Bill Shum, Unpaidbill.....Motorcycle riding in North, Central and South America. 70,000 kms from LA - South to Ushaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, 'The End of the World' then back to LA, then up North to Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, 'The Top of the World'. 18 countries, 35 border crossings, 15 months.
Next 53 weeks on a 47' catamaran from Grenada in the Carib, via Venezuela, Colombia, San Blas, Colon, a short side trip to my favourite country, Cuba, back to Panama, back onboard, off across the big blue Pacific, Galapagos, Marquesas, Tuomotus, Societys, Cooks, Tonga and Fiji where I bail.
Back to NYC then Kentucky, Panama, Cuba, Medellin, back to Kentucky, Dallas, Washington, NYC, Chicago, LA and back to Oz.
Bought 25 acres on top of a hill at Brogo, South Coast, NSW, Oz. and built a little house, couldn't settle....ran away to Hanoi, Vietnam.
5 years in Hanoi, fantastic but getting too big, too noisy, too dirty, too crowded, too much.....move to Da Nang, perfect.
In the middle somewhere a trip to Bath, UK to research the forebears then to Kate and Stephan's wonderful wedding in Krefeld...then home by train.....Berlin, Moscow, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, Ulaan Baator, Beijing, Ghanzou, Nanning and finally Hanoi....amazing!!
So, life in Da Nang rolls on.
A short trip to Japan Sept/Oct 2017 what an amazing country....nowhere quite like it!

And now we’re back, 2023 and 13 years based in Vietnam,

VENI, VIDI, BLOGI he came, he saw, he blogged

The story so far.....

I was surrounded by family, friends and colleagues getting to my age (57) and too many succumbing to cancers, heart attacks or stressed about retirement funding. I took the title of the house to the bank and bought a motorcycle.

I flew my BMW 1150 GS Adventure from Melbourne to LA and rode into Mexico on the 1st July 2005.

With me at the start were 2 friends on similar bikes and we stayed pretty much together for the first 6 months until we got to Ushaia, Tierra del Fuego, after which I headed off on my own.

We tended to ride 3 or 4 days and then have a lay-day to wash sweaty stuff and just relax. Initially the culture shock was more a language barrier. I spoke survival level Spanish, my friends, nothing. By the end I was reasonably fluent.

Travelling through Mexico fairly quickly we slowed down in Central America, sampling many beaches along the way as my 2 surf oriented companions searched for the elusive Shangri La of surf mythology. I think they got close a couple of times as we covered Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rico and Panama, the end of the road South.

From Panama we shipped the bikes to Venezuela and after travelling around that unexpectedly wonderful country, headed south to Manaus in the Amazon Jungle in Brasil. A 5 day river boat ride took us down the Amazon to the coast and we followed the beaches down to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Cutting inland to the Igaucu Falls we crossed into Argentina, diverting into Uraguay (what a hidden treasure!) and then a ferry to Buenos Aires in Argentina.

We followed the East coast of Argentina, down through Patagonia, all the way down to Ushaia, ‘The End of the World’, in Tierra del Fuego. This latitude was quite a way south of the southernmost point of Australia. Seriously close to Antarctica. I enjoyed the 21 hours of daylight and the brilliantly stark snow covered mountains around. What a buzz to get here, one of the defining moments of this journey.

Riding off alone from Ushaia I travelled up through Western Argentina and Chile, over snow covered mountains, flooded rivers and rocky mountain roads, the alto-plano high desert of Bolivia, Machu Pichu in Peru, Ecuador (and a side trip to the Galapagos Islands) and on to Colombia.

After riding around Colombia I flew the bike to Panama, hitch-hiked on a small yacht through the Panama Canal, stopped in Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast to get my Scuba ticket, on to Costa Rico, back to some favourite places in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and back to Mexico and some diving in Baja.

I crossed back into the US on 9 June 2006 and after a few days in LA I headed off North.

Our original plan had been to fly out of Santiago, Chile after 6 to 8 months travel but I knew from the start that I would go all around South America, and after meeting several bike riders in Ushaia with stickers saying "‘Alaska -– Ushaia"’, I knew I was going to go all the way to the top.

One of my companions made it to Santiago, Chile and flew back, the other made it back to LA and flew back. I pressed on and made it to Fairbanks, Alaska, and then the last 800km ride out to Deadhorse on Prudhoe Bay, way inside the Arctic Circle, 24 hours daylight, ‘The Top of the World’. A similar, extraordinary buzz to that experienced in Ushaia at the other end of the Earth.

I took a ferry part of the way back from Alaska, the famous Inner Channel, surrounded by whales, orcas, seals, dolphins and unbelievable bird life, even moose, visible on shore, glaciers, snow capped mountains. I want to go back to Alaska, only in summer though!

While in Seattle I was fortunate to get a ride on another boat and went sailing for 3 weeks in the Canadian San Juan islands on a 48’ yacht. It’s a tough life!

Calling in to see my brother who has lived in Sun Valley, Idaho for 30 years I succumbed to an offer from one of his friends and sold my bike!
The last few weeks I travelled down to San Francisco, Las Vegas and LA, missing my bike but tired after all the travel and looking forward to getting home.

So much in 15 months, I was often overwhelmed by what I call ‘fantastic-scenery-overload’ and now, reading back through my blog, find it incredible that I got so far.

And I had a few spills, obviously not terminal, but no hassles with anybody, nothing lost or stolen and I got so much fabulously generous hospitality everywhere!

6 months back in Australia and I was ready to go back to anywhere in Latin America. I had completed a short course for teaching English so I sold the house and bought a ticket to Grenada, el caribe.

My brother had bought a 47’ catamaran and was sailing in the Caribbean so I flew to Grenada to join him for a month or two. One thing led to another and I stayed for 12 months and one week.

Grenada, Venezuela, Dutch Antilles, Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama and the Canal. While the boat was in Panama I slipped over to Cuba for 4 weeks break. Then back on board and across the Pacific. The far islands of Galapagos, Marquesas, Tuamotus, Society (Tahiti, Bora Bora etc), Cook, Tonga and Fiji from where I flew back to New York.

New York for the third (and best) time. 4th of July, summer, holidays always so much to do and see. After 53 weeks on the yacht I was suffering withdrawal and went for a couple of boat trips, one by sail, on the East River. I met so many people this time, walked the Brooklyn Bridge and spent a day with the Henry Moore sculpture exhibition in the botanical gardens.
I found the most tiny restaurant, actually just the front room of a little house, in Brooklyn. I was the only customer and the owner/chef cooked me up a special lobster seafood bisque and we talked for several hours.

Finally I got to see Kentucky after hearing so much about it from friends in Australia. Staying with my friend David at his Mother’s house. Madeline is 90 and still going at it like a 30 year old. Endless fabulous meals including genuine southern fried chicken, peach, cherry and pecan pies. I also did a few days work with David’s boss Paul, an interesting man with an unusual business, designing, constructing and setting up garden railways.

By the end of July I was back in Cuba for another 4 weeks of that particularly different and fascinating country. Staying with my friend Natacha and her Mother in La Habana, renting a car and driving all over, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. Looking at real estate, some bargains around but a near impossible process to get money into the country and buy something. Maybe later.

Back to Plan A and I was finally in Medellin, Colombia. A most fabulous city, wonderful people and the possibility of work teaching English. I travelled all over the city, riding the metro, walking the steep mountain-sided valley, off to the country and colonial towns, meeting my mate from Isla Fuerte and his friends.

Then I got the offer of more work in Kentucky and returned, putting Medellin on hold for now.

We left for Dallas, Texas to set up the railway for the Texas State Fair, a real big deal and a great opportunity for me to see more of the country. Then back to Kentucky, and work on new train sets for Washington, New York and Chicago in November.

The road trip, 3 weeks. First week in Washington DC, we set up in the Conservancy, right opposite the Capitol. We were there on election night, unbelievable experience. Then on to New York Botanical Gardens, it was starting to get cold. Then Chicago and it was really cold. Back in Kentucky some days it didn’t get above freezing. I’ve been to cold places but nothing like this. Living sub-zero. It hurt my teeth to breath. And it wasn’t even really winter.
Then the train from Cincinnati to LA. What a trip. And then back home for xmas.

Where to next? Ha, Good Question.

Took what was left after the GFC, bought 25 acres on top of a hill at Brogo, far south coast of NSW and built a little house....some understatement but that's another story. I couldn't really settle down for more than a few weeks so I went back on the road....this time in SE Asia....after a few months in Europe. Since then I've been in Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and others. Still trying to write the definitive book of it all but where to begin...and where to stop. Hope I've still got a few years of travel left in me before settling down in Brogo for the long haul!
Then the Big German Wedding......so wonderful.......and the train from Amsterdam to Hanoi.....

Sept/Oct 2017.... 23 days in amazing, curious, dichotomatic Japan.....so so different from everywhere else!

I've been living in Viet Nam for 7 years....5 in Hanoi, 2 in Da Nang...this could be home for a while

Hahaha, now its 8 years in Đà Nẵng and still loving it 🥰

North America » Mexico » Oaxaca » Puerto Escondido April 17th 2018

Flying into Mexico City, Izchel’s joy was infectious, we were all very looking forward to being here.....Alexandra taking to everything Mexican like a pescado to agua! Having this time with the kids taking care of me with so much love it brings tears to my eyes.....thank you! Some reflections on the shimmering surfaces of Mexico.....and wondering just how superficial my observations are and what’s really going on? V difficult to glean in a short time. Mexico is colour.....brilliant, clashing, shades you would never contemplate painting your house in are everywhere, and seem to work. Interlaid with brilliant tiles, designs from Aztec, Mixtec, Incan, Outcan and contemporary.....vast walls overlaid in ceramic, Arabian origin blues and whites to tiny isolated single pieces that have to be sought out to be appreciated. Mural tile pictures in a similar style ... read more
Ben and the boys at the gym
Tulum ruinas

North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Tulum March 24th 2018

I was going to call it - Vaya con huevos...15 planes - 50 days but I got the shakes....dribble, drivel....driveby.... I’ve been pondering, editing, rewriting all this travel blog crapola and wondering why I was feeling lost and alone... Shaky, shaky, hands off snakey, where are the real ramblings of the truly disrupted discredited disillusioned deranged once-was-mine mind? Is it the normal transitional trembling, early onset Parko’s, alco-fuelled shakeys, pinched shoulder nerve (ha, that’s a good one!!) can all these tremors be San Andreas’ fault? PS spellcheck is a real pain in the arse when you’re trying to write Spanish and/or bullshit! Can one turn it off? Spellcheck smartarse. So, back to the wide brown for a few views, no news, up to the pre-bushfried Brogo although I think we/you/they/us dodged the fiery bullet again, drat! ... read more
Our big A380
Mexican Banh mi
Baby driver

Asia » Japan » Tokyo October 5th 2017

The Rocky Horror-mitsu show and the real McKoi Once more back to the couch, and the pain, I really had forgotten, and this traditional Tebori method was really quite painful. Horimitsu was the first apprentice of the legendary Horitoshi, an artist, expensive, difficult to get to see and a really nice guy, we hit it off from the start, wonderful! I have a new/old Koi and a new friend. Staying in a guesthouse, a smallish house divided into 10 tiny boxlike rooms. I drew the short straw, no window, terrible living in a room without natural light, I feel trapped, claustro, waking and not knowing the time. But meeting lovely people, from all over, like a time warp....rocky horror? .....back to the 70’s.....a bunch of travellers sitting up on the roof, drinking beer and solving the ... read more
No eye contact thanks!
And the great bicycle tour....
And the 400 year old fish pickling shop

Asia » Japan » Hiroshima » Hiroshima October 1st 2017

Just to begin, one of the few downsides to life in Japan is the lack of street names and house numbers.....there aren’t any!! Hard to believe in this country of perfection, accuracy and convenience, but it is so. But, back on the road....after the long march of Kumano.......and the rain...it all turned out sunny, I went to the beach.... Then it was on to a lovely seaside town, Shirahama, more fabulous tiny bars and funny people, really made to feel at home. And a very nice little bay with great beach. It's pretty deserted, still the low season for tourists I guess.....but I think it's all quiet down south. The youth have gone to the city for work and life, the old remain. It's Tuesday and I'm not due in Hiroshima until Wednesday so I take ... read more
The (in)famous dome
The enormous gate, flooded at high tide
Black toes

Asia » Japan » Wakayama » Shingu September 22nd 2017

Well, is anyone still awake out there in blogland? Another dribbling concoction of tales from the land of the rising sun....and how wonderful it is! (Sorry Kate, I've forgotten the exec summary again!) I asked for a priority tag for my bag and she offered me a seat right up the front, front of cattle mind you, not the real sharp end, I took it, only 6 hours and I'd be off quick smart. Thought I was lucky, 2 vacant seats, but then they arrived. 2 extraordinary, wonderfully crazy, whackjob Japanese women, indeterminate age and manic. Soon we were hysterical, no language but the usual mime, pen and paper and dic app. They brought out huge makeup boxes, I mean yuge! They applied for an hour and a half.....unnecessary, as I pointed out, but entertaining. Chie ... read more
Tanabe bar 1
Tanabe bar 2
Start of the Kumano Kodo

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang December 27th 2016

2016. So it all passed by with barely a memory worth saving.....like after the big meteor strike of 65 mil years ago....huge fucking hole, clouds over the entire planet and a pile of dead dinosaurs...but, other than that, nothing much to show! Sitting out front of my house. watching the world go by, as the sun fades and the street light takes over, the long shadow and squeaky wheels approach, it's the old woman who sells deep fried (in sump oil I suspect) battered bananas, the little cart is so fucking rickety I'm almost going to offer her a hand but that would be met with either fear and trembling or a job that would have me pushing her little cart 3kms across town, I stay put. She battles womanfully to negotiate the potholes and cracks, ... read more
Jingle Belles2
full table.....

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang December 16th 2016

1 year in Da Nang! .....a new lease on the house and the gas ran out...how timely! 1 phone call.....10 mins later kid screams up, installs new bottle, checks for leaks....just as well as the bottle lives right under the cooktop, gives me a bottle of detergent as a 'promotion', and races off.....service like you wouldn't believe....and $12 for 1 year of gas! It's still raining.....Well, it is the stormy season and the start of winter......6 official storms so far but only 2 worth writing home about. Half the 50 metres of beach are washed away one day, waves crashing right up over the road, amazing things uncovered, like an archeological site, beachside restaurants slope awkwardly, the stormwater outlets become rivers, a few days later the sand is back! the ... read more
Hoappy Hoabirthday
Birthday in the park
Cellarebrity chef

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang September 13th 2016

They call it stormy Monday....and Tuesday's just as bad.....It was a very stormy Monday, windy and persisting down rain all day...unusually so....crossing Tran Thi Ly bridge where last week the repercussion of thunder claps over my shoulder bowled me across 3 lanes, last night I was blown across 3 lanes, water gushing, plastic poncho billowing out like Michellin man....the rubber-to-road ratio of a bald-tyred 125 Honda is scary......and then smacked in the head by a huge moth.....Sister, did you see the size of the balls on that moth?....it was Mothra....it was Behemothra...how was it surviving in this weather? A special specie of bad weather moth? Of course the forecast....I believe here we only have postcasts....was for a really big storm on Tuesday....didn't they notice it was here...now...Monday?....So they ordered all the schools closed on Tuesday....Although it ... read more
stmy tues 3
Weekend away compilation
And the chair just gave way!!

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang August 20th 2016

It's the 15th again...of the lunar calendar...full moon, start eating dog, time for a haircut, many vegetarian meals, special prayers and offerings, incense all along the beach...wtf...It's a special day. The 15th of the 7th month is a special day for praying to/for mothers, grandmothers etc...and the month of the lost souls (I feel quite at home) so be very careful....in the pagodas, wear a white rose if your mother is still kicking, red rose if she has moved on. And there's no word for blue....you can say "green like the sky" for instance....the frogs introduced so many words, why not Bleu? Every morning there are lots of tourists taking extravagantly posed crack-of-dawn pix....the holding out of hands, open mouth etc....and most of them have the photographer standing still and directing the subjects so they line ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang August 11th 2016

So, how many blogees, still staring at vacant screens....waiting for some more billshit from faraway?.....once more, with feeling, into the breech....Thit Vit Tit Tet - meat, duck, breast, lunar NY. Yes, I cooked a duck breast for Tet...and it's taken me 3 months to remember to write about it.....maybe 7? Now I'm living in Da Nang, it is so peaceful. It's only at times like this (I'm in Saigon for a couple of days....not) that I realise just how much easier it is to live there. Clean air, great beaches, cheap everything, indescribable array of seafood and such friendly people, no traffic to speak of, bicycle friendly, best business environment in VN, infrastructure, well, what can you say? And, every 2 years, the international fireworks comp. On the downside....hmmmm......some western tucker is harder to find, no ... read more
Greekfest w Tram, Loan, Na

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