Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Big Trip


Hi, and a warm welcome to the dotpix blog which will be updated over the coming months so please check back or checkout updates on my facebook page.

The Trip

On the 7th of January 2015 a friend (Neil Whitehead) and I (Neil Petersen) will be travelling to Thailand. The purpose of this journey is to have a bit of downtime away from the real world and get back to things that we love, taking photographs and riding motorcycles.

Our trip will start with a flight to Bangkok and then a short flight to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

Our Route

Our goal is to travel from Chiang Mai into and through Laos, arriving in Cambodia. After Exploring Cambodia we are looking to head back into Thailand and arrive in our starting destination of Chiang Mai. As you can probably guess from the image below our exact route is yet to be planned.

Our Experience

To be perfectly honest, we don't have any real past adventures to boast of. I've had a mid 90's Honda CRF125, a few road bikes including a Honda CBR 400, Suzuki GSXR600 K2, Yamaha R6 and a Suzuki GSXR600 K6 and now own a 2013 Honda CRF250L.

In October 2014 Neil and I, both owning CRF250L's decided we would jump in at the deep end, hired a van and took a trip to Llanderchindda Farm in Wales to take on some of the toughest some green lanes/trails available in the UK. Having no experience of the area or where we could legally ride we hired the guide for the first days adventure to help us on our way and boy did we need him.

When we arrived we noticed a few signs that identifies you as an amateur:

1) When you get there other people look at your brand new shiny bikes with a concerned face.
2) You find yourself rubbing mud on your boots/gear to hide the fact they are brand new.
3) You have all the gear and no idea.
4) You have to ask how to use a GPS.
5) The tyres on your "dual sport" bike aren't up to the job and simply fill with mud and you end up sliding all over the place.

With this in mind everyone has to start somewhere and we learnt a lot from our trip and survived the week. The trails were at times very challenging riding tarmac, gravel rocks, forests and river crossings. These included the Strata Florida, Rhayader, the Crychan Forest and the Brecon Beacons (including the famous Sarn Helen). 

On our last day we were confident enough to take a GPS with some preloaded tracks displayed over a GPS Device (Satmap Active 12) and head out on our own. Remember that safety is always a priority. You should never attempt to ride trails that you are not confident with and always ride in numbers, have a phone, maps and GPS so you can be found if something should happen and you require assistance. Here are a few photos from our trip.

Taking a break to soak up the views.

The view from Llanerchindda Farm 

The Sarn Helen

The end of the ride

The Sarn Helen

Resources and Information

After numerous hours of research (questionable), we found the GT Rider website/RideAsia which has provided a vast quantity of our information in preparation for this trip. They also sell a memory card which contains numerous maps and trails which have been collected and road by past and present members of the site. They also have a lot of GPS tracks available on their site to download and use with compatible GPS devices.


Thailand operate a strict visa policy which by default only allows a 30 day tourist visa on arrival. As we will be entering the country and re-entering we were required to visit the Royal Thai Embassy in London to apply for a multiple entry visa. You can apply for these by post but as we were planning on leaving so soon we had to ensure our visa was in order. 

You have to fill out the form which you can obtain from their website and supply two photographs. Please note you have to leave your passport with the embassy overnight and is ready for collection between 11:00-12:00 the next working day, but beware get there early as you will find there is often a queue out of the door.

Once you have your visa stuck into your passport you are ready to go.

International Driving Permit

Along with both parts of your UK driving license, another important document you'll need when riding in Asia is an International Driving Permit. These can be obtained from the post office, you'll need to show your driving license, provide a recent photo, proof of address and pay the hefty sun of £5.50. More information on the permit can be found on the post office website.

Travel Insurance

Whenever you are going abroad, please ensure you have the appropriate level of travel insurance. Unlike the UK, Asia does not have the benefit of the NHS. Should anything unforeseen happen, this can result with expensive medical bills that are in the thousands if you are not adequately covered by your medical insurance. 

If riding motorcycles abroad please check the policy wording of your insurance as they will normally state motorcycles up to 125cc. We decided to go with Holidaysafe as they cover motorcycles over 125cc which is what we will be riding.

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