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The Tigers of Southeast Asia (3SA)

Saturday, November 3, 2012 | Manuel Marabese | Asia

We have been to Cape Town and trough the Moroccan desert, we have ridden roads in Alaska and in Patagonia, we reached North Cape and Sicily, we toured the Pacific coasts, we climbed dirt tracks on the Himalaya in Tibet and waded across rivers in Siberia... what was missing?

A stunning corner of the world, fascinating and thrilling: a new motorcycle tour in Southeast Asia! And which bike could be more appropriate than a Triumph Tiger to discover Thailand, Laos and Cambodia?

Photos: Manuel Marabese and Michael Göbel

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After a long and slow ride on a truck, all the Tigers are finally back in the Triumph factory... and with some power washing they are shining again, ready for the next tour in January!

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DAY 15

Even the best stories have an end, at a certain point. You can believe us, and reading the comments below is a nice confirm, this trip has been an awe inspiring  journey trough a broad variety of landscapes and cultural insights. Today we are riding to our end destination Chiang Mai, a lively town in the north of Thailand.

Our trustable driver Mr. Bounmy and our local Thai guide Mr. BB are happily loading the support car, even for them the trip has been a great experience. We will never forget the nearly frozen BB the morning in Ang Khan, it was about 10°C and that was the coldest day in his entire life!

Today we have two riding groups: those preferring to head straight to Chiang Mai and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in town will follow Manuel on the main road, while those still keen on more offroad riding will join Michael on a more demanding route.

One more waterfall on our way...

And finally the hotel Banthai Village, a hidden gem in the center of Chiang Mai, a village­­‑like resort with a pool, nestled in a urban setting. Just incredible.

The group is now reunited, ready to enjoy the farewell dinner. Let's go once again on the songthaew, a sort of enlarged tuk tuk that can fit all of us.

And the prize for completing the tour: the very special "first edition" t­­‑shirt of the Edelweiss Triumph Southeast Asia motorcycle tour! See you soon guys... have a good trip home!

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DAY 14

We keep celebrating George's birthday and Rainer surprises us in the morning with some tasty pastries in a scenic coffee stop! Yummy!

Offroad again.. with some refreshing river crossing. For a second the bikes are clean... but the red dust and a bit of mud are soon painting them again.

A nice encounter: a cool American girl riding solo on a dirt bike across Thailand. Next time join us!

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DAY 13

A great and fresh morning! Less than 10°C, we are at 1600m! Who ever thought that Thailand could be so cold? The landscape along the road downhill is spectacular!

Very high bamboo near a waterfall...

And of course we don't miss the chance to go on an elephant trek not far from Pai!

Over 700 curves to go... here is a challenging "S"...

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DAY 12

We start the day visiting the temple of the 100 Golden Buddhas... and no tourists, just us!

After reaching the corner of the Golden Triangle where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet we keep riding on remote hills, where homestay rural tourism is starting to pick up... and we meet "Elvis", a fantastic "self made man" half Chinese and half hill tribe Thai.

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DAY 11

A scenic myst accompanies the first curves of the morning, revealing on the side of the road villages of the ethnic minorities that inhabit the hills.

Sweet little pigs don't seem too much frightened by our presence.

And our local guide tells us more about their culture. Some of us already make new friends sitting around the fire.

The road today is fantastic. Nicely paved, great scenery, not too much traffic. A very enjoyable and relaxing day... but the custom for the border crossing into Thailand is awaiting us!

First part done: custom clearance for getting out of Laos went pretty straightforward, after lunch we are on the ferry crossing the Mekong. On the other side of the shore we can see Thailand...

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DAY 10

Laos, a beautifully green country with a big potential to develop as an adventure tourism destination, will still be on our route for two more days. Today we will almost touch the border of China, ending the day in Luang Namtha, in the middle of a protected natural area.

Every time we stop, many curious kids are around us...

Right over there, on the horizon, there is China...

Some lunch stops are in very basic restaurants, but very tasty. It's a pity that in the picture you can't see the pink Barbie style chair that Michael is sitting on.

Two of the five daughters of the lady that runs the restaurant. Large families are pretty common here.

Sunset on the fields before reaching Luang Namtha. You can perceive that we are now closer to central Asia than to tropical islands... And the temperature drops quickly when the sun disappears.

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Leaving Vang Vieng heading north we proceed towards Luang Prabang, by many acknowledged as the most charming town of Laos and surely one of the most  picturesque of SE Asia, with its colonial flair and green eco tourism twist. Here is the gateway to dip into some jungle trekking, kayaking, elephant riding and much more.

The view from our balconies in the morning isn't too bad, right? This limestone karst landscape is impressive.

More mountains on the horizon...

And simple huts in the villages along the road...

Another day of emotions come to an end, and a beer in the park of the hotel at dusk is the perfect start of the evening...

...that after dinner continues in the night market!

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Direction Vang Vieng.... this is gonna be a remarkable day on this trip. First coffee stop on a panoramic terrace with the view of uncountable islets, than the road gets a bit twisty and the sharp silouette of Vang Vieng's mountains appear in front of our eyes.

Vang Vieng is (was) a very famous destination of the "banana pancake trail", i.e. the mainstream backpacker route along SE Asia. Why so? A few years ago a farmer decided to rent out some inner tubes to his workers to float along the river and this has been rapidly transformed into a big backpacker attraction, especially because along the shore of the river some bars started to appear, selling cheap booze to entertain the calm trip on the water. Word of mouth and internet contributed to attract a big crowd, the number of bars increased and the amount of alcohol (and extras) as well. As a result, tubing became just another way to get wasted and indulge in crazy behaviour like head diving into one feet deep water. An estimated number of 30 to 40 casualties per year was the norm and the last months have seen an even bigger figure. The ball exploded and the government decided to shut down the riverside bars and to put a noise curfew at 11:30pm. The party is over in Laos? Not for us riders... we are gonna have plenty of fun in our afternoon offroad loop!

Once upon a time we had a very good tour guide working for Edelweiss... after he told our boss Rainer "go ahead, it's fine!", nearly drowning him and his bike, he had to send some job applications as boat master, hoping to gain perhaps better control in water situations... right Michael?

Some more rivers to cross... but this time not as deep as our first miserable attempt...

And at the end of the track, what can be better than a jump into a refreshing lagoon in the sunset light? Yes, you see it right: on the left Rainer, rapidly jumping of the tree trying to catch Michael, escaping upstream on the right...

Have a good night, we really deserve a nice sleep after such a beautiful and intense day!

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On our way north, direction Vientiane (capital of Laos) we have the chance to visit a Buddhist temple... and who could be better than our local guide to explain us something about religion and culture? He has been a monk for 7 years... Our previous guide only 2 weeks, no drinks and no girls was too though for him...

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What a day! A Buddhist ceremony, some more dirt, a sweet monkey climbing on our bike and asking for a ride... And at the end of the day, caving: 7km trough a great cave, and back... all on longtail boats.

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DAY4 & DAY 5

Another border crossing today! Much less crowded than Poipet... in fact we are the only group there! Wow... that must gonna be fast! Yes indeed, only two hours instead of three! But we easily find some ways to spend the time at the border. Do you fancy to play bocce with the locals?

Leaving main roads brings us to discover bamboo huts villages, palms, gravel and some easy dirt... and at the end of every day we are happily dusty

On our way north, after the Cambodian border, we are amazed by the sight of the biggest waterfalls in Asia: the mighty Mekong in front of us!

In order to reach our hotel on the 4000 islands we need a ferry... but it's surely not your average steel ferry boat eheh...

Some sand before embarking the ferry, to spice up our afternoon...

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We leave the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat with the feeling we could have stayed days and days there to explore them, but a long trip is in front of us. The next two days are spent in Cambodia, enjoying potholes as big as our bikes and some dirt roads trough rural areas, with simple yet inspiring homes.

The most ecological ice machine!

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The second day of the tour demands an early start: one of the most crowded Asian border crossing (second only to the Cambodian/Vietnamese border) is awaiting us: Poipet here we are! It took us two hours to exit Thailand, and another good hour to enter Cambodia... and thanks God all the papers and the permit have been prepared in advance!

After the forced stop we are all eager to ride again, a major highlight will astonish us in the afternoon. Does Angkor Wat ring a bell? You need a picture to focus the idea?

(Photo: Osvaldo Bueno)

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The adventure begun long time before the tour start, as the motorbikes had to be shipped by plane from their hometown in Austria to Bangkok. Getting them out of the custom officers' hands took much longer the the travel itself... but eventually they reached safely the Triumph factory in Chonburi, in the outskirts of the Thai capital.

The tour guides Michael (Germany) and Manuel (Italy) are gonna have as travel companions a well mixed group from Brazil (Bueno), England (Andrew), United States (Gail, Ed, Jean, Georges), Italy (Marco) and Austria (Heinz), together with Edelweiss managing director as well, Rainer, with his wife Gaby. We will not be let alone on this tour, though. Mr. Bounmy form Laos is driving our support vehicle, a very sturdy Ford Ranger 4x4 pickup, accompanied by Mr. BB, our Thai guide.

Have a look how happy and "fresh" is the group at the tart of the tour... let's see how we will look after 5000km of challenging roads...

Leaving behind the last Bangkok traffic, a crossroad with a secondary road present us the first (of many) temple and a refreshing "water stop".

And after a while the group feels a bit hungry... ready for us a simple and very tasty street side restaurant in just a few minutes prepares for us a classic: fried rice, either chicken or pork. The napkins look a bit awkward, though

In the afternoon we have the chance to get some "riding appetizers": a few potholes, some dogs on the road, oncoming trucks on our lane, two girls on a scooter, four girls on a scooter, a heap of rice right in the middle of the road (after a curve, why not?) and few more minor hazards. It's part of the fun, we just need to be extra careful.

Our afternoon stop is beside another temple, some palms, banana plants and a deep blue sky.

Some of us enjoy an ice cream or a soda, some other just chill out in the shade. Riding in 35°C with full gear on is like having a free sauna... but it's surely more advisable than risking your life in shorts and flip flops, local style.

Gail and Gaby encountering some local ladies... Can you believe it? These ladies have never seen foreigners before. This gives us something to reflect upon. In just about 100 km from here you can reach places like Pattaya, and here we are the first farang (Thai name for westeners) dropping by... Incredible.

Some more local encounters during our gas stop... who knows if she has ever filled up something as big as a Triumph Explorer?

What can be the best reward for such a nice starting day? As soon as we reach our hotel, placed right before the Cambodian border, we dip in the pool, sipping a well deserved beer.

The dinner is served pool side with a delicious selection of  Thai delicacies: seafood tom yam soup, spring rolls in sweet sauce and crispy salad, wok with fried fish and another one with meat, vegetables in light sauce and fresh papaya, pineapple and watermelon... And a concert, too, provided by the hotel's band and by our tour leader and musician Michael.

Ladies and gents, it's time to say goodnight... we leave you imagining the notes of Frank Sinatra and some romantic light reflection on the water...

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Friday, April 12, 2013 at 20:10

Hi, I just edited and posted some videos of this trip on YouTube:
marco sambin
Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 09:50

To all the "Tigers" Merry Christmas and Happy new year with Your Family, I was not able as Bueno or Manuel to send you some pictures of mine but You can found them on my Facebook acount, it is been a nice Ride with You thanks and greetings Marco Sambin.
Paul Kustermann
Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 09:37

Looks great you guys! Wish I could have been there.
Happy New Year to all...
Manuel Marabese
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 03:38

Dear travel companions, now I'm "almost" at home too... well, at least my Thai home on Ko Phi Phi, waiting to embark on the plane from Bangkok. The last pictures have been uploaded, as you can see the bikes are clean again. It seems hard to believe, right?
I've enjoyed this tour very much, see you soon somewhere else in the world! If you plan to come on a Norwegian tour, you'll be sure to find me there, up north.. where the heat never exists, yeah!!
marco sambin
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:21

Now lights are closed, bikes are going back to the factory, we are going back home, someone like me just arrived, someone not jet. But all we can realize that something is changed in our lives, in our human experience , also in our thoughts about the peoples,the places, the things we have enjoy toghether.only 14 days but really worthing to be lived with you Friends. Bye Marco.
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 03:17

Nice blog and pictures, I enjoyed to read and watch!
I wonder if it would be possible to join a tour with the own bike.
Manuel Marabese
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 03:44

Hi George, you can drop an email to our head office, I'm sure they will tell you more about that...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 05:06

Hi Manuel,
I will try.... thank you for your idea
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 02:11

After two days in Chiang Mai, I am realizing that truly the most amazing thing about our trip was being on motorcycles and going into the rural areas where tourists are far and few between. (Even though shopping is a challenge!) The Edelweiss staff really did their homework and now we have the most incredible memories! The group dynamics were great and everyone pulled together as a team. (Much appreciated getting the bike back upright!) Edelweiss tours allow us to have "the trip of a lifetime"!
Thank you
Gail Thompson
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 02:01

Solo American female rider here. It was cool seeing you all as you were leaving from the Sosa cave and I wish you good travels.
Manuel Marabese
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 03:42

Hello Megan, nice to "see" you here! I hope you are enjoying your ride across Thailand... take care and maybe see you again!
Ed and Gail
Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 10:21

The one thing to remember about an adventure is that if it turns out the way you had expected it to, it was not an adventure at all. Thanks to all, this was definitely a great adventure!
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 18:22

Hi Michael and Manuel, this is Georges family from France, we wanted to thank you all so much for filling a life long dream for him! The trip sounds amazing and we really appreciate all the pictures and laughs. A incredible experience, and its so nice to share it with family (that ride!) What will you do with the rest of us next year that don't ride? can we follow along on longtail boats??? We can pick the others up out of the water for you!
Please wish Georges a very special 21 st on Friday, not only does he prefer to spend his birthday with you but also his wedding anniversary! You guys are so lucky!!!! So much to celebrate!
Enjoy the rest of your dreamtrip!
Thank you again! Kate and kids
Manuel Marabese
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 19:07

Hi Katherine!
Yes it's a great trip, tough but I'm sure it will last long time in our memories! More pics are coming on the blog... if the connection will not disappear!!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 21:27

Hey Paps
Its your birthday today ! yaaayy
Hope you are enjoying
Can't wait to see you and i miss you
I love you !!!!!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 17:53

Hey Dad!
Happy Birthday! I hope you are having a great time on your incredible trip, I saw the pictures, looks really fun! I miss you lots, can't wait to see you!
Lots of Love!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 17:11

Cant wait to see you, i miss you and i love you
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 13:51

Hi Dad its me Seby,
I want to wish you a very happy birthday i miss you alot, but we are decorating the house for you with lots of green flowers for Nöel. Ask uncle jean to sing for you after dinner, and we want a birthday picture of this. Tell us how you celebrate, i cant wait til sunday to see you again, love Seby
regina adams
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 04:13

Wir sind alle dankbar fuer Ihre trockenen Schuhe und Ihren Humor!!!
Vielen Dank fuer diese zauberhafte Reise.
Die Photos und Kommentare waren "world class"
Alle unsere Freunde sind begeistert und Ihre naechsten "fans"
Vielen Dank!!!! einen Geburtstagsgruss an Georges.
Regina Adams
Werner Wachter
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 17:40

Hallo Rainer,
Ich hoffe du tauchst wieder auf!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 01:47

Mittlerweile hab ich wieder trockene Schuhe. Immerhin war das Bike für eine Stunde sauber .
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 22:07

Na, da haben wir doch schon ein Titelbild für den Edelweiss-Katalog 2014....
Monday, December 10, 2012 at 10:03

Hey guys,
pretty unfair to post such incredible pictures... we are jealous!!!
Edelweiss Office Team - at the moment fighting the snow of Tyrol...
Manuel Marabese
Monday, December 10, 2012 at 10:37

Eheh... good to know!
paola ed nonna di toby
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 14:02

abbiamo visto le bellissime foto della vs avventura e.....
siamo un po' "invidiose" ....
qui tutto bene...
il ghiaccio ha "stappato" i tappini di gomma delle recinzioni!!!
vi seguiremo sul sito mandateci vostre immagini successive
ciao ciao
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:49

Dear Regina, you have to be very proud of both your sons toghether they are complementary,both kind and gentle. I really enyoj this tour with them. I have not the pleasure to have meet you before but there will be a next opportunityBye Bye Marco Sambin.
regina adams
Monday, December 10, 2012 at 21:30

Thank you Marco,
it seemed like you had a incredible trip, worse to write a book!!!
But thank you for your comments about my sons, that filled my heart with joy.
Have a good end of the voyage and I am sure yoy will keep in touch.
Au revoir!
regina adams
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 03:35

Graet pictures, what a trip!
Thanks Manuel you catch the flavor...
Manuel Marabese
Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 17:02

Thank you Regina!
More pictures form the last two days are coming soon... we take so many that it's a though job to select just a few
Manuel Marabese
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 18:41

Yep, pics have been taken, selected, edited, reduced, prepared... but the internet connection is so slow that we may be able to send them quicker to you as postcards instead of per internet...
regina adams
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 20:44

Great, thanks
the first pictures were great!
And the comments
Regina Adams
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 13:48

Hi mom, pictures are coming. We are safe, dirty, wet and could not be happier. We are spending the night in vangvieng Laos. luv George's and jean
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 09:46

Hi Guys , je suis furiieuse de ne pas être avec vous ; & vous bien soulagés!!!
TRES JOYEUX ANNIVERSAIRE à toi Georges & BIG KIsses to Jean .Next year it ll be the turn of the girls!! LoveXOXOXO
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 13:39

Eh oui les garçons, next year, c'est les filles...... Hahaha
Looks absoulutly amazing, but we are are missing our BIRTHDAY BOY here....
Have another great few days! Lots if pics!
Birthday hugs from all the kids, Moon, Papie, Michelle, Oma Busca, Sylvie and gang, The girls, and of course kissies from Lex and Stella!
Lots of love to the Dynamic Duo, XOXO
regina adams
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 20:42

Thanks! Georges and Jean
Missing you!
Who is baking your birthday Georges ?
Timmy's birthday celebration is tomorrow.
John and me will go up next week to Saratoga for your daughters birthday to remplace you!!!!
Meanwhile my heart is with you and hope you have a wonderful trip, it sounds really magic, except heat...
Love Mom
regina adams
Friday, December 7, 2012 at 04:33

Where are you guys, no more messages on the blog?
Mother of two guys on your trip
Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 15:46

Hi guys,
it would be great to be with you - back home in Tyrol we are already in deep winter!
Lot´s of snow...
Say hello to everybody - Jens from the office
Karin Gritsch
Monday, December 3, 2012 at 08:29

What an amazing tour this must be! Edelweiss headquarters in Austria says hello - please take care and enjoy every moment of the tour!
Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 13:41

Fantastic day! Great riding, amazing scenery, friendly people.


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