How the Mallorcan by choice Andy Leemann and his team traveled through six Asian countries by rubber dinghy
In the first edition of Boating World we reported about a fantastic adventure which then was still in its planning stages: the Mekong expedition of the Majorcan company “Rib Expedition & Adventure S.L.” under the leadership of Andy Leemann and Armin Schoch “Impulse Tourism Thailand”. In the meantime I am happy to advise that the adventure has been successful: in November of last year, nine men with two Rib rubber dinghies audaciously conquered in a period of three weeks the “Mother of all rivers”.
Andy Leemann is without a doubt a true buccaneer with a strong passion for river systems and for his Ribs. The Ribs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) are extremely stable, fast and unsinkable dinghies, whose underwater section is made out of fibre glass enhanced plastic and which are as a result of their sporty and mobile characteristics ideal for adventures of this kind. Already in 2003, Andy Leemann had travelled 2,600 kilometres in the Amazon Region with two of these unusual watercraft and a four-man crew, discovering the rain forest following the tracks of Humboldt; just like the ardent Traveller had travelled the Pacific coast from Costa Rica to Panama with his boats.
The Swiss explorer, who has been living on Mallorca for 10 years and has together with his partner several shops for yachting accessories and other items, was accompanied by his fellow organiser the two Stern correspondents Klaus Kranewitter and Helge Bendl as well as Siegfried The latter was responsible for the travel journal. This unusual project was alma Pictures from Llucmajor, in who joined them all on board and by Mats Wahlström from the Puro Hotel who then also participated. Armin Schoch, Stamm and René Hellmich. sponsored amongst others by the Swedish film production company Pparticular by Ola Holmgren, & Puro Beach Club,
The majorcan company RIB EXPEDITION & ADVENTURE S.L. at Mekong
And now to the Mekong, the longest river of South East Asia: this meant a river of 4,500 km with innumerable rapids, nasty shallow banks and sudden waterfalls. More precisely the Mekong is not a single river but a labyrinth from tributaries and channels – many rivers, which are all combined under the same name. The journey went river upwards from Vietnam through Cambodia and Laos, past Thailand and Burma up to China. Just imagine this multitude of dramatic impressions and natural beauty – starting from the gigantic Delta in Vietnam, where the Mekong flows into the South Chinese Sea, to the impressive Khmer temples in Cambodia, from the tropical rainforest in Laos up to the isolated mountain population in Thailand, the journey through the Golden Triangle, through Burma and then deep inside China! The adventurers were particularly impressed by the openness and hospitality – in all countries – of the people living by the river who did not shy away from personal contact. However, there are also many shy people, who live higher up in the mountains and who did not trust the visitors with the “white long noses”
RIB EXPEDITION & ADVENTURE
A slight mishap happened during the last part of the journey: the Ribs had to be taken out of the water in the Golden Triangle,because the fuel – a liquid contaminated with water, rust and all sorts of other undefined elements, which was sold on the river banks – brought the sophisticated technology of the environmentally friendly Yamaha 225HP four stroke engines to a halt. During the rest of the trip to China (260 km) the team used locally available boats. But in spite of this, the audacious expedition was valued by all participants as a huge success with unforgettable highs and lows. This was very probably not the last adventure by Andy Leemann and his “Rib Expedition & Adventure” company, which he founded in 2004 just for this purpose. We are looking forward to hearing which expedition the fearless boatman in his indefatigability will be tackling next! By the way: there is no need to travel the Mekong to enjoy a Rib trip. These special boats are able to discover areas of the Mediterranean as well as far away waters. These robust and safe rubber dinghies, which are easily transportable due to their relatively low weight, can be bought on Mallorca at an affordable price at the Yacht Centre Palma and at the Marine Superstore.