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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 3 May 2007
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Mumbai - Beijing - Saigon

Mumbai - Beijing - Saigon

Hello, this is my first post. though i have been visiting these boards often, anticipating...

I am planning a trip.

Mumbai --> Beijing... (Spring '08?)

Beijing --> Saigon... (Fall '08?)

Need to know.... everything....

past experience: 34 day, 7300 mile backroad trip across the states, half camping. 22 day, 6000 mile backroad trip back, half camping. both solo. Quebec - newyork. other small trips. all on an '80 guzzi sp.

but i've little idea what a trip like this would take. so i need advice on:
-best times to go
-best routes to take
-seasons to avoid
-if it's possible...
-which bike to use (thinking of purchasing locally, kawi klr 650 prefered...)
-what equipment i need (previously just brought ipod, cell phone, maps, gasoline stove, tent, sleeping bag, clothes, hammock, kite (for fun), tools, other small things...)
-should not go solo?
-best way to manage money
-how dangerous is the route?
-who to avoid?
-what health concerns are there?
-backup plans
-what should i not miss?
-food recommendations?


thanks so very very much....

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Last edited by whyrichard; 3 May 2007 at 20:44.
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Old 12 Jun 2007
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or maybe i should ask a more specific question:

is it possible/what is it like to cross the Himalayas in may?

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Old 12 Jun 2007
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while I havent done the trip you mention, and Im sorry to say this, but I think it will be nearly impossible. Crossing the Himalayas is one formidable challenge of course, but the real obstacle is how do you get your foreign-registered bike into China and Vietnam. Those are communist countries, and they do not like the idea of letting a foreigner come into their country with their own vehicles.

China MIGHT be possible, if your ready to crawl thru miles of red tape (with probably zero english officially spoken), and you have a Evan McGregor-kind of budget. Because "officially" you will need, among other costly things, a guide to accompany you, which will cost some hundreds of dollars per day. Ive heard some people managing to get there without a guide, but I wouldnt count on that. Will most likely take you months of preparation even in the best case.

Vietnam, as far as I know, is not possible with your own bike. Maybe flying into the country, buying a bike locally, then riding around the country, but not going into the border and crossing it with foreign bikes. I was in a group who tried to do this last fall (from Cambodia and Laos), and we even did it with small ´scooters´, because there was some talk that under 175cc would be allowed. Well, they werent, and engine size didnt matter. While I havent tried into Vietnam at a chinese border, I´m almost certain it wouldnt work either. Keep in mind that China and Vietnam are less than friendly neighbours, too.

Im not writing here to put you down, and it would most certainly be a most wonderful SE Asia tour, if you can pull it off. But be prepared to spend some considerable effort (and money) if your willing to get into China. And Vietnam, I think they need to change their border regulations towards westerners bikes first, before you can go there.. Ive heard of some, very very few people, managing to do it a few years back, but I surely wouldnt plan my trip on that!
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Old 12 Jun 2007
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oh, one more thing

I heard a rumour, that the Vietnamese changed their border regulations in about January 2006, so that no foreign bikes are allowed (its possible, that under 175cc were allowed before that).

Could not confirm this, because all their documents are in vietnamese language only, and their embassies and consulates in neighboring countries really didnt do anything to help us. The consulate in Phnom Penh told us (in french, which was a big surprise!) to "go away, we do ONLY visas here, go ask at the border"......... and once you went to the dorder, the advice was "go ask at the consulate". So dont count on the officials being very supportive or helpful at all.
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Old 27 Sep 2007
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would plan on buying/selling bikes as often as needed.

good point on the Himalayas. would probably opt to get around them by public transportation and buying another bike to continue on.

... thanks for imput...

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Old 27 Sep 2007
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Mumbai- China ...


In regards to crossing the Himalayas.

Erm and its a big erm so sit down and get comfortable......

It all depends on your route into China. I have crossed the Karakorum and Himalayan passes that was into Afghanistan and not into China. A more direct route would be through Nepal and into Tibet and China. The passes there i don't know anything about. In that regard politics and not passes will be your foe. HOWEVER they passes through that area are not as high as the ones i encountered so the following may help.

Global Warming un accounted for and generally speaking from experience March thru to September will see all the passes open. Tanglang La Baralachu and Khardung La ( worlds highest18,380ft) There all about 5300 metres- there are no minnows!
Altitude sickness is a given rather than an exception. I got through fine suffering a two hour bout of nausea and a headache but that could have been the food !! A lady did die on a bus the same day climbing Baralachu so be fit or spend some time aclimatising. There is plenty to see and do on the associated valleys.

Air fuel mixture is something to be mindful of. I came across a posse of riders who had punctured holes in their air boxes with screw drivers - they were forced back due to that and through illness. I'd recommend jet size over screwdrivers

Around late August you're chasing Monsoon shadow, the rains of which cause mud slides and washe bridges away. So best be in the last stages of your crossing at this time.

Food- eat vegetarian. They don't harbour nor have they the supportive environmnets that bacteria relish in flesh. No matter what you eat make sure its hot off the plate. Dont eat food that has sat for a time.

Road Rules- There are none. There is a pecking order based on size. Trucks at the top.

How to ride- Concentrate Anticipate and be Assertive

What to Bring with you- Forget duty free, cram into your packs as much common sense as you can.

Finally- Just trust everything well be fine!

Whoever reads this, please do pick me up on it if "plugging" is un acceptable but i wrote a book 'The Lonely Road' available from lulu.com. India to Europe WITHOUT a carnet. It really was a hell of an Adventure.
One guy from this site bought it and got lots out of it so hopefully i can get this site to advertise it also.

take care
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Old 27 Sep 2007
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one more thing

Money- They may not speak English( Indians excepted) but they all have a solid understanding of the greenback. Sew a pocket on the inside of your pants. Cash speaks volumes and with a whole lots of savvy can get you out of troubles with little outlay.

Travellers Cheques- mean nothing and dont offer the leverage that greenbacks do.

Transactions- Common sense. Just because you have ( in there eyes) heaps of money don't splurge and give them what they ask. This is especially poignant when interacting with border guards and officials. SAVVY SAVVY SAVVY. Act poor and don't be swayed by there arguments. IF it comes down to money ( and it will) tell them (for example) you have $30 US dollars in cash and the rest is in travellers cheques. If you keep changing the figure you've lost. I was inprisoned in Pakistan for seven day (no carnet) i stuck to the twenty US dollar speil and that's what it cost for me to get out and on my way to Iran. Trust, be patient, polite, and above all play smart.

Clothes- Thermals and probably one pair of all else. TRAVEL LIGHT!

Electronic Gadgets- I didn't bother.

The entire Region of Kullu, Kashmir, Leh Ladahk is incrediable. Adjectives fail to embrace the splendour.

Politics of Travel- Maybe purchase a 500cc Einfield in India and then ditch it before busing into China. Purchase something there on the black market and PRESTO you're free to explore China unincumbered about obtaining carnets and the like. Ditch that and purhcase again in Vietnam.

Hope it all helps
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