Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beautiful Laos

We rode up to the border of China and Laos on the last day of our Chinese visa, perfect timing. Now how would this all go, what would happen to our vibrating toothpicks?? They asked for the papers on the Chinese side and we presented the receipt and another piece of paper that simply said how many gears the bike had and other particulars, useless really but we had to give them something, and again it worked, we received our exit stamp and rode out of China, now to get them into Laos.

We made it into Laos!

The Laos side was so so pleasant, I had forgotten how friendly these people are, such beautiful people, they stamped us in and asked for the bike papers, we again handed over the receipt of purchase, written in Chinese remember, the customs guy looked at it and said I cant read this and we both replied well either can we, he laughed and waved us in, holy shit we now could ride across Laos to Thailand on our Toothpicks, we were not happy because we love riding them we were happy to the fact that we did not have to back pack and we could ride that bit further, it was only Thailand now that remained the question, could we actually ride all the way to Bangkok?

The Plain of Jars

Images of Laos

We had at least 10 days to get to Bangkok before we would be reunited with our trusty great Honda's which we loved more an more every day with every kilometer on the Toothpicks! So some time for a slower pace, some Beer Laos and relaxing along the way. But of course when one has such adventure and the pace slows the mind gets thinking, instead of taking the nice normal road all the way South to the Thai border we decided to take a track through the jungle and of course its still the rainy season, what the hell why not. After visiting the plane of jars, which are huge rocks carved as jars on a plane, title explains itself really we set off into the jungle and of course it started to rain. And again what lay ahead were things I had never done, we started to have to cross rivers and the more it rained the higher the rivers swelled and the faster they flowed, one crossing my Toothpick was actually floating away as Dirk and I hung onto it tight not letting the current wash it down the river, other rivers we had to use Bamboo rafts to get them across. It was pouring so hard it was impossible to see but our toothpicks just slowly picked their way through the mud until one huge river were about half a dozen people already were sitting under a little hut, the river was to swollen and two deep. So we waited all under the hut, the locals said maybe three hours and it will drop, OK we have time. We waited about an our and on the other side of the river more locals arrived on their own little scooters, got off and 5 of them carried the bikes across the river, well if they can we can, we asked for their help and we all carried the 2 toothpicks across the river, with a round of hand shakes we were off again.

Steady she goes captain.

Another crossing, wide one this time.

Carrying the bikes across the river.

It may have a cheeta on the side but its far from fast!

Time for some fun, Sunik circle work.

Then came the muddiest road I have ever been on in my life, plus remeber there we were on Chinese 150cc's with three people and loads of luggage, mud so deep that the road was completely impassable for anything at all but we poked along mud hole by mud hole and eventually came out the other end, again we made it across another country on the toothpicks and the adventure was priceless, people would pay huge money to even attempt what we did, what a time we had.

The Mud caked onto the Toothpicks!

So with 3 days before our Honda's would arrive in Bangkok we were at the Laos Thia border, so after one last night in Laos we tried Thailand with our toothpicks.
We carried the bikes onto a small boat and crossed the Mekong river to the Thai side and then carried the bikes up a very steep flight of stairs, was quite a struggle but a few onlookers saw it was not easy for us and helped out. The Thai officials were lovely, they never said we could not bring them in but needed to find out what to do, after about 2 hours the paper work was done and again we were allowed to ride in Thailand, that was it, great I would be able to achieve what I always wanted and that was to ride a bike every inch of the way, yeah it was not the same bike but still a bike, besides I already had one bike stolen so whats it matter if it was a few bikes. I was so happy that we exited the customs compound and I looked left then right and all was clear well so I thought, Thailand is back to left hand drive and its been a long time for me to drive on the left, I pulled out looked up and there almost in my lap were to girls riding a scooter, I swerved sharply only just missing them, wow concentrate Robbo I thought, need to just get to Bangkok!

So by the time we hit the road to Bangkok it was about 1 pm, it was 700 k's to the capital and we would reach it in 2 days. We let the sun set on us so now it was already dark and I think we had similar thoughts lets go until we can't anymore. Then it rained and rained, so since now we were wet we thought lets go all the way that way we do not have to get up the next day and put on wet clothes, one thing is for sure we have determination, any normal person would have stopped along way back, either that or we are stupid, maybe its the later!! It became cold, soaked to the core, so here we were in Thailand breaking the number one rule of all the travel, riding at night and not only at night but in the pouring rain an freezing bloody cold.

We stopped for some fuel and were both shaking from the cold, hardly been able to move and both needing to go to the toilet we again had a similar thought, standing there already completely wet we just went to the toilet, it was so so warm, arrhh!

We pushed on all night, my clutch was slipping so badly that at times I could only get 60 k's per hour from the toothpick then with steady throttle control it would take about 10 k's to get the speed up to 90 again, plus when the rained stopped the engine would heat up and the clutch slip more but when it rained the engine cooled and the clutch slipped less so the faster I could go, bit crazy but of course the harder it rained the harder we went! With my tinted lens I had to ride with it up all the night, how I saw I am not sure, over taking trucks squinting through the mist until I popped out the other side, yeah maybe we are stupid actually.

We rolled into Bangkok at 1 minute to 1am, we made it, straight to a pub for a celebratory drink, we bloody did it, amazing, we rode the toothpicks from one side of China to the other and all the down Laos and onto Bangkok. The next day we got word that the Mother ship and the Old Girl had arrived early to Bangkok so off to the airport we went to be reunited, was it a great sight to see the boxes they were in and even a better feeling to open them up. It took us all day to clear the paper work and a few hours to put them together to ride them into town. The first time I hit the starter and head the rumble of the faithful V-Twin gave me goose bumps, what a sound. Riding off was a bit strange, wobbly, as it felt heavy, but boy when I screwed the throttle it felt like I was going to launch into outer space, out the airport terminal we went turned onto the highway and into it, I screwed the throttle hard, gave the handle bars a slight pull and up on the back wheel it rose, a bunch of Thai taxi drivers all pointing and hooting, we roared our way into Bangkok city, wearing flip flops, shorts and T-shirts, again it was exciting to have them back. We did it!