The year 1977 was an interesting one in southeast Asia. The World of Soccer Cup was hosted by Singapore; Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 was hijacked and crashed in a swamp outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, killing all 100 on board; and the king and queen of Thailand were nearly assassinated in a terrorist bombing in Yala.
In the decade following the Vietnam War, the region was still finding stability, moving toward the modern Asia we know today.
It also happens to be the year my father, Terry Mentzer, rode his motorcycle through southeast Asia as part of an around-the-world journey. He had just completed a brutal 3,000-mile ride across Australia's interior, followed by two weeks on a freight ship crossing the Indian Ocean and Java Sea to the Port of Singapore. During his ride, he met Sikhs and soldiers, farmers and former Viet Cong. Then he crossed the Bay of Bengal to Calcutta, India, before riding west through Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
Last summer, I began an around-the-world trip of my own, taking a slightly different route through Australia before storing my custom-built Kawasaki KLR 650 adventure touring motorcycle with the kind folks at Cyclone Honda in Darwin, Australia.
Unlike my father, I am riding around the world as finances and schedule allow. On Jan. 1, 2013, I fly to Singapore to begin the second phase of my tour. After collecting my bike from the busiest shipping port in the world, trucking it approximately 15 miles across to Johor Bahru, I will head north, following my father's route.
The ride should take three weeks, leading along the west coasts of Malaysia and Thailand. I will visit the urban hubs of Malacca and Kuala Lumpur before heading into the tea-growing country surrounding the Cameron Highlands (3,900 feet elevation).
From there, I will hit the beaches of northern Malaysia and southern Thailand before working my way to Bangkok. Time permitting, I will ride northwest toward the Golden Triangle and Chiang Mai. If the stars align, I will attempt to ride into Myanmar for a few days of exploration. Barring catastrophe, I will store the bike back in Bangkok and head home to Boise for a few months.
This summer, the trip continues with visits to India and Kathmandu, and an epic ride from Kazakhstan to London.
While I will be on the road on my own, I won't be without my trusty laptop. I'll be regularly updating my travel blog during the trip, letting people from around the world be part of the adventure. You can follow my trip at transworldtour.com.