He Said/She Said Motorcycle Touring

He Said/She Said Motorcycle Touring

Motorcycle touring for a week in Cambodia is a very different experience whether your hands are on the handle bars or not.  Here are the different views and thoughts we had about each other’s seat.

HE SAID…

I remember when I purchased my first motorcycle, a black Yamaha V-Star 650.  I got a great deal on it because I had to pick it up in rural Wisconsin and drive it back during rush hour on Interstate 94.  I will never forget that evening because I had never been so scared before in my life.  It was the first time I had driven outside of the closed training circuit, my first time on a road, in traffic, at highway speeds.  I look back at that day with a nostalgic pride, until I relived it on the roads of Cambodia, it brought me right back to that first day, wondering why the hell I thought a motorcycle was a good idea.

It is one thing to be the driver in this situation, but I can’t imagine being a passenger when these are the thoughts your driver is having.  Combine that with the crazy drivers that are constantly issuing machismo challenges with their vehicles, horns and gas pedals, with the horribly uncomfortable seat, and you have the makings of a bad situation.  Luckily for us, we’re dim-witted enough to put ourselves in similar situations before: running a marathon and going on a 100 mile bike ride.  The comfort level, silencing of doubts, and continuing to push on was eerily similar.

I don’t really know how LOCAVORista did it.  Her seating position, on the luggage rack, with knees folded could have extracted a confession from all but the most highly trained soldiers.  I expected her to step off at some point, hit me and catch the first bus out of there that she saw.  She didn’t do it though, she complained minimally, didn’t scream when I made some passes that were surprisingly closer than expected, or buses tried to run us off the road.  With all my appreciation for her toughness, this adventure took my respect to another level.  This surpassed the time she pushed her way to the finish line of a marathon, hit the timing pads and collapsed to the ground, not remembering the last few miles due to exhaustion, yet qualified for the Boston Marathon, while I was being carried around by her father after dropping out at mile 20.

All this said, I would 100% do it again.  I am excited for the next opportunity to see the world by motorcycle.  I can’t wait for the next time I get to ride a motorcycle across dirt roads, up stairs and wherever I dare.  It was a punishing experience, but one that I couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride in making it.  We got to see parts of Cambodia that few tourists ever will.  Seeing a place by motorcycle is amazing, the view is totally different from a car or bus, the exposure to the elements and things you notice.  There are changes we would make, such as taking a bike per person, but, even remembering the bad, this was the highlight of the trip thus far.

SHE SAID…

I’ve owned a motorcycle for just over a year now, I went through the training course and was really starting to feel comfortable on my 650 cc cruiser before we left for this trip.  I was hoping to put my new-found riding confidence to use on the road, but I took one look at the Phnom Penh traffic and decided Cambodia would not be the place to come into my biker babe persona.  People driving wherever they pleased; including, but not limited to the sidewalk, wrong side of the road and the median.  In my mind I thought if I could just suck it up and get through Phnom Penh I would be on quiet rural roads, good thing I didn’t test that theory.  I would have been far from reality, as soon as you get out of the city you have a whole new set of issues from gravel roads to dodging ox carts, avoiding road construction and stray dogs to keeping an eye out for migrating cattle.  I don’t know how thinkCHUA did it, but I’m glad he did it instead of me.

While I won’t deny that thinkCHUA deserves all the credit for navigating Cambodia via motorcycle it wasn’t always easy being the passenger.  Motorcycle touring through Cambodia provided many white-knuckle experiences from the back “seat”.  I was perched on the luggage rack of our tiny 250cc dirt bike due to limited seat space.  This is where I would insert a picture of my bruised butt to give you an idea of the pain that I endured, the kind of pain that leaves lasting marks, if this wasn’t such an upstanding blog.  It might not have even been so bad riding on top of the luggage rack if I weren’t wearing a 40-pound backpack.  So, I hope you enjoy the pictures from Angkor Wat knowing that carrying the camera equipment for those shots caused me to lose feeling in my rear end for a week.

The seat was the least of my issues on the trip; in fact being perched on the luggage rack gave me something to hold onto while the local traffic rushed past.  On more than one occasion my foot actually touched passing vehicles.  Cambodians don’t seem to obey any traffic laws and they extend their beliefs about lack of personal space to the highway.  The worst part is as a passenger on the back I never knew if we were going to be stopping quickly or swerving to avoid my foot grazing the passing bus.  I just saw my impending doom not knowing if we would stop or swerve in time or not.  However, I dare not scream into thinkCHUA’s ear as that might cause the head on collision that I was most fearing.  Knowing that the nearest hospital is at least 8 hours away didn’t give me much piece of mind either.

With complaints aside I will say that the week-long motorcycle tour of Cambodia was one of the highlights of the trip thus far.  Not only did it provide us with a huge amount of independence to see the sites of Angkor Wat, but also gave us celebrity status throughout the country.  Every place we stopped people would come to look at our “huge motorcycle” and even police officers would compliment us.  We saw much more of rural Cambodia than we would have otherwise and we lived to tell the tale thanks to thinkCHUA’s driving prowess.

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Comments

» Mom A :
May 4, 2011

I do know that I see different things and see things differently between “here and there” when riding behind Bruce on our motorcycle. However, it is nothing like the chaos of city of country streets and roads in Cambodia! I am hoping you can find a way to figure out logistics, next time, to minimize some of that. I am also thinking/hoping that much of the rest of the world’s roads and traffic might not all be that life threatening! Because I know you will do it again!
Be smart! Take care!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, I think we would do it again, but we would definitely try to figure out better logistics at least for two passengers. But we got a great adventure out of it!

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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