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Old 01-10-09, 11:51 PM   #1
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Security & Freedom in the third world...

so i'm planning to cycle through south-east asia mid-year

just wandering what peoples experiences are in the third world... did you feel you had to lock your bike every time you stopped and left the bike for just a moment ?

i didn't lock my bike ONCE riding up to north queensland.. i jsut felt no one would ever steel someones bike especially when its so loaded up and is obviously there entire life...

but in the third world, I doubt they care much about some rich westerners 'life' ...

i dont wanna have to live in fear over their .. and but i know i can be overly trusting of people ..

just curioius what peoples advice/thoughts are on this ..

im also travelling with expensive camera gear.... so really don't wanna get it stolen ~

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Old 01-11-09, 12:46 AM   #2
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The vast majority of people in Southeast Asia are honest and kind. In general, the hotel/hostel owners are decent people. That said, we locked our bikes every night and rarely left them unattended in the both the U.S. and in Asia. When possible I would bring the bikes into the room in Southeast Asia. If not, I would lock them in a secure place. But that's me. I do the same thing now that we are home.

You are not going to have a good time if you are constantly worried every time you go to dinner and leave you bicycle or gear in your room.

We took along two pacsafes and locked our gear when unattended. It worked for us.

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Old 01-11-09, 01:43 AM   #3
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I was actually less worried about any theft of my bike or gear when I was in poorer countries.
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Old 01-11-09, 06:54 AM   #4
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I very rarely locked my bike up on my trip. I just took my bar bag, containing valuables with me whenever I left my bike unattended.

Let's face it a fully loaded touring bike just doesn't hold much appeal. Of the few journals I've read where people have had their bike stolen, was when it was unloaded.
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Old 01-11-09, 07:04 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by pauldaley View Post
just wandering what peoples experiences are in the third world... did you feel you had to lock your bike every time you stopped and left the bike for just a moment ?
I've cycled Vietnam, Thailand, India and China and generally not locked the bike (or for that matter 8 months of touring through Australia either). I have brought bike and gear into a hotel room where I could and also carried the most critical things on my person. I was probably a bit too relaxed about it - and got a bit more concerned when I had an unlocked bike stolen in my home town in the USA when I just went into a grocery store to get Halloween candy. Since then I've been more conscious about locking bikes.

The only theft issue I had was in India in 2002. I didn't have a problem taking my bike into the least expensive lodgings (e.g. $2/night) or the fairly expensive ones (e.g. $40/night) but when I got into the mid-range of $10-15, it was typically a place that had their own security and a sense that bicycles belonged on the street and not in their rooms. So, it was more difficult to haggle enough to get the bike in the room. The place I stayed in Mysore was one such place. They assured me things would be safe in their locked garage under the hotel. So, I locked the bike to a pole underneath in the garage of the hotel. What I forgot to recognize was that I should have taken off the bicycle bell. When I left two days later, I was perhaps a mile or two later and realized that someone had taken my bell off my bike.

Russia isn't third world, but my cycling partner had some adolescents take a bike pump from her parked bike in a smal village in Siberia in 2007. She chased them but wasn't able to catch them. She was relieved when she discovered that I had two pumps with me along with a small mini-pump. She would have laughed at me before for bringing along three pumps, but my experience with the bike bell stolen in India five years before had made me cautious enough to double up on a small vital piece of equipment like a bike pump to make sure I could recover from it being stolen.

In general, I'm still at least as relaxed about theft in the fairly poor regions as I would be in the developed world. In some of the out of the way places, I had been more of a curiosity and while might be perceived to have money, that perception is probably less than if I were in an automobile... since sometimes thinking is if I had money to travel by auto, why wouldn't I be in one?
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Old 01-11-09, 07:07 AM   #6
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I go no where without a lock. I've known of fully loaded bikes being stolen in the Central Coast of Calif and the Loire valley of France.. The hungry might just steal your bikes for a power bar or two.. U bolts can be light and convenient. Why not.
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Old 01-11-09, 09:27 AM   #7
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Every country is different, and I don't believe there is a correlation between theft and the degree of development in a country. Culture is more important, IMO. I didn't have any problems at all in Laos, Thailand, or Malaysia. I haven't been to Vietnam but I've heard a few non-bicycle-related theft stories in that country. My sense, however, is that petty theft problems are much greater in several European countries (e.g. urban Spain) than in southeast Asia.
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Old 01-11-09, 09:48 PM   #8
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A bike of any type or kind is very valuable in a 2nd or 3rd world country. A bike which can carry a lot of weight, like a loaded touring bike, would have the possibility of changeing someones life.

Would a farmer steel a touring bike? Extremely unlikely.

A thief would steel a touring bike, just as a thief would steel anything else.

Kids will "fiddle" with things. They might not realy understand or realize taking a little gizmo/widget is stealing (like a cycle computer, pump, bottle).
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Old 01-11-09, 10:24 PM   #9
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I've just finished a tour from Hong Kong to Shanghai. I didn't use a chain or lock. When I went into a shop or restaurant I always sat near the door, facing my bike. Whenever possible I took the bike into my room when I didn't camp out. If it wasn't possible to take the bike to my room I took my camera, phone and cooker with me. Nothing was stolen during the trip. Shop keepers with accommodation rooms upstairs or small rural hotels closed their business after I went to bed and locked the doors, with my bike safely stored inside.

In the smaller towns and villages I went through, I received a lot of interest from locals who would gather around and look at my bike, gear, me etc. People seemed to keep an eye on each other. I felt safe that a thief wouldn't try to take something from my bike with a group of people standing around. And the bike itself was never (during the day) more than a few metres away from me. I would feel less safe locking it outside an urban Australian shopping centre and going inside for a few minutes than leaving it unsecured in rural china.
Enjoy your trip!
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