Long stressful shitty day.

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Flag of Thailand  , Bangkok,
Thursday, November 24, 2011

So today I actually started hating Thailand a little bit but eventually all was forgiven. Then i got drunk and Marcin made everything complicated, even simple things like getting into the hotel.

So... We woke up to a decent if slightly confusing breakfast of toast and hot water. We had some toast and some of the hot water with teabags and coffee in it and then the staff brought us plates of more food, eggs, hotdogs and fruit. Marcin ate my hotdogs and then ordered another breakfast and ate that too and still moaned about being hungry.

Today was always going to be rubbish, we had to get our bikes out of customs. We're used to border crossings, they’re pretty straight forward but getting a shipped bike out of a warehouse is a totally different thing. We even had trouble finding the warehouse. We got a complimentary car to the airport and then a shuttle bus to the warehouse. Everyone sent us somewhere different. In the end we caught a bus as directed, the driver told he was going to the right place and we ended up in a bus station and the driver just got out and walked off. We had to get another bus back to the airport and then that seemed to be going out to international cargo. A guy on the bus seemed to know where we needed to go and showed us the office. Then he put on an ID badge and told us he worked there. He arranged a guy to help us and we spent the next two hours going from one office to another and then back to other offices. It was a nightmare of beurocracy. We saw the crates at one point and they looked undamaged which was a relief but still had loads more to do. Eventually we ended up in the customs office, they told us to come back at 1 and by 2 we should be with our bikes. We had to pay a storage fee for them, around 20 and we arranged with customs to go back to the warehouse and work on the bikes while we waited. The guy sorting everything took us back to the first office which was a table in the corner of a restaurant. He then told us customs was around 90 each to release the bikes. We argued and he got another guy involved who spoke better English. He told us it was the release fee, I said I was going over to customs to discuss it with them and then the fee went down to half. I argued more and he asked how much i wanted to pay. I told him I wasn’t giving them anything and we left. I was very disappointed to see something like this happening, I know it goes on but it was still a kick in the teeth after all we’ve gone through to get here. Marcin is always asking about the conditions here and I keep defending the place and telling him how nice it is and then we have this happen.

So we went back and started assembling the bikes. It wasn’t easy, Marcin had to have the front of his lifted by a forklift truck to get the wheel on, mine we laid down on the side and it was pretty straightforward. Everything went back ok, she started and ran absolutely fine. It took hours and eventually we were late back to customs. We were called in and an officer who spoke good English chatted with us. He warned us of the fees if we don’t export the bikes on but we knew about those already. We asked how much it cost to clear them and it was free, there were no charges. So let that be a warning to other bikers. There are plenty of scams about, don’t trust anyone and don’t give money to anyone to do things for you.

So we eventually got back to our bikes after a long, hot and exhausting day. We got on them to ride them out and disaster! Mine didn’t work. As soon as it went into gear the clutch shook and dragged so it wouldn’t disengage properly. Marcin tried to interfere and I got pretty angry with him. He just kept trying to tighten the cable but I know my bike, i built it up, I’ve changed this cable and taken it off several times. This wasn’t how she behaves, the vibrations was a new problem. In the end I managed to set it to a level where I could just about ride it. In fact the clutch when engaged was stronger than ever, no slip and actually a little more power but the vibrations shook the front end and she still crept forward with the clutch fully open. We managed to fix Marcin’s clutch easily, we put oil in it. His reservoir had gone dry, with a bit more fluid in, it worked much better. Still it’s not right and still it cut out.

We had one more thing to do, we had to have an inspection and that was just waiting for an official to come out and see that our chassis numbers matched. They used our carnets for reference but did not stamp and remove parts, just like in Nepal. The carnet is not required here but having it made life a lot easier. It was still a nightmare border crossing but I can only imagine how bad it would have been without a CDP. In fact we met a couple collecting baggage. They took just as long as us to get their stuff back so most of the beurocracy was simply the airport, I imagine an overland crossing would be far, far easier.

So finally we left for Sukhumvit, where i’d been before. The Satnav took us most of the way and then I saw things I recognised and rode the rest from memory. It was great, it was like coming home. I hadn’t heard from my girlfriend’s friends so I simply headed back to the hotel I stayed at last time and there were no problems. When I finally got to check emails that was what they had said to do in any case.

We were both pretty stressed and Marcin found himself a KTM service centre nearby. They weren’t strictly KTM, they did a lot of other bikes. Even though mine was running badly I went along to discuss my problems. Unfortunately 7km turned into a nightmare through solid traffic. We arrived at the GPS coordinates but there was no shop. We looked around for it and with my clutch problem the bike kept stalling and I lost Marcin. He waited at a junction for me, I looked everywhere for him but we must have missed each other. In the end I gave up and decided to backtrack to the hotel. It was dark now and backtracking wasn’t as easy as I thought. I got pretty turned around and had no idea where I was. At one point I saw the overhead motorways and knew I was totally lost. This was the moment my fuel warning light came on. I still had no money, my card didn’t work in any ATM and I had no fuel, no money and no idea where I was. I pulled up at some lights and asked but nobody spoke any English. A girl on scooter-taxi pointed when I said Sukhumvit so I headed that way. I saw signs to the airport and it made sense so I carried on. Eventually I saw a mall I had been to before so I turned off and headed to where i thought the hotel was. Using guesswork I found the overhead railway line which led directly back. I followed it a few hundred metres and got back to the hotel with only a few miles left in my tank, I was hot, dehydrated and miserable. The stress was really getting to me.

Marcin was already back. He hadn’t found the place at all. I used his laptop to Skype call the UK and sort out my money issues. My account had been locked after putting the bike shipping on my card, it was an unusual transaction certainly and in an odd place but a call would have been more useful than just locking my account. In the end I had arrived in a foreign country with no money. I couldn’t even buy a mobile topup to phone home so if Marcin hadn’t been here it would have been a pretty bad situation. They said they’d put a holiday flag on my account to stop this happening again. Every time I travel I will arrange one in future.

So, we had arranged to meet people but time was not on our side, I was feeling really bad, a cold was settling in and I felt lousy. Everyone in Nepal seemed to be ill and our immune systems were shot through after being in India so now I have a cold. Nothing major. I calmed down and unwound and then I took Marcin to a little market for food and a few quiet beers. Food is always a challenge here, they don’t cater for vegetarians at all but I got something and Marcin ate several somethings. We had a couple of beers and felt a lot better. A live band started up. They were just awful, missing cues and the singer had a shrill little voice and was always off key. It was more amusing than good.

Still, marcin decided we needed more beer and got a tower, it’s like a giant fire-extinguiser filled with an ice tube that keeps 3 litres of beer cold. We drank that and I was gone, I headed back to the hotel and fell asleep. At 6.30 the phone rang and Marcin was asking to be let in. It seemed he had got so drunk he’d just wandered around getting even more drunk! He’s a machine.

Of course all of this was made even more difficult as Marcin had lost the hotel key. It was a long day!
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thu on

Man, what a day! FTS major. Sheer luck in getting back to hotel with an inch of juice: still, you got beer and Marcin saw a wo-man so that was alright. Plans for the next day are to get the bikes sorted?

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