Following my recommendation of a series of YouTube videos made by Pedro Mota, two of my friends responded with how much they liked an Amazon Prime documentary, “Himalaya Calling – Overland to the highest passes in the world.” They were right! I’ve watched three of the four episodes, and they are great. Plus, these have far broader appeal than Mota’s videos. Maggie loved the incredible scenery from a part of the world that is rarely photographed because it is so remote and empty.
This 4-epsisode film stars two German guys, Eric Peters and Alain Beger. They are not super jocks, handsome movie stars, or killer riders. They’re mostly normal, although trained and experienced enough to take six months and spent it on an incredible adventure to a part of the world few visit. Their real skill is the way they managed to capture this adventure with only hi-res cameras mounted on their helmets, bikes, and a drone. No supplemental film crew, chase vehicles, or backups, and rarely cell phone coverage. They got spectacular footage and edited it into a smoothly compelling movie series. You don’t have to be a motorcycle rider to appreciate this amazingly ambitious accomplishment.
The original was made in German but the Amazon Prime version has an English language soundtrack. I’m guessing the guy’s actual voices would have been better, but as I don’t speak German, this is an acceptable compromise. Oh, and there is some salty language at times, but it’s not overdone. Check it out and let me know what you think.
For more hardcore riders, I also have to recommend Pedro Mota, who’s ridden his Transalp just about everywhere. His videos are on YouTube and are all genuine, unpolished, rough, and transparent. They show what it’s like to explore roads and trails you’ve only heard about but never ridden. This totally meets the definition of “adventure,” unlike the hyper-staged media extravaganzas like “The Long Way Down,” and its sequels. Mota chronicles what actually happens, and does it all alone, without a camera crew or backups.
The first video is enlightening. I think I felt grit from his ride in my own teeth! Skip down for notes and links to the second.
His second video, below, is a continuation of the one above. It shows one of the most wonderful things that happen when adventure riding. You meet incredible people. You learn so much about what humanity is all about. You get to really touch the world.
These aren’t professionally produced, the editing is spotty, the camera angles are sometimes horrible, and forget about the soundtrack. And sometimes, things happen in languages you won’t understand and he forgets to translate. To me, however, that is the magic of these things. They’re raw and real and so reminded me of some of my rides in uncanny ways. If today’s camera technology had been around back then, I could have made some cool movies, I think.
I’ve really been enjoying everything you’ve been sharing lately and thought I’d share an old YouTube video with you. Apple Guesthouse was my favorite place to stay in Bangkok, not because it was particularly fancy but it was in a typical old Thai house and the woman that ran the place was a fantastic person, absolutely one-of-a-kind. Everybody called her “mama” – even me, although we were likely around the same age. I stayed for few days in 1996 and got to know her quite well and then in 1997, when I aborted my trip while I was in China because of Dad’s heart attack, I flew to Bangkok because it’s a great place to get cheap tickets back to the States. I met a Norwegian guy on the flight who was meeting a friend of his at the airport who was flying in directly from Norway. When he found out that I’d been to Bangkok a number of times, he of course had lots of questions for me. This was actually one of my favorite parts of traveling, meeting up with other travelers, telling stories and picking each other’s brains for travel ideas. We met his buddy at the airport and they told me they were planning to stay on Khao San Road and I told them that wasn’t the greatest idea because it’s crowded and noisy but I was going near there so we could share a tuk-tuk into the city which would drop us at Khao San Road and they could have a look. We had to walk a few blocks along Khao San Road to get to the area where Apple Guesthouse was located and as we walked along, they realized I was right. I had stayed at a place there on one of my earlier visits and I didn’t get to sleep until about 3 AM when it quieted down slightly. They decided to go with me to Apple Guesthouse so I led them through a series on narrow, twisting alleyways (called “gangs”) to it. We stepped inside, kicked off our shoes and I saw mama working in the kitchen (she was a great cook) and called out “Hey, mama!” She turned and as soon as she saw me, she cried out, “John!” and rushed over and gave me a big hug. This is how she treated everyone. A few days later, the Norwegian guys thanked me profusely for leading them to such a great place.
Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDsKrOvRHWY
This video actually brings you in by a bit wider road but I usually came in from the other direction. The woman in red sitting on the bench out front is mama. I watch this video every once in a while just to bring back some really good memories. Reading the comments attached to the video, I found out that she has since retired, the place has been torn down and replaced by a more modern guesthouse which her children run.
Hope you enjoy it,