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Week Eight Chapter - 22 ~ 28 Oct 2007 - Thailand

Starting Location for This Week: Loei, Thailand (Asian Continent)
Ending Location for This Week: Hua Hin, Thailand (Asian Continent)
Planned Mileage for this Week: 1232 miles (1,982 kilometers)

Welcome to Week Eight of The IndoChina Expedition

Chiang Mai has been a "must see" place that I have heard so much about and I've always wanted to visit that part of the world.  Filled with expectations colored by stories about long-necked tribe people and opium smugglers in the Golden Triangle, I have high hopes.  I am somewhat disappointed as we ride in to the city on a double-lane divided highway to a large modern city, not the illusion I had built in my mind of a little village in the hills.  Tourists are everywhere; hotels compete for real estate as the city keeps growing rapidly.

We ride out of town the following day to see an elephant show together with several hundred other tourists.  The show is good and well worth the visit, but we pass on the new long-necked village and move on to other sites.  Unfortunately, we have not enough time to explore the northern-most part of this area, which is supposed to be great for motorcycle riding.  Next year, we will change the itinerary and make sure to include that part of Thailand. 

As we head south on secondary roads we are amazed to be riding on such nice roads.   Even when we take off to shoot some video in a village, the roads is sealed.  This is a great motorcycle riding area and we enjoy the days in the saddle. However, as I am riding the HP2, I do long for some more challenging roads.  The riding we are doing in Thailand has been more suited for Chris' bike, the R1200GS Adventure.

Having been asked by several people to compare the two bikes ,I can conclude that the HP2 is much more to my liking.  The bike reminds me of my good old R80G/S that I traveled with for so many years. The HP2 is, of course, a huge step forward both in performance and handling.  I had an R1200 GS Adventure for just over a year and I liked it very much on good roads. Getting off on the back roads, it is a pig, way too big and heavy.  After having had the chance to ride a HP2 from Canada to Mexico, I were sold on that bike.  It is a bike that is so much more straightforward without all the plastic. It has great front and rear suspension; the R1200GS Adventure suspension is no good and keeps breaking.  I love a bike that has a “real” fork and 21” front wheel.  The HPN 23 liter tank is a must, and the Touratech auxiliary tanks are also an alternative, to increase the range of the HP2.  Having tried both, I enjoy the HPN tank for its simplicity, as it simply replaces the original tank and utilizes the original pump.  On the Touratech tanks, you have to manually press a button to pump gasoline from the spare tanks to the original tanks.

The Touratech Zega bags have always been my choice for panniers, so that is what I have on my HP2 as well.  I replaced the sump plate and mounted a crash bar; both Touratech made and I am very happy with these.

So far I found that the electric switch for the side stand WILL break, and the side stand itself is mounted to the frame with a aluminum “block” that has bent ,==, making the side stand difficult to use. I will be looking for an alternative, and possibly a center stand, when I return to Seattle.  I am also VERY concerned with the anti-theft key system that BMW, for some odd reason is installing on these bikes.  We have seen several bikes have EWS faults and failed ring antennas for engine immobilizer system fail while on tours.  I do not need this kind of high tech "immobilizer" system on my bike, especially when the system is as unreliable as it is.  For this reason I am carrying a spare ring antenna.

Talking about electrical systems, I have wired up two electrical outlets that are connected directly from the battery via a CenTech fuse box.

On the way to the floating village, we stop in a small fishing port where they repair and overhaul fishing vessels.  I always love these places, where boats are being repaired and people are easy to talk to.  Usually, they love to check out the bikes, and if you have any repairs to do on the bike this is always a good place. I use the opportunity to make a fix to my side stand so that it is usable again.  If it kept on leaning over it would eventually break and it is not always easy to find a good place to lean the bike against a wall or a rock.

Well this is all for now, we have more places to ride and stuff to see on this incredible journey of IndoChina.

Until next, time take care.


Helge Pedersen


For this dispatch from Thailand, I would like to share a little bit about Chris and Helge’s adventures as the hosts of the TV series we are making about this journey through Indochina.  Since the beginning of our trip, we have endeavored to film as much as we can with the idea of creating a GlobeRiders series that is bigger and better than anything we have done to date.  Our main focus is getting off the beaten path and gathering stories about the local cultures we pass through.  I like to think that Chris and Helge are the hosts of the show, but the local people and places are the stars.  At any rate, I would like to share with you the following highlights of our filming from the 8th week of the Indochina Expedition, to give you an idea of what kind of a pace we are setting.

Leaving Phitsanulok in Northern Thailand we stopped at a roadside clothing vendor where Chris interviewed the owner about the phenomenon of yellow shirts in Thailand. Why is the color yellow so important in this country? You’ll have to watch the show to find out why.

Later in the morning we stopped for a few hours of filming at Sukothai Historic Park where there is an abundance of carved stone Buddha’s dating back to the times when this was the capital of the kingdom. It was a situated in a beautiful and peaceful location.

The next day we rode from Phrae to Chang Mai, stopping along the way to shoot segments on a market that sells fried bugs among other things, an umbrella factory and a nighttime performance of the local Hill Tribe people.

The next day we went to an orchid and butterfly farm for filming, and then to a silver factory for a quick look at the jewelry making process. We shot a bit of footage when Chris finally got his new shock absorber and installed it, and then we concluded the filming that day with an evening stroll through he streets of Chang Mai where Chris and Helge learned all about Thai massage, tattoos and ozone hair removal (no kidding).

The following morning it was off to Tiger Temple for shooting a segment about the monks and their tigers. Then we rode on to the River Kwai where we filmed a trio of segments on this area’s history. On our way to Hua Hin we stopped at a picturesque but very touristy Floating Market and then filmed a piece on woodcarving in the afternoon. Finally, in Hua Hin, we spent a day filming all manner of fishing boats unloading their catch and Helge eating as much crab as he could!

All of this represents the “cultural exploration” part of the show. Don’t forget that we also have to shoot riding footage along the way, capturing some of the beautiful scenery that we are passing through. This one week on the road will likely be edited into about 25 minutes worth of television time. As you can see the pace has been brutal, but hopefully the end result will be a show that you will love. I’ve been putting Chris and Helge through the wringer on this one and they’re doing a great job. Thanks guys!


Sterling Noren

Greetings from Thailand,

We are riding along a beautiful mountain road in northern Thailand and a quick glance to the right reveals a huge reclining Buddha.  So we stop to take a look and wander around the temple.  This seems to be a common occurrence here, great riding with lots of sights to investigate.  A bit later Helge and I find a nice single-track dirt road running next to a river - a perfect GS experience.  There are rice fields to our left and the river on the right.  We work up a sweat and have to call it a day as the sun is setting.  I  haven't replaced my rear shock yet, so I had quite a bouncy ride.

In Chiang Mai the next day, we go to visit an elephant park.  They keep around 70 elephants there and we watch the show.  The elephants play a bit of soccer but the most amazing thing was that they have been trained to paint watercolor pictures! Chiang Mai is a great place and we have two days here.  But the best is that my new rear shock has arrived - thanks to Aaron and South Sound BMW!  At dinner we discuss our route for the next day's ride and we decide we want to take the Smugglers Road that runs along the Thai/Burma border.  The locals tell us it can be dangerous but we go for it and have no problems.

On our way to the River Kwai we stop at the Tiger Temple.  The monks have seventeen tigers that they care for, and you can also photograph and pet them.  I wasn't sure if I wanted another "wild animal" encounter, but it was fine.  We stopped at the Hellfire Pass Memorial - a tribute to the men who were forced to build the "death railway", over 200,000 people perished there.  The Japanese used POWs and forced labor to build a railroad from Thailand to Burma, 450 km long.  The bridge over the river Kwai was a part of this rail line.  We ride on to Hua Hin and visit the floating markets on the way.  In Hua Hin I visit the Marukhatayawan Palace.  King Rama VI built this magnificent beach palace of golden teak wood.  I spend three hours there - it is a great setting on the ocean with beautiful gardens.

We are headed south now, and it seems like our journey is coming to an end.  But not yet, as we still have more of Thailand to explore and then on to Malaysia and Singapore.  Stay tuned.

Ciao for now,


An IndoChina Slideshow



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Helge Pedersen Images from Thailand, IndoChina Expedition 2007

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