Friday, 14 October 2011

I'm in Thailand!

Minor hassles to get in... I went via Bukit Kayu Hitam which is on the Asia Highway network and the end of the north-south expressway in Malaysia. There were a couple of closer crossing, but I went there mainly because I thought there would be more chance of English speakers. The only problem with this crossing and all except for one of the border crossings is that they lead to the provinces which the Australian government (and many others) say DO NOT TRAVEL! There had been attacks in Hat Yai 5 years ago, but the more recent stuff seemed to be confined to the other two southern provinces.

Now to the border problems... First, leaving Malaysia I couldn't find where to get the Carnet for the bike signed off, eventually I got directed somewhere obscure and got it all done, and everyone spoke english so it was just a matter of being passed round to 13 different people.

Then it was off into no mans land for some duty free shopping! I got me a bottle of Johnny Walker Gold Label for about $55AU? Cheaper than Australia, but not "taxes removed" cheaper. Anyway, it was there, I had to get it, and it is good :)

Next up, it's was the Thailand Immigration and Customs mess. Once I get there they waved me into the motorbike lane. There was really nothing stopping me from riding out the other side into Thailand as an illegal... But I stopped. Then I tried to figure out where I had to go. Each time I walked up to someone to ask they wandered off elsewhere, that happened about three times... Finally I found someone and they told me to go fill out the arrival card and get the passport stamped. OK easy enough, but there were questions about the address I put on the card, I didn't know it and I couldn't get it until I could get to my email, I forgot to write that bit down. Then I asked what I had to do with my bike, they said to see customs, and of course, there were about 10 different customs booths, which one? I saw a door marked Information, so I tried that, and they just directed me back out to customs... OK, now I'll try one of the customs officers assuming they don't wander away from me again. Right, now, I've found the booth I have to go to, I take over the Carnet, and just hand it to them, and they produce this other printout which is the temporary import for a vehicle. Then you're directed to the window next to it to get it signed, good, then it's all done. I go over to my bike and start reading it. First thing is they're using that odd Thai year, and that it's only valid for 30 days, and it's got a place of export already printed on the sheet. So I go back, and they say the place of export doesn't matter as it's all electronic now, and that yes, 30 days is correct. My visa is valid for 60 days, but this means I have to get out of here in a month anyway. I can still come back, just not sure on the limits now (I remember seeing 90 days total somewhere).

So now I'm in, I ride off, and then the road diverts into this other big customs shed with no one in checking anything, so I stop, take the form up to the office and ask if I'm all good to go, just in case. They say the form is good, then I ask about insurance. Now apparently I can only get it back at the boarder... Right. So it's back to the border again to find out about insurance. So I just casually stroll into  into the border exit, no one cares. I could have probably got all the way back into Malaysia and one one would have noticed. Anyway, I go up to someone and ask about insurance,  but they say I get the insurance outside, but I'm still not sure what is going on, is it an offical state thing? I question some more and they say out the gate, and point... Right. So I go out the gate, and there just happens to be a very small insurance booth, excellent. I ask for 30 days insurance, to match the date on the form, they tell me it's a minimum of 9 days... OK, I'll take 30 then. He starts doing up the form, prints it out, and then I pay. It's all done, I'm now legally in the country with my bike. And ride 150km away to Trang. Except that I've just noticed that he only gave me 9 days instead.


Trang, while out looking for a 7-11. Can't find one of the stupid shops when you need it, but there are 6 within 500m of the border...

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