Thought I’d share with you these cool bikes and scooters I photographed while living in Laos. One of the highlights of my time there was the 32km commute I had to, and from, work everyday. Really fun to mix it up in traffic, ride with and talk with the lovely Laos people about their bikes.
Where so few people (traditionally) owned cars, having a bike is a way of life in Laos. I always loved seeing the care and attention, or sometimes inattention, owners there lavish upon their steeds.
It seems that covering a bike with stickers is very appropriate in Laos, as is riding around with a small dog in the shopping basket. It was always amazing to see how many bikes that would be considered collectors items here in Australia, are still in everyday use over there. Always cool to see bikes that owners have modified, especially when parts and labour are dirt cheap
Dioramas or “picture models”, as they were first called, have been a part of the Memorial’s displays since its inception. They were first suggested by official war artist Will Dyson and official war historian Charles Bean to give a more vivid impression of war than conveyed through photographs and paintings.
Of all the cars I have owned I have the fondest memories of this 1958 Austin Lancer. After a period of hatchback driving I went back to classics and picked this up cheap. It had two previous owners and had been in Canberra for 40 years. The previous owner had it for 12 years and during that time the car remained mostly original aside from the paint being freshened up, new carpets, headlining and the seats recovered. For a 1500cc BMC engine it could motor happily along at 100km/hr and I took it on quite a few tours. Sadly, we had to part ways before I moved overseas.
Here is my ongoing resto project – a little 1980 Suzuki A100 2 stroke.
“First introduced in 1966 this slim and elegant single cylinder two stroke developed a healthy 9.3hp @ 7500rpm with the help of a disc valve induction system and was universally popular as a commuter model. Its sporty styling with slim mudguards ad attractive candy colour schemes, available on later models, ensured its ongoing sales success. The very crisp two stroke delivered strong acceleration and a top speed of 65mph-75mph making this 83kg lightweight ideal for city and out of town commutes. This was one of the finest machines of its type at that time and ran on with styling changes until the late 1970’s.” http://www.cmsnl.com/a100_model13054/info/
The bike rode pretty well when I got it but had scruffy faded red paint and needed a tidy up. Have repainted the tin-ware gloss black and replaced the pitted exhaust, rear shocks and seat and various other bits from ordering parts online (same bike is still in production in SE Asia so all part available). Still to do is a 12V conversion, and replacing the ugly speedo with a neater cafe racer item.
Seeing these old bikes always makes me imagine who the person was who bought them originally and for what purpose? I always wonder how many owners a bike has had over the years, and all the good times they had getting around onboard.
It was my honour to play in the ‘Shangri-Lao’ ukulele band during my time in Laos PDR over 2012-13. Had such a great time smashing esoteric covers with Gillian, Zoe, Courtney, Liena, Aine, Klaus, Arpan and everyone else. Here’s a compendium of all of our dictophone/ gig YouTube videos from my place, KhongKhao and Spirit House: