Monday, July 24, 2017

ASIA THE DR. CRAZIER WAY - ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLE BY TRUCK AND MAIL



Much of the crazed adventure across Myanmar and Thailand was conjured here at the Nicky’s Handlebar in Patong, Thailand

Dr. G had warned a South African, Paul Blignaut from Cape Town,  of the high degree of danger they would be facing, saying that “The Crazier Plan” for crossing Asia was at the opposite end of the adventure safety spectrum than the one scratched after his riding pal had abandoned him in Africa and bunny-hopped home. Blignaut, the owner/operator of GS Africa Rentals and Tours (www.gsafrica.com) said, “Bring it on! I’m no adventure riding bunny like your mate # 7 (Ed note: see June 22 Post in blog for reference) haring off back there quivering in the USA.” 
Nicky and Dr. Gregory Frazier are shown here meeting on Phuket Island to sketch out a fun and wild adventure across the middle of Southeast Asia after the rest of the world.


Blignaut and Dr. G then connected at the famed Nicky’s Handlebar (www.nickyhandlebars.com) after Nicky and Dr. G conjured what route could be mapped out across Myanmar through Thailand to Laos and how the South African tour guide and well-known adventurer Blignaut could qualify to participate. The plan was fairly simple, although untried before: rent two single cylinder motorcycles, ride to the southern border of Myanmar and place them on a truck to be carried through Myanmar to the northern Thai border where Blignaut and Dr. G would collect them some days later.  This would avoid hiring guides for both Thailand and Myanmar and filing for transit permits, a lengthy and costly expense.   



Blignaut and Dr. G would ride in air conditioned VIP buses in Thailand from border to border, swilling and chilling for the time needed, and then ride unguided on their Thailand registered motorcycles across Thailand.  At the border of Laos they would take the motorcycles to the Thailand Post Office and mail them back to Patong on Phuket Island and fly onward. In Thailand small motorcycles can be sent through the mail service from one Thai point to another, often for less than it would cost to drive the motorbike the same distance.  When asked how long the adventure would take, Dr. G, knowing a weakness of Blignaut for Marker’s Mark bourbon, said, “Depending on your consumptive abilities, maybe two or three liters.”



Blignaut and Nicky are seen here going over the requirements for Blignaut to qualify for entry, which included “riding like the locals do:” with cut-offs, T-shirt, cheap motorcycle helmet, open shoes, in the rain, over and back across the deadly Patong Hill of Death road. Both Dr. G and Blignaut would be using 150 cc Honda PCX motorbikes for the Crazier Plan.



Pictured above was Paul Blignaut on an off-pavement test ride with his Honda 150 cc PCX, after having completed a difficult section of sugar sand riding before being chased off a public beach by aggressive stick wielding beach guards and qualified as # 2 in The Great Around The World Adventure Rally.



“I’m in!” declared Paul Blignaut, after agreeing to join Dr. G in a crazed way to cross Asia. Blignaut qualified as # 2.

 
Dr. G poses above for a photo op with his # 9 Honda 150 cc PCX after a day of test riding.


The Crazier Plan ran off the tracks when it was learned that the rented Hondas could not be taken off Phuket Island.  $100 dollar bills were waving in the air as a possible way to bend the rules, but in the end the truck ride for the motorcycles and VIP air conditioned bus ride with several liters of Maker’s Mark was partially ruled out, except for the Maker’s Mark and numerous toasts to  having stayed alive after 200 testing miles circling Phuket Island.  Blignaut was left with a half empty liter of Maker’s Mark at Nickys Handlebar while Dr. G jetted up to Chiang Mai, Thailand with his riding gear and some cash for more crazier conjuring at the Southeast Asia Motorcycle Adventure Center, The Rider’s Corner (www.riderscorner.net), seen below.




Several hours with the Ride Asia expert expats (www.rideasia.net) on motorcycling in The Golden Triangle and Southeast Asia came up with an alternative plan to reach Laos. Again, the plan involved continuing to use single cylinder motorcycles versus the twins and triple Dr. G had used on previous continents.

First choice was Dr. G’s road bike, seen above.  After outfitting it and doing some road testing, he said, “It’s too big for the roads this time of year.  It’s the monsoon season and the Thai mud tracks and construction sections I tried were worse than freshly wet gumbo in Montana. It made me almost wish I was with The Adventure Riding Bunny in his RV back in ‘Dorothy and Toto’s Kansas,’ well, not nearly almost.”



Seen above was Dr. G’s second choice, a highly modified Kawasaki KLX150.  After a day of testing he X’d that choice, saying, “It’s great for what it was designed for, motocross racing, a Frankenduro, but at highway speeds with the knobby tires and low gearing I felt as if my new dental work was going to shake loose.”


Seen above is Daft # 1, on the left, (Dr. G being known as Daft # 2 after some of their joint daft motorcycle adventures around Thailand), who had done a test run-off with his Honda 250 cc single to log some pavement miles with Dr. G.  Between rain, errant drivers and slippery roads, they decided to shelve another daft motorcycle adventure and make plans for one when it was not raining most of the day.  They chose the Daff Bar to make their next daft plan.



Dr. G finally chose to do what the locals do, some nearly 20,000,000 of them in Thailand, and use a single cylinder step-through motorcycle, a 130 cc Kawasaki Kazy.  He cut his luggage in half, said “Good-bye” to his partial pit crew of cats and vectored towards the border of Laos, planning there to put the motorcycle in or on a bus and send it back to his start point in Chiang Mai, while he flew in a big silver bird on to Los Angeles.


Crossing Thailand at speeds that ranged from 20-60 mph, Dr. G had time to look around more than he had while blasting around Europe on the autobahns at 90 mph, or always checking his rear view mirrors for his riding pal through North and South America.  Pictured here he saw a carved copy of Mt. Rushmore, reminding him that he was on a fixed schedule to be back in Montana, USA before the Harley-Davidsons roared through the Black Hills of South Dakota in early August.  He said of his 130 cc KAZY, “If I was riding the KAZY during Sturgis Bike Week I could be mistaken for Pee-wee Herman. Here I’m just another of the 20,000,000 other motorcycle drivers.”


Pictured is the 130 cc Kawasaki KAZY ready for another 500-600 miles.


Having been told that “all real adventure riders drink Starbucks coffee,” Dr. G stopped to try to get his head around the relationship between Starbucks coffee and adventure riding. He said, “I kind of cheated.  I bought a good cup of coffee across the street at McDonalds, but did use the toilet in the Starbucks before I left for the first 60 miles of road miles.”


“Mission Accomplished” could have been the sign hanging when Dr. G landed back at his official Start Point, Los Angeles International Airport, on July 2, 2017, three years and one month after departing (with some lengthy pit stops along the way). Instead he was greeted by fans and supporters who helped him adjust to the 13 hour time change and ease back into motorcycle driving in America.

 




At the official Start of The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally there had been two motorcycles and one of the riders in a similar photo as above. Upon reflection, Dr. G titled this photo above “The Lost Man” to recognize that one who started and did not finish. On the fence Dr. G had placed his well worn Aerostich jacket (www.aerostich.com), Nolan helmet (www.nolan-usa.com), sticker # 9 number plate that had been affixed to his various motorcycles used to circle the globe and the AROUND THE WORLD pennant that had been carried around the world on the Clancy Centenary Ride (http://bit.ly/n6bXGX) for a second time.

Throwing a “Welcome Home” party for Dr. G were members of the Airheads Club (www.airheads.org) an unpretentious global motorcycle club of BMW airhead owners. Two of the founding members (# 1 and # 111) were so unpretentious they left Dr. G holding his own swill bill after departing the nearly XXXX rated party in Escondido.

Pictured above is another supporter and well known Airhead club member, Ed Fule, who wanted to join Dr. G on his last decompressing miles back to Montana.  Since The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally was over, Ed was allowed to select his own number for his number plate.  Honoring his request, he was granted # 69, but only after offering several detailed sections and tales for the pending book, THE LOST MAN.



While no book or DVD was initially contemplated covering the epic adventure incorporated in The Great Around The World Adventure Rally, several followers and supporters kept insisting there was wide interest in showing the ugly underbelly of traveling around the globe in the 21st Century with an ugly American.  Dr. G argued that seemingly 100’s of travelers he had met over the years had books planned, hoping to gain notoriety and monetary rewards for their extended vacations, journeys or global loops, that not much new would be of interest. "Not so," said his supporters. "Those are many pimped tales of success. You've seen the dirty side of blustering, obfuscating, threatening and lying to cover an individual's failure."

While Paul Blignaut and Nicky were comparing notes on customers, both being tour guides and operators, a third foreign adventurer suggested they consider urging a tome of Dr. G’s reflections on how he had seen other American’s adjust, or not, to traveling outside the United States while on motorcycles. Dr. G laughed, said he would give such a book some more Marker's Mark thought.
 
Dr. G said, “I have never proclaimed that I am one of the top motorcycle adventurers in the world, in fact I go the other direction.  Others may think I’ve got most of it figured out, but I still do stupidities.  For instance, I carried a client’s coffee pot and gas stove throughout our travels in South America because he had packed too much ‘stuff.’  Stupid, and more stupid because we landed in Colombia, known world wide for it's coffee and here he was carrying his own USA coffee and fixings.  I should have tossed his expensive coffee maker and cooker out of the firth floor window of the Marriott Hotel he had us booked in, as a ‘top motorcycle adventurer’ would have, or given it to the maid or bellman.  My adventure learning curve is still not flat, but I have lowered it by watching how other Americans have often oversold themselves as competent motorcycle operators or wannabe adventurists. I’ve also learned never to take myself too seriously – someone has already done what I have been doing over my last million miles, maybe a bit differently.”
   

A film industry insider and motorcycle enthusiast, not wanting to be named due to the possible ghost of his ex-wife hearing, said, “Here, take the keys to my motorcycle and slip on down to the Mexican border for a day or two, chill out after having survived 18,000-19,000 miles around the globe. You’ve another 1,000-1,500 to go before you’re back murdering fish and refreshing your motorcycle-mojo in Montana. While you’re gone I’ll scribble some chapter headings for this fictitious character you’re working on. There’s a bigger story here, and I’ve met some ugly dickhead Americans in Mexico that can make your tales show that simply owning and riding a motorcycle doesn’t mean they are worth the skin they are inside.”  Dr. G laughed and replied, “Dick, that’s the name of the current suggested main character. Funny you made the connection.”




A sample above of the draft book above in progress, THE LOST MAN, with a working sub-title “Motorcycle Traveling The World With A 21st Century Ugly American.” The working content is a collection of “Character Tales Of An American Man, Whom Some Could Say Suffered From The Dunning-Kruger Syndrome, Who Did Not Know His Motorcycling And Cultural Adaptation Limitations.              
        
 
 (Next: Some reflections from Dr. G and others after his sixth journey around the globe.  He says, “Mistakes I made, things I should have done and why keys to a motorcycle do not make a man or a woman a motorcyclist or person of high character value.”)