Posted: August 4, 2013 by andrewmentzer in Transworld Tour
Tags: , , ,

Krabi Town, Thailand

Originally published in Trail Dust.

Make Time to Take Time

By Andrew Mentzer

In 1977-8 my father, Terry Mentzer, circumnavigated the globe on a Honda XL 250. He did so solo, taking 207 days to complete his epic journey. He never broke down, and his cultural experience seldom required him to employ the guarded headspace that would be requisite of a circumnavigation today. Having completed nearly half of his route myself—recently completing rides across Australia and SE Asia—I often wonder how he got through it so seamlessly. How did he avoid not only mechanical catastrophe, but never even got a flat tire? No wrecks, never mugged—in combination these realities would seem a miracle by today’s adventure riding standards.

The world seems so very different now, but one thing remains exactly the same in 2013—pace.

I turn 31 in a few weeks and I have had some time to consider what the keys are to a successful around the world journey. Above all, I have realized the value of slowing down and looking at the road ahead not in terms of where I have to end up for the night, but rather how I will feel about the body of work when I return home. As with anything worth doing, there will be good days and bad. How you handle the bad is far more important than anything else. The pace with which an adventurer addresses what is in front of him/her, especially in foreboding territory, will ultimately determine the value of any tour.


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I recently took some time to peruse my father’s article from the November and December 1978 installments of Motorcyclist Magazine to see if I could identify some take-aways that support my recently enhanced perspective. Here’s what I found:

On a freight ship between Perth, Australia and Singapore—“The next day we sail, and to my delight I have a four berth cabin to myself. Flies follow the ship until nightfall. In the morning they are gone, lost at sea like small carrier aircraft. The six-day passage is a fine affair: good company, 25-cent drinks, six course meals and a good library.”

After crossing into Thailand from Malaysia—“There is much less traffic in Southern Thailand than Malaysia. The countryside is a fairyland in shades of green encompassing miles of rice fields between low mountain ranges and beautifully maintained Buddhist temples, resplendent in gold leaf. It’s sunny and warm.”

A moment of introspection in Kathmandu, Nepal—“I’ve been away in foreign lands almost three months and my past no longer seems very real to me. The pressures of the business world have faded away. My daily concerns are simple: food, shelter, safe riding. The adventure takes care of itself.”

A windy ride outside of Tehran, Iran—“The next day the winds have shifted and come from ahead, gusting to 40mph. Oncoming trucks spin off vortices that slam against the Honda, wrenching against the fairing. The bike doesn’t want to pull the tall fifth gear, so I run in fourth for miles.”

There are countless examples of times when choosing the right pace was the difference between success and failure, efficiency and recklessness, or making it or not in my father’s RTW tour. It seems that no matter whether it is 1977 or 2013, the key to enjoying long tours is taking the time to consider what is around you. If you don’t, you are likely to miss the bigger picture while putting yourself and your machine at risk. I reckon there is nothing more detrimental to the mission of an adventure rider than a time constraint.

To read Terry Mentzer’s complete article, check out 1977-78


Posted: July 15, 2013 by andrewmentzer in Transworld Tour

Riding Thailand
This summer has been rough. I’m not complaining, but a busted leg, torn ACL, torn meniscus, bruised ribs and a lot of missing skin has put a damper on many of my summer plans. That said, I imagine this will all prove to be a blessing in disguise–as TWT will have an extra few months to plan the next leg.

Next week I will have a surgery to replace a few missing items in my right knee, after which I should be back in the saddle within a few weeks (light duty). We are nearing completion of the first TWT video from the Australia leg, and have a good portion of the 2-part SE Asia series complete. The Green Hornet is getting a full tune from the good folks who built it at Happy Trails Products, and a few upgrades for the next segments across N. America and Europe.

I’ll have more up on the tour over the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out the Trail Dust Blog for some great adventure moto reads.

Thanks for following

photo (6)
After four painstaking months dealing with one of the most incompetent freight forwarding companies on earth (they are based in Bangkok and it was by far the sketchiest transaction I have ever been a part of), the Green Hornet is finally back on American soil. I drove to Seattle on Monday to collect it, and put it back together Tuesday. After so many months in a dank storage container, I expected numerous mechanical items would need attention, however it turned right over and appears to be running well.
photo (5)
Leg three of Transworld Tour is in the works, however I tore my ACL and lateral Meniscus, and fractured my tibia 2 weeks ago and will have to see how quickly my knee heals. All things held constant the next segment of TWT will embark eastbound in July–retracing a portion of my father’s 1991 RTW attempt that took him as far as Red Square in Moscow, Russia. I plan to ride as far as New York this year, and finish the tour next summer with a burner ride from London to either Almaty Kazakhstan, Calcutta India, or Magadan Russia.

Thanks for following, and keep an eye out this summer for additional installments of the Motojournal in the Boise Weekly!


Originally published in Trail Dust:

Shipping Woes

by Andrew Mentzer

Perhaps the most time consuming, soul crushing and expensive logistic of any RTW motorcycle tour is bike shipping. I can only speak from my own experience—I’m betting there are a few folks out there who have had good experiences—but I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys shipping motorcycles overseas.

For the first phases of my around the world ride, I had to ship my custom built 1988 Kawasaki KLR650 from Boise, Idaho to Sydney, Australia. My father had completed a similar trip in 1977, and upon my return I learned that a lot has changed in the last 35 years when it comes to international freight practices. He told me about the days when you would simply ride up to the port, ask around, and generally within an hour you had found the arrangement you were looking for. This could range from loading the bike in a sleeper cabin and riding along on the boat, to simply leaving the bike at the port and it would be waiting for you on the other end 2 weeks later. The endless import/export red tape and relentless penciling for all sorts of barely legitimate administrative fees didn’t exist in 1977, making the whole process much easier.

Carnet du passages en douane (customs bond)

Carnet du passages en douane (customs bond)

I had to get a carnet du passages en douane (customs bond) in order to import and export the bike to and from various countries. The carnet usually takes about 2 weeks to secure, and costs a few hundred dollars plus a deposit based on the value of the bike. I ended up getting an “equipment” ATA carnet through my business, which took 2 days and cost about $1,200 in total. When you arrive at a border crossing, you simply have the carnet stamped into one country and out of the other and you can avoid having to pay any duties up front.

Getting the bike to the port at Long Beach was no problem. Using Ebay’s UShip website, I located an independent trucker in Boise who was heading to Los Angeles. 36 hours later the bike was in the hands of Schumacher Cargo. Schumacher had verbally guaranteed me that the bike would be on its way to Sydney by the end of the next week, and would arrive within 30 days of disembarkation. They ended up sending the bike on a transshipment through SE Asia, and it arrived in Brisbane (not Sydney) nearly two months later.

Lesson #1: You get what you pay for. Schumacher is easily the cheapest (my cost was $640) freight forwarder from the west coast, but they make you pay with their lackluster customer service and appalling disregard for time frames.

Collecting the bike in Brisbane, Australia for the start of the trip

Collecting the bike in Brisbane, Australia for the start of the trip

After a few days in Sydney, I took a train north to collect the KLR from the port in Brisbane. By then, it had sat in a musty shipping container for the better part of 3 months, which resulted in numerous carburetor and fuel problems.

Following a whirlwind ride across Australia, I ended this leg of my around the world ride in Darwin, Australia—gateway to SE Asia. I left the bike with one of the shop managers at Cyclone Honda for safe keeping, and made arrangements to have the bike shipped from Australia to Singapore upon my return a few months later. Toll Marine Logistics (AKA Perkins) were very helpful and fair in how they handled this shipment across the Java Sea. The bike left and arrived on time, and their staff was very helpful. About $900 later and I was on my way in SE Asia.

There were a few administrative battles in Singapore and Thailand with the carnet, but nothing held me up for more than 4 hours. Crossing into Malaysia was a breeze. When I crossed the border from Alor Setar, Malaysia into Sadao, Thailand, the customs officials appeared to have no clue what to do with the carnet. I attempted to explain that they needed to take an importation sheet from the counterfoil and stamp the “import” box on my carnet, but the futility of trying to navigate the language barrier proved too much. I simply left them with the import sheet and had the official stamp and sign the carnet. They gave me a letter stating in Thai (the lettering looks like spaghetti thrown against the wall) that I would be responsible for 360,000 baht (about $11,000 USD) in customs fees if I were to leave the bike in Thailand. In other words, the bike would have to be exported at the end of this leg of the trip.

SE Asia

SE Asia

Following a mystifying ride across peninsular SE Asia, I found myself at the end of the road. I couldn’t get into Burma or China, so I left the bike with some friends in Bangkok and began working on a plan to have the bike shipped back to the USA before the expiration of the carnet (they are only good for 12 months), which would trigger the enormous customs charge noted earlier.

So here we are today. I first attempted to have the bike exported from Thailand on January 17th. It took nearly a month just to find a freight forwarder who could get it back to the USA, not to mention nearly $2,000 worth of customs, crating and shipping fees. After nearly 120 infuriating emails trying to decipher the freight forwarder’s broken English, and two months of back and forth, the bike ended up being shipped west—through the Middle East and across the Atlantic—instead of east like I had requested. It is now in New York and the shipping company is attempting to charge me more money before they release it for final shipment via truck back to Seattle.

Lesson #2: Getting a bike shipped from Thailand to the USA is a doozy. Hopefully the bike will arrive in Seattle in the next 2-3 weeks…

Next up is a ride back across the USA before heading off to Europe for a barn burner transcontinental ride across Europe, the Stans, and Russia. Keep an eye out for future posts on my father’s ride from 1977-8.

Trail Dust is a publication of

What Makes the Perfect Dual Sport?

Originally published in Trail Dust March 5th, 2013

by Andrew Mentzer

What makes the perfect dual sport? Is it better to rely on technology and performance or durability and simplicity? What bike would you choose if you were riding around the world tomorrow?

These questions have plagued adventure riders for decades, and absent the introduction of anything too dramatic from the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, it will continue to plague us for the foreseeable future. While the one bike quiver appears to be coming ever closer each year—compliments of recent additions like the BMW 800GS and a slough of performance oriented KTM single cylinder bikes—there still isn’t a clear winner that can truly do it all.

I recently returned from the first two phases of what will ultimately be an around-the-world ride that retraces a similar route my father completed in 1977 on a Honda XL250. I began my journey in Southeast Australia and have made it as far as Bangkok, Thailand, thus far. When choosing the right bike, I had to weigh countless elements: weight, fuel capacity, dirt-worthiness, top end, reliability, availability of parts and ease of maintenance—among others. After several thoughtful rounds of ‘what-if’ and an extended Q&A with the guys at Happy Trails Products I landed on the ever-capable Kawasaki KLR 650. There were other suitable options, but having already owned 3 of these bike previously, I decided to go with what I know.

Click any photo for a larger image

Collecting the bike in Brisbane, Australia for the start of the trip.

Collecting the bike in Brisbane, Australia on May 24 after 5 days of planes, trains and automobiles

As most of you are probably aware, the KLR does almost nothing exceptionally well, but everything alright. It is perhaps the most vanilla of the 650-class dual sports, boasting a deadly simple design that has changed very little over the last 20+ years. It is widely manufactured/distributed and parts are consequently available world-wide. For just over $7k, you can get a basic set-up that will adequately address your need for adventure, with aftermarket customizability options galore.

The pros of the bike are its incredible versatility—it’s able to tackle literally any riding conditions you can throw at it—and foolproof ease of maintenance. Its cons are just as apparent—with a limited top end, single cylinder configuration, and obviously simple stock suspension.

So how did this jack-of-all-trades perform in a real world long haul adventure riding scenario?

Just fine, although in all fairness, there were a handful of noteworthy issues, some of which I brought upon myself:


The petcock assembly

The petcock assembly

The bike was left to sit in a shipping container for roughly 2 months longer than it was ever intended, resulting in several initial carburetion issues on the front end of the trip. Following a sputtering start from the port in Brisbane, the bike made it less than 150 miles before I torched a vacuum seal in the petcock. This was partly because I had the wrong jetting for a sea level ride, and partly due to poor fuel quality. Good gas can be found typically at Shell or BP stations as a 95 octane non-ethanol blend. In SE Asia, this is referred to as gasohol. If you go with Caltex or any other generic brand of fuel, it is likely distributed by one of the big box supermarket retailers, and is generally of lower quality. It took about 3 hours to locate, diagnose and fix the problem, after which I was promptly back on my way without issue. Had I been on a BMW GS or KTM, I probably would not have had any fuel issues in the first place, however I would likely have been delayed several days.

All Cycles and Kart in Gimpie, where Wayne Mackaway dropped what he was doing to help me pull the bike apart and diagnose the problem.

All Cycles and Kart in Gimpie. Wayne Mackaway dropped what he  was doing to help me pull the bike apart and diagnose the problem


As previously noted the stock jetting on the KLR was not ideal for my sea level ride across Australia. I elected to have the carb completely rebuilt and rejetted at Trinity Kawasaki in Cairns, before heading out into more unforgiving territory—the Outback. This turned out to be a wise decision, as the bike ran beautifully from the Savannah Way all the way through to Tenant Creek, and into the heart of the Northern Territory.

Riding solo across the outback

Riding solo across the outback

Gilligan's Pub in Cairns

Gilligan’s Hostel in Cairns, a massive 700 bed facility bustling with travelers from every corner of the globe

Savannah Way

Savannah Way


Following a 7 month stint back in the states, I shipped the KLR from Darwin, Australia to Singapore for leg #2 of my ride. This go-round, the issues appeared to be with the bike’s charging system. What I thought was a dead battery turned into a torched stator. Lesson learned: never push start a bike that won’t turn over and has been sitting in a dank storage container for more than half a year. Turns out, push starting the bike can put an excessive load on the stator and regulator/rectifier because it will not get enough juice to charge. This was entirely my own fault, but the repair was (again) fairly quick, affordable and straightforward.

The KLR turned out to be an excellent fit for this type of trip because—despite a few minor issues—it was cheap and easy to fix, and it performed brilliantly on two-lane tarmac and dirt roads alike when I got it settled into its groove. Had I elected to endeavor on a more complicated bike, I doubt I would have had the luck I did with maintenance and repairs.

Atop the tallest peak in Queensland

Atop the tallest peak in Queensland

A nice day at Airlie Beach, Queensland

A nice day at Airlie Beach, Queensland

The pros of the single cylinder 650’s (i.e. KLR, DRZ, etc.):

  • Parts are cheap, generic and widely available.
  • Fuel efficiency is typically in the 45-55mpg realm.
  • Customs bonds and insurance tend to be very affordable.
  • Inconspicuous and low profile presence.
  • Very capable off-road.
  • Extremely simple to repair and maintain.

The pros of the 1000cc multi cylinder dual sport touring bikes (i.e. BMW GS, KTM 990/1190):

  • Bombproof durability.
  • Typically very comfortable.
  • Endless powerband.
  • Longer maintenance interval.

The cons of the single cylinder 650’s (i.e. KLR, DRZ, etc.):

  • Most stock equipment is of mediocre quality (suspension, seat, etc.)
  • Shorter maintenance interval, especially if running highway speeds.
  • Functionally tops out at 75mph.
  • Requires more preventative powertrain maintenance at over 12,000 miles.

The cons of the 1000cc multi cylinder dual sport touring bikes (i.e. BMW GS, KTM 990/1190):

  • Attracts much more unwanted attention in developing and undeveloped countries.
  • Expensive to ship, import/export.
  • If it breaks down, plan on spending at least 1 week getting it fixed.
  • Expensive to maintain/repair.

Next up, the tour shifts directions, heading back across North America before pushing off in Europe—gateway to a massive, 8,500 mile transcontinental haul through Central Asia.

Keep an eye out on Trail Dust for future posts about bike shipping nightmares and success stories, riding misadventures, and my father’s trip from 1977-78.

Croydon with dennis and steve

Croydon, with Dennis Wheeler and Steve Humphries, a pair of dual sport riders

trying to get dry with dennis and steve atherton tablands

Trying to get dry with Dennis and Steve at Atherton Tablands

beef and barra feast

You have to order in advance to guarantee a spot at the table for the legendary Daly Waters Beef & Barra


Darwin, the last stop on the first leg of this trip

Boise Weekly Feature on SE Asia

Posted: February 14, 2013 by andrewmentzer in Transworld Tour
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Round the World: Part II

Boise adventurer cruises southeast Asia in quest to circumnavigate the globe by motorcycle


Tiger Temple.Andrew Mentzer

Tiger Temple.

Round the World: Part II

Round the World: Part II

Click to View 9 slides

“The streets are filled with thousands of small cars, motorcycles, buses and those smudge-pot three-wheeled taxis (tuktuks) all running flat-out. For every 10 miles an hour, you space yourself one-inch from the vehicle in front of you. Those with hair-trigger reflexes survive. Those without ride the bus.”

–Terry Mentzer, Motorcyclist Magazine, November 1977

The world didn’t appear to have changed much in the last 35 years as I darted between trucks, cars and a cavalcade of southeast Asia’s prolific scooter population, making my way through one densely populated small town after another from the Singapore border northbound on Jan. 1.

The chaotic crush of humanity bearing down on me was a vivid reminder of the fact that I was–in a very real way–redefining the round-the-world motorcycle trip my father, Terry, had taken more than three decades ago.

Southeast Asia is the second stage of a circumnavigation that has already taken me through the wilds of Australia and will include future journeys across India, Central Asia and Europe. Unlike Australia, I was up against a dense, often lawless environment with roughly 610 million people fighting for their piece of the pie.

While the world my father explored in 1977 aboard his Honda XR250L is a very different place from the one I am riding across–filled with ever-changing social and political realities that will keep me out of some of the now war-torn portions of my father’s route–there are certain facts of life that remain true, regardless of the era. First, the world is a smaller place than we imagine it to be, and second, that the raw beauty and intensity of a solo motorcycle journey through foreign territory does wonderful things for the soul. Picture Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance meets Walden.

This portion of the journey began with a few days of exploration on foot in Singapore before collecting my bike and heading north through peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and eventually ending in one of the busiest cities on Earth: Bangkok.

People’s lack of physical and social barriers means that close encounters with everyone and everything are pretty much guaranteed all the time. Traffic does not stray far from this standard either. The difference between making a lane change and a gruesome death is often not more than a few inches.

My ride from Singapore to Bangkok proved to be equal parts instinctual and sensory, forcing me to get comfortable with a new spatial reality. Simply walking down the street in this part of the world can be stressful, although it becomes–like everything else–no more than a dance between amenable players in an organized-chaos ballet.


January 1-5

Singapore is a fascinating, engaging place. A city-state with obviously limited land resources–occupying the southernmost tip of peninsular Asia–it relies heavily on its incredibly high standard of living, international business prominence and strict but logical government regulation for its success. After a sleepless night in a cheap hostel in the Lavender District, I met up with Luke Doherty–who had helped me organize a handful of logistical items for this portion of the trip before I ever set foot in the region.

A tall, friendly 30-something Australian expat, avid foodie and talented motorcycle rider with extensive travel and business experience, Doherty showed me the ropes of this one-of-a-kind, filthy-rich micro-country. We hit up one of the more noteworthy hawker markets, a busy assembly of local food vendors and merchants with a wide open central seating arrangement near Little India for some authentic local cuisine. Frog leg porridge, beef renga and chicken wings, topped off with a 32-ounce Tiger Beer and I was off to a good start.

A walk through one of Singapore’s five government-sanctioned red light districts and I felt like I had a pretty good sense of how this place operates. Apparently, the powers that be in Singapore strictly regulate prostitution in an effort to keep it isolated to certain areas and reduce the public health and occupational dangers. The government imports quotas of Chinese, Malay and Thai girls depending on market demand, and places them in relatively safe areas to engage in their trade. There is a tremendous irony to this function in Singapore but on the level, it makes perfect sense in a country that proudly wears its regulation on its sleeve.

Eating durian fruit–southeast Asia’s stanky, pasty post-meal chow of choice–at a small, shoddy roadside stand with traffic buzzing so close, I could taste diesel exhaust with every bite, is like eating the intestines out of fresh roadkill. The fruit’s spiny, rough exterior easily gives way to the hawker’s blade, revealing a soft four-compartment interior filled with pockets of foul smelling mush. It tastes like garlic mixed with creamy peanut butter and has the texture of rotting mayonnaise.

How this became a revered staple of the diet is beyond me.

The incredible heat and humidity of Singapore is blunted by the sheen of the country’s spotless streetscape and thoughtfully realized urban planning efforts. It would take me several days to get acclimated to this type of weather.


January 6-10

Doherty and I rode into Malaysia following a four-hour delay getting my bike released from the port at Jurong in Singapore, where I had it shipped from storage in Darwin, Australia at the end of my first portion of the trip.

My Kawasaki KLR 650 hadn’t seen much more than a dank storage container in the last seven months and required a push start to get the juices flowing. We made it into the beautiful coastal city of Melaka just before sundown and right as the heaviest rains I have ever witnessed came bearing down.

It felt like someone turned a firehose on me. Visibility dwindled to less than 20 feet through a foggy helmet. Roadside rain gutters filled quickly as we entered the city’s core, and anything faster than 30 mph resulted in erratic hydroplaning.

A few hours later, the monsoonal rains subsided and Doherty and I spent the evening sampling local fare and listening to live music on Melaka’s legendary Jonker Walk. The endless fried-food stands, merchants and giant karaoke stage centered amid bars and cheap hostels made for an exemplary people watching experience. Cheap Vietnamese made knock-off Ray Bans and local trinkets seemed to be the items of choice for sale.

Despite the chaos of Jonker, the Malay people were graceful and kind, unlike their friendly but often overbearing Thai counterparts to the north.

The next day, my bike still wouldn’t start without some coaxing, so I took it into Ban Zen motorcycles for a new battery. After about an hour of diagnostic back-and-forth, we concluded that the stator was toast and would need to be respooled. Doherty headed home to Singapore, and I spent another night in Melaka waiting on the repair.

The next morning was a Sunday and the manager of Ban Zen arranged to have “The Tall Man”–a master mechanic with cataracts in his eyes and a kind smile on his face–meet me at the shop to get squared away. He and another man I assumed was his father explained the extent of the repairs in Malay before firing up the bike and sending me on my way. It never ceases to amaze me how effectively one can communicate despite a language barrier using common body language.

A brief stop-over for a photo-op near the Petronas Towers (formerly the world’s tallest buildings) in Kuala Lumpur and I burned pavement to the Cameron Highlands–tea growing country. The tight, twisting drainage of a road took me about an hour off the main highway and put the natural beauty of this part of the world on brilliant display. It became increasingly difficult to keep the bike in my lane while peering across the valley at cascading waterfalls, breathing in awe-inspiring mists and contemplating stopping at countless ticky-tack roadside fruit stands.

After a cool, peaceful stay in the Cameron Highlands and several warnings that Tropical Storm Sonamu was making landfall in quick fashion to my north, I decided to get ahead of the weather. A quick run up Peninsular Expressway E2 and I had made it to the border with Thailand.


January 11-17

Thailand is a strange place with wonderful variety. Whether you are a tourist, expat, local, terrorist or addict, you can find happiness on any scale here.

My initial feelings as I crossed the border was of uncertainty, nervoussness and excitement. Malaysia utilizes standard English script, where Thailand uses something that resembles the aftermath of a wild spaghetti fight. I never stood a chance of reading or understanding anything apart from the occasional English subtext on a handful of highway signs, so I put my full faith in my GPS and continued north into a region of southern Thailand known to be somewhat dangerous.

How my father navigated this region 35 years earlier is beyond me.

I made it into Hat Yai for the night, just a stone’s throw away from Yala Province and a half step ahead of Tropical Storm Sonamu. Yala, about 80 miles to the east, is home to a fundamentalist Islamic faction that has been taking up arms against the Thai government and Westerners in pursuit of an independent Islamic state. Rumor had it that they like to stuff bombs under the seats of motorcycles and detonate them near hotels: Not the most comforting notion, especially given my mode of transport.

Keeping a particularly low profile, I quietly hauled ass out of Hat Yai the next morning and made respectable time into the resort hub of Krabi on the west coast. The last few days of burning miles and not having anyone to talk to had taken their toll, so I decided to spend five days exploring this more laid-back part of southeast Asia as a tourist.

I hiked to the top of Tiger Temple, saddled an elephant for a stroll through the jungle, learned not to trust resident monkeys (they steal anything they can get their grubby little mitts on), spent an afternoon soaking in an emerald pool in the jungle and visited several of south Thailand’s scenic islands in the Andaman Sea–including Maya Beach where the movie The Beach was filmed.

Fully rested, I pushed farther north to meet up with a group from the BMW Motorrad–South Thailand Chapter. In the span of an afternoon, club members Goran, Wittaya and Sarayut led me from the beaches of the west coast across the narrow width of Thailand to Surat Thani–gateway to the legendary party and diving islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui.

Before parting ways, we traded stories about touring around the world and plans for future motorcycle rallies. I suggested they come to Idaho for a taste of riding some of the best mountain two-track on Earth. They said they’ll think about it.

The next day I was in Bangkok, the stopping point for this leg of Transworld Tour. I met up with some friends who had recently moved to the Sukhumvit area of the city. Like many other major cities in the region, the traffic was an absolute mess and required nerves of steel. It seemed like rush hour ran from 5 a.m. until midnight, and nearly every automobile on the road had a few dings from Bangkok’s endless stop-and-go lifestyle.

I was surprised to see a brand new McLaren F1 supercar in traffic with a 20-something Thai girl behind the wheel. I can’t imagine the $1 million car will make it more than a few weeks without succumbing to the reality of Bangkok’s hustle.

My friends took me out for authentic pad thai, shopping, hookah, wining, dining–all the things Bangkok has become known for. It surprised me to see how much Western influence was taking root here. We visited a brand new micro-brewery in the suburbs of Bangkok that was indistinguishable from any brew pub in the United States. Following a few days of R&R, we ventured to one of Bangkok’s legendary party spots–Khao San Road.

Often identified as the epicenter of mischief in The Hangover 2, this street is exactly as advertised–aggressive street vendors peddling ping pong ball shows and cheap silk suits, fried scorpion kebabs and thousands of tourists getting blitzed.

It had taken just two and a half weeks to cover the 1,500 mile run up the peninsula of southeast Asia, but the people and scenery changed my perspective forever.

I will never forget the mind-numbing sensory reality that exists in the region. In the span of a single breath you can experience the most wonderful aromas from the freshest produce on Earth, a refreshing salty sea breeze and the putrid smell of a rotting trash pile. In this regard, I suspect very little has changed in the last 35 years.

Andrew Mentzer wrote about Part 1 of his trip in the June 27, 2012 edition of Boise Weekly in an article titled “World Ride.

View a slideshow of images of Mentzer’s trip by clicking here.

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Gallery  —  Posted: January 18, 2013 by andrewmentzer in Transworld Tour
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