21 August 2013

The beginning...

Last January (2013), I decided to plan a trip to SE Asia.  Soon my must-see list included Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand with Burma as a maybe.

In February, I decided to do the entire trip via motorcycle--even though in the last 59 years I had only ever ridden about 15 miles on one.  I bought very detailed maps of the above countries, signed up for two motorcycle training classes, and bought a 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 and all the requisite gear.  The bonus is that I can now add motorcycle training facilitation to the instructional design I've done for many years.

In late March, after completing both the on-road and the off-road motorcycle courses and with about 18 miles under my helmet since the training classes, I forgot THE cardinal rule--look where you want to go--and rode right into a ditch, breaking my left clavicle.  

Both broken and very embarrassed, I somehow managed to get the bike out of the ditch and ride home with the handlebars turned 45 degrees just to go straight.  Then I backed the bike into the garage, removed my gloves, helmet, jacket, boots, and riding pants--with a broken clavicle and a big bump where the two pieces were now overlapping.  I even got into the car to drive myself to the ER, but when I tried to reach over with my right arm and pull the driver's door closed, I finally realized I was in shock and should call for help.

A call to 9-1-1 brought the volunteers of the Griffin Fire Department and an ambulance to my door.  Having been a Griffin firefighter years ago, I knew most of them.  This meant enduring a bit of good-natured grief, mostly about the deal they might get on my damaged bike and what I was possibly thinking when I decided to learn to ride a "donorcycle."  When Deputy Chief John asked why I didn't call from the ditch, I admitted that I was too embarrassed. He suggested that next time I call from the accident site.  "Next time"???

Thank goodness for full insurance!  The ambulance ride was ~$950 and the total cost for surgery, bike repair, etc. was over $10,000--all incurred before I had even paid my first premium.  My only out-of-pocket was the $500 deductible.

A few days later I had surgery to screw a plate into my clavicle to hold it in place.  

I promised the doc and my client that I would refrain from riding until the end of May so that it would have time to properly heal and so I could complete the client's project on-time.

Yes, I'm still planning the trip and will soon be sending my passport off for the required visas.  The currently planned route starts in Saigon (where I'll purchase a bike), Hoi Ann, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, various locations in Laos, NW Thailand (Golden Triangle area), Burma (?), then back through Bangkok to Cambodia (Siem Reap, Angkor Tham, and much more), arriving back to Saigon in time to meet Seattle friend Huong for Tet.  

This blog will be a way of keeping notes during the trip so that it's easier to write articles for travel and motorcycle magazines--as well as letting friends share the experience.

If you know SE Asia or parts of it and can recommend places to see, stay, and/or eat, please contact me.  I would love the help...

The posts here will be infrequent until much closer to departure, so make a note to come back to visit a bit later this fall.

Thanks for reading.  See you soon!


  1. Incredible trip ahead of you! Envy......
    Be safe and we will follow your journey
    Tom and Anita

  2. A friend who lived in Thailand and Vietnam, as well as China recommended:
    - Chiang Mai (in the north)
    - Krabi (at an amazing resort on a peninsula).
    - Koh Samui (Koh = island)

    If I get other recommendations, I'll pass them along.