HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Addicted to adventure: 5 years on the road over 5 continents

Yong takes office keys

THAI temporarily cancels Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son flights

Vietnam visa offices to close during Tet

Addicted to adventure: 5 years on the road over 5 continents

Reinhard Hohler

Sjaak in front of the Capitol, Washington DC, USA

Dutch adventurer Sjaak Lucassen, 44, born in Maa-shees in the Netherlands, started his amazing journey around the world on a Yamaha motorcycle. He left immedi ately after a bike show at Utrecht in March 2001. World travel on a road bike seems to come into fashion, but Sjaak is a very special rider.

After finishing his education, Sjaak worked as a |horticulturist in his native country, but soon he wanted to discover the world. He first went to Australia with his first motorcycle and liked it there very much touring around. Then he sent his motorcycle home and explored Indonesia as a backpacker.

Struggling through the mud in civil war torn Congo, Africa

This was in 1993. Sudden-ly missing his motorcycle badly, he decided to do a once in a lifetime bike trip around the world that lasted for three years. In the meantime, he got addicted to this kind of travel and became a successful writer and photographer. In 2001, Sjaak found some sponsors to allow him to plan his second trip around the world.

Traveling without a rigid time frame and letting destiny dictate his road map, he finally arrived at Chiang Mai on January 12, 2006. He was staying in the Crossroads Caf้ and Guest-house, where another Dutch motorcycle enthusiast, Hans Deckers, 39, has opened a travel business and organizes tours around Northern Thailand. Through this connection, Sjaak came to Chiang Mai.

Welcome to Alaska

Sjaak had ridden down from the Netherlands into Spain, crossed over to Morocco in Africa and through the annexed Western Sahara. Then he followed the western coast of Africa to make excursions inland where he liked and ended up in the civil war striken Congo. From there, he went to Zambia and crossed the whole of Southern Africa down to Durban to then ship his motorcycle to South America.

Arriving safely in Buenos Aires in Argentina, Sjaak toured around one and a half years in South America to marvel at 9,000 year old cave paintings in Patagonia and the Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru. Then, he rode to Central America and into North America, where he explored the Mayan ruins in Mexico, heading all the way up to Alaska. From there, he flew with a little plane to Magadan in Russia, where
he received his motorcycle on the baggage belt like a suitcase.

From Russia, Sjaak went into Mongolia and China to make the impossible possible by importing his motorcycle across the border into China. He visited the cities of Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Kunming.

You need the adventure ‘virus’ in your blood to even start a tour like that

From Kunming in Yunnan, Sjaak followed the partly muddy and slippery highway down to the China-Laos border to reach the former royal city of Luang Prabang and the Lao capital of Vien-tiane. From there, he planned to drive further south to Cambodia, but could not do it because of some deep cracks in the aluminum motorcycle frame, which was difficult to repair.

So Sjaak decided to come to Thailand quickly, crossed the Friendship Bridge to Nong Khai and followed the mighty Mekong River up to Chiang Khan in Loei Province. Passing Phitsanulok, he finally made it into Chiang Mai to relax and prepare for his ongoing travel adventures to come. He wants to see Cambodia and definitely Nepal, before he will return back to the Netherlands in 2006. After 225,000 km over five continents, may he be lucky in all his future endeavors! For further information, please see the web site

On top of the highest mountain pass in Argentina at 4895 meters

Yong takes office keys


Stephen Yong during a talk at the meeting of the Skal Club Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand in late October 2005

Stephen Yong, the Mekong Tourism Co-ordinating Office (MTCO) executive director in-waiting, gets the office keys to a fully equipped office at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports on February 3.

That’s the deadline set for the newly appointed executive director, Stephen Yong, to officially receive the office keys from Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

At today’s rates, for a business district location next to the National Stadium Skytrain station, the MTCO will save B. 700 a square meter in rental costs thanks to the Ministry’s offer. It is understood that StephenYong will be accompanied by an Asian Development Bank executive and Pata’s vice president, Peter Semone.

Mr. Yong, who is currently a sales representative for a Singapore firm, received an official letter of appointment from the six Mekong region countries last December. His job contract was confirmed earlier this month. However it was decided to open the office when all the financial contributions from the six countries were deposited in a Thai bank.

His inaugural public assignment is set for March 28 when he attends the Mekong region’s first tourism investment summit in Luang Pra-

The Mekong Tourism Investment Summit, March 28 to 30, will attract at least 150 top travel executives from the Mekong region and neighboring countries. They are due to meet with potential investors and government officials who will outline the opportunities and procedures related to tourism investment.

Mr Yong will present the objectives of his office at the summit. They will include marketing and promotions projects to position the Mekong region in global markets and co-ordination of over 100 tourism development projects identified in the ADB 10 year strategy.

Stephen Yong’s job was one of the subjects in that study. After presenting the need for a full-fledged office to handle both promotions and development, the six member countries (Thailand , Cambodia , Laos , Vietnam China and Myanmar ) agreed to fund equally the first year’s budget to establish the office. His challenge in the second year will be to match the contributions from the six countries with financial support from the private sector.

He has considerable experience raising funds in difficult circumstances, having worked for Pata for five years. His assignments included recruiting new members and selling booth space for the association’s events such as the Pata Travel Mart. He was also responsible for the organization of the annual Mekong Tourism Forum.

THAI temporarily cancels Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son flights

Chiangmai Mail Reporter

Taewan Damronghad, manager of Thai Airways International (THAI), revealed that it had become necessary to temporarily suspend the normal three return flights per day from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, from January 16, 2006. It was said that the airplane needed to
be checked and repaired in Bangkok before it could return to service as usual.

Unfortunately however, this affected the travel arrangements of many, including a committee of the Constitutional Court of the Kingdom of Thailand, known as Phan Chantarapan, which had planned to go to Mae Hong Son to hold a session of the Constitutional Court. As well as disruptions to travelers, daily newspapers arrived in Mae Hong Son somewhat later for a while.

There is an alternative. PB Air, flying directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son, is scheduled for three days a week, on Sundays, Wed-nesdays and Fridays. It departs from Bangkok at 12 noon, arriving Mae Hong Son at 2 p.m. on these three days.

Vietnam visa offices to close during Tet


Tourists expecting to receive their visas-on-arrival in Vietnam will be out of luck during the Lunar New Year holiday, known as Tet, in Vietnam.

Government immigration offices in Vietnam will be closed from January 28 to February 5. Offices will reopen on February 6, but processing will take at least one week longer because of a government slowdown during Tet, tour agencies report.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government has fully booked four five-star hotels in Hanoi in preparation for the upcoming APEC summit November 10-20, leading to a possible hotel room shortage in peak season, according to local tour operator Phoenix Voyages.

The hotels, which were forced to release rooms already confirmed, reportedly include the Sofitel Metropole, Sofitel Plaza, Hilton Opera and Melia. The government has booked the rooms from October 1 until November 30, the tour operator said.