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Himalaya Expedition 2015

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Dispatch from David Ow

As usual I waited until the last minute to write something for the journal. So here's a short report as I need to get ready for riding into China in 8 hours. My BMW F650 GS was shipped air fright to Bangkok. Got it out of Thai customs in one and a half days. Local freight broker was very helpful. Couldn't do it without them.


Meet up with the other riders that I had met on the 2013 GlobeRiders tour from LA to South America. While in Bangkok went sightseeing to the Royal Palace and the Jim Robinson Museum. It was very hot and muggy. The second I was outside I was drenched in sweat. Leaving Bangkok was a complicated process. Motorcycle are not allowed on the toll expressways and must take secondary roads. So it took about 2 hours to get out Once out of the city the roads opened up.


Being 70 years young. I have a terrible time remembering names ,dates and places. So hopefully someone else will add the names, places and dates. I just enjoy being able visit these sites by motorcycle, take some photos and try to imagine what it was like during their glory days. The ancient capitals of Siam, the reclining Buddha and the 5 Buddha Monastery were a few of my favorites. Thailand has excellent roads and you can test you limits.


Entering Laos took a little time but our local guides from Big Bike Tours of Chang Mai were great. Kai and Noah are very experienced tour operators, knowledgeable and friendly. We eat at great restaurants, see interesting sites and stay at outstanding hotels.


The country side in Laos is like stepping back in time a few decades. Lots of rice paddies, corn growing on step mountain sides as far as you can see and timberland. Most is harvested without modern equipment. Highways are a mixture of excellent asphalt and rough dirt and gravel. You need to watch out for water buffalo, cows, pigs, goats, horses and chickens. Cities like Vientiane and Luang Prabang were very interesting. Nice to see scores of school children walking home. Some look as young as three or four. Some wave and smile as we pass.


Scenery is amazing with mountains, rivers and valleys. Laos is made for motorcycling.


On an unpleasant note, I got lost overnight and was rescued by Noah. But that's another story.


Motorcycling On


David Ow



David Ow's Photo Gallery






Dispatch from Marty Kromer and Bill Shea

This is our fourth Globeriders trip. There are aspects of all the trips that are similar. Each trip also has its unique theme.

There is the bike. It has a note with the clarity of Mozart, the fire of Paganini and the harmony of Bach. It is home.

There is always the fellowship of traveling with people who appreciate seeing the world from the seat of a motorcycle. They also understand that when traveling around the world unplanned things happen and the team always supports the individual. We broken down in Bolivia - people helped us. We got lost in Africa - people waited for us. Two riders on the Silk Road decided to pursue a more challenging road with very dire consequences - the chase vehicle saved them. On this trip a rider got separated from the group, followed the wrong GPS track and ended up hundreds of miles from the hotel. SPOT tracking authorities, the American embassy, local police, Helge and the chase vehicle driver were all in pursuit. Noah our fantastic chase vehicle driver found him at 3:00 A.M. in the pouring rain - it is the monsoon season - trying to sleep on the deck of a ferry on the Mekong River. The bike was encased in thick red mud. It all fortunately ended well as has happened on our previous trips.

There is also the fellowship with the other people on the road. The people we meet are always extraordinary. The sidecar surprises people. They look at us with very curious open faces. For a brief moment it is possible to see beneath their surface appearance and glimpse the shared miracle of being human. That has happened again on this trip. The people of Thailand and Laos are calm, gentle and innocent. We had been focused on riding in the Himalayas and considered Thailand and Laos a necessary step to achieve the mountain ride. Mistake. Interacting with the people here is a joy. The language is musical. "Good-day" in Laotian phonetically is: sah ba DEEE. It is sung holding on to the DEEE as if one doesn't want to let go of such a lovely sound and thought. Coming down to breakfast, being greeted with sah ba DEEE and then being served a delicious meal by a happy, beautiful person is a great way to start the day.

We are constantly reminded that we do not know enough history, culture, economics, religion or geography.

Helge always finds great twisting, challenging, dirt, paved, potholed roads all with water crossings. The twists so far are as good as The Devils Spine in Mexico. The challenging dirt roads are as bad/good as the worst that Tajikistan had to offer. It is a blast to have the skills and a dependable rig to enjoy these roads. It is always a new lesson to watch Helge dance his GSA.

The landscapes are always fresh. There are constant and new variations of mountains, fields, rivers, gorges, light and sky. This is the first trip with unglaciated, craggy mountains. It is like riding into a classic Chinese landscape painting. The rides through the tropical forests here are reminiscent of the rides in Central America where every shade and texture of green is possible. Except there is the added permutation of a new green and a new texture of rice fields in the evening sun. We saw rice fields on the Silk Road trip but they were not the same as here on the Tropic of Capricorn.

There are always animals. The highlight for South America was llamas. Africa had everything. The oryx were especially beautiful. Helge saw a pride of lions on the road during the day - although he did not stop to take a picture - no picture no proof. Silk Road was camels and Yaks. We saw a huge rack from a Marco Polo sheep on the side of the road but were warned by our guides that under no circumstances should we try to bring it back to the States. Here it is dogs and chickens. But the dogs are apparently Buddhists because they don't bark or chase. They typically remain perfectly calm. The chickens are not Buddhists. Although they are thin they run everywhere at the worst possible time. And we encountered a herd of Asian elephants one evening in Thailand - and did take a picture as proof!

And there is always a mix of accommodation types - typical western style chain hotels to the yurts of Kyrgyzstan - with safe bike parking always a primary concern. We stayed at an exquisite place in Luang Prabang which was as exceptional as the place in Cappadocia, Turkey that won top honors in a poll of the riders from the last Silk Road trip. Food to date has ranged from 5-star dining in Bangkok to eating at a table on the sidewalk next to an open flame kitchen on our first night in China, and it has all been memorably good. The Thai cuisine we experienced was more subtle and complexly flavored than in Laos, which was simpler, cooked quickly and satisfying, too. And the beer has been regional, is fresh tasting and served ice cold.

The first trip was an experience of wonder. The second was joy. The third was diversity and deep gratitude. This one, so far, is serenity. We are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to experience so much of what the world has to offer from the seats of a sidecar.


Bill and Marty



Bill Shea's Photo Gallery



Bill Shea also is posting his photo's daily on his Twitter feed: @sidecarmonkey


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Helge's Photo Gallery



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