Pillion Through Asia

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by skip, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. (This is a bit of a long one!!!)
    It's a few months now since I promised Dave that I'd write a few words about our trip...better late than never I hope.
    So, I am 41 yrs old and I have spent the last 5 months sitting behind my husband, Skip, on the back of our 1996 Honda Dominator.The trip was "Cairns to China" and everyone thought that I was MAD!
    I must say that the thought had crossed my mind too. Just the thought of Cairns to Darwin (2800km) made me feel saddle sore and then the boredom...

    Most people would assume that its a bit of a tight squeeze, 2 up on a 650 but it was never an issue.WE had a newly upholstered seat but with no extra padding. I can honestly say that there were only a couple of uncomfy days, usually when we were stuck on rough roads in 3rd gear and a low speed.
    I only suffered from boredom on a couple of occasions(esp Threeways to Katherine in Oz). There was so much to do than just sit there..I was chief navigator and photographer and besides that mentally rode the roads.

    The over-riding truth tho' was I was on an exclusive tour. Here I was travellng on my vehicle of choice, chosing where to go (en route to China), when and how fast, and how many "photostops" we made.
    As we were travelling Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in the up and coming wet season I spent any "worry time" thinking about dealing with the wet.

    In Malaysia, climbing up to Bukit Frazer I was reduced to a blubbering mess. I was cold, soaked and more importantly out of control. Skip happily took on the single rack road, giggling away at the challenge of a winding uphill climb..likening it to a slow motion xbox game.If I was in the driving seat I would have gone straight to the nearest hotel for a shower and a beer....

    The heavy rain did catch up with us in Cambodia and Laos. In Cambodia it was the mud on the infamous Poipet to Anghor road. I spent several hours trying to blank my mind and stay perfectly still...we did stay upright amazingly!!
    In Laos , no amount of rain could have dampened my spirit. I really felt privileged to bsitting there having a total sensory overload as we rode through the mountains of the central east.The roads here are every motorcyclists dream but I reckon I had the best trip here.

    There, however, was a day that I would not chose to repeat. If you read the GT map there are roads advised as 4wd.Instead of taking notice we listened to 4 cyclists and 1 4wd driver who said..."easy, only 25 bad kms"So we set off from Xam Neua, heading for Vieng Thong...easy...paved...a bit rough....a lot rough...mud...and then we saw the local bus stuck in a gully, sideways at the bottom of a very steep and muddy hill.I hopped off and sunk into thick glutenous red mud!Skip went ahead, not really riding, just sliding and trying to gain speed to get up the hill. He had plenty of weight without me but I didn't envy him.I had collected 8 inch mud platforms on my climb up....there was no space between the tyre and the mud guard on the Dommi.This scenario repeated itself at least 8 times in 25 kms, hrs of pushing, churning, sliding...and did I mention the rain!!
    The lesson was to take note of the map.....

    In Thailand we used the Thailand Highway Map Ato Z Atlas....excellent.

    In Laos we used the Gt map....it is totally exact to the nearest 100m on most occasions.One major bit of advice is NOT to trust the road side markers. JD from Oz thought he would do Pak Mong to Xam Neua in an afternoon...it was marked at 120km...we had clocked over 300km on the same road, as marked on the GT map.
    As"the one who sits behind" I was in the privileged situation of "she who must be obeyed"i.e I called directions, no questions asked.This often led to screaming matches as my academic choice of direction didn't always appear logical to "the driver". On the road Pak Mong to Udom Xai the road markers say 230 km (a good days ride), I could see that the GT map said around 100km. I was confident to leave at 1 pm. Skip did his nut, swearing at me, the map and Dave....Thanks Dave you were right!!

    Pic above: Skip fueling up near the China border, & trying to guess what the grade of fuel it is?

    The most frequently asked question was"why don't you take 2 bikes?"Well, the first answer was double the cost. The truth is , 2 up you can share every experience. WE constantly chattered or used sign langauge, never planned but always understood. We could sing together(always stuck on Barnsy, Bruce Springstein or the Gorillaz>>>???), and then we could argue without looking at each other. ( This latter phenomenon was wierd as we always forgot what we were fighting about when we got off the bike!)

    So now you have endured my diatribe..thanks...now to the point...DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!!!!Half the cost, great companionship and whats more your own personal tour!!!!
    We have loads of extra info re our trip so ask away...only too happy to make that trip even more special!
    Rachel and Skip
  2. Hi Rachel, how far did you go, into China, more detail please?

    We're doing a similar trip (except Oz) in December January?

    Chris and Natalie

    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!"
  3. Hi Chris and Natalie
    I have intended dong a full report..it will happen..however a quick sketch for now.
    We didnt get into China, we knew that it would cost quite bit to get in and as we had been there (not by bike) previously we thought we'd leave it to next time.The things that I can tell you from info on the road is that you must have your Chinese visa before you go...never issued at the border.They do not want you in there with your own vehicle and so red tape is there to keep you in check.
    However, saying that we meet a couple of "lucky" travellers. One guy had written directly to the minister of foreign affairs in Beijing and had pestered them for 2 yrs. He had a mission statement blah blah blah and they eventually let him in, waivering the $100us a day that is the basic fee.Another traveller was quoted at $100 day for an escort (these apparently assist you in passing through all the different local councils en route), BUT , this was the basic fee as there was also another fee for a compulsory guide...depending who you wanted this could be up to $400 per day.
    Whether these are facts or stories I am not so sure...but I guess the answer is that the only way to go is to apply to the consulate as early as possible,and then from there negotiate.
    As I said we were there previously to check out the roads etc...jeez there are some good highways there but the distances are huge.
    So we rode fom Singapore through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and back to Thailand .Then up into Laos back to Thailand , Malaysia and Singapore.
    We were travelling on Aussie plates and had absolutely no problems at any border.We kept to sealed (usually) roads but usually not the highways as we were there to see the people and country.
    In respect to the turn around point, we ventured to BOTEN in north Laos to the Chinese check point there. Sadly we couldnt even peek into China...As it was around the hill...the border guards were friendly but no amount of friendly persuasion would let us through.
    The one notable part of this choice of border crossing for us was that its going to be one of the major east west borders. It was at this stage porly signposted but it has the most slick, cool and fun 20 km of highway in Laos.We even debated having a rerun just for the fun of it!!!!
    Look I can be much more specific so get back to us and I will also let you know when and where the next postings will be,
  4. Hi, thanks for this posting and also in "a step at a time", pity we can't get together for a coffee before we go!
    Chris and Nat!

    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!"
  5. HI Chris and Nat
    Skip has just put his twopenneth in....the best bit of advice is footwear!!!For all the good things we did ..the one bad decision was footwear. We are in FNQld and the mould had got into the glue o my old Rossi boots...10 tubes of superglue later............and then Skips leather "on sale specials" died and were reincarnated several times. He finally lost them in thick mud near Vieng Thong in Laos...the only replacements he could get to fit him were badminton shoes......NO-ONE ever mention these practicalities....off on a bit of a shoe tangent....our brake discs(not shoes, this time) completely disintegrated due to all the radical back braking through the rough mountain roads....we found a village mechanic to "create" some from a Honda 100cc...lasted a further 7000km...all for $3 ...so never dispare.......feel free to call us if you want to catch up
  6. Hi Skip
    Really like the trip notes. When will you do a detailed one? I will keep an eye out for it,my wife and I want to do the same before the dreaded "50" so keep writing.....PLEASE!!!!!

    wish I was there

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