Repa accident in laos

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by HIKO, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. #1 HIKO, Feb 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2017
    My Friend Repa,

    A Lesson not to be taught but maybe a lesson You can learn something from.

    My friend Repa had a terrible accident with a motorbike in Laos. I tell this story, with the acceptance of him, not to teach You to take care of Your insurance policies but to tell You what can happen.

    Repa is not a long time friend of me. We used to be competitors in the motorcycle trade in Finland. Repa was a big dealer of Suzuki and later in BMW. When I started to sell Suzuki I was quickly “eliminated” by the old Suzuki dealer gang (including Repa) because I was regarded as a Maverick. Later I became the biggest BMW dealer in Finland but I also learned that that meant the same as bankruptcy. Pleasing BMW and demanding BMW customers wasn’t covered by the lean “profits” you could get from the sales. Anyhow Repa concentrated himself on servicing and later specialized in old aircooled BMW boxers. He probably was and still is the best BMW boxer mechanic in the world. His one man workshop is totally devoted to this.

    About ten years ago we became good friends with Repa. He started to spend the coldest season in Finland here in Thailand and he ended up joining my tours to Cambodia and Laos. We had many funny tours of which I could have written long books. Repa is such a man that if you stand in front of a luxury hotel and ask him if this is ok he says yes with a smile, if you stand in front of a Cambodian whore house at 1 dollar a night he still say yes and maybe with even a bigger smile. He never complained and he always had a smile on his face. He was also always helpful and a damned good rider. When departing boats and you had a steep 100 meters in front of you, Repa was the first one to drive up his bike and then walking down to help less experienced drivers to get their bikes up. He even one time asked me if I want him to drive my bike up but my pride was stronger than my brains.

    Repa was and is probably one of the best all-around motorcycle drivers in the world. He probably has about 20 Finnish championships in mx, enduro, ice racing, speedway, road racing etc. Being Finnish champion maybe doesn’t sound too much but when you learn that the competitors names are Heikki Mikkola (4 time 500cc mx champion) Jarno Saarinen ( world champion 250, 350 cc, Daytona 200 winner 1973 and becoming 500cc world champion 1973 when he died in curva grande in Monza together with Pasolini, Jarno was probably the best rider ever in Road Racing), Teuvo Lansivuori (never champion only second would have been champion if he would have learnt English, he thought himself that if somebody have something to tell him they can learn Finish) and many many others. Repa went a hard motorcycle school and he was good. Repa probably got his last Finnish championship last year in the 55-60 year oldtimer mx class which he won on his vintage 500 mx Maico.

    OK so Repa was and is a good rider. This year he arrived to Thailand early November. He wanted to rent my W650 Kawasaki (bonnie copy) for some strange reason he likes old classics. First he went to Hua Hin where a friend of him had given him a house for free. Typical for Repa he didn’t want to go the road south of Bangkok but instead he insisted to travel through Bangkok, because he wanted to learn how to drive with motorbike through Bangkok. And he did it…Anyhow Hua Hin was to “silent” or him so he drove down to Phuket. After a week there he came back to Pattaya and told me that he will go to Laos. His friend Mr.B had rented to 250 Honda Enduro Bikes from Jules Bikes in Vientianne. So off he went, he left some luggage at my house, I borrowed him a jacket with protectors ( which later turned out to be his good luck) and he went up to the Laos border where he left my bike together with some touring stuff.

    He stayed a few days in Vientianne only doing daytrips around Vientianne on dust roads. Then they went north on small dust roads and on the first of January it happened. On a small road, in the middle of nowhere, a local young motorcyclist probably drunk erupted just in front of Repa when he travelled at 100 km/h and he almost had a front to front hit. Fortunally for the local he hit Repa on the left hand and flew away probably only getting a bad headache (no helmet) and some small bones broken. Repa stayed on the bike and got two open fractures on the lower leg, a terrible looking fracture on the left foot through his mx-boots, a big size swollen knee with some undentified damages and his femur bone not only getting out of the hip joint, but the rest of this largest man body bone was not only broken but fragmented into small pieces, too small to be nailed together. His male proud also got so big that the two ladies who washed him everyday in the Bangkok hospital were highly impressed. His head stayed unhurt.
    Mr. B succeeded to find a pick up who first brought Repa and his collision guy to a health station nearby. At the health station they told that they cannot do anything and only gave Repa some liquid in a plastic bag intravenously. No pain killer. Then Repa and his good friend on the same pick up had a 6 hours painful trip to Vientianne on the back of the pick up. Repa threw up several times and got some of the liquid into his lungs so he caught a lung infection in both lungs. When arriving outside Vientianne Repa was already unconscious and Mr. B had to wake him up by shouting to him. Prabably he was already travelling on a new journey to a more convenient and pleasure place. The first Trauma hospital in Vientianne looked at him and told Mr. B that this is not their business, to serious damage but then they went to he main hospital in Vientiane where they have French educated doctors. Now Repa first time got Morfin to handle the pain. Quickly the doctors there cut up his trousers, saw the blood and also cut up my almost new jacket…(shit happens). They sew the worst open wounds together, without any painkiller of course and tried to explain that the damages are to severe for them to handle. Thailand next!!!

    Mr. B who is a former officer in the Finnish army wanted “justice’ at any cost and went back to the village to pick up Repa’s bike together with Max from Jules. And he succeeded. The police found the young local guy guilty. Of course he had no money but the village chief collected from the villagers I million kips to Repa, ok the money went to repair the bike Repa had rented from Jules, but anyhow. Since I have handled many similar “police tribunals for friends with accidents in Laos and Cambodia I know that very often it is more easy to pay a small fine and get rid of it…But Mr. B was tough, justice!!!! Also all credit to Jules. As far as I know they handled everything in a very professional and human way, even if I know that as a GT-rider I should recommend Jim.

    Repa had fortunally a travel insurance from Finland. Everybody don’t know but we do have the world’s best health insurance system in the world here/there in Scandinavia and almost everybody also have a home insurance (costing about 100 Euro/year) in which a 12 month travel insurance is included for trips up to 45-90 days depending on the insurance company. Repa had such at Tapiola Insurance (one of the biggest insurance companies in Finland) and the CEO of the company is a Motorcycle freak who has been driving with me in Thailand and Cambodia. At the moment he was on a 3 months motorcycle tour in South America so I couldn’t contact him and I didn’t have to. Everything was handled in a very professional way without interference from the top. Scandinavia have almost zero corruption. I am fed up with the disinformation that especially American FOX tv promotes about bankruptcy European states with a broken health care system. Pls do your home work look into the situation in Scandinavia, or Germany, Holland etc and don’t talk lies. If I get angry enough some day I will write something about it.

    Anyhow Mr B. telephoned the insurance company who uses SOS international in Denmark as a trouble shooter agent agent. Despite the new year they sent in 6 hours an ambulance airplane from Bangkok with 5 people to pick up Repa in Vientiane. The cost? I think about 1-1,5 million Baht. Repa remembers that he got more morfin in the plane and he also remembers that he threw up on both the doctors and nurses for which he is still ashamed.

    In Bangkok he was picked up by an ambulance from Samitevej hospital, maybe one of the best and most expensive hospitals in Thailand. The hospital is full of Korean and Japanese patients making by-pass operation etc.

    He stayed one month in the hospital. They made three operations two long time +10 hours operations. The biggest problem was the femur bone. It could not be nailed together so they used a metal thread to sew it together. Everything was very professional done and we had a Ortophed from Finland living in Satahip too look at the pictures and he confirmed the professionalism.

    At the hospital he got superb service. Since he could not go to the toilet himself he had to use pampers but was cleaned every day by two lovely nurses. His pee went into a plastic bag. For a long time they had to empty his leg from internal blood into plastic bags. He spent the whole month in the emergency department.

    Three days ago he got permit to fly home. A doctor arrived from Denmark and I think that so did a nurse. He flew back in Business class, paid by insurance as well as his followers. At the aiport in Helsinki an ambulance was waiting bringing him back to his home town 100 km from Helsinki. In that hospital he will now have a new operation, the femur has not started to heel. I think that they going to implant a bone from the chest and make that a new femur. I am not sure but I think that Repa’s travel insurance is not now covering the damage anymore. Now it is the general health insurance that covers the cost. Repa has got a small daily allowance from the travel insurance, they brought him cash the cost for the Vientiane hospital (117USD) at 9 a clock evening one day. Now he probably get a daily allowance from our government, probably quite smaal because he has been self employed and only informed a small salary. Businessmen are “kinioy”.

    So why did I write this story? Actually I don’t know. First of all I am the first to confess that I never have had any good insurance cover, even if I sell insurances and have worked with insurance companies for 40 years. I also take tremendous risks only relying on “it doesn’t happens me”. I have driven motorcycle about 2 million kilometers, only one bad accident and that in Cambodia. I have driven with motorbike through Sahara in wood clocks and jeans and I used the same “safety shoes” during most of my trips in Cambodia and Laos (ask Harrithefinn he knows) I travelled with motorbike around the world without money, without insurance and I am still alive. I travelled in Cambodia illegally with motorbike when the war was still on and somebody try to shoot me a few times. Nowadays I drive motorbike despite neurolepsia which make me sleep quickly anytime even on a motorbike. But I am still alive… “It doesn”t happen to me”

    This Repa case ended up in several discussions with Repa in hospital.. Repa told me, which is true, that he should have understood that, the man who appeared could have been very drunk. That is our responsibility as motorcycle drivers to assume that all other people in traffic ar stupid, drunks or whatever. In that way we stay alive longer. I share Repa’s view. Then Repa said that it is also a statistical accident. Repa has driven motorbike quite a lot, maybe half of what I have but he has driven every kilometer much more fast. Before long something happens, now it happened to him, maybe I or You are next….Think about it

    Best Rgds
    • Like Like x 2
  2. So true... Then the next hurdle is to limit this paranoiac vision of mankind strictly to the road.
    Thanks for telling this story so well.
  3. Wow, what a chilling story. Your friend is VERY lucky!

    And for what it's worth, I'm a US citizen who has had the good fortune in living in a number of countries with national health care including Holland, France and Japan and I agree with you 110% that the lies and disinformation spread by such propaganda organizations as "Fox News" on behalf of the US insurance industry are infuriating.

    I don't know of any health insurance plan in the US that would provide such incredible, exceptional care, especially for an international claim. As a cynical American it really seems to me that Repa's insurance company went far beyond what they were "required" to do.

    In the US, health care is a FOR PROFIT business and insurance companies make their money by collection premiums and denying claims. We American pay more but receive a lot less when it comes to health care in our own country. But I digress ;-)

    I carry a basic major medical plan here in Thailand that I hope I never have to use. Quite frankly I would never expect the level of care that your friend Repa enjoyed. Most major medical policies require that you pay first and get reimbursed later. That's fine if you're conscious and able to get out your credit card, but what if you are unconscious?!

    The first people to show up to accident scenes here in Thailand are those damn drugged up "EMS" lunatics who like to race around in their pick-ups to collect the money for every body they pick up, dead or alive.

    The thought of suffering a serious injury accident in this part of the world is rather horrifying and I think most of us CHOOSE not to think about it. Because if you dwell on it too long I think you could never enjoy riding a bike again.

    Thank you for sharing this chilling tale Hiko. I wish your friend a full and speedy recovery. He is incredibly lucky to be alive!

    Ride safe everyone!

  4. A point most people may have missed also is that he probably only survived because he had a riding "buddy" with him. His buddy was prepared to look after him and try his best to help him. Stick together, you never know who may need help next. And yes , Hiko does ride in clogs.
  5. Laos is one of the Worst Places I have ridden for Bad Driving Practice!!! In India there was Much More Traffic but it was Controlled Chaos!!! I am Surprised there isn't alot more accidents in Laos really after what have seen there??? Hope You Friend makes a Good Recovery Hiko and Pass on Our Best Wishes from the GT-R & LOS Riding Community!
  6. "The thought of suffering a serious injury accident in this part of the world is rather horrifying and I think most of us CHOOSE not to think about it. "

    Words from the guy who posts videos of himself doing ridiculous speeds on Thai roads. Sorry, but can't stop myself from posting this comment. OK so flame me!
  7. Bruce,

    I think I know who mean and if it that person i have met him here in Pattaya. His business idea is highly inmoral and I told him that.

    Anyhow pls don't mix that up with Repa's accident. Repa never drove over his skill, but shit happens...

    Best Rgds


    Ps. Harrithefinn talked wise. Never drive alone when you enter "new territories". You may need some help...
  8. Welcome to GTR Bruce,
    Do you know me? Have you ever ridden with me?
    No? Then shut the f%&$ up since you don't know what the hell you are talking about.
    What's appears ridiculous to some might be perfectly normal for others...
    Happy Trails!

  9. Erm... Hiko,

    Bruce was quoting me, and I don't think I've yet had the pleasure of meeting you but we're gotten along fine on this forum for a number of years.

    My business is exporting clothing, jewelry and motorcycle parts and accessories... Is that what you call a "highly immoral" business idea or is this just a case of mistaken identity?

    Sorry for messing up this thread with such nonsense.

    Ride On!


  10. Sory Tony I didn't mention You.

    I actually met an aussi guy a few years ago who sold and advertised "high speed tours in" Thailand with Yamaha R1:s. The idea was something like Cannonball, no law, no speed limits and he posted on internet some terrifying videos. Sorry for the confussion.
    No hard feelings

  11. I have Ridden with Tony here and In Laos and I would say He is Safer than most other people I Ride with and I never saw any "Ridiculous Speeds"? Don't know much about His Business but I do know His Bike Parts are Top Quality and Extremely Well Machined as I have ordered and Fitted them for a Friend and Have passed a Number of Other People to Him who brought His Gear, All Very Happy! Sometimes Internet Posting can get a little Vindictive as it is Very Easy to Write Shit or belittle someone from a Key Board, But get Face to Face things are different??? We have had a Prime Example of that recently here in Chiang Mai with a few Local Trouble seekers! Jealousy can be a Terrible thing and can Twist the Minds of those Tormented by it!!! All the Best Guys and Regards to Repa Hiko!
  12. Good post.
  13. local young motorcyclist probably drunk erupted just in front of Repa when he travelled at 100 km/h and he almost had a front to front hit.

    100km/h its a lot for off road. The local people never drive so fast and they dont know it. My mind and what I saw many times that some riders thougt they are on a motocross circuit or in a race. Some where low clothes but this is importend.
  14. Ohoo,

    This thread, never intending to be moralizing, never intending trying to teach people how to drive or what insurance to have, turned nasty. Repa is a "no care wild off road racing driver" allmost killing local farners, chicken and pigs while terrorising the local society... But maybe we can keep ourselves to the facts.

    1. TonyBkk was thrown into the mud by Brucegsrider. I didn't understand that he was talking about Tonybkk, I thought he was talking about an Aussiguy who did marketing his crazy " no limit" tours a few years ago. Sorry Tony.

    2. Yes 100 km/h is a lot for off road and so is 1 km/hour on road when and if you have an accident. Of course I don't know was Repa driving 100 km/hour or was 70 km/h. This is only what I was told. Anyhow he drove too fast so that he couldn't avoid an accident with a young guy driving on the wrong side of the road intoxicated.

    3. Since the local police found the local guy guilty to the accident, the local village chief made a collection of 1 million kips to Repa there should not be any doubt of who is guilty. Ok if Repa had stayed home taking care of his flowers at home no accident would have happen.

    4. And let us also be honest, A part of our fantastic motorcycle hobby is also "driving a little too fast" sometimes trying to reach the limit. If we only want to drive slowly and 110% according to local laws we can join the North Korean motorcycle forces and concentrate ourselves on driving slowly through the North Korean Capitol Pyounguang keeping our left hand steadily at our head, honouring Kim Il Sung at the Plaza.

    Best Rgds with a little humour

  15. driving slowly through the North Korean Capitol Pyounguang keeping our left hand steadily at our head, honouring Kim Il Sung at the Plaza.
    Good idea....when we start !!!!!
  16. Tony,

    Thank you for the courteous reply. Probably deserved.

    My point, which I should have clarified in my original post is that in my view, it's irresponsible to drive at a speed where things "start" to become out of YOUR control on public roads.

    I've ridden 15,541 kilometres in Thailand and Cambodia over the past 15 months, the bulk of it on highway and minor roads. Not as many as some but I think it qualifies me to make a comment. In that time I have lost count of the near misses I have avoided but each time I do, I lift my visor and "touch wood".

    In the dry season, oily roads are so shiny you could see yourself in them. All sorts of farm machines coming out of the bushes and turning left without slowing or caring. Dogs, water buffaloes, hay carts, cane carts, tree branches and rocks left by a breakdown, people cutting corners so bad....the list is endless and quite well documented on this site.

    Not forgetting 8 year olds riding scooters and crazy van and bus drivers. I dont think I have ever done a single trip without seeing a large truck on its side in a ditch, either in the dividing ditch or the side of the road. One of the biggest problems is when you have a kid on a scooter turning across you (or from any direction for that matter), they do see you coming (maybe) but are simply not experienced enough to to calculate whether it is safe to proceed or not. They are not used to seeing very fast bikes and often make a bad call. When they realise the mistake, they then go all over the place not having no clue what to do to avoid a collision. It takes a lot of skill to avoid the hazards here the saying goes, there are two types of riders, those that have crashed and those that have not crashed yet!!!!

    Anyone who has ridden in Thailand knows the deal.

    By posting your videos on this (and other) sites, you open yourself to comment.

    My comment is thus: I people want to ride at 200kph+, they should do this on a track where some safety steps have been taken and where other riders also assume the same risk. Riding fast is awesome. Stupidly in the past, my top speed is 230kph+. I do know the feeling. The good thing about a track is that generally everyone is going in the same direction. What a novelty.

    What I do suggest is that, in Thailand in particular, it's wise to do reasonable speeds for your own safety and the safety of others.

    A bike that is doing 48 KPH can stop in 10 metres doesn't means that if the same bike is doing 96 KPH would be able to stop in 20 metres, it actually will take 41 metres! The increase in braking distance is the square of the speed increase. "Square" is the key word here.

    Not everyone will agree with these sentiments. For some, it's too late.

    Feel very sorry for Repa, once again dont know him but sympathise with his plight and commend him on his foresight re travel insurance.

    Cheers (-:
  17. Hiko, Thank you for taking the trouble to make this post and I am sure it will help some of us to add to our internal database and increase our awareness of the way things can go wrong. Hopefully that will help to reduce our liability to serious incidents. Thank you.
  18. Have to agree, always good to have a reminder on what could happen.
  19. Hi HIKO,

    Thanks for the clear explanation of what happened, the support given by fellow riders and the insurance company.

    I hope your friend Repa heals & recovers quickly and gets back into action sooner, if not later.

  20. #20 DavidFL, Mar 12, 2011
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
    An amazing story & I sincerely hope Repa makes a decent recovery & comes back to ride again.
    A big thanks too for taking the time & effort to write it all up & post.

    For guys riding in Laos, please take care. Accidents can happen anywhere anytime, but stuff up in Laos & find yourself in bad way with serious injuries, then you are in trouble. The plan is always to get to a hospital in Thailand.
    Generally medical care in Laos is basic. The hospitals are rough.

    Ok Luang Prabang has a newish, Chinese built hospital, but it too is already starting to run down due to lack of funds.
    Vientiane has a couple of semi decent hospitals. In the south Pakxe has a tolerable hospital; but for any serious injuries & treatment - get back to Thailand asap. Well off Lao people all go to Thailand for medical treatment.They know where to get looked after properly.

    Here's the Don Khong hospital in Southern Laos.



    A ward room


    The emergency treatment room


    If you're playing with fire & riding around uninsured.
    Get covered. You can join the GT Rider Motorcycle / Health Insurance
    All you need do is complete the form, make a health declaration, pay your money & your covered. My 800,000 baht coverage costs 50 baht a day.
  21. #21 David, Sep 22, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2016
    RIP Hiko, Bengt Hiko Haikola, the guy who wrote this story....has passed away in Pattaya.

    Lost another rider and a source of knowledge

    You were a wonderful guy & gentleman, a mine of motorcycling information, helping all bikers setting up in the region.

    Thank you for all your GTR contributions.
  22. #22 DavidFL, Mar 16, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
    Bump for this story.
    A guy I met on the road recently -we had a lengthy discussion on how easy it was for things to go wrong in Laos, where medical treatment is a bit patchy.

    Another friend Andrew Forbes, a well known author, recently flew into Luang Prabang with a VIP tour group. Within hours or arriving he thought he had food poisoning, waited half a day, then the next day was no better so went to the main hospital in Luang Prabang. His condition started to deteriorate quickly; & an air medical evacuation was being organized for him, but it was too late. He was dead he next day from acute pancreatitis; because the hospital was unable to diagnose his condition.
  23. What an OP. What a story. I still am amazed every time I look in the mirror that I am still alive after riding for so long. But as said - ride enuf and one day ...
  24. Hiko said

    Repa was and is probably one of the best all-around motorcycle drivers in the world. He probably has about 20 Finnish championships in mx, enduro, ice racing, speedway, road racing etc.
    So you just never know. Its normally not you who is responsible but the other person.
    But importantly make sure you get some insurance, even just accident insurance.
    It always happens when you least expect it & least need it.
    • Like Like x 1
  25. Very intresting I do ride a lot on my own in Asia ,so food for thought,Insurance is so important but harder/expensive to get as you get older and more injuries but vital.
    Safe riding
    • Like Like x 1

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