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Archive for November 14th, 2012

Dash For Parts

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 14, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Life here in Laos is slow and relaxed and until the bike parts arrived there is nothing that I want to do. This town id based on treks into the jungle with kayaking etc, but that is not my cup of tea, so I just vegged and met the people who came through. I was a long term resident 🙂

Here are Amy and Steve, backpacking surfers from Kiwiland

And the McEwan family from Canada, followed by young Cole finding out that the banana pizza with chocolate is very hot to touch, patience there m8 🙂

Late on the Sunday afternoon(12th Nov) I got a phone call from Nat, the chap down at the Suzuki shop, my part has arrived , yippeeeeee 🙂 I flew down there and then found that yes, a part had arrived, but it is not what I had ordered. In this photo, my original part is on the right.

The differences are not that big but enough to be a bother. For a start, the big lugs where my power cables bolt on to have a large surface area, while the new one doesn’t. When I actually tried it on the bike, my cables would not fit because the plastic partition between the lugs was in the way. I could have worked a way around this except for the one thing that was real bad, this unit has a different socket which is not waterproof. It came with a plug and lengths of cable, and the chaps here at the shop wanted to cut my harness off and solder this one in, no frikkin way Jose!!! I had a hard time explaining to them that only in a desperate emergency would I destroy a waterproof connection.

The issue at hand was that I had given to them the Suzuki OEM part number for them to order, they decided to order something else, at a cost of $180 I declined to purchase it even as a backup, and got my deposit back 😦

My only hope now was Johnofchar, from VSRI. I had a tracking number from John and saw that FedEx would deliver it the next day at 5pm to the address in Thailand, so I had to make a decision. Do I try and get it sent up from down there or do I go and get it? I checked with Andre on how he gets his stuff sent up and he said basically they have to go get it! Hmm, that was not what I understood when I first asked about shipping a part in, but it is too late to change now. My decision has been made for me, I would need to go to Chiang Rai and pick it up, assuming it arrived when it is supposed to. There are customs issues in Thailand from what I hear from Eric, another overlander that arrived today. HE says that sometimes parts arrive, the tracking info says it has been delivered, but in actual fact the part is sitting in customs waiting for the ‘duty’ to be paid, they never bother to contact you about it at all. Hmm, that could be bummer but I decided to go anyway, then when customs opened up I could make a phone call and ask. At least I would be on the move, even if it is by bus.

This is Eric and his bike and the pizza oven where we are getting dinner at the Forest Retreat while sucking down a few coldies 🙂


So, the next day I said goodbye to Eric(he was going up to the Chinese border to meet some people coming down from China, they had been transiting), and I bought my ticket and went bussing, a totally different mode of transport 🙂

We headed south to the Mekong river and the border where I had come from nearly 10 days ago. This was 180km long with a lot of winding roads and hill climbs and descents. This took its toll on the old bus though, after about 3 hours I heard a loud banging coming from the rear left wheel and told the bus driver to pull over. The wheel was smokin and I took a guess and thought the drum brake was jammed in some way. They poured water over the drum to cool it down and eventually got the wheels off, then the brake drum, just to find that the actual brake pads had come off of the shoes and were now useless!!!!

This was not a big issue as brakes just slow you down anyway 😉 Some of the passengers were worried, but it was no big deal, all the driver did was remove the brake line so it would not work on this side and put it all back together and we continued on, the other rear wheel still had some brakes 🙂 While this was happening, we had 30 minutes to wait, I wandered around and checked out some of the local things to see, we were next to a school and a couple of backpackers who may have been school teachers gave out some impromptu English lessons 🙂

Check out the racing slicks on this bus, the canvas is showing through!!!!

Well, obviously the bus made it or you would not be reading this, and it was later than I was hoping for at 1.30pm that we arrived at the bus stop at the border town, then I had to grab a TukTuk to get to Immigration and then a long tail boat to Thailand. By leaving Laos, I forfeit my visa and will have to buy another on my return tomorrow. But for now, once I get into Thailand I find another bus that will take me to Chiang Rai, about 2 hours away. Whilst waiting for the bus, I swapped my SIM card to the Thai one and called the customs people and they assured me that there is a 481Baht customs duty payable on delivery and it is being delivered, not held up 🙂 I phoned the guest house where it is being delivered to tell them that and they said it has already arrived, you bewdy!! 🙂

After another 2 hours in a bus, I then had to get a TukTuk to the guest house and sure enough my part was there 🙂

I was not that impressed with the place I was staying, but they were kind enough to accept the delivery so I am grateful for that. But the room had no carpets, bare dirty concrete floor and had moth balls all around the room which stunk and with no windows I had run the aircon. All up not a place I would recommend, so I won’t mention the name so as not to offend. While having dinner here I got a message from Phil at Riders Corner, my replacement Montana GPS had arrived from warranty repairs in England, how great is that, only a 12 day turnaround from Phuket-Southampton-Chiang Mai 🙂 After a quick phone call, it was decided that Phil would send it by bus(Green Bus Company) and it would be arriving at 8am the next morning, so that was a bit of luck 🙂 I had an early night in a stinky room!


I woke with a sore throat, bloody moth balls, but as soon as I had a crappy breakfast(included in the price) I packed up and headed off on a trip around town trying to find my GPS, as Alan says, I need a GPS to find my GPS. I was caught up in a Lady Boy street parade for a minute, cute but not for me 😉 The bus station I had arrived at last night is not the place to go to if I want to go back to Laos. That was the new bus station(#2) and it was 5km out on the towns outskirts. The old bus station(#1) near where I stayed is where I need to go for a bus back north. But, I had seen an office for Green Bus Company at #2 and so I went there. This was a mistake as they said I needed to go elsewhere to pick up packages, so after I got the address of the main freight place I then went there and was told my package would arrive at 10.30am not 8am as promised, bummer! So I went back to town and had a snack while I waited.

I did not have a drink here as I was not sure exactly what was being served, maybe it is for ladies only? ❓ My snack was at a cafe near the #1 bus station which was across the road.

I went back out to the freight place at 10.30 and met the bus just as it arrived from dropping off passengers and yes, my package was on board. Thanks for that Phil and he even sent me one of the new maps of Cambodia that had arrived at his place , cheers m8 🙂

By the time I got back to the bus station(#1) I found I would have to wait another 30 minutes, but that was OK. The bus north was a bit bigger than the one I came down on and older too!

After a few hours on the bus, it was 1.30 when I went past the road to the new friendship bridge in Chiang Khong. They had sealed the surface now, that was quick, but it was only oil and rock, not hot mix, so whether it will last is another story.

From the bus stop I took a mototaxi and another long tail boat across to Laos where I bought another visa and a minivan ticket to Luang Namtha.

The trip north in this bus should have been fast and smooth, we left at 3pm and the trouble was the driver had no clue how to drive. He was very slow and would drive in top gear uphill until it nearly conked out, then change down to the next gear, but by the time he did this it was the wrong gear again, a very painful ride back and it meant driving in the dark, not something I am fond of with all the animals and sharp corners etc. But, we did arrive and it was beer time.

As it was dark I could not be bothered trying my part, I could make a mistake even with a head torch, so I had a relaxing evening at the Retreat 🙂 It was a successful mission, all of my outstanding deliveries had been delivered, tomorrow I would need to find the mounting kit for the Montana, repair the damaged wiring to the power supply(the cable had been trapped and crushed by the steering at some stage, I just removed the fuse at the time). Of course, the main thing was the starter solenoid, fingers crossed, it will work 🙂

Cheers from Luang Namtha

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