Exploring a country by motorbike is one of the best ways to experience a new destination. Typically, however, one doesn’t think of a group of women or a solo female adventurer on a bike in a far-flung foreign land. Fortunately, we know better than to make such assumptions and we even know two women, Maeve Nolan and Andrea Vinsonneau who enjoy traveling by motorcycle as one of their personal passions. Today they will share some of their stories and their travel advice for exploring Asia by motorcycle.
Scott and Trevor banter: Recently we had Hawkmoon on the show to talk about motorcycling in Vietnam. Originally we hoped to have one of today’s guests, Maeve on the show, but she deferred and introduced us to Hawk, who was a great guest.
But we still knew that Maeve is an avid motorbiker, as is our mutual friend Andrea, who is based in Luang Prabang, Laos, and it seemed like an interesting episode to talk about women’s motorcycle experiences in Asia.
This is a tougher one for Scott and I to speak on: we’re both excited to go on bike trips in Laos and Vietnam, inspired by Nick Ray and Hawkmoon respectively (links below). We also do have motorcycle-adventure episodes because it’s one of the great experiences travelers can have in Asia. And we’ve discussed some of the ways to prepare yourself for some of the challenges, the risks even, of exploring the region on a bike. But I think it’s an interesting angle to hear about these things from a woman’s perspective.
Scott: Not only have we had a number of episodes about motorcycling but you and I both motorbike, most recently in June 2022 around the great Angkor Historical Park. But it’s one thing for men to head out, which is common, and seemingly less common for females to do so. It seems as though there are fewer female riders than males, I’m wondering what specific safety concerns might exist, particularly when heading into remote territory, as well as actual motorcycle considerations that may need to be made for female riders. I must admit – this one is a bit of a blank slate on my end and I’m looking forward to learning from Maeve and Andrea!
Every other week, we have a special Patron-only episode or video. Recently we shared a video of Scott’s visit to Cambodia and a tour around the Angkor Archaeological park with some history lessons from Trevor, author of the National Geographic Traveler: Cambodia guidebook.
Andrea Vinsonneau: Fluent in English, French and Lao, Andrea Vinsonneau has lived much of her life in Laos and has over a decade of experience managing French inbound visitors to Asia, including organizing Events and Adventure travel.
Maeve Nolan: A long-term resident of Asia, Scottish-born and Sydney-reared Maeve Nolan arrived in Hanoi in 1998 and straight away, bought a soviet engineered Mink motorcycle to explore the mountains of Vietnam. Maeve has since ridden the world on 2 wheels including The Caucus mountains in Georgia, the great Pamir mountain range between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and all the way to the Afghani border. Closer to home, Maeve has explored Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka and is currently living in Hoi An Vietnam, where she (literally) rode out the pandemic on her Enfields. When she’s not riding her Himalaya or 500cc Bullet, she’s a Travel Industry professional focusing on the luxury and experiential markets.
Listen to the episode to hear Andrea and Maeve’s answers to the following questions:
- When and why did you first travel to Asia?
- Where, what, and when was your first motorbiking experience in Asia?
- What makes riding in Laos so special?
- What makes riding in Vietnam so special?
- Give us a quick overview of where else in Asia you’ve ridden.
- What are some women-specific concerns one should take into account when heading out on a solo adventure or an all-women trip?
- How about bikes: easier or harder to find smaller frames or bikes that are better for women?
- Are there any things specific to women that are important to pack?
- If a female rider wants to plan a motorcycle trip to Asia, where should they consider traveling, and any tips for planning the experience?
- You were involved in the Women Riders World Relay and you passed a baton across an international border, is that correct? Tell us about that.
- Favorite riding experience?
- Favorite country to ride in overall?
- How can people learn more about you and follow your adventures?
Learn more about Scott & Trevor:
- Follow Scott on Twitter: @scottcoates73
- Trevor’s Blog
- Scott’s Blog
- Groovy Map Seoul
- National Geographic Cambodia
- National Geographic Thailand
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Theme Music by Jamie Ruben