Return to GlobeRiders Home Page

Home Page Banner


IndoChina Adventure 2008 Live!Journal Chapters Menu

IndoChina Adventure 2008 - Week 06 Chapter : 29 Oct ~ 04 Nov


Flag of Vietnam





Thailand welcomed us with bureaucracy only a government employee can appreciate. They had us running forth and back to all kinds of offices - it was definitely the most tedious border crossing on the trip so far.   On top of all of this I came to find out that my bike never had been cleared out of Thailand since last year's expedition. What a mess!


Despite the rough start, this week’s journal and our first week in Thailand was full of great experiences.   We even had the chance to celebrate Halloween as you can see from the striking pictures from Linda’s decoration of everyone, quite a sight with lots of laughter’s and joy:





The steering head bearing on my BMW HP2 were getting worse with every mile making my ride more of a challenge than a pleasure.   In Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, Barcelona BMW came to the rescue with one-and-a-half mechanics available to do the job.   One of them had crashed his 'cross bike and broken his right arm the week prior, so we counted him for half a mechanic:





They did not have the spare bearings, but that was OK since I had managed to get a couple from other places.   Actually I had no idea of the bearing size, so once again an urgent email went to GlobeRiders home team, Mike and Dan.   Less than 24 hours later I had the numbers for the needed bearings tracked down from the online forum on, and the information came from a rider that lives in New Zealand.   What a great tool the Internet is, and a Huge Thanks to the mechanics at Barcelona BMW, great people and good mechanics.


Well, enough from me.   Enjoy the following stories and pictures from this Week 6 of the IndoChina Adventure.




Helge Pedersen - Founder


Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


A Day in the Life of Motorcycling, or, A Life in a Day of Motorcycling



We wake up, pack bags, eat breakfast, pack bikes, get a briefing from the boss, ride, stop for breaks, ride, eat lunch, ride, stop for breaks, ride, check into a hotel, shower, lay down if there’s time, happy hour for some, dinner, more drinks for some, go to bed and start all over again the next day. Sometimes there’s a layover day or two which helps us do laundry, catch up on communicating with family and friends, or just lay around.


You could easily say, “A bad day of motorcycling is better than a good day at the office.”   But we really haven’t experienced any “bad days”.   Sure, we have our share of spills and chills; mishaps, miscommunications, and mistakes; mechanical and human failures.   But today on Day 42, Tuesday, November 4th (election day in the U.S.), we’re all safe and healthy, the bikes and chase vehicle are still running well, the guides aren’t sick of us yet (I think), roads are good, and we’re spending our 7th night already in Thailand.   Time flies when you’re having, you know, fun!


All the riders have a GPS with tracks (or bread crumbs) to follow from one hotel to another – we go from point A to B.   However, we’re welcome to veer off anytime and try another route or have fun getting lost.   We haven’t had any police escorts as we did on the Silk Road trip.


Up until we crossed into Thailand (on October 29), the weather was good with just a few short rain showers.   For the last 7 days we’ve had rain showers every day, some lasting a few hours, some heavy downpours, while some were light or short enough that we didn’t have to put on our rain gear.  Everyone has the necessary gear and all are experienced driving in bad weather.   We recently heard that there was major flooding on the very same streets we were on in Hanoi about a month ago.  I think we’ve been lucky.


Temperatures have been averaging in the 80’s, with cooler temperatures of course in the north and mountainous areas.   This is my first experience in such a humid climate for this long of a time.   Even though we’ve acclimated a bit, we still find ourselves sweating like pigs . . . while we’re just sitting around.  The only place cold enough for me to wear a light fleece has been in the hotel room when the air-conditioner gets cranked up.   (However, the gang knows if I’m wearing it outside of the room it’s because I’m waiting for my laundry to dry).


Even though I’m taking malaria pills, I am pleased to announce that we see and experience very little in the way of mosquitoes.   Now stepping into the jungle is another matter.   Karen provided 6 sucking leeches a new home on her legs when she took a short bathroom break (fortunately, easily removed).


We live on bottled water. We only trust the ice from some of the hotels, not all. As far as I’m aware (granted I haven’t done a formal inquiry), the group has had only minor digestive problems.


Somewhere along the way we were introduced to sticky rice, but I don’t think it caught on in our group.   It’s fried rice for Mike; seafood and vegetarian food for David, Vincent and Helge; anything spicy for Marlene and Joe; and more exotic (adventurous) creations for Than, Karen and Jack.   For me, spring rolls in Vietnam, fried egg noodles with vegetables in Laos, rice noodle soup in Cambodia, and give me pad thai or tom yum soup throughout Thailand and I’ll be happy.


Some of our best meals have been on our lunch stops at roadside places where fresh food is made usually by the mother and we’re served by the children.   The interactions with them and the locals add to the enjoyment.   We didn’t see KFC, Burger King, McDonalds, or Starbucks until we hit Thailand.   Pete, I got a picture for you of a Burger King in Chiang Mai; sorry, I didn’t try to see if it tasted the same.   But someone (who will remain nameless) went to McDonalds and said it tasted the same as in the U.S.

But the real food treat for some of us is when we come across really good ice cream.   The other treat was a surprise from Mike to Karen; he brought peanut butter from the U.S. just for her.   She willingly shared and when you’re without something it tastes even better when you have it.   I see a potential import item.


A life in a day of motorcycling here on a trip in foreign lands for 56 days amplifies all your senses; intensifies your experiences (physically, mentally and emotionally); and affects every part of your body, particularly your mind, heart, muscles, and stomach.


Here’s to more good days!








Day 36 - Seattle, Washington, USA - Mike M. Paull

Border crossing processes and procedures seem to take on a life of their own.  What may have once been a simple formality ages ago can today consume hours of precious time, entail treks to numerous buildings, standing in endless queues, all the while keeping on a "happy face" while dealing with the cadres of bored, stamp-wielding, and sometimes outright rude and abrasive petty "officials".   At any border, we advise our clients to keep their cameras packed, and to not take any pictures.  I have never been able to fathom why, but taking photos is generally prohibited at any border, and in case of infractions, film, memory, tapes, or even the camera itself may be confiscated.


There's a reason the word "bureaucrat" has negative connotations.


In the larger scheme of things, even dealing with such is just part of the adventure.  The best course is just to suck it up, be honest, and NEVER volunteer any information that wasn't specifically asked for.  And sometimes, a shining ray of hope pierces through negative memories of The Border.


Helge noted in the introduction for this week's Live!Journal that entering Thailand was a test of patience.  Imagine what a pleasant surprise it was a few days later to receive friendly email from the Aranyaprathet Thai border post, with the following photos attached:







Day 39 - Chiang Mai, Thailand - David Ow


Hi Family & Friends,


Had a wonderful visit with Mark Bleadon and his wife Jenny.   Mark is an old friend from Santa Cruz, California, and retired to Chiang Mai about 8 years ago.   They took me to Croston House Children`s Home Thailand, where they have been helping out.


Glen Croston and his wife Rosjana have 3 children of their own and 32 orphans.   They are in two small houses with very basic accommodations.   Bunk beds, one bathroom in each house, outdoor cooking on wood fuel and a hose to wash the dishes.   They have amazing dedication to the children and face an up hill struggle daily.   Another heart breaker for me.   Any help would be appreciated, check out their website (please click here) or go to:


I now have power to my Zumo GPS but the routing for each day is not working.   I cannot follow the course as the others do and must depend on following Helge.


My F650 that has worked well in the dirt, mud and potholed roads, is now slow on the super highways of Thailand.   I feel bad to hold the others up and depend on them to get to the next hotel.   Hope Helge and Dan can figure out why the routing went away on my Zumo.


As always, I am fascinated with all the ancient ruins.   The temples of Angkor Wat was a highlight.   I actually got up at 4:30 am to see the sunrise over Angkor and was not disappointed.


I am now an expert on putting on my rain suit and taking it off quickly.  At first it was a struggle since I am not very flexible.   Helge says I need to take Yoga classes.   If you are too slow, you stand a good chance of getting drenched.   The heavy rains come and go quickly, and once the rain stops it becomes uncomfortably hot.   The record for now is three times in one day.



Motorcycling On,





Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


This Little Piggy Went to Market . . .



. . . and so does everything else you can imagine: animals, fruits, vegetables, hay, rice, spices, unidentifiable things, handicrafts, mattresses, hardware, bicycles, feather dusters (with real chicken feathers), lumber, even goldfish in little plastic bags . . . everything!


And anything that can be eaten will be: smoked rats, smoked bats, crickets, garlic-fried tarantulas (I tasted one and it wasn’t bad) . . . anything!


And things get transported anyway you can imagine: live chickens strapped to racks on top of a van, live ducks hanging from bicycle handle bars, eggs crated and jam-packed into a van, furniture on the backs of the motorbikes . . . any way!


And things are sold in every way you can imagine: at a central market, a night market (particularly lively), a floating market (incredibly unique), from the front of their house, from roadside stands, from their heads . . . every way!


If you need something, there’s a store or someone selling it – a butcher (obvious), a barber (chair’s outside waiting for the next customer), or a dentist (look for the tooth sign and the chair might be outside, too).


If you need a repair, there’s someone to repair it – boot repair, tire repair, or mechanical service.


There are certain places or roadside stands where you’ll drive by and see the “specialty” only sold in that particular place (like sticky rice or fish meat wrapped in banana leaves), or goods made in that area (like baskets or ceramics), or food in that particular season (like pineapples or squash).


Some markets are cleaner than others, and surprisingly most markets are incredibly organized - vegetables in this area, seafood in another, clothing in a different section, breads over there, etc. Once you get used to them, they are just huge outdoor shopping malls, without air-conditioning, shopping carts, and floors.


Everyone seems to be doing something – growing, harvesting, producing, delivering, buying, selling goods – it’s all about the market.   It’s not any different than the U.S., it’s just that we do it behind many doors and here it’s all out in the open.   People see, buy and sometimes raise the pigs and chickens they eat, cook fish caught that morning, and eat vegetables and fruit harvested the day before.   Sure, they use pesticides and hormones, have animal disease outbreaks, and mass produce food just like in the U.S., but I think they (and kids in particular) are more knowledgeable about where most of their food comes from and how it was grown.


I walk away from each market with sensory overload - seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, and tasting – and usually an empty wallet.



All for now, I’m headed to the ATM now . . . with love,





Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


A Quiz:



Question: What is strong like a water buffalo, a renewable resource, the tallest grass in the world, seen everywhere we look, used for all sorts of things, and is now really popular in the U.S.?


Answer: Bamboo

Here are some bountiful benefits of bamboo:

- Building material for fences, bridges, houses, scaffolding, irrigation troughs, fish farm enclosures, and much more.   In the pictures, see the bamboo wrapped around the rocks as the footing for the bridge and check out the scaffolding.

- Transportation, like bicycles, boats and canoes.

- Medicine to treat infections and respiratory diseases.

- Decoration, such as artwork carvings, baskets, and ornamental gardening.

- In the kitchen it’s used for cooking utensils (chopsticks, food steamers, baskets, cutting boards), to wrap foods, to cook foods in the hollows of stalks, to eat (edible bamboo shoots, pickled bamboo), and to make sweet wine.

- Clothing - such as hats, knitting needles, yarn and fabrics. If you haven’t already noticed in U.S. stores, bamboo fabric is a popular environmental-friendly option compared to other fabrics; bamboo fabric has a soft feel and claims natural antibacterial properties.

- It’s also used in making furniture, paper, fly fishing rods, many different types of musical instruments, martial arts weaponry, walking sticks, smoking pipes, and tattoos (sharpened, of course).

Little known (and possibly uninteresting) facts about bamboo:

- Some companies are now making skateboards and snow boards because bamboo is both lighter and stronger than some of the "high-tech" materials now in use.

- It’s been used as a traditional knife for cutting a newborn’s umbilical cord.

- Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant on earth and can be commercially harvested for timber; the larger ones are known as “timber bamboos”.  [Editor's Note: Bamboo is technically classified as a grass.]

- Bamboo is found in diverse climates, from mountains to the tropics.  Although many people think of bamboo as a symbol of East Asia, it is also grown and used extensively in sub-Saharan Africa.

- Soft bamboo shoots, stems and leaves are 99% of the Giant Panda’s diet.

- The “Bamboo Curtain” was a colloquial name for the boundary of communist countries in eastern Asia during the Cold War.

- One of Thomas Edison’s first commercially successful incandescent lamps used a filament of carbonized bamboo.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing I learned about bamboo was that several Asian cultures believe that humanity emerged from a bamboo stem.   In the Philippine creation myth, legend tells that the first man and the first woman each emerged from split bamboo stems on an island created after the battle of the elemental forces (sky and ocean).   Malaysian legends includes a man who dreams of a beautiful woman while sleeping under a bamboo plant; he wakes up and breaks the bamboo stem, discovering the woman inside.   In my opinion, these beliefs aren’t any better or worse than creationism or intelligent design, but for me I’ll stick with science and biological evolution (or the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” . . . Google this one!).








Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


Buddhism 101



The two things I’ve seen most frequently while traveling in IndoChina are Buddhas and cows.


Our education in Buddhism continues as we move into Thailand.   Travel definitely expands one’s knowledge.

However, this is one subject I’m not going to attempt to explain for fear that I’ll butcher it.   If you’re interested in Buddhism you’re probably already a Buddhist or certainly have read a lot more about it than me.   What I do know is that a spiritual connection is extremely important for residents of all the countries we’ve visited.   Along with Buddhism, there’s also Ancestor Worship, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, and Taoism to name a few other religions.


All of our tour guides for each country have taken us to see and admire many temples and Buddha statues that are significant to their people.   The colors, ornate details and architecture of the most beautiful temples can take your breath away.   Many of the temples have monks living and studying in them.   The temples in ruins provide a peaceful setting in which to reflect on ancient times, take pictures, or just take a nap.


Buddha statues are located everywhere – tiny, huge, old, new.   We visited caves with ancient Buddhas in them, marble factories making every shape and size of Buddha statues, museums, and temples.   One temple in Laos (Wat Susaket) contains more than 8,000 Buddha statues.


One also sees many beautiful shrines outside and inside people’s residences and businesses.   They provide a place for people to give thanks, ask for blessings, remember someone, or pray.   The picture I included was in a Michelin tire service center in Thailand where we got a new tire for the chase vehicle after a blow out.   I gave thanks that this was the only problem we’ve had with the chase vehicle so far.



Wishing you good Karma,





Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


What a Difference a Day Makes!



One night we’re in a communist-looking-feeling-institutional-like hotel with tacky pictures on the wall (like cats and oil refineries), plastic dishes, 50’s furniture, poor lighting, poor air-conditioning, no internet access, no elevator, and no customer service . . .


. . . and the next night we’re in a luxurious 5-star hotel with deluxe amenities.   The hotel staff have been extremely gracious, accommodating, and friendly.   And you should see the creative napkin arrangements and amazing fruit and vegetable carvings in their restaurants!


Yes, you might say I’m getting spoiled with this life of leisure and luxury (when we hit the right place).   The other thing I’m definitely getting spoiled with is getting a massage.   You can get one everywhere and almost any time to last as long as you want. There are different varieties of massage for different parts of your body.  Prices range from $6 for 1 hour to a lot more in upscale hotels.   Most of the prices don’t seem fair to the person who just spent two hours massaging you until you feel like a noodle.   Karen found out that some of them work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, and make $60 a month salary with an additional whopping $2 per massage.   We ended up giving the ladies tips as much as the massage costs; they’d almost fall over.


I’ve lost count with how many I’ve had, but I definitely remember the best one – a 1-hour scrub followed by a 1-hour massage all for $50 at the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.   The cheapest massage was $6 for 1 hour.   The most embarrassing one was when the lady lifted my towel up and saw that I didn’t have any underwear on . . . she laughed, showed the others doing massages nearby and they all giggled.   The most comfortable ones have been when you’re in a private room, there’s soft music, mood lighting and you’ve got these really comfy pants and top they give you to wear.


The oddest one was sitting in an outside bath tub full of “special” mud water next to Vincent, who’s in the bath tub next to me.   The massage that got away from us that Karen and I wanted but didn’t have time for was the one where you have little fish bite the dead skin off your body (hmm, yummy).


And the most fun massage was a 30-minute foot and calf massage for $6 at a very lively night market.   At least 30 people are sitting in comfy chairs all in a row getting foot massages while shoppers pass by.   Karen and I got an excellent foot massage, took pictures and laughed at all the tourists (including us).

Oops, gotta go - I have another massage appointment.








Week 06 - Thailand - Linda Sikorowski


There’s No Place Like Home



November 4, 2008 – Today, I’m in Thailand.   On October 20, I voted in the U.S. election from Cambodia.


I have a love-hate relationship with electronics.   I love how they enhance my life, but I don’t understand how to use, install, troubleshoot or repair them.   That love-hate relationship flows over to computers, too.   When everything works (the computer, software, emails, etc.), the world is a happy place.   When something goes wrong, stay clear.


Since the ballot wasn’t ready by the time I left the U.S., I arranged to have my ballot emailed to me.   This involved the Denver Election Commission emailing me the ballot as a PDF file (that’s to ensure that I can’t change anything), download it, print it, and then fill it out (in blue or black ink, of course).   Then I have the choice of faxing it back or making it into a PDF file and emailing it back to Denver.   I chose the latter option . . . don’t screw this up, Linda.   You can do this!


Our leader, Helge, offers to make my 9-page ballot into a PDF file by taking photos of it with his professional camera equipment.   I’m laying one page at a time on a white towel on the bathroom floor while he’s taking a picture of each page.   To get the best shot, Helge needs height, so he’s got one foot on the toilet seat and the other foot on the bathtub.   I wish I had a picture of him taking the photos.   What people will do to vote!


And that’s what it’s all about . . . being able to vote, knowing that my vote counts, and feeling grateful for living in a democracy.   We experience numerous freedoms and material comforts that many countries and people do not have.   Traveling reminds me to never take for granted our political and religious freedoms, economic prosperity, medical care, clean water, clean air, wilderness, wildlife, and so much more.


Bottom line: While I love to travel, there’s no place like home!



Missing all of you,


Love, Linda



Postscript: Some people in IndoChina were interested in talking with us about the U.S. election and didn’t hesitate to ask who we would vote for.   After the news traveled to Thailand, I took pictures of reactions.

The monkeys came out from hiding (although one monkey collapsed in disbelief), the tigers played, the elephant took its hat off to Obama, and Karen celebrated with people in the streets.   The Thai people are known for their artistic woodcarvings; we visited a showroom where we found the picture of the founding fathers.


Congratulations to Obama!




Day 41 - Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia - David Ow


Hi Family & Friends,


Just got here to the Park and waiting for the other riders.   I did not stop for lunch along the way and had fried rice with vegetable here on a floating restaurant along the river bank.   It was very good but a little spicy for me.   After lunch, I spotted an internet cafe close by so I am catching up on my mail while I wait for the others.   We were joined yesterday by three BMW riders from Kuala Lumpur.   They rode about 3 hrs to join us for 2 days.

On Sunday they have planned for us to be at the dealership and Helge will show some slides and video.   The roads are absolutely fabulous in the Cameron Highlands.   Nice surface and fast curves and sweepers.


My GPS was fixed by Helge and Dan (manning the email Helpdesk back in Seattle) and works fine.   It is nice to be independent again and be able to get to the next hotel without any help.   All is well with me and the motorcycle.   It is a little short in horsepower and the superhighways and fast mountain roads but for me I do not need to go very fast to get a thrill.


It's sightseeing here for 2 days then to KL (Kuala Lumpur) to pack up the bikes to ship home.   The tour has gone by so quickly!   I am glad Mike Mathews and Linda have done such a great job writing stories.   Most of the cities and roads have blended together in my mind, but some will always stand out.



Motorcycling On,





Helge Pedersen Images from the IndoChina Adventure 2008 - Thailand




IndoChina Adventure 2008 Live!Journal Chapters Menu


Sign up for Email Updates
For Email Marketing you can trust

The best way to stay informed of "all things GlobeRiders" is to subscribe to our email newsletters. We absolutely do not share your information with anyone.  A Safe Unsubscribe link is included at the bottom of every one so that you may terminate your subscription at any time. Just enter your email address in the box to the left and click "GO".


Should you have any problems, send us email by clicking here.


Copyright © 2009 GlobeRiders, LLC ®.  All rights reserved.