Living with a big bike in Thailand!!! - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 8:51 am Thread Starter
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Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

PadG, I didn't want to put this in the middle of my FD thread and it should probably also be in Chit Chat but not sure how to do that!! Anyway, there is good and bad with this ... mostly good. If you ride in Bangkok the police do everything they can to catch you making a mistake so they can get money. Everywhere else I have been everyone including the police think your cool. You get the same treatment as all BMW and Mercedes cars ... you basically can do anything you want within reason!!! Want to speed ... not a problem. Want to park there ... do it!! People tend to get out of your way. Cars are scared of you. About 10% of the riders on the small bikes that are everywhere will try to get in front of you and darn near kill themselves in the process. On a typical three hour ride through the countryside you will see approximately 4 or 5 open mouths, 3 or 4 ooh and haws ... some looks of astonishment and a lot of smiles. All the young gas station attendants want to fill your tank and are very disappointed when you do it!! Your Thai friends think you are very rich (if they only knew)!!

Now for a couple things I have learned. Cost of repair for my Isuzu truck is very cheap. Both labor and parts. I let them do it. So far without problems. These trucks are made here in Thailand. I had a rear main seal go bad on my bike right before I left the states. I had the dealer here in Chiang Mai fix it. The total for the repair was a couple hundred dollars less than in the states. Very few parts are stocked with most coming from Singapore and the rest from Germany. Takes a longggggg time. The cost of labor is cheap and the cost of the parts are expensive. Just the opposite from the states. I am still wondering if my FD problem was caused by the dealer here????? What ever, I am setting up to do my own repair on the bike. I will order the parts from the US ... have them shipped to my Dad who will forward them on to Thailand. This process takes about 3 weeks and the cost is very good compared to what they want.

I love living here. You will get used to the heat and the roads are very good. I can drive from Chiang Mai to Bangkok all the way on 4 lane roads. They are not freeway type so you are always watching out for anything pulling in front of you, but I spent quit a bit of time between 90 and 105 MPH the last time I went. I eat seafood three or four time a week ... have custom made clothes and furniture. What more can you ask????

Michael L. Lempenau
85/41 Moo7, T.Nongjom, A.Sunsai
Chiang Mai, 50210, Thailand
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post #2 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 9:48 am
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

How about some photos for us un-traveled wanna-be's?

Thailand sounds exotic to me, having only traveled in the western half of good ole USA.

Bob Allred
Riverton, Utah
'03 K1200LT
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post #3 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 10:54 am
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

Thanks for the reply, Michael!

I was born in Bangkok and left the country in '57. My dad was a diplomat. Spent my youth growing up in New Zealand, where I rode a motor cycle since I was about 15. Of course, I have been back to visit Thailand several times, and I had not seen any bike much more than 250 cc. That's why your LT (and Maco on this forum who is in Ubon) really caught my attention.

I am just about to take an early retirement, but I have a lot of traveling to do yet, and I want to get back on a bike to do just that. Don't have a bike right now, but next year I am fairly sure that I will get an RT, and I will use that to tour this fine country. I am also thinking about shipping a bike over to NZ and spend a couple of months touring there, just to visit old friends and old places.

I suspect very strongly that I will end up retiring in Thailand after all the traveling, and that is why I was particularly interested in your LT over there. When the time comes, I am thinking of taking a GS or GSA back there with me. I think that would be a neat bike to have in the Chiangmai area. I definitely will not live in Bangkok. Heck, I am too afraid to drive a car there!

Let me know if you need anything in Chaingmai. I have relatives and friends there and in Lampoon.

Pad. Gajajiva
Solon, OH, USA

2015 R1200RT (San Marino Blue Met.)
2014 R1200RT (Quartz Metallic Blue - Returned to BMW)
2007 R1200RT (Sold!)


Once Upon a Time........
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1952 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
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post #4 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 1:01 pm
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

I have always been fascinated by the idea of traveling to Thailand. Could you give me an idea of costs for food, accommodations, car or scooter rental, and possibly recommendations as where to visit. I am more prone to the smaller cities or rural areas versus Bankok. What is the Thai currency, and to what major currency is it tied?

Thanks,
John
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post #5 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 1:57 pm
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DakotaDude
I have always been fascinated by the idea of traveling to Thailand. Could you give me an idea of costs for food, accommodations, car or scooter rental, and possibly recommendations as where to visit. I am more prone to the smaller cities or rural areas versus Bankok. What is the Thai currency, and to what major currency is it tied?

Thanks,
John
I will let Michael give you more accurate details since he is over there now, whereas I was there last in '05.

In general, things can be very inexpensive in Thailand, especially in the rural areas. Food in particular is very inexpensive, and one can have a very good meal for very few dollars.........that is, if you don't go for western food!

Accommodation price varies greatly, from inexpensive but clean youth hostel type for few dollars to first class hotels that can run thousands of dollars a night. You can have great selection, especially in Bangkok or any of the larger cities. Things tend to be much less expensive outside of Bangkok.

The currecncy is the Thai Baht, which is currently at 35 Baht to one USD. The currency is tied to the USD and the Japanese yen to some degrees.

Do NOT even think about scooter rental in Bangkok! It is far too dangerous. The traffic is horrendous, and it used to be much worse! I call myself an aggressive New York City driver, and yet I am too afraid to drive in Bangkok. Now, if you were up in Chiangmai (which you should visit), the story will be different. Michael can tell you about that. I have read (I think in the Adventure Rider forum) where people go up to Chiangmai and rent motorcycles to tour the area. Chiangmai is in the mountain, and personally I would love to ride up there!

BTW, transportation is quite cheap in Bangkok, and so you shouldn't have to think about a scooter. Taxi is very inexpensive, but one should know the approximate cost for the ride (perhaps from your hotel) since prices are usually negotiated when you call a taxi over. Can't get the right price, then just send him on his way and call another! However, the most convenient method of traveling in Bangkok is the overhead train system. Price is great. Fully air conditioned, and you don't have to mess around with the extremely heavy Bangkok traffic.

You will find that Thai do not speak English, but you will not have problems communicating. People are extremely friendly, and will try their best to help. You will find people who can speak some English in the big cities and other tourist areas.

Pad. Gajajiva
Solon, OH, USA

2015 R1200RT (San Marino Blue Met.)
2014 R1200RT (Quartz Metallic Blue - Returned to BMW)
2007 R1200RT (Sold!)


Once Upon a Time........
1963 Norton Dominator 650 SS
1960 Triumph Bonneville (T120)
1960 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1952 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1932 Triumph 500
1952 BSA Goldstar
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post #6 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 2:40 pm
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

I just spent like 2 weeks in thailand, sadly not much motorcycle riding, we did rent a scooter though. We drove around the whole country in a diesel pick up truck. Bangkok traffic is a bit rough, but I think its one of the better places to drive in south east asia. It doesn't compare to the states - even NYC driving is a breeze to bangkok, but relative to driving in jakarta or other cities in the region, bangkok is a breeze.

As for costs, its pretty cheap. For common bikes and cars its easy to get parts. I ran into many motorcycle repair shops with tons of parts. Of course getting parts for the LT will be a challenge, but with the internet, you're no longer dependent on the local dealer for parts. 30 baht (like $1) will get you a good meal on the street. Everything is pretty cheap there. We stayed in a decent hotel in bangkok for 800 baht (like $25). If you book hotels on the internet, you'll always pay more since its guided for tourists. Best way to get a hotel is just go there and negotiate a price with the hotel directly (this is true for any country I've visited). Hotels in the country are much cheaper. We rented a house right on andaman sea for like 400 baht. It was beautiful. In Phuket it's much more expensive, I remember paying like 2000 baht for a room on the water. But it was still great, and relatively cheap compared to the states.

The road system in Thailand is excellent. The best roads in south east asia (with the exception of Malaysia/Singapore). Highways are not like the states, they have infrequent lights, but they are in excellent condition and outside of bangkok, little traffic. Police didn't bother us at all. We tried to follow the rules but we were driving well over the speed limit most of the time.

Thailand was the best place I visited. People in the country are friendly, roads are good, food is the best, everything was cheap, we loved it there.
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post #7 of 10 Old Nov 5th, 2008, 2:43 pm
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PadG
Do NOT even think about scooter rental in Bangkok! It is far too dangerous. The traffic is horrendous, and it used to be much worse! I call myself an aggressive New York City driver, and yet I am too afraid to drive in Bangkok.
Its definitely more dangerous to ride there than in NYC (I ride in NYC everyday). But I didn't think it was that bad at all. Jakarta on the other hand was like bumper cars.
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post #8 of 10 Old Nov 6th, 2008, 1:39 am Thread Starter
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

I think most of the questions are already answered. I did not see anything that was not true. I have not tried to rent a big bike here so do not know what the prices are like. I rented a small one just once to see what it was like. Even in Chiang Mai it was scarry. The brakes are not good and the shifting is backwards from what we are used to. The rules of the road are basicly whoever gets there first has the right of way. There is an advantage in have a big truck (intemidation!). As I said before having a big BMW is also an advantage. I have ridden the bike in Bangkok and also drove my truck. I suggest you bring your GPS if you are going to drive in Bangkok. It's impossible to drive, try to figure out where you are, where you want to go and avoid the police all at once. The GPS will help a lot. Garmin has a chip with Singapore - Malaysia and Thailand on it for 150. Worth every penny. Right now after the rainy season the roads will have some sand and dirt on them and in the mountains there are some washouts. Wait about another month and they should have that mostly cleaned up.

Bringing a bike over here is another subject. I believe I came out ahead but not by much. I already had over 5 thousand invested in my ride to make it like I wanted. So I shipped it over ... it took a month to get here ... over two months to get through customs ... 7% of the cost of the bike to the dealer in Thailand when it was new ... and cost of import company. A brand new LT here is going for about 32,000. I paid 20,000 for an LTE (I don't think they know what that is here!) + about 15,000 for the packaging, tax and import fee. If I had bought new and fixed it up like I have it now it would have cost a lot more than 5,000. So unless you are like me and have the bike loaded up with extras like you want it, it's best to buy it here. I spent a lot of time dealing with the paperwork that is not accounted for in the above figures.

Michael L. Lempenau
85/41 Moo7, T.Nongjom, A.Sunsai
Chiang Mai, 50210, Thailand
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post #9 of 10 Old Nov 6th, 2008, 9:35 am
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlempenau
Bringing a bike over here is another subject. I believe I came out ahead but not by much. I already had over 5 thousand invested in my ride to make it like I wanted. So I shipped it over ... it took a month to get here ... over two months to get through customs ... 7% of the cost of the bike to the dealer in Thailand when it was new ... and cost of import company. A brand new LT here is going for about 32,000. I paid 20,000 for an LTE (I don't think they know what that is here!) + about 15,000 for the packaging, tax and import fee. If I had bought new and fixed it up like I have it now it would have cost a lot more than 5,000. So unless you are like me and have the bike loaded up with extras like you want it, it's best to buy it here. I spent a lot of time dealing with the paperwork that is not accounted for in the above figures.
Yeah, that is one thing that I do recognize and would not advice anybody of doing casually. It will be different for me, since I am a US citizen as well as Thai citizen, and the latter will allow me to bring in "personal properties" which includes cars and such without having to pay duty. As far as getting things through custom on a timely basis, I think that we still have sufficient "contacts" to make that happen quickly, when the time comes!

I have to say though that the government workers in Thailand have made a complete turnaround in how they work, as compared to the "old days". Let's say twenty or more years ago, if you need anything at all done in a government office you had better know somebody or slip somebody some cash, otherwise things just don't happen. In '99, when I was back there and had needed to have some fairly complex paperwork taken care of, I had found that the civil servants that I had to deal with were actually better than many that I deal with over here in Ohio! One of my cousin told me that they have had some very serious policy change and those people had been directed to actually serves the public. What a refreshing thought, especially if you know how things are in Asia or SE Asia in general.

OK, the cops still accept the bahts that gets "accidentally" slipped along with your license when you get pull over, and it might be a while before that will change, but even that is changing to some degrees.

Pad. Gajajiva
Solon, OH, USA

2015 R1200RT (San Marino Blue Met.)
2014 R1200RT (Quartz Metallic Blue - Returned to BMW)
2007 R1200RT (Sold!)


Once Upon a Time........
1963 Norton Dominator 650 SS
1960 Triumph Bonneville (T120)
1960 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1952 Triumph Thunderbird (6T)
1932 Triumph 500
1952 BSA Goldstar
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post #10 of 10 Old Mar 4th, 2009, 5:24 am
 
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Re: Living with a big bike in Thailand!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlempenau
PadG, I didn't want to put this in the middle of my FD thread and it should probably also be in Chit Chat but not sure how to do that!! Anyway, there is good and bad with this ... mostly good. If you ride in Bangkok the police do everything they can to catch you making a mistake so they can get money. Everywhere else I have been everyone including the police think your cool. You get the same treatment as all BMW and Mercedes cars ... you basically can do anything you want within reason!!! Want to speed ... not a problem. Want to park there ... do it!! People tend to get out of your way. Cars are scared of you. About 10% of the riders on the small bikes that are everywhere will try to get in front of you and darn near kill themselves in the process. On a typical three hour ride through the countryside you will see approximately 4 or 5 open mouths, 3 or 4 ooh and haws ... some looks of astonishment and a lot of smiles. All the young gas station attendants want to fill your tank and are very disappointed when you do it!! Your Thai friends think you are very rich (if they only knew)!!

Now for a couple things I have learned. Cost of repair for my Isuzu truck is very cheap. Both labor and parts. I let them do it. So far without problems. These trucks are made here in Thailand. I had a rear main seal go bad on my bike right before I left the states. I had the dealer here in Chiang Mai fix it. The total for the repair was a couple hundred dollars less than in the states. Very few parts are stocked with most coming from Singapore and the rest from Germany. Takes a longggggg time. The cost of labor is cheap and the cost of the parts are expensive. Just the opposite from the states. I am still wondering if my FD problem was caused by the dealer here????? What ever, I am setting up to do my own repair on the bike. I will order the parts from the US ... have them shipped to my Dad who will forward them on to Thailand. This process takes about 3 weeks and the cost is very good compared to what they want.

I love living here. You will get used to the heat and the roads are very good. I can drive from Chiang Mai to Bangkok all the way on 4 lane roads. They are not freeway type so you are always watching out for anything pulling in front of you, but I spent quit a bit of time between 90 and 105 MPH the last time I went. I eat seafood three or four time a week ... have custom made clothes and furniture. What more can you ask????
How about your latest photos together with your Big Bike dude?? nice to see them here...



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