Another great riding day in Thailand
|Travel From||–||Dansai, Thaiiland|
|Ending Location||–||PhitsanuloK, Thailand|
|Miles Driven Today||–||190 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||13962 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Thailand|
With tomorrow’s ride, in addition to the trip into Bangkok the following day, I will have completed about 14,300 miles, which is short of the 16,000 miles I expected to complete. Certainly, part of this, perhaps 1000 miles is due to my illness and hospitalization. And yet another part was that I learned that, once I arrive in a city, I will have little desire to put on my riding gear, and go visit local sites.
But, still, riding 14,000 miles is more than 1/2 way around the world, and I’m proud of this accomplishment. I’ve learned so much about myself on this journey, and I now know what it is about riding that I love, and what about riding that I can do without. I have an excellent feeling for what type of people I enjoy riding with, and what type are too dangerous, too arrogant, and simply care about little but themselves.
I’m fortunate that back in the Charlotte area, I ride with a great many folks who are good, decent, people, who enjoy the ride and the BMW atmosphere as much as I do. I look forward to my next ride with all of them, but I fear that with the Winter coming, and my bike expected to be in a shipping container until about the end of the year, that I’ll have to wait until 2020.
In the meantime, I’ll begin planning all of the wonderful trips that we’ll be taking in 2020, and which seminars I’ll give at the next BMW MOA rally.
A few thoughts
I really enjoy writing this blog, and I especially enjoy the feedback and comments that you all provide to me, as friends, as riding buddies, as business partners, etc. So, I try very hard to be sure to stay true to the original intent, which was to tell the story, day by day, over time.
I have to admit that I’ve found this objective or goal to be daunting at times. Daunting, not because I’ve ever lost my passion or failed to get enjoyment out of writing. Quite the contrary. In fact, I still enjoy this as much today, as I did on day one, perhaps even more. But the fact remains that maintaining a blog like this requires having an efficient way to take and render videos, and to go online, and publish a rich blog, full of pictures, videos, and other content.
The problem is, and has been through much of this trip, the world outside of the US and Europe is often crippled and unaware of how desperately behind they are in providing the simplest of Internet access capabilities.
For example, as we’ve all see when we’ve visited hotels in the US, the process of getting connected to the Internet should take about 60 seconds, maybe a little bit more in some cases, but it should be amazingly fast. Across my trip, and these last 105 days, I’ve found that this simple process can often take 2 hours, only to discover that the Internet is slow, or has very limited bandwidth. Which then causes me to spend 5 minutes saving a blog page, instead of 15 seconds to save the page.
So, over time, I’ve adjusted my strategy, trying to figure out how to get the information out, while not spending too much time trying to post videos and pictures. And so, even in Lao and Thailand, we’ve experienced issues with the Internet, which cause me to suffer with inefficiency and time delays.
For example, in the hotel in Vientiene, the Internet/WI-Fi in my room was so week, that I would connect and disconnect every few minutes. In the hotel in Vien Vieng, I had to sit in the lobby in order to be able to get any usable signal at all. And so, today’s post, like the last 3, is published with the knowledge that I wanted to tell the story, but not to agonize over the lack of videos.
That said, the video of coming into Thailand over the Freedom bridge is heart warming, and the videos of some of the rich souls in Thailand will bring a smile to your face.
So, I make today’s post, and over the next few days, I’ll try to publish the missing content, and as before, I’ll let you know when I’ve uploaded new videos and pictures.
To be honest, Christopher, Isabella and Toni are scheduled to arrive today and tomorrow, so I’ll certainly focus on them, rather than on the Blog, but I’m sure I’ll have some quiet time for the Blog.
Thanks again for listening…
We left the hotel at 8:30 AM, but the riders self-organized into two separate groups. The second group, leaving about 10 minutes after the first. Karin, Stephan, Ralf and I were the riders in the second group
Yesterday’s ride was great, and for today, we would see a seemingly endless run of curves, over great pavement, with some elevation change. Overall, the elevation change was not significant, but the road along this route seemed to go up and down, over small mountains of no more than 1000 feet of elevation, but we’d go up, then down the other side. Over and over, the route delivered these fantastic riding conditions.
Unfortunately, there were some turns that had decreasing radius, and others that had a bit of gravel, so we would all need to take care, if we wanted to stay safe.
At about 10:45 or so, we came around a turn, and met up with the lead group at a waterfall. I did not go up the trail to see the waterfall, but instead, we met and talked with a couple of Australian bikers, who were now living in Thailand, and had both taken Thai girlfriends or wives. One rider was on a Harley, while the other was on a Kawasaki Versys, which is a 1000 CC bike, configured like a Road Touring bike, much like the BMW RT, but a little bit more oriented toward the Adventure Bike category. The Versys seemed like a good choice for these roads, but the Harley must have been a handful.
We arrived at lunch at about 12:30, and as we rode in to town, and prepared to park, it seemed that something was wrong. Within a few minutes, we learned that one of our riders had miscalculated one of the turns, and was surprised to come upon some gravel. He ran wide in the turn, and slid off the road. Apparently, no one saw the accident, but other riders came upon him within 2 minutes, and helped him up, and back on the bike.
The rider was not hurt, but the bike sustained minor damage. It seems that the shift lever was damaged, but that is a minor price to pay for something that could have been much more serious.
Lunch was ordered for us, so we all received an order of Pad Thai, which was really quite good. Lunch was quick, and we were back on the bikes, hoping to finish the final 100 miles as quickly as possible.
The afternoon ride
The afternoon ride delivered more of these near-perfect roads, and it seems that just about everyone enjoyed them a great deal.
As we headed toward the hotel, we knew that Karin’s bike would need gas, and I decided to also fill up my bike. So, with about 6 miles to go before the hotel, we stopped at a gas station and filled up.
We arrived at the hotel at about 4:30. Karin, Stephan and I were likely the last 3 to arrive, and we grabbed a beer, unpacked and headed to our rooms. I stayed in the room until Dinner, finalizing plans to meet Toni tomorrow, and working through logistics for Christopher and Isabella’s arrival the following day.
The hotel is quite nice, although it is in a section of the city that is under significant construction, and accessing the hotel proved to be a bit of a problem, but Stephan made all of the right decisions, and we arrived at the front door without any difficulty at all.
Report from the road
What will tomorrow bring
Originally, we were scheduled to ride into Bangkok tomorrow, ending our epic journey. But, as fate would have it, there is some kind of a block party, on the street that our hotel is on, and as such, the street would have been blocked until at least 7:00 PM, perhaps longer. Edelweiss decided that it was too risky for us to arrive in Bangkok, hot and tired, and discover that we cannot get to the hotel. So, they cooked up an alternate scheme, where we make an intermediate stop in a city called Ayutthaya.
So, we’ll travel to the new hotel in this city, and then on the 25th, we’ll get up and make the final 50 miles into Bangkok, hopefully arriving in the hotel by about 10:00 AM or so. Once we arrive, we’ll need to get a whole lot of things done, in a short period of time.
We’ll need to fill out customs and shipping paperwork for our bikes. We’ll then need to travel to the port, where we’ll turn over our bikes, panniers, etc, to the shipper, who will build a pallet, and provide us with a shipping manifest for how the bike will get to the US.
That evening, the evening of the 25th, we’ll have a celebratory group dinner, where we’ll deal with some incidentals, and other things, commemorating the days on the road.
When I attended the MOA rally in June of this year, I also offered my services as a presenter, talking about one of my favorite topics… GPS systems. Wes Fleming, who is responsible for one of the MOA Podcasts interviewed me on July 5th, about 3 weeks after the rally, to see why I thought that the session at the rally was so well attended, and what I was talking about.
Wes has just released the podcast, for all to listen to. I realize that its a bit long, but I mean, how can you resist the chance to listen to me drone on and on in a podcast about GPS systems. Right?
I found Wes to be a really skilled interviewer, who seemed to know what question to ask next, and how to build a somewhat compelling story. So, if you’ve got a little spare time, please enjoy the podcast.
Hi Cliff, Have enjoyed following your progress across Europe and Asia – a great adventure and thanks for sharing. Enjoy your time with the family and stop worrying so much about getting all your videos uploaded and about poor internet access. I guess if this is your biggest problem then life is really pretty darn good:) International travel has always helped me appreciate the good things about the USA.
Big hug to you! Lea
Big hug right back at you. Thanks for your thoughts. You know me, I obsess about most things, but do my best to work them out, and produce a better outcome. Sometimes, there are casualities along the way, and that’s one of my little imperfections that I’m working on. So, your point is well taken. Thanks for riding along. I only wish that you could have ridden along side of me, although, you would need to replace that old cruiser bike of yours with something that is more appropriate. Say, perhaps a 700 CC BMW Adventure bike?
Sawadeeka! Im glad its nearly over. Im glad your family is joining you! Im glad you made it with only a nasty stomach bug! And Im more glad you’ve grown and learned about you during this. Ive learned about me oddly enough reading your blog. Its been interesting to witness my thoughts on how you are as a traveler. I also keep a blog so its just been different from one traveler to another. So happy you are safe and sound and in one of my favorite countries. Bangkok not so much – I hope you will get to the countryside or the beaches! Thanks for being such a thoughtful blogger! You were diligent and descriptive as we all know you to be and you did not disappoint! Ill miss my 6am under the covers blog catch up! Sending love and luxury car travel! Xo
Sorry for being late. I’ve been having a ball with Chris, Isabella and Toni, and we’ve been seeing all manner of cool things in Thailand. I’m really glad that I made the journey safely, but I have to admit that it only happened through daily diligence, paying attention, and by focusing on having the right riding skills. With that triple combination, you can get through anything, except the occasional assassin in a car.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments along the way. Hope to see you again soon.
Hey Cliff, I looked forward to reading your blog throughout your trek. The videos of the locals were my favorites (not to mention Ha Ha Bear), but I was most surprised by the videos from Russia because many of the cities appeared to be more modern than I expected. I’m very happy that you were able to knock this trip off the ole bucket list. You’ve seen more culture and landscape in a just few months than most people will see in a lifetime. I’m looking forward to hearing about the trip over a couple of cold beers. Be safe. See you soon.
I can’t wait to see you for the holidays. Hopefully our schedules will intersect.
Regarding Russia, I tried to show the big cities, and also the rural countryside, but I don’t think I showed enough of the countryside. To your point, while the big cities are indeed big, cosmopolitan cities, the rural areas can be quite run down, often a city or town will have houses along the main street that are full of holes, and are barely standing, yet people still live in them. So, I think that your expectations are not out of whack with that reality is. But, don’t worry, I’ll bring thousands of photos and videos to share with you and Nancy. I’ll bet you can’t wait…
Congratulations on finishing another grand adventure. And thanks for sharing; I enjoyed reading your posts.
Congrats on finishing your epic ride. I’ll miss not starting my day with your report. Guess you’ll just have to start planning the next one.
And in Bangkok don’t miss the SNAKE FARM – its a must see. Cheers.
I truly miss being able to interact with you and Wendy. I hope that we’ll be able to see each other again soon, share a beer, and share some stories. And, I think I’m going to need a bit of time before I take on the next big adventure. This trip was great, but it took a lot out of me. Constant movement, and distances of 200 – 300 miles, every day, is a relentless pace, especially when the roads traveled are rocky, muddy, hilly, obstacle courses, filled with switchbacks, and weather. That said, I really enjoyed those parts of the trip, but by the end of each day, I was ready for a beer, and for bed.
Cliff, I have very much enjoyed my daily doses of “Where is Cliff today” and will miss them. It was very enjoyable to live vicariously through your adventures doing something that I would not do.
I look forward to your next adventure.
Alex, My friend.
I wish that you were also a rider. You would have been a great companion on a journey like this. Thanks for the kind words,
So great to follow you through your adventure. and even better to have seen you a few months ago! Give my best to Chris and enjoy the remainder of your trip!
I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading about your trip. Please be safe the rest of your trip