On the road from Yangon

After flying to Mandalay from Yangon we discovered that only two of Eric’s new Honda CRF 250Ls had arrived, the other two would arrive the next day. Itching to get on the road we agreed to double up for a day, and take turns riding. Eric doubled up with Maurice who is a self confessed bad passenger, and I doubled up with David. David has been riding bikes for over 30 years and used to race so I knew I was on good hands. However he paid me the best complement a man could ever give me when he said that if I wanted I could ride the entire way because I was a very good rider a  he was quite relaxed on the back of my bike. WOW that compliment just made my year.

Well what a day and what a laugh. There we were David and I two up on this lovely little Honda CRF250L which we nicknamed Daisy as in driving miss daisy. David is not a big guy or over weight but obviously weighs more than me. I had never lifted anyone on a bike before and once we were moving things were fine but every stop brought a comical OMG you’re leaning the wrong way scream from my lips …something David did on purpose just to tease to me, since he was tall enough to put both feet flat on the ground if the bike tipped, whereas I was just touching the ground on tip toes.

After getting out of town and on the open road things were just fine and we had a whale of a time travelling together. Until the road forked and I just kept going since I had been told by Eric that the route is really easy just follow the main road. the next minute I see a truck heading straight for David and I, on MY side of the road. I swerve the truck swerves I look to my right and see a scooter or three riding on the road parallel to ours and ask David, are we supposed to be on that road, he says he doenst’know, are we?  And simultaneously we realise we are on a duel carriageway the road did not fork but in fact split into a dual carriageway with a large green island in the middle with trees and plants so we just did not notice it. I say OMG David we’ve got to change sides, just as he says quick turn here just as I ride past the slip that would have allowed me to get Daisy from one side of the dual carriage way to the other. We both just pack up laughing, now I am trying to ride this little 250 with a passenger which I am not used to and we are in hysterics, and now still riding on the wrong side of the road. Within minutes we had found a second little path I SLAM on breaks and we slip over to the correct right side of the road. Hmmm maybe you had to be there but I was were killing myself laughing. I think David and I might just make a good team.

I also thoroughly enjoyed riding behind David when we rode up and down the twisties, since David has been riding for so long and used to race he knows how to take a corner. Well even on a little 250 I could tell that this man knew what he was doing and since I am very relaxed on the back of a bike and lean into a corner with the rider it felt fantastic to cross the mountains on the back of David’s bike. The funny thing is when I ride I just cannot bend into a corner but ride corners like an off-road rider sitting up and pushing the bike brown, one day I’ll learn to do twisties the right way.

I have always wondered when I saw pillions on an adventure bike why they did not learn to ride a bike themselves, assuming it must be so boring to be a pillion riding across a country. Well when David rode and I was on the back I  got a glimpse of what it would be like, and I surprised myself and had a ball. I am very relaxed on the back of a motorbike and spent my time really looking at the scenery without the need to watch the road, and of course taking loads of photos. I can now see that I am really wrong there is some enjoyment to being a pillion and experience the road with someone, although it does not appeal to me and I would never do it on a trip I will never ask the same question of a pillion rider again.

Like any county I have travelled through I saw some wonderful things on the road,  the scooters piled up with all sorts of things and people. Well in Myanmar we saw them take this to the next level, when we came across a group of scooters transporting a number of brand new in the box scooters to the next town. We came across this sight at a small roadside restaurant where the drivers had stopped for a rest. They told us (it never cesses to amaze me just how many people in Myanmar speak English) that each scooter was carrying 4 new scooters packed up in the boxes, engines wheels and all. How these riders did  this I will never know but they are very strong men.

Market day Yangon

I’ve just been told that Ride LARA www.ride-lara.com has bought 4 brand new Honda CRF 250Ls and we’ll be riding those instead of the DT125s whoohoo bring it on. I love the little CRFs I rode one in Portugal last year and am looking forward to getting on one again. Ride LARA is the first tour company to offer motorbike tours in Myanmar and Eric now has a really good reputation and good local friends in the country. So far we are having a ball. There are another two riders David and Maurice from Ireland who are quite a bit older than me and have been riding bikes all their lives, I hope I can keep up. The 4 of us are getting on relay really well the guys are so funny and keep me entertained all the time, the swearing is another story, to them I am just a biker not a lady, but I kind of like that because I get to see the boys being boys 🙂

We got up really early yesterday (5:30m) and headed down to the docks to the fish market. What an interesting morning to see the work there and the auctions. The rows of girls cutting up the fish, every part of the fish is used here there is no waste. Most fish are sold whole but many are processed here. The gall bladders are taken out and sold separately, the skins and bones are sold to be rendered down into fish paste or stock. The entrails the same or into cat food. It is fascinating. The poverty once again incredibly apparent and yet the ladies squatting on their haunches on the ground working on chopping boards are chatting and laughing and do not hesitate to flash a shy broad smile at us foreigners. In the docks where the good are loaded manually, the strength of the men is unbelievable they carry 2 x 50kg sacs of rice at a time and run up the gang plan from the ships to the trucks as they get paid per sac.
 After that and smelling a little fishy we head down to the local market. I’ve described these markets before and yet I could go and see them every day. I find them fascinating the life, the smell, the taste (deep fried onions in batter yummy), the feel and sights. The Burmese people are so welcoming and like to talk to us and again it surprises me how many spoke some or very good English. Burmes ladies are so pretty and always smile at us. We see a lot of the fish that was bought fresh off the market that morning, as well as chicken and other meat. Loads of vegetables, flowers, and food stalls. A couple of which are interesting to see but not try for example the offal street side stall selling every bit of offal you can imagine on sticks which you then deep fry yourself  in a bowl of hot oil and eat right there and then…hmm not for me. Although I may have eaten it in a pie but was none the wiser and the pies are as yummy as all the food I tried.
After taking a break we spent the final hours of the day seeing a largest reclining Buddha in Yangon and the Shwedagon Pagoda. I will certainly will go back to that when I am in Yangon again as I found it fascinating. We also saw a group of Buddhist nuns chanting which was nice. I have seen the monks chant but not the nuns and it was nice and different. So much to see and such nice people Myanmar is certainly living up to my expectations. I cannot wait to fly out to the countryside and get the bikes and see the rural areas and mountain scenery.

Myanmar – Yangon

Other than the fact that Yangon is as hot and humid as Malaysia this place could not be more different. Myanmar is a very poor country and that is sadly reflected in the capital. The first sign being the rundown buildings, one can see that once these buildings were amazingly beautiful places with intricate balconies and facades, today I must use my imagination to remember them as they once might have been. The streets are a mixture of the old buildings which are easy to miss if you are not looking, as they are so overshadowed by their ugly neighbours. Needing a good clean, lick of paint a lot of fixing up. I would smile every time I saw a balcony or small building painted a colourful bright yellow or green, because it would remind me that there is life here and there are people who take pride in their homes but that poverty and not neglect is the problem. Amounts all this are extremely modern top market shops, where you can buy the latest electric gadgets.

I have seen more beggars in Myanmar than any other country on this trip. Now there are not as many as I’ve seen in places like Africa, but they cannot be missed. While walking down the street I noticed a woman sitting on the pavement with two tiny little children. One a baby of maybe 10 months lying on her lap. I smiled when I noticed she was playing with the baby nibbling his fingers and toes and making him laugh. I thought about how much mothers love their kids no matter what walk of life. As I got close the baby shrieked and started crying and the lady immediately put her hand o tot me to beg. It was an instant change in the scene and I could not help thinking that she had bitten the baby to make it cry. Now I hope I genuinely hope I am wrong because I am one of those naive people that believes in the kindness of human nature and not evil. I just got this very uncomfortable feeling in my stomach thinking this could have been the case. I did not give her money as I learnt a long time ago when travelling to rather find a good legitimate charity in the region and to give money to them. This doe s a lot more good that simply handing out dollar bills to beggars which does nothing to solve the problem and just encourages begging. or gang organised begging t like in Cambodia where gang leaders make small children beg, these children will not accept food they demand money, and if you watch  closely you will see their eyes shift fearfully to the opposite side of the road or corner where the gang leaders are.

Myanmar is opening up more and more to tourists and the country needs to economic injection that tourism brings. However this can also bring corruption and of course McDonalds (sorry but I have a pet hate for McDonalds) and changes that can really affect the culture of a country. It is a tricky situation and I do not know that the answer is, I am no politician, sociologist or social worker, these are just my thoughts and so it is with mixed feelings that I hope the tourist industry grows here, I just wish ether was a way to make it a responsible one.

My hotel is downtown so I spent my first day wandering the streets and markets. Once again having the kid in a candy store feeling, trying to absorb the experience like a sponge.  The sights, sounds, textures, smells and the taste of the scrummy market food. For lunch I ate this little pie like things filled with meat so nice I went back and had another. I also ate the biggest avocado I’ve ever seen. Unlike the assaulting noise of the huge mall in Kula Lumpur I welcome the noise I hear here because it is so different, exciting and new. Most of the people in Myanmar that I see downtown are wearing sarongs, the men in darker shades and the ladies in some beautifully coloured materials. The sarongs the men wear are sewn together like a big circle which is stepped into and then tied around the waist in a big knot. I am really looking forward to seeing more of the city to see if my first impression will change at all. All the people I have met have been super friendly and helpful and I have been surprised at how many people in the markets speak English.

When I was in the market buying water I commented on how hot it is and was told, no this is the cool season in Yangon it’s ONLY 36 degrees in the hot season it is 42 OMG I am sooooo glad I am here in the cold season 🙂

Malaysia from a tent to a 5 star

I have not quite decided why the government has a border post between Thai and Malaysia as it is decidedly the easiest border to cross outside of Europe. It is the easiest country to take a bike into with no customs controls what so ever. I went to the customs office and asked for the forms I need to fill out for customs and was told there are none. Crazy but true so off I road into Malaysia. I met fellow a biker, Mike, on the boarder and he was the first of many bikers I would meet in Malaysia. The bikers here are really friendly and many have ridden past me on the motorways give me a thumbs up or friendly wave.  But it’s not just the bikers, Malaysians are really truly friendly people. Most Malaysians speak really good English and I think this makes them more open to approaching foreigners and just chatting or offering to help. I have received a truly warm welcome here.

I wanted to take my time riding down to Kuala Lumpur so decided to go to Penang Island for the night on the way.  It was quite nice but very touristy and built up. When I get back from Myanmar I need to go find a nice rural out of the way spot to spend my last travel days.

After the island as I head into KL, Khairul, one of the bikers who I travelled in Russia with met me on the highway. He had arranged for three of his friends to be there as well, all bikers including Maze the president of the Malaysian lady bikers club. She is fab and rides and beautiful Harley and is the funkiest Malaysian biker chick ever.  This was such a nice surprise and always so nice to meet other bikers especially fellow lady bikers


Since Khairul and his family were just about to head off for a long weekend to celebrate a big Muslim festival he put me up in a 5 star hotel for the  two nights before my flight to Myanmar. Wow I could not be more surprised and thankful. Imagine this adventure biker rocking up at a 5 star hotel in my filthy dirty, dust, sweaty biker gear…what a kicker super COOOOOOL

So on my free day as well as finally updating my blog, I headed out to see the PETRONAS towers, and popped into one of the huge malls to pick up a few things like a new charger since my plug has broken. The PETRONAS towers are truly beautiful. Now I am not usually the kind of persons to say this about a big modern building. I love castles, gothic architecture and lovely small wooden houses with character. But hats off to the architects for this creation, it is spectacular and I am glad I came into the city to see it.  KL is a huge busy and yet very clean city, I enjoyed visiting the centre for the day especially since it is a bank holiday so apparently the city centre is very quiet with very little traffic.

So after snapping a couple of picas I headed off to a big mall. I know I like quiet outdoor places, but I used to live in London so can handle busy and noisy. However for some reason I was just not prepared for this assault on my ears and within an hour I thought I was going to go nuts. The malls here are really huge so it takes ages to walk through and find what you want so there was no escape for me until I had found my charger. The experience was not pleasant, if my ears are going to be assaulted I’m going to be the one to do it with heavy dose of Metallica or Guns and Roses, but no my ears are being assaulted by very louder Britney spears type crappy pop music,   kids screaming, loud commentary on some kind of fashion show thingy, announcements of advertising for competitions on the ground floor…I thought my head was going to explode. Am I just getting old or what….hmmm actually I think I know what it is. I am suffering from 1st world culture shock, this is all too modern, too clean, too western, McDonalds, TGI, KFC, Dunkin donuts,  marks and spencers, Levis Quicksilver, and the noise.

I don’t think I actually suffer from real culture shock, I love going to noisy busy smelly Asian markets became there is so much to see, I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I travel trying to absorb everything taste everything experience everything I can and the more divers and different the better. This loud mall could not have been less Asian if it tried. I just don’t think I was ready to be thrust back into the western first world so soon. Unlike when I rode down the ‘Florida’ like streets in Thailand here I was not protected by my bike and helmet, and there was just so much of it floor upon floor in fact. I was totally exposed to the noise and the kids with balloons walking into me, and stepping on my toes. How am I ever going to go back home, I wonder if this is why people take Prozac.

Roads down south in Thailand

After leaving the dramatic spectacular scenery in the north of Thailand and along the Thai Myanmar boarder I started heading south and spent the night in Kanchanaburi on the river Kwai. I was in this, then sleepy little, town about 8 years ago and my goodness what a change. I remember staying in the nicest rustic guesthouse with a wooden balcony almost exactly the same as the one I stayed when I was in Chiang Khan. Well there are no such little places along the river now. Many being replaced by fancy hotels and resorts. Fortunately there are still some lovely small bungalows and guest houses, but they are stacked one alongside the other all along the river. The tiny town, hmm village is now a fair sized town and has everything the usual tourist desires in Thailand including McDonalds, Tesco’s, boots etc. Well I guess this is what they call progress. But I miss the village feeling and the dust from the dirt roads, and the peace and tranquillity.

The roads down south are in some respects great, long large concrete dual carriageways, but the traffic is heavier and again I miss the countryside and feeling like I am in the middle of nowhere, here it seems that I pass a town every 100km and a 7/11 or Tesco’s lotus every 50km. In fact these roads really reminds me of Florida, they are the same with a plethora of fast food places 7/11s, MacDonald’s, KFC, Amway, macro, Tesco’s and a host of local shops. So it’s kind of Florida Thai style, but not my style. But don’t get me worn git would be totally hypocritical of me to give you the wrong idea since I love Tesco’s Lotus since I discovered their banana bread and now have a stash in my luggage at all times, for those moments when I need a snack or am staying at a guesthouse that does not serve breakfast or only serves Thai breakfast (sorry I just cannot do rice or soup so early in the morning). I do however still enjoy the ride and the funny things I see along the way in the traffic, like the truck driver reading a book…I kid you not he was not reading a map but an actual book, and I thought speaking on ones mobile was bad.

I do notice that the temperate this far south is decidedly warmer, what an understatement I mean HOT HOT HOT, the only way I can really keep cool is to soak my t-shirt in the morning and zip my jacket up. I then periodically douse myself in cold water. When I am moving this is great soaking wet clothes and cool breeze, heaven. It’s ‘when I dry out and get stuck at traffic lights in the towns that I start to fry. Since Dozer is air cooled I am definitely noticing his heating up and am keep a close eye on things since my temperature gage is broken …déjà vois 🙂

My second favourite road this entire trip

My second favourite tar road on my trip (the first being in Laos) is in Thailand from Mae Sariang to Mai Sot along the Thai Myanmar border.  Not only is the scenery spectacular as expected but it’s the little things that I just loved. I ride a combination of twisties from the top of hills to the bottom of valleys. Winding my way between the foot hills. It’s here that I really got to notice the jungle. Looking at the scenery while I ride it looks completely green like a solid sheet of green foliage, but when I look closer it is only then that I notice the brown bark of the trees. This is because the trees are just covered in vines and creepers. There are also purple, lilac and blue flowers scattered on various trees though the jungle and I don’t notice these until I look and then just cannot miss them all over. My favourite part in the low valleys where the jungle covers part of the road like an umbrella is the damp, earthy, green jungle smell, I think I have decided that this the best smell in the world. So wild, fresh, wet and rustic, I revel in this smell and cannot get enough of it. However only find it in the cool damp valleys as soon as I ride up a ride into the sunny dry hilltops the smell disappears and is replaced with the usual fresh green smell of countryside. I enjoyed the few minutes I was stuck behind a digger that was clearing what looked like a small  landslide off the road as the smell of the damp earth being dug away was truly heady…why did I never become a farmer…oh because cows stink

There are a number of police stops along this road but mostly the police just sit in a little hut and ignore you, others quickly wave you on as they see you approaching and only two stopped me, one asking to see my driver’s license the other saying hello and waiving me on again. All very easy and uncomplicated, I guess they are there because of the proximity to the boarder. Also perhaps because of the refugee camps along this stretch of road. It’s sad to know that there are so many refugee camps here as I ride along however they are nothing like refugee camps that I have come to know in Africa. These are proper villages with grass huts exactly like the huts dotted along the roads in Thailand and Laos.

At 3 o’clock I notice once again the clouds building up and realise that by 4 it’ll probably be ranging as usual. This does not concern me as the rains are usual intense but short and just nicely cool me down. However within a few minutes the wind has whipped up and is blowing frantically causing small twigs and huge leaves to fall on me and the road and I realise I need to find shelter bore I am blown right off the road or a branch lands on my head. At that moment I notice a little bungalow guesthouse and pull in. They have a bungalow free and it’s gorgeous just then the heavens open in true tropical style I get soaked but ma quite happy after all I am sweating like crazy in this humidity. I get into my bungalow and enjoy the sounds of ht storm around me while I get to take a nice shower. Even Dozer was sheltered  from the storm as the owner put him in his garage. The perfect end to a perfect day

Heading to the Thai border at Muang Nguen

Heading out of Luang Prabang for Muang Nguen the border to Thailand, I decide to take the slightly longer route as I had been told by some locals that it’s been raining and the road is washed away in parts on the other route. Well it turns out that his is a lucky break because the route is stunning. I think even better than the renound Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang route. The first half is a half good half bad dirt road which I just loved, it was SO cool to get Dozers tyres dusty again. The minute I stood up to do some off-road I just felt a leap in my heart, I was back doing what I like doing best on this trip. It was only 100km but I enjoyed every meter of it. The second half of the road is a very good asphalt road that runs through the hills up onto a ridge. You then ride along the ridge with the most fantastic view on either side I had to stop and take many pictures. There was very little traffic on this road and I got to enjoy the twisties (tightly winding roads) I have never really enjoyed them before but think that this is because I have always felt pressured. However on this day with no pressure, no other riders, fantastic scenery it all just came together and I felt on top of the world.

There is no way to really describe how I felt riding that road as the road bends to the right and left in quick succession you sway from left to right completely one with your bike, it’s like surfing on tarmac. Not every corner comes together like this and as a twisitie amateur mine were few and far between but when the perfect swaying movement around the corner happened you felt it from the tip of my fingers to the tip of my ties just total and tranquil exhilaration.

I am not a knee down tar head and never will be I ride the corners like an off-road rider upright and pushing the bike down into the road around corner, but they I love it and no one can take that away from me, technique or no technique.

I was quite sad however that I could not spend longer in Laos.

I spent a very uneventful night in a rather dodgy and very noisy guesthouse in Muang Nguen so was very happy to get up extra early to get to the border, and another extremely easy border crossing. No wonder drugs flow so freely between countries down here no one checks anything at these borders. Well I’m not complaining I think it took about 2 hours in total to get out of Laos and into to Thailand. The scenery in northern Thailand is as beautiful as Laos but with far better roads, this time I remembered to shift over to the left side of the road. I was going to take my time to Chiang Mai and stop somewhere overnight, but the road was so easy and the scenery so beautiful I just didn’t’ want the day to end so carried on and at about 6pm arrived at Riders Corner, restaurant and guesthouse in Chiang Mai. I spent two days there and it was great to chill with likeminded adventure travellers, and my friend Richard was there and we always have a laugh.

Chiang Mai itself is a big busy ugly city and I would rather have stayed in a small village, but there is a lot to see and do so worth the visit and a good stop off in the north of Thailand.


Passing the tiny villages dotted along my route, they are made up of a few tiny grass / reed huts set right on the road on shorts stilts, and seeing the children doing their chores reminded me of the story Tom in Vang Vieng told me. I had commented about being in a guest house and having dinner in the restaurant at 9pm and noticing that it closed at 10:30pm and opened for breakfast at 6:30am. When I went for breakfast at 7am the same two waitresses were serving. I was surprised to see them and asked how come they were serving breakfast when I saw them last night serving dinner.  They were incredibly surprised at my question and said they work in the restaurant that is their job, no one else. Huh so I asked if they mean they work 7 days a week and was told yes. So I quickly worked it out this means a 16 hour day and 112 hour week. I was shocked I did not say anything and did not ask how much they earned but can only imagine.

When I spoke to Tom about this in our life the universe and everything conversation. He said I know it’s shocking but that is the life here, this is quite normal. He then told me the story of the young girl 15, who works in the guesthouse next door to him. She also works a long day but says she is very very happy because she has a job, gets paid, has a place to sleep, gets food and she loves the fact that in this job she has a life. Again I’m surprised and tell Tom that I understand that it’s normal and I know I need to try and separate my western beliefs and be more pragmatic when I view other cultures, it I so easy for us westerners to jump up on our soap boxes and shout about human rights but we need to do this in perspective. Well Tom gave me the perspective. At the age of 12 this young girl was sent from Laos to Thailand by her parents to work in a pig farm. She had no bed or bedding the children had to just sleep on the floor, she was given minimal food barely enough to keep her going. She worked 7 days a week and 14 hours a day and when the boss did not think she was doing her job properly would cut her arms, today she has scars all over her hands and arms. When she managed to return to Laos and get the job in the guest house she thought she’d hit the jackpot…perspective

So now as I ride along through these little villages and see these tiny kids doing physically demanding chores I try put it in perspective. I see a small boy maybe 5 or 6 washing something looks a bit like  mat outside, small children with canvas sacs that they hitch on their heads  which run down their backs filled with wood, tiny little girls squatting next to their dad sorting out chillies. I then start thinking about perspective, these villages have no running water, no electricity and if these kids did not do the chores that may make us gasp I guess their mum would be doing it all herself. I must quickly add that I see a group a young boys  playing conkers, tiny kids chasing the poor chickens with sticks, a young girls dragging a piece of string for a cat to catch, and a group of children playing laughing splashing and jumping in the river. That is a sight I see a lot. These children have a childhood and play childhood games but unlike many kids in the west have a lot of pretty hard chores to do…perspective

It’s too easy to judge and it’s too easy to turn a blind eye. I do not think the answer is a simple one. I think children have a right to education and a childhood and to feel safe. I certainly don’t think they should be working in a pig farm or anywhere, but there is nothing wrong with family chores. The beauty and difficulty of travelling to far off exotic and wonderful places are the things you see, this broadens your perspective far more than TV or books could ever do.

One of the things I struggle with in Thailand is the sex industry. I have no problem what so ever with western men meeting and marrying Thai or Lao women and have more than one friend how is in such a marriage and it is no different to any other marriage. But what I am struggling to get my head around are the old men I meet with young Thai girlfriends, but they don’t use the word girlfriend they just say my friend. One of the reasons it gets to me is the way these men have treated me, which makes me wonder just how they treat these girls. In public they are ”’nice’ to them and attentive and caring, and ever ever so condescending, so much so I wanted to smack them just for the sake of these young lovely intelligent girls they were talking down to. The ones I’ve met who I am talking about here are between the age of 66 and 85, so old enough to be my father. They have no respect for my personal space and get very touchy feely and familiar far too quickly for my liking. Now they are just being friendly, remember they have young Thai friends so there are no anterior motives here, but they are just too flirty for my liking. Now one particular man the 85 year old kept on telling me over and over how fantastic, lovley, amazing, beautiful and sweet I am. Now don’t get me wrong flattery is lovely, but it’s often not what people are saying but the way they are saying it and this was too much and made me very uncomfortable. The next morning he promptly told me that ‘last night I dreamt about you and we were cuddling together’ EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWW he is a year older than my dad. I think I threw up just a little right there and then. Now what gets to me is that I cannot image these men acting this way towards me back home. There is something about them being in Thailand and having girl friends young enough to be their GRANDCHILDREN that just lowers their social sensibilities. Sorry but it just makes my skin crawl.

Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang Laos

The road closer to Vang Vieng starts to get decidedly more exacting meandering through lush fields and over small rivers WOW now I am just beginning to understand the beauty of this country. I arrive in Vien Viang and ask a couple of backpackers if they could recommend a good guesthouse, they point me in the directions of Maylyn, and here I truly find a tiny piece of paradise. If only I could stay here a week I would not leave my tiny bungalow and balcony. This is the life this is truly the life. I do not have words to describe the tranquillity, the lush tropical garden, the biggest butterflies I have seen in my life and total feeling of calm. My little bungalow is on the end of the property overlooking a small river and with a view of these big limestone (I believe they are limestone) mountains popping out of the ground with a majestic air of power and beauty. I sit here in awe just staring at this vision before me. I am so sad that the atmosphere is slightly hazy and no matter how many pictures I take I just cannot capture this beauty.

I sadly can only stay in Vang Vieng for one night, due to being stuck in Bangkok a week longer than expected. I am absolutely sure I will return to Laos and spend more time exploring this wonderful land. For now however I try and make the most of what little time I have, and once again as a solo traveller I am fortunate enough to meet another wonderful person, Steve. Steve owns Uncle Toms Trails a motorbike tours company and it’s just up the road from Maylyn. Well we just hit it off from the get go and after working on my bike and finding an ingenious way to fix the falling apart number plate using a chopping board we went to dinner and just chatted like long lost friends.  After opening up about how much I hate my corporate job and need an exit plan or it’ll be the death of me (I work in IT in a large Swiss bank) Steve turns and says “you need to get into bikes you love your bikes and should work with bikes’” I agree and he then perfectly seriously and honestly offers me a partnership in his start-up business. WOW if only I could, well I could but honestly although I think Laos is wonderful and could so live here I honestly could never live in this climate. It is now October and the start of autumn and even crossing the road causes one to break out in pools of sweat. I am a cold weather person I love my snow and my winter sports. I feel the cold worse than most people but love it. So sadly I must to Steve’s amazing once in a lifetime offer down…maybe I’m an idiot, but here is certainly something to think about.

I wake up to another stunning and hot day in Laos say goodbye to my lovely little bungalow and hit the road. The road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang is one of the most beautiful roads in the world and renound amongst bikers as it meanders twisting and turning though the hills of Laos. One of the only dangers are the drivers who have no clue what side of the road the drive on and cut the corners mercilessly. The other obstacles are less dangerous but one needs to be vigilant and those are children, pigs and chickens. Why did the chicken cross the road…because it heard my bike coming and decided to commit suicide? Fortunately for the owner I managed to swerve in time and just hit his tail feathers…stupid bird. One of the problems I am finding with the hot and humid weather is the amount of water I need to drink. I am consuming up to 4 litres a day this unfortunately means I need to pee…a lot. Now in Kazakhstan, Mongolia etc I had no problem just pulling over trying to find a bump in the landscape (there are no trees) and squatting, I am sure many truck drivers were unintentionally mooned by me. Well in SE Asia there is an abundance of drivers, so very little time to squat between trucks passing, but also an abundance of trees.  So you would think a pee paradise, hmmm sadly not. I am incredibly arachnophobia, never mind the snakes and other creepy crawlies one can find in the jungles of Laos. The other problem is that the road from Vang  Vieng to Luang Prabang is a very twisty mountain road with a curb the size of a shoe.  Well to cut a long story short I have now perfected finding the odd wide curbs away from the tiny villages dotting the hills, ripping off my sweat sodden riding trousers and knickers and peeing right next to my bike (I usually close my eyes in a if I can’t see them they can’t see me childlike fashion, or possibly just to reduce my embarrassment if anyone does see me) I have no idea why the wide open spaces with no cover in Kazakhstan did not have this effect on me.

One of the nicest surprises on the road was bumping into Neil (one of the guys from the China group) en route. It’s amazing how excited one gets when you see another adventure biker on the road but to see one you know was just great.

Well after seeing a friend on the road, narrowly missing chickens and children, peeing at moc speed and been bowled over by the beautiful scenery I arrive in Laung Prabang. This is a very touristy town but really pretty, the buildings are mostly heritage buildings so strictly regulated with regards upkeep and refurbishment. The town had a plethora of guesthouses, restaurant and temples all beautiful and worth visiting. I decide to stay here for two nights so that I can t least do some sightseeing and it was well worth it.


I have been told that unlike Thailand and Cambodia Laos has no sex tourism as the government won’t stand for it. I hope this is true and if so stays this way as this country is truly one of the most beautiful places with the most beautiful people. I wish I had more time to explore this wonderful country and know I must come back one day. Vientiane is a big ugly busy city like most and yet is unlike most, Vientiane is clean and far more relaxed than most cities I have travelled in, driving in Vientiane is not only easy but the decided lack of horns is like music to ones ears.

There are a number of things to see Vientiane but the most fascinating of all is 25km south of the city and this is the Buddha Park. One man’s vision filled a park with hundreds of figurines of Buddha it’s surreal and yet strangely compelling and peaceful but at times almost disturbing. No matter what you feel of think of the Buddha Park it is decidedly with a visit.


It was with my usual trepidation that I left the safety of Vientiane always nervous that my bike would not get me to my next destination. I wish this paranoia would disappear. It does not last the entire day and does not badly affect my enjoyment but just pops into my head at random times sometimes spoiling a perfect moment. The ride out of Vientiane is rather unexciting a rather long boring tar road that is not too bad, with a fair bit of traffic. One thing I must remember to say before I forget, the toilets in south East Asia are fantastic. I got to a point in Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia where I just could not use the toilets and would hold it in until I was on the road and pull off to pee. I am not a prissy squeamish person at all but after retching to the potion of very nearly throwing up on more than one occasion I just knew my stomach could not handle the toilets anymore. I am from Africa I have camped, hiked and stayed in places with long drops but nothing could prepare me the sights and smells of the toilets I came across. I cannot understand why the Russians, Kazaks and Mongolians cannot get it right when the SE Asian gets it so perfectly right and they are in the hot steamy tropics. So needless to say I had no problem pulling into any service station to use the little Asian squatty toilets along my routes.