Day 111 – Bangkok
With the bikes waiting for us at the airport, we wanted to get started with the reassembly as early as possible. We had been told that the cargo offices opened at 8:00, so we left Khao San in a taxi and headed for the cargo department. We arrived just before 9:00, and were directed, using combined Thai and hand gestures, to an office to register with security. In just a few minutes, we were given our security clearance cards and were ready to go. Things were looking good.
Our next mission was to find the cargo building itself. We wandered around for a bit, but clearly the Thais are sign atheists, as they clearly don’t believe in signage for any of the buildings and offices. After about ten minutes of wandering, we stopped someone driving past and asked if they knew where the customs clearing building was. We seemed to have hit the jackpot, as he very enthusiastically started speaking Thai to us. At least we think it was Thai, it may have just been squeals of joy, because that’s what it sounded like. Either way, he motioned for us to jump into the back of his truck, and drive us to an unnamed building about 400 m down the road. Once inside, we marched briskly up to an office and handed one of the officials our documents from Suraj in Nepal. He seemed satisfied with them, and then asked us to wait while he processed them. 45 minutes, and two round of forms later, we were done, and our friendly helper took us back to where we had met him, and then handed us over to a friend of his, who said that he would take it from here (after frantically presenting Shan with a small gift of course. He had seen our brochure and may be under the impression that he spent a morning with famous people…). He walked us to a big cafeteria, and told us to wait while he made enquiries. The enquiries must have been along the lines of “Life. What’s it all about then?”, because we didn’t see him for at least the next hour, and when he finally returned at about 12:00, it was to tell us that everyone was on lunch break, which would last until about 2:00. It seems that it was going to be one of “those” days again.
Two hours and a whole bunch of episodes of “Community” later (I’d brought the laptop along just in case we had a situation like this), he returned, but this time with some news. They had located the bikes in the warehouse, but the officials weren’t keen for us to put the bikes together in the warehouse itself, BUT he could organize for the bikes to be transferred to his warehouse space where we could assemble it. And all this for a measly R2000.
Wow, thanks for the favour, guy.
And as always, with no idea of the actual shipping and customs procedures, and no way of contacting the warehouse ourselves to find out if what he was saying was actually the case, we had no choice but to go with his offer. Back to the cafeteria for us for another hour, and finally, at around 3:00 (remember that we had now been here for six hours with no sign of the bikes), we were escorted out to the back of the building where the truck with our bikes had just arrived. To our surprise, the men began unloading the first crate right there on the road, right in the sun. When we complained, they didn’t seem to understand that we weren’t very enthusiastic about spending the next few hours in the sweltering heat in the middle of a road. It shouldn’t take ten minutes to explain that we wanted a shady area to unpack our bikes, like say, the warehouse that we had been promised. Eventually, we managed to find a small shady corridor just down the road where we were able to work. They unloaded the three remaining bikes, but expressed extreme reluctance to fetching the bike that they had already unloaded, and we had to just open the crate there, and then put the front wheel on so that we could push it to the alley.
It was quick work getting the crates open, and we set to work putting the bikes back together. We were now quite practiced at this, and work moved swiftly along, apart from spending about 45 minutes trying to find an allen key that had dropped down into the bowels of one of the bikes. We managed to find it after taking apart most of the radiator, nestled behind some cables.
Finally, at around 7:30, with the departing sun leaving trails of pink across the sky, we had everything together, our bikes were loaded and we were ready to go. With the GPS helping us, we headed back towards the city, and despite several wrong turns (one of which involved us having to turn around at a toll gate that didn’t want to allow bikes through, and forced us to turn around, driving against four lanes of traffic), we found our way back to Khao San. I must confess to feeling extremely cool driving down this street with all these greasy tourists watching us. It made me feel that with this bike, I wasn’t part of what they were about, I was on a REAL adventure.
Once we were back at the hotel, we went out for a walk to get some supper, stopping at the tailor to check on the suit. The pants were ready and looked good, but the jacket still needed quite a bit of work. We are still hoping that the shocks will arrive in the next few days, which means we’ll be able to get out of here and back to the riding. Down at the bottom of the street, we saw a Thai guy start climbing into some tourist. It was clear that he had some grudge against him, but there were no clues as to what his crime was. I was mainly keen to just get out of the way and avoid the fight, but somehow I seemed to be a magnet for the tourist, and he kept running in my direction as I tried to get out of the way.
Later that evening, Shan and I decided to go for a Thai massage. Dad had been for one the day before and had really enjoyed it. We walked down to the parlour where he had had his session, and we were ushered in to get changed into some comfortable, loose fitting clothes. Our friendly masseuse served us some iced tea, and we chatted with her for a few minutes before being led into a gently lit room with mattresses on the floor. Shan’s lady got to work straight away, but mine was still busy from a previous appointment. Now, I’m quite a lot taller than a typical Thai, and when she arrived, she looked at my feet sticking over the edge and said “So rong”” and got to work on my legs. (How can it be rong, if it feels so… aargh, that hurts, let me go, you mad woman!)
Once the initial brutality had died down, one of the ladies said something to Shan about me being strong. Shan agreed with her, saying “Strong brother”
“Yes, strong better”, the lady agreed, and proceeded to attack me with redoubled force. At one stage, she even walked on my back. Between the two ladies, they had also decided that I was their “boyfriend”, which in many situations like this could be a problem, but considering that both of them were in their forties, it seemed that I was safe from these Thai cougars. Finally, after about an hour, we were done. Battered, but feeling surprisingly good, we took a few photos and said good-bye. I’m sure that this type of massage is not for everyone, but like the fish foot massage from the previous day, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try at least once.