Thursday, 1 March 2012


Bangkok is... Quite big. This is the first really big city I've been in since Kuala Lumpur. So far It's not the best...

I'm staying in the Nasa Vegas hotel which is right next to a stop on the new airport rail line. I thought that would be convenient for getting my bike shipped out, but mostly it's just noisy when the trains go past. The average budget hotel here is 700baht/night, I booked this one for 400baht/night so I can't complain too much. But that's only until Sunday and after then I have to re-book until the 11th, and probably at the normal 890/night rate.

Just near the hotel a couple of expressways meet over the top of an intersection.

So far my plan is:
8th/9th - Take bike to Trans Air Cargo for crating and then shipping
11th - Fly to Nepal
12th or later, pick up bike!

But nothing's really set yet, If I book everything the bike might not be able to go to the cargo place until after I want to fly to Nepal, it all depends on the dangerous goods certificate which I'm trying to organise now.

In the meantime, I get to wander around Bangkok. So far I've seen some of the big shops, but that's all. Siam Paragon is big, and ridiculous with it's Lamborghini and Maserati shops mixed in with various other big European (mainly Italian) brand shops. Siam Discovery is better. MBK is huge, but that's the place to go if you want a mobile phone, or a watch, or jewelry, or clothes, or furniture. But I still can't find shoes that I want. The shoes I got in Chiang Rai are killing my toe and feet and are almost warn out but still have a new shoe smell! I'm also trying to find winter gear for Nepal to see if it's worth getting my stuff sent from Australia, no luck there yet.

The Pantip plaza I went to (there are two) is multiple floors of electronics madness, much like Low Yat in KL but bigger. I only looked at a little bit because I'm just trying to replace the headphones I bought in Cambodia (which were good fakes) with the same as I had before. I managed to find what I'm after but they're $85, about the same price as Australia. Maybe later. There's lots of pirated software/movie/game stalls in there, most of them try and shove a porn DVD in your face as you go past. There's the same problem here as with Low Yat in KL and Funan in Singapore, there's just too many vendors selling the same crap. It's very difficult to find something specific which you can find easily on the internet. You can be guaranteed though that if you want an SD card almost every single place will have one. Australia still has the variety and price advantage most of the time. A lot of people buy laptops here because those models are just not available in Australia, but you can order most from Amazon these days, and for cheaper than you can get here. There's really no point to come here and shop for electronics.

So the other thing I'm trying to find today is sprockets for my bike. Since this model isn't sold in Thailand no one keeps stock of sprockets. I tried about five places today, but all were unsuccessfuly because they didn't speak English and I don't speak Thai. The one's that do speak English said they'd have to order them in from Japan (but I'd prefer the cheaper British made aftermarket sprockets).

While riding from Red Baron (didn't have anything) to Siam Superbike (didn't find it), I got pulled over by the police. There were groups of police out today, one pulling over trucks, another pulling over buses, and the one I got caught up in was pulling over motorbikes. I was in the right hand lane while riding along and a few waved and got me to pull over. There's about 10 policemen on this side of the road and another 6 or so on the other side.

What I had done was ride in the right hand lane, which is apparently wrong. There are signs up in other parts of Thailand for bikes to keep left but I'd never done it and never been hassled at any police stop before. I asked if there was a sign on this road but they didn't understand that. One of them asked for my licence so I got it out for him (I have another one in my luggage if they take it), and then they pulled out a card with all the differnent infringements and fine amounts. It was all in Thai of course, I think the other side had translations but they wouldn't show me that.

He pointed to one with a 400baht fine, and said I had to pay it. So I'm questioning this, wondering if this is a rule for all roads or just roads where the bikes keep left sign is up, but he didn't quite understand this. After a bit of him saying "400 baht fine for not keeping left" and me trying to claim ignorance, it was clarified to "You pay 400baht now, or I write ticket and you pay 400baht at Rama road". So I asked "What happens if you write the ticket?" knowing that I'm leaving the country in about a week and could easily not pay it. But he didn't understand that, and kept saying to pay the 400 baht. Eventually I said that I may not have that much and he immediately dropped it to 200baht (Ha! Jokes on you policeman! I had 6000 baht in my wallet and $100US). I said "fine" (HAHA GET IT? FINE?) got out my wallet, and then he starts covering my wallet with his book as I'm getting the money out. Ah, I seeeee, this wasn't actually a fine, this was me paying you to not write a ticket. I then get back on my bike and hoon off out of there (in the right hand lane).

I figured It was best to leave it at that rather than pressing him to write the ticket since I remembered all the paperwork for the bike was back at the hotel. They could have asked for the temporary import permit and then made up some ridiculous fine for not producing it when asked and I wouldn't have known any different. Maybe they'll get wise to that one day.

I've been stopped a couple of times by the police in various road stops. One laughed to the others when I got closer and said "falang" and waved me on. Another wanted my phone number so I could show him round Australia when he goes there. And another couple wanted to come with me into Cambodia. So yes, they're not all like that, there's just a few bad ones out there.

Also driving here isn't too bad. There's some idiots on bikes (hey I'm probably one!) but it's a lot like Melbourne traffic otherwise.

So in summary: Bangkok isn't my favorite place. Only been harrased by a mototaxi once though, no tuktuks, tailors, massages yet!

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