Jesters MC UBON Trip 1996-99?
Just after forming the club in late ’96, four members, and Ninfin, who was rice rocketing at the time, headed for Ubon Ratchatani for the Siam-to-Laos run in February, 1997. After the nightstop in Korat, Ninfin’s bike refused to start and he had to load it in a pickup truck for return to Pattaya. The four of us on Harleys had a laugh about that piece of Jap crap.
That was to be short-lived, though, as I started experiencing electrical problems a couple of hundred klicks down the road. During the 1000+kilometer trip, I ended up going through 3 batteries before realizing that my rectifier/regulator was overcharging and burning out my batteries. Eventually, to keep by bike going down the road, I had to ride for apiece with the rectifier plugged in to the alternator, then stop and continue with it unplugged, until it started to cut out, before repeating the sequence. After almost reaching Korat on the return trip with my 3rd battery, I became adept at reaching down in front of the engine to plug or unplug the rectifier at the crankcase, while cruising at speeds well over 100 kph. I would be remiss, if I didn’t mention that before identifying the problem, Serge, Jacques and Neil got plenty of exercise pushing me for bump-starting after each of our numerous stops.
The trip to Ubon (site of an important air base during the Vietnam War) through Buriram, Surin and Si Sa Ket, away from Rte. 24, the main east-west artery, was relaxing and scenic. We found Ubon to be a beautiful city with warm, friendly people. The local club there, Chopper Wood, were gracious hosts for the event.
The first day was the grand welcoming ceremony in the middle of the city, followed by an evening concert with Carabao and Tom Dundee. Fortunately, there were long-sleeved T-shirts at the event as the evenings were quite cool, even while not riding.
The next day was the trip to the border along beautiful river canyons. The police escorted about 150 big bikes of all brands (Harleys were in the minority) out of the city to the regions near the Lao border. The ultimate destination this day was the Pha Taem cliffs for the full-moon party and concert that evening.
Due to politics it became evident that not only were our bikes not going to be allowed in Laos, but also we ‘farangs’ from the particular border-crossing in question. Ultimately, with this new development and my electrical problems, we decided to high tail it back to Ubon that evening for some fun and luxurious accommodation.
The following day we took the main route (24) back to Korat, which wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the off-the-main-drag road used on the way out to Ubon. And returned to Pattaya the next day, specifically the Hog’s Breath Saloon, where we quaffed some cold ones before the guys gave my bike the final push to get me home.
The country locals standing around Jacques at a gas stop near Buriram, awe-struck that a guy as seemingly old as he could be riding a ‘chopper’ cross country. (We learned later that they perceived him as 10 years older than he was, i.e. 60+years). The people that always flocked around, sat on and fondled Serge’s ‘pretty’ bike wherever we stopped, leaving the rest of us feeling safe and secure that no one was going to touch our bikes. Racing with the wind towards the Lao border, with a insufficiently amped, sealed battery bought the day before, when I noticed the distinct stench of sulfphur in the air. When I pulled over, the battery was whistling like a pressure cooker getting ready to blow. And the girl that rode on the back fender (mudguard) of one of those hard-tailed, long-forked bikes with nothing but her wool cap between her ass and metal all the way from Phuket (1600 km’s). It must have been love.
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