10-25 Day 106 (Bangkok, Thailand arrival)

We’ve finally made it to Bangkok – What a journey…

Mileage

Date10/25/2019
Travel FromAyutthaya, Thailand
Intermediate LocationBangkok, Riva Surya hotel
Ending LocationBangkok, Thailand (Shipping Warehouse)
Starting Odometer38,692
Ending Odometer38,767
Miles Driven Today75 Miles
Total Trip Mileage14224 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

A little bit about the end of the trip

The trip into Bangkok was expected to be about 55 miles. This may not sound like much, but Bangkok traffic is notorious for being chaotic, and a bit overwhelming. And so, we started this, the final section of our 73 day odyssey of riding motorcycles, through 7 countries. Remember of course, that I had also ridden the bike through 13 countries in North America, and Europe.

And so, after 106 days of travel and riding, I had come to the place where I would celebrate the accomplishment, and ship the bike back to the US. What an epic journey it was. I cannot say truthfully that I enjoyed every moment. But, when I looked for a trip that I thought I, I made it clear to my friends, and myself that I wanted a trip that took me to places that few people ever go to. I wanted the trip to be epic, and I wanted to have to earn my merit badge, day by day, every day.

And so, I can say, without a doubt that I’ve accomplished my objective. I arrived safely, never having dropped the bike, with the exception of two times that it tipped over in parking lots due to shear stupidity, rather than a gap in my skills portfolio. I had to deal with food poisoning in China, poor visibility through my visor in a good number of places, cold temperatures in Kyrgyzstan, and China, and mud, virtually everywhere.

I feel that, as I complete this journey, and log this final entry of mileage, that I’ve changed. I’ll talk about some aspects of the change in a later blog post, but as it concerns to mileage, I’ve certainly improved my riding ability. I came into this trip, with excellent skills in low speed maneuvering, and I’ve certainly improved on those skills, even thought I stated with a good foundation, provided by the BMW academy in Greer, SC. But all other aspects of my riding have also improved. I am now confident to ride in virtually any conditions. I’ve ridden in gravel, mud, dirt, rain, fog, and sand. I’ve ridden in wildly chaotic traffic patterns of China, where no one ever looks before the enter the traffic flow, and where you are at risk every minute, and I’ve also ridden in some of the biggest cities in the world, Moscow, Almaty, Xian, Chengdu, and Bangkok. In every case, I’ve tried to use my head and my skills to arrive safely.

And so, while there were some issues on this trip, I would not have traded this experience for anything. I will likely be telling all of you stories about this trip for years to come. In fact, I’m already overwhelming Toni, and Christopher with too many stories of the road, but they put up with me, and allow me to drone on, eventually asking me to “stand down”.

Anyway, let’s take a look at how this final day went, and put this one in the books.

Today’s Ride

Morning – Riding into/toward Bangkok

The first 35 miles were uneventful. We stopped and took a break at a place, where we could buy a smoothie, and from there, we began to see the fringes of Bangkok. The level of excitement, and chaos steadily escalated until we were smack dab in the middle of their chaos, and we were still 15 miles from the hotel.

These last 15 miles were filled with event after event. I recall riding at slow speed, placing the bike, ever so carefully between two cars. My mirrors, and their mirrors were about 1-2″ apart, and if they had veered in towards me, I could have been sandwiched between them, and suffered the indignity of an injury, or worse. But, the folks of Bangkok are used to motorcycles, and they are not hostile to us, or to the small bikes. In fact, I’d say that they put up with bikes pretty well.

Riding through the highways of Bangkok

The video below shows what its like to drive in Bangkok. We’re surrounded by thousands of cars, and just as many small bikes. We need to keep momentum, so that we don’t have to start and stop too often, so you’ll see us looking, in fact hunting for holes, into which we insert the bikes. Watch closely and you’ll see Phil, Charles and I, always making progress, but often choosing different paths, only to join again in 50 yards or so. It’s a dangerous proposition to be constantly moving the bikes from lane to lane, but a necessary evil, if you ever expect to get to Bangkok.

VIDEO OF BIKES IN TRAFFIC

As we ride, but not shown in the video above, we sometimes have to make our way between very close quarters of cars. The video below shows just how close we come to touching the cars. This process happens hundreds of times during a ride like this.

VIDEO OF BIKES IN CLOSE CONTACT

So,we began to bob and weave through traffic, thinking that we’re all that, and a bag of chips. But something weird happened. You see, there are so many of these small bikes in Bangkok, and a good many of the drivers are pretty skilled, that I found myself laughing in my helmet, as I was passed, and out-maneuvered by one of the small scooters, or a small sport bike. It’s pretty funny when you’re driving along, and these things pass you, cut in front, scoot between two cars, and vanish like a ghost. They were fun to watch, but it was yet one ore thing to be very careful about.

In order to manage them, I found that I had to do a bit of blocking of their path, because I was afraid that they would cut me off, and cause me to stop unexpectedly. But, these small bike riders are also bike riders, so I did my best to treat them with the respect they need, in order to stay safe. That said, they felt to me like a swarm of mosquitoes, always buzzing, but swat as you like, you never ever touched one of them.

Eventually, we made a left hand turn, and found ourselves on the final approach to the hotel .3 miles to go…

Hotel Arrival – Checkered Flag

At this point, you could see the greeting party. Charles’s friends were holding up a banner which read “Finish Line”, but they are from Taiwan, so it was especially appropriate that the banner was being held backwards, with the wording going from Right to left, instead of left to right.

As we approached the banner, we did our best to acknowledge the greeting party, and we rode into the hotel parking lot, with confidence, a sense of relief, and some apprehension, knowing that our journey was coming to an end.

With the bike cameras installed, I also captured a slightly different view of our arrival.

Upon arrival, the hotel staff greeted us with cold towels, cold drinks, and a warm welcome. Truth be told, I put down about 4 to 5 glasses of their signature tea, and my body slowly began to cool down. The entire ride into Bangkok, the temperature began to rise, and by the time we reached the hotel, we were at 100 F. We really needed the towels and the drinks, and they were simply wonderful.

Showing the satisfaction that comes from a 14,000 mile ride, across 20 countries.

After 5 minutes to decompress, I took a moment to interview most of the riders.

Charles had gone overhead, and taken a few shots of our bikes, sitting at the ready.

Twisting by the pool (Customs Paperwork)

We may have arrived at the hotel, but there was still work to do on this busy day. Perhaps you’ll recall the old Dire Straights song from Brothers in Arms, where they spoke about “Twisting by the pool”. Well, our late morning activities seemed a bit like that. All of us riders were all full of excitement, but we were all tired, and were anxious to get the bikes to the warehouse, and get them shipped out of town.

Like it or not, we would not have a quick exit from Bangkok, and the ride to the warehouse would also have issues to be overcome. But, as I’ve said many times before, this is an adventure trip, and SHIT HAPPENS.

Our shipping coordinator was scheduled to arrive at 10:00, but at 10:30, we got word that he’d be arriving at 11:30. And so, at 11:30, Netipat arrived, and we began the paperwork. To his credit, the paperwork for 10 bikes took only 30 minutes or so, after which time, we took 15 minutes to get our gear on, and to once more, get on the bikes, and ride into the heat.

The ride to the shipping warehouse

The ride to the shipping warehouse was about 25 miles, but once again, it was through the streets of Bangkok, and the heat was already at 100 F. The temperature did not budge throughout the entire ride, but we did stop at a high-pressure bike wash, where we cleaned off all of the mud, dirt, grime, and other unmentionables, so that the bikes would be ready to put in a container, and ship back to our destination.

We finally arrived at the warehouse at about 3:00 or so.

Upon arrival, we began to ready the bikes for shipment. For me, this meant a few things.

  • Remove all of the gas from the gas tank
  • Remove the windshield in order to lower the overall height of the bike, thus reducing shipping costs.
  • Fill the panniers with as much gear as possible, thus increasing shipping costs.
  • Take off my riding gear, and placing it into the dry bag, and mount it to the bike
  • Remove the 256 GB memory card, which captures video footage from the Innov K2 (F&R)
  • Attach the windscreen, which was removed, to the bike, so that it will be transported, and can be reinstalled upon arrival
  • Attach the spare front tire to the bike, for transport back to the US.

Completing this checklist would take about 30 minutes in total, and then, we’d be ready to go back to the hotel.

Removing fuel from the bike

Getting the gas out of the bike proved to be a little bit of a challenge. Initially, we did not have a siphon hose, but that was quickly remedied, by asking Edelweiss for the use of their tool. We then discovered that the correct way to get the fuel out, involved closing the valve, in order to create suction, and then opening the valve in order to release the fuel, into a bigger gas storage tank.

I finished everything up, hopped into the Van, and we all headed back to the hotel.

Report from the road

This will be my final report from the road, as a rider. I’ll publish a few more, as we enjoy 10 days of vacation in Thailand, but for now, this is it folks.

Returning to the hotel

Traffic was heavy at 4:30, so it took about an hour or so, but we finally arrived at the hotel. We no longer had our bikes, and most of us expressed feelings that we were naked without them, as well as simply wondering what we’d do tomorrow morning.

But, back at the hotel, it was now time to rush around one more time, and get ready for our final dinner together.

The celebratory dinner

The dinner was at the hotel, on the terrace. The food was pretty good, and we enjoyed the location very much, as I found a number of river cruise ships passing by in the night. The boats are beautiful, and well lit.

Toni, Chris, Isabella and I needed to be up, and back in the lobby by 6:00 AM, in order to get in the van for our next adventure, a trip to the Bridge on the river Kwai. So, by 9:00 PM, we were ready to head upstairs. We said our goodbyes to the group, and made our way to bed.

It was nice to know that the pressure of riding the bikes the next morning was gone, but because I scheduled us for this field trip to the bridge, we were, once again, on a tight schedule.

What would tomorrow bring

Tomorrow’s trip to the Bridge on the River Kwai should prove to be a fun trip, where we see some of American and World War II history.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. Since then, he's logged thousands of miles, ridden across the US, and on July 10, 2019, he began a 120 day trip through Europe, and then on to Russia, China, and parts East. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. Congratulations Cliff! It has been a delight to follow your adventure. I have been a traveler since my early 20’s starting in Asia,India etc. Those experiences changed me in so many ways and I knew your trip would do so also. Enjoy the rest and hope we can meet up before another 12 years or more passes by!

    TOP
    xo
    Nance

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Throughout this trip, you’ve been a terrific supporter, and a great friend. I look forward to my next trip to Belgium, where we’ll get another chance to hang out, and enjoy Belgium, and each other’s company.

  2. Congratulations…you did it and I am so happy you had the adventure. I have so enjoyed your blog and will miss it. Enjoy the balance with Toni and your family and I am looking forward to see you when you get home.

    1. Hy Kathy,
      I’m looking forward to seeing you and Kathy, and spending an afternoon, talking politics, travel, motorcycles, and just hanging out. Let’s make it happen.

  3. Congratulations on completing your journey Cliff! It was definitely a grand adventure. Thanks for providing so much detail through narrative, pictures and video. Looking forward to catching up with you upon your return to the Charlotte area.

      1. Gideon, I hope you’re still riding. If so, we’ll find some local roads, and share our own little adventure. If not, we’ll go out for a burger, and do the same. Miss you buddy…
    1. Thanks Bill,
      Mixed emotions for sure, but perhaps the next trip will include a trip to SOCAL, where you and I can ride in the dessert.

  4. Fantastic tale, Cliff and a fantastic voyage! What a trip and what a pleasure to “travel” with you on your blog. Well done in all respects.

    1. Dave, you’re simply too kind. Having you reading along, commenting, and always providing words of encouragement meant t lot to me. Thanks

  5. Congratulations Cliff! Epic journey!

    Reading your posts had become part of my West Coast morning routine as I sip my morning cup of tea. Very much appreciated and enjoyed your updates, thoughts, videos and photos. Fantastic stuff!

    Safe travels for your journey home. And a lifetime of stories to tell 🙂

    Cheers!

    1. Congratulations! What an accomplishment! Thanks for taking us for the ride. Have a great time in Thailand with everyone. Send pictures!

      Love,

      Robin

      1. Hello Robin,
        Can’t wait to see you for Thanksgiving. It was really nice having you in my corner each day.
        Take care, I’LL see you soon.

    2. Hey Paul,
      Hopefully we’ll get a chance to ride, or just have a beer the next time I’m out west. Thanks for all of your words of encouragement.

  6. Fantastic! I’ve been following your blog as we have navigated Australia and New Zealand over the past 5 weeks. At my old age, I am in wonderment that a ride like yours can be accomplished safely. Congratulations – I’ll try to meet with you some day and buy you a beer and dinner. Will you be traveling into southern Arizona? “Mic” owner of Compass Expeditions and Bike Round OZ says Hi. And, Stan Maine, who we stayed with and rode with south of Melbourne, watched your blog and says hi! Safe journey home – Cheers, Jim & Bonnie Roberts

  7. Well done Cliff. When/if we cross paths I will share stories of Bangkok traffic in the early 1990s. Your reporting rings true. Bruce Parker

  8. I am so excited for you.
    1. You came out of all in good physical health
    2. You accomplished what you set as your goals
    3. A few times reading your posts, I could imagine how you must have felt at the moment

    I am a little worried that you will be so busy you won’t have much time for friends who live close to you. We are already planning dinner at different houses. How about one being SAUERBRATEN!? Have a good vacation. Safe travels till you get home.

    1. Hi Rosemarie,
      Saurbraten sounds wonderful. Send me an email that shows the next date and time, and I’ll be there. Also, I’m likely to cook some asian food for us.
      Can’t wait to see you all,
      Cliff

  9. Sitting at Bangkok airport awaiting my flight check-in time to return to reality in Charlotte, NC. Reflecting on this past 10 days in Thailand with you, Cliff, and Isabella and Christopher.  We packed in a lot of fun and it’s been an once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. Thank you so much for inviting me and personally sharing even more details of your grand adventure. I especially appreciated getting to know your family, having the opportunity to meet your world tour comrades, frolicking with the elephants, and learning more about the extraordinary man you are.

    Toni

    1. Toni,
      It was really wonderful to have you with me for these past 10 days, and to be planning our adventure for the past 60 days. Having you with me made this last bit of the trip much more meaningful, and much more fun.
      Thanks,
      Cliff

  10. Cliff congrats on completing your trip !

    Just found your web site and what a great source of information. I have two questions about riding long distances. I am struggling with wind noise issues and seat comfort issues. I’m pretty much the same size as you. Can you give me any recommendations. I will apologize in advance if you have covered this already. I ride a R1200rt

    1. Hello Steve,
      Glad to have you aboard. I’m glad to share a few thoughts that you might find helpful.
      Well, as far as wind noise is concerned, I’ve upgraded the windscreen on my GSA to the larger screen, sold by Puig. Puig makes great products, and by adding about 2″ of height, the windscreen really helped me with wind noise. But, on a bike, there is wind, and it is unavoidable, so the next solution is to get a helmet that has speakers built in, so that you can hear music, and conversations from your fellow passenger more clearly. My Sena helmet does a great job with this problem, but just about every other aspect of this helmet is disappointing, and I plan on replacing it with a Schuberth C4 Carbon, once I return home.
      Regarding seat comfort, the first issue to solve is your underwear. After trying about 20 different brands, I found that the Armachillo underwear, offered by Duluth trading is the best that you can buy for riding a bike. There are no seams, they breathe and cool extremely well, and because you can get them in different lengths, you’ll be able to buy a model that works perfectly for you. I ride wearing only these shorts, directly under my Klim air pants.
      On a related note, I’ve learned so much about how to apply my previous knowledge of GPS systems to this type of ride, I plan on delivering multiple seminars at the next BMW MOA rally in Montana. It is kind of remarkable how these amazing devices, seem to fail at the most important moment, and the root cause is usually the maps, not the device itself. There are ways to prepare for, and prevent this type of problem.
      Let me know if you have any more questions.
      Best,
      Cliff
      PS, where do you live?

  11. What an incredible journey! Congratulations Cliff!
    Look forward to seeing you when you get home.
    Jim

  12. Cliff,
    Congratulations on completing such an epic adventure! Enjoy and relax during the rest of the trip!

  13. Hi Cliff,
    Thanks so much for sharing your once in a lifetime adventure with all of us! You certainly had many highs and lows. Your perseverance and optimism were inspiring. I’m glad you enjoyed the journey and accomplished your goals. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences in person. Safe travels!!
    Janice

    1. Hi Janice, it was great to have you as one of my many co-pilots. Looking forward to our next dinner.

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