Friday, January 11, 2013

Love you long time

Bangkok traffic
Arriving in Bangkok as planned, rather behind schedule, but happy to be back on the road, I will air freight my lost laptop to the airport hotel in which I'm staying. I'm still amazed its all there, all complete with my Carnet Document for the bike which I need to enter Malaysia and Singapore. Without this I'd be stranded in Thailand.

Bangkok traffic is easy but there is so much of it. It took me five hours to get from airport to city and back. Next day the heavens fall down and I'm driving through the city on a 3 lane river following the wake of other vehicles. I've been soaked through but its a cool change from the hot and sticky 35 degrees of previous days. Its also washed the bike for me for the first time since Amritsar in India.

Jeroen and the KTM
Remember Jeroen and  the adventurous 990? His bike was supposed to be repaired in Delhi, they promised all but couldn't fix it. Jeroen now an expert in pick up trucks and motorcycle logistics transported the faulty bike to Bangkok in the hope of some technical expertise. The KTM guys in Thailand seem to have the skills and knowledge and for now solve all problems.  I know it won't last.

We catch up in Bangkok and as has been the way so far, share a few beers. There are many nice places in Bangkok, there are many seedy places as well. We've managed to fall into one of the latter where I share the bathroom with several Thai beauties, most fixing their hair or make up, one in underwear proposing her eternal love for me whilst I stand pissing at the urinal. I've never been
all sorts of weird stuff here
proposed to in this way, I do prefer a bit of privacy at such times. "I love you long time" she says. I'm not sure what she means exactly and didn't want to ask, preferring to run to the safety of the bar and my beer bottle. This seems a common thing in Bangkok and everywhere I go, I'm offered all kinds of pleasurable pursuits, some involving condoms, bananas and even a ping pong ball or two. After a few days I start to feel self conscious. It seems that there are a lot of middle aged men with young pretty girls on their arms. Their is also a lot of creepy looking middle aged men wandering the streets near the seedy bars. Is this what I look like? After many offers of massage and other delights I return to my hotel room in a huff having failed to simply find a bar which doesn't involve sex with an 18 year old. Boy or girl I must add.
I'm waiting in Bangkok for my laptop to arrive, for some reason its delayed and I decide its better to head off to see some more of Thailand.   Im heading north to catch up with a mate who's planned a few days away. Simon is originally from UK an has been here for a few years. He is fairly handy when we have to communicate with the non-English speaking locals. After the much slower but mad pace of India and Nepal, it's great to be able to move faster without being killed by dippy suicide driver. Freeway speeds in Thailand are pretty much same as France or Italy. I never looked at my speedo but we're around 160 km hr again. :)

Simon guides me around Thailand
This will sound smug but I think I might qualify as a pretty fair rider, having had survived many different countries, did I mention India? but watching Simon weave in and out of the lanes of traffic make me nervous watching from behind. I'm sure the cars will run him down but they don't. Thai motorists are very patient and similar fashion to many other countries, kindly move over to
allow bikes to pass.

So we head north to a place called Nan, stopping on the way at Sukhothai Temple for a few hours.
Sukothai Temple

We get to Nan on a Saturday and we're entertained by one of Simons Thai friends. I've since forgotten names, it was a good night. I didn't even put my hand in my pocket to pay, such is the generosity of some people. Next day we're off to find some amazing twisty roads in the hills. These are recently laid and the surface is perfect. I take advantage of the safer road surfaces manage to finally wear in the remaining edge portions of my tyres. Both my tyres and me have been waiting for this since Turkey some 10,000 km ago!

Back to Bangkok for a few days then south to Phuket, not to be pronounced "foo kett" apparently!
2pm everyday this happens
There one thing I learned about Thailand. The weather at this time of year is simple, sunny and hot until around 2pm when the skies open and deluge the country for the next 4 hours. I should have
been a bit smarter and left early in the morning but thats too sensible for me and everyday I get soaked thoroughly.

In Phuket, I become the tourist and visit the islands surrounding the area, especially the James Bond rock, filmed in the cheesey "The Man with the Golden Gun" way back in the early seventies. We drop by a few islands on a fast speedboat but I've been not well, the hangover of a lifetime after having downed some free shots the night before with friends  I also have a drama with funny tummy and drop toilets, the ladies I may add. No lock, no balance, no paper and some people trying to push in isn't very dignified.

Islands off Phuket
I'm still pondering continuing via Sumatra and Java but running out of time and decide to continue as planned all the way to Singapore where I will ship to Darwin.

Heading south to Malaysia I stop at the border controls to get my passport and carnet stamped. It seems they don't really care but i get it all in order just in case I have a problem trying to leave the country. Much of the same weather and environment, my bike cllothes certainly don't need washed as they are well drenched every day, I continue via Penang and down to Johor on the border to Singapore.

Loading bike in no mans land
I was going to drive across the causeway separating the two countries but insurance cost, permits and other things make it silly expensive for the 10 km ride so I hire a truck and we take it straight to the docks where it will be loaded onto a container and set sail for Darwin.

But there's a problem. My existing carnet document does not include Australia, yes I should have added it at the start of the journey but original plan was to use another bike in oz instead. I've applied to the carnet people in UK weeks ago, but still there is delays. Several emails, phone calls and faxes later, I'm still waiting, but remain optimistic all will go to plan.

I'm going to fly to Darwin via Bali to meet up with family and have a few days off. In this time, hopefully all will work out. This is not the case when I arrive in Darwin and the carnet people tell me I cannot get an updated document to enter Australia, just when I need it. So now the bike sits pretty in the bonded warehouse as I wander the Darwin streets wondering what to do next.

Meanwhile, Jeroen has problems of his own and needs some spares flown in to Penang. Will he make Australia?

Next: Cancel the homecoming?

Happy chappy at one of the many temples of Thailand

Ferry made of canoes

Enjoying ferry ride 

Triumph factory in Thailand

I'm not the only one with a hangover

Islands off Phuket

The boat hotel in Malaysia

James Bond island

Kuala Lumpur

Last stop before heading to Singapore

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