I hope Australia sucks. Come back to Thailand

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Flag of Thailand  , Surat Thani,
Thursday, December 1, 2011

This morning was the beginning of the end or maybe the end of the beginning. This was our final day riding together and it was a beautiful day, the sun was high and hot and there was hardly a cloud in the sky but we rode like we were back in India in yellow smog with everyone trying to kill us. There was definitely a gloom in the air. At one point Marcin asked why I was riding slow, there was other things on my mind and I didn't even realise I was riding slowly. Today Marcin was going into Malaysia and today i was turning around and going back towards Bangkok to figure out what to do while I waited.

We had a slow day yesterday thanks to the chain failure so we had a fair bit of time to make up, we actually could have made the border yesterday. The weather was on our side and we hoped to make the border around 2pm and apparently that should have been no trouble. So we headed off. For a while things still looked familiar. I knew my girlfriends mum lived along this road somewhere and I kept my eyes open for the turnoff but I couldn’t see it, they all looked the same. In fact, when we went together even she couldn’t find it straight away and she grew up there.

Marcin wanted some videos and I rode up front for a while. I kept a steady line but a cautious one. The driving standards drop as you head further South. The driving is ok in Thailand but it sure has its moments, there are a few idiots driving too fast and trying to nudge you out of the way and as many slow tucks parked in the outside lane making you pass on the inside with a truck up your arse. It’s nothing compared to where we’ve been but it’s still important not to relax for a moment, just in case.

We stopped a couple of times for a photo-break and some water. You buy it cold and within 20 minutes the bottle is hot to the touch. At one point we stopped for fuel and then Marcin rode back down the motorcycle lane to a bridge and we rode down to the river and got some shots. Later we pulled off into the jungle and got some shots in a rubber farm. It was cool, an easy pace and very laid back. Just a fun ride.

The roads dragged on and on but finally we saw a sign to the border and we cut off at 90 degrees and headed down. It was only another 40 miles to the exit. I was tired, not just generally but the heat and humidity saps your strength so I was suffering. I had mentioned crashing out at the border and maybe heading back in the morning, kind of hoping there would be a town there we could have a proper beer and a send-off. As we travelled on there was less and less, Thailand tapered off into a few cluttered places selling junk food and increasingly bad driving. I have heard the last leg of the country is full of Muslims and it’s true. Suddenly women were covered in scarves and there were signs for mosques. In retaliation was the biggest, boldest, brightest and ugliest Buddhist temple I’ve seen. It was a huge, pastel covered thing with gilt paintwork with a giant statue on the roof and tons of gold statues laid out in front. It was one-upmanship of the gaudiest possible kind. Other religions were represented too, there was a Catholic cemetery and Christian symbols posted on fences. So we rode along, the signs contradicted each other so we didn’t know how far we had left to go and then all of a sudden we came across it. There was the border, nothing more than a fence in the middle of the road diverting traffic into a compound. We parked up briefly and police tried to move us along, this was it. I suggested heading back to the last half-decent place for a quick coffee as there was nothing on the border.

The shop was just a shop so our last drink together was a can of ice coffee and a bottle of ice tea. We chatted about the inevitability of this moment. We both knew I was staying in Thailand and Marcin had to power on towards Australia. It was tough though, we have been through so much and done so much together. Now he’s off to do it himself and I was through. So we stopped for a few last pictures and were done. We had an awkward moment with some massively manly hugging and shaking of hands before Marcin rode off on his way. He told me the trip wouldn’t have been fun without me and he was right, we’re very different in many ways but we’re a lot alike too. We play well together and this trip was fun, great fun. Marcin can be hard work but he’s a top man and I feel like we’ve made a friendship here that will last a lifetime. I’m going to miss him! This trip was hard but I never once felt like quitting or turning back, I never felt like it was too much. Marcin made this fun for me too.

On the way back my mind chewed over the times we’ve had. I saw a van carrying a collection of scaffolding which was quite depressing. I don’t think I’ll ever see a thick Pole again without feeling a little sad, and that was meant in a massively manly way too before anyone makes their own jokes.

So I headed back, resolved to trying to get back to where we stayed the previous night. I rode on into the dark and then the temperature dropped. First I noticed my mirrors steamed up, then my visor went white. Suddenly the roads were soaking wet and the moon vanished. I was worried about heading into a night-time tropical storm but as I carried on it dried up. I figured out how far it would be to the same point, around 400 miles round trip and I still saw nothing that reminded me of the same hotel. In the end I found another of the super-petrol stations with a mall and a hotel. I decided to stay and get some rest, it was the same price, only 10 with free internet and was very decent. I had dinner on the local place outside, there was no vegetarian option so i had rice and eggs which came with free water and a plate of veggies for only 60p. It was pretty decent but I was shattered and suffered instant celebrity status which I could really do without.

It’s bad enough with Marcin but to have to do it alone was not fun. I miss him already, it was suddenly very quiet on the road. I drank everything from the mini-bar and went to bed... bored
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cimek on

I found later the place we stopped was just the custom declaration point. You don't have to stop there if have nothing to declare. The real border was 2 km away, full of shops, coffies and big banner "Welcome to Malaysia". Next time we'll be smarter. I fell sad too. Not a fun drinking alone.

cimek on

I meant "feel". (f...g spelling, no one to correct me).

jtw000 on

Is that all I am to you, a drinking partner who corrects your spelling, shares underpants, rides up mountains, through sandstorms, over deserts, steals TukTuks, fights police, drinks terrible local beer and blows up melons with an autoloading shotgun before catching a speedboat home?
Beer is no fun any more but that didn't stop me emptying the mini-bar last night... I also put the empty cans back so they didn't charge me for them. Ha ha.

cimek on

What? I can't believe. You forgot to take toilet roll and soap. O man, don't let me down next time.

jtw000 on

Don't worry, I took the towels and a chair from reception. I know the rules...

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