Thailand

Bridge Over Troubled Water

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Today I arrived in Bangkok. It’s now raining. My laptop’s broken and my camera’s given up the fight too. To make matters worse there’s a vicious rumour running around these parts that visas for Pakistan and Iran aren’t being issued to any soul outside his motherland. Me English, applying in Thailand. You can see the problem.
 
But none of that matters because today I out-smarted a policeman. Though not deliberately. Or intentionally. You see I was riding over this big three lane flyover when a man in tight trousers and a visible truncheon flagged me down. ‘Oh my,’ I thought. ‘I’m in trouble now.’ So I stopped. The chap walks over, jabbers something in his local tongue, which I accurately translate to mean, ‘no motorbikes on that big bloody bridge.’
 
He smiles. He knows he’s got me. Caught red handed. And it’s not long before he’s talking money. 1000B, or twenty quid to you and me. Now I’ll be honest, this time, unlike the countless others in Bali, I thought the copper’s playing fair. So out comes my wallet. I open it up and there flaps not a dollar. It’s empty. Tumbleweed. I was surprised. I’m sure there was a couple of notes in there. The copper scowls and radios for backup. A minute later his mate comes over with some pigeon English and slaps me with a few questions. ‘Where have I been, where am I going’, that sort of thing. I show him my empty wallet and my finest sorry face, but I can see he’s pissed. He wanted some pocket money for the weekend. Defeated, he then does something quite unexpected. He waves me off. Free to go. I’m flummoxed, apologising repeatedly before snaking back into the line of queuing traffic with a big grin.
 
By third gear I’m openly laughing. If only he’d have known about the 4000B in my bum gab.
 
Haha. Silly plod.
 
Other than that it’s been a funny old week. Last time I emailed I mentioned the bike insurance I should have got at the border. The problem was that I’d already ridden seven hours north when I realised. To save going back I tried everything. Online companies, agents in Krabi, the lot but then with frustration mounting I bit the bullet. Hopping on Dot at 11am last Monday I rode in one sitting to the border and back. It took 14 hours and cost more in fuel than the insurance. But it’s done now and I can flatten the feet of playing children and skittle whole families from their motorbike without fear of financial reprise. Joy.
 
After that I rode to Phuket, though lord knows why. Imagine a man as old as your grandad whizzing around town on a scooter with a girl as old as your sister holding on to his holster. Now imagine another man, this time a local, with his face dipped in his mother’s make up and his hose tucked up his backhole. Finally, picture a wholseome families amongst the lot of them wondering why the hell it didn’t tell them it was like this in the brochure. Do that and you’re staring straight into the ugly eyes of Phuket. A holiday, here, how?
 
I didn’t stay long, just one night, camping at the far end of the beach, well away from the lady boys who, one man warned me, would happily stab someone for their wallet. I wondered what weapon they would use and realised he probably meant it as a euphonism.
 
The next day the plan was to head to Bangkok, but as I rode out of town I realised my flip flops were back in the hostel in Krabi. It was a 120kay round trip to get them. I didn’t fancy it, ‘buy some more’, I reasoned. But in line with my ‘leave no man behind’ philosophy I went back to rescue them from the clutches of the evil hostel woman who’d knocked Dot over the other day and didn’t even say sorry.
 
After that I headed up to a national park where I hiked through a jungle in my liberated flip flops to a waterfall where I got suckered by four leeches. Terrible things. They just stand up one of their ends waiting for warm blood to walk by. And once they’re on they’re a bugger to get off. Like Rambo I used a knife but they don’t half make you curse and bleed. I camped that night and the next, the first at the national park and the second behind a bush at the side of the road so that no passing cars would see me. When I do that I have no food or water or fire. Just put my tent up in the dark, sleep, wake, pack up, leave. I love it.
 
Yesterday, as detour, I stayed at the town where the Bridge runs over the River Kwai. And wow, English health and safety would have a field day with that place. Basically you can still get a train across, albeit a very slow one, which come and goes every five minutes or so. Between those crossings your free to walk across, but with no safety rail and huge holes down to the sink below you begin to wonder if more tourists have died photographing it as POWs did building it.
 
But back to Bangkok, where I’m going to spend the next three days trying to sort those visas out. From what I’m hearing it doesn’t look good. Could this spell the end of the trip, the retirment of Dot and the failure of her rider? Not likely, because going to any extrmes to complete this trip I’ve thought of a way round it.
 
In the words of Rolf Harris; ‘Can you guess what it is yet?”

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