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February 21, 2020
I’m currently in Mae Hong Son, Thailand recovering from a broken leg, and Ash is camped out with a hill tribe somewhere in central Vietnam.
We arrived in SE Asia three weeks ago to do a loop through Northern Vietnam and Laos, starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon. Things went sideways in Laos just 10 days into the trip, when I slid on the pavement and spiral-fractured my fibula.
The medical options in Laos were limited, so I flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand to visit an orthopedic specialist at a private hospital. There was no need for both of us to go, so Ash continued the journey solo on her bike. This is Ash’s first solo trip outside the US, and although of course we both wish the accident hadn’t happened, what a great opportunity! She’s been having an absolute blast.
We’re meeting in HCMC at the end of the month to visit with factories and catch a flight home. In the meantime I found a great hospital in Chiang Mai, met some awesome new friends, and now I’m road tripping in my buddy JM’s loaner 4×4 in Northern Thailand. Yesterday I even ducked across the border into Myanmar for 30 minutes just because, why not? I’m alone and on crutches, so I can’t do much except drive around.
The fully story of the trip is posted on our (still going) ADVrider Ride Report.
Here’s a quick summary:
We rented two XR150s from Tigit Motorbikes, which has offices in both Hanoi and Saigon. The bikes were $500 for the month for a one-way trip, and they were in excellent condition. Tigit has been awesome to work with, I can’t say enough good things about them. I can see why they have so many 5 star ratings online.
We first headed north in Vietnam, but it’s winter and it was pouring rain in the mountains, so we headed west toward Laos instead, where it’s sunny and dry this time of year. Beautiful scenery, nice little villages, friendly folks, bumpy roads, and delicious noodles.
This is where I slid. You can see the gouges in the pavement back to the apex of the turn. The road was wet from rain the night before, and there was a big and obvious slippery patch where the rear wheel lost traction. I was going maybe 20 mph.
First we went to the local hospital in Laos, but the non-english-speaking doctor there was not much help. He didn’t even notice the fracture. He seemed more confused by the old injury, and by the metal hardware that was already installed in the leg.
Gear sidenote: the Reckless 80 v3 held up well in the slide.
The Danner leather boots saved my foot. If I’d been wearing full moto boots, would the break still have happened? Not sure. It was caused by twisting. My foot was trapped under the bike, and my body flipped over while sliding. It twisted the leg, causing the spiral fracture. A more protective boot might have helped, but twisting injuries are hard to prevent. Even in a larger boot, my foot would have been trapped and my body would have twisted. Still, I can’t help but wonder.
The fabric on the Rak jacket prototype held up great.
This full-face Klim helmet prevented some facial scars.
Ash and I parted ways in Oudomxay, Laos. She continued toward Saigon on the bike, while I flew to Thailand for a hospital.
The private Bangkok Hospital in Chiang Mai is unreal. It’s like checking into a luxury hotel. Service is lightning fast, professional, and all in English. The total cost for everything including new crutches was $400 USD.
Huge thanks to my buddy JM who invited me to stay with him in Chiang Mai, took me to the hospital, and even loaned me a car! Dude, I owe you one!!
There’s a large & lively ADV community in Chiang Mai. It was really cool to meet everyone!
Mark Ritchie (aka @markinthailand on advrider) invited me to give a presentation at his cafe/school/gym in Chiang Mai, which is built almost entirely from converted shipping containers. His school, the International Sustainable Development Studies Institute (ISDSI), caters to international students spending a semester studying abroad. About 30 ADVers came for the presentation. It was great to meet everyone. Thanks for coming! And thanks for the opportunity Mark!!
Met this cool guy Maurice, who is starting a new business called ‘Rider Buds‘ making headphones for motorcyclists. He sold out his Indiegogo campaign, and just received his first delivery. The product looks great man. Congrats! I am definitely buying a set.
It was also neat to see riders notice the carbon fiber laptop cases my buddy Juan makes (his site: Valeo Cases). Whenever I turned around, it seemed like someone was inspecting it.
The next morning, I headed up into the hills in this sweet Suzuki Vitara 4×4 that JM loaned me for the week. I’m just exploring a bit, catching up on work and the blog, and reading a lot. Although it’s hard to get around on crutches, things could definitely be worse
In a few days I’ll return to Chiang Mai, the leg will get wrapped in a full cast (right now I have a half-cast until the swelling goes down), and I’ll catch a flight to HCMC to meet up with Ash and visit factories.
That’s it for now. Time to pack up and get on the road before they kick me out of this hotel!