Between Turkey and Thailand roads are generally bad and shops are small, you ride where you want and how you need, and buy what you can and not what you need. Stood on Christmas eve in Tesco Lotus amongst the endless aisles of foods I hadn’t seen in months choosing ingredients to make tomorrows dinner, the Santa bearded helmet catching the warm Thai breeze alongside a 6 lane super highway where people followed the rules of the road this was a world I’d left behind somewhere around the Black Sea. They had a choice of cheese, is there a truer benchmark of developed civilization?
For the previous few weeks Thailand had become a geographical and mental milestone, plans for a Christmas dinner with a rag tag bunch of bikers in Chiang Mai were followed by riding into the heart of Bangkok where I’d abandon the bike for much needed repairs and begin the month long hiatus from riding – spending January with family and friends. For the first time in 8 months I was going to see the beautiful faces and enjoy the great company of those from my life before the trip and I couldn’t wait. It’s strange to think that up until that point every face observed had been new, people of which initially I knew nothing and people that knew only of me by the bike. The pages of this blog are designed for words of the journey and as the bike didn’t come along for the January ride I’m not going to go into details, but what I will say, the time with friends was boozy and the time with family was amazing. Thank you.
Back to the bike. Somewhere in Western India when slithers of o rings began popping from the chain I started to wonder if it would make it to Thailand. Somewhere in Eastern India Frank mentioned my cam chain wasn’t sounding too clever, I was well aware of this bag of spanners sound and had been ignoring it with nothing else I could do but hope on blind luck it would also make it to Thailand. Somewhere in Myanmar I started riding with headphones and music to deafen the combination of ever increasing rattles from the two. For the final few days I was expecting the engine to seize under the sound of metal on metal or the rear wheel to lock as the chain whipped it’s way round the sprocket, so when I tentatively rolled into the car park of Red Baron Bangkok there was real sense of relief to have made it. When I rolled out again one month later destined for Cambodia with new chains all-round the bike felt and sounded like new.
The new bike feel didn’t last for too long, 800miles from Bangkok past the Ankor temples of Siem Reap, Cambodia and the relaxing river islands of Don Det, Laos the water pump started leaking. With bright green bleeding from the bike another hiatus was soon on the horizon, this one out of my control and prolonged by my own stupidity and inability to wield a hammer delicately, with the outcome still to be determined I’ll leave the details till next time. On the bright side it’s given me chance to catch up on the blog and go back to Bangkok to visit friends, there’s certainly worst places to be ‘stranded’ for a while than Thailand.