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What is Someday?

St Petersburg Harley Days We all know that elusive day. The day not found in any calendar but to which you keep postponing good things off to. It is the day you dream about for things that you know make a difference. For too many, Someday is a day which perhaps never comes. Perhaps it never comes to you either, unless you make that day. That elusive Someday. For me, traveling on a motorbike was something I always wanted to do, someday.

I am a “born again biker”, who started on a small bike, got into the daily grind and biking was just not an option just then. But someday, I thought.

I got back on the saddle of a new Harley sportster in England at the turn of the millennium, February 2000 just days before my 40th birthday. Since then I have ridden and owned several bikes and seen some incredible places, near and far. Places I never thought I would, or indeed could, visit. For me, biking is an individual sacred moment, perhaps a bonding experience and often a social event. Once I got my bike, I joined our local Harley Owners Group, aka HOG. HOG is a really friendly group of professional people from different walks of life. It is also the largest motorbike association in the world with some 1,5 million members internationally.

After touring in the UK, my first (of many) HOG rally was in Venice, Italy 2002. That tour took us first to The Circuit de Catalunya for F1 in Barcelona. Great tour through Cote d’Azur and northern Italy. Biking is also a family pastime for me. HOG in particular can be very family oriented and riding with family members is really fun and rewarding.

My wife is usually on the pillion. The pic above is from a St Petersburg rally in Russia. When my two boys turned 16, I took each of them with me for a tour of Europe on the pillion. First to Germany for a beer – legal drinking age in Germany is 16 years vs. my native Finland 18 years. Then across the continent to the alps and beyond. It is always memorable to be stuck in snow at Grossglockner in July or to enjoy the jazz festival in Lugano after a good day’s ride. And all the mountain passes, do not get me started…

Well, I did get started and I will write some more notes. I will also post some videos once I get around to editing them… For the purpose of this blog, in most cases the someday tends to involve traveling on a motorbike, as one might by now guess.

Enskaa

This blog is an attempt to write a journal or at least some notes about some of my biking and bike travel. The purpose is to keep my friends posted during my travel and to encourage everyone to make their biking someday a reality. Don’t be offended, I do this for fun. So can you (someday). Cape of Good Hope

Myanmar on a dirt bike

Someday, March 2015 – Myanmar aka Burma.

We set off half past four in the morning in Rayong, south of Bangkok and the day was already long. The lush gardens of Thailand could not be more different than this. Landing to Mandalay in Myanmar was spectacular – the light brown flying sand of the dry season in mid-March covered everything. Where the rivers used to be resembled the recent images from Mars. Only no ice here, but scorching hot dryness. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The trip was organised by Severi Virolainen of Mad.Bike with the help of Zach Benoy of Mandalay Motorbike who organised the local bookings, dealt with the authorities, sorted bikes, etc. With these two experienced organisers and riders, things really run smoothly. We also had Zach’s support truck to secure the ride. Our driver was called James. (Yes, really!) Have a look at Severi’s video below and read his blog at Mad.Bike pages. Our group of riders was also a hoot. It is always amazing how bikers, perhaps otherwise very different and who may never have met before, somehow just are united by the shared experience and love of the sport. Severi has written the blog about the tour, so I will just make a few observations. Myanmar is a beautiful country with a very unique feel. We were lucky enough to travel in the cities (Mandalay, Yangon) as well as river beds, mountains, jungle, small villages and untouched beaches. When was the last time you rode a motorcycle next to water on a several miles long empty sandy beach! The influence of religion is very strong and we were fortunate to come across a few buddhist confirmation rituals with beautifully dressed children and adults alike with beautiful make up in a colorfully decorated gatherings. The children go to a temple for a week or so as part of the confirmation ritual. Their heads are shaved in a village feast, which everyone joins. And LOUD!! music. Yes, the music is VERY LOUD! I am surprised they do not all suffer from tinnitus. (Again, they might. I never asked!). Parties, processions and different type of money collection was organized for buddhist pagodas or Buddha images and it was always with LOUD! music pouring from the tannoy. Often people came from really modest wooden huts, which were either on stilts or often with dirt floors in large parts. But they seemed clean and well dressed with nice make up. A very unique make up is the Thanaka powder made from tree bark and cream made from it. Most women, children and mainly young men use it. Due to thanaka, the burmese claim to have the softest and the most beautiful skin of all people. Everyone we met were very friendly and helpful. Even when met with some unsure looks, a smile and a hello would bring the most wonderful smiles on the peoples faces.  In some parts of our route, I assume us westerners were quite rarely seen and suddenly we had a larger audience witnessing our beers and crisps. Well, this worked both ways. It is not every day we see young boys coming to a village shop for an ice cream with an elephant on a leash. Or women with traditional  tattooed faces. Näyttökuva 2015-10-07 kello 16.21.24           Also Myanmar is quickly developing the trappings of modern life and western influences are visible at places. We stayed in some really nice western style resorts as well as places like our hotel in the Gwa village, where one of the group had to change room due to rats fighting by his ear.  I think we covered the spectrum of hotels well.             Usually the electricity would be out around 9 or 10 pm when also lights would go out. A torch is good to have at hand. With the torch it was easy to see how the air was thick with dust and particles from coal fires in the houses and wild forest fires. The overwhelming feeling after the tour in Myanmar was that we westerners perhaps got it wrong in one turn. Facing all the adversity, these people certainly did not have a lot of money but they seemed rich in many other ways. People do survive. One peculiarity with Yangon, which is the former capital of Burma, is that one is not allowed to ride a motorcycle in the city. Every other Asian city seems to be packed with motorcycles but not Yangon. Allegedly an army general had had an accident involving a motorcycle and he decided to ban them from the city. Fittingly, we would leave our bikes outside Yangon and end our tour here. Mojitos cost around 75 cents, so we did not need the bikes anyway… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  

Myanmar 2015

Burma cities, beaches and mountains. Video by Severi Virolainen Mad.Bike

… that elusive day we keep putting good things off to…