Seeya later Cambodia, well not quite yet. Although it is the currently leader in 'wave's returned while riding' and the most smiley-est people seen so far! This doesn't even take into account the unrelenting barrage of amazing temples that you have to enjoy while rolling around the place.
Omg next time I will travel Asia on one of these
We enjoyed some time in Kapong Cham at the Mekong Crossing. The crew made us feel like crusty expats with their wonderful food and friendship. Thanks to a fit/strong Mr. Chai for his brilliant effort in translating for my wild goose chase for motorcycle parts. All the best guys and girls, keep up the great work on keeping us falang fed!
Some of the Mekong Crossing crew
We encountered our first breakdown here too so to speak. Only of course after Neil had boasted a day prior on how reliable to bikes have been. Which to their testament, have been amazing. Apart from the cats+alarm = flat battery in Thailand. Just as we were to leave, Neil tried to start his bike but to no avail then he realised, hydraulic lock in the left cylinder. Which would be a fatal blow for the engine. Meanwhile I stood back to watch, which resulted in being shot with a jet of petrol from the sparkplug hole. Luckily, it didn't have the battery power to bend anything and after swapping out engine oil (which had been diluted by petrol) and swapping some leaking fuel taps we were off again. Even though the fuel taps were off, this one had me a bit worried that big Zeus may need a heart transplant MUCH earlier than expected. A thorough test ride proved no perceivable harm done and that we could try again to leave the next day.
Working it out baby
Impressive off road skills with pannier dogs.
Next we road off north towards Laos. We decided to stop off at Kratie to see the endangered river dolphins. At first I thought this would be like one of the many whale watching and dolphin tours I have been on. You know, there is no guarantee etc. Well blow me down, a few minutes and they were there. It was really hard to grab a good photo of them, as they were so quick and we were not sure where they would surface. So we opted for video mode. Apparently there is only around 90 or so left. A saddening concept that in the near future there may be none. Randomly we met up again with our Kiwi mate, John, that we had met the town previous, Kampong Cham. John was a gem for another perspective on Cambodia, its history and the 'general' history we've heard mentioned before. He's done his research and even after 5 years is still getting the hang of the place. This has been mirrored by many that we've met that Cambodia. It has a messy past but from a couple of Aussies visiting on motorcycles – they are doing a bloody great job moving forward by the looks of it. Its a hard and long road. Thanks for the great company John and all the best mate!
Our chariot awaits
Life is tough chasing dolphins
Stung Treng was our next stop after experiencing some “bumpy” roads. This is where it would be perfect tar, but every 200 metres pot holes the size I can not even describe but would result in a massive decrease in speed. Although the Rooney Specials could take on anything thrown at them. This continued to the Laos border crossing. A very large and quite impressive building was being constructed while we settled for the row of little shacks for our customs and immigration. Simple and hassle free. We paid our $1 bribe and went onto the Laos side. Where again sweet and simple with the addition of another massive $2 bribe.
Chris and Inna's conquering machine
See the excitement
Chris and Inna enjoying their first elephant ride
Thanks to Inna and Chris for the excellent time, your wealth of knowledge and overall awesomeness. Neil and I sincerely hope to see you on our travels or make a trip to NZ especially.
Smile...some kids we meet at a Coffee Plantation
After we reluctantly parted ways from our Triumph friends it was time to see if Mr. Bigfella needed a hand with his beaten KTM. Whilst we had been sipping coffee on an exotic plateau, Ian had been doing single handed combat with the bloody Ho Chi Mihn Trail in the wet season. Which to anyone and a feet within itself a truly remarkable achievement. The man is 900 foot tall and makes all our big bikes look like scooters. An exemplary domination of the HCMT by Ian had him slipping and sliding all the way to the end with his epic ride. His boots had fallen apart, his battery gone dead, got stuck in almost thigh deep mud, had to eat rat, just to mention a few trials. We talked about this over a number of cold beverages, both of the carbonated and fermented families. Neil an I continued enjoying another great friends company. While getting productive work done on Ian's monster of a KTM 525 and discussing how we can run into each other again. Thank Zeus for his love of massage. Everyday at least once we went in search for a massage. I enjoyed two of the best massages of my life and wanted to take him on the back of my bike with me. A handy accessary I reckon. If you're riding around South East Asia and have the pleasure of running into the 'Bigfella' – be prepared for his excellent companionship and giant heart of gold.
Some dirt practice
First ferry crossing
A reluctant goodbyes were said, we needed to head north. Our visas only lasted 28 days and we needed to see all there was. Alas our next mission was to see this surface to air missile that Ian had mentioned. Luckily we both use Midnight mappers excellent GPS map of Laos and finding it was simple. You can see that they keep an allied cow attached by special unobtainable tether. We can only assume the rocket would take flight towards the 'western devils' if they cow was somehow freed of its eternal task. Brutal but this is the reality of the sirloin curtain.
|CBMS - Communist bovine missile security|
Breath taking Laos
While out this way it was obvious we should continue on 'the loop' we had read about in a few places. Backpackers have for sometime been hiring scooters and riding this loop. And well done to them. Its a bloody rough rode in some places and for many it will be a great trial by fire for their first scooter adventure. Otherwise I had some confidence inspiring riding of a hundred kilometres of dirt or so. Nothing outrageous but certainly good for skills for later riding adventures. We stayed at the near one of the two dams, not to sure on the name though. Nice and cool again in the middle of no where. The next morning we awoke ready and eager for a ride. It was decided we find some nice noodle soup on the road. Not some 15 kilometres from where we were staying that we pulled up at a cute little guesthouse and restaurant run but a lovely Laos lady. Who we later found out was around 6 months pregnant. Ten minutes is all it took before Neil suggested lets stay here tonight. Done and done, didn't take long to convince me. Time to chill and the provided hammock and watch the world go by......
Magnificent view from our Guesthouse
The next day we headed off for some good dirty fun!