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March 18th, 2011 | Asia

Days in Vientiane…!!

Meier was ready and loaded when we came down for breakfast...

When Willi and I made our way downstairs for breakfast, we found Meier’s bike already loaded…

He had decided to cross into Thailand that same morning, and make his way down to Malaysia via Bangkok, as he only had six weeks of leave left and needed to sell the bike before heading back to Germany…

He had correctly deduced that the cost of sending the bike back to Germany was far in excess of the value of his faithful steed…!! His bike had traveled an extraordinary amount of kilometres on five continents, and was finally ready to be retired…

Sad day for Meier…!!

But before he took off, he had to repair the connection to his battery which had rendered his bike silent since our arrival the night before. This done, he now needed a push to get the bike fired up… Willi and I pushed him around the car park, and on the third attempt the bike coughed to life and with a wave, Meier was gone…

We stood watching him ride away, and I thought about all the bikers I had met to date on this journey… After meeting Meier, all I can confirm, is that “it takes all types…!!” And Meier was one of the more eccentric I had met…!!

"Achtung, achtung...!! Ze Choimans are leaving...!!" Marko Johansmeier bids us goodbye, on his bikes final journey to Malaysia... Prost my friend...!!

It had drizzled during the night and continued to rain the next day, and continued raining for the next three days…!!

I had decided to give the Big Fella an oil change… It had been almost 12 000 km since he last had one, and it would probably be another 3000 km or so before I reached Bangkok to have the BIG service…!!

“I think you need to wash that bike of yours before you change the oil…!!” Willi suggested… “I know just the place…!! Follow me…!!”

The great thing about Willi, is that within a very short space of time in arriving in any town, he will know where the best supermarkets, restaurants and auto spares or mechanics are…!! I have no idea how he does it, but it makes things a whole lot easier, that I can vouch for…!!

We left the hotel in light rain, and after a few kilometres came to the place that Willi had used to wash his scooter… The roads were full of mud, and I knew that the bike would be dirty again in no time, but with so much mud covering the engine, I did not want any of it getting into the gearbox while the oil was being changed…

The Big Fella gets some well deserved TLC... Many people find it hard to believe that this bike is four years old, and just about to tick over the 100 000 km mark...!! Its all about TLC...!!

Bike version of a Bubble Bath...!!

"I think I could get used to this...!! You watching GB...?? No more of that wiping me down with a grubby cloth...!!"

The finishing touches... Total overkill as far as I was concerned...!!

A short way up the road, Willi pulled over at a little motorcycle workshop where a few young Vietnamese guys were working on a a scooter…

“This is it…!!” he exclaimed, “Best motorcycle mechanic in Vientiane…!!”

He introduced me to Fuark, who had helped Willi out on a previous trip here, I think… Fuark a short and confident man, didn’t let the fact that this was probably a bike he did not work on very often phase him…

Within minutes the bash plate had been stripped and the the old oil was draining into a metal bowl under the bike…

Out with the old...!!

They didn’t have the oil I wanted, but the fact that we would be emptying again in only a few weeks, made me accept the 10w40 on offer…

As almost four litres of new oil was poured into the engine, I thought I heard the Big Fella sigh with pleasure…

First a wash and now an oil change... Talk about spoiling...!!

Willi and Fuark pose outside his busy little workshop...

The oil change cost only 160 000 Kip, the price of the oil…!! Fuark did not charge me for the labour…!! Good man…!! More about him in a later post…

The rain was still coming down, and we resigned ourselves to riding in it… Guiding me had made Willi a little peckish, and so I followed him into the downtown area again, where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a large slice of apple pie at a bakery that Willi “just happened to know about”…

When we got back to the hotel later that afternoon, a surprise awaited us… Both Willi and I had been in touch with Simon and Lisa Thomas over the previous few days, and were hoping to meet up with them, even though we were traveling in opposite directions…

I heard the throaty roar of a big motorcycle as it rode into the hotel’s rear parking lot… I went downstairs to meet and greet whoever it was and found Simon Thomas unloading his GS1150… His wife Lisa’s GS650 had already been stripped of her kit…

Then there were three...!! The Big Fella was delighted to find new friends...!!

The 71 countries they had visited in the last 8 years were listed on Simon's pannier...

After introducing himself, I was struck by how similar he looked to Percy Montgomery, the now retired South African Rugby fullback…!! The resemblance was uncanny…!!

We chatted for a while, with Simon giving me a quick rundown of who he and Lisa were and where they were heading…

They had been on the road for 8 years and had covered 71 countries on five continents…!!

It was their intention to ride on all seven continents and complete their record breaking journey in four years time…!! Yeah, they have actually managed to arrange the logistics to ride ride in Antarctica…!!

Their goal was to ride in 122 countries all in all, bit considering how many there are in Europe, and with them having hardly ridden in Europe, I think they will exceed that…!!

I found them to be such an engaging couple, and within minutes felt as if I had known them for a long time… I was especially pleased when they described the wonderful time they had while riding through South Africa, and then delighted when they expressed the opinion that of all the countries they had visited, and if they had to choose one to ever settle in, it would be a toss up between South Africa and Argentina… Made me feel “all warm” inside…!!

You can read more about the remarkable Simon and Lisa on their brilliant website 2ridetheworld.com… Check it out…!!

Simon, Willi, Lisa and I enjoying a meal at the Belgium restaurant alongside the Mekong River in Vientiane...

We went into town for dinner, taking a Tuk-Tuk from our hotel, and ended up walking through the rain before we found a restaurant to have a meal in…

We spent a pleasant evening together, discussing our respective trips and recalling people we had met along the way… I was surprised how many common acquaintances we had made…

Seems the tentacles of the long distance biker fraternity stretch into every corner of the globe…!!

©GBWT 2011

1 comment to Days in Vientiane…!!

  • Mark Behr

    If only people reached out in all walks of life – what a wonderful world we would live in. Glad you had the opportunity to meet Simon and Lisa.

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