steel horse odyssey

finishThailand

Posted by Jan Lamers 14 Jul, 2013 22:03:49

Via Chantaburi I rode to my final destination Bangkok. Here my trip ends. The bike is a mess now and I suffer a bit from travel fatigue. I am looking forward to go home but more so I am looking back upon a really great trip. I had cut all the ties and free as a bird I traveled around the globe for 15 months. It has been fantastic but it has also been enough. Time to take on some new challenges back home. I anticpated it would take quite a while to crate and ship my bike back to Holland. However the shipper I hired knew his stuff very well and apparently was used to ship bikes. Within three days after arrival in Bangkok my bike was already at sea floating homeward bound. In the meanwhile I had a couple of relaxing last days in Bangkok. I visited the spectacular grand palace and Wat Pra Kaew again (where I had to wear a ridiculous long sleeve suite) bought my ticket back home and took a lot of time to look back upon my trip. It has been really good.

colonial architectureCambodia

Posted by Jan Lamers 01 Jul, 2013 13:14:05

Battambang is my last stop in Cambodia before re-entering Thailand. It is a sleepy little town where not too much is going on. There is a temple to be seen, a couple of caves nearby and supposedly there is some nice French colonial architecture from the Indochina era by the riverside. It all wasn't too stunning but it is a nice place to hang around and I like it a lot more than the Siem Reap tourist trap.

tortureCambodia

Posted by Jan Lamers 01 Jul, 2013 12:43:29

After a bumpy ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh I visited the Tuol Sleng prison there. Tuol Sleng was originally a school converted into a prison by the Khmer Rouge, where they interrogated and tortured their supposed enemies with a brutallity that is hardly imaginable. The next day I rode my bike to Choeung Ek, also known as the killing fields. Thousands of people have been executed there. Again in a very brutal way. People werent't shot but, in order to save bullits, kicked beaten and clubbed to death and then thrown into a ditch. Apart from these relics of Khmer Rouge atrocities Phnom Penh is a pleasant city to stay at. It is not a beautiful city but it is best described as a mess with atmosphere. After a couple of days I rode to Battambang slowly on my way back to Thailand.

angkor watCambodia

Posted by Jan Lamers 20 Jun, 2013 06:49:16

After crossing the border at Poipet it struck me how much poorer Cambodia is compared to Thailand. Here no big shiny SUV's but families on tractors, mopeds and in run down cars. Also road conditions are worse than in Thailand and although the road to Siem Reap is one of the country's best roads you still have to be vigilant for occasional pot holes with the size of a car. I was amazed by the Siem Reap tourist trap, an oasis of apparent wealth in a desert of poverty. Boutique hotels, restaurants of all sorts (one offering "finest Mexican and Khmer cuisine"), sports bars, espresso lounges, ATM 's on every street corner. You get offered tuk tuk rides and massages every 10 seconds. A place to get the hell out off. The next day I went to visit the close by Angkor Wat ruins. Truely one of the wonders of the world, I don't know if they are amongst the first seven though. I bought an entrance ticket and could ride my bike from one temple to the other. I wasn't able to get my bike close to the main temples but I could ride my bike around temples on the fringe of the complex.

on the road againThailand

Posted by Jan Lamers 20 Jun, 2013 05:38:20

I kissed Clarena goodbye in Hong Kong and flew back to Vientiane. My flight out of Hong Kong had a huge delay, so much that I missed my connecting flight in Kunming. My dear friends of China immigration granted me a one day visa so I could proceed to Vientiane the next day. There it took me a while to crank the bike but eventually it was roaring again. My next destination was Siem Reap in Cambodia. It took me three riding days to get there. From Vientiane I rode into eastern Thailand. I really enjoyed the rides. For one because it has been quite a while since I was riding my motorcycle and for the other because there is not too much going on in eastern Thailand. It is just itself, everything is indicated only in Thai so it is far from obvious where to go. I stranded in the village of Phimai, that has a historical park with a couple of neat Khmer temples. From Phimai I rode to the border town of Aranyaprathet.

refugees Hong Kong

Posted by Jan Lamers 10 Jun, 2013 04:42:19

We flew from Vientiane via Kunming to Hong Kong. Although we were only in transit in Kunming the Chinese officials didn't trust a Dutch Colombian couple and they took us apart. My passport was carefully checked by the immigration police and they had a special interest in all the stamps in my passport from drug related places like Curacao, Suriname, Ecuador Colombia and Peru. Finally they let us go and a new problem emerged. China Eastern airlines had changed Clarena's flights from Vientiane to Hong Kong. But the flight from Kunming to Hong Kong was operated by Hong Kong Airlines. They told us that China Eastern ailines was not allowed to change the flight. The Chinese f**** made us pay the flighy again! We were very pissed off and with all the discussion going on we nearly missed the flight as another Chinese customs f*** wanted to check our passport another time. But after all the hassle we arrived around midnight in Hong Kong. Here we could take refuge and we had no visa problems whatsoever. We are happy to be back in a first world place where things actually work and we are enjoying the last week of our trip in the spectacular city of Hong Kong.

immigration problemsLaos

Posted by Jan Lamers 10 Jun, 2013 04:22:49

Clarena and I wanted to travel by train from Vientiane, Laos to Bangkok, Thailand but we were stopped at the border in Nong Kai. Being Colombian Clarena was not granted a visa and we had to go back to Vientiane. Because Thai immigration had already stamped my passport we had a hard time explaining Lao immigration why my passport had Thai stamps and Clarena's passport didn't. After more than one hour they finally seemed to understand. We had to pay for a new visa and were allowed in. The next day we went to the Thai embassy in Vientiane to apply for a visa but again it was refused. It seemed we were stuck in Laos now for the rest of our trip. We decided to change Clarena's flight back to Hong Kong and spend a week there.

elephantsLaos

Posted by Jan Lamers 29 May, 2013 12:03:29

Clarena and I traveled by VIP bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. Except for the word itself on the windscreen there was nothing VIP about the bus. An old Chinese communist bus with hardly any legroom, a failing airco and therefore a horrible smell. Luang Prabang is a really nice ctiy. It is perfectly situated on the confluence of the Mekong and NamKhan rivers. There are some nice temples and French colonial architecture to be seen. We went to the elephant camp north of Luang Prabang and for the first time in my life I have ridden and swom with elephants. Impressive animals and although I enjoyed the ride a lot, I was happy to be on my own two feet again.