givi adventure ride

  • The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 headed to GIVI’s factory in Vietnam.

  • This is the birthplace of GIVI’s rainsuits and soft luggage.

  • GIVI carried out a CSR program called “Riding for Reading”.

17th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Today marked the most important day of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 itinerary.

We were slated to visit GIVI’s factory in Vietnam, situated not far away from the hotel, where we were going to see not only how some of GIVI’s products were made, but more importantly, to attend a special Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

We left the Merperle Crystal Palace Hotel at little later than usual, with the sun already up and shining. The rider with CBR600RR was back and we sure hoped he knew which way we were headed. We were worried about running headlong into HCMC’s traffic, that’s for sure.

We travelled on city roads for a short distance before we started veering into a smaller road flanked on the left by one-storey houses and a river on right. The road condition was good, despite a few patches covered in gravel awaiting their asphalt cover. Hot and dry conditions meant the lead bikes throwing a thick cloud of dust into the air.

Soon we arrived at the GIVI Vietnam HQ and were welcomed by the smiling staff. We were ushered directly to the large entrance to the factory, where a reception had been prepared with light snacks and drinks. We attacked the bottles of water and Pepsi as if we had just left the desert.

Also, there were the Italian Ambassador to Vietnam and the Head of the Italian Trade Delegation, along with Hendrika Visenzi.

Two of the Vietnamese crew had dressed up in the traditional Vietnamese dress, called áo dài (pronounced “Ao-Yai”). Yes, they were pretty.

The GIVI Explorers were then separated into two groups for a grand tour of the facilities. Our group was led by Giorgio Della Rosa, the Factory Manager and designer of GIVI’s riding gear.

This was the birthplace of GIVI rainsuits and soft luggage.

We saw how different materials came together, being cut to exact dimensions by using a hydraulic press or laser cutter, the stitched together by highly trained professionals, before being QC’ed and packed.

We saw the very same tankbags, soft luggage and waterproof we were wearing being assembled right there.

In the meantime, the GIVI crew had taken our helmets to a room in the administration building, where two ladies pinstriped on our names and national flags on one side of the chinbar.

The GIVI Explorers and other guests were then ushered into the conference room for lunch and the GIVI charity event called, “Riding for Reading.” This GIVI CSR initiative aims to assist Vietnamese children in primary schools by meeting short-term and long-term needs. For the near-term, GIVI donated writing and drawing utensils; and health insurance and scholarships in the long-term.

A spontaneous fundraiser was set up among the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 participants, to which everyone was more than happy to contribute. A total of USD 800 was raised.

The kids came to meet us soon after, and it was a happy and emotional experience for all involved, as Ms. Visenzi and Mr. Perucca handed the items to them.

As Mr. Perucca said in his speech, the GIVI Explorer adventures have always been about learning and giving, rather than being just riding across the world.

With the Riding for Reading program done, GIVI presented gifts to the Explorers. First was renowned Vietnamese coffee, packed together with a set of serving cups, and the traditional Vietnamese conical hat called nón lá (translated as left hat).

It was time to say goodbye to GIVI Vietnam and head to our stop for the day. A few of the Vietnamese crew also joined us on the ride.

We cut a south-southwesterly course toward Cần Thơ (pronounced “Kan Ter”), the main city in the Mekong Delta, where the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea. The river life figures heavily here, including a floating market.

Unfortunately, one of the bikes developed a puncture and we arrived way after dark so there was no chance of us going anywhere.

Click here for Day Five (Part Two) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Five (Part One) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.




  • True to the GIVI Explorer spirit, we explored downtown Ho Chi Minh City after dinner.

  • Ho Chi Minh City is thriving with 7 to 7.5 million motorcycles.

  • The city’s main charm is the mix of classical and modern buildings, and rich heritage.

13th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam – The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 participants freshened up and boarded a bus specially chartered to transport us downtown for dinner.

GIVI did so to mercifully spare us the hassle of having to suit up again, and ride through that traffic.

A VIP had joined us by now. She was Ms. Hendrika Visenzi, daughter of GIVI’s founder, Mr. Giuseppe Visenzi (the first two letters of his name became GIVI). The Hevik sub-brand was under Ms. Visenzi’s charge (HEnrika, GIvi, Kappa). She rode with us from this point on.

Ms. Hendrika Visenzi

The local guide on the bus announced that the restaurant wasn’t far away and we had time to shop at the Takashimaya Mall nearby, before getting back together for dinner. That sounds great, maybe I could get something for family and friends back home.

As usual, it was already dark by 7pm and the roads seemed to be fully illuminated by the headlamps of the scooters and mopeds. There are 7.5 million motorcycles to HCMC’s population of 10 million.

It was explained that HCMC has a chronic parking problem, therefore the motorcycle was the perfect tool. The rich would have their drivers drop them off at their destinations and the driver would continue to drive around in circles until their bosses are done with their business. Hence if the city was a body, motorcycles are the blood cells. There were many Grab Bikes too!

It was also pointed out to us on how the bikes were parked – squished together as if they were bicycles. The owners of these motorcycles will park them inside their living rooms when they get home.

Shops lined the road, selling everything from foodstuff to house stuff.

In the meantime, mopeds kept zipping by. One fast guy swerved through everyone else and was closed to being squeezed like a bug between our bus and a car. Ronald, Enrique and myself were seated at the front and we started yelling. Man, that puckered us up real good.

Other impatient riders would hop onto the sidewalks, sometimes against the traffic.

Our guide was right, our makan place wasn’t far from the hotel, but even he miscalculated the amount of time we needed to get there.

I took us more than an hour to get to the restaurant and it was already too late to visit the mall, so we decided to foot it to dinner. Here’s another adventure: Crossing the never-ending stream called “the road.”

The trick was to see an opening, then step confidently onto the street and keep walking in a steady and predictable manner. That allowed the local riders to guesstimate where you’re headed so they could go around you. Ismadi and I said a prayer, and I almost had my eyes closed when we crossed en masse.

We made it!

We also noticed that all bikes were fully stock and most glaring of all, no bike had any luggage tacked to it (due to lack of parking space). Well, except for one scooter which carried a B32 top case! That was enough to send us all into a celebratory mood!

Dinner was at the 3T Vietnamese BBQ Restaurant on the rooftop of the Temple Club Restaurant. Superb food! I’m allergic to seafood so I hammered on the Vietnamese spring rolls and chicken all night.

A group from GIVI Vietnam had also joined us. Joseph explained that it was through these hardworking individuals that we were enjoying the exclusive line of riding gear during the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Here’s a personal note to them (hope you guys are reading this): The gear were truly amazing. Both the new jacket and pants kept me cool when it was really hot. They fitted my body well and allowed lots of freedom of movement without flapping in the wind. Also, all the accessories worked. My favourites were the X-45 Fibre helmet, Hevik Lumbar Support belt, and the Technical T-shirt. Well done!

Now, where were we? Oh yes, dinner.

We went out on foot again after the thoroughly satisfying dinner and chartered every trishaw we saw at a square. Sure, we were swamped by traffic again at first, but we didn’t care by now as every GIVI Explorer was laughing and giggling like children. A few Explorers took to riding the trishaws instead of being ferried. GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 happened on three wheels, too! Hah!

It was only now that I discovered just how beautiful HCMC was! I was shooting pictures of the guys around when I spotted, first an M48 Patton tank with Vietnamese Army insignia, followed by the tail section of a Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter jet and Bell UH-1 helicopter in a compound! Being a military history buff, I asked the trishaw uncle, “Is that the museum?” He just smiled and shrugged. Then I heard, “Yes, that’s the War Museum” from behind somewhere. I looked around to see a young couple wearing surgical masks on a scooter to the left. “But it’s closed now,” said the rider in perfect English. I thanked him and they nodded. Whoa! I have to come back here!

It was during this time that it occurred to me how HCMC has thrived. HCMC, known as Saigon at the time was the capital of South Vietnam, and had been the scene of battles and bombings during the Vietnam war. Being the first “televised war,” there were many enduring images from Saigon, but perhaps the most famous was of choppers airlifting civilians from the US Embassy (Operation Frequent Wind) on 30th April 1975, which marked the Fall of Saigon and end of the war.

It’s been forty-two years since then and Vietnam, although remaining a communist country, had opened its borders to trade and tourism.

Our convoy of trishaws rounded an intersection and a large classical cathedral like those you’d find in Europe came into view. it turned out to be called Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, just like the one in France. It was built by the French in 1863 and completed in 1880.

On the other side of the street was a beautiful classical building, the Saigon Central Post Office. Completed in 1891, it was designed by the architect Gustave Eiffel, the French civil engineer who owned the firm which built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

We stopped for a photograph session, then continued onwards past the river front of the Saigon River. Here, we saw European-styled luxury hotels, exactly like those you’d see in movies. And up the road was a large cruise ship at the Saigon River Dock. An ultra-modern skyscraper with an open-air deck shoots into the air on the opposite side.

That’s the charm of HCMC. Classical colonial buildings amidst modern buildings and modern lifestyles. We stopped at the Nguyen Hue Walking Street and continued on foot. This stretch encompasses more classical and old buildings converted to shops and hotels.

There was a concert here along the median between the lanes. The Explorers stopped for ice-cream at the foyer of The Reverie Saigon, HCMC’s most luxurious hotel. Wisnu and I spotted a brightly lit building about 500m to the north and decided to investigate.

The concert was over by now and the street was reopened to light traffic. Pretty Vietnamese ladies caught our eyes. We stopped opposite the Rex Hotel to shoot a few pictures when we spotted a Bentley Continental GT poking its nose out of a side street.

We kept walking and discussed about the ride as we hadn’t done so since this GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 first started. We were roomies during the GIVI Wilderness Adventure 2015 in South Africa. But we kept getting distracted by the Vietnamese girls. Oh yes, friends have warned us about this.

We arrived at the building. It was gorgeous, beautifully restored and maintained. It was the HCMC City Hall. We got busy photographing it when we heard the roars of sportscars. They were Ferraris and Lamborghinis and they charged down Nguyen Hue Street.

The group had finished their ice-cream and caught up with us there. They too started shooting the pictures of the City Hall. We continued walking and ended up at another prominent classic building, this time it was the Municipal Theatre of HCMC, but better known as the Saigon Opera House.

Built in 1897 by French architect Eugene Ferret, and restored in 1995, it was shaped like Opera Garnier in Paris. Right opposite was an old building, with a large “Louis Vuitton” signage on top of the entrance.

The left side of the building was boarded up as the authorities are building an underground MRT system.

From here, we took taxis back to the hotel in District 7 and called it a night. I regretted that decision as there’s so much more of HCMC to be discovered. For a few Explorers and myself who had been here the first time we vowed to return. The memory of the traffic had faded into oblivion.

Click here for Day Five (Part One) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.



  • The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 Explorers left Cambodia behind for Vietnam on Day Five.

  • Downtown traffic was the main concern as we neared Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Vietnam proved to be another contrasting experience.

13th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – It’s time for the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 to leave Cambodia (for the time being) as we pushed forward to Vietnam.

The weather stayed clear all morning, thankfully, but the downside was it was starting to get hot by 8am as we prepared to head out from the Phnom Penh Hotel.

Apart from crossing the great Mekong River at Naek Loeung, the rest of Cambodia was uneventful, to put it succinctly. with more small towns interspersed with paddy fields along the way. Traffic was moderately heavy with the usual mopeds, large SUVs, among those huge Peterbilts and Mack trucks, and of course, more mopeds. It may look like there are many curves and corners along the way, but it was straight in reality.

Courtesy of GIVI Explorer and Nikkasit

Still, am just happy to be here to see a whole different country.

And that notion brought along a surprise as we reached the Cambodia-Vietnam border crossing at Moc Bai.

Just as with the border crossing from Thailand, there were a number of casinos on the Cambodian side, and they were called glamourous names such as those in Las Vegas. We didn’t get to find out if “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” tho’.

The Moc Bai Border Crossing consists of beautifully constructed buildings in the traditional Vietnamese style. The administration building was no doubt modern, but it was unmistakably Vietnamese. We stopped to wait for the organizers to sort out the paperwork, while we took photographs with the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 banner, to stamp the evidence that “we were here.”

Then as we were running around with our cameras and our phones, the marshals announced, “Okay, let’s go!” What? Wait, that was just like 20 minutes. We waited for almost an hour to cross into Cambodia a few days prior.

I noticed a blue and yellow Honda CBR600RR among us for the first time. It had a loud exhaust, semi-slick tyres, but no mirror and he was way up front of the pack.

It turned out that he was our guide to the hotel from the border. The Vietnamese authorities prohibits the entry of overseas motorcycles, unless you’re guided by a government-designated guide.

So nevermind, since we’ve only 100 kilometres to go to Ho Chi Minh City.

We were swallowed up by packs of mopeds soon enough. Well, “pack” isn’t the correct word, but swarms would be accurate.

Before I proceed further, please allow me to state on record that this isn’t a criticism of the way people ride and drive in their own countries. Instead, it serves as one of the episodes in the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

We had been briefed earlier by Joseph about the traffic in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve seen pictures and documentaries about Vietnam, so I made an offhand joke with a few guys that we might be surprised to find a local sitting on one of the boxes when reach the hotel.

Right in the thick of it, it was disconcerting at first, but conditioning, survival instinct and defensiveness kicked in as the mopeds crossed right in front of us, or overtaking one another without checking behind or alongside, etc. The duty to avoid them and stay save therefore fell squarely on the shoulders of each Explorer. Still, that didn’t mean being aggressive, instead one should be assertive. Oh yes, there’s a huge difference between the two.

Anyway, most of us started to struggle further along, including the hardworking Marshals who were getting overwhelmed. They had nominated me as their assistant marshal after the first day, so we did what I we could to open a path for the rest of the convoy.

But most of us started to get an inkling of something was wrong as we kept riding in the same traffic for two hours without getting anywhere. Worse of all, there wasn’t even a split second to check out the sights.

Remember the guy on the CBR? With no mirrors and being prone on the tank, he couldn’t look behind to see where we were. He had been briefed back at the border crossing to take another route (Joseph and Giorgio are familiar with Ho Chi Minh City) to avoid the gridlock, but he had guided us down the very route we had wanted to avoid.

So, we ended up covering 25 kilometres in two hours.

However, all of us made it to the Merperle Crystal Palace Hotel safe sound and that was what mattered the most.

It had taken us the better part of a day to cover the 289 kilometres from Phnom Penh. By comparison, that distance (minus 3 kilometres) was the same as travelling from the Rawang R&R to the junction of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge (the new Penang Bridge). But, that’s what an adventure is: Experiencing something totally different from everyday norms.

Click here for Day Five (Part Two) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

  • Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 took the GIVI Explorers to Phnom Penh.

  • The GIVI Explorers stopped at the 800-year-old bridge in Kampong Kdei.

  • They got a taste of some truly chaotic traffic with vehicles buzzing around everywhere.

Phnom Penh, 15th November 2017 – As we GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 Explorers had breakfast and prepared our bikes for the next leg of the adventure in Siem Reap, the rain came down on us.

We pondered if the occasion has finally arrived to test the new GIVI rainsuits (made specifically for this GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017). One of the Thai marshals, Nok (full name: Sitthithat Ritthikraironnaka), consulted his weather radar app, and informed us that it was only a passing cloud that’s headed away from out travel route.

We hopped our bikes as soon as the rain subsided, as we had been delayed for an hour. Today’s destination was Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, 315 kilometres away.

Again, we rode through the slightly chaotic urban Cambodian traffic before breaking clear and opening up in the countryside. Much of Cambodia is very flat, with rice paddies on both sides of the road. The rain had turned the roadside laterite into mud and some of it had been thrown onto the road surface itself, so we took it easy.

We were actually travelling south, adjacent to the great Tonle Sap Lake to the west (on our right) but heavy foliage and built up areas obscured our view. Shame.

There were many cows grazing and chewing on their cud serenely right up on the road shoulders. It panicked me a few times initially as I’ve grown wary of livestock crossing the road back in my wife’s kampong in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, prompting me to stick my leg out to warn the other Explorers behind. But it had been unnecessary as the ones in Cambodia stayed off the roads. “Cows here are much smarter,” remarked Giorgio Dalla Rosa, GIVI Vietnam’s Factory Manager, when I recounted the experience to him.

By the way, speaking of the word kampong, villages in Cambodia are incidentally called the same as we do in Malaysia, for instance Kampong Kdei, Kampong Thom, and so forth.

We rode 63 kilometres out before the marshals called for us to pull off the road on another ornately designed bridge, similar to the one we saw at Bayon yesterday. Just as well, the heat and humidity had returned after the downpour.

Known as the Kampong Kdei Bridge, and officially known as Spean Praptos (some called it the Naga Bridge), it was also built in the 12th century during the reign of that Jayavarman VII guy, the same King who commissioned the construction of the temples we visited in Siem Reap.

The bridge was one of the world’s longest corbeled stone-arch (same building technique at the temples in Angkor) bridge and one of the few Khmer Empire’s bridges to have survived to today. The stone railings on both sides end with carved articulated cobra heads.

Anyway, we noticed a few locals shooting pictures of us with Nikon DSLRs as we maneuvered our bikes to park along the bridge, and as soon as we got off, the same ladies were already there with the pictures they shot and mounted, “Photo, photo, Sir? 5 dollars.” Wow! Their speed was even more impressive than their enterprising spirit!

However, the locals (without DSLRs) had also come out en masse to greet us. Well, more like to witness this group of bikers on big bikes attached with all sorts of space-aged equipment visiting their kampong.

It was heartwarming to see the children smiling in all their innocence when we waved at them.

Later, we watched as a mini bus unloaded a crowd of loud tourists (no prizes for correctly guessing where they’re from) before commencing with our own photography and drone video session of the convoy crossing the bridge.

We then continued on our way riding on a wet dirt road. I love offroad riding.

Image courtesy of GIVI Explorer

The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure continued on its way after lunch. It was a great break from the Cambodian humidity, that’s for sure, as we gulped down jugs of water. Credit also need to be given to the Thai support guys as they would invariably bring in hot water and coffee for the Explorers.

We were greeted by heavy traffic in the form of mopeds and scooters, a few with more than two occupants onboard. The riders tend to overtake each other without checking what’s behind them, and I noticed none of them actually looked in their rearview mirrors, not once. So why do they have mirrors…? Well, nevermind.

We maneuvered around them as best as we could, but we were just as unaccustomed to them as they were to us. They’d cut pass our front wheels as if we weren’t there. On the other hand, we were worried about them being unaware of us having side cases and panniers – the local riders may think we’ve passed them and end up being hit by a box.

The Explorers got away safely and arrived at Phnom Penh Hotel, but a few of us went back out to shoot pictures for GIVI. With just four riders in the group, we rode in a super tight four-ship formation, preventing ourselves from being cut off.

We stopped at a beautifully opulent temple complex, all the main buildings seemingly encased in gold, starting from the gate itself.

Image courtesy of GIVI Explorer

But the best thing was watching Pietro Ambrioso, GIVI’s Official Photographer at work, shooting the photos for GIVI’s official catalogs and website.

We rode back to the hotel, witnessing how luxury SUVs cut into traffic, pushing plebs aside. But we were told that the traffic in Cambodia so far is only a warm up for the main event: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was here that I saw how the GIVI cases looked like after riding through the weather. They were more or less encased in mud, but no water nor soil got in. Thank God, ‘cos my laptop’s in there!

A few Explorers took to the riverside for some nightlife while many chose to rest for tomorrow’s ride into Vietnam.

  • The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 visited Angkor Wat on Day Three.

  • The Explorers visited the Tomb Raider Temple (Ta Prohm), Bayon and Angkor Wat.

  • We discovered the history, culture and unfortunate violence which enveloped Cambodia.

Siem Reap, Cambodia, 14th November 2017 – The GIVI Explorers (participants) took a break from riding today. As with every edition of the GIVI Adventure, there is one day allocated for an excursion to the main highlight of the ride. It was the Kruger National Park in 2015, when I last rode with the group, but for today, it was one of the Wonders of the World – Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple ruins in the Angkor region have been one of the main highlights in this year’s GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017, underlining Joseph Perucca, GIVI’s Overseas Operational Director’s philosophy about the GIVI Explorer’s spirit of adventure, exploration, discovery and learning about new histories, peoples and cultures. In fact, all the logos on our GIVI and Hevik riding gear and motorcycle equipment featured the pictogram of Angkor Wat prominently (among other famous structures).

GIVI had contracted a local tour operator to assist and guide us through the day. We boarded two mini busses after breakfast for the ticketing centre, not far from our hotel in Siem Reap (pronounced See-em Re-ap).

The guide on the bus presented some quick facts about Cambodia, and he was unambiguously affected by the Khmer Civil War between 1970 to 1975 and the subsequent Khmer Rouge (Red Khmers as in Communist Khmers) regime’s reign of terror between 1975 to 1979.

When the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975, the regime’s leader Pol Pot called it Year Zero. Teachers, merchants, artists, intellectuals, professionals or anyone who wore glasses were purged, and all culture and traditions were erased to be replaced from ground up with an agrarian society. Schools, factories, banks, currency and even hospitals were closed. All religions were outlawed – the minority Cham Muslims were fiercely exterminated and as many as 25,000 Buddhist monks were executed. The atrocities escaped any form of humanity and even infants were not spared. Official figures of the genocides vary but it is estimated that as many as 3 million Cambodians were killed or missing (from a population of 8 million at the time).

For many, it was the end of the world as if Satan had come up from Hell.

The sign says it all. Good thing we didn’t visit the “Killing Fields”

The Khmer Rouge was deposed when their former allies Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, but the collapse of society, and loss of educators and guidance had taken the country back many decades, making the country one of the world’s poorest. There are still millions of landmines and unexploded ordnance uncleared in Cambodia.

There are still many mines and unexploded ordnance to be cleared in Cambodia but the efforts are ongoing

But! There’s a ray of hope.

It’s not even 10am and there was already a large crowd at the ticketing counter. The tourism industry is picking up in Cambodia and the government has plans to replace the current airport in Siem Reap to a larger one, 60km outside the city.

There were a few options for the number of days allowed to visit he sites, each with different pricing. For a one-day excursion, the price was USD 37. Yes, it’s expensive to us Malaysians due to our weak currency, while the GIVI Explorers from other nations happily paid up.

Check out the prices. But the funds go to the restoration and conservation of the ancient ruins

There isn’t just one large temple complex in Angkor i.e. Angkor Wat, instead there were tens of them scattered around an area collectively called Angkor Thom.

We boarded the buses again and headed to Ta Phrom, or better known as the Tomb Raider Temple, being the location for the movie. Built in circa 1186 CE, as part of King Jayavarman VII’s program of construction and public works, it was constructed for his mother and served as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.

UNESCO has included Ta Prohm (and the other sites) on the World Heritage list since 1992. Conservationists came to the consensus that Ta Prohm should be left largely in the state that it was discovered. Still, much work have been done to stabilize the complex and provide access to the influx of tourists. As such, wooden walkways, platforms and roped railings have been built to avoid further damage.

The most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm is by far the trees growing out of the ruins, their roots coiling over the stones like reptiles.

Also, there’s an intriguing carvings here which seemed to resemble dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs. Experts say otherwise.

Remember I mentioned landmines? There was a band playing traditional Khmer music outside and the ensemble were the victims of those weapons.

As we alighted the buses for the next location, it suddenly dawned on me how lucky we Malaysians are. We battled the communist insurgents from the end of World War 2 all the way into the late 80’s, but we didn’t have a major civil war which wiped out everything. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

Some of the peddlers here followed us around trying to sell their goods, and they even dropped the prices from US Dollars all the way down to Thai Baht, just so that they could make at least one sale. They weren’t trying to get rich, instead it was just for that one evening’s dinner for their families.

We drove a short distance to Bayon Temple.

We were blown away even before we entered the walls as we crossed the Siem Reap River on the ornately decorated bridge leading to the Victory Gate.

Bayon was a contrast to Ta Prohm. While the latter was almost overgrown by large trees, Bayon sits out in the clear and its rich decorations were apparent even from a distance. Known as the state temple for King Jayavarman VII, there were multitudes of serene and smiling faces on the towers that jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around the central peak.

We noticed a great number of corridors throughout the complex.

Bas-reliefs were a combination of mythological, historical and everyday scenes. There were depictions of the once-proud Khmer Army marching out to battle. Khmer was once an empire, (known officially as the Angkor Empire) encompassing modern-day Laos, Thailand and parts of Vietnam and Myanmar. And where was the capital of this empire? You got it, Angkor.

The weather was turning very humid and wore many of us down, so we headed back to the busses ahead of time. It was time for lunch.

We exited via the West Gate and decided to stop for pictures.

Most of the large restaurants in Siem Reap contain the name “Tonlé” or “Tonlé Sap” after the Tonlé Sap River and annually inundated Tonlé Sap Lake. Food items invariably include steamed rice, freshwater fish, fresh tropical fruits and morning glory (kangkong), although these major restaurants also offer foods from other countries at separate stalls.

It was a quick lunch as we rushed back to the main attraction: Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th century, predating Ta Prohm and Bayon, by King Suryavarman II and completed by Jayavarman VII. It’s the symbol of Cambodia, featured prominently on the nation’s flag. Angkor Wat is actually its modern name, meaning “temple city” in Khmer. It is in fact the largest religious monument in the world, covering 1.6 million sq. m.

Other little-known facts:

  • It was constructed out of up to 10 million sandstone blocks.
  • Each block weighed up to 1.5 tonnes.
  • The entire city of Angkor used more stones than all the Egyptian pyramids combined.
  • Angkor occupies an area much larger than modern-day Paris.
  • Unlike the pyramids whose rocks were quarried 0.5 km nearby, those for the Angkor complex came from 40 km away at Mount Kulen.

The original stone causeway leading into the complex was closed for restoration works, so visitors had to cross the 190m moat on a pontoon (floating) bridge. The whole area was teeming with thousands of tourists.

As we approached the outer wall, it became clear just how impressive was the feat of putting this monument together. Those were huge stone blocks and they were somehow lifted into place. There were galleries that ran the length of this outer enclosure, supported by square pillars. The spaces between them were decorated with lotus rossettes.

Going past the wall brought us face-to-face with the long stone walkway to the central structure.

There were libraries on each side, a large pond, lush gardens (where a couple was having their pre-wedding shoot), although most places were under heavy vegetation.

From this walkway, the towers and overall form of Angkor Wat was starting to take shape as those we see in pictures, except that the palms on either side have since grown taller, obstructing some of the view.

But before seeing those towers up close, one has to go through a huge complex of galleries. In here, the remnants of artwork painted on the ceilings showed how beautiful this place would have been at its zenith. There were inscriptions and bas-reliefs on almost every column, but they reflected different scenes on each separate wing.

The central tower represents Mount Meru, the home of the gods. The flanking towers symbolizes the peaks of the mountain, while the wall and moat represents the mountain range and ocean respectively.

As we walked up the staircase into the central structure, we noticed that it was steel. We peeked underneath and discovered that the conservationists or authorities had installed these steps over the ancient stone steps to protect them. Good move!

A few Explorers queued up to climb the central spire but the line was so long, most of us decided to explore the temple by ourselves.

The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 Explorers tried to take in a much as they could but it soon became apparent to us that there was just too much to absorb from this single visit, what more when other tourists keep walking past us while we were trying to study something or photograph them!

The guide advised us that the best way to study these structures is to visit early in the morning. Angkor Wat is open from 5am, while the others are from 7.30am. Good tip!

We didn’t have much time to discover more since we were short of time and the humidity was difficult to bear. We exited Angkor Wat, feeling that there’s still much to see and experienced at this magnificent location.

We looked behind to see the evening sun shining across the whole main façade of the monument, turning it gold! (Angkor Wat differs from other structures as it faces west.)

We left with heavy hearts, yet we were thankful that the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure Ride 2017 had actually brought us to one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Dinner that night was at another large restaurant and we didn’t miss the traditional Apsara dance show this time! One could see that it was heavily influenced by Hinduism, which predated Buddhism.

We called an early night as we’re riding to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, tomorrow.

Click here for the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure (Day Two).

Click here for the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure (Day One).


Today is the start of an epic journey through Indochina.

The ride starts at Pattaya, Thailand through Cambodia and Vietnam.

Day saw the distribution of riding gear and motorcycle allocation.

12th November 2017, Pattaya City, Thailand – The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 has begun!

Day One was reserved as the day of arrival of the participants, consisting mainly of GIVI dealers from across the globe. There is a record number of entries this year, an increase from the previous years’.

The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 is carried out under the GIVI Explorer banner and as the name implies, GIVI Explorer means riding through new and exotic locations around the world, discovering the land’s diverse beauties and cultures along the way.

It is also a platform for GIVI dealers to experience the usefulness and reliability of GIVI’s product line firsthand in the real world. Being designed to be great is one thing, but to actually use them under rain or shine, in various tough conditions is the most meaningful experience (more on this later).

Most participants flew into either airport in Bangkok and were then transferred to The Bayview Hotel in Pattaya City.

In the meantime, the GIVI crew were overworked at X-Speed, one of the largest motorcycle accessories and workshop Pattaya, in getting the motorcycles ready. Working hand-in-hand with them were the boys and gals at the shop.

They had to install different types of side cases, top cases, crash bars, spotlights, windscreens, tankbags, handguards, phone and GPS mounts, any many more within three days on the 21 participants’ bikes, plus another 3 of the marshals’.

GIVI’s Ismadi Ishak and I had ridden out of GIVI’s HQ in Bukit Beruntung on the morning of the 9th first to Songkhla, then to Chumporn and finally arriving in Pattaya on the 11th.

The fleet of bikes for the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 consisted mainly of the Kawasaki Versys 650s and Suzuki DL650 V-Stroms. There were also the Honda Africa Twin DCT, BMW R 1200 GS LC (Joseph Perucca, GIVI’s Overseas Operational Director’s bike), and the Yamaha TDM900, Suzuki DL1000 V-Stroms and Triumph Tiger 800 XCA ridden by the marshals.

Participants had started arriving at The Bayview Hotel from morning, hence the customary riding gear and accessories distribution session began at 2pm.

There appeared to be no unhappy participant during this session, evident from their broad smiles. Well, no surprise here, since we received a Santa Claus-sized bag full of gear! It was like the New Year, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Vesak Day, Deepavali, Christmas all rolled into one. We were provided with the latest:

  1. GIVI HPS 40.5 X-Fiber helmet.
  2. Hevik riding jacket.
  3. Riding pants.
  4. Hevik technical riding shirts.
  5. A GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 event polo shirt.
  6. An event T-shirt.
  7. Hevik summer gloves.
  8. Bucket (fisherman’s) hat.
  9. Rainshoes.
  10. Under-helmet skull cap.
  11. A balaclava (made of silk!).
  12. Trekker fluorescent orange vest.
  13. Hevik lumbar support belt (which looks like a weightlifter’s belt).
  14. A set of Prime rainsuit.
  15. A set of Comfort rainsuit.

Why two sets of rainsuits? Remember we mentioned about using the products in the real world? The Prime rainsuit is an experimental model, so who better to act as testers than us GIVI Explorers, embarking on the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017?

That’s not all, as was with the ride in South Africa two years ago, a questionnaire on the motorcycle equipment and riding gear MUST be completed and handed back to GIVI as the basis for further research and development.

With the handover done, we prepared for the Welcome Dinner. Everyone was elated to meet their friends from the previous GIVI Explorer adventure rides, greeting each other with loudly and hugs. I can’t lie – I was very happy to see the familiar faces again.

The food was awesome, as always on GIVI’s adventure rides, but we also had our eyes on the final 2017 MotoGP round in Valencia, Spain.

We cheered on the Ducati Team and of course Andrea Dovizioso on his bid to claim his first world title, besides Cal Crutchlow. We were heartbroken when both Ducatis crashed out. (Ducati is also sponsored by GIVI.)

So, we came back to the matters pertaining to the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017, which was the welcoming speech, programme and safety briefing.

Tomorrow (13th November) we’ll be riding to Aranyapathet, Thailand which is one of the border towns with Cambodia, before crossing into the latter country and onwards to Siem Reap.

We were told to be extra vigilant when travelling through Cambodia as the traffic in Cambodia could be chaotic, but everyone was just excited to be riding under the GIVI Explorer banner again.



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