January 14, 2003 GMT
Falling off a bridge, in Laos.

Today I did something really stupid.

Arrived in Laos yesterday and had 200kms of dirt to do
today to get across to a town on the 'main' drag.
160kms on and everything is going well. The conditions
are perfect and I'm really having fun riding this
beautiful dirt track. I get to the umpteeth river
crossing and it's another long one which I can't see
the bottom of. I am just about to get off the bike for
a look when to the left I see a disused log bridge 2m
above the water. The last few meters of planks are
missing but I think I can ride it on the logs at the
side. Too lazy to get off the bike again. So I start
off but decide to stop half way for a look. I put my
foot down but the plank just falls away and before I
know it I'm falling of the bike, helmet first into the
river. For a split second I think the bike has somehow
managed to stay on the bridge but then there's a big
splash and the bike tumbles in on my back. The water
was only about 18 inches deep but I find myself
pressed to the bottom face down. I really struggle
hard but can't get free and then I think I am going to
drown. I put my hands under my chest and with all my
strength I do a big press up and stretch my neck as
far as I can. My helmet is still full of water and I
don't know whether to try for a breath. I have to, but
as well as some water I also get some air. I cough it
out and push up again. This time it's all air, so it's
back under water and I manage to get a knee up and
twist out from under the bike. I can't describe the
feeling! I was so elated. The bike is upside down in
the river but still running. I get the bike up, and
feel that soon it's going to hurt. I work to get the
bags and boxes up on the bank, have a quick look to
the bike - the clocks and mirrors are damaged and the
rack is broken, a few marks but it all looks OK. I use
the remaining adrenalin to dig a track up the river
bank and then wait for help. After 45 mins 2 men turn
up on a rotorvator, and after laughing their heads off
we set to to drive and push the bike up the bank. I
tip all the water out of the boxes and my boots and
slowly strap everything back to the bike. I give the
guys 10 dollars each, a lot, but I feel so grateful to
still be here I could have made it 100.

So tonight I have a 3rd arse cheek growing on my back
and I ache everywhere else. The bike will be OK.
Nothing I can't fix. Stuff will dry out, but
unfortunately my camera's had it. I hope when I get to
a shop they can save the film as I finally took some
pictures of the bike in a long-tail boat when we went
across the Mekong.

So the moral is: If you're travelling alone in remote
places on a motorbike, don't do something stupid.
Tonight I feel very, very lucky.

Posted by Jason Homewood at 11:13 AM GMT

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