November 1, 2000 - Hanoi Viet Nam

Took and interesting day trip about 2 hours by bus, then and hour being paddled up a river, 3 passengers and one oarsman in each boat, then about an hour hike
up a mountain trail, half of it actual stairway but all composed of random sized stone steps. Visited a pagoda in a cave and some other temples along the way, then back down. The bus ride through rush hour traffic, mostly scooters was entertainment enough.
paddling up the
      river near Hanoi
paddling up the river near Hanoi

One interesting thing we see in Viet Nam that I didn't expect was an abundance of wedding dress shops, all selling or renting western style wedding dresses! Not as many hair salons as China however.

Yes this is still Vietnam

The mountains near Dalat do not look like I expected Vietnam to look.

An interesting road warning sign.

Our three riding days in Vietnam were each followed by a rest day. Each day officially consisted of 100 to 116 kilometers of riding followed by loading your bike on a truck and yourself onto a bus and then riding 2 to 3
hours on the bus to the next destination. This is about as much riding as I care to do in the tropical heat and humidity. We were able to finish the riding by around noon each day. Its actually pretty hot by 9 or 10 in the morning. Some people actually biked the bus leg also which made the day up to 240 Km.

Vietnamese girl on
Everyone carries a load on their bikes here


November 8 2000 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam

On our off day in Saigon, we went to the "reunification palace" and the war remnants museum. The reunification palace basement contained the command center for the south's war efforts. The war museum had samples of all the US military hardware and lots of photos of the grisly details of the war.

November 11 2000 - Phuket Thailand

ELVIS! in Phuket

Flew into Phuket on the 9th, and I came down with a case of dysentery about 9 pm, the 10th we (some of us) had to change hotels, today Monika went out with some others for a snorkel trip, I didn't quite feel like straying too far from a toilet yet so stayed behind, to check on some travel possibilities for the next couple of
weeks. Tomorrows ride was supposed to be about 25K with a ferry ride to get the Krabi, but for some reason we can't get the ferry so it turned into a 170K ride (which we are not planning in doing). Another rider has arranged a bus/truck option for the next couple weeks to Singapore, since the TKA plan is 13 out of 12 days riding in the tropical heat with 4 100 mile days!

Many people are taking off from here to go other places, like trekking in Nepal, or Bali and are trying to find out how to ship bikes home. Some are donating their bikes to charity here, as shipping charges are expensive.

Odyssey ending party will be in Singapore on the 24th of November, from there some are paying to continue with TKA on originally planned route. Most don't want to give them any more money as a matter of principle.

November 14, 2000 - Phuket Thailand

We are still in Phuket. The group left 2 days ago, officially, but we are not the only ones hanging around here. Some have gone home already, others have split for other destinations like Nepal, etc. We booked our flight home today for the 19th of December. It was rather difficult to locate anything that close to Christmas. We've sent our bikes and extra baggage to an airfreight handler here to box and hold until we give them further instructions. We plan on working our way down to Singapore by Nov 24, for the farewell party then back up to Phuket with two more bags that we left in Hong Kong which should be there. We'll then see about shipping them to Bangkok and then go to Chang Mai Thailand until time to go home, then pick up our bike and bags for the flight home.

There is some minority number of riders paying an extra $3000 each to continue with TKA on the remainder of the planned itinerary. I know some are going for personal reasons that they want to complete the ride, even though they do not
like the way TKA runs things. Some are completing the ride in New Zealand on their own without TKA. The truth is, it is much more stressful depending on TKA for all arrangements and doing everything as a large group, so most people find it much more fun on their own. Nearly everyone has had enough of traveling
in this manner. We will miss contact with many of the other riders though, but we still run into them off route also. We had a talent show 2 nights ago before the group left Phuket. Most if it was quite entertaining, especially the choir. They had three humorous songs which were very apropos after traveling through China. I didn't perform, because all of my talents require equipment (guitar, dance shoes) that I don't have here.

November 20, 2000 - Georgetown Malaysia

Took a minibus yesterday from Krabi Thailand to Georgetown (Penang) Malaysia for about $12 each. This was a Toyota van crammed to full capacity with
12 people counting the driver. Krabi like all the other places the tourists flow through is crammed full of travel booking agents, hotels, and restaurants.
You can book bus, train, car, or air travel to anywhere easily. It was about a 4 hour van ride to Hat Yai where we were let off at the company hub, which basically looked like all the other garage front buildings in Asia. We sat there about 45 minutes while they collected passengers from various places until it was time for our next van to leave for another 4 hour ride. The van contained us, some Malaysians, Indonesians, Chinese, and a couple of Buddhist monks who appeared to be carrying laptop computers. One of them also had a cell phone.

The highway in Malaysia looks as good as any of the interstate highways back home, the only difference being they drive on the left here.

When we got in it was POURING down rain, so we stayed at the "Swiss" hotel where the van stopped (actually Chinese) for about $6 in a room with a ceiling fan, shower and sink, but shared toilet in the hall.

Went around the corner after the rain stopped to an Indian restaurant and found two of our fellow Odyssey riders there. This was a little surprising, since
we've been off route for a week and are on the opposite side of the country from the route. We are here because the full brunt of the monsoon hits the east side where TKA planned the route and we determined the one interesting place where they have an off day is closed for the season. We were able to give them the name of the hotel in Singapore we are headed for, as they didn't know. (Needless to say they are off route like us.)

The minivan travel arrangements seems to work quite efficiently here, although we've read warnings about some operators leaving you stranded, we haven't had
it happen to us.

November 21, 2000 - Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Took a super-vip bus from Penang to KL (Kuala Lumper) today for under $6 each. This is a full size Mercedes bus with only 25 seats, 2 on the right side and 1 on the left with a wide isle. These are like business class seats in an airliner that tilt way back like a lazy-boy so you can really sleep. With Malaysia's Interstate class highways that look better than most of I5 at home, this is a good way to travel. There seem to be dozens of competing bus companies here and ticket agents all over. The only draw back seems to be figuring out which bus companies/agents
are going to be reliable. The other drawback is the two buses we have been on both had the toilet locked (I don't think they have a pump out for it) so you have to ask the driver to stop at a rest stop when you need it. I wish we had buses like these last April when we made the 14 hour overnight trip from Barcelona to Gibraltar.

Kuala Lumpur

When we arrived in KL a thunder storm just started and it was pouring, so we waited on the covered sidewalk for about an hour for it to stop. Then found a hotel across the street.

Went out for dinner at Kenny Roger's Roaster, then across the street to the A&W for a root beer float. Bought a bottle of water at the 7/11, checked McDonald's (no Mcflurries here) and passed by the KFC on the way back to our hotel.

November 22 2000 : Kuala Lumpur

Looked for a little cheaper hotel today, and ended up across the street at a place that was full yesterday. They seem to be competing with special rates with the one across the street where we were yesterday. Both include breakfast, but this one the hot water is actually hot, and the breakfast menu looks a little better (for $20 a night).

Went over to the giant twin towers this afternoon. Taking a light rail and a subway which seem to be run by separate companies so you need to by separate tickets for each. They seem to have 3 or 4 different lines here, and the interchange
is a little inconvenient, but it gets you there. The towers contain a big shopping mall in the lower levels. Did I mention the franchises yesterday? This place is really loaded with practically every American and European franchise you have heard of and even many we haven't. Mrs Fields cookies, Baskin and Robbins, Chilis (where we ended up having dinner, which was better than the Chili's at home). Body glove, Tag Hauer watches, Gateway computers, Sony, etc. etc. Malaysia is the most modern of the Asian countries and I think KL the most modern city.

The symphony auditorium is in the towers also, but nothing is on today or tomorrow (missed Rostapovich in Sept.)

I think we'll go back in the morning and que up in the line to ride the elevators to the top. Then catch a bus for Singapore the next day.

 November 25, 2000 - Singapore

Singapore is a very modern and clean city to match the best in the world. There are dozens of shopping malls in the core of the city. They have their Christmas
decorations up and are playing Xmas music here and there. One mall on the corner has a large Christmas tree and lights on the street corner and were playing Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer as we passed. It seems a little strange to be near the equator where it is hot as blazes and humid and see the Christmas decorations and hear the music.

We will be headed back to Thailand for awhile before heading home. Just looking into starting a 2 week Thai massage class and a few other activities in Chiang Mai.


November 26, 2000 - Singapore

The riders who made the extra payment to continue left today for New Zealand, and we along with a large number of others stayed here to go on
to other destinations. Spent most of the morning saying goodbyes as people left.

Went back to our hotel room and consumed the bottle of Dom Perignon that Monika won from another rider in a bet. Several months ago she bet another rider TKA would run out of money before the end of the year and he was sure they wouldn't. The other rider made the bet for a bottle of Dom Perignon and delivered it today.

November 28 2000

Traveled back into Malaysia by taxi to take a flight from there back to Phuket. (The airfare was significantly cheaper than in Singapore. Apparently so is the gasoline, so much so that Singapore charges a $500 fine for leaving Singapore with LESS than 3/4 tank of gas, to keep people from driving there to fill up.

Next day we flew back to Phuket Thailand. Got the freight agent to meet us at the airport with our bikes that they had boxed and stored. They got there just in time for us to make the flight. It was cutting it pretty close.

In Bangkok, we found the storage service and left our bikes and most of are luggage there for the next 2- 1/2 weeks so we wouldn't need to lug it around. Cost about $100 but worth saving all the headaches.

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