November 18, 2004 GMT
No Flies on Me

Any entomologists out there? Why are there no flies here? There's food being cooked absolutely everywhere at all times down every street and alleyway, and I swear I've not seen one single fly since I've been here. Come to think of it, there were none in Japan or Taiwan either.

I have Vietnamese and Lao visas - very easy compared with getting them in the UK. This is my first experience of getting visas outside the UK; on previous trips I've bought them in London before leaving as the trips were temporally circumscribed. Nothing much in the way of queues (which surprised me rather) and they're much cheaper and very easy. The Cambodia one is a bit more complicated and I won't get that until Wednesday. The Lao one came with a warning that tourists are not allowed in Vientiane between Nov 22 and Dec 1 because of the Asean summit (shortage of beds, apparently) so I've modified my itinerary accordingly. There's also the issue of which border crossings are possible between Laos and Vietnam; two, maybe, which difficulty is compounded by the almost complete lack of paved roads in Laos.

I'm being entertained to dinner tonight by the BMW Club of Thailand in the person of Tan and couple of his chums. They're being really helpful. As of this morning I have (I believe) all the paperwork to retrieve the bike and get it through Customs tomorrow morning. Tan and Peera have volunteered to help me with the Customs thing (me having no Thai except please and both genders of thank you) which is jolly decent of them, and not only that but they have a Club bash on Saturday night to which I'm invited; so I think the rest of my time in Thailand will be more than a little interesting. There's a big bike rally in Chiang Mai on Dec 10/11 but due to visa/border/Vientiane restrictions I probably can't make it. I'm sure there'll be others.

The phone thing gets a bit scary. You know how your phone tells you the local dialling code as you move around the UK, and gives you a reasonable idea of where you are in other countries? When I was at the Nippon Express offices this morning the phone actually told me which building I was in. Most of the time it just says the street.

So, big smiles tomorrow when I get the bike back (I hope) and I'll let you know what the riding's like.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at November 18, 2004 05:30 PM GMT

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