2 nd Issan Tour

I have been involved in Oil & Gas developement for over 40 years as a Mechanical Technical Specialist in the Engineering Department of Major Oil & Gas Companies.

Mechanical vibrations of any kind is something which must be addressed immediately as vibrations are a major factor in breakdowns of equipment.  I was aware the motorbike had a vibration at a 125 Klms / hour speed.

My main suspect area was the suspension. It was adjustable in order to change the centre of gravity to suit the load on the motorbike. Everytime I adjusted the suspension the vibration just changed to a different speed. I even renewed the wheel bearings as sometimes this can be the problem. I wrote to Honda technical engineers and never got any response.

For some unknown reason the motorbike had vibrations at certain speeds. I decided to take the motorbike up to Korat Honda Big Wing to see if they could fix the problem. Nothing could be done as it was either language misunderstanding or the motorbike was within the specification it was built to and as far as they were concerned it was running as per design.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the motorbike suspension was designed for someone within the >100 kg weight and I was over this weight. Therefore the centre of gravity was impossible to achieve for my weight. Therefore I really needed a low centre of gravity type of motorbike which suited my weight and size. Therefore I sold the motorbike as I was unable to iliminate the vibration issues.

I looked at few different types of motorbikes to buy. What I was needing was a Touring motorbike. Plenty Harleys around, Kawasakis, you name them they were available. After a few months of checking motorbike specifications I finally decided the Vulcan 900 cc motorbike was the bike I required. On checking out the purchase of the motorbike none were available in Thailand at that time. Vulcan is part of the Kawasaki group. Six month waiting list was the best I could get as they had to be imported from the USA and this was a verbal comittment.  Which really could end up to be a years waiting list or even longer. At the time I never saw the new type of Vulcan around in Thailand or in showhouse windows. 

Back to the drawing board. It was then I decided to move away from motorbikes and look at the new design of scooters. Scooter engine sizes were available up to 700cc engines. The scooters had built in box areas where you can store things whilst travelling. One thing about motorbikes the only storage you have is under the seat and enough space to store a hankerchief.

The scooters were designed to hold two safety helments and plenty space left for storage under the seat. I test rode a few scooters. The only thing I would say is the handling ability is far different than a motorbike. When riding a motorbike you feel as if you can do summersalts whereas a schooter you just feel impaired with moveability. Plus alot more quiet running than a motorbike. In some cases its difficult to establish if the scooter was running it was that quiet.

They just feel so different from a motorbike. Maybe its just myself who has this experience from a motorbike to a scooter. The scooter was more like being in the cockpit of an aeroplane with all the dials in view. However I bought a scooter thinking eventually I will get used to it and because of the storage space available.

The 2 nd Issan tour was to go to Roi-et (101) Roi in thai is 100. Et is number 1 after 10. The by name for Roi-et is 101. I first saw Fried Ice cream made in Roi-et. They make a batter and by dipping spoon fulls of ice cream in batter and then frying in hot oil.  (Fried Ice Cream in a chrispy batter). To get to Roi-et from Pattaya, you have three choices. Go over the Bhudda mountain, or up to Nang Rong and go back to Kolat or go through Bangkok.

I once went to Bangkok to drop a friend off at their home. Going there took a couple of  hours as I was giving the directions. Going out of Bangkok it took over 7 hours. I was completely lost, therefore going through Bangkok up to Roi-et was totally out of the question.

Nang Rong I already went that way on the first tour up to Surin. Therefore going over the Bhudda mountain was the best choice for somewhere new.

The Bhudda mountain is called this because you often see large groups of Bhuddist monks walking over the mountain all in their bare feet. I assune it most be part of the training/education they have to do. As lines of maybe a 100 bhuddist monks march over the mountain every year. All wearing the golden/brown gowns carring a satchel maybe with food and water and a blanket to sleep on. Sometimes you may see an individual bhuddist monk walking alone. I myself dont bother stopping and asking if he requires a lift to where ever he is going. Basically because I cannot speak to him. In some cases I see the thai people rush over to stop for a Bhuddist monk, I assume this must be for lucky.

It is quite a distance driving over the mountain, I would say approximately 40 klms as the road is very winding as the mountain is quite steep. Once your at the top your rewarded with lots of cafes, restaurants, shops and resorts to stop over for a night. I once stopped at the cafe/shop and spotted a nice shape vase. (Not knowing their was a liquid inside). I give the vase to a thai family as a present. The liquid inside was Thai whiskey (lao Khow)  40% proof. They drank the whiskey and threw the vase away.

Alot of people try and avoid going over the mountain as in the rainy season it is very slippery with the dead leaves fallen onto the road and can become dangerous. I find it is safer going up the mountain than down especially on a motorbike with all the slow moving traffic who use the road also.

You come across many cement factorys on the route to Roi-et. Must be the type of stone in the area which they mine and is easily heated and crushed to make the powdered cement.

Roi-et is quite a large city. The city has everything most cities have nothing really different than other cities. I have wondered how the thai government establish how many services they give to cities. As some cities have more services than others. Schools, Fire Services, Police Stations. As Roi-et appears to have more services than other cities I have passed through.

I was heading for a little village called Selephum which is located on the outskirts of Roi-et towards Yasothon. Because from Selephum I have A roads leading off to anywhere I was wanting to go too within the Issan provinces. I did notice all the sign boards on my way to Selephum about the Morlam dancing show which was going to take place there that week.

Morlam dancing is a fantastic dancing show for all the Issan people. They just love it and it is a great excuse for them to join in with the dancers. I had previously seen Morlam dancing in Pattaya on a smaller scale and listened to the music on the TV. However on this ocassion this show was one of the biggest shows to take place in Issan. People from all over Thailand would be arriving just for this event.

They scaffold out a huge arena for the dancers with flood lights. All the Musicians and they speakers. It is that loud the music can be heard from miles away. If anyone can remember the black and white minstrel shows where everyone has the same costumes and dancing together. It is similar to this just all young ladies in beautiful dresses.

They book all the top Morlam singers in Thailand to the show and really is a spectactular event. In most cases if foreigners are present, they are also invited to join in the dancing. Please do as it is a form of courtesy. Well worth a visit.