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Friday, July 17, 2009

Don the "Temple Hunter" No 3.

Distance Traveled: 12,564km
Average/day: 209.4km
No of offs:8
Hangovers: Several
Number of good people met: 4,300,021
Number of dickheads met: Nil

How good was Mai Nam Beach on Koh Samui. Eventually made our way to Bangkok, stopped for one night at some little joint, Champorn (liked the last part of the name), another shack on the seafront, liked it so much we stayed 2. Great sea food restraunt down the road. Had a slipway & hardstand down the road, spent hours there, some new buildings and plenty of dockings. Worked out a route into Bangers but no one told us you couldn't ride bikes on the motorways. They wouldn't let us through, so we held up every lane, did a u-turn and headed up the bloody main drag the wrong way! Chaos!! Cops pulled us over, I blamed Charlie, he blamed me, Cops thought we were both stupid and told us to shoot through. Spent three or four days in Bangkok, a little hard on the body! Picked up Visa's for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Bangladesh. Had the bikes serviced and got Charlie a hangover. We played tourist a little as well, but were glad to leave.

Headed to Cambodia, got on another motorway somehow, just ran the damned toll and kept going. Payed a little man a few dollars to sooth the way across the Thai/Cambodian border at Poypet. After a little while I said to Charlie 'What side if the fcuking road do they drive on?' He replied, 'How the fcuk would I know, you have been here before!' It is chaos, a complete lack of road rules. (They drive on the right) Like the stupid little boys we are, we pushed on to Seim Reap, the road was shithouse. Dust, potholes big enough to swallow a Toyota Camry, gravel, sand, cows, kids, trucks, buses, bicycles and anything else they could throw at us. it got dark and no one has lights, I have a tinted visor, so had to lift it. All sorts of Cambodian wild life was landing in my helmet and eyes. I scooped bugs out of the helmet by the handful, some big enough to eat. Did I mention the dust, by the way it was dusty as well. The beer in Siem Reap was good and cold. Christ, has this place exploded in the last few years. Angkor Wat is still bloody amazing, Ta Prom still my favourite. Surprised by the good road to Phnom Penh, has that joint changed as well, paved roads and all now.

The joint is amaxing! The bastards are crazy on the road though! We hired a bloke to take us on a tour of the Killing Fields today. We had a Honda 70 Stepthrough, water cooled. It towed a trailer, connected by a towball mounted where the pillion seat should be, takes 4 passengers. Front drum brake and no brakes on the trailer. He has a 5 litre plastic container sitting above the engine, in front of and below the rider, connected to a hose that drips fresh water on to a rag that is folded across the top of the barrel. The amazing thing is it works and keeps the engine running cool. Very common modification over here.

The Killing Fields and the S21 Museum are terrible, very depressing, but are a 'must see'.

We met Don 'The Temple Hunter' Duvall in Phnom Pen. I have declared him an honary Aussie. The first section of road to Saen Monourom was OK. Things went rapidly downhill after Snuol. We tried to sneak into Vietnam via a little border post, many miles down a dirt track past Snuol. The border guard did not even get up out of his hammock as he told us to rack off. The road detoriated further. We saw three little posts in a triangle denoting a land mines several times, even saw a bloody mine right beside the track. You are not supposed to walk anywhere that has not been walked or driven on before. It is the most heavily land mined place on Earth. Could not make Saen Monourom so stayed at a shitty, dusty, dirty town called Kaev Seima no restraunt or cafe. Nice shower and a clean bed though. Fruit for dinner and warm beer did not hurt us. Blasted into town, had a mad coffee (and I don't drink coffee often) and checked into the Nature Lodge. What a place. I slept in a tent on a big platform up a tree, above the roof of the bar. Brilliant. Rode about 40km to another Border post to try Vietnam again. Very friendly people, but still told us to get lost. We had been told they do not like letting big bikes into Vietnem unless you pay $2,500/bike. Stuff that! It was worth a try. We both threw the bikes away on the way back from the border. Mine was a big one, I hit hard. Guess which one of us was trapped under their bike for 20 or more minutes and had to lay there until a 4X4 load of young Swedish NGO's (girls) came along and lifted the bike. What happens on camp stays on camp! Don 'THe Temple Hunter' rode into our place and made us drink beer and rum until late.

We had been riding up sections of the Ho Chi Min Trail and continued on it up a highway Don calls The Highway of Death. We had 200kms to go to Ban Lorng. The first 100km to Kaoh Nheaek was a reasonable but shitty road. The last 100kms. Fcuk me. It was impassable to 4 wheel drives. Only an very occasional truck, Ox Carts and motorbikes can traverse it. We got out of 2nd gear only about 3 times in 75km, and then only to 3rd. The wheel ruts cut by the carts are at least 350mm deep. We both dumped it several times. Many, many deep dry creek crossings. Real bastards. Remember what I said about staying to the track. Stuff the land mines, we rode through the scrub, sometimes unintentionally and out of control. We took a wrong turn, even more shitty track. Don 'The Temple Hunter' came blasting along on his XR400, can that prick ride. About this time I appointed him an Honary Aussie. If I am plied with enough Red or Rum I will relate the story. I don't like telling stories where someone else is the hero. Don carries 3 front sprockets, changes them in a minute according to the conditions. We ran out of daylight, had to sleep among the land mines, both in Chilla's $28.00 tent. Listened for tell tale clicks every time we rolled over. I thought the next time I would be camping in the forest would be in the Steppes! Crossed our first Asian vehicular ferry the next morning, scary to board. Finally made it to Ban Lorng. (for Bailey, 13 degrees44.426'N ,106 degrees59.468'E) Shower, beer and bed. Don disapeared into the scrub to look for more Temples. About 200 km of easy dirt the next day and then the first sealed road for 7 days to take us from Stung Treng to the Laotian border. Boring really.

Four days of riding up the black top to Vientiane in Laos. Met Paul, a local recently returned from Uni in Lismore, took us to his Families village for a tradional Laotian lunch with his extended family. A highlight of our trip. Great ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, 350 metres above sea level. (19degrees 53.840N, 102 degrees 08.544E) never done so many corners in one day, great scenary. World Heritage listed town, stayed 3 nights. Back down through the corners to Vientiane for a couple of nights. Lovely.

Crossed the Friendship Bridge, between Laos and Thailand, built and paid for by Australia. Two day ride to Bangkok. Stayed one night at Phon on the way to Bangkok. We tried to get our Iranian Visa, takes two weeks here, no good to us. It takes 5 days for the paper work and permits to export the bikes. We had to get crates made, all has gone pretty smoothly. 3 1/2 hours two prepare and crate both bikes. Both my bike and I fly to Dhaka in Bangladesh on Sunday evening. Looking forward to seeing Kirsty Jenatsch. Ian Bailey has set up a photo shop bizzo for me. Unfortunately the lead I need to operate this in with the bike. Photos, soon?? Thats all for South East Asia.

A couple of changes to the crew, Neva has pulled out of South America and Charlie is shipping Dr Duck and himself back to Sydney from here. A pitty as they are both fantastic to travel with. I can't wait to get out of Bangkok!!

Stand clear, doors closing.

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