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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.
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 umpteet 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 arise 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 traveling alone in remote places on a motorbike, don't do something stupid. Tonight I feel very, very lucky.
Story by Jason Homewood