January 05, 2005 GMT
Traffic light Grands Prix

A wonderful feature of the traffic lights at some of the intersections here in Bangkok is the countdown timer. Nice to know how long you have to get through that green light ahead. But the timers work on red as well (possibly because the phasing can be up to four minutes). You can imagine the result.

Had a slight conundrum when I donated my armful of blood. I had to fill in the usual form (not much different from the UK one), and one of the questions was "Have you been to a malaria area in the last 3 months?". Hang about, Thailand *is* a malaria area. What's all this about? Apparently Bangkok is not regarded as a malaria area. "Have you been bitten by a mosquito?" What do you think? Mossies everybloodywhere. I took advice and ticked the No boxes.

Oh, and thanks for the oil advice - I thought it was probably perfectly OK, but I like to check when I come across something outwith my experience. Interestingly, lots of locals use straight 40 or 50 grade in their engines - no need for multigrade here, really; on a cool midwinter's day like today the temperature can drop as low as 25.

I have to tell you a story about Bruce and Sonja (the people I'm staying with). They're American and have lived in Bangkok for ten years, and before that in various exotic places around the world. They had a summer biking holiday in Wales a couple of years ago, and took their bike gear with them to wear. They have wonderful 'airflow' suits which are basically made of holes with armour attached, and jolly comfortable in this climate. And wondered why they were freezing.

So this morning I reassembled the three-dimensional jigsaw of my panniers and remounted them and the topbox on the bike. All I have to do now is retrieve my laundry from Taptim (not as easy as it sounds - she'll insist on ironing everything, which will then get horribly creased when squashed into the drybag).

Tomorrow I head south towards Malaysia and Singapore. It's not far, really: 1500km to KL and another 300 to Singapore (plus a reportedly excruciating border crossing). I'll not be going directly, of course, as there's stuff I want to see on the way, but the roads are good and I can take my time.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at January 05, 2005 08:10 PM GMT

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