August 26, 2001 GMT
Thailand - 1

Bangkok (11-07-2001) till Bangkok (26-08-2001)

We left Delhi around midnight as well and arrived in Bangkok early next morning. We stored our luggage in a depot and headed directly for the cargo terminal. We entered the building with a single paper and in no time we had a stack of papers to carry around as we had to fill out several forms (each of us a separate form of course), copies of passport and carnet and so on.

A whole day long we were walking between several offices and we mainly were waiting everywhere. But late in the afternoon we finally went into the cargo area and saw our bikes standing on the pallet. The net, the plastic and the other parcels were already removed and after only putting back the mirrors we rolled the bikes out of the building and we first drove to the nearest petrol station (without pushing the bike!). Then returned to pick up our left luggage and tie it on the bike.

We had the address of a nice hotel where we could park the bikes also, but driving into Bangkok for the first time was difficult and because it was rush hour as well it became almost a nightmare. We were completely lost and most people didn't speak any English. But suddenly a Thai stopped driving exactly the same bike as I had (except for the color) and he offered us to bring us to our hotel. So we arrived there without any problems.

Thailand was great to arrive in. After all those (10!!!) months on the Indian subcontinent it was good to experience something completely different. Or as Jan, a German biker, wrote me a couple of months before: "You going from the third to the first world!" Everything was much cleaner, traffic was organised again, all products you could think of were available. But most of all: people were much nicer and weren't approaching you every time. It was possible to sit at a little food stall along the street (another good thing here!) without people asking you "What's your country", "How much cost that motorbike" etc. Yes, Thailand left a very good first impression to us.

We spent a couple of days in Bangkok together but then I decided to leave for the beaches in the south of Thailand at Ao Nang. A Leon & Jolanda, a Dutch couple on motorbikes, were there and I wanted to meet them before they left for Malaysia. So I drove down the 850 kms. in one (long) day, and it felt sooo good to be able to drive 120 - 150 kmh. again!!! Something that was impossible to do in India. The roads were in excellent condition. I wasn't able to arrive before dark but I drove on without any problem. In India I never drove in the dark, as it was too dangerous.

It was nice to meet the Dutch couple and there was also a British biker, Nick, who shipped his bike to Sydney already and was spending here his last days waiting for his bike to arrive in Sydney. Ao Nang is a really relaxing place and that was just what I needed after the last couple of weeks, or maybe after the last couple of months in India. Whole days I spend just laying in the hammock writing on my reports and I really enjoyed it.

After 2.5 weeks staying in a hammock, it was time to move on. I made a tour through the south of Thailand, first heading towards Phuket. This island is THE tourist place of Thailand and so not really interesting to me. An exception I have to make for the west coast of the island as it has narrow bendy roads, which are a real pleasure to drive on. From the airport you can basically follow the coastline down to the southernmost cape of the island! In the south I found a really idyllic play to stay. After a steep descend with the bike there where bungalows on the beach. The flood line was 20 metres from the bungalows and at night the light of the lighthouse was flashing into your room! A nice place to stay for a couple of days. On the west coast was also Patong, a real touristy place which in my humble opinion has nothing to do with Thailand. It's a Lloret de Mar of Thailand and mainly a party place.

I continued the trip through the hills and it was a real pleasure to drive. The roads are in excellent conditions and traffic is few. After the hills I followed the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand down south. In Songkhla I spend the last days of my 30 days visa in Thailand. On the last day I had to go to the Malaysian border to renew my visa and continue my trip through Thailand and went to Ko Pha Ngan, an island close to Ko Samui and met there Marko and Annett, a German couple on motorbikes, again. We camped in the garden of a German family who was living there. The island is almost too small for motorbikes and all can be covered in a day. But together with a lot of relaxing I managed to spent a week on the island before heading back to Ao Nang.

There I met Steven Raucher, the South African biker, who just came from Phuket. It's amazing to use the email to stay in touch of people's whereabouts and to meet each other again. While we were chatting together I noticed that there was oil on my rear wheel. Steven recognised this immediately and told me that the seal of my drive shaft was leaking. He had exactly the same problem with his BMW a month before when he was in Vietnam. We removed the rear wheel and the seal was leaking indeed. He told me the seal was leaking because of a damaged bearing so both had to be replaced. I could have these spare parts send over from Bangkok but my plan was to fly back to Holland soon anyhow so I decided to leave my bike in Ao Nang and bring the parts back from Holland.

The only change of plan was that I had to take the night bus back to Bangkok instead of driving back myself. The bus journey was a long one and I'm glad I normally drive myself as it's much more relaxing.

In Bangkok I spent 2 days before I caught my flight back to Holland.

Posted by Martin Rooiman at August 26, 2001 03:04 AM GMT

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