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Help Planning a Trip


Sep 12, 2008
I decided to plan a bike trip to Thailand with a friend of mine. We decided this after seeing a bike tour that goes from Bangkok to Phuket. I was hoping I might be able to quickly absorb some of the obviously abundant knowledge here on that topic. Not only do I need a little advice on the biking aspect of the trip, but also on planning a trip from Japan, period.

I am not a long-distance rider by nature or in practice. The farthest I've gone in a single ride was about 80km. We want to make the >800km trip in 7 days, so that would put me over my longest distance for each day. I don't anticipate that being a problem, but if you have any warnings, let me know.

Now for the questions:

I remember reading about MontBell insurance in one of the sticky threads. Do I call Bellcadia Co and just set that up over the phone? Are there any pre-requisites, as in having a certain affiliation with Japan, beyond being a visitor?

Do you think a GPS is necessary? If I get the Garmin Edge 705, is the Southeast Asia map necessary? Do you think eBay is a reliable place to get one? I know there was a discussion on this, but only a quick mention of eBay. I would like to put a little effort into trying to get it cheaper there if it's reliable.

Do you have any suggestions for items to bring beyond a pump, a helmet, a few tubes, a patch kit, a multi-tool, two water bottles, lights, a cell phone, a few pairs of socks, sunglasses, one bike outfit with bike shoes, one beach outfit with sandals, a toothbrush, a small bivy, a tarp to put over stuff we want to keep dry in case of rain, sunblock, bug spray, soap, a camera, some food, and maybe some very basic first-aid stuff? Or is that already too much (as in, you would bring less)?

I am curious about your personal preferences for food to supplement your meals with. I'll do some more research on this, but I think that may be one of the biggest issues. If I ride to any reasonable extent, I go into calorie deficit very easily. I will be doing other workouts in addition to the riding (body-weight exercises), and already know I'm going to come back looking like a different person. What do you prefer/suggest?

I have a bike case, but I'm not sure how I would get it from Bangkok to Phuket. Would you recommend just arriving at and departing from Phuket and doing a different route? Or do you know a reliable way to send something ahead within one week? Or do you have an alternate solution? Are rental bikes ever worth it for trips that long?

How much does it cost to bring a bike with you on flights with Japanese airlines?
What company would you recommend getting a flight with?
How much is the tax on a flight to Thailand?

Do you have any suggestions on good, cheap bivies? This one caught my eye, http://www.greatoutdoorsdepot.com/od-storm-bivi.html, but I have no experience with outdoor equipment.

I would appreciate any information you can provide. I am really excited about this trip and want to fit in as much pain and pleasure as possible. Maybe, as a side, you could recommend other places for me to visit while I'm in Japan for good biking. I probably won't go back to the US for a year, so I have plenty of time. This thread could become a good complement to the "Dream Bikes" thread.

Sounds like a wonderful adventure. I have never toured myself, so I can't give you any advice there. However, I just read an excellent book -- "Into Thick Air" -- by Jim Malusa, a botanist by trade, who rode his bike to the lowest points on each continent.

He recently posted some links on bikeforums.net where you can reach him with questions about touring. He seems like a very likable fellow and certainly has amassed a lot of knowledge about touring. His bikeforums entry is here.

Good luck!

Hi Chris,

Looks like you're on the right track. Only one thing I would add: a mirror. Ironically, despite the mad and haphazard traffic in less developed countries, I reckon you're generally safer on the road than in Japan because the drivers know to expect the unexpected. But it's a little bit hard to believe that when you're dropped in the middle of the mayhem, so a mirror does wonders for confidence and peace of mind.

My penny's worth on a few other points:
- Call me old fashioned but I believe a map & compass are fine. Less flashy stuff to get nicked, and a great language-not-necessary icebreaker when you get off the beaten track. Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk) generally have a good selection, but could be also worth checking out Kinokuniya in Shinjuku.
- A few "emergency" power bars tucked away at the bottom of your bag should be fine, other than that I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding banana pancakes when you're peckish ... after all, this is backpacker paradise, right ?!
- I've used a soft vinyl bag before to ship a bike, packed tight with cardboard and foam: check the bike in and carry the panniers as hand-luggage. It weighs 1.5 kg which I just carry on the bike. Don't know what the rules are like now for that, but this is the bag I used:
- For a week I'm not sure I would bother with a bivi-bag: for the route you're looking at I'd guess you're bound to find somewhere to stay and in the unlikely event that you don't, you can always flag down a bus or truck to take you to the next town: just insist on sleeping with your bike. You've got to be a bit careful when looking for a campsite...

Anyway, you'll have a blast. And then when you come back you've got the whole of Japan waiting for you ....

Yeah, that was our initial thought. Nothing beyond the necessities. I think I was using this as an excuse to get an awesome GPS device. Now it's clear that's definitely what I was doing. Here I am, trying to bring only the essentials, and I almost convince myself to get a $400 GPS device.

I didn't want to bring a bivi in case I couldn't find other shelter, we really just want to sleep outside and be on our own. Do you think that's a bad idea? Sleep on the beach and lock the bikes to a reasonably solid tree?

What did you do with the padding that you used to pack the bike while you were riding? Was it sufficient to protect your bike?

I think you're right; I should get a mirror. I get freaked out every now and again here in Tokyo by huge trucks passing close by. One truck, today, didn't give me enough room to pass a truck parked on the side of the road. That was pretty scary.
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