April 09, 2002 GMT
Thailand - 4

Poipet (30-03-2002) till Bangkok (09-04-2002)

Immigration was no problem. Customs was more difficult as they want to stamp my carnet. But I insisted on getting their white paper so I could send my old carnet back home. This caused some problems in the beginning but then it was not too much hassle as long as I filled out the paper my self. This was no problem as long as I knew which questions were being asked but another white paper was used as an example.

Route through Thailand; 30-03-2002 / 09-04-2002
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Route through Thailand; 30-03-2002 / 09-04-2002


From the border we didn't drive directly to Bangkok but spend a night in Phanom Sarakham. The next morning I discovered a nail in my rear tyre and it was about 5 cm long. I fixed the tyre first before we headed to Pataya. We heard mixed reports about this place so decided now it was time to look for ourselves. We drove over the boulevard and our unanimous decision was: Get out of here! But then we discovered a Starbucks coffee place and we had some coffees first. Bangkok was an easy drive over the highways and finding back our guesthouse was no problem at all on a Sunday.

The next morning we went to the airport trying to get Jeannettes bike our of the arms of Customs. We knew that this was going to get a long day but having it done twice before things went much smoother and just before lunch break we were standing next to the box but they had to remove some boxes in front of it first.

Opening the box was no problem as people were eager to help. Putting the bike back together wasn't a problem either. Jeannette was checking all the bags and found lots of goodies hidden everywhere. Starting the bike was a problem as it didn't do anything anymore. But a pickup was driven up next to the bike and with cables the bike started and ran perfectly, but as soon the cables were disconnected the bike stopped. Battery problem! I didn't want to look for the exact problem here so we asked them to arrange a pickup for us to bring the bike to our guesthouse. For 500 Baht (USD 11) we were driven back which was only double the taxi fare. With the battery I went to Yuts place and he discovered that the acid level was far too low. So over 5 months stored in the bike without disconnecting wasn't too good for the battery. Yut replaced the acid and charged the battery and the next day Jeannettes bikes was running as never before.


Jeannette is driving her own bike from now on
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Jeannette is driving her own bike from now on


A couple of days later Marie Louise, Jeannettes daughter, came to visit us for three weeks. It was an emotional seeing as mother and daughter hadn't seen each other for 7½ months. So the first couple of days we didn't do too much and we only visited some 'must do' sites in Bangkok.


Marie Louise didn't like Bangkok too much either so we were thinking about where to go to, when Jeannette thought about the Philippines. She wanted to go there for a long time already and as it was out of our route we wouldn't visit it by motorbike. Also is Bangkok a good place to buy cheap tickets so the decision was quickly made. At the travel agency it was not so easy as most flights were fully booked. But with Cathay Pacific we were able to get seats but then we had to fly via Hong Kong. This was not a problem as I had been there many times for my work and I was happy to show Marie Louise and Jeannette around there.


Martin with Marie Louise on the motorbike
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Martin with Marie Louise on the motorbike

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
April 22, 2002 GMT
Philippines

Manila (09-04-2002) till Manila (22-04-2002)

So on April 9, we were on the plane, first to Hong Kong with a connecting flight to Manila. In Bangkok I had some problems with my Swiss army knife. Nine years I was flying around with my pocket-knife in my pocket but since September 11th this was not possible anymore so I had to give it to the Security people. In Manila my pocket-knife hadn't arrive as it was (probably) still in Hong Kong. But they would have it send to Manila so I could pick it up at the airport before flying back.

Philippines; 09-04-2002 / 22-04-2002
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Philippines; 09-04-2002 / 22-04-2002


We didn't want to stay in Manila and Marie Louise wanted to go surfing. The only easy accessible place was at San Juan, North-west of Manila. We left the terminal around 8 pm and took a taxi to Angeles, just over an hour drive where we had an address of a nice hotel. The hotel was not too good but OK for one night. They had only one room for us so Marie Louise had to sleep on the floor. The mattress were two cushions taken from beach chairs at the pool.

The next day we went by 2 tricycles to the busstation and from there we took the next bus to San Fernando La Union.


With a tri-cycle to the busstation
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With a tri-cycle to the busstation


It wasn't too far but the bus drove slowly so we had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. From San Fernando we took a jeepney for the last couple of kilometres to San Juan where we stayed in two rooms at the Mona Liza Beach Resort. Both rooms had nice views over the sea. But the waves didn't look really surfable to us. But to our surprise we saw some people surfing the next morning. The waves were not too high but high enough when you start learning. The official surf season was between November and February, so over already. But we were lucky as the waves had been unsurfable for the last two weeks and today was the first time people surfed. The hotel arranged a surfboard for us and Marie Louise was immediately gone with the surfboard. Quickly she arranged some guys reminding her about the basics of surfing as she had surfed last year in France already. Jeannette and I were looking at her from the beach and I was trying to learn from the mistakes I saw. But when it was my turn to use the board I didn't learn too much from her mistakes as I made many more. But it was fun and I learned to speed up before the waves pushed the board forward. The only thing which failed was that I was laying on the board instead of standing, but hey... it was only my first day!!!


Beach boy Martin; this was the easy part
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Beach boy Martin; this was the easy part


The whole day Marie Louise and I were in the sea trying desperately to improve our skills and discussed all aspects about the surfing thoroughly. It didn't help me much but we had a great day. And Jeannette, she was sitting on the beach watching and taking pictures of us.


Marie Louise and Jeannette at sunset
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Marie Louise and Jeannette at sunset


Marie Louise posing at sunset
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Marie Louise posing at sunset


At the end of the day we all had sunburns and decided to avoid the sun more the next days. For Marie Louise these intentions were gone the next day when she saw the waves. She was disappeared with her board. She got friends with the local youngsters and since that day she stayed with them a lot of the time. This suited us fine as we were lazy as well and had to drain all the travel excitements of the last few months out of our bodies. So we hardly did more than reading and writing on our travel reports.


Sleeping on the beach
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Sleeping on the beach


Ten days later it was time already to return. We had a great time here in San Juan and we returned to Angeles by bus. Marie Louise had a hard time leaving, as she had made good friends here, as she really felt sick during the bustrip. Back in our hotel in Angeles, again they had only one room left, so this time it was my turn to sleep on the floor.


The next day we returned to the busstation around noon to take the bus back to Manila and the airport. At the airport I was collecting my pocket-knife and put it directly in our big bag to avoid the same problems again. In the late afternoon we left for Hong Kong.

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
April 24, 2002 GMT
Hong Kong

Lantau Island (22-04-2002) till Lantau Island (24-04-2002)

We took the train from the airport downtown and then a taxi to find hotel which wasn't too expensive. I knew Hong Kong was expensive when I visited it before but then this doesn't really matter as your company arrange the hotels and pays for them as well. It was a little different now.

Hong Kong; 22-04-2002 / 24-04-2002
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Hong Kong; 22-04-2002 / 24-04-2002


We found a place which wasn't really cheap, especially not compared to Thai standards but it was only for two nights and besides it was weekend as well, so lots of tourists. We took the subway to Kowloon and enjoyed the skyline of Hong Kong Island at night before returning for a good night sleep.


Mum and daughter in Hong Kong
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Mum and daughter in Hong Kong


The next day was our only day here but we didn't want to run around. So we only went to the Peak and strolled around up there before returning to Kowloon and do some shopping.


View over downtown Hong Kong from 'The Peak'
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View over downtown Hong Kong from 'The Peak'


I have to admit it's not my most favourite spending of time. But actually shopping this time was fun as we were strolling down the streets and when Jeannette and Marie Louise wanted to go into a shop I stayed outside and enjoyed the street live, building and people as there was so much to see. In the end we wanted to take the subway back to the hotel as it appeared that the nearest station was the station to our hotel, so we walked all the 5 kms. back to our hotel. No wonder we were tired. We only left the hotel for some food in the area and went to bed early.


View over Hong Kong harbour from 'The Peak'
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View over Hong Kong harbour from 'The Peak'


The next morning the alarm went off at 6 am.. We walked to the main road and took the bus straight to the airport. It was a double-decker and so we sat in the front upstairs. The views from the bus were excellent especially when the bus crossed the bridge to Lantau Island, and it was much cheaper as well. We had some coffee at the airport and the girls spent our last Hong Kong Dollars duty free without any problems.

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
 

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