRide we were all very happy to see you at the meeting. Some of your suggestions are also being seriously considered (eg: Backpacks with logo).

    I can fully understand your desire to ride solo this trip, but perhaps next time we can get out together.

    I have not had the pleasure to ride a motorcycle in your native land, but I have toured by camper van :cry: . It is also a truly beautiful area. Enjoy. : :D
  5. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    There is a transalp amd Baja availlable for you, or any of my friends who care to visit. I would love to host in my country

  6. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    A nice little ending to my trip arrived in the mail today.

    When I go to Thailand it is my practice to take my New Zealan mobile phone but remove the SIM card and buy a 1-2 call card in Thailand for local use. When I was due to leave I looked for my NZ card but could not find it so I emailed my office and ordered a new one.

    Sure enough, on checking my account in New Zealand I have a heap of roaming charges against my account. It is clear that the card was lost or stolen, probably in Bangkok before I left for Chiang Mai and used to call a heap of Thai numbers.

    I have spoken to the provider who will consider helping me reduce these charges however given that the roaming also includes Thai AIS services it is unlikely that we can get them waived.

    Such is life :)

  7. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer


    Missed your original post due to my being without internet access outside of the shop. You've managed to pretty well sum up the whole "GT Experience" in your post above and I hope it will inspire others to make the trip to this great biking part of the world (not too many at once though ;-)).

    I'd also just like to say, I enjoyed meeting you at the shop and as JG and Dave E have said, it would be nice to do a few KM with you on the next visit. We can probably arrange for our wives/GFs to find something to occupy Mrs Kiwi so as to gain you a passout for a bit of a ride somewhere....

    Cheers & ride safe,

  8. HTWoodson

    HTWoodson Ol'Timer

    Tony, it was a real pleasure riding with you, and having a beer or two after. Looking back over the photos makes me miss that trip, and I'm still living here! If you come back next year I'll make sure to be here too so we can lay down a few more miles together.

    PICO-PICO Ol'Timer

    I know I will be shot for this, as a non-writer I have NO right to voice my opinion.

    There was much talk about of posting.

    I enjoyed reading Tony's report for one simple reason.
    It had an uninterrupted train of thought.
    Photos, may be they would perhaps reflected Tony's pleasures even the end. I was happy to read uninterrupted thoughts, a story.

    F I R E !
  10. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    G'Day Tony...

    How great is it to be back at work eh???

    I've doing 100 hours a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks... GT-Rider is my link to the dream of a life outside...

    I too really enjoyed all your reports, and the pics... and as I also one for finding myself geographically misplaced, and then trying to just 'follow my nose' back to where I want to be, having massive treks to a place 5 minutes up the road...

    I have heard that being in the Northern Hemisphere has an effect on us southerners sense of direction... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...

  11. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    G'day there, good to hear from you.

    To be totally honest,I am finding it pretty tough being back. It has made me very restless and I can't wait until the next time in a year. Work and family commitments are stopping me from doing something radical but I can't guarantee how long for ;)

    I saw that you are going to Thailand with family, hope it works well for you and that you enjoy yourself. I'll be in Melbourne January however I guess that is too far for you unless your business can take you there. It is time for a catch up and a beer and burger again I think.

    I appreciated your advice last time and put some of it to good use for sure, the branches in the road, buffalo crap in the road etc


  12. tonykiwi

    tonykiwi Ol'Timer

    I was actually thinking about the times spent with the other guys and chuckling away at some of the comments over a beer. I think the one which will stay with me was during a discussion between Liam, Brendon Martin and myself.

    Liam was going into great detail about the action one takes in a 'spill.' The rationale was that you instantly put down your hands in an effort to protect your face and as a result you get hand damage.

    Brendons response was that when you get to our age, the face is f****d anyway so you are more interested in protecting your hands.

    Just shows the difference in priorities between the younger (Liams) and old gits.
  13. HTWoodson

    HTWoodson Ol'Timer

    Can you blame me? What a beautiful face.


    I would worry about my hands first with one of these mugs.


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