Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bangkok Breakdown


Arriving in Thailand from Bangladesh is a culture shock in itself, jolting me back to a world of modernity. Bangkok is a gleaming modern metropolis with every convenience a European city has to offer, certainly a change from the rawness of Bangladesh.

Before I could re-discover the city I’d previously visited 8 years ago, the priority was to spring the bike from her imprisonment in the customs compound. After messing around for 5 hours it became blatantly clear that the person responsible for providing me with a Thai Carnet had gone home for the evening so it was off to find a hotel for the night, I would have to return the following morning and continue the battle with Thai Customs frustrating bureaucracy.

4 more hours of shuffling paper, fee payments and furious stamping led me to the hanger to pick up the bike and strip away the packaging. I was finally re-united with the old girl and off we sped on what I though would be a short 40k hop to the centre of Bangkok…..

After about 15k’s the bike cut out on me on the motorway and I cruised to a stop at the side of the road, thus compounding the problem I already had with the major oil leak from Bangladesh.

The problem must be the fuel getting to engine, I still had 4 litres of reserve left in the tank.

First priority was to get off the motorway, so I locked up the bike and flagged down a taxi. I’d previously been given a number for a BMW mechanic in Bangkok by an American guy living in Kathmandu, it’s always good to go with a recommendation.

The taxi driver took the directions over the phone, when we pulled up outside the mechanic was already waiting with a truck to go and retrieve the bike.
We set off hoping the bike hadn’t been towed by the police….

Thankfully she was still there and within 40 minutes we were back at the shop and the guys could start work…..

I finally arrived at the hotel I’d booked, 2 days after arriving in Thailand, it had certainly been an interesting and challenging 5 days…..

I’d decided from the off I was going to rest up in Bangkok and spend some time eating the king of cuisines, having a few drinks and generally relaxing by the roof top pool. I would maybe take a quick look down Kao San Road, the backpacker ghetto in the North of the city, just round the corner from the mechanics workshop.


A week later I picked up the bike.
I’d also, bought a new front tyre, had the oil leak fixed, changed the break fluid and had a general service. The culprit of the breakdown had been a bust fuel pump, now replaced.

It was time to head South to meet up with Ollie and Jenny on Kao Samui for our Christmas get together, it would be a 2 day ride….

After stopping off half way down at Cha Am, an nice little seaside town known for it’s seafood, I caught the last ferry from the mainland and arrived at Buda Beach on Ko Samui and a warm welcome from Ol and Jenny. I hadn’t seen them for 3 months, the last time being Islamabad in Pakistan.

After 3 days of relaxation, golf and watching England achieve an unlikely drawn against South Africa in the cricket, I was happy to be heading off to Ko Phangan and backpacker land. While pleasant, I found Ko Samui too built up for me, it was now the domain of big hotels and the 2 week package holiday crowd.

O and J would make the 30 minute crossing by speedboat where as I would have to head back to the mainland and then catch another ferry out to the island.

Ko Phangan, time to really relax……

Arriving on the Islands

The 3 of others spend at lovely slightly drunken, in my and Ollies case, day at an Italian restaurant,drink bottomless jugs of red wine and gorging ourselves on a tradition Italian Christmas meal.
It was only a matter of a few days before the English and Australian contingent would be turning up……

Christmas Day

Ko Phangan was first colonised by the Chinese to grow palms and supply the south with much needed coconuts, so important in Thai cuisine. Prior to this the island was the domain of pirates. As if to emphasise the point Haad Salad, meaning pirates beach, was located just to the South of where we were staying.

Ko Phangan

We spent the following 3 weeks hanging out on the beach, drinking and eating with a big night out in Haad Yai for new years eve, where we all became victims of the infamous Thai Whiskey buckets.


Take one half bottle of Sam Song, a can of coke and a red bull. Stick them in a bucket with ice and add several straws.

Paul and me had insist, on the night, that there was little alcohol in the buckets, something we rescinded the next day as our heads pounded in the midday sun. A very funny evening but whiskey buckets were now off the agenda for everyone.

New Year Frivolities

It was a relaxing time and certainly something I’d needed after being on the road since Kathmandu.
It was time to move on as people filtered off to catch their planes home. I was now itching to get back on the bike and pick up with the traveling again.

I would just like to say a big thanks to Jules, Liza, Nige, Paul and Jen for making the effort to come out to visit the 3 of us. It was lovely to see some familiar faces, you guys certainly made my time on the island memorable.

Good Times

With my visa running out, I took the ferry to the mainland and headed South towards the border. I would be a day over my visa it would cost me a fine of 500 Bhat (£10) not such a big deal.

While going through customs the officer pointed out that I was 9 days over my carnet, I hadn’t realised that there was a month time limited for the bike. Fortunately it was only a 100 Bhat a day fine. Unfortunately, I only had 600 bhat on me, I played the stupid tourist card (very useful in times of problems). The customs officer was great, he only took 500Bhat off me for my overstay period and waved me on my way.

Malaysia here i come…….

1 comment:

Roj said...

How you have changed. "full of the 2 week holiday crowd!""