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  1. #2921

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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    That photographer must be expensive! Beautiful pics guys!

  2. #2922
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    Last edited by Lightcycle; 01-09-2018 at 04:38 PM.

  3. #2923
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    Thailand! We meet once again....

    Having spent the whole of last winter in this country, the familiarity of everything around us is like slipping on a pair of old well-worn shoes. All the smiling Sawadee-Kah ladies are still here! On the Songthaew ride to our rented apartment we pass by the old blue-white-and-red oil-drop logo of the PTT gas stations, the curly Thai script (that we can't read) on every sign, the 7-11s on every street corner... 55555! OMG, remember 555?

    The last time we felt this sense of homecoming was when we returned back to Mexico after spending a month riding around Cuba.

    We've parachuted back onto the resort island of Phuket with only the tiniest subset of our warm weather riding gear, leaving behind the majority of our stuff with our BMWs back in Croatia. The only other thing we brought with us is our bathing suits!

    Because it's friggin' hot once again! No more running from Old Man Winter.


    The very first thing we do is visit the storage unit to liberate our Hondas

    And once again, we're mobile on two again!

    They're so shiny and clean! I'm so glad we gave them a wash before we put them away. It's like unwrapping a brand new bike!

    We wheel our gleaming machines out into the parking lot, reattach the battery terminals and then thumb the starter on Neda's bike. Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk BRRRAAAP! YEEEEEAAA-boooooyyyyy!

    We were a bit nervous that nine months sitting without a battery tender would have left our batteries flat. It wouldn't have been the first time...

    My bike's turn: Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk.... Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk... uh oh...

    Stick the bike in 2nd, clutch in and push the bike down the parking lot. Pick up the speed to a light jog. Dump the clutch, jump on the seat and thumb the starter at the same time... SAWADEE-BRRAAAAAP!!!!

    I love small-displacement motorcycles!!!! Ever try to bump start a 1200cc twin? It's not going to be anywhere as easy as this! I remember trying to bump my R1200GS once. I had to stick it in 4th gear. And start rolling it from the top of Mount Everest...

  4. #2924
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    Neda is back to cross-stitching

    Now that we're taking a break from our travels, Neda is bump-starting her cross-stitching once again. While we were busy frantically riding all over Europe, her hobby had to sit on the back-burner (which is not a good place to put cloth on) neglected.


    Did I mention we have a swimming pool? Those bathing suits we brought are being put to good use everyday!

    We are staying in a much better class of accommodations in Thailand these days. For our camping money, we are now living like KINGS!

    Speaking of which, the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, just passed away last month. The whole country is in mourning since he was so beloved. His son has now taken over the throne, but I get the sense that the people don't like him as much as his father. But no one can say anything out in the open or out loud, for fear of being put in prison because of the leste majeste laws.

    I'm not going to say or write anything either. You can go Google it yourself. I like our life here in Thailand, Sawadee-Khrap.


    If you ask her, Neda will tell you that Thai food is her favorite food in the whole, entire world. She is savoring every meal time here

    Not to go back to that money thing again, but in Thailand, we can afford to eat out every single meal, every single day. Our apartment has a small kitchenette, but it's basically unused.

    There's a certain relief to not having to watch your budget like a hawk all the time. It's like finally being able to exhale after holding your breath for such a long time. Sawadee-AAAAAH...

  5. #2925
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    So... life is not all peaches and cream in the Land of Smiles...

    I've hurt my back somehow. I can only walk for about half-an-hour before I have to find a hard surface to lie down flat on my back. And no, this isn't some lame excuse to get out of hiking!

    It's excruciating. I've never felt this kind of back pain before in my life!

    I think it's from sitting on an airplane for over 24 hours. I did some research on the Internet to try to find exercises to relieve the pain. And I spent about four days on the floor waiting to see if the pain would go away.

    It didn't. Sawadee-Crap.

    So we looked up a physiotherapist in Phuket. I don't really have a medical plan or insurance while we're in SE Asia, so I was a bit afraid of the cost. In Canada, you'll pay about $100 per session for physio. I asked the Thai doctor how much to fix me. He told me for an hour and half of heat therapy, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and deep tissue massage, it would be $15.

    My back was fixed in four sessions. I went for six sessions just for fun. Happy endings for all involved!

    5555! We're going to live here forever!!!!


    While I treated my back, Neda was treating herself in other ways

    Like mo-fo-ing KINGS, I tell you...

  6. #2926
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    Phuket Nights

    One thing we've got to get used to again is how early the night falls here. At the equator, the days are exactly 12 hours long, no matter what time of year it is. Which means, it starts to get dark around 5PM and the sun always sets at 6PM, give or take a few minutes depending on what month it is.

    We are out one evening to meet up with Trevor, a fellow RTW motorcycle traveler. He just so happens to be in Phuket at the same time that we are!


    Going out for drinks with Trevor and his friend, Julie, who's visiting him here in Thailand

    Trevor has the distinction of meeting up with us on five different continents now! First in California at a motorcycle travelers meet, then in Panama for the Stahlratte crossing to Colombia, then we put him up at our place in Croatia and he returned the favour in the French Riviera, then he smuggled illegal alcoholic drinks into Morocco for us and now he's here in Thailand!

    How cool is that?!?!

    Trevor's originally from Australia, so if he ever goes back home, we'll go pay him a visit and make it 6 for 6.


    Trevor borrowed a CB500 during the time that he's here. Big bike for Thailand!

    He's leaving to go to the airport, flying to Pattaya to go meet his dad, so we have a farewell brunch and then give him and Julie a proper Thai-motorcade escort out of Phuket.

  7. #2927
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    I remember when we last left Phuket back in the spring, we were so sick of the heat in SE Asia that we gave a pass on the world-famous beaches on the island. Didn't even visit once. But now we're totally in the mood for some sun, sand and surf!


    Hop on the bikes to go to the beach

    The beach is about 20 minutes away from our apartment.

    Okay, so just because we're Thai-Affluent, doesn't mean we're Stinkin-Phuket-Rich. Beach-side places are significantly more expensive than places in the interior of the island. Plus we have bikes anyway, so we don't mind riding all over the place.


    Our favorite beach that we go to all the time is Kata Beach, near where we stayed in the spring time

    Ah, the smell of the salt sea air! The visual treat of the bluest of blue skies meeting the golden sands of the beach. The sounds of... Russian being spoken everywhere?!?

    There are a lot of Russian people in Phuket. There are more people speaking Russian than English on this island. It's actually quite uncanny...

    So Neda is out playing in the waters and I'm getting a little sun on my UK-Food-Pregnancy-Belly when this old Russian guy sitting next to me, with a much-larger Borscht-belly than my first-trimester Cornish-Pastie-Tummy, strikes up a conversation. In Russian.

    It's not like I don't understand Russian, which I don't. It's also that he's had about two too many bottles of vodka this afternoon.

    With my limited Croatian knowledge, I'm trying to piece together what he's slur-mumbling to me. So then he tries sign language. He points at me then at himself. Okay, "Us". Then he points at Neda out in the waters. "Zena?" he asks? Ah, that's Croatian for wife. "Da. Zena." I reply.

    Then he points at an older woman further down the beach. She's face-down on a blanket, tanning herself. "Zena", then he points to himself.

    Okaaaay.... Slowly I begin to understand. Either he wants to trade Zenas or he wants a foursome! Whut!?! EWWWWW! NOOOOO! GROSS!

    "Dosvadanya! Dosvadanya!" I quickly move my blanket further away down the beach.

    EW!


    "Dosvadanya, tovarisch!!!!!"

  8. #2928
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    My zena, having the time of her life! Oblivious to all the Slavic pimping activities going on behind her back


    If you look up the word, "Frolic" in the dictionary, this is the picture under the definition

    Despite the gross Russian encounter, Kata Beach has become our go-to spot for sun and sand. Every couple of days, we stuff the beach blankets in the top case and spend the late afternoon on the beach when the sun is not as high and hot. What an idyllic life!


    One afternoon, we head to Kata, despite the forecasts predicting rain. It's not going to rain!

  9. #2929
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    Then the skies darken and we're racing back home to beat the showers! 555!


    We found a great crab place, just down the street from Kata

    Two weeks here and life is good in Phuket.

    However, this was never meant to be our final resting place. Phuket is cheap for a resort town, but it's not Chiang-Mai-cheap. Also, we've got a life that we've started to build up in the mountains of Thailand. We like beaches, but not every single day. The weather is more temperate up north. Plus, we are motorcycle-people and the twisty roads in the north are calling out to us. This little vacation has been nice, but now it's time to get back to our real life.

    We've got to relocate both ourselves and our little motorcycles 1500 kms to the north.


    First things first, we bring our suitcase to the post office and mail it Chiang Mai. Total cost: $8... 55555!

    Okay. One final push - a road trip to northern Thailand - and then we can finally take that loooooong extended break from our travels that we've been talking about forever.

  10. #2930
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    knew you'd end up in Thailand.

  11. #2931
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/378.html



    Well we've been tooling around Phuket for a couple of weeks now, I think we're ready to hit the road and kick-start the Chiang Mai lifestyle.


    The security guard at our condo building takes one last picture of us before we head out

    I think we're the only ones in the building with "big bikes". She's seen us go in and out while we've lived here, and we've nodded and smiled at her as we've ridden by. On our last day, she sees that our bikes are all loaded up and she asks where we're going. When we tell her, she exclaims: "Oh, Chiang Mai! Very far!"

    Motorcycles are not long-range vehicles in Thailand.

    Getting off the island and onto the main highway that spans the length of Thailand is a real slog through an unending, uninteresting urban jungle. No pictures.

    It does allow us to get used to touring with the CRFs again. Our two week rest in Phuket got us used to riding on the left... again. Plus we've got our packing routine established from last season, so we're hitting the ground running.


    At a gas stop, we make some adjustments to our ghetto-make-shift motorcycle seat cushions

    The CRFs are terrible for touringoor tank range (we have to gas up every 175kms), buzzy at highway speeds, poor pickup when trying to pass at highway speeds. But the biggest pain in the *** (LITERALLY) is the horribly uncomfortable banana seat - a product of Honda's Torture Device Division.

    We spent the whole last season ridng all over SE Asia in acute discomfort. So before leaving Phuket, I did some research on all the ways we could alleviate the pain. The problem is that the seat is too narrow and the edges dig into your sitting bones. The Airhawk cushions we bought did nothing to widen the seats, so no joy there.

    So I read one guy's solution was to build a little fabric seat widener that lay across the stock seat. It had pockets on each side which hung over the edges of the seat which you could insert empty plastic water bottles inside. So the seat cover + 2 water bottles hanging off either side created a wider flat surface for your butt.

    We achieved almost the same effect by stuffing empty water bottles into the Airhawk seat cover.

    We'll let you know how that works out...

  12. #2932
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    After our seat stuffing experiment at the gas station, we suit up and get ready to continue. And that's when it starts to rain

    And not just rain. It comes down in buckets. Like a proper tropical torrential downpour.

    Sa-Wha-Dee-Faaa....

    And it *has* to happen on our very first day on the road, right? Can't have given us just one dry day for us to get used to moto-traveling again? Thank you, Thailand. So very RideDOT.com...

    We wait a bit, glancing up at the sky every few minutes. The rains don't look like they're letting up, so we decide not to wait for it to pass. We reluctantly pull on our rain suits. Onwards, straight into the driving rain!

    Ugh, the suits are so hot and stifling in the tropical heat! We might as well be riding without the rain suits because we're sweating so much. Within minutes of leaving the gas station, there's more sweat inside the suit than rain on the outside! Gross.

    And then a mere 15 minutes later into our sausage-suited rain ride, the water works from above abruptly end. Aaaaand we're drenched in sweat. If we had only just waited...

    Damn you, Thailand!!!


    A couple of hours outside of Phuket, the scenery begins to get interesting

    We are entering the Khao Sok National Park. Although we haven't traveled that far today, we're staying here for the night because we want to check out some of the interesting scenery.

    Yes, FOMO strikes again.


    We found a place deep inside the dense jungle of the park. Just kidding, we were right off the highway

  13. #2933
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    The place we're staying in had these great bungalows in the jungle. They're called Jungalows. I just made that up.


    One of the most distinct features of Khao Sok are these towering limestone mountains shrouded in trees. They rise up all around us.


    Neda is loving being surrounded by nature!

  14. #2934
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    The next day, we head out deeper into the park. Amazing riding past these huge karst formations!


    We take a little detour to get off the main road. We have dirt bikes after all!

    Despite all the aforementioned drawbacks to riding these small motorcycles, sometimes it's nice to just shoot off the well-worn path without a second thought.

    Beautiful scenery all around us!


    Back on the main road, northbound

  15. #2935
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    Aaaand it rains again... Seriously? Is this the way it's gonna be all the way to Chiang Mai?!?

    We leave Khao Sok National Park behind us as we head further north. We've done this road once before, when we rode all the way south to Singapore. Now, doing it in reverse, we already know what's in store for us as we traverse the narrow strip of land joining south Thailand to the north: Nothing but highway and urban sprawl; gas stations and roadside restaurants.

    This is going to be our life for the next few days:




    Stopping for food in Chumphon

  16. #2936
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    We're still far enough south that there's a prevalent Muslim population, which means: Malaysian food!!! I love roti canai!


    Further north, we stay overnight in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Too cloudy to visit the beaches! Going for a little ride to find food


    Roadside vendor. Eat, Sleep, Ride!

    The urban sprawl becomes more dense as we approach Bangkok, and we take care not to wander onto the highways because motorcycles aren't allowed to use them in the big city. I remember we almost got caught and fined the last time we were here!

  17. #2937
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    North of Bangkok, we turn east and head into Muak Lek District in Saraburi.

    From the road, we see dairy farms for the first time. There are cows everywhere here!

    We must investigate.

    And by investigate, I mean eat.


    We check into an awesome resort-style accommodation in the town of Mittraphap

    In Thailand, the most popular online booking service is a site called Agoda.com. Lots of affordable, yet luxurious places!

    Mittraphap isn't really on the farang radar list. The people working at our resort don't speak English and they had to phone someone to come in to help check us in. We used Neda's translation app on her phone: the Thai text-to-speech translations worked quite well. It's amazing to think all this technology wasn't as readily available when we first started our trip back in 2012...

    The resort is beautiful! Very bucolic. We're booked here for a couple of nights. The only other people here are another younger Thai couple. They arrive the day after we do. I think they're up here from Bangkok for a short weekend vacation. The big city is only a couple of hours away.

    We exchanged some polite Sawadee-Khhraps and that was it. I wish I knew more Thai.


    Walking around the resort, spying on Neda. She is immersed in her cross-stitching

    I should really be working on the blog.

    Meh... I think when we get to Chiang Mai, I'll try to catch up then.


    Neda's cross-stitching is really coming along! She actually started this one last year in Thailand, but basically stopped when we were in Europe

  18. #2938
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    In the evening, we ride out to the main village near the highway to grab some food, just 5 minutes away

    Muak Lek district has a thriving agro-tourism thing going on with all the dairy farms in the area. The rolling meadows around here make for a perfect place to raise cattle and the farms have been here since the 50s. They supply most of the milk products for the rest of the country. The most popular thing for tourists to do here is to visit a steakhouse, and there are so many in town to choose from.

    This is actually quite unusual, because we've been in Thailand for so long and they're not really known for beef or steak, not like Alberta or Argentina.

    It's a shame that we're not here in the new year. There's a National Dairy Cows festival held every year. It's a country and western theme and there's a part where they get dressed up like cowboys and put on a show, complete with lassos and cattle rustling demonstrations. It looks quite fun!

    Eating steak is quite fun too.


    I found this steak place online, it had some pretty good reviews

    It was okay. The meat was kind of tough. I ordered it rare and it was over-cooked...

    The most interesting thing that happened that evening was this policeman who came in after we did. He seemed to be a pretty important person, everyone in the restaurant greeted him and he seemed to know everyone and walked around like a real big wig. He walked over and sat down with the family sitting behind Neda.

    Maybe he was like the town sheriff? Come to check out the only two farangs in Mittraphap? All he needed was a white cowboy hat!

    I wish I knew some Thai so I could eavesdrop! Still it's fun speculating and making up stories in your head.

  19. #2939
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...

    The next day we were talking with the one staff person who spoke Engish at our place. When we told her of our so-so steak experience, she recommended another restaurant, Big Joey, just around the corner.

    I like the name! I had a good feeling about this place.


    So we pay a visit to Big Joey that evening. Looks nice so far! Hopefully they won't call the sheriff on us tonight!


    Jackpot!

    So juicy and tender! And done perfectly as well! Excellent presentation too. Would highly recommend to anyone. Funny thing is that it's not even listed on Tripadvisor or any of the farang sites... So glad we got a local to show us where to go.

    As you can see from the picture, Neda didn't feel like having steak two days in a row. But hey, when in Muak Lek, do as the Muak Lekkens do! Let them eat steak! I'm having my steak and eating it too. Steaking my claim? NO! Claiming my steak! Driving a steak through my arteries. One missed steak can ruin everything. Oh steak, can you see? By the dawn's early light...

  20. #2940
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    Re: Quit our jobs, sold our home and everything in it, gone riding...


    Okay, back on the road, though more urban landscape


    I always make fun of Neda when she carries the groceries hanging off the end of her handlebars like the locals do!

    This picture typifies Thailand for us. The 7-11 in the background. The blue-red-and-white PTT gas station logo. Neda doing her best smiling Sawadee-Kah-Lady impression...

    That's all going to change for a little bit while we make just a small-teensy-weensy detour...

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