Saturday, February 22, 2014

Finding a new home for my purple freedom machine

I bought this 100cc Honda Win in Vietnam and was allowed by the government to ride it all over Vietnam. They even allowed me to leave the country and enter Laos, a privilege that many have been denied. The problem is that with the Vietnamese license plate and registration, this purple motorcycle was denied entry in to Cambodia, Thailand and now, Myanmar. The time has came to cut the strings and get rid of the bike so that I can journey on to the next level of this adventure. I have some exciting options that I will be taking and sharing with Team Bean're and everyone in my social network but first I have to get rid of the bike.
  When I set out on this adventure, I had planned an option of donating the bike but that was going to be when I was finished and at the airport ready to fly home. Now I still have a month or more left and the new plan is to travel across Thailand and Myanmar on public transportation (boats, trains and buses) until I get to India where I will buy yet another motorcycle.  Since India is the home of the originally English built Royal Enfield, this would be my new mode of transport. Money is still tight though and I have to plan on a 1000 dollar return plane trip from where ever I end up when I call it quits. I debated this and came up with doing the right thing. The money to buy it was donated from my friends so it only seemed right to pass it on.
I did some research on Google and found that the town I was in,  Luang Prabang, was the home of not one but 2 large orphanages. The largest is Deak Kum Pa Orphanage. It is home to over 500 children and show signs of growing rather then decreasing in numbers. The Orphanage has a school on premises and gives all children here an education, something that not all children in Laos have the opportunity to get. The government helps out running this orphanage. However, Laos is a very poor country-they only pay for the teachers salaries but none of the school supplies and only 2 meals a day. Every thing else clothes, health and comfort (like soap, tooth brushes and toothpaste), books and a third meal are subsidized by private donations.  This seemed like the perfect new home for my motorcycle.
Arriving unannounced probably wasn't the best plan. I wondered why the kids weren't in school and I realized that it was Saturday. It took awhile to find some one that spoke English but when I did, they thought the purple motorcycle would be a perfect vehicle to transport children for hospital appointments and other off site needs. I thought that sounded perfect but truthfully, even if they turned right around and sold it, I knew that this would be to raise money to buy other more important things.  They asked how I would get back to town. I said I would get myself a tuk tuk (small 3 wheel motorcycle taxi). The reality of the donation then set in. They graciously thanked me and immediately hauled it inside where it would be tucked away and safe.
These kids were some of the most well behaved kids I have ever met in my life. They have very little super vision and they all help with all the chores including meals and gardening. Every child does his or her own laundry! The teen age children were even polite without the slightest bit of rebelliousness.



The children here have no toys. I did see one teenager with a small acoustic guitar. Here the kids must entertain themselves and boys being boys, well just because the swimming pond has gone dry with us being at the end of dry season, they played in the mud. They were just as happy as any child with a game boy and a cell phone.
  I want to personally thank all Team Bean're supporters for helping out with this trip because this donation of this motorcycle would NEVER have been possible without all of your support. I  have exchanged email addresses with this orphanage and I plan on doing some more to help them out. I will keep everyone posted.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A glimpse at the capital of Laos


Patuxai is Vientiane's Arc de Triomphe replica that I saw when I first rode through Vientainne, the capital of Laos. It can't be missed sitting in the commercial district around Th Lan Xang. Officially called 'Victory Monument' and commemorating the Lao who died in prerevolutionary wars, it was built in 1969 with cement donated by the USA intended for the construction of a new airport. Many expats ( foreign visa holders from all other countries but living abroad) refer to it as 'the vertical runway'.
The garden surrounding it has a big fountain and is always busy with tourists. for only 5000 KIP ( about .75 cents) you cant tour the inside and go all the way to the top providing an excellent view of the city.




Thursday, January 30, 2014

River crossings by motorcycle in Asia

There is a lot of ways to get across the rivers here in Asia.
Even when they have bridges, they can be very sketchy and you have to walk across them just to test if they will hold the weight of you and your bike.
Sometimes you are just better off riding across.
Rivers need to be walked to check the depth or you can watch some one else and decide how to go about crossing. Locals usually know the best way.
Sometimes you can find a good makeshift ferry to carry your bike across.
But most of the time it is just an ordinary boat. Basically an over sized canoe that is used to carry people across.
There are no docks and the boats can't pull up onto the beach. You usually have to bring the bikes into the water to load and unload them but that is just one obstacle.
The beaches have soft sand which you have to cross to get to and from the boats and it doesn't stop there.
Most beaches are below steep hills or even cliffs that you must get up and down.
Basically you just have to be prepared to get a little dirty like in all good adventures!
Here is a video where I had a little fun with a bridge crossing.......










Saturday, January 25, 2014

Custom Choppers in Asia

Being in the middle of my 3 month motorcycle tour in Asia, I have had my eyes opened to a lot of cultural differences. Many countries like the one I started my adventure in, Vietnam, have strict cc limits for motorcycles. The limit is generally 250cc but it is near impossible to get a license to ride anything bigger then a 165cc. Pretty much all these are mopeds and scooters by our definition. If you have a 50cc or less, you don't need any license. For this reason many get 50cc bikes and put a bigger motor in them. Some of the new motors are 2 strokes too like this one making a real screamer out of them. This one had clip on bars and a racing front end.
Other then changing the motors, almost all the bikes that I seen in Vietnam remained very stock appearing with no care given to make them stand out in a crowd other than washing them.
My bike stood out in Vietnam with the custom rattle can purple paint job and the prismatique stickers I applied.

But all that changed when I crossed the border to Laos especially in the western towns that border Thailand. Everywhere I looked cars and bikes and all kinds of custom trinkets.
Another thing I found in Laos was many of the back yard type shops carried custom rims with anodized colors mag and extra spoked spoke wheels too.


Many of them looked like they had used a gift card from J.C. Whitney to decorate their rides but still, they were obviously about fashion and not just function. I even saw some bikes with neon riding at night but I refuse to take pictures of that. But the best came as I was traveling down the highway south towards the Cambodia border. I saw my first chopper. Yes, it was so cool I had to turn around and got back just in time to catch some photos of the bike and it's creator/owner ride off from the store he was shopping at.
The owner was super cool. Although he spoke not one word of English, He knew that his bike was getting attention and rolled the bike out and posed for this photo shoot while all the passerby's  watched the fun.
Looking closely you can see that he has slid the fork tubes out of the top triple tree and all the way down to the bottom tree to make them longer. He has also removed the front brake caliber, rotor and brake lines. His intake, carb and filter setup is also homemade and radical even by our standards.
It has been an eye opening experience to say the least but I am not even half over with this trip. After entering Cambodia I plan on riding west into Thailand and then decide to head south to Malaysia or north west to Myanmar and  Bangladesh. Watch My Facebook page- Everything Bean're for daily updates.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Phong Nha Cave in Vietnam

   Staying in a small town near the Phong Nha National Park proved to be just the place to see the sights. I am not a cave guy but when I heard you ride a boat through the cave, I was all in.
The boat ride to the cave was cool just seeing all the sights along the way even without the cave tour. The  fee was 15 dollars for the boat ride but that was divided up between the number of passengers ( up to 14)
They had hundreds of these tour boats. They looked like old wooden boats when in fact they were all made out of steel but dressed up with colorful painted wood accents.
They were very similar to these stripped down models that they used for ferrying people, bicycles and even motorcycles.
Anticipation mounted as we approached the cave entrance.
There is easily enough room for boats to pass the entire length of the tour
Once inside the cave you could see it was a large chamber with very high ceilings and seeing the dock to the side, one would think this is where the boat stops but if you look ahead you see the opening that is just barely high enough for these boats to fit through.
This is a blurry picture but this is what the opening looks like right before you go through the 50 foot long  but only a few feet high opening.

Once through though and the ceiling immediately opens up with high ceilings and spectacular beauty everywhere.
They also rolled the top of the boats roof back so you can see the ceilings too
 
I know nothing about caves but these pictures show you just some of the beauty that I saw that day.

Everywhere you looked including the ceilings.....
Then they pull up to one one the beaches inside ( there are several sand beaches) and let you walk you way out through a part that isn't on the water.
On the beach with Joe Sparrow,  myself  and other tourists from America, Germany and Denmark. O have seen tourists from all around the world here.
You could really get up close and personal with everything
I was disappointed when I realized I had walked back to the entrance and the tour was about over. I didn't want it to end....
But then we did have the scenic boat ride back into town
 Here is a small video of the tour that I took.