With our 8-year anniversary just a few days away and as you may have seen on our last eNewsletter, RIDE Adventures just announced that we’re starting operations in Asia, our 5th continent!
I snuck out a few blog posts back in April during the research trip in Thailand and Laos, as a few of our Customers and friends joined me for what was truly a trip full of surprises. (See the 1st post here, the 2nd one here, and the 3rd here. What lies below is a summary of those trip updates.)
Surprises? To me, the guy that has spent most of the last 10 years riding adventure bikes through 25 countries on 4 other continents? Through places like the Skeleton Coast, the Namib Desert, the Alps, Andes, Rockies and Dolomites? Yes, Thailand and Laos still surprised me.
I’m not going to blow smoke here and claim that the scenery is as dramatic in Southeast Asia as it is in the previously mentioned places. Topographical influence playing a role in what I call “dramatic,” such elevation changes just don’t exist in northern Thailand & Laos as they do in other areas of the world.
Instead, we get to enjoy a more subtle, serene, lush and graceful set of natural beauty in the countryside as we ride the ever-changing dual sport routes we’ve been scouting out. Rolling green hills and low mountains covered with rich foliage, running along cliff-lined valleys on occasion and along sites like the Mekong River, there’s still plenty to feast your eyes on here.
That “peaceful and serene” characteristic works in parity with one of the non-scenic highlights of Thailand & Laos, a feature I don’t think I’ve ever attempted so much to praise before in any given region.That highlight I’m referring to is simply: the people.
With such pleasant smiles leading their kind demeanors and opening every reason for you to smile in return, my own cheeks have never been as sore as they were in Southeast Asia. Everywhere we rode, every tiny village we passed through, every restaurant we visited, all combined into my own reason to smile in return, and I simply loved that about the routes we covered. Perhaps it sounds a little weird complimenting a society so much, such that I’m not sure how this will all come-off in text … but sincerely, I adore the people of Thailand & Laos.
The warmth offered by the people with smiles going back and forth combines so beautifully with our primary reason to be in the region in the first place: The phenomenal riding. Add those smiles to the miles and miles of twists & turns, switchbacks and sweepers, ups & downs and constantly changing terrain opportunities, and I just don’t know how to express this, but the good vibrations we felt from the people made the best of adventure riding feel like it was wrapped in arms of love. So happy.
And then there’s the food. The food! A Thai food lover’s paradise complimented by subtle but wonderful differences on the Laotian side of the border made for such
an incredible experience. Sampling foods I’d had back home (Pad Thai, Pad Woon Sen, etc.) here in their homeland satisfied curiosities I’d had a long time. That being, YES, it does taste better in Thailand and Laos. Partly due to the recipes but mainly due to the family-style dining with large bowls of delicious options being passed amongst us, it’s a nice way to more literally enjoy the experience of dining with others. Perhaps it’s expected to be different from and for example, eating Thai food in your homeland, but this is an important part of travel. We find out the truth about what it’s really like, actually being there and personally experiencing something.
And Songkran, an experience I’ll liken to my first Oktoberfest in reaching stratospheric levels of satisfaction in life. Back in 2002, on my first time out of North America, Munich was the backbone of a trip for 3 of us from Wisconsin. What turned out to be such a sublime experience for me, those nights at the Wiesn, would be so hard to match, that I’ve hesitated and passed on offers to return. I now carry similar sentiment to the city of Nan, Thailand where we’ll be spending Songkran with our Customers coming in April. – Anyway, part of the booking process for anyone booking the Best of Northern Thailand or Thai-Laos Experience trip packages is that we’ll be explaining the significance of making this trip in April, as a little extra “screening will be taking place to make sure only the right Riders are allowed to join for this experience. Long story short, the weather in April and the festivities surrounding Songkran … the non-stop water fight that has you soaked from head to toe for 3 straight days, is simply not for everyone.
These first 2 tour routes we’re posting will be followed by others, but each one is the type of highlight reel we’re sure our Customers will enjoy. With both available as Guided Group tours, and the Northern Thailand Experience also available as a Self-Guided package, now it’s just a matter of who wants to explore as we have, and perhaps leave with a new found appreciation for this region and it’s people. No need to tell you that the best way to experience Thailand & Laos is the motorcycle I’m sure. If you’re reading this blog post, I imagine we’re on the same page here : )