Bangkok (04-10-2001) till Nong Khai (12-11-2001)
Exhausted we arrived in Bangkok and relaxed here a couple of days first. The most important thing to do here was to get our temporary import permit for the bike extended as it was expiring within 3 days. At the Customs Head office we had to wait for 3 hours and when we got back our permit the only thing they did was adding 2 lines manually with the new expiring date. But no complaints from us as we had what we came for.
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Route through Thailand; 04-10-2001 / 12-11-2001
We took the night bus back to Krabi and this wasn't easy with our two daypacks, two luggage rolls and two tyres. (Two luggage rolls? Yes, Jeannette managed to fill up only one roll, but with all our motor clothes, boots and helmets we needed another one.) But I knew where to go now and seeing my own bike back was a special moment. Also when we were (only) 5 weeks separated. But the bike was joined now by 2 other bikes as Leon & Jolanda left their bikes there as well, to return to Holland for a while as well.
In Ao Nang we did some further relaxing and repairing the bike and service it completely. The only problem we had was a flat battery but a push-start solved this problem. Most of the work I did myself in Ao Nang but the bearings of the rear wheel I changed in Krabi, at Banks Big Bike Shop, a really relaxed and friendly place to work. There I discovered that BMW used a 7 mm. Allen-key which was nowhere to find but an 8 mm Allen key can be reduced to a 7 mm one! Another feature I installed on the bike was an intercom-system so we were able to talk while driving and this turned out to be a really good thing to buy.
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Tjop, taking a rest
Furthermore we found out that my aluminum-boxes were not watertight and everything inside had gone damp. But we had to reorganise everything now anyhow, but needless to say that it was a big mess in our bamboo bungalow for a couple of days. We also drove through the scenic area of Ao Nang (to test the intercom) and did a snorkelling trip.
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Sunset at Ao Nang
We left Ao Nang heading towards Phuket and spent a few days there and I was showing Jeannette the nice places there. We also met Gion, our Swiss friend and biker, and had a good night in Patong together. We drove back to Bangkok following the Burmese border and enjoyed the scenic the drive. Opened the throttle once we were on the highway heading north and arrived in Bangkok the next day.
In Bangkok we had to apply for our Laos- and Vietnamese visa. This took us 5 days (Vietnam!, Laos in 1 day) and a lot of money!! In the meantime we relaxed some more and did some sightseeing Bangkok. We also met other overlanders on bikes and had a great time together.
Together with Marko and Ali we left Bangkok to discover the east of Thailand. We were driving through really nice Thai scenery, full with rice paddies and shelters. These shelters were great places to spend the night although we were not really equipped for this 'rough-camping'. We had only one sleeping bag and no mattresses. So we slept on our clothes and had a great time. Visited some beautiful Khmer temple sites as well. The best place was at a waterfall along the Cambodian border. A great place to swim, relax, have a shower and wash our clothes.
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Take a rest on a nice temple site
Along the Cambodian border we drove until we reached the Mekong River and followed it along the Laos border. In That Phanom we spent our last night together in a guesthouse. We left the next day, following the Mekong River, as Marko and Ali decided to stay longer. We made a small detour to visit a major temple built on a hill. It's divided into 7 stories. The best ones are the 5th and 6th story as here you can walk all around the mountain and have splendid views. Partly they made a wooden passage along the plain steep rocks and of course the platforms didn't look too solid anymore, but we passed it without any problem.
The last part along the Mekong river to Nong Khai were quite boring as it's a highway without any views at the river itself. In Nong Khai we had our last Thai lunch and headed for the border.
At the Thai side everything went smooth and leaving was no problem. Without asking they even made me a copy of my bike permit and stamped the copy as well so I had my prove that my bike left the country. That's a nice service! Then we went to the Friendship-bridge, which crossed the Mekong River into Laos. This bridge is officially closed for bikes to prevent 'local day tripping' across the border. We heard many stories of overlanders who had to put their bike on a pickup and cross the bridge. Now they allow you to cross the bridge driving yourself. This a good thing and another good thing is that the bridge is a toll-bridge but because motorbikes are not allowed there is no fee set for motorbikes, so they can cross for free!
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