Thailand
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 03:04 AM GMT
November 12, 2001 GMT
Thailand - 2

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.

Route through Thailand; 04-10-2001 / 12-11-2001
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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.


Tjop, taking a rest
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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.


Sunset at Ao Nang
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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.


Take a rest on a nice temple site
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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!

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
January 28, 2002 GMT
Thailand - 3

Mukdahan (04-12-2001) till Nong Khai (28-01-2002)

The ferry crossing was simple but extremely noisy, as we happened to be standing right next to the ferries engine. The most dangerous part for us was leaving the ferry, as a there was a ramp up. No problem for the bike but the big truck in front of us had huge problems as his wheels started to spin and smoke came from the tyres. This was not a good moment to stay behind this truck so we went to the (safe) side of the road and waited patiently until the truck driver regained control over his truck and managed to get up the ramp.

Route through Thailand; 04-12-2001 / 28-01-2002
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Route through Thailand; 04-12-2001 / 28-01-2002


Immigration was easy except that they had problems figuring out what would be the date 60 days from now but with the use of a blackboard they managed to get the right date. Clearing customs was another thing. A huge open building with no one inside caused a problem. A man at the parking made a call and told me to wait for 10 minutes and indeed then a girl on a motorbike appeared and handled my carnet. For the signature she managed to get an officer from somewhere inside the building and after two handshakes all paperwork was ready. And more important I had only my carnet stamped and not the white paper with an expiry date stamped on it. Finally exactly what I wanted.


In the meantime it was dark already but we finally found a hotel and this was like heaven to us. A clean bed and above all... nice food and huge variety. And this was a big difference compared to Laos as it was sometimes difficult to find something else than sticky rice and Lao beer (although no complaints about the beer!!!).

But we were exhausted after this demanding day and went to bed early. A good choice as the next day we drove 700 kms., all the way back to Bangkok. Why? Because Erik, our friend, was arriving in Bangkok the next day and we wanted to surprise him by picking him up from the airport. The roads were good and getting excellent once we're entered the highway. Speeding up we entered Bangkok and we were glad the king had his birthday today, so no traffic jams today.


The next morning we had to wake up very early as Erik arrived at 7.30 am. We almost missed him as it took us much longer than expected, as now there was a chaotic traffic again.


The guards of the Golden Palace
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The guards of the Golden Palace


Kissing at the Golden Palace
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Kissing at the Golden Palace


Erik was very surprised to be picked up from the airport and he was very pleased to see us. The hotel were we stayed was fully booked and so we had to stay all on one room. For us no problem and now we also could take some nice pictures from Erik while he was drying his hair using a fan. This is a good alternative if you do not have a hair dryer with you; it's the real overlander spirit.


Erik is using a 'hairdryer'
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Erik is using a 'hairdryer'


Our initial idea was renting a bike for him in Bangkok as we asked around already and were told this shouldn't be any problem. Erik's own bike was crated in Holland, waiting to be shipped to Australia. But when we actually asked around it turned out to be very difficult to rent a bike here for a longer period and buying was also not a cheap option. Another problem was that it's almost impossible to visit the surrounding countries then as well. Therefore we decided to fly in his own bike from Holland. By air-transport, in contrary to sea-transport, the fuel tank had to be drained and the battery had to be disconnected. We spoke with our best friends, Ed & Ellen, and they were prepared to open the crate and do the additional things that were necessary to prepare the bike for flying into Bangkok. Ed & Ellen are true friends, which you really need to have back home and many people are dreaming to have friends like them. They are always there when you need them and nothing is too much for then. Martin decided to pick up the bike from the airport ourselves so we saved a lot of money with it for a local handling agent and Martin had already done this before with his own bike.

Almost the whole day we were at the airport and we had some help from local people as we needed so many papers to be sorted out, signed stamped and photocopied. Each time you thought: "Now they must have enough papers to finish the procedure", it turned out to be not so. It was like a never-ending story, like Peyton Place in the old days. But just before noon we were entering the cargo building and found the crate. Still the paperwork wasn't finished but we were opening the crate already and start building together the bike, and didn't care about the paperwork anymore. Ed & Ellen added some Dutch sweets in the crate as well and they were very warm welcomed and eaten. When we were ready for leaving the cargo building the paperwork still hadn't finished but it was finally finished quickly as we were threatening to leave the building anyhow.


Erik, Jeannette and Martin - the Three Musketeers!
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Erik, Jeannette and Martin - the Three Musketeers!


It was 14.30 hours when we left the airport and finally Erik was riding on his own BMW F650GS. His bike is as yellow as a canary, but that day he was not singing at all. It was like being thrown into the Ocean with no lifeline as traffic in Bangkok was as hectic as usual, but it was the first time Erik drove on his bike at all as he bought it just before this trip and had no chance yet to ride on it. And to start in Bangkok traffic with it is not the ideal start. At the hotel we used a day to check and prepare the bike completely.

Two days after the bike arrived we left Bangkok and we were heading to the North of Thailand. The first night we slept at the shore of a big lake where we found a place, which was partly destroyed by a fire. We swept the floor and we had all we need for the night. The next day we drove to the Burmese border over nice mountain roads and we found a place for the night near a waterfall.


Bull-fighting early in the morning
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Bull-fighting early in the morning


Erik slept in his tent and there was a small hut, which we really liked. There was a platform in it and so this we made our bed. As long I'm under a mosquito net I'm sleeping everywhere now. The mosquito net is not only against mosquitoes but also to keep other scary animals away from me. But I surprisingly found out that I was not the only 'scary chicken' anymore. I have found a buddy during this trip: Erik is even more scared than I am, so lucky Martin! The next day we drove to another Burmese border post and we wanted to cross the border for a daytrip into Burma near the Tree Pagodas Pass. At the border they told us that we had to go 24 kms back and get a permit (USD 10!) there. We thought it wasn't worth it and we continued our journey.

That afternoon we'll never forget.... It was on the 21st of December when Martin suddenly saw in his mirror that Erik felt from his bike behind us. We turned around and Erik was bleeding and we did not know what had happened. It was a smooth asphalt road with no dirt on the road itself. He was not unconscious and first thing Martin did was parking the bike in such a way that the spot was safeguarded as I went to see Erik. I looked were the blood came from and while he was lifting his head I knew he had no neck injury. We lifted him up and carried him to the side of the road. People stopped by, and a guy named Armin from Austria was on his way to Bangkok together with an Italian guy. The Italian man was the owner of a motor shop and he offered to ride the bike to the nearest hospital as Erik and I were getting into the car with Armin. Erik was in shock and it's the most bizarre thing that can happen to your best friend. He was repeating all the time the questions: "Jeannette, what happened, for I can't remember anything?" and "Jen, where is Martin?". He cried and one moment he did not know the differences between the words leg and mouth. At that time I started to get worried. When we came in the hospital he asked me what he was doing there. He was stubborn and I was dealing with his behaviour as Martin was dealing with Erik's bike parked in front of the hospital. After they made X-rays and didn't find anything broken we could take him with us. But where to? Martin went out to find a nice hotel where Erik had time to recover (and we as well). His left leg had a deep wound and was sore and his faced was slightly scratched as well, and of course his shock. That night we woke up Erik several times to check he was OK and even now he still can't remember anything about how the accident happened anymore. The next day he also had a fever and it took 6 days for him to recover. In the meantime Martin was repairing his bike. Erik must have made a complete flip over with the bike as it was scratched at all sides. The footrest was bend and several other things had to be bend or taped. Oil had leaked to odd places so the bike had to be cleaned as well. All together it took us some days as well but we had to stay here anyhow.


Putting back the pieces
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Putting back the pieces


So we spent Christmas in the small village of Thong Pha Phum and because Thailand is a Buddhist country, Christmas is not celebrated here. So we made the best out of it ourselves but the choices were very limited. We had our 'Christmas diner' at a sing-a-song place (a kind of karaoke) as they had little coloured lights which brought us into the best Christmas-mood we could get here, although no turkey but rice with chicken.

Martin decided to make a test ride with Erik's bike and didn't find anything unusual. So Erik's bike was ready to continue the trip and Erik almost as well. Erik is riding the same bike as me. I felt really safe sitting on the backseat with Martin but after all that had happened I was so scared that I'd need some time to get the same feeling again. Not to speak about driving myself. Erik had always offered me to drive his bike whenever I wanted and Martin 'pushed' me to do it now to get over this feeling and also because we had plenty of time for it now. So he drove the bike out of town where we swapped seats. I had to get used to driving a bike again and on this bike as well and I was glad Martin was directly behind me (and that he trusted me!); at least I didn't have to start in Bangkok's rush-hour! The next day we made another, longer ride, but this time I was riding Erik's bike alone and Martin drove behind me on his own bike. It was very good for my confidence and when we returned Erik told us that he now wanted to have a first drive on his own bike as well. So we drove out again back to the place were the accident happened. We found some broken parts we were missing and collected them.

The first trip was a short trip to Kachanaburi, famous for the bridge over the river Kwai. There we met, by coincidence, Armin again and Erik didn't recognise him at all.


All that remained of the Hellfire Pass
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All that remained of the Hellfire Pass


At the Erawan waterfalls
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At the Erawan waterfalls


The next trip was a long one, driving 500 km to Sukothai, were we stayed for New Year. Thinking spending New Year in a big city would guarantee a big party, but this appeared to be not really true. Not a single piece of firework was lit and at midnight the streets were completely dead, so we gave Sukothai the first price for our most boring New Year ever. We were talking about 'home' where we would have eaten oliebollen and drinking champagne. We missed the oliebollen, that's for sure and we also could use some champagne! The only 'exiting' thing happened was that Martin met a Dutch couple here he had met before 14 months before in Pakistan.


The bikes parked in scenic Old Sukothai
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The bikes parked in scenic Old Sukothai


Buddha at Old Sukothai
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Buddha at Old Sukothai


Erik on Buddha's lap
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Erik on Buddha's lap


Lake at Old Sukothai
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Lake at Old Sukothai


Another exiting thing had happened earlier that day when we drove into Sukothai. As we were driving around trying to find a hotel we heard suddenly Erik screaming through the intercom: "Mart, Mart, my bike is on fire!". We stopped, turned around and saw his bike completely disappeared in smoke. It turned out to be that the cap from the cooling liquid had came off. So the liquid was flowing over the hot engine. But nothing serious, as we thought the lid had become loose because of the accident. Erik keeps very good in keeping things exciting! We left Erik behind cooling down his bike as we continued finding a hotel and picked him up when we found a place to stay and his bike was driving without any problems.

The real reason we went to Sukothai was to visit the historical site of Old Sukothai and this was a very beautiful place, with a treasure of ancient history.

The North of Thailand is amazing. The roads are good, and the scenery is astonishing. It depends what you are looking for. We went to Mae Sot and drove a splendid road through the mountains and we were told that there were 1084 bends on this 140 km road. And we drove back the same day and still weren't dizzy when we arrived back in Mae Sot.

While driving into Mae Sot the same thing happened again as when driving into Sukothai: the cap from the cooling liquid reservoir came off again. During the accident the temperature sensor of the cooling circuit had broken off and Martin had repaired it as good as possible but apparently it didn't work resulting that the cooling fan wasn't turned on at all. We solved this problem by disconnecting the cable to the defective sensor as then the cooling fan was running all the time and we didn't had any problems since anymore.


The roads through the Northwest of Thailand are nice ones, through the mountains. Along the Burmese border there are refuge camps everywhere and it's hard to see the people living under such basic circumstances. We stayed for a while in Pai. We had to, as Martin caught flu on the way to Pai. We reached it finally with a lot of stops and Martin immediately disappeared deep inside his sleeping bag. It took him a couple of days before he recovered but this was not any problem as we stayed at the 'Paradise Guesthouse' and this was really a paradise to us. We really enjoyed staying here and it was (finally) a place where you felt really at home.


A really nice place to get sick
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A really nice place to get sick


After having charged our batteries fully, we continued our journey further up North to the 'Golden Triangle'. Here is absolutely nothing special to see except for two rivers meeting each other (and so the place where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet) but the local people managed to make a big tourist trap out of it looking at all the busses around here. It was much nicer driving through the more remote parts of northern Thailand along the Laos border and spending the nights in shelters. We really loved travelling here, as the people were really nice and the road conditions varied a lot.


Finally we reached Nong Khai where we tried to get a new 30 days entry visa for free but they refused to give this to us as we had to extend our current visa but this would cost us 500 Baht (USD 10). The only reason for us to get an extension was for driving back to Bangkok in order to get our Lao - and Vietnamese visa and service Martins bike. But a Lao visa we could get at the border (although 15 instead of 30 days, but we were in Laos before) and our Vietnamese visa we could get in Vientiane. Also turned Nong Khai out to be a big city where Martin could service his bike so actually we had no reasons to stay in Thailand much longer. Within a couple of hours all our plans got changed completely and it showed again that as a traveller you have to be very flexible and that's what we like about travelling but it's also the reason why our trip to Australia takes longer every time.


Jeannettes weddingdress?
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Jeannettes weddingdress?


For instance our relationship with Vietnam: We heard many travellers complaining about the 'aggressive' approach from the people over there and they overcharged you for everything. When we arrived at the Lao Bao border this all was confirmed by the way the authorities treated us there. So we decided to not to visit Vietnam at all. But in Thailand we changed our mind and decided to visit Vietnam so at least we had seen it ourselves and we could have our own opinion about this country. We also had found out that we tried to enter Vietnam at the wrong border crossing and for motorbikes it appeared only possible by entering at Cau Treo. So that's why we changed our plans once more and tried to enter Vietnam over there. After Martin finished servicing his bike and Erik replaced the chain of his bike, we were ready to enter Laos (again). We waited for Mark Summer (USA, Triumph Tiger) as he had contacted us by email we he heard we had similar plans. So together we went to the same border post again and cleared the procedure at the Thai side fairly quickly. The only thing was that this is the most punctual border post of Thailand, so Mark and Erik got a lecture about some document which was missing, but they at least had the 'Thai white paper'. Martin then showed only his carnet and then he had another lecture. We were nodding all: "Yes, yes, the next time we will do everything by the book, but we didn't know it now!" They checked his carnet and finally stamped everything. So we were ready to continue to cross the Friendship Bridge into Laos.

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
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
May 18, 2002 GMT
Thailand - 5

Bangkok (24-04-2002) till Betong (18-05-2002)

The flight was without any problem and Marie Louise only had chosen the wrong line to clear Immigration as it took her 15 minutes longer to get through than it took us. In Bangkok we were happy to see our bikes again. We sorted out all our luggage so Marie Louise could take our excessive luggage with us. After a nice Sushi meal we went back to the airport to say farewell to Marie Louise. After she went through the door Jeannette had a difficult time, as expected.

Route through Thailand; 24-04-2002 / 18-05-2002
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Route through Thailand; 24-04-2002 / 18-05-2002


After Marie Louise had left us it was time for us to resume traveling again, but now with two motorbikes. Together with Jeannette’s bike we received a lot of extra luggage which had to be packed somewhere one of the bikes. But first our attention was focused on the bikes themselves. Jeannette’s bike needed to have some modification to get it fully prepared as an over landing bike. The bike was checked and the intercom was installed so we could communicate with each other during driving. Martins bike needed some minor repairs which were on the list a long time already and (finally) in Bangkok there were good motor shops so we decided to repair it here. A shop was recommended by other over Landers but first of all the repairs took 4 day instead of the promised 1½ days and the price was quite high as well. On top of it we later found out that they hadn’t done all the things in the way we had asked them to do. So when you go to Siam Super bikes make sure they do their job properly. But nevertheless the bikes were ready to go.

The luggage was another thing to worry about. Marie Louise had taken home lots of our excessive stuff but we still had too much. And in Ao Nang (South Thailand) we also had some things left behind. We wanted to leave Bangkok desperately, so we decided to simply load everything somewhere on the bikes and drive to Ao Nang and sort everything out there.

In Bangkok we also bought a notebook computer after being considering it for months. It's quite bulky but the advantages are huge as well and now we were driving with two bikes it had to be possible to store the computer somewhere. Now we could download our digital photos ourselves from our camera.

So we left Bangkok at 30th April at 6 am. as Jeannette didn’t want to drive her first kilometers on her bike in Bangkok’s rush-hour. We left the city without any problems and drove down south with the necessary stops. Everything was not completely new to her as she drove Erik’s bike several times before, fully loaded as well and the intercom system was highly appreciated. After 400 kms. we stopped at Bang Saphon at the beach. The next day we had an unplanned stay as my eye was lightly swollen and watering. When we packed our bikes the next day we discovered that during the last night they stole both my tank-side bags. Except for some food, toilet paper and a water bag also my intercom transmitter was in it. They had cut the wiring. A single transmitter is completely useless to them but to us as well. So we had to continue our trip without a communication system which was especially hard for Jeannette.

We drove through the mountains to Ao Nang (20kms. from Krabi) where we were back in the same place where we started our trip together, 9 months before. Here we ‘celebrated’ my birthday but I was in bed the whole day as I had been throwing up the whole previous night. So my birthday cake was served a day later. It was amazing to see how this place had deteriorated in only 9 months as the roof had holes everywhere as well as the mosquito net and worst of all we had sand flies in our hut. We cleaned out our hut completely ourselves but this didn't help a thing. So we decided to move to another place and found a nice place in a quiet area.

Here we could service our bikes as Jeannette passed her first 1000 kilometers and mine needed a major service. Servicing my bike was no problem but servicing Jeannette’s bike had to be done while reading the manual as it was new to us. There were no difficulties at all. Some things we did at Tjops place, a really nice guy with a bike shop where we had been before. We checked the valve clearance together. Now we had the cylinder head removed we decided to remove the restrictor as well. According to Dutch laws Jeannette her bike had to be restricted to 25 kW but she thought her bike was too slow now and we were far away from Holland so together with Tjop I removed the restrictor (just a matter of adjusting the throttle-cable) and then the full 37 kW were available and this made a huge difference as I found out during a test ride!

After the bikes were ready we had to sort out our luggage and this was a serious job as we had to repack EVERYTHING. Both my panniers were completely repacked as well Jeannette’s ones together with all the luggage rolls. And the new structure was good but to me it was a major switch over as I couldn’t find anything anymore after 2 years traveling with a different structure, but this was just a matter of time.

Our accommodation was getting to look like ‘Faulty Towers’ as our German host got troubles with the Thai authorities and had to disappear for a couple of days. So we had the whole hotel to ourselves and had to cook our own food in kitchen but fortunately the fridge was fully stocked.

We left Ao Nang and decided to drive to Songkhla were I had been before. We followed a nice secondary road along the shores of a nice lake but we had problems to get back to the main road and this is where Jeannette got her first off-road experience which she handled extremely well except for that her bike got very muddy. The Amsterdam Guesthouse in Songkhla was run by Paula who just had returned from a holiday in Holland and so we could read the latest Dutch magazines.


Where is the rhino in Songkhla?
Click for larger image

Where is the rhino in Songkhla?


After 10 months on and off in Thailand it was time to leave this country definitely and to experience other countries. Along marvelous mountainous roads we drove to Betong at the Malay border were we spent our last night in Thailand at Betong. The next day we drove to the border and experienced no problems at the Thai site despite the note saying that there was a departure-fee when leaving on weekends and it was a Saturday after all.

Posted by Martin Rooiman at 03:06 AM GMT
 


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