|Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 04:49 am: ||
4 countries - 6 weeks, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia!
It's December the 3rd 2006 and I'm finishing my 28 day shift in Nhulumbuy Northern Territory Australia.
4 weeks previously I'd packed the Uly in a crate in Melbourne to be trucked to Sydney to be shipped to Kuala
Lumpur Malaysia! Unfortunately, as I got ready to pack the bike the sidestand bolts snapped (subject to recall) and the Uly fell across the back of my legs as I was walking away. No damage to me or the Uly!
I had to leave Melbourne to fly 3 1/2 hours the next day, Luckily Harley agreed to send a mechanic to fix
the Uly while I was away, the bike left on time!
It's now 9am December 4th, the Uly's in Malaysia, I'm about to get on a plane to get me to Brisbane, then on
to Melbourne. I get there at 7pm, have dinner with my girlfriend (Natalie) and mum, then Natalie and I get
on a plane at midnight, off to Singapore, then on to Kuala Lumpur getting there at 8am December
The next few days we chilled out, waited for the Uly to clear customs and generally got screwed around by our shipping agent! We spent a day climbing
, another sight seeing!
I eventually spit the dummy, hire a car, go see the customs minister (not kidding) and get the Uly out......wwwwoooohhhooo!
The Uly's great, the roads are easy, how's this for exotic, a foreign Coke sign!
(Message edited by brat on February 28, 2007)
|Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 06:28 am: ||
This should be interesting. Way to go. NUTS
|Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 07:45 am: ||
I would love to hear more about the logistics of the trip (shipping, customs, fuel, maintenance, dealing with language barriers, etc...), and of course more pictures and description of the ride!
|Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 08:13 pm: ||
This will be a good one.
|Posted on Thursday, March 01, 2007 - 09:11 am: ||
You should submit your ride report to Fuell mag., and let the whole Buell world know of your adventures.
|Posted on Thursday, March 01, 2007 - 03:52 pm: ||
I agree Brat, that is if we ever get any more Fuell magazines. I havent seen one in months, but I get the harley one.
|Posted on Friday, March 02, 2007 - 08:19 am: ||
Nat's side of the story thus far!
The whole story started as a bit of a dream – then dream became reality and we were sorting our way through the ‘what, where, how’s and whys’ etc.
I started by sourcing a shipping company that would take the bike to Malaysia. That may sound easy, but it is surprisingly not, as many companies will only take full containers, depart on certain days or other hurdles. But we found Precision Forwarding a company based in Sydney. So we got the bike to them from Melbourne (A$100) via a trucking company – all quoted very similar rates, but a friend had an account so we managed to make it a little cheaper, this friend also allowed us to pack the crate at his factory with a forklift which made life easier (something to consider).
Back to the freighting of the bike – the paperwork can be a little fiddly and there seems to be many loop holes (ie do you need a carnet de passage for Malaysia) of which I’ll go into later. The freight of the bike to Kuala Lumpur from Sydney was $436.96 this did not include insurance.
Once the bike is on the ship, their really isn’t much more you can do – but organise yourself! This I found rather interesting. Packing for 2 on 1 bike. We had the Buell custom made panniers (with the liners.. love the liners… they make life so much easier), a pack on the back and all our climbing gear attached to the tank. As we were going to Asia where you can live in affordable comfort we only took our clothes. I found some cargo pants (zip off above the knee) by Draggin’ Jeans with kevla lining. This was fantastic as it was safe riding but could be made into shorts to go for bush walks throughout the day. We also only took kevla tops (like a jumper/ sweater). This was great as it kept us cool and relatively safe. It also saved so much space.
Once we got to Kuala Lumpur we straight away organised to get the bike… This was through Lim Key Kuan (Precision Forwarding Agent – United Logistics) this is where things got messy. Firstly if you want to bring a bike into Malaysia don’t go through United Logistics. Mr Lim does not value keeping the customer satisfied. It is all in his time. He was also the first person we uncounted to say “you are not doing it the RIGHT way” …. It took us a long time to realise that meant a bribe. After days of tooing and froing Chris and I decided we would go to the ‘top dog’ to get our bike out of customs. To cut a long story short we hired a car and ended up in Putrajaya (Malaysia’s government area) and in the office of the Chief of Customs. By the time we had finished we had the Chief and the Deputy onto getting our bike out of customs. Again this became a rush as it was Friday and the Muslim population stopped work early. Once we got all the documentation back to Port Kelang we go.
By now Chris and My nerves were pretty thin and evil growls crept out every now and then.
Back at Port Kelang …. And the hassle to get the bike became a joke. We were sent from one port office to another. Then finally we got to a the South Port. Well again we had some guy telling us ‘you are not doing it the RIGHT way’ and again we said “tell us and we’ll do it” but they never said. Then finally when Chris’ shaved head became a dark scarlet and I am sure steam was emitted from his ears, we were sent in to see the person in charge. Back and forth it went again (it really does become tiresome) when I remembered the Chief of Customs name (Chris’ jaw nearly hit the floor – I am no good at names) and mentioned his frustration. It was amazing, within minutes all was done and we were being pushed out the door with ‘go go just get out of here’. I guess since bribery is illegal they wanted us gone.
By this stage another day has gone by and we drove back closer to town. Stayed at a beautiful hotel with a bath, room service and enough luxury to placate even the most ferociously frustrated and tired couple in town.
The next day we caught a train out to the port. This time we were determined to ride out…. And we did! But not with out another ‘run in’. When we arrived, Chris was un packing the bike doing all the bloke things, while I was doing the paperwork. I was told under no circumstances to leave without at K2 (which to me seemed like the biggest hardest mountain in the world even though it was just deport papers for the bike) again Mister Lim who was responsible for this seemed to have vanished on holiday and refused to give us one saying the paperwork we had was enough. Well I wasn’t convinced but since nothing seemed to work in a logical manner we left KL as soon as we could with ‘good riddance’ and an audible sigh that we are on our way.
As a side note – KL is a great city with as many things to do as most cities seem to offer. Though being ‘stuck’ and stuffed around doesn’t aid in the enjoyment.
So off we went on the bike. It was great to be free and on the way. We headed straight up to the Cameron Highlands. That was an amazing ride. Lost of hairpin corners and kamikaze drivers. The road are thin and in lots of corners wet from waterfalls. Needless to say being the passenger I enjoyed this road immensely. Seeing bamboo villages and people picking tea. All the different flora and waterfalls and the smells – wild Durian fruit… I couldn’t point most things out as Chris needed to keep all eyes on the road.
From Cameron Highlands we headed to Penang. The roads in Malaysia are very well maintained. The highways have a separate lane for bikes which can be good when you want to pass traffic. The Toll booths have a path that goes around the paying booths for little bikes. This is an entertaining ride to see how supple you are at riding a big bike, as the path is not as wide as the bike with the panniers on with little gutters on either side. I was sure we would stumble on one of them (as even the little mopeds have trouble) but when I opened my eyes and let out my breath we always seems to zooming off upright!
|Posted on Friday, March 02, 2007 - 09:02 am: ||
That's what I'm talking about!!!!!!
You two are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!
More, more, more
|Posted on Saturday, March 03, 2007 - 02:16 am: ||
I second that.
|Posted on Saturday, March 03, 2007 - 08:45 am: ||
More, more, more!!!
|Posted on Sunday, March 04, 2007 - 11:52 am: ||
I so much want more of this story, and PICTURES!!!!!!
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 04:08 am: ||
Another side note from the Cameron Highlands – it was a welcome relief up in the mountains as it cooled the body down and (once getting around the buses) you could take a huge deep breath of FRESH air! Bliss.
Watch the gutters, the roads were great!
Ye Olde English Guesthouse, com plete with cold showers etc!
In Malaysia there are the Malays, Indians and the Chinese. Up in the highlands it was the first time I saw how different they were, as each had their own little town. The Malay town was very private, the Chinese town had the eateries and the souvenirs while the Indian town had the hotels and very tourist oriented. It was amazing to see the differences.
Nat at a tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands!
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 05:03 am: ||
Text by Nat, pics and comments, brat!
The bridge to Penang Island!
Penang is an interesting place. There is a lot of evidence of the British, while still having such a huge influence from the Chinese, Indian, Malays with a large Muslim population. With the different cultures comes the food and the colour of the place. It was here we discovered the importance of 'looking at the surroundings' when choosing a hotel. We had no problem leaving the bike in relatively secure places, (we used an alarm 'just in case'), and it wasn't the night clubs or markets as they are places you either gravitate to (or away) from.
It is the Mosques. Often beautiful structures, and it is a sight to see the procession of men with their caps and long shirts going in and out of the temples..... It is only at 5am in the morning do you ever notice the MASSIVE speakers on the top of the spire angled in every direction to ensure all hear the call to prayer. (by the time the journey was over I could tell the difference between a good call and a bad call – bad sounded like a dying animal, good – was poetically musical).
We didn't notice this Mosque at the back of our hotel until 5am in the morning!!!
We rode around the island, it was great having the freedom to explore. This island is small but you have the ability to ride into mountains and 'get away' from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown.
Tropical fruit plantation in Penang, this plate cost $3!
Another thing to note about riding in Malaysia. Firstly in KL every highway seemed to lead to where you are going. It may not be the quickest way but if you stay on it long enough you will see a sign heading in your direction. The other thing to note is Place names.
Suer highway straight up the middle of Malaysia, made getting out easy! We will be back to explore the back roads!
Sometimes they are in English (with various spelling, but sound it out and it works) other times the signs disappear, this is when you realise the new signs have a Malay name that you've never heard of. Luckily they are at least using the Alphabet.
The bike lanes Nat spoke of!
As we headed further north the scenery started to change into the limestone cliffs, it got hotter, the houses were more traditional and the towns were more remote and not so tourist friendly, not such a bad thing when part of having a bike was to get off the beaten track.
The further north you go the greater the Muslim population and being outside tourist areas where they don't often see tourists I did my best to respect their culture. I always wore a T-shirt and had the long bike pants on and whenever I took my helmet off it was a sprint to throw a scarf over my head (for some reason I never quite looked as beautiful as they do) I didn't mind that. The hardest part for me was – if Chris was around I did not exist. All conversation went through him, Chris didn't like it, as I was often shopping for something for me – so he'd hand me the cash and walk off.
We ended up crossing the border at Kaki Bukit. This was an interesting road to get to the border. I certainly wasn't the main highway option. The mountains were beautiful and apart from some of the corners being covered in gravel, the ride was good. Up and down the mountain range it really was lovely. Then we hit the border. The next saga of the Malaysian odyssey.
Woohooo, Thailand here we come! )
We arrived at the border crossing and guess what! They asked for the K2.... or the carnet and we had neither. So we ended up having to pay another $80 to get some guy from the closest town to get all the paperwork out and signed etc. What a drama. 3 Hours of looking at the Thailand border craving for the freedom of the country we know without any of the hassles we had experienced in Malaysia. While we were waiting we watched all these massive Utility vehicles piled high with who knows what going back and forth. One way there was no suspension the other they'd be floating. Not once stopping at either crossing. When we asked what was in the trucks the customs, police and army all said “what trucks”, definitely suspicious!
After all the hassles back and forth we were finally allowed through. with much ado at the border... just to keep our opinion of Malaysia high. As per usual our inability to recognise bribes makes life harder. We could have driven through quite easily - though doing the right thing kept us with them for a few hours. It was a beautiful place to get stuck.
We hit the Thailand border (20 metres up the road) and gave them all the paperwork etc. They didn't want to know about the bike, then they thought they would be 'legal' and put the paperwork into a computer and gave us nothing. Oh well at least we are doing things right. How about our side strip and the hill tribe!!
The ride away from the border was wonderful. The road fantastic and all stresses behind us. We were gone from Malaysia and into Thailand.
In Thailand we were going through places that has seen very few white people. It also made it very hard as nearly all the signs are in the Thai characters. Not easy to read. We didn't bother filling the bike up in Malaysia preferring to get out, and believing Lonely Planet when they said all boarder towns take the Ringet, baht and US$. Well this wasn't the first time Lonely Plant was disastrously wrong.
We ended up getting fuel in this little servo - well the ad says visa or amex is accepted everywhere - NOT TRUE! I ended up on the back of this little girls moped going 25km! to get money out of the bank. I think they were to scared to let Chris on the back. It was funny - normally they toot their horn to show you are passing etc.... this time she was beeping away pointing at me! Did I feel on show... she could have at least let me change my shirt and do my hair! )
We didn't get far that night, we are still not sure what town as it was very small - 1 hotel. But we found it Thai writing and all. They had a fair on that night - it was great fun. The music... interesting. Some Thai singing Chris Isaac is pretty funny. It was great to see the freedom of everyone. Not worrying when the small kids run off. It was like my childhood in Australia, certainly not what it is today.
As we headed further north up the peninsular we decided to take a side trip to view a waterfall... and what a sight we saw! We followed the sign off the main road, kept going straight as we saw no signs. The road went from bitumen to gravel, to packed dirt, to a dirt track. We kept winding around mountains, creeks and all of a sudden we turn a corner to see a hill tribe on the side of the road all wide eyed, stunned, dumb struck at the look and sound of this monster going past. It was amazing! A tribe with spears, babies and all their belongings on their backs. We kept ploughing forward as the road got worse.... and no waterfall. When we couldn't go any further we turned around (a rather difficult and slippery effort on the side of a hill). On the way back we saw the tribe again! We weren't dreaming. I tried to get a photo as we zoomed past (pretty poor effort) but a muddy slope isn't the place to stop. What a side trip!
A hilltribe.....we looked in amazement at them, them at us!
We kept heading north to Krabi where we had previously been to go rock climbing (a favourite memory of ours) We went to dinner in Ao Nang - this was the most magical place for us last time we were there.
Our special place, this is part of the view!
We were there just before the Tsunami, it is now completely covered in hotels etc. The restaurant we loved then as only locals came and was cheap as chips.... is now the flavour of the tourists and charging accordingly. It is still as beautiful as ever.
The next day we left our bike in loving car at the Krabi guest house (Thai people are very acomodating and willing to help) and headed off to Phi Phi Island.
The river out of Krabi into the Andaman Sea, on to Phi Phi!
Again a major tourist attraction - but in saying that you can get something other than noodles or rice. We had a few days on Phi Phi getting our scuba diving certificates and attempting climbing (not a smart idea diving all day then climbing exhausted in the afternoon).
Diving builds up nitrogen in your blood, less energy, not good for climbing, that's the cliff in the background! (
But the view from the cliff is special! )
We had a great break eating and enjoying the beach...... and letting our bums recover from all that riding, I needed the rest (well my bottie anyway).
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 11:22 am: ||
Five star report!!!
|Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 10:56 pm: ||
What a great adventure! Keep the posts coming.....
|Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 04:32 pm: ||
|Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 12:40 am: ||
My God what a beautiful trip. The adventure of any lifetime.
}The pair of you are so adventurous. Brave even. I would be so paranoid of getting ripped off (like so severely that it would be trip ending )or something even worse like something out of "Midnight Express". I guess thats just because I'm American.
And,,} do you have any problem with finding adequate fuel? I ask because all my bike buddies have recommended running only the best in my Uly.
|Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 04:09 am: ||
More story on it's way, unfortunately I'm working 12 hour days in a remote area, very poor internet, Nat's now doing the sory, I'm editing pics!!
The fuel was gasohol when possible or 95 when not! The story will deal with that as we go!
|Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 11:19 am: ||
I can't wait!
"twelve hours in a remote area".......some people will do anything to avoid me!
|Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 06:26 am: ||
Trip to Date!
After fully recovering on the Phi Phi Island paradise (ok ok truth be told – it is an absolutely beautiful place with amazing things to do. Though it is also a place where most go to see the 'post card' Thailand. This means at night if you stay in the main area you will hear music and the effects of the most magnificent cocktails till all hours of the morning) in saying that if you fully explore the islands and the surrounds you will be to tired to even notice.
Phi Phi Village!
From Phi Phi we caught the boat back to Krabi to be picked up from the boat by the owners of the guesthouse where we left the bike. Driving back with mild anticipation wondering if the Uly will be there.... and wow! Parked standing proud the big black beast..... had been cleaned! While Chris was checking over the bike and being impressed by the lack of mud, I was picking up all our washing that we had left and being impressed that the filth came out of the kevla top. I wore a yellow top that would very quickly go from yellow to a filthy yellowish grey. It did keep me cool and filter the air at the same time.
We left Krabi and headed north. We stopped off at a magnificent Khao Sok national park and saw the most amazing butterflies on a hike through the forrest. This area is beautiful, if we had more time we would have spent it exploring the lakes and mountains.
There was kayaking and elephant rides. It was so green, a contrast from the some of the drier areas we had just passed.
It is also amazing to see the limestone pinnacles that jut out from the ground, and the mountains that have the brilliant cave formations. It is worth slowing down to take in the views.
We ended up staying the night in Ranong, an interesting town that is the gateway to southern Myanmar (Burma). I would have liked to go over there (Burma) for a look, they have a very repressive government at the moment so alas it was not to be. We got our dinner at the night markets. This included a variety of different samples.... I would love to say what they were ..... but I couldn't even tell you what it was made of! The beauty of having 'wheels' meant we could take it back to the hotel to eat..... I was quite a sight balancing bags of drinks (I am serious! A little bag with the fluid in it and a straw hanging out) plates and bits and pieces wedged to keep hold of it.
I made it! Thighs of steel! … that arrived at the hotel like jelly. It made the meal all the more delicious.
In the morning we said our farewells to Ranong and headed up through the Isthmus of Kra.
In this area we took a few turn offs to view the area from the tops of hills. One particular detour took us up through rubber plantations (they have a very distinct smell that you quickly come to recognise). The road progressively went from 2 vehicles to 1 and steeper with tighter corners. There were little signs saying beep the horn to warn the other cars.... Oh beegeebers it was awful for me, when I get nervous on the back of the bike I make this sing-song wooo ooo ahhh noise. Chris concentrating kept growling to shut up and that he is in control. Half the time I don’t even realise I’m making the noise! It just pops out. In the end we only had to dodge a goat, chicken and 1 moped... When we got to the top we were rewarded with an amazing view of Myanmar and Thailand. Well worth the teeth grinding ride up.
The ride down was not much better but at least we knew what to expect!
Over the next few days we covered quite a distance on a major freeway stopping off at Prachuap Khiri Khan to see crazy monkeys playing in a fountain at the foot of a hill with a magificent monastry at it's summit,
and up the road a little we saw the most colourful boats being corked in the traditional way on quite lovely isolated beaches.
Further up the Gulf we stayed the night in Hua Hin. This little side tour I take full responsibility for. I read somewhere that it was the 'locals retreat'. I read that as the beach location that is still unknown..... How wrong was I. It ended up being full of high rise buildings, jam packed with neon lights, traffic and anyone ready to sell something. Not to mention the night life – for a sheltered young lady, I was rather entertained by the sights.
We headed to Kanchanaburi and saw the bridge over the river Kwai, many would have seen the movie! We paid homage to those soldiers who lost their lives there! Chris' Dad died several years ago and fought in the second world war, it was a poignant moment for us to view the bridge!
We stopped off in many towns to explore the temples (that often have massages – oh the Thai massage) and markets for local delicacies. We took quite a few turn offs to take smaller roads and explore areas away from the main roads.
We stayed a night in Nakhon Sawan, arriving at dusk exhausted and just wanting to rest. This town is not catered for tourists. After the 3rd day of long riding I was pretty sore and fed up. Needing the luxury of not thinking and just relaxing. This didn't quite happen. It took ages of flapping arms and mannerisms to find directions to a hotel (I did the flapping while Chris puffed his chest and showed off the biggest bike they have ever seen). One hotel – maybe we were meant to go through the hassle so any bed would be welcomed.
We left there bright and early before dawn (yes this bed was the 5 star I was hoping for). It was great leaving in time to see the monks out getting their alms, the mist rising and the wonderful colours in the sky. We stopped off at to fill up and met a couple of monks who gave us a gold tiger each to keep us safe. It was a special moment in the crisp morning air. We then played tag with them for the rest of the day up the freeway waving each time we passed each other.
Leaving early meant we could spend a fair amount of the day exploring the historical parks in Sukhothai. They truly were beautiful and so old. There is evidence of the ancient temples all around this area. We were even able to drive the Mule (our name for the Uly!) around the sites which gave me more time to explore and Chris more time to set up the perfect photo of the bike and ruins ">)
Things you see!
From there we kept heading north to Lampang. This was the goal to arrive in Lampang on the 21st of December. Oh boy what a ride to get there. This was the longest day so far (with an accidental side detour that did get us where we wanted, a fabulous ride if we weren't racing the sun). We were far enough north that sun gave us warm days and cold nights. The ride really was great with lovely little towns to stop and get directions..... from the police who just smile and say yes. Luckily one person could speak a little English and tell us we were on the right path.
Again we arrived in Lampang at dusk absolutely exhausted. This time we stayed at a great hotel with a warm shower and comfortable beds (for some reason we often ended up in single beds) . After the revitalising shower we decided to find dinner. This was a more memorable meal. It was in a very dark restaurant that overlooked the river (well in the dark that is what we thought the ditch was). It appeared to be frequented by locals – yay! lets get a real taste of Thailand. When we tried to order they just smiled and laughed. Beer wasn't hard to get but food! Then I remembered Pad Gapow a favourite Thai dish from the local take-away at home.... Ahhh Great! Food was on its way. In the mean time the karaoke machine was fired up and all the 'friends' decided to entertain the only patrons with horrifying volume. The Beef Chilli Basil arrived with a flourish.... and oh boy was there Chilli. I had instant hic-ups and Chris had an amazing sheen to his shaved head, the beer went down cool and fast. It sure was memorable all night. We rode like an escaped prisoner to get an ice-cream from the 7-11 (that are everywhere!)
The next day was the arrival to the greatly anticipated Thai Elephant Conservation Center. We made it in time!!!
I managed to get the same Elephant I had 2 years ago!
Nat had a new elephant, Nat's other elephant was still there...to be continued!
Riding in Thailand is pretty good. The roads are well maintained, or are in the process of being built. This Chris found the best. Packed dirt where we could easily pass all the other vehicles. Fuel isn't a problem. There are regular fuel stations that offer quality fuel, some not so regular!
We did try out using Gasohol Chris found this made the bike run cooler. It did seem to heat up a bit on the longer rides, which we both found hard to handle in traffic with the heat of the exhaust burning up our right legs, but all in all if we had more time and could slow down a little we probably wouldn’t have noticed it as much. As a passenger the seat is very comfortable.
A few things to note. When travelling in Asia take an extra sheet (or buy a large cheesecloth sarong each) as some places may not supply the top sheet. Most places to stay are very clean and comfortable. Bottled water is often supplied as part of the nights price. Food is very cheap and absolutely delicious. The local vendors make some amazing dishes and definitely worth trying.
(Message edited by brat on March 14, 2007)
|Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 05:38 pm: ||