Sunday walk around Whakatane along the estuary, past the Miniature Railway, up to the bridge out of town before heading back. No messing about links, video and photos below.
Back in 2017 was my last MotoGP experience and my fourth at Sepang, Malaysia. Splashing out on a VIP pass at Sepang gives you access to paddock unlike events in Europe where the paddock is somewhat more restricted. If it was not for the Paddock access I would not pay the extra for a VIP pass as you do not get that great a view of the actually racing. Paddock access, all day food, drink and air-con are worth it though!
To experience the race any of the grandstands at Turn 1 or the central main grandstand on the opposite side to the start line are a way better places to watch the track. But be prepared to sweat and take a load of fluids to survive the day.
Back in the paddock you can meet almost anyone you want to if you are prepared to wait and stalk them out. Valentino Rossi is obvious the most difficult as he gets swamped and security is of course an issue so is heavily protected. However I still managed to wander past the Yamaha garage just at the right time and to my surprise turned around and was suddenly face to face with the man himself as his entourage left from the garage to the Yamaha hospitality area.
My wife abandons her shy demeanour to hunt out all her favourite MotoGP people as I just tag along as photographer! See her catches below. Alex Rins (she is his number 1 fan), Papa Rins (proud father of Alex), Marc Marquez, Bad boy Romano Fenati, Joan Mir – now MotoGP Suzuki, Johan Zarco – Now Factory KTM and Thai young boy Nakarin Atiraphuvapat in Moto 3.
The vibe is very chill and nobody seems to mind having a camera clicking away at them. Even when we got caught out track side at turn 1 by a Dorna staff member it was all relaxed and we fiend ignorance and headed back to paddock complex.
Check out more photos below. Later in 2019 we head to Philip Island for the Australian MotoGP. Excited already!
Gallipoli – The Scale of War is a current (as of Early 2019) exhibit at New Zealand’s National Museum Te Papa in Wellington. Gallipoli is one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. It is confronting, sobering and emotional.
The exhibit takes you on a journey through the ill fated naval and amphibious attacks on the Gallipoli Peninsula (in Turkey) through five amazing larger than life size models in poignant moments. It is hard to describe the impact these models, of real life men and woman, have on you as you step through chronologically the events of the Gallipoli Campaign.
A total of 100,000 died with Australia and New Zealand suffering about 10% of that total. Gallipoli for both New Zealand and Australian is highly significant and widely accepted as start of a national consciousness of their nations. It is commemorated each year with ANZAC Day on the 25th April.
The scale of the models can be seen below with my wife visible in the background of Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott:
Te Papa (Gallipoli is a part of the Museum and a must visit if you are in Wellington): https://www.tepapa.govt.nz
Weta Workshop (creators of the models): https://www.wetaworkshop.com
Early last year I spent an excellent few days out of Bangkok with David. He was on his BMW R1150R and I had my Ducati Scrambler loaded up for camping for the first time. Heading out west for a few hours from Bangkok is Kanchanaburi. Heading northwest out of Kanchanaburi is the Erawan National Park and further still the Sinakharin reservoir where we camped on the west side. Heading home involved catching the ferry across to the east side of the reservoir and back down the east side to had back into civilisation.
The first night we rested at a small resort by the river that connects the two dams, second night camping and the third night in Kanchanaburi. We enjoyed the company of several Soi dogs (stray dogs) during our travels, they all look similar, as they all do, but each friendly and just wanted to hang out with two bikers, maybe grab a bit of food and a few patsa !
Unfortunately the camp ground where we stayed at is now closed off. We understand the owner was operating illegally. I certainly hope he gets his paperwork sorted out with the local authorities as the site is a gem and he was a lovely man who joined us for a chat in the evening with stories and photos of previous ‘biker’ visitors.
The two ferries that operate across the two crossings at the Sinakharin Reservoir are fantastic. Although pontoons more than ferries, they are cheap, relaxing and reliable. The one of the east side is regular but if you ride consider taking the road instead for a blast of twitsty fun on two wheels.
The northern ferry crossing is less frequent and you may have to wait a while. But as ever in Thailand food is not far away, so relax, eat and wait. The restaurant there is great with birds and a few Soi dogs!
Enjoy the photos!
On a lazy Saturday road trip along the East Cost road (State Highway 35) we stumbled across the beautiful Christ Church in Raukokore. It is open for the local citizenry and passing traveller alike. As a local landmark it comes into and passes out of view over a number of kilometres.
The church is named as one of the region’s “101 must-do” sites by the AA!
First time in 14 years for Coldplay to be back in Thailand. Photos from before (dinner, Roti and cigarette concession stand!), during and after the show. The rain threatened but never materialised, thank goodness, although a water dousing may have been appreciated by those in the pit. I enjoyed Jess Kent more than I did in Auckland, but sad Lianne La Havas was not supporting them again.
As ever Chris Martin declared the audience the best ever. I am sure it is me as he always says that whenever I see them. Still it always comes across as genuine and Coldplay gigs always have a lovely chilled, joy and love vest vibe to them. Nice touch to dedicate a song to the King. Stadium was packed and up for it. Fantastic night! 9/10.
The renovated railway line in Awakeri near Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand is a delight. Drive yourself (with up to three friends) on a modified golf buggy along about 16Km of track; watch the world go by, feed the fowl, walk in native bush and hear tall stories of wild animal attacks with your friendly Kiwi railway line renovators and tour guides.
Check it out and book here: Awakeri Railway or call 0800 537 4724 if in New Zealand
I was not in the mood for a flashy video but a more chilled overview of the trip can be seen in the video along with photos below:
My sister is an excellent present finder and at Christmas and Birthdays it is always intriguing to see what she has found. This year a Kalimba made in Burkina Faso, although I think she did not travel there to buy it! A quick search and I discovered my version is somewhat on the basic end of the Kalimba scale and made out of a sardine can but lovingly hand crafted. It is a genuine delight to to have. A deluxe Kalimba can be viewed here and the sound of my one can be heard below, I can obviously not play it and it is a little tricky to get a nice tone out of it.
I am writing this post a year after the event after finding it in my WordPress draft folder. Well, this section of road is one of my favourite stretches for enjoyable riding, scenery and clearing one’s head. It is always the part of the trip I feel truly free of Bangkok and heading north into more remote areas. The bridge over the Nan river where the video ends is always a great stop to switch off the bike for a few minutes, take it all in and enjoy the sounds of river and forest.
Map of the route:
Ride carefully and always within your ability. The video shows speed (it is not completely accurate and has some inconsistencies), elevation graph, grade, longitude and latitude, time and date, distance along the route and a squiggly line representing the road with a dot showing the current location. This video was shot in December 2015 and roads in Thailand do change over the years, a once pristine section of tarmac can degrade and likewise a bad section can be resurfaced and become as smooth as silk!
Leave a comment if you have an up to date report.
You can find excellent bike reports and information of northland Thailand over at Golden Triangle Riders
Heading on the bike up to Chiang Rai from Nong Khai along the Thai-Laos border. I spent the night in Chiang Khan for no other reason that it fell somewhere between Nong Khai and Nan and I did not want to ride too far the first day (out of three), so Chiang Khan it was! What a pleasant suprise that I was not able to fully explore after arriving late afternoon and leaving first thing the next day. The high street is a charm with loads of cafes, market stalls and guest houses along the Mekong with views across to Laos. It has a feel of Pai up north so if you like Pai you will like Chiang Khan.
So here are a just few shots of the Mekong from the cafe I grabbed a late lunch at, sunset around the resort I am staying at and a nearby restaurant with typical Loei ghostly artwork.
I look forward to a longer stay on another trip and more photos.