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Now available as an E-Book!
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Previews from the book "Southeast Asia on 2 Wheels."

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135 full-color pages of photos, stories, anecdotes, illustrations, journal pages maps and more!In addition to the four major sections on Yunnan, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand I have included some back story on both my first (and unsuccessful) attempt to motorcycle through China as well as how the planning for the trip came together.I have chosen the very best of the more than 4,000 photos from the trip as well as the most humorous, moving and fascinating of the several hundred anecdotes for Southeast Asia on 2 Wheels.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Easy Riding!

Tha Khaek, Laos PDR

With great enthusiasm and motivation I left lonely Vientiane yesterday, fully intent on getting a good 250 km under my belt for the day. No further than 17 km later, Rocinante (the bike) began to choke and sputter. Bad fuel filter. I stopped in a small rural town to mend it, and get some water at a local convenience store. One thing led to another and soon I found that I was spending the entire day with a really wonderful Lao family. We played with their kids, did some chores, and even cooked a great dinner together. I especially enjoyed just sitting around and watching the grass grow while drinking the milk out of a fresh coconut (which I helped pull off the tree.) I stayed the night in their home / store and woke up refreshed this morning.

Setting off in the early sun, I noticed something very odd about the road I was traveling. I checked the compass which confirmed my suspicions- this road was straight! Hell's bells! I hadn't seen a straight road since I left the US. Hour after hour, mile after mile, the road shot straight out east, flat as the floor across a sun-baked savannah. I passed some 250km and would have done more if an aching sunburn hadn't reminded me to stop. So, stop I did, in the small city of Tha Khaek, just 100 km from Savannakhet which will mark my last leg of Laos before Cambodia. Best part of all - it's only 3:00pm! Looks like another lazy afternoon of watching the dust blow with the locals.

Bike nerd stuff: valve tapping noise may be the result of poor-grade gasoline. In China, various types of gas are available at every station (#0, #90, #93 octanes etc.) In Laos however, if gas is available at all, it is simply "unleaded" which I suspect is a low octane, low grade gas. In cars, low octane fuels can result in tapping or 'pinging' so I imagine the same must be true of bikes. Fuel filter replacement stopped the power loss and cutting-in-and-out that was happening yesterday. Air filter might need to be replaced as well... come to think of it, after all the dust and diesel I've choked on, my air filter might need replacing!

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