It’s been a long long time since we posted here…’s been a year since my son, Kyle, died on his motorbike….and time for me to rejoin the living!  

The past few weeks I’ve felt a pull to try and learn to ride for myself again…this time with a more suited bike and a better instructor/shadow….my husband! If I can’t do it this time, then I shall have to accept it really is that I’m just not a rider. But Vince assures me I can do it….absolute beginner and baby steps….and you know me, I’ll give it my best shot! Who knows BABYCAKES may just make it to South America for our next big trip (date unknown due to money and time at the moment).

I bought him on 21.2.2017 but he had to be lowered, due to me being vertically challenged, so we collected him yesterday. He is a little 2015 Kawasaki Z250SL, only 7 months on the road with 2900k on the clock…and in pristine condition, a steal at just $3900 plus $150 for the lowering links (New is $6099). He looks brand new and I have no intention of dropping him and messing up his beautiful Candy Burnt Orange paintwork!

Vince rode him down the road to our friends, Tam and Zander, at Overlander Adventure Equipment, as I wanted to see if he could be kitted out for long distance travel, and of course he can be! But that’s down the track, I have to crawl before I walk before I run. But Vince did buy me the little tank bag to start off….and who knows I have a birthday next month….Hmmmmm. LOL

I had told the ANIMAL about her little brother before we left to collect him, like most siblings, she didn’t seem too impressed and was strangely quiet. But later in the day, at my first lesson in the school carpark, when she saw her Mummy struggling and scared, she softened and has taken her little brother under her wing now! It was a bit of a harrowing experience, but I managed to stay upright, not drop the bike and to ride it the length of the car park and stop. And so the adventure begins..

If I do get my license, it doesn’t mean that I won’t still ride two up on the ANIMAL, her pillion seat is mine alone and always calls me! She will always be our first born, the realisation of our dreams, our home for 10 months on the road and even my ambulance in Thailand when I broke my arm. Our big girl will always be our baby too!

What a fantastic weekend of old friends, new friends and inspirational overland travellers. I now can’t wait to get back on the road again asap…..South America here we come…….well maybe in a little bit!

I am always impressed and amazed at the wonderful camaraderie between bikers and overland travellers…it is a beautiful community Vince and I are privileged to be part of.

Many thanks to the organisers for all their dedication and handwork in putting together this excellent meeting.

A very special thanks to the incredible generosity of a number of sponsors who provided both major and door prizes – so many that all 110 in attendance received something. These included an all expense paid trip to the Philippines by “Bikes Abroad”, a Trek II Sleeping bag from Tam and Xander from “Overland Adventure Equipment”, Backpacks filled with merchandise by Aaron Zinsli from “South Pacific Motorcycle Tours (NZ)”, Coffee Table books from “Steve Fraser Photography” (National Geo and Ducati), 2 First Aid Course places by Janine from “Rider Down”, a Handmade African Mat from Alfa of “Africa on Two Wheels”, other sponsors included “Horizons Unlimited”, “Nevermind Tours” and “Overland Adventure Equipment”. Sorry, if I have missed anyone….thanks to ALL the generous sponsors.

It was a great opportunity for Vince and I to finally share some of our 10 month overseas trip with others and I dedicated my presentation to my son, Kyle, who I know will continue to ride with us in Spirit wherever we go.

Sorry…..It’s been a long time since we visited…but as many of you would know it’s been a really tragic year for our family…..first my son Kyle died abruptly ending our travels, then back home in Australia, both our fathers (John in Perth and Jock in Darwin) have been gravely ill (mine in ICU on life support after falling through a roof). Vince’s Mother, Christine, died quite suddenly and whilst he was with her in Perth I was with my Father in Darwin. As if all that was not enough, my daughter, Christina, also had an ectopic pregnancy and my deceased son’s baby, Cash, arrived… I’m sure you will understand when I say we have been otherwise occupied!
But we wanted to let you (our loyal blog and website followers) know that we are finally starting to work on our trip “stuff” and will both be presenting at the Horizons Unlimited Perth Western Australia Meeting next month…..we hope to see you all there……please come up and say hello as we would love to catch up.

Karen and Vince


We had planned to move on from Bangkok, into Malaysia and into KL where we had intended to fly the ANIMAL to Darwin, Australia. From there we would ride down to Uluru and then across to Southern Cross and meet our friends from Perth Motorbike and Sidecar Riders to escort us back into our home town of Perth around mid March…..that was the plan!

But a phone call this morning put an end to all of that…..I have worked through being diagnosed with an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma which needed surgery 5 days before we left to begin in London, chemo therapy on the road and adverse burns as a result needing to be under the hospital burns unit in Scotland,  a second lump in Iran that needed surgery, a breast lump that had to be surgically removed in India, and two broken bones that need surgery for titanium implants in Thailand……….it has been a challenging time…..but giving up and going home early was never an option for me……but today I have been flattened beyond belief…I have no fight left in me……I got the call every parent dreads…..last night (24.1.16) my son, Kyle, tragically passed away after hitting a pothole in the road on his motorbike and colliding with a tree…..three friends were with him and witnessed it but no one could do anything….his de facto is due to give birth in 7 weeks to his first child (a little boy) and now my son will never get to see his son…..I can’t accept it……I’m completely and utterly shattered…..Vince and I are going home to lay our son to rest. NO PARENT SHOULD HAVE TO DO THAT.

With help from Ivan at Bikes Abroad, the ANIMAL will get taken care of in Bangkok and sent home by sea now, to Perth. We are booked on the red eye, but direct flight, tomorrow night and we will be home by Wed 27th Jan morning……….the Adventure is abruptly over….family is more important and precious…..hug yours now!

Photos are from 26th Jan leaving Bangkok….

Today we tried to get breakfast at a local cafe which opened at 7.00am….but the owner informed us thats just when staff arrive there is no food until 7.30am…and we were due to be collected by our Tour Guide and Driver from Chang Thai Travel at 7.30am from our hotel….Bugger… quick thinking saw us round the corner for McDonalds!

Back at the hotel our Driver, Mr Ken, was already waiting for us and we were on our way….collecting our Guide, Miss Katie on the road. Our half day tour included air-conditioned private vehicle transport for the duration as well as pick up and drop off at our hotel.

We drove past rice paddies and salt fields along they way and we stopped off at the Maeklong Station Train Markets (Nicknamed: Talad Rom Hub which means the “umbrella pulldown market”). It is one of the largest fresh seafood markets in Thailand, and is centred on the Maeklong Railway’s track. Whenever a train approaches, the awnings and shop fronts are moved back from the rails, to be replaced once the train has passed, this happens around 6 times each day. However, since May 2015 the station is closed for track renovations….they were due to be completed in Dec 2015 but are running behind schedule!

Next we stopped off at a “farmhouse” (quite touristy) where we saw how they make coconut brown sugar and coconut oil….quite and amazing process….the milk and oil come from inside the coconut whilst the sugar comes from the syrup that is made from the Coconut Flower before it fruits.
For a mere 3600THB in total, our trip took us to the 150 year old traditional, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market at klong Damnern Saduak in Ratchaburi province, about two hour drive from Bangkok. We had an exhilarating 30min ride in a narrow long-tailed speed boat through the marshes and stilt houses of the village where the locals still live (love our Ondansetron so we don’t get motion sickness!).

At this unique market we saw Thai style canoes laden with colourful, succulent fruits, vegetables, sweets and meats and we watched as the occupants gently ply their way through the canals. With the help of our Guide, Miss Katie, we even managed to partake of Chicken Noodle Soup, Fresh Coconut Juice and the No 1 must have Thai Dessert…..Sticky Rice with Coconut Milk and Mango….YUM! You could hire a paddle canoe for around 500THB but we decided to see the market by walking.

Whist walking we came across a guy with some snakes…..Vince was brave enough for 100THB to drape it around his neck….I was not convinced so I watched from a safe distance….but was eventually coerced into standing next to him for a photo and they made me hold it’s tale… face says it all….terrified! There was also a lady with a cute little thing that looked like a possum…but she said it was a kind of monkey….that’s much more my style!

We got dropped off at our hotel around 1.30pm…and we gave Miss Katie a tip (as she was so helpful in so many ways). We chilled for the afternoon doing chores such as photos, blogging and chasing up info on crating the ANIMAL home before heading out for some dinner at Terminal 21 Food Court.

This evening we had Gold Seats for the 8.00pm performance of Siam Niramit….an “ xtravaganza” with over 150 dancers and 500 costumes. There were three acts…

1 Journey in History…….The North (Ancient Kingdom of Lanna), The South Seas (Traders from OS), The Northeast – Issan (Heritage of the Khmer Civilisation) and the Central Plains (Ayutthaya the Mighty Capital).

2 Journey beyond Imagination (The three Worlds)…Fiery Hell, Mystical Himapaan, Blissful Heaven.

3 Journey through Joyous Festivals…Loy Krathong and Joyous Festivals such as Songkran and the Phitakhon Ghost Parade.

Whilst we are glad we went it certainly wasn’t in the realm of other shows we’ve seen in London. We also had to content with an Indian family behind us who had brought their children…who continually talked…..cried ……and kicked the back of my seat!

But on the up side I did get to feed an elephant named Tum Lah, she was gorgeous….and appeared later in the show. Vince got picked out of the audience in the last act to come and put a candle cake into the water to float away….quite special….my husband the STAR!

130km approx, and around 2.5 hours riding.

The alarm was set for 6am but we switched it off and woke up again at 7am, packed quickly and left our hotel about 8am, stopping for fuel just down the road and then heading out to Highway 7, bound for Bangkok.

Aad had already alerted us via email to the fact that motorcycles aren’t allowed on the expressways that run into and through Bangkok (on pain of a 2000 THB fine I recalled later in the day) and I thought the route I’d plotted yesterday on the GPS avoided any expressways, but this morning we quickly found ourselves breaking the rules once again, but at least we had a good ride into Bangkok!

I honestly didn’t see any signs saying that motorbikes weren’t allowed, and a highway police car that came up on us from behind with his lights flashing didn’t pull us over – I quickly realised he was escorting three large tour coaches to give them a clear run up the motorway so I dropped in behind the last coach and joined the convoy. They turned off the motorway at the Chon Buri exit, maybe halfway to Bangkok, so we picked up the pace a bit and cruised along at 120kmh for a while, the designated speed limit for cars.

We passed a motorcycle policeman parked on the side of the road and it looked like he wanted to have a chat with us as he started to pull away from his position, but I never saw him again so perhaps he changed his mind.

We came across a toll booth but we’re that accustomed to slipping through on the free motorcycles lane that in the absence of such a lane today I made my own, taking advantage of a truck rolling through the boom gate to sneak through ourselves. Someone yelled out to us from the gate booth – I’m sure it sounded like “Have a nice day” or something similar 🙂

We found another coach convoy with four buses under police escort and dropped in behind them, enjoying the slipstreaming as we clocked up 100km from Pattaya, but then another toll booth appeared and we took the opportunity to come off the motorway at this point rather than continue to press our luck. Two highway police officers with fluro vests were waiting at the boom gate and I thought we’d be well and truly busted but they just waved us through with a smile! “Great” I thought, as Aad and Mike had been forced to turn around and ride back down the motorway into the oncoming traffic when they got stopped a few days ago.

On the urban roads with about 26km to go we quickly got bogged down with stop-start traffic, full of cars and trucks and tuk-tuks and scooters. At times we’d have a little break and could scoot ahead, and at times we squeezed quite neatly through the gaps between the cars, but the closer we got to Bangkok the narrower the gaps and the less confident I was of squeezing through, so often we just sat and sweltered in the morning heat, watching the scooters and motorbikes swarm all around the cars. It took us about 70 minutes to cover the 26km.

Our first stop today was the Olympus camera office. Yesterday we’d booked a hotel within walking distance of the office, and then afterwards I found out that google maps was showing the wrong address for Olympus, so they were 4km east of our hotel (fortunately just off the main arterial road I thought they were on). Anyway, we went to Olympus in the hope of getting the faulty TG-4 either replaced or refunded on the spot but they insisted that it needed to be checked first so we left it there and will return on Monday to collect either it or its replacement. There’s a whole blog waiting to be posted about the camera and our views on world-wide warranties and customer service, but I’ll wait to see how things eventuate on Monday before finishing off that post.

Back on the bike we rejoined the arterial road and crawled towards our hotel, whilst local riders just mounted the footpaths and scooted along them – how I wanted to join them – but bollards placed on the footpaths looked quite narrowly spaced and I didn’t want to get jammed in.

It took around 30 minutes to cover about 4km, but eventually we turned off the road down a little alleyway and quickly arrived at our Travelodge, home for the next three evenings.

Bike unloaded and dingy room moved into, we went for lunch back near the Main Street at a little Italian place – spaghetti and red wine for Karen and chicken with cashew nuts and Chang beer for me. This was our first meal of the day and it was about 2pm at this stage, so we were hungry and ready for a bite to eat.

In the afternoon I had a little nap – I was tired either from not sleeping too well last night and/or exhausted from the ride into Bangkok, and Karen worked on her photos.

In the early evening we went for a stroll around the local area, finding flash hotels nearby like the Sofitel and the Sheraton, and an airport-themed mall called ‘Terminal 21’ where floors are given names like ‘Paris’ or ‘Istanbul’ rather than floor numbers. We had Mexican for dinner here, walking past the Swenson’s icecream place that Mike would have enjoyed had he been here 🙂

Back at our dingy room Karen has been organising a few sightseeing activities for us whilst we’re in Bangkok this weekend and I’ve been blogging and reading the news. Check back tomorrow and Sunday to find out how we spent our weekend in this sprawling mega-city !!!

Today we planned to visit a couple of places, including the Sanctuary of Truth (Prasat Sut Ja Tum) which is a carved teak wood construction spanning some 105 metres high, one of a kind in the world. It is a strange fusion of religion, philosophy, art and culture……not a temple or palace even though it looks like one. The info I have read tells me the elaborate sculptures and cravings are a reflection of the Ancient Vision of Earth, Ancient Knowledge and Eastern Philosophy………..the seven creators man cannot be born and exist without: Heaven, Earth, Father, Mother, Moon, Sun and Stars. Deeply embedded into all of this are ancient Buddhist, Hindu, Brahman and other spiritual and philosophical elements. We can see it from the balcony of our hotel room.

But after we had an interesting breakfast of plain toast, coffee and “Milk Tea” ( a teacup filled with frothy milk, a small jug with hot water and an espresso cup with red tea – obviously not what I was expecting!) at The Little Duck Cafe, we decided to skip it as I was not feeling 100%. The owner/baker of the shop didn’t want us to go …offering for her to “present my cake”….made of Taro….I really didn’t feel like eating it but we didn’t want to offend so we sat back down and tried some….it was too die for! The most delicious cake I think I have ever had in my life…the sponge was perfect…so light and fluffy…and the filling so light and creamy…unbelievable!

After walking back, we chatted with the the hotel owner and her adult son for a while, as he had studied in Australia and Switzerland, before they helped us organise a taxi (150 THB) from our hotel to take us the 6km journey into Pattaya City and visit an unusual Art Gallery

Art in Paradise, is the first interactive art gallery in Thailand, by allowing visitors to be more than just a viewer, but become an art object themselves. You can actually be part of the art works. The place displays over 100 3D paintings in 10 different themed zones. Every painting looks so real that you have to move closer to see if they are actually painted on the flat surface and each piece allows visitors to interact creatively and pose for photos.

It cost us 400THB (A$20) each to get in. At the entrance we had to remove our shoes and this became clear as to why later when we started interacting with the art work. It was an amazing place…..Vince and I had such fun and hammed it up big time…..we easily spent about two hours and it was a very unique opportunity and experience. We found out later they have these also in Chaing Mai and Bangkok. We had a great time!

We left Art in Paradise, passing some of the “girly entertainment” places as we went to find somewhere for lunch….my tummy had really started playing up in the gallery…… resulting in two rushed visits to the ladies, so I wanted to try to play it safe….Vince spotted Burger King….. not proud of it but that’s where we ended up.

We caught a taxi bus (200THB) back to our hotel for a rest from the heat and more toilet visits for me…. before heading back to The Little Duck Cafe for another piece of  THAT cake…but she had sold out of the Taro so Vince tried the Chocolate Fudge and I had the Coconut Sponge…….OMG…..both to die for! This woman is an amazing baker, we have never tasted anything so good before….it was so good it even made me temporarily forget about the fruitcake I have been craving since our non event of a Christmas!

Unfortunately, it was almost a RUN back to our hotel for me…then into what must be the slowest lift on the planet up to our room on the 12th floor….it was excruciating…but luckily I just made it! Travelling in 3rd world countries has its price and my digestive tract has taken a severe beating off and on since Turkey! Cast Iron Vince remains unaffected by this latest bout….. so I don’t know what it was that’s set it off…..not fun!

So unable to be too far from the toilet it will be a quiet night in for me tonight and luckily it’s not a long ride to Bangkok tomorrow! Hope this passes soon, I feel like crap….literally!

300km approx. Five hours including the border crossing.

After last night’s little drama where four guys tried to barge into our hotel room about 9:30pm before they realised they had the wrong room, and then they were waiting just outside at a table for over an hour before someone called off the dogs, sleep didn’t come particularly easy last night and I was grateful to see the sky getting lighter through our flimsy curtains as that meant I could get up and start the day.

We packed the bike quickly and then rode the brief distance down to the ‘beachside’ restaurant overlooking the river where we had dined last night. I walked across to the river edge and snapped a few photos of the guys working on the fishing boats at rest in the water, loading supplies and sorting out fishing nets, whilst a woman and an old man fished from the boat ramp.

Breakfast concluded – crispy bacon, eggs and tea & coffee – we were on the bike and across the long bridge to the toll booth on the far side, 1,400 riel fee to cross. The Cambodian border town of Cham Yeam is 10km west of the bridge and Karen and I chatted on the intercom about our experiences in Cambodia as we rode through the lush countryside. We’ve only been in Cambodia for 10 nights but the experience has been quite profound and we’ll both miss this country, still struggling to get back on its feet and having to face a range of social issues and problems.

We rode past the Koh Kong Safari World entrance and the International Resort which seemed modelled with a French influence dating back to perhaps the 1930’s before arriving at the small Cambodian border crossing station. We quickly had our passports stamped out, departure cards removed and fingerprints scanned, and then across the road an officer from the Customs department waved us over, and started to query us about why we didn’t have any Customs paperwork for the bike – essential apparently if you want to ride inside Cambodia. Karen switched her charm onto ‘full’ and explained in her most endearing voice that despite her erstwhile request at O’Smach – our entry point into Cambodia – they had told us that no paperwork was required.

The risk at this stage was that we might be sent back to O’Smach to get the required paperwork, but Karen’s charm worked wonders on the Customs officer who emphasised that ‘next time’ we must get the paperwork, before shaking our hands and waving us across the border. Phew !!!!!!

The short section of road leading to the Thai border control passed the ocean – this is the first time we’ve seen the sea since Albania and it was great. We filled out our arrival and departure cards for Thailand and then mistakenly stood in the line for ‘Visas On Arrival’ I was told I needed to get our passports stamped and the Simplified Customs Declaration Form for the motorbike sorted out, so I went to another window and had the passports stamped and then trotted across the road to yet another window, got the form completed as required, and then went back to the VOA window where the girl checked our paperwork, completed our vehicle conveyancing form in duplicate, and then gave everything back to us.

Karen walked past the border gate and went to get some cold cokes whilst I moved the bike up – we had some Thai baht from our earlier visit and that came in handy today. Drinks drunk we were back on the road and I could immediately tell that we were back in Thailand as the road was in great condition and the road markings and signage is immaculate.

Yesterday evening I’d plotted a route from Koh Kong to Pattaya – our destination for the day – but when loaded into the GPS it just drew a straight line from A to B, so I could only guess that we had between 300km and 400km to ride today. The first part of the ride was absolutely blissful – twisting, scenic road that stretched between the coast on our left and the mountains on the right, with minimal traffic to distract us. We cruised along around 110kmh – 120kmh here, but after a while I throttled back as I was trying to conserve fuel and avoid a refuelling stop today, as I wasn’t sure we had enough THB on us to pay for a tank load. Dropping our speed to around 100kmh changed our fuel consumption for the better – from initially projecting that we’d run out 40km from Pattaya we finished the day with 65km left in the tank. I can always guarantee a good reaction from Karen when I tell here how close we’ve come to using a full tank but I don’t do that often to maintain the element of surprise.

Gradually the roads started to widen and carry more traffic, and occasional signs showed that bicycles and motorbikes should stay in the far left lane, but we slipped through the traffic as we wished, taking advantage of the far left lane only when faced with a red light ahead, as then we could sneak to the front of the waiting traffic and get a great start on the green, pulling far ahead of the cars and trucks and getting some open road for a while.

About 150km into the ride I spotted “Ben’s Cafe” on the roadside so we pulled over for a brownie each and a cup of tea & coffee, before scooting off again, this time into some light drizzle that made the road surface slippery in some places. We did get the tyres zinging in one spot when a silly car driver started to do a u-turn into our lane, but I caught it before the bike did so I was pleased with that.

Towards the end of the ride and with about 5km to go the GPS wanted us to take a 25km detour but I spotted that before we got sucked into it, so I just ignored the suggested route and instead we picked our way through the back roads before popping out a short distance from our hotel – the Ruenthip Pattaya. I’m guessing that a glitch in the Open Street Map I’m using for Thailand (thanks Aad !!) had a small gap in the roads near our hotel and hence felt obliged to look for a complete route.

Our hotel is a few blocks back from the beach and one of the tallest buildings in the area. Our top-floor room on the 12th floor overlooks the sea and the view is lovely. We unpacked, showered to cool down and then walked to a nearby restaurant for a cheap lunch of fried chicken and cashew nuts, and then chilled out back in our room before walking to the beach just before sunset to take some photos and enjoy the view.

We found ourselves in a large, covered dining area that opened out over the sea, which had receded on the tide to leave a mess of junk on the beach. Patrons were ordering food from attentive waiters, and when we walked out the back of this place we came across the large kitchen where the chefs were busy at work, and tanks full of dinnerplate-sized crabs, lobsters, sea bass, and various types of prawns.

We walked south – in the direction of Pattaya, stopping at a small restaurant that had a walkway stretching past a river mouth around to the sea front, and took some more photos of the setting sun and young boys trying their luck with a fishing net in the shallow river water before we enjoyed a wine & beer.

Now we’re catching up on our regular jobs – Karen is looking for accommodation in Bangkok and I’m blogging away to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. We have an off-bike day tomorrow and then will scoot up to Bangkok to go visit Olympus Cameras and explore the city a bit. Bring it on !!!!