November 16, 2004 GMT
50 Today

The temperature was 37C here on Sunday, which wouldn't have been so bad had not the humidity been 80%. It's cooled down a bit now, but I think it's going to be pretty horrible riding in bike kit.

Talking of which, I went out to the warehouse at Lat Krabang this morning to sort out what happens on Thursday/Friday and what paperwork the Customs people need. Nightmare. And I managed to hail The Taxi Driver Who Can't Read A Map. Found the warehouse in the end after a magical mystery tour involving a bit of off-roading, canals, cart tracks and so on.

You know how the temperature control in cars starts with a blue bit and ends with a red bit? They don't here. Blue all the way.

Having observed Bangkok traffic from taxis and as a pedestrian, I think there'll be no problem. The traffic's mad, certainly, but there are so many bikes that other vehicles are very bike-aware and use their mirrors all the time (shock, horror). They positively expect bikes to be filtering down all sides of the traffic and act accordingly. I'll find out for real on Friday whether this is actually true or not.

There are motorcycle taxis - mainly rather pretty little Jap bikes which look like pared-down and very modernised scooters/step-thrus; I'll upload pix in a day or so. The riders wear orange dayglo vests and carry a spare helmet for the passenger (who usually doesn't bother, and anyway rides sidesaddle). It's easy to spot the good m/c taxi riders - they're the ones who are still alive.

Car taxis are very cheap - 30km back from the warehouse this morning was less than 3 quid; and we're not talking decrepit here either. Most cabs are newish Toyotas and the like, with a meter (optional), aircon, no problems. And extremely plentiful.

At the warehouse, Mrs Jundi told me what's required (another 30 quid for various charges like warehousing, weighing (astonishingly, it weighs 370kg) and so on) and then enquired as to what arrangements I'd made to transport the bike away.
"I'm going to ride it".
"Eh? Do you have a licence?"
"Er, yes, I mean, I've more or less ridden the thing here from England".
"But, but, but, are you used to riding a bike?".
"Um, well, yes, I think so; I've been doing it for over 30 years."

I'm sure she won't believe it till she sees it.

And then, when I arrived back at the hotel at lunchtime, the reception staff broke into 'Happy Birthday' cos they'd seen my registration form. It was lovely.
So tonight I'm going out for dinner with my cousins Julia and Jonathan
and Julia's husband Alex (who'd better not wear a kilt this time).
Raise a glass to me at 2pm UK time which will be 9pm Bangkok time.

My cousins Julia, Jon and Alex with me (right, and yes, I have legs - they stop the bike falling over when I stop) on my 50th Birthday Bash

Posted by Cynthia Milton at November 16, 2004 05:25 PM GMT

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