Well. Wasn’t that last post a wonderful piece of vaguebooky bollocks? Honestly, I should be ashamed of myself. For many, many reasons. If you know if any specific reasons then I refer you to my legal team, currently consisting of a homeless person sitting outside a Gregg’s in Stockport and mumbling about the snakes in his beard.
Don’t worry about which drunk guy outside Stockport city centre Gregg’s it is, he knows and that’s enough.
Here are the things I have done since the last time I updated properly. It’s a whole bunch of shenanigans.
There’s a temptation to write up everything, but it’s going to take more time than my patience will allow at the moment, so I’m just going to talk about Thailand
Thailand was originally going to be the last country the guys got to, with shipping back from somewhere near Bangkok. This didn’t happen for two reasons. Firstly, no-one could get confirmation that their bikes could be shipped back to the UK (My suggestion of “fuck it, ship from Malaysia” got shut down with “yeah, but that’s another thousand miles”. Pffft).
Secondly, and more importantly, the Thai government changed its attitude toward foreign vehicles at the beginning of 2017.
The story, as I understand it, is that Chinese trucks come into the country from the north and occasionally knocked someone down and killed them. The truck would just turn around and go back to China, where the government would refuse to give up the truck driver. This went on for a bit until a minister’s daughter was knocked down and killed at which point the government said “Right. Bollocks to this. If you’re in Thailand with a foreign vehicle you need an escort”, which affects motorcycles too.
Except it was a very new law when we were planning the trip. There didn’t seem to be a network of travel guides that had sprung up, just one or two people who put themselves out as saying they did the escort. I heard third hand stories of people paying $1,000 and there being no-one there to meet them at the Myanmar border and them having to leave their bikes there, fly somewhere to sort out a new visa to get out of the country with.
Stories started emerging that if you enter from the south. No-one asks for an escort and you get in with a carnet, just like every other Asian border. More than that, people I actually know who were ahead of me started sending messages and posting pictures saying they got through.
So, I was sat in Georgetown, Penang and got another notification that someone had got through and thought. ‘Eh. Let’s go. Worst that can happen is that I’m not allowed in the Thai side and I waste a page of my carnet coming back into Makaysia.” So off I pop.
Here’s the Malaysian side
And here’s the Thai side, fifteen minutes later…
This was supposed to be the toughest border for a long while and… nothing. Five minutes to stamp out the carnet on the Malaysian side, and fifteen minutes on the Thai side to stamp me in and get the carnet done.
So… I don’t know what the deal is. I don’t know if it’s only for vehicles coming from the north, whether they’ve stopped enforcing the law or whether the police are going to stop me at some point…
But it all seems cool…
So I head up the coast and find a place to stay, which was nice.
Then it dawns on me that I’ve got into a country with no idea what I’m going as I’d not ever really though I’d be here. OK. So sod it. I’m going to motor all the way up to Bangkok and work my way back down. I only have a thirty day stamp so I don’t think I can go tramping around up in the north. Chiang Mai is probably out.
So, Bangkok is about a thousand kilometers away. Two day burn on these roads, no problem. First night is a town called Chumphon. Never heard of it, but there seem to be some touristy type hotels
This is the Retro Box Hotel. It’s a hotel made out of shipping containers and it’s pretty cool. Not much to say about it other than if you’re ever in Chumphon go stay there. I also managed to get my first Thai street food of the trip, because the night before I more or less ate a pot noodle in a cake shop. It was weird and disappointing.
Yesterday I motored the rest of the way up to Bangkok. This was the original end-point for the guys, but wasn’t ever actually going to be mine. That said, it’s still a little odd to be the only one who got here.