Welcome to Week Eight of The IndoChina Expedition
Chiang Mai has been a "must see" place that I have heard so much about and I've always wanted to visit that part of the world. Filled with expectations colored by stories about long-necked tribe people and opium smugglers in the Golden Triangle, I have high hopes. I am somewhat disappointed as we ride in to the city on a double-lane divided highway to a large modern city, not the illusion I had built in my mind of a little village in the hills. Tourists are everywhere; hotels compete for real estate as the city keeps growing rapidly.
We ride out of town the following day to see an elephant show together with several hundred other tourists. The show is good and well worth the visit, but we pass on the new long-necked village and move on to other sites. Unfortunately, we have not enough time to explore the northern-most part of this area, which is supposed to be great for motorcycle riding. Next year, we will change the itinerary and make sure to include that part of Thailand.
As we head south on secondary roads we are amazed to be riding on such nice roads. Even when we take off to shoot some video in a village, the roads is sealed. This is a great motorcycle riding area and we enjoy the days in the saddle. However, as I am riding the HP2, I do long for some more challenging roads. The riding we are doing in Thailand has been more suited for Chris' bike, the R1200GS Adventure.
Having been asked by several people to compare the two bikes ,I can conclude that the HP2 is much more to my liking. The bike reminds me of my good old R80G/S that I traveled with for so many years. The HP2 is, of course, a huge step forward both in performance and handling. I had an R1200 GS Adventure for just over a year and I liked it very much on good roads. Getting off on the back roads, it is a pig, way too big and heavy. After having had the chance to ride a HP2 from Canada to Mexico, I were sold on that bike. It is a bike that is so much more straightforward without all the plastic. It has great front and rear suspension; the R1200GS Adventure suspension is no good and keeps breaking. I love a bike that has a “real” fork and 21” front wheel. The HPN 23 liter tank is a must, and the Touratech auxiliary tanks are also an alternative, to increase the range of the HP2. Having tried both, I enjoy the HPN tank for its simplicity, as it simply replaces the original tank and utilizes the original pump. On the Touratech tanks, you have to manually press a button to pump gasoline from the spare tanks to the original tanks.
The Touratech Zega bags have always been my choice for panniers, so that is what I have on my HP2 as well. I replaced the sump plate and mounted a crash bar; both Touratech made and I am very happy with these.
So far I found that the electric switch for the side stand WILL break, and the side stand itself is mounted to the frame with a aluminum “block” that has bent ,==, making the side stand difficult to use. I will be looking for an alternative, and possibly a center stand, when I return to Seattle. I am also VERY concerned with the anti-theft key system that BMW, for some odd reason is installing on these bikes. We have seen several bikes have EWS faults and failed ring antennas for engine immobilizer system fail while on tours. I do not need this kind of high tech "immobilizer" system on my bike, especially when the system is as unreliable as it is. For this reason I am carrying a spare ring antenna.
Talking about electrical systems, I have wired up two electrical outlets that are connected directly from the battery via a CenTech fuse box.
On the way to the floating village, we stop in a small fishing port where they repair and overhaul fishing vessels. I always love these places, where boats are being repaired and people are easy to talk to. Usually, they love to check out the bikes, and if you have any repairs to do on the bike this is always a good place. I use the opportunity to make a fix to my side stand so that it is usable again. If it kept on leaning over it would eventually break and it is not always easy to find a good place to lean the bike against a wall or a rock.
Well this is all for now, we have more places to ride and stuff to see on this incredible journey of IndoChina.
Until next, time take care.