archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

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Matt Galat – latest updates – February 15, 2018

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How does your trike anti-theft lock stand up in testing? Find out here!

According to these tests, the Abus Granit eXtreme 59 is a noted winner. They are expensive however, showing up online for more than $200 US dollars.

LunaTrike Recumbent Trike Overview

Editor’s note: Having personally run an Aerospoke rear wheel on one of my own trikes, I would highly recommend not doing so (see articles elsewhere on this website). Other trikers have also reported significant issues with Aerospokes on a recumbent trike. Hostel Shoppe ceased to carry these wheels quite some time ago, and it is my understanding that the company is no longer in business. Other than that caveat, enjoy the rest of this trike!

Sun Seeker Fat Tad Trike Overview

Steven Telck’s Trike Adventure Continues – episode ten

Missive #10

Newest Pics:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_Essc6l2ov2bwEEzRDHB3DqRfkHaa42B

First, it was a big mistake not taking my notebook computer on this trip. It is very difficult uploading and keeping track of duplicate files on Google Drive with a cell phone. Even with a computer it is difficult, but much easier to do with a mouse and full size screen. I have gone through my Google Drive and done my best to remove all the duplicate files. Live and learn.

We rode nearly 3,000 km or about 1,875 miles. This is an estimate as my original bicycle computer went missing one day and was not replaced for nearly two weeks after its loss. The original trip was to be 2,400 km or 1,500 miles, but when we came back into Thailand instead of going straight to Bangkok we decided to go south  to  Ban Phe, then to Rayong and from there we rode up towards Chonburi. After Chonburi we rode straight into Bangkok over to the new airport where we were picked up by the hostel we are staying in as riding in downtown Bangkok is a bit suicidal for anyone on a bicycle or tricycle.

Coming into Bangkok we had several days of rain and there were many places on the road we were using where it was flooded almost 12 inches deep which is not a lot of fun when you’re only sitting 6 in off the ground on a human powered recumbent tadpole tricycle. Had to pull the cell phone out put it in a plastic bag to plot a route around the flooded areas. The last 10 km into Bangkok to the airport were pure misery – it had been raining during that day and the unpaved roads were pits of mud. It was one of those things where we had no idea how long we were going to be fighting our way through the deep puddles and mud so I stopped and talked to a man just getting off a pickup taxi.

I asked him how far it was before the road got better. He told me it was only 2 km. I thanked him for the information, but kept thinking that most people do not have an accurate idea of a kilometer. Sometimes they mean 2 kilometers down the road and they tell you five hundred meters or vice a versa. Well I took a look at the old cycling computer and marked the point and damn of the old boy wasn’t right, in exactly 2 km we are back on asphalt. His estimate could not have been more accurate. I assume he must have ridden it every day on a motorcycle until he could no longer stand being covered in mud and had decided to take a taxi that day.

After arriving back at the hostel and resting a bit I took my ICE trike outside and took a stiff fiber brush to it and started scraping the mud from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam along with Thailand off of it down to what appeared to be paint. I am probably personally responsible for half of the organic pollution found in Bangkok that day. Just as I was finishing cleaning the trike I suddenly hear someone calling me by my Thai nickname and I looked up to see my two sister-in-laws standing in front of me saying hello. After putting the trike away and taking a shower Roger and I decided to go out with my two sister-in-laws and we had a nice dinner together and it turned out to be a really find meal. The restaurant was playing jazz music which appeals to Roger.

I have been thinking for some time about buying a Thai flute or Khlui. It is a fipple design flute with seven holes on top and one on the bottom. It has a greater range than the native American flute I am now playing, but is much harder to learn how to play. I have been watching a YouTube video called “Hidden Thailand” and the Khlui makers in Bangkok. My sister in laws along with me traveled over to these makers of Khluis’ where I purchased mine. I now know why the show is called “Hidden Thailand” as the shop was very difficult to find. It took us nearly an hour to find the shop in a little back alley of Bangkok. At this time the flute seems very “airy” and not producing good notes. I know so little about this type of flute I can’t tell if the flute is miss tuned or just my lack of knowledge in playing it. I can produce a few clean notes, but in all I am having a lot of trouble getting good clean sounds from it. I will most likely have to wait until I return to Thailand to find someone who knows how to play this instrument to tell me whether it is indeed out of tune or just my lack of knowledge. If indeed it needs to be tuned then that will be the time to have it done.

While in Bangkok at the end of the trip I decided to take a canal trip and then onto a river trip. Bangkok was once known as the Venice of the east. Most of the canals once crossing through the city have been filled in for roads and buildings, but a few major canals are still used. The biggest to my knowledge is Saen Saeb which runs east/west through Bangkok. Large turbo diesel boats run along these canals daily under normal circumstances. During higher than normal water flows the boats are unable to use the canal due to low bridges not allowing passage. Most of the boats have roofs which can be lowered and was a bit of a surprise when the roof suddenly started dropping to allow us to pass under a bridge. Keep in mind that I sit rather tall in the saddle so when the top was lowered my head was scraping the canvas. All the boats have plastic side skirts which are attached to ropes and pulleys for the occupants to use. When you get two large boats moving quickly in opposite directions in confined spaces a real wake can be produced and a whole lot splashing. Riders sitting on either side of the boat near one of the pulleys have the job of grabbing a ring and pulling down on it until the plastic curtain is all the way up.

These curtains can not be left up permanently as passengers must enter and exit the boat from the sides, either left or right depending on the pier being used. So it is a sort of game getting the plastic skirts up in time to prevent being splashed and lowered so you can see and also allow passengers to enter or leave the boat. I have a Thai friend who warned me to be careful about getting on or off these boats during rush hour and yes there is a rush hour even on canals and boats. He said that the boats often barely touch the pier before the captain is back on the power, the turbo diesel spins up and away you go. I personally saw a few passengers still hanging onto the loading ropes half in the boat as it pulled away from the pier. For myself I think the captain slowed down enough to give me a chance to get on and off the boat in a reasonable amount of time. Must be the scared rooky look on my face as I flung myself onto the boat minding to keep a strong grip on the rope running the length of the boat. As the boat loads from either the right or left passengers slide down the bench seat which runs across the boats. These seats are polished smooth from all the bottoms that have slid across them over the years. This canal trip stopped at six piers the last one just a few hundred meters from the river which run through greater Bangkok north/south. You can see pictures and short videos of our “river trip” on the Chao Phraya river.

My sister in laws and I decided to go visit Wat Arun. Arun means “morning” and the temple is very beautiful in the morning as the sun rises. It just so happened that two rather rude and down right stupid people trying hard to become Instagram internet celebrities decided that Wat Arun was a place to go drop their pants, take video or pictures and post it on Instagram. Don’t bother looking for the videos as they have been taken down. Well they were dumb enough to have posted the videos before they left the country and I am betting you can see where this going. Their faces were posted at the airport and they were arrested while trying to leave the country. At this time they are only facing $150 fine and permanent restriction from every entering the country again. There is a group of people pushing for a stronger penalty and I hope it is imposed on these idiots. I do not understand what it is in peoples minds where they think that any stupid thought is OK to carry out without regard for others feelings. Personally I hope they get a stronger sentence, but most likely they will just be booted from the country with no hope of ever entering again.

Pedal Retention on a Recumbent Trike

Suspension on Trident’s quad

Learn more about this fat tire quad HERE.

Traveling on a Terrain trike, by Trident

To learn more about this trike, click HERE.

Cool Trident Trikes Terrain 26″ Presentation!

To learn all the details about this trike, click HERE!

Try these when you have time to kill …

Some cool real-life trick shots are amazing (be sure to stick through to the end of the video to see some of their missed and flubbed shots while filming to get these perfect shots).

FAT TIRE Psycho Club propaganda assault …

Are you a FAT tire cycle rider?

Welcome to the Fat Tire Psycho (cycle) Club. A friendly little hangout for ALL fat tire cycle misfits! Exchange ideas with other FAT TIRE cycling nonconformists. FAT is where it’s at – FATTIES have more fun! BIKES – TRIKES – QUADS – UNICYCLES (all fatties all the time) To join in all the free FAT TIRE fun, follow this forum link: CLICK HERE. Be a part of the FAT TIRE cycling community! Be a part of the FAT TIRE cycling community! Be a part of the FAT TIRE cycling community!

Adjusting Steering on Performer Trikes

Performer JC-20 and JC-70 Overviews

Trike Hobo’s fatbike overview

For those who have been wondering what I’m pedaling around the landscape on these past few weeks (when it’s not raining cats and dogs of course), here is a typical hobo overview presentation I put together a couple of days ago:

This fat tire rig is a blast to ride, very comfortable, and with insanely low gearing, will climb just about anything I have the skill to ascend (of course, I’m still on my two-wheel learning curve, having been on recumbent trikes for the past eight years, but since I rode and raced technical single track on two wheels for many years, it’s slowly coming back to me ;-)     See ya’ …

Update regarding Steven Telck’s photo library … FYI

Hello everyone,
Recently it was pointed out to me that I had duplicates and triplicate of files on my Google drive. Spent some time sorting and deleting. Unfortunately Google does a very bad job of checking for duplicate files. It will allow as many duplicates as you can move into the drive. It has become apparent my desire to save weight by not bringing my notebook computer was a big error as being efficient on a cell phone is not easy. I think I have things sorted. I have moved all files for now to the folder named Asian tour. Here is the link:

Steven Telck’s trike adventure continues … Episode Nine

Missive #9

Older Pics
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1Gk3Pg2zbeQAJm-3v9dYPPmcvl68K0sKi

Newest Pics
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=11bhYOcU-fDZgzMQPs7pW-qrnQMylFQhc

Present location

12.98033,101.20642

I understand some people are interested in my trike setup and how I roll around Asia.  Well I took some pictures and a short video of my spinning flag. They are included in the folder “Newest Asia Tour Files”.

First I ride an ICE Adventure trike. I ride this trike because it is higher than the lower Sprint model and because it is also a folding trike which makes it easier to put on buses if one needs to transport from place to place. I find a Sprint just a little too low to the ground for many of the roads in Asia. There are places here with buildup of dirt and rock on the roads or drop offs from asphalt to dirt that the Sprint will hit the frame if you’re not careful. Therefore the Adventure being a little higher is much more suitable for this type of touring.

I have an elastomer rear suspension and none in the front, but the roads in Vietnam made me wish that I did have front suspension. In the last 2,300 km I have broken three spokes on the front wheels. This is no fault of design or wheel structure it is mine as I knew the spokes were becoming loose and I failed tension them before the trip. Riding with loose spokes will cause them to break so fast you couldn’t replace them fast enough. The upside of using 20 inch wheels is even when spokes break the wheels usually do not go far out of from side to side, and with the Sturmey Archer drum brake system you do not have to worry about brake pads rubbing the side of the rims if the rims do go out a little side to side. Also the drum brakes are easier to transport on buses as one does not have to worry about handlers bending a disc rotor. My old  girls paint is chipped and scratched, but she gets down the road I don’t have any bent rotors because I have the drum brakes and the wheels get me there even with a few broken spokes until I can take the time to pull the tire off and replace them.

I also use a 6 ft tall collapsible warning pole with a spinning flag attached to the pole. All eyes are designed to notice motion and with the flag spinning it is usually the first thing anyone sees before they even recognize the trike. This is not my personal opinion this has been told to me by many people who have pulled up and said I could see that flag long before I even knew you were on a trike. The flag has a quick release couple at the seat frame where it is attached and a black sliding sleeve which slips up and allows the flag to be folded  so you can go under low objects. It also makes for a quick disconnect and fold ability if you want to transport again via bus. I also use an airzound air horn and I keep the reservoir pumped-up to 100 PSI. The air horn is extremely useful for two things, first for those cars backing up that for whatever reason cannot see a 6-foot flag and second to scare off dogs which are everywhere in Asia.

Just today there was a dog chasing Roger down the street who was for whatever reason not backing off after we left his territory I was about 200 feet behind Rodger so I just blasted at the dog with the air horn. He immedialy broke off pursuit and headed to the side of the road and ditch. He most likely was  thinking he was about to get run over by one of many trucks on the road. It is amazing how many lame dogs there are in Asia, usually with broken hind legs. On the right hand side opposite the air horn I have the little Ding-A-Ling bell for when I’m trying to move amongst people. I use two standard Ortlieb roller bags in the back with a larger roll-up bag on top which spans the top of the two lower bags. The top bag is held to the lower bags and the rack with two elastic spider nets. I also have a very large side bag in which I carry most of the things I need during the day such as powder for the incessant humidity ( keeps the boys happy), sunglasses, basic tools, sunscreen, electrolytes etc. I personally ride in long pants which I tuck into my socks and wear a high visibility long sleeve shirt. I do this because I don’t like to put on sunblock over and over as it’s next to impossible to keep on for any length of time while  sweating my way up a mountain in this humidity.

If you look closely you should notice that I do not have standard clip in pedals. One year after I started riding trikes I started developing hot foot problems. I was looking around for a solution when I ran across a webpage by James Bolf who just so happens to live part-time in Chiang Mai Thailand.  He had taken some of aluminum plate and cut them out in a rough shape of a foot and attached  his cleats to the bottom of the plates which he attached to his pedals. He then just puts his feet on the pedals and rides the trike that way. He told me the platforms had cured his hot foot problems which made me very curious so I looked into it a bit. The nerve which is directly behind the ball of the foot and where the cleat on most shoes is attached gets compressed and for some people it it can swell so badly it causes the hot foot problems. I have never been able to find a pair of riding shoes where the cleat could be moved back far enough to get the pressure off the ball of the foot and for a trike rider I see no great reason why I should want to have my point of contact to the spindle near the ball of my foot because I am not using the calfs of my legs for quick acceleration.

I took James basic design and design my own set of platforms made out of lightweight aluminum plate, drilled a series of holes in them so that they could be attached to the back side of my combination pedals at many different positions which would allow me to move the effective spindle area forward or backwards under my foot. If you look closely in the picture you can see that the spindle is almost under my arch. This distributes the pressure from the pedal stroke more evenly across the bottom of my foot and my hot foot problems are gone. Thank you James. The heavy duty bungee on the heel is to keep my foot from slipping backwards as I pull on the pedal during the second half of the stroke, the velcro straps on the front just keep my foot against the platform again so that when I’m pulling it does not lift up off the platform and want to jump out of the heel slings.  This design also offers one other solution to a problem I experienced two years ago while riding. I was moving only about 4 miles an hour when I hit a rather large hole and for whatever reason I shifted my weight in the seat, which unclipped my right foot and my leg went down and got trapped under the crossbar of the trike. I lost a lot of skin on the outside of my right ankle and I pulled a ligament in my knee which to this day still gives me trouble after long rides. Yes I was a victim of the infamous leg suck.

The thing I remember most about the incident other than the pain was the two young girls maybe 12 and 13 who saw me trying to free my leg trapped under the crossbar. They ran over very quickly both grabbed the right front wheel and lifted the trike up with me in it so I could push my leg out from under the crossbar. One should note that I weigh 240 pounds and the trike is nearly 40 pounds itself so this was something that was difficult for these two young ladies to do.

I have experienced many incidences like this. Take the time someone chased me down 20 miles to give me back a pair of $3 clip on sunglasses or the time that a man and his wife still wearing her dressing gown chased us down the road to give us back a mouse which we had thrown in the garbage can because it wasn’t working and they thought we had left it behind in the hotel or the time I was standing along side of the road on a hot mountain road trying to get the last bit of water out of my bottle and have people  stop and ask me if I needed water and then give it to me and not want one nickle from me in exchange. There are many other stories which I could relate but I think the reader gets the picture. I find the people of Thailand gracious and easy to get along with and helpful especially when you really needed it.

A few days ago was a rough day as it turns out I killed a dog with my trike. It was a rather surrealist event. I was clipping down the road in the safety margin at about 15 kilometers per hour. A dog was sitting on the side of the road, looked up, saw me and immediately went into total terror and panic. He started running away from me yelping and running sideways. You see he was in total panic of my trike. I think it might have been the fact that it sits low to the ground and the flag was spinning very fast. Anyway as he ran away sideways from me he ran across the street and was hit head-on by a sedan and killed instantly. I turned the trike around and went back to make sure he was dead which was rather obvious because it was not a pretty sight. The owner of the dog walked out from his house and stood there looking at it and I told him in Thai I was very sorry that the dog was so frightened of my trike that he ran across the street in front of the car. The dog’s owner just looked at me and said “my bpen ri, my bpen ri”. This phrase in Thai means many things, one it can mean it’s not important, or it could mean it’s not a problem. Even now I still feel quite bad about the incident, this poor dog was not chasing me, barking at me or snapping at my heels, he was just trying to get away from me in a stark terror and accidentally ran out in front of a car. One second alive the next second dead.

There has also been one other accident related to my trike. Three people on a motorcycle were rubbernecking my trike when a car stopped short in front of them. They notice just in time to slam the brakes put the motorcycle down and slide in the sand into the back of the car. No serious injuries just some loss of skin and scraped up motorcycle.

Well well enough for now I’ve had my shower we’ve had a light dinner and I got a little bit of warm beer to finish.

Steven

Performer JC-70 Recumbent Trike Review

What in the world is the Fat Tire Psycho Club?

Back in January 2010, as I was preparing to launch a little informative website about recumbent tadpole tricycles for adults, one of the most challenging aspects was deciding upon a name for the new site. My mind mulls over such things to the extreme, and days were lost to pondering the potential names. Should I be serious and overly professional about it? Or, should I be fun, happy, and a little bit crazy about the naming? Should I even worry about such things, I wondered, as I certainly did not expect the website to be much more than an interesting pastime for me during the winter months, never once considering that it might take off.

After much agonizing and review, I finally chose the Trike Asylum name, wanting to portray a bit of levity to the whole endeavor. One person boldly told me that the name made it sound like an insane asylum, a place for a bunch of crazies, and that I should adopt a conservative naming that lacked the negative overtones associated in so many human minds when it comes to the word asylum. My answer was that an asylum is a place of refuge, not necessarily associated with mental hospitals, although I must admit, I surely did laugh inside, thinking that yes, maybe this is kind of a crazy website, enjoying the association, and that since the site was nothing more than a casual time-waster for myself, what difference did it make anyway?

Well, the site prospered despite potential negativity about the second word of the name, and now folks talk about it as casually as any other name. It’s a household moniker in the ever evolving world of trikedom. So, as you may have noticed, I have continued with this practice of naming on the edge of social acceptability, and have done it once again, albeit a wee bit more boldly than with the word asylum. Heck, why not have some laughs and fun in life? That’s my stance, and if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to visit the site, after all.

To return to the question posed by the title of today’s posting, asking what the Fat Tire Psycho Club is, I will inform those who do not know that it refers to a tiny little forum I established way back in April of 2015, having recently ordered my ICE Full Fat monster backcountry bush trike. The forum was called Fatrike Forum for a long time, and just like Trike Asylum, was slow to take off. In fact, it’s still no social gathering hot-spot even today, but again, it’s kind of fun to try these things in my spare time. My intent was to form a place where all fat tire recumbent trike riders, and those interested in such things, could meet and discuss things, to ask questions, and to learn. Fatrike Forum was one of those conservative namings that really didn’t attract too much attention to itself.

Trike Hobo on his 2015 ICE Full Fat trike (50 pounds without accessories)

Then, as you may know, I ended up selling my ICE Full Fat trike in October of 2017, replacing my triangular transportation with a fat tire mountain bike. I’m now up on two wheels rather than down on three. So, I got to thinking about the Fatrike Forum, which was having a post now and then about fat tire quadcycles, that perhaps limiting it by name to just recumbent trikes might be keeping other fat tire cycling enthusiasts from joining in on all the online fun. Of course, since I now had a fattie bicycle, I didn’t want to exclude myself from the forum I had set up in the first place. The thought of expansion entered my mind! But, would the trikers feel betrayed? If I opened the site up to all fattie riders, regardless of how many wheels were rolling underneath them, would the trike members abandon ship?

Bike Hobo with his 2018 Motobecane Night Train (30 pounds without accessories)

I opted to take a chance, and I renamed the Fatrike Forum, welcoming all FAT TIRE human powered cyclists out there to become participating members. The new name was Fat Tire Cycling Club, a friendly little hangout for all fat tire cycling fans. That name lasted only a few days however, as I began to wonder if it was a little boring, and whether I should be more creative, like I was years ago with Trike Asylum. Fat Tire Asylum crossed my mind, but that was too much like Trike Asylum, and I wanted something with a new, yet crazy, slant. My mind went to work on the assignment, and I realized that the word “cycle” sounded an awfully lot like the word “psycho“, and that prompted me to look up exactly what psycho meant, because I figured that maintaining a hint of social decorum might be in order for the forum. So, I Googled the word, and as you might well suspect, a chilling movie of that name ranked high and quite frequently in the search engine results. Obviously, people who ride fat tire cycles might be a bit offended if I referred to them with that overlying connotation.

Further investigation revealed other interpretations of psycho: crazy, loony, nuts, psychotic, loco, loon, moonstruck, mad, certifiable, crazed, mental, screwy, unbalanced, unhinged, psychopathic, bananas, crackers, haywire, demented, lunatic, madman, and the list goes on and on. Most of these clearly do not describe fat tire cyclists, so was I going too far? But I liked a few things about the word: 1) It sounded so much like cycle, 2) It was a another clever play on words like Trike Asylum had been, and 3) There are some characteristics of the word that do describe fattie enthusiasts. For example, would fat tire riders be considered somewhat bananas, unbalanced, or crackers in the wider cycling community as a whole? And of course, when it comes to normal non-cycling humans, would this not be even more pronounced? Everywhere I rode my ICE Full Fat, it drew gobs of attention from folks, so it became quite clear to me that I was some kind of an oddball, misfit, or somewhat crazy person for daring to ride such a thing in public.

Besides, I like having fun in life. Life is too darn short to be stuck up with convention, of being so archaically puritan that things are boring or commonplace. I like shaking things up now and then. It worked with Trike Asylum. Everyone loved the name, or at the very least, most folks surely liked it based upon the popularity numbers, links to the site, and placing in Google searches. As a result of all this over stimulation of my limited brain, I took the plunge, and last night I again renamed the former Fatrike Forum to what is is now (see sidebar link to the right somewhere). My stance is that I think it’s funny, and others might also think so. I don’t get offended easily, if at all, laughing and having a good time as much as possible. I see the humor in things that some others might think detestable. Just my way – keeps me happy, mellow, and destined for living a lot longer than those who are agitated by anything slightly off the status quo. I have typically walked my own path, done things differently than everyone else, ridden a tricycle as an adult, and basically not worried about the consequences one way or another.

So, my three wheeled cycling friends, who may also have a two wheeled conveyance at the house, if you have any curiosity about fat tire cycling, mosey on over to the Fat Tire Psycho Club and join in with the group. It is not necessary to ride a fattie, just to be curious about the things, whether one, two, three, or four wheels. I would really like to see someone with a fat quad join in over there, post some stories, and show some photographs. The fatrikers have been posting for a while now, but I am the first fatbiker to post stuff. There has been occasional posting about the quads, but not by owners and riders. And of course, even though I did not mention it in the titling of the site, no one has posted a thing about fat tire unicycles! Is there even such a thing in existence? Wow, what a rig that would be! Click HERE to visit the club.

A fat tire mountain quadcycle is a thing of beauty (80 pounds without accessories)

By the way, yes, there is a fat tire unicyle out there already! Amazing! It’s called a mountain unicycle, and I think it might be even more challenging than a fattie mountain bicycle! Here is a photo of one I found while searching online:

The fat tire mountain unicycle (16 pounds without accessories)

ONE FINAL NOTE: Most of the members of the Fat Tire Psycho Club seem to be pretty shy. Only a small handful contribute actual stories, information, or photos to the club. Most folks there are readers, rather than posters. So here is my New Year’s wish: I’d like to see lots more participation in the club, even from people who don’t yet have a fattie. The fun is in the reading and sharing, but that should be shared evenly across the board in my opinion. Spread the word about how much fun riding a fattie of any kind is, and get lots of riders from wherever you can to join and post everything they know about fat tire cycling! See ya’ …

Fun is where the fat tires lead you!

Steven Telck’s Trike Adventure continues – Episode Eight

Missive #8

Older Pics
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=1Gk3Pg2zbeQAJm-3v9dYPPmcvl68K0sKi

Newest Pics
https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=11bhYOcU-fDZgzMQPs7pWqrnQMylFQhc

It is the new year January 2nd 2018.
Rodger was reading an email he got from a friend about New Years. It seems last year this friend was wished a good year and prosperity. It also seems that the year was not  good nor was it prosperous , so this year he is asking everybody to just send him cash or checks. He is also happy to take  credit cards and Bitcoins.

This missive is being dictated on my Android phone and because I had not taken any notes over the last couple days it will wander about as I tell you about Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

This is our last day in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We pushed off 6 a.m. We push for the next hundred kilometers of riding. We will stay overnight about 100 km down the road and sometime around noon the next day we should be across the border into Thailand.

Angkor Wat was amazing! Hard to imagine this entire complex was built for one king to glorify him and him only. The Khemer Empire at its height must have been very powerful as it controled  much of Thailand, Laos and parts of Vietnam.

The construction techniques, to build the temple are very interesting. At first glance it would seem that the entire Temple is composed of sandstone which is not true. Most of the base and lower supporting structures are made of a rock called laterite. It is a lightweight easy to carve material which is very abundant in this area, after building the inside structure the outside was clad in sandstone as can be seen in one of my pictures.  You can see where the sandstone blocks have fallen away to reveal the laterite below. When you think about it, it is a very clever  method of building a large structure where the material could be cut and shaped quickly and only the facade had to be carefully detailed. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids there are detailed records of how this Temple was constructed. Pure manpower and elephants moved the sandstone blocks great distances to build the temple. Some of the blocks within the temple are as closely fitted as the blocks of the ruins down in Peru. The entire Angkor Wat complex has been divided into two sections so that the government can charge a tourist $37 each per day if they want to see both sections. They are so restrictive about the ruins that when we tried to ride our bicycles around thr temple grounds we were not allowed in without a ticket even though we did not want to walk into any of the temples or go through any of the structures.

Both Rodger and I find Cambodia much more relaxing and enjoyable than Vietnam. The country is in general much cleaner with much less garbage along the roads and around the countryside. We don’t know if this has anything to do with beliefs about the country or the fact that there is just less money here to waste on modern things like plastic bags and bottles to be thrown away as in Vietnam. There are much less vehicles here on the roads both cars and motorcycles, but like Vietnam the motorcycle is the most ubiquitous of all vehicles. People in general in Cambodia seem to drive in a saner manner  and since there are less vehicles on the road the roads seem a lot safer and easier to get down  and travel upon. Rodger was having a little trouble with riding in Vietnam ,  if he road near the drainage ditch  motorcycles would squeeze between him while passing cars and threatened to push him down into the ditch, sometimes just a grassy ditch some times rock and concrete ditches .  I suggested that he moved closer to the white line so that less people were trying to squeeze between him and other vehicles traveling in the same direction and it which would also give him a safety margin to move over into if he should meet someone coming down the wrong side of the road which is very common practice .

Speaking about coming down the wrong side of the road this is common practice in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia,  it is also common practice in Thailand to have someone coming down the wrong side of the road on the safety margin. For a long time I didn’t  clearly understood  the etiquette of how this was done,  people who are traveling in the proper direction are expected to travel near the white line marking the edge of the road in the beginning of the safety margin while those who are traveling in the wrong direction are expected to travel near the ditch. So people traveling the wrong direction on the safety margin are farthest from on coming traffic.  Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia have felt a lot like home as all three countries travel on the right side of the road . The trike which I am riding seems to be a curiosity.  It would appear that no one has ever ridden through Laos, Vietnam or Cambodia on a trike from the reactions  I get.

Right now the running joke between Rodger and I is “Man you would think they never saw a Trek 520 bicycle”. We both know what is catching their eyes  it’s the oddity of seeing a trike especially one with two wheels in front and one in the back  which is just opposite of the delivery vehicles seen in the most places. Most people are polite about the trike  and ask to take pictures which I don’t quite understand as it is just a three wheel bicycle. If they are a little curious I allow them to sit down so they can see how the steering bars work and the brakes .  In Dalat Vietnam I ran into three young men who were being  average teenage jerks . Because I was traveling without panniers in town one of the young men thought he had permission to plop down on the back of my rack and start bouncing up and down on the bike.  My rack is designed for about 45 to 65 lb Max and this young man was heavier.  I barked at him like a Rottweiler getting after an intruder and he bounced off the track really fast.  I don’t like to be rude but if he had broken the rack my trip is done as there is no way to to replace the rack  here  and being aluminum is very difficult to repair in the field. Within the Siem Reap area English is  spoken by most everyone, with some people speaking it very well. We will soon see in Cambodia how well they speak English as compared to Vietnam which was in general very poor. Outside of any major city in Vietnam English was very rare to be heard or understood. I have read articles supposedly stating that the government wishes to improve the quality of English understanding with their citizens , but in the same article they admit that 80% of the teachers teaching English today in schools cannot pass a basic teaching exam on the subject.

The thing that we found most disagreeable about Vietnam is the inconsistent policy of requiring you to surrender your passport into their keeping when you check into a hotel. I say inconsistent because depending on where you go you may not even be asked for it and other places ask you to surrender it, some will take a photocopy, and some will just take a picture with their cell phone and be happy with that, once the passport has been surrendered you have very little recourse if it has been lost or damaged by whoever you gave it to. Yes you can go get an emergency passport if you happen to be in a larger city and if you have the proper documentation and ways to prove that you originally had one and if you have the time to get it before your Visa expires not to mention the cost of getting it. Therefore I find it unreasonable for any government to ask someone to surrender their passport just to check into a hotel.

New Year’s Eve here was the usual  bands playing to people in the streets full of bright lights and drinking, but in many ways a lot less rambunctious as compared to other countries. Exactly at midnight there were no fireworks, but concussion grenades and firecrackers started going off making a full scale invasion seem quiet. They  were so loud you would  think that someone was invading the hotel.

Being in this heat which is not all that hot as it is only 75 to 85 degrees is not that bad, but the high humidity reminds me of the first time I moved down to College Station, Texas to go school in August. I was literally dying in the heat and humidity it was not until about 6 months later before I could tolerate walking about in that climb without sweating so bad that I needed to carry half a quart of water to get a half a mile to campus.

I am enjoying the fruit in this country right now it is late lecha season, orange season, pineapple season, rambutan season and some other seasons I’m not even very much aware of. For an expat fruit is relatively cheap and I do enjoy it as it kind of helps keep things moving right along after too many days of noodles and rice. Coming down out of the Dalat we went through the foothills of Vietnam which is the coffee production area of the country. Everywhere flat you can see green coffee beans spread out on every flat spot you could think of drying. It was strange to see that someone had spread coffee beans all over a driveway of an entrance to a major road and that cars and trucks were driving over the green beans so they could pass into or out to their houses. I guess it just makes the process of shelling the beans easier later if they have been pre-crushed so to speak. There is a surprising number of Catholic churches still standing in Vietnam. I had thought that they might have been destroyed by the Communist Party when they took over the country yet thinking back about it many Vietnamese were catholic including people in the Communist party and in the southern part of the country so there are still many churches standing. On the other hand I only saw one Buddhist temple in the entire country the whole time we were visting VN.

We are 36 miles from the Thai border. Soon I  will be able to order a meal without it sounding like a Laurel and Hardy routine of “Who’s on First Base”.

Disclaimer. Any and all mistakes made in this letter are the sole responsibility of Google voice to text.

Steven