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
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
Yes this is still Vietnam
The mountains near Dalat do not look like I expected Vietnam
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.
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
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
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
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
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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