Jan
30
2011

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Motorized, Again

by Tyler

I had trouble falling asleep last night. I must have lain in bed for three hours staring at the ceiling, thinking about riding motorcycles, feeling for all the world like a kid on Christmas Eve. I don't remember when I finally drifted off, but it was sometime in the wee hours of dawn. If my body was tired from the lack of sleep this morning, I was too wired with excitement to notice!


Today is the second time on this two-year adventure when we've embarked on an unexpected week of motorcycle riding. The last go around, we were in Tunisia, buying a scooter to putter our way through the countryside while we waited for Tara's replacement rear wheel to arrive.

As we get ready to depart, cramming the last of our things into waterproof rack packs, scouring the room for the third and fourth times to be sure we haven't forgotten anything, and checking to see that our bikes are safely stowed, there is a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. According to our contact Jim, from Remote Asia, our motorcycles are set to be delivered at 9 AM, give or take some "Lao time."

Happily, whoever ferried them up from Vientiane wasn't too busy taking beer breaks to get them here right on schedule. As we exchange our passports for keys and helmets at the pickup point, the person working the desk tells me they switched my motorcycle at the last second. Instead of a lowered Kawasaki Sherpa, they've sent a towering Honda SL230. I can juuust touch the ground with my sandaled tip-toes.

Between the last-minute bike switch, and the nearly tread-less rear tire on Pete's Honda FTR, I'm not particularly pleased or impressed with Remote Asia. As well, I'm a little worried about our friends' safety, especially given that Pete has no off-road riding experience. When I point out the sorry state of their tire with our contact at the travel agency, he is unhelpful and dismissive. It doesn't seem that there is much we can do about the situation, and Pete isn't concerned, so we'll just roll with it!

For the next hour, Pete and I go through no less than ten permutations of bungee strapping arrangements, trying to figure out the best way to affix our gear to the racks on the back of the bikes. Meanwhile, Tara and Natasha run errands in town, getting some last minute supplies and cash from the ATM.


With Tara on the bike behind me, arms wrapped around my waist, and Pete and Natasha by our side, we fire up the bikes and hit the road. Riding a motorcycle always feels like coming home; I love this! It doesn't take long for us to escape the tiny city of Luang Prabang. Soon, we're off the highway and into the countryside, heading down a dirt road that carves through rural Laos.

It feels so good to travel up and over hills without having to pedal! I used to take motorized transport for granted, but this trip has taught me to be acutely aware of every subtle change in the grade of the road, and to be thankful when I'm in (or on) a machine that can carry me over them.

Tyler & Helmet

Even though we're able to go quickly, we're making terrible time. No matter what the method of transport, if we're in control of it, we never get anywhere quickly. We stop often for photos, soaking in as much of our surroundings as we can. Adding to our intentional slowness is the unintentional need to stop every five minutes to have another go at strapping our gear down effectively. Each time Pete and I think we have it, everything goes lopsided after the first bump!

Getting Ready to Hit the Road Pete & Motorcycle Our Loaded Motorcycles Us on a Motorcycle (By Natasha)

Eventually we get our belongings are battened down—at last, we can give one hundred percent of our attention to the scenery around us. I feel so fortunate to be here! As our trip comes to end, some regular concerns are creeping back into our lives. There is no way we would've taken this steep, undulating, out-of-the-way dirt path on our bicycles. Where earlier we could afford to take a winding route, our time is now short—just getting here would've taken two days.

Motorcycling in Lao Motorcycle on Dirt Road in Lao Pete & Natasha Motorcycling on Dirt Road

At this moment there is no place on Earth I would rather be than right here, riding alongside our friends.

Motorcycling on Lao Dirt Road
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5 comments

Woah nice new design! These slide shows work much better on IE 7 too (office computer, reading your blog is the highlight of my day - seriously!!) The old slide shows covered up some of the text, so I would do a copy/paste into notepad to read it!

I like the snail logo too :)
Posted by Jackie on April 8th, 2011 at 3:23 PM
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the new layout. I had the same problems with reading the text under pictures.
Posted by Kelly Young on April 8th, 2011 at 4:25 PM
Jackie--

Thanks! I've been working on this for some time now, it feel so good to have it done enough to launch. I wish somebody had said something about the IE7 bug, if I had known, I would've fixed it!

Have you heard of Google Chrome? There is a version you can install on a thumb drive (from home) that you can use in any computer without installing it. Here is a download link if you'd like to give it a shot.

Kelly--

Thanks! Have you tried the search? It pops up results in realtime as you type :D
Posted by Tyler on April 8th, 2011 at 6:19 PM
Well.. see I was conflicted with telling you. You guys are travelling, working, enjoying yourselves... you already fixed previous issues I mentioned, so I figured I wouldn't mention this one. But then you'd previously mentioned that you're a perfectionist, so part of me thought you would want to know! Anywas.... I'll let you know anything I see with this new design ;) Speaking of....... I'm not sure if this is how it's intended as I haven't seen the new design in another browser, but in IE 7 anyways, your line break image has a border around it (the line with the flower in the middle)

My bf works online doing web development, and will spend hours perfecting a site to look the exact same in all browsers - so I'm imagining his perfectionism to be similar to yours!

I do have Chrome at home, and love it. Haven't heard about the thumb drive option though - sounds great! I will look into it. I only read your blog at work since that's really where I need the mental distraction!
Posted by Jackie on April 8th, 2011 at 6:35 PM
Please don't suffer in silence; I'm sure I could've fixed the IE7 thing in like 5 minutes!

I am a bit of a perfectionist, but I've used so many new technologies on this revision of the site that I've decided more or less to shun everything below IE8. Things should be consistent across the newer versions of IE/FF/Chrome/Safari, though.

Maybe someday when I have a bit more free time I'll poke around making things more readable on older browsers.

In any case, don't hesitate to let me know if you see something wrong!
Posted by Tyler on April 10th, 2011 at 2:19 AM
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