This is the start of our second section of our around
the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map
Coming from the First Section, Thailand.
28/12/96 Well, it's back to Bangkok to pick up the motorcycle which has been lovingly stored by G-Force Harley-Davidson. A long day - 7 hours on the bus to Cairns, followed by the milk run flight to Bangkok via Darwin and Singapore not arriving until 1am making it a 22 hour event. Two small problems let me realise that I was once again travelling. I had purchased a return Bangkok ticket when departing 6 months earlier and now using the return section, I had no onward ticket and thus required a visa for entry. Qantas soon solved the problem by issuing a fully refundable one way ticket out of Thailand to the nearest location. I was also carrying Pro-Ma, a puncture sealant, which because of it's labelling as caustic with fumes, was rejected as hand luggage and was very nearly totally rejected. After some quick talking, it was bubble wrapped and relegated to the hold (a blessing as I don't believe this product is available in Thailand).
29/12/96 The Harley was ready after 6 months of storage. Ross, an Australian mechanic now working in Thailand, had replaced both front and rear tyres and greased the wheel bearings. As the rear base gasket was weeping, both were replaced and engine wear (52,000 km) inspected. An oil change and it's off, my first ride on the beast in six months, quite a thrill. Travelling overseas alone, you depend on the motorbike and become quite attached to the steed. G-Force, Harley Thailand really looked after me, offering a 15% discount on parts and charging only $US10 per hour for labour.
30/12/96 A total repack of the motorcycle. Travelling this time is through cold countries and ones without Harley dealers (none between Thailand and Greece - 25,000 km) so the range of clothes and spares increased. These have been accommodated in a tank/map bag and pillion bag. I was originally going to ship the motorcycle to Bangladesh while I took a two week vacation in Burma but with the political situation in Burma and not allowing for Thailand's New Year celebrations which close business from 29/12 - 1/1, I chose to fly the motorcycle. Despite a $A1200 price compared with $A800 for shipping, the motorcycle will arrive two weeks earlier. They need to crate and get dangerous goods certificates, so I guess the price is reasonable.
31/12/96 Today was again spent preparing the bike. Some rust spots had appeared on the frame, mainly from a battery acid spill that needed attention. Also I wanted to dress up the motorcycle with stickers and local artwork without damaging the paintwork. I had brought 8m of black vinyl contact to completely cover all the painted areas of the bike. As you can imagine, this is a tedious process and will take a couple of days but will allow me to collect signatures, stickers and local artwork in different countries without damaging the original Harley paint.
1/1/97 A public holiday here as with everywhere, I spent the day finishing off the black vinyl covering. By cutting the vinyl into 3" strips, I could stretch it around most curves smoothly without wrinkles. Whilst still black and shiny, it doesn't look as good as the original paintwork but after adding some stickers and a few signatures it is starting to gain character.
2/1/97 Out to the airport to finalise customs clearance and despite having an agent, it took three hours and I noticed two 100 baht notes pass hands as a thankyou gesture between the agent and 2 customs officials. Sometimes I think paying of bribes slows down the process as agents need to make the job seem difficult in order to justify a larger bribe. It is against my principles to pay bribes except as a last resort ( I usually work on the principal that I have more time and patience than they do, or I don't understand) but obviously not against my agent's morals or customs to accept it. if you happen to be stuck at Bangkok airport as I was, try the staff canteen for food. It's near arrivals to the north and has excellent food really cheaply.
3/1/97 Booked my own flight to Bangladesh leaving on the 5/1 to be there for the bike's arrival on 6/1. Next to crate the motorcycle. Being so bulky and without easily removable parts, it was naturally going to be expensive. There appeared to be only one packing firm open over New Year and that also added to the expense which ended up over $A300. while the Hong Kong International Packers and Movers Co Ltd did an excellent job, the price seemed inflated because of urgency. Also the advice on size was blatantly incorrect causing the volumetric weight to grow from 626kg to 744kg. There was no consideration or refund from the company for their miscalculation.
4/1/97 With the motorcycle now at the airport and nothing more to do but wait, it was time to relax. Ross (Hoss) Higgins (the Australian mechanic I mentioned earlier) had generously put me up at his apartment during my stay in Bangkok. While I was relaxing, he was out tending his butterfly collection, a very energetic and time consuming pastime he has pursued since arriving here 15 months ago.
Move with me to Bangladesh or go to my next visit to Thailand.
Story and photos copyright ©