2012 and Beyond ...

Continuation of a journey


Sample imageAugust 8, 2013 - The rains started for real when I was in Luang Prabang. For three days I was basically confined to my hotel, safe for a few hours in the afternoon here or there, lest I wanted to get soaked to the bone within a few steps of venturing outside.

Gone were the days of riding in the morning and stopping in the early afternoon to shelter from the monsoon.

I ended up doing far less photography than I planned on. The upside of being stranded in Luang Prabang was that both Marc and his buddy Rob were also holed up in Luang Prabang. We had breakfast and dinner most nights together and the conversations ranged from the philosophical to the absurd, underpinned by lots of travel tales from years gone by. They were on the way to Vietnam and managed to get in with the bikes for a week. It's hit and miss getting into Vietnam with your own bike, and where it was previously allowed at one border crossing, that option had, at least for now, been closed again. It took Marc's credentials as a former professor at a Ho Chi Minh city university to get them past the paperwork.

A stop in Vientiane on the way back to Chiang Mai left an impression. The town had changed so much it seemed someone had smacked New York City overtop of Venice. Nothing remained of the romantic old dusty town I knew and the next day I left for Thailand.

A planned leisurely ride back via the Mekong on the Thai side came to an end late on the first day as relentless rains had washed away sections of road in two places. I headed south for better roads and made Chiang Mai by noon the next day. In Chiang Mai, I dropped my bike and most of my gear at Marc's place and left pronto for Bangkok to meet up with Christina. We flew to Jakarta and managed to arrive at the start of Idul Fitri, the long weekend after Ramadan, when everyone travels all over the place to go visit family. It's similar to Thanksgiving in the US, everyone going home at the same time. But then imagine this on an island half the size of the UK with 130-plus million people and an infrastructure unable to support it. After waiting for an hour or more for a cab at the airport at 1:00 AM, we decided to share a ride with a British banker willing to detour his ride for us.

Jakarta held little appeal and we left towards Bogor as soon as we could.