Thailand, week 1

Friday:
Kathmandu (Nepal) – Bangkok (Thailand):

Arrived at the Bangkok airport and immediately noticed huge difference when I stepped out from the airplane. Air was quite hot and really humid compared to Nepal. So, it looked like now sweating season starts again 🙂

Shared a taxi with Uli and Annaleen to the hotel north side of Bangkok. Hotel was cheap, rooms small but clean.

Saturday:
Bangkok:

First full day in Thailand I spent with Uli and Annaleen just seeing numerous Buddhas and temples.
We got tuk tuk for dirt cheap! Trick was that driver took us to couple tailor shops and got free fuel from there.
He told us to walk in and spent maybe 5 minutes there, no need to buy anything. We followed his advise and looked around.
Interesting thing was that the personnel inside these shops turned quite nasty because we did not buy anything.
I was actually interested to get one shirt done there, but I wanted to come back on a next day. Well, this did not suit them, so I decided to take my money elsewhere…

Day was hot but the difference to previous hot climates was that this time humidity was really high and uncomfortable, making it feels even hotter.

Even we saw just a tiny part of Bangkok during the day, this city looked really big and busy (well, it is big due to 8 million inhabitants)!

Sunday:
Bangkok:

I spent the day going through photos and writing diary. I was waiting eagerly for the evening, because I would go to the airport to meet Miss E, who was coming to Thailand for three weeks 🙂

Later in the evening I hopped in to a taxi and drove to the airport.
After some waiting I saw Miss E walking through the customs. Wow! Last time I saw her was in Kazakhstan few months earlier. It was really nice to see her again!

We got back to the hotel really late (because of her late arrival) and got ready for the next morning. It was the day when I could get my bike from the customs!

Monday:
Bangkok:

I was already waiting to see my bike again. Has she made the transportation without any damage?

Uli, Annaleen, Miss E and I took taxi to the Thai cargo terminal.
First what we needed to do was to get access rights to the “Free zone”, this was easy task and soon we got to the actual cargo area.

Next few hours we were going from one place to another to get all the needed paperwork done and all needed stamps so that we could start unpacking our bikes.
Funny thing was that all the officials there took Miss E as a Thai.
They always approached to her before talking to us, and they even thought she was our broker 😀
It was very amusing to see her explaining all the time she was not Thai and didn’t understand them, and the fact that she knew nothing about our bikes made her the least useful person for them to talk to!
She said she desperately needed a T-shirt saying “I am not Thai nor their broker, please leave me alone” 😀

While we were waiting for some papers, Max and Lucas found us.
We had agreed to meet close to our hotel so that we could get to the cargo area at the same time, but we had small misunderstanding which hotel we were staying at 🙂

We had a lunch break in Cargo area canteen, tasty and reasonably cheap food. Locals seemed to carry soup and dishes in plastic bags to their office and enjoy lunch at their desk.

After it’s almost dark, things started rolling and crates were waiting for us outside.



Uli needed to get agreement to the storage fees and I started unpacking our crates while he was struggling with officials (Thai cargo wanted to get storage fees but our argument was that this was earliest possible time to pick up bikes, because cargo area was closed on weekend).


After some serious cutting and hacking on the crates, bikes start to show up.
Under the storage lights and with the companies of mosquitos, part by part my bike started to look like a motorcycle again.

Miss E took my new helmet camera to record the hot working scene, and I sweat her a river 😀

At the point when I was attaching the visor to the front fairing, I noticed that something has cracked from the mounting bracket because whole front fairing was moving quite much! I decided that this need to be fixed in BKK at the same time as rear frame is getting welded. In urgent case I could possibly fix it with a duct tape 🙂

To get the front tire back to the bike, I asked one of the forklift drivers to come and help me to lift the bike up. This worked like a charm and I got the tire back to the bike without any issues. Much easier than asking others to lift and hold the heavy bike 🙂

When I started to fill the tires I noticed that rear suspension had now totally failed!
Shock had lost all or at least most of its oil, so this meant that plan to start next morning towards north of Thailand was not possible, now I really needed to get this shock fixed.
I damaged it in Kyrgyzstan and my only target was to get to Thailand with it and it got me here (well, I hoped to ride still northern loop in Thailand with it. Maybe I was pushing my luck too much with this kind of hopes…).

Sometime later all bikes were ready and we agreed to have dinner together in Bangkok.
Last paperwork was checked at the gate of “Free Zone” and then we were heading towards Bangkok! It felt really amazing to ride my own bike here after the flight.

First problem came some minutes after we left from the airport. We needed to fill the tanks, but did not know which fuel to select… I picked randomly something and bike seemed to run ok afterwards 🙂

Whole process of getting the bikes out and put them back together had taken us around 9 hours, a full day´s work and a LOT of bureaucracy!

Later in the evening all of us (Max, Lucas, Uli, Annaleen, Miss E and I) got together for a nice dinner in a hip restaurant. I got a lot of fried chickens as a serious meat person, Miss E got grilled fish and Thai salad with shrimps – the seafood fanatic had got her first treat 😀

Tuesday:
Bangkok:

Got in touch with “Dirt Shop”, Öhlins official importer and service in Thailand and got time for Wednesday to get my rear shock to be serviced. Normally it takes few days to get it done, but they promised to do service in one day.

Miss E and I changed to a different hotel a bit more in the “center” of Bangkok, visited Touratech (which was closed due to national holiday) and spent the rest of the day just going around.

Traffic in Bangkok was really heavy. Lot of traffic jams here and there. The problem was that their road capacity was too little for the amount of traffic. The side streets were really narrow, which was no help for dispersing the traffic.
Scooters were passing cars from everywhere, seemed they were the only ones getting by the jams. I could not follow them because my bike is just too wide…

Miss E did not like the traffic at all. After 2 days riding in the traffic, she already started having airway problems from the pollution.
Well, from the temperature, cannot blame her for not using the hood to cover her mouth and nose and keeping the visor open. For me it was not so bad, just lot of traffic jams, sweat, and not as bad pollution as in India and Nepal.
Good thing in Bangkok is that people are following traffic rules and no one was honking, so riding there was still easy.

Noticed again that adjusting to a new country driving style takes 1-2 days. Once you realize the “rules” for driving, then it becomes easier to keep up with all others.

Wednesday:
Bangkok:

Got up early because we wanted to be at Dirt shop at the time when it opened.
They would have taken the shock out of the bike, but I had few doubts and told them that I would do it myself.
Have done it several times, so it was nothing new to me.

Miss E was filming and I was doing the screwing, both had fun 🙂
Gave the shock for the guys at Dirt Shop and then Miss E and I headed towards Touratech. This time it was open, but for my surprise, they do not have sales office (at least it did not look like one) here, just an office! I guess that in urgent case Touratech can send parts to this office from Germany.

I asked them if they know a place where I could get my panniers welded, got some information which I planned to check later.

Now it was already lunch time, we went to the Korean grilling place where Miss E had been drooling about since she saw it the day before.
It was a grill buffet. There was an embedded griller in the middle of the table, and a ventilation with chimney above it. So there was no smoke at all!
The choice and the amount of food were amazing, we had a full table with more being served later! She enjoyed a lot, kept saying it’s almost like home, only regret was they didn’t serve any lamb. After lunch, we were really full and satisfied 🙂

When we got back to the Dirt Shop, I spent some time looking for a thinner shirt (to replace riding jacket when it gets really hot), boots and gloves. Finally decided to buy new gloves. Got the biggest ones from the store and they were still a bit small 🙂

Miss E also got new gloves to replace her thin “normal” gloves. Now she was all in black from head to toe 🙂
Got my shock back and got it on. It seemed to work properly when we rode back to our hotel in Bangkok! Nothing was bent, so I am really happy that I did not need to buy new one.
I am also really satisfied for the service what I received from this store, so I am happy to recommend them to anyone!

Front shock will be serviced later, when I have more time. It is working properly, so not an urgent issue, just a normal service.

Thursday:
Bangkok – Kamphaeng Phet:

Today we needed to have breakfast before leaving.
Hotel breakfast was really expensive so we went out to look for better solution. We walked about 15 mins, passed many local restaurants and food stands.
Amazingly they started cooking and serving greasy deep fried thing from the early morning! We just wanted our tasteless western breakfast, and eventually we found a McDonalds and mission accomplished.

Before checking out, we left the camping gear to the hotel storage to make more room on top of the bike, this time we had light ride compared to the time in Kazakhstan.

Our target was to ride as far north as possible, so we followed the main roads the whole day.
Nothing special to see, because day ride was on flat lands. I missed one ramp twice on a messy map, but finally got it right on the third time 🙂

Roads were wide and in perfect condition. Traffic got lighter quite soon after we left Bangkok behind us.

During the ride, we saw very often giant pictures of the king on the building along the roads. The love of the king in this country was very obvious.

The day was really hot, so we needed to stop quite often for a drink. I bet Miss E was boiling inside her black suit and black helmet if I was sweating inside my suit and white helmet… But, she did not complain at all! What a trooper!

About 20km before Kamphaeng Phet we saw a building which looked a bit like hotel, so Miss E went inside and asked if they had rooms.
It actually turned out to be a hospital, haha. But people working there were really nice and even draw us a map to show where to find a hotel. They were talking and talking with Miss E in different languages and I already started to get worried that we cannot make to the hotel before sunset.

After some time we continued to Kamphaeng Phet and found the suggested hotel without a problem. Miss E checked the room and price. She was happy with both, so we decided to stay overnight here.
Later in the evening we had nice dinner in the local restaurant, then we bought good movie DVDs for the night 🙂
On our way back to the hotel, Miss E told me it felt to her like in Kazakhstan again. That was interesting!
She explained the small streets and low buildings and the night life in this little town are more similar to a Kazakhstan town than a European one. That maybe was true.

Friday:
Kamphaeng Phet – Mae Sariang:

The next morning when we were riding out of the town, I asked Miss E whether it still looked like in Kazakhstan to her. She said not anymore. Her impression went busted once the fresh and luxury greens were in sight.

Because the previous day ride had been so boring, we decided to make a loop to the Myanmar border and ride smaller roads towards Chiang Mai.
It was really hot already in the morning, and Miss E started falling asleep behind me. So I decided to use water trick to make Miss E to feel a bit more comfortable and awake inside her black suit.
We poured water to her long sleeves wool underwear. This is really an effective way to cool you down in a hot climate, because when water evaporates, it will lower your body temperature real fast.

This trick actually was too effective! Miss E started feeling really cold and started to get chills, so we had to stop to dry her up in the sun 🙂

Next stop was to see “Friendship bridge” between Thailand and Myanmar close to Mae Sot.
There was nothing special, normal looking bridge, a few tourists and a little girl carrying a baby on her small shoulders, begging.
This sad scene had bothered Miss E a lot. Obviously it was her first time to see such thing, but I was actually happy that she saw more different things, not only the exotic and happy ones.
Besides this, we also saw few houses from Myanmar on the other side of the river, did not look any different than houses on Thailand side.

I would have wanted to cross the bridge to Myanmar with my bike, but this was not possible. No visas and impossible to take big bike over there, so maybe next time 🙂

From Mae Sot we continued towards north on a border road.
When we entered mountain area, the air got more humid. The road became much smaller and was almost empty from the traffic.
Road zigzagged in the middle of lush green forest. This was really nice after previous day´s boring ride, now I started to feel I was in more exotic place!

Most memorable moment of the first week ride in Thailand was when we saw a huge village next to the road. Unfortunately I do not know who were living in this village, but all houses were built from bamboo and roofs were from dried leaves and they were packed next to each other really close.

We saw quite many kids and all of them were smiling a lot and waved their hands to us 🙂

The ride after this started getting tougher for Miss E, as we wanted to keep some speed as the day was getting late, and on the small and curvy mountain roads she had to use all her strength to sit straight.
She said it was like a tough work out 🙂

Most of the road had good condition, but for one part on a hill in the woods, it was in quite bad shape and very bumpy. I also noticed Miss E lost a screw on a helmet visor, but this was not a problem. Quick fix with the duct tape and we were good to go again 🙂

After we passed the tough road the sky got darker, and we saw rain clouds approaching. Although Chiang Mai was only 200kms away, we decided to spend a night in Mae Sariang. We did not know the road condition ahead, so we concluded that we would not make it to Chiang Mai on the same day.

Once again normal routine, I stayed next to the bike and Miss E checked the price and room. Got a room and later had nice dinner in nearby restaurant.
Later in the evening I noticed that we had a guest in our room. Small mosquito eating lizard which I named “Lizzy” 🙂

12 thoughts on “Thailand, week 1

  1. Love the picture of you under Nokia-umbrella. There you look a bit like Lakshmi – the the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and fortune 🙂 Happy travels to you and Miss E.

  2. Greetings from Kalajoki and Happy Independence Day! Been reading your stories and good to hear you enjoying the trip. I’ll try to skype call you when you’re visiting this time zone…

  3. “Yksi ensimmäisen viikon mielenkiintoisimmista paikoista tuli vastaan täällä rajatiellä. Yhtäkkiä tien vieressä tuli vastaan yksi, sitten toinen ja sen jälkeen kokonainen kylä. Mielenkiintoiseksi tämän paikan teki se että rakennukset oli rakennettu bambuista ja katot olivat kuivatuista lehdistä.
    Valitettavasti en tiedä ketkä täällä asuivat, mutta täytyy olla jotain alkuperäiskansaa joko Thaimaasta tai Myanmarista.”

    Tervehdys!

    Paikka on,

    Mae La refugee camp.
    http://www.tbbc.org/camps/mst.htm

    Thaimaan suurin pakolaisleiri. Leirissä asustaa 46133 Burman Karenia.

    26.07.2011 tuli pysähdettyä itsekkin samaan paikkaan.

    T: Lasse

      • Morjes Marko,

        Ei kittämistä. Mahtava blogi sinulla, olen seurannut etenemistäsi alusta asti.

        Miten onko sinulla tarkoitus vielä palata Pohjois-Thaimaahan tai yleensä Thaimaan puolelle? Meinaan Pohjois-Thaimaassa olisi nähtävää- ja upeita mutkateitä vaikka kuinka, varmaan kyllä tiesitkin sen jo.

        T: Lasse

        • Moro Lasse,

          Tarkoitus on ajella täältä Laosiin ja mahdollisesti käväistä vielä pohjois-Vietnamissa ennenkuin ajan pohjois Thaimaaseen ja nopeasti maan läpi Malesiaan.

          -Marko

  4. Good story. Good writing.

    Your writing improving all the time, training helps also with this I guess.. 🙂

    And seems your new camera works also well, water lily pic was nice (pretty deep sharp area) , and pictures are giving huge amount flesh for the story.

    I’m eager to see your Germany report with pictures..

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