The Wat Pho Temple

Susie and I visited the Wat Pho Buddhist Temple yesterday here in Bangkok.  There are numerous Buddhist temples in this fine city, and on this (my third trip to Bangkok), the nod went to Wat Pho.  It’s the home of the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand, and my 8mm wide angle lens earned its pay yet again.

171007_4954-800-650171007_4935-800-650171007_5015-650171007_5068-800-650171007_5041-800-650We walked around town a bit last night, including a visit to the infamous Soi Cowboy area after dark (it’s right around the corner from us).  I may post a few evening photos of it later tonight or tomorrow morning.

Today we went to the floating market…think of that James Bond movie and the chase scenes with those narrow boats (The Man With The Golden Gun).  Yep, we were in that exact spot (it’s about 100 miles south of Bangkok) and we rode in those little boats.   Here’s the clip from the Bond movie (with apologies in advance for the politically incorrect language)…

I’ll post a few photos from last night and today a little later.   Next up tonight is dinner with our good buddy Bangkok Kevin.

Later, folks.  Ride safe.

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Good morning, Bangkok!

Wow, our first morning in Thailand!   Susie and I were up with the sun and we walked around the block to get a few photos after a great breakfast here in the Grand Pullman Hotel!

Sunrise in Bangkok

Sunrise in Bangkok

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I sure wish I could ride with the CSC crew on the Destinations Deal Tour! California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada…and I’ll be stuck here in Bangkok traffic all day!

I want to be a CSC Cafe Racer when I grow up!

I want to be a CSC Cafe Racer when I grow up!

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Breakfast, anyone?

All the gear, all the time...

All the gear, all the time…

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Ah, let’s see if the photo Joe took of me is on the CSC blog yet…

Tattoos, red and green hair...I'd fit right in on any of the CSC company rides!

Tattoos, red and green hair…I’d fit right in on any of the CSC company rides!

That's all for now, folks!

That’s all for now, folks!

And like that last photo says, that’s it for this morning.   But hey, I’ve got my Nikon and I’m in Bangkok…you know there will be more photos!

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Friday night on Orchard Road…

Orchard Road is Singapore’s upscale shopping area, and the architecture, the night scenes, and feel of the place is amazing.  Susie and I walked a few miles along Orchard Road with an 8mm fisheye lens on the Nikon after a simple wonton soup dinner and it was awesome…

171006_4800-800-650You see two kinds of buildings in this area, and I captured both in the photo above.  Old Singapore consisted primarily of shop houses…two-story structures where folks had a business on the first floor and lived on the second floor.   And then, of course, there are the modern skyscrapers.  The mix of both makes for interesting scenes.

171006_4705-800-650We’re in a tropical climate here.  It’s hot and it’s humid, but it’s not as bad as it has been.   We had thundershowers last night, but it’s easy to stay out of them.  The modern buildings have extensive overhangs, so the sidewalks stay dry.

171006_4724-800-650171006_4719-800-650171006_4756-800-650171006_4787-800-650See those trees along the sidewalks?   They’re quiet during the day, but at night, the tens of thousands of birds roosting in those trees are deafening.  You literally have to shout to carry on a conversation because the birds drown everything out.  Last night was interesting because we had a thundershower (very common in this part of the world), and when the skies thundered, the birds all simultaneously fell silent for a second.   Then, after a brief pause, they started squawking again.  It was all pretty cool.

This is our last day here; later today we’re getting on a Royal Thai plane bound for Bangkok.  It’s another one of my favorite cities, and I  know we’re going to see about a zillion motorcycles, all at the same intersection, all trying to get through the intersection at the same time.  Watch for the photos!

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Wrapping up in Singapore!

Just two more nights in Singapore, folks, and then we’re wheels up for Bangkok.  Good times indeed.  Singapore is an amazing place.  There’s just no other way to say it.  Susie and I went to the National Museum yesterday.  It was cool, and the street scenes on the walk back were even cooler.

Check out this Vespa, complete with gangster whitewalls and a gangster spare…

171003_4649-800-650Whenever I’m in another country, the signs are a thing to behold.   Did you ever see a sign telling you how to get a little green man?

171003_4651-800-650Hey, the Destinations Deal Tour is coming up real soon.   We’re just 17 days away from liftoff.   More to follow; watch for photos from Bangkok in the next few days.   The scooters and bikes there are thick!

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The Straits Times, the Gobi Desert, and Dun Huang

The Straits Times is the local paper here in Singapore, and it’s a good one.  I was reading The Times during a leisurely breakfast this morning when I saw this photo of Dun Huang…

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The Straits Times’ article on Dun Huang in this morning’s edition…

Dun Huang is a Chinese tourist destination I had never heard of until Joe Gresh and I rode the Riding China adventure last year with our good friends from Zongshen.  It’s in northwest China in the Gobi Desert, and it was a hoot.  Joe and I swapped our RX3 motorcycles for camels for a little while.   No kidding.   We played in the Gobi’s Disney-like Dun Huang desert adventure, just like you see in the photo above.   Gresh named his Camel “Shep.”

Did Gresh walk a mile for this video?

That was a fun day.   I had never ridden a camel before and to my great surprise, I found it was a pretty cool experience.   Joe was busy trying to get his camel to smile; I found a more photogenic subject…

A pretty girl in the Gobi Desert…

I was reminded of those good times in the Gobi Desert as I read about Dun Huang during breakfast in Singapore this morning.  It’s a small world, I guess.

On a very much sadder note, the events in Las Vegas are dominating the news here on the other side of the world (as I imagine is the case all over the world).  It’s horrific, and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Las Vegas.

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Singapore’s Little India

Sue and I poked around Singapore’s Little India section yesterday.  There are four major ethnic groups in Singapore, and folks from India comprise one of them.   Singapore has a rich maritime heritage (the four major industries in Singapore, I learned yesterday, are shipping, oil refining, finance, and tourism).   The shipping industry came about as a result of Singapore’s central location between India and China (the Chinese are another major ethnic group here).   Before I get to some of the photos from little India, check out this apartment complex…it’s three huge buildings capped by a roof styled after a ship (complete with gardens and a swimming pool)…

170930_4425-800-650I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere in the world.   But that’s Singapore.  It has a lot of things I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world.

On to Little India and a few of the scenes I photographed yesterday…

170930_4398-800-650170930_4402-800-650170930_4404-800-650170930_4408-800-2-650170930_4409-800-650Cool stuff.   It’s early Monday morning over here and the hotel restaurant opens in an hour.  I think I’ve got time for a swim before work starts for me.   There’s a rooftop swimming pool here, and that’s where I’m headed.

170930_4367-800-650Later, folks.  Watch for more photos later in the week.

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At the top of the list!

Yep, Motorcycle.com’s story about the 10 best beginner motorcycles keeps popping up on Facebook every time someone posts a comment, and you can bet we sure don’t mind that!  Guess who came in first on the Motorcycle.com list!

I was with Evans Brasfield and Tom Roderick (Tom is on the RX3 above) when Evans grabbed that photo.   Evans was literally laying on the ground along Sheep Canyon Road (a dirt tail running across the San Gabriels from Lytle Creek to Wrightwood) when Tom rode by.  It was a fun day for me, watching two experts like Tom and Evans in action.

You know, we’re not just for beginners.  Did you know that roughly half of our buyers own several other motorcycles, and of those, most of them are BMWs?

Thanks for putting us at the top of your list, MO!

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Motorcyclist Magazine

170930_4350-650About a year ago I wrote a blog commenting on my favorite motorcycle magazines (Motorcyclist, Motorcycle.com, and Motorcycle Classics), and in particular, I mentioned the new Motorcyclist format.   Before we left for Singapore, I picked up a copy of Motorcyclist to read on the plane.  On those rare occasions when I actually pay for a magazine, I always buy my magazines at the news stands; I haven’t had a subscription to any magazines in a decade or more (other than The American Rifleman, which comes with my NRA membership).

Wow, did I have a nice surprise.  This latest issue of Motorcyclist was, in a word, outstanding.   The crew at Motorcyclist broke completely from the tired format I’d come to expect from the motorcycle print media (other than Motorcycle Classics magazine, which, ironically, was way ahead of its time with stories on motorcycles that saw their best years decades ago).

I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the Motorcyclist stories.  One was about Steve McQueen.  Another featured the Isle of Man TT race.   There was a riveting piece about two war reporters riding out of Mosul on a sidecar-equipped Ural.   My favorite was a story about getting around the latest landslide blocking the Pacific Coast Highway on a couple of RX3 competitors (the bikes were the Honda and Kawasaki copycats of your RX3).  There was a short feature on three guys who, after returning from Vietnam, bought 305cc Honda Scramblers and rode them down to Guatemala in 1970.

The photography…all I can say is that it was just flat stunning.  The term “visually arresting” comes to mind.  There’s a photo of a bike at the Isle of Man leaned over with both wheels off the ground (a physics-defying photo if ever there was one).  There’s another of the Cuernos del Paine peaks in Chile, a photographic masterpiece.   And there were many, many more.  This is good stuff, folks, and it’s what a magazine should be…great writing and great photography presented in a great format.  I’d describe it as something of a cross between a collection of great stories and a first class coffee table photography book.

As we floated along yesterday at 500 miles per hour six miles above the Pacific Ocean, I realized that the layout, the format, the writing, and the photography in Motorcyclist are simply too good to take a chance on missing a future issue.  As soon as Susie and I settled in to our hotel here in Singapore, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I bought a subscription to a motorcycle magazine.   Motorcyclist, to be exact.  It’s that good.

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All Over The World…

170929_4312-800-650I’m talking about the RX3, of course.   After leaving LAX at half-past midnight on Friday morning (literally an “O:Dark:30” departure), a 14-hour flight to Tapei, a 2-hour layover (the smoothest and quickest international transfer ever), and a 4 1/2-hour jaunt to Singapore (the cleanest city I’ve ever seen in my life), we happily settled in yesterday and started the time-change adjustment.  It’s 3:00 a.m. over here, and I’ve been up for an hour already.

We walked around a bit along Singapore’s Orchard Street yesterday (think Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, but cleaner, bigger, and leafier) and I grabbed a few photos playing around with the D3300’s 8mm fisheye lens (like that one above).  Good fun, and I’ll get more on a city tour we’re taking later today.

About that tagline above, All Over The World:  I wasn’t talking about me.  I’m describing the RX3.  When I was in Singapore last June, I saw an RX3 the first afternoon I arrived…

170611_1652-650The RX3 is an unprecedented worldwide success, and if you’re thinking about parts availability on a round-the-world trip, the RX3 is literally sold on every continent.   I’ll be in Bangkok next week and I’d bet a nickel I’ll see the RX3 there, too.

That’s it for now.  Susie just fired up the coffeemaker in our hotel room here in Singapore.   Time for a cup or two…

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Updates…

Wow, there’s been a lot going on in the last few days!

For starters, the 2017 WERA racing season ended and our Roland Wheeler won the season on his RC3.  How about that!  The first time a Zongshen motorcycle entered the WERA racing circuit and it won the season.  Our congratulations to you, Roland!

rc3no1First season ever, and Roland rode his RC3 to a WERA season championship.  That’s impressive.

More good news…planning for the Destinations Deal Tour is moving right along.  I’ve sent an email to everyone riding with us about our hotels, and if you’re joining us, you need to call the hotels and and make your reservations now (I’m posting this here on the off chance that you haven’t checked your email).

More good news on the Destinations Deal Tour…our good buddy, riding compadre, and motojournalist extraordinaire Joe Gresh will be riding with us.   You know Joe from his articles in Motorcyclist and Motorcycle.com, and his awesome YouTube videos.  Joe rode with us on the 5000-mile Western America Adventure Ride when the RX3 first came to America, and he and I both rode 6000 miles across China on RX3 motorcycles last year.  These are two favorite Joe photographs (the first is in Idaho on our Western America Adventure Ride; the second photo shows Joe tearing across the Gobi Desert)…

150718_6296-650160710_1817-650-JGI’m also very excited about the folks riding with us on the Destinations Deal Tour who have ridden with us before on prior CSC adventure rides.  There’s my good buddy Rob, an Iron Butt rider who rode with us in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and on our most recent Baja ride…

There’s good buddy Willie, the world’s most interesting man and a veteran of three of our Baja runs…

160317_5427-650And there’s Colorado Dan (of the Colorado Dans…we have three, you know).   Dan is my photogenic friend, he’s an expert rider, and he has a perpetual smile…

160313_4772-650We also have new RX3 owners joining us on this ride.  I’ll post photos of them from the road.  It’s going to be grand!

More developments…there’s been a bit of minor buzz on the Internet about a new Zong with a photo or three that’s popped up in a few places.   It’s the RX3S, a new test platform of a bike styled like the RX3 but with a 380cc twin cylinder engine…

RX3SI saw the 380cc engine and a clay mockup of the RX3S the last time I was in Chongqing.   It’s interesting, it’s heavy, and it’s not happening any time soon.

Let me explain why we need to recognize a few things about the RX3S and the RX4 (the 450cc upsized version of your RX3) and Zongshen’s approach to motorcycle development.  Zongshen releases information on potential new motorcycles way in advance of availability.  This practice wasn’t noticed on the RX3 because nobody in America paid much attention to Zongshen (other than a few guys on ChinaRiders.net) before the RX3 hit our shores.  Now, with the RX3’s world-wide popularity, everybody keeps an eye on Zongshen. Any info that Zongshen releases (and some info that they haven’t officially released) gets widespread dissemination by your friends and mine, the keyboard commandos.

Look, here’s the deal.  Zongshen recently rode a group of RX4s through China and they found the bike had problems.   It’s back to the drawing board with no forecasted production date.  Even if there was a production date (and there is not), I would take it with a 55-gallon drum of salt.  The fact is we just don’t know when this bike will go into production.  And once the RX4 finally goes into production in China, we’ll have to get a couple and take them through the EPA/CARB maze.  That tacks another 6 to 9 months on to when the bikes can sell here in the US.  My best guess is very late 2018 or more likely sometime in 2019, but that’s just what I called it: A guess.

Now, regarding the RX3S’s availability, let me put it this way:  The RX4 is way ahead of the RX3S in terms of design, development, and testing.   I won’t even hazard a guess on when the RX3S will be available.

These new bikes are interesting things to watch and read about.  I’ve ridden prototype RX4 motorcycles in China and my feeling is that at this point the RX3 is a much better motorcycle.  I’m sure the RX4 will be improved and refined by the time it goes into production, but when I rode it I knew I preferred my RX3.  The RX4 is a bigger bike, and yeah, the keyboard commandos are (as always) clamoring for more displacement.  But that bigger bike comes with a penalty: More weight.  The production RX4 will hopefully be lighter, but as it stands today, I like my lighter RX3 better.

Here’s the bottom line:  If you’re waiting for tomorrow’s RX4 or RX3S instead of buying an RX3 today, I think you’re cheating yourself out of a lot of good riding.   That’s something I’m not doing.  I’m riding today.  You could be, too.

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