Saturday 31 March 2012

I've been to the Tibet border!

I'm running out of phone credits so I can't upload my photos from the Arniko Highway to the Tibet border just yet. Have to wait until I find some free wireless.

Here's one I managed to upload:

And also a small part of the video riding back down through the valley where I wasn't paying attention and did a fully awesome jump!

I've been in Dhulikhel for two nights, and I'm heading up to Kakani tonight. Hopefully there is some internet there...

Friday 30 March 2012

Recovering GOPRO video (on Linux)

Quick solution:  Go here. If the SD card is corrupt use Testdisk to recover the files.

Long solution:

The day before yesterday I travelled up to the China/Tibet border and stayed a night. On the way back I set my gopro to record the awesome valley road (and an unintentional jump over a ramp in the road) and I didn't stop to take a lot of pictures along the way because I had the video recording...

Now when I got to the guesthouse I started going through my photos and video, copied off all my videos from the SD card and then as per usual I deleted the videos and put the SD card back in the GoPro. It was after that I realised I was missing two of the videos. Not sure why they didn't copy, perhaps I ran out of space (using an SSD, it's likely) or I ejected before it finished copying or some stupid thing. Anyway, it was my fault they were gone.

Now the rest of this is technical mumbojumbo, hopefully it will help someone else with the same problem though.

I quickly got the SD card out and got to work trying to restore the videos. This is what I've spent the last 18 hours doing (aside from sleeping, although, I did wake up in the middle of the night and started another copy).

This guide is very helpful:

I used a few of the tools on that page: Sleuthkit, Foremost, Scalpel, Testdisk/photorec. Foremost wouldn't find the MP4 file, and Scalpel didn't have the MP4 header/footer configured anyway, so those tools were out. Photorec managed to recover random unplayable <1MB mp4 files, and a gpg file for some reason. So that didn't work either.

Testdisk however let me navigate through the file structure and copy the deleted MP4 files out... But they were unplayable! Figuring something was wrong with the tool I tried with Sleuthkit. But after a more complicated recovery the same file came out when compared to the Testdisk output  (verified by diff).

So still thinking it's a problem with the tools I went through several hours of trying different switches, other smaller apps, etc to try and get this video.

However it wasn't until I loaded some mp4 tools (MP4v2) that I figured out that I was actually dealing with a corrupt mp4 file, the undelete had worked successfully, it was just bad data it was recovering!

After lots of reading forums and various sites going nowhere I stumbled on this site:

It seems the corrupt mp4 files from the GoPro are fairly common, I haven't had one before though.

I downloaded the perl script from that site and in the first go it extracted the video from the deleted file I had acquired from testdisk! Actual Success! The audio isn't extracted but that's ok, I might be able to modify the perl script to get that out too if I really want it. I'm just glad I finally have the video of riding through that awesome valley!

Now I can finally get to processing the photos from the storm in the valley, riding through the valley, being followed by someone at the Nepal/China/Tibet boarder, the video of the valley and my first motorbike jump, and also the storm last night and the first view of the Himalayas!

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Getting your Indian Visa in Kathmandu (in 2012)

I found a few other sites around that detailed the process of getting an Indian Visa in Kathmandu and it looked rather grim. Some describing that it's probably best to go there the night before to get a ticket from the machine so you're served quickly. However, the process has changed as of some date in 2010/2011, so this is how it works now. Note the ticket machine is inside the gate now.

Also apparently at this embassy they may not issue the full 6 month visas. I put 4 months on all my forms and that's what I got. It's the same cost up to 6 months but I heard they were not issuing so many for the full 6 anymore.

Visit 1:
(this is for a tourist visa, for a transit visa skip to visit 2).

Things to have with you:

  • Passport
  • Contact details for where you're staying.

Your task today is to line up, take a number, fill in the telex form to your home countries Indian high commission requesting permission to get a visa issued in Kathmandu.

I stupidly turned up at 6:00am after reading bad stories about how long it takes. Once I got there I found out the Indian Embassy no longer handles the visa, but the Indian Visa Service Centre about 20 meters before the Embassy gate now handles all visas. I walked around for half an hour, went back and found one person lined up at 7am. I then went and had breakfast to consume more time.

Here's the rest of the days process:

  • Lined up at 8am, roughly ten other people waiting (it's not peak season).
  • 8:30am they let people in the gate, you get the magic security wand waved over you and you're inside.
  • Go to the ticket machine and get your ticket for first visit for a Tourist visa. When I was there someone was helping with this process for the first people in. I got A8 and I was last in of the people who were waiting.
  • Fill in the Telex form. BLACK PEN ONLY. Note that you need your Father or Husbands name on the form, and the contact details for where you're staying.
  • Wait until 9:30am when they start calling numbers. (or leave, and have some breakfast until 9:30am. There's a "KFC" next door.)
  • PAY ATTENTION. They will skip over your number if you are not listening and it's rather quick. I moved 5 places ahead because people were too busy chatting.
  • Hand your telex form and passport to the guy in the window. He gives you a payment form to fill out, and the Visa application form you need for your next visit (you won't need it today).
  • Take the filled out payment form to the other counter (which is counter 1, the second one you go to. Yes that's right, counter 1 is not the first one you go to)
  • Keep your receipt, you need this for your next visit. Note the date on the bottom which tells you which day you have to come back. That date will be 3-5 working days away.

I was out of there by 10:30am.

Visit 2:

After almost a week has passed, it's time to go back and repeat the process.

Things to have with you:

  • Passport
  • Visa form (you can fill it in today to pass the time)
  • One passport photo
  • Receipt from last visit
No need to have any photocopies or multiple photos despite the number of places advertising photocopies and photos. Of course, I could be incorrect if this is your second visit to India, they do ask when your previous entry/exit dates were.

Process for this visit:

  • Line up at 8am after breakfast
  • Gates open at 8:30, get your ticket (C2!) for your second visit (or transit visa visit)
  • Fill in visa form to pass the time (for transit visa people you need to ask for a form), glue on your photo with the free glue.
  • 9:30am they start calling numbers. PAY ATTENTION. The order is type, then number, as in: A1, C1, F1, A2, C2, F2 etc. A is first visit for tourist visa, C is second visit, F must be transit. I was third to get a ticket, but fifth to the window because of this.
  • Watch people not listen to the numbers and get skipped over again. (PAY ATTENTION)
  • When your number is called, line up behind the person who got skipped over at Counter 2. 
  • Hand your filled in visa form, passport and the receipt from last time. They will hand back everything, plus a new payment form.
  • Fill in the new payment form and wait around at Counter 1
  • Hand over everything again, plus 3850r (3600 for visa, 250 for "processing")
  • Take your new receipt, you'll need it again to get your passport back.
You now have until 4:30pm to waste time, the board on this day said passports would be back at  5:00pm though.

Visit 3:

Things to bring:
  • Receipt from the morning

Now you just have to wait to get your passport back.

How it went down:
  • Lined up at 4:25pm, gate opened at 4:30pm
  • Wait until 5:10pm
  • Notice everyone rushing to the two counters to line up. They were going through rather quick so I just keep playing with my phone until the line died down.
  • Hand over receipt, get passport back with fresh Indian visa.
I was out of there by 5:30pm.

And that's it! I had 6 days to waste in between visits so I spent it gaining a cold and the squirts. Time well spent I think.

New info for late 2012!:
James in the comments notes a few more things in the high season for this process here:

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Servicing Day!

I got the sprockets sent to me in Thailand but I haven't had time to put them on yet. Stupid to get them sent in from Australia because they are made in Bangkok. For future reference JT sprockets for big foreign bikes can be bought from Link Associates. They also sell chains made by JT as well but I hadn't heard of a JT chain before. They're a lot cheaper than the Japanese chains so maybe we'll start seeing them around the place. I got an EK chain from Red Baron, they also had RK. Note that Link Associates respond slowly to emails (hence me getting them sent from Australia) and Red Baron might as well not have email, it's better to go in person and most of them speak English anyway.

Also when I got them sent to me I had to pay duty... No choice in the matter, they also made me pay the duty for motorcycle parts (60%) on all items I listed in the package because it was first on the list. Even though the other items should have been less or no duty. On the Thai Airways flight to Nepal you're handed the customs declaration form. I filled in the form correctly because I had two cameras (you're allowed one), and the motorbike parts also. But when I got off the flight and through immigration I tried to declare it all to customs but they were just not interested in looking at my luggage no matter how hard I tried. They were only interested in the large suitcases coming through, not my small bags. I saved any import fees there, but lost it all on the rip off taxi ride afterwards.

So yes, still don't have many photos from Kathmandu to show. Not much sight seeing going on. There's been a lot of drinking with a few people in the guesthouse but they've gone off to do the Everest base camp trek for the next few weeks. Might see them again over in Pokhara.

I also just found out it's going to take about 3 working days to get an Indian Visa so it looks like I have to hang around Kathmandu until Monday at least. I really don't want to come back here. While waiting for the visa I might take a few trips to the top of the hills surrounding Kathmandu to get better views of the Himalayas. I can only see one mountain with snow which might be Langtang, but it has only been visible through the smog/dust/clouds twice in a week.

So todays big task was to put the new chain and sprockets on my bike. It's parked at the guesthouse next door because this one doesn't have parking. They're all very friendly, but I'm still wary they'll ask for money because I parked there.

My bike in bits in Kathmandu. Last time I did this was in Cairns, 8 months and 16000km ago!
Old vs. new front sprocket. Hmm, not so bad really.

Slightly worse here, but different chain types.

Riveting a master link

520 (bottom) vs. 525 (top) chain. 525 is the new one. Looks like it's a lot stronger, and I've also gone for  different gearing with the sprockets because I don't need the top speed. Hopefully that will make it all last longer.

Riveted? Maybe? I'm not sure it's done right... Forgot how to use the tool!

This is the nifty chain tool. But looks like they don't make them anymore.

The other nifty tool I have with me. Got it from some forums here.

Chain tool lives here with a length of spare chain, puncture repair kit, carby jets, spare wire and a bit of saw blade. Note that I've only lost one bolt so far.
Now I'm hungry... More mo mos or thenduk? Don't mind if I do.

Monday 19 March 2012

My costs so far!

Finally got all the data off the GPS (while loading in some maps for Nepal and India) and calculated all my costs and distances.

Here's everywhere the bike went in South East Asia. I also went to Vietnam!

Here's what I found when I looked at all my distances and costs:

Part 1
Part 2

South East Asia

Riding Days
Total Days
And some explanation for the above.

I try to eat cheaply in South East Asia, very rarely would I eat anything over $10. If I'm near a market then I could eat for less than $3, otherwise I'd just have what's available but it was very rarely over $6. You could eat for a lot less in Asia but I found myself eating a lot of ABF(american breakfast), hamburgers and pizza. 

In Australia it's far more difficult to eat cheap. I did camp a lot and bought food at coles/woolworths, but sometimes it's actually cheaper to eat at McDonalds. And there were a lot of meals cooked for me!

Before I left Australia I had budgeted for what I spent though.

I stayed in Motels in Australia when I wasn't camping or staying with friends/family. Motels get expensive fast, if I had to I'd try go for less than $80/night but then I got a place to park and somewhere to charge everything. Most of the time was spent in a tent or someones spare room though. 

In South East Asia I tried to budget for $10-15 a night, at that price it got me a spot to park in busy towns, and mostly clean basic rooms. I tended to go for places with air conditioning in the south, but not all the time. In a small quiet town I could get away with a lot less. Loburi and Ban Krut in Thailand were the cheapest at $3-4 a night in a guesthouse. Everywhere else was slightly higher. It's not easy on the bike to go into places and check on prices all the time so I started using Agoda for Malaysia and Thailand which had some good deals, however in most places if you just turn up you get the same cheap rate. That doesn't apply in Bangkok though, the place I was in charged $13 via Agoda, and $25 if you just arrive at the door. I did sign up for couchsurfing too but haven't used it yet.

Again, this amount was expected when I budgeted for everything back in Australia.

This was my left over catch all category. Things like washing, phone costs, internet, bike servicing, ferrys, taxis, trains, medication... Everything that's not food, fuel and accommodation. This is what I hadn't budgeted for and why I think I'll run out of money a lot sooner than I thought I would. 

I did buy a new camera along the way, so there's that expense. There's a couple of flights in there between Vietnam and Laos, and also to Nepal. A lot of the costs came from replacing things that were broken (clothes/shoes especially!). Otherwise it was all the little expenses I didn't account for that made this amount very high.

Fuel is roughly the same price everywhere. Somewhere between $1.20 and $1.50. The only exceptions to that were the middle of the Northern Territory where it was closer to $2, and Malaysia where the subsidy kept it at 60c/L.

Shipping costs were expected. There's probably a couple of hundred I could have saved on both shipments so far, but I had budgeted about $5000 for all the shipping required to get to Europe. What I haven't thought about is returning the bike to Australia!

Out side of all those expenses is the documentation costs to keep the bike out of the country. I have to keep my Victorian Registraion and Insurance up to date to keep the Carnet valid, that all adds up to $1500-2000/year. 

The other big cost was Travel insurance. Had to pick one that would cover me for areas where the government warns you not to travel (The Thai/Malay border for example...). Note that in Australia Travel Insurance is almost always backed by the same two companies which both have the same rules. The only one that covered me was IHI Bupa and they charge about three times what everywhere else does, but I'm covered for everything except a war zone (even then they help you get out) and jumping out of a helicopter to ski down a mountain (the helicopter has to land for it to be covered).

But now I'm in South Asia! Things are supposed to be cheaper now but I suspect I'm still getting ripped off everywhere I go...

Here's a timelapse sunset from the top of the guesthouse roof here in Kathmandu.

Friday 16 March 2012

Kathmandu Durbar Square

Yesterday I walked down to the durbar square in Kathmandu here. I'm not sure of the correct name for it, because there are three, but I went to the main one. There's a 750r entrance fee but I just walked around the back of one of the temples to get into the area.

Poter carring goods.

Another one.

Part of the square. Not sure which temple/s it is/are, don't have the book in front of me!

The orange monk guy was stood there for at least an hour.

The most photographed part.


Removed face. Why!

A better angle, with skyrats in flight!

Another side.


Goat. This goat was just hangin out with the skyrats...


This was on the wall of the large white building. Which is what the ticket was for. I might go back and have a look in there later but I'd spent a lot yesterday and didn't wan't to spend another 750r.

Painted eye on nandi!

Another tower.


Some of the woodwork on the buildings. I guess it is replaced regularly.

Crouching bhudda.

More woodword.

A closed gate.



A quiet street. No really. This is quiet.

Not sure what else I'll stick around in Kathmandu to see. Not liking it so much and I keep getting ripped off. Also it's just constant horn noise and bells in the morning, but eerily quiet between midnight and 6am. But I'm still not sure where I'm going to go next. I think I'll head up the hill near here where you can get a full view of the Himalayas, but from there I don't know yet.

Thursday 15 March 2012

The Battle of Nepal Cargo

Managed to retrieve my bike from customs. Somehow.

I left the guesthouse in the morning with my carnet, keys, and my small camera and set off for the airport cargo terminal. I waved down a taxi (very easy to do in Thamel, they are everywhere) and told him to take me to the airport cargo terminal. He replies with "ok yes!" and we set off, I then remind him to turn the meter on.

We end up at the passenger terminal and I tell him again we need to go to the airport cargo terminal, he says "ok yes!" and then theres more confusion, he asks someone, and then they point to the building behind us. But that's the cargo offices, not the cargo terminal, I tell him I've already been there and got my documents and that I really actually do want to go to the cargo terminal. He reverses over to the cargo offices, I get out and ask a guard how to tell the taxi driver where the cargo terminal is, he has no idea, I ask another official looking guy inside, he explains sort of, but another guy butts in and says "cargo terminal? I know!", excellent, so we go outside and he says "this is your taxi?", I say yes, then there was  some confusion at the door with him standing there, I jump in and expect him to tell the driver where to go. He sits in the taxi also.

We get to the cargo terminal gate, I pay the taxi and we get out. This guy marches up to the gate past all the other people wanting to help me. Some more confusion at the gate when appanently they don't want to let him in, but he gets in after someone else on the inside says something.

Now we march over to the customs office (or some office) with a bunch of terminals and people typing furiously into an old text base database application. I laugh to myself at how old the software must be and then remembered how often the newer looking software I used to work with actually worked.

Now Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy talks to one person for a while and then says they want 10r to photocopy my passport. I counter by producing a photocopy of my passport I had previously obtained, a saving of 10r. Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy then goes to the other wall in the room, and starts talking to one of the people at the terminals. I still have no idea what's actually going on.

I'm watching Mr. TerminalGuy type furiously, save/load files, log in and out of the database. After about thirty minutes he has a printout which he then staples to the airway bill and a few other miscianious bits of paper and gets me to sign. Ok, we're almost there.

Then Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy and Mr. TerminalGuy lead me out of the room and tell me I'd need to pay storage fees (I was aware of that) and then I ask "how much would that be?". Mr TerminalGuy thinks for a bit, and then types 8000 on his phone. I laugh, but leave it, because I know it will never be near that amount.

Mr. TerminalGuy and Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy start conversing in Nepalese, and Mr. TerminalGuy hands over 1500r to Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy and then tells me to wait over in the warm sun for a while.

So I wait.

And I keep waiting. About an hour and a half of waiting in fact. There are many facebook and google plus posts and comments from me to confirm this.

After a while Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy comes out to find me and I ask "so they are getting the bike out now?" and he says, "yes, come with me". So we go up to the fenced off area in the warehouse and he wanders in and tells me to stay at the gate. Eventually he comes back and just gives a small wave to me. And five minutes later the crate with my bike is out. Curious. But then most of the other people standing around got their stuff at a similar time too.

The crate arrives! Hey that's my name!
Now the crate gets crowbared open and a crowd of 20 nepalis has gathered around to see the big reveal of what's inside. All the plastic is torn off and the crate is slowly taken apart bit by bit until there's no more of it. Well that's my $300 crate gone... No idea where it went, I guess they took it all to sell the wood again, which is what I wanted to do.

Half de-crated.
Now my bike is sitting there without a front wheel. I get out the tools and ask if they have something to prop the bike up with. Nope, lots of discussion which I wait for but nothing comes forward. I could have used a bit of crate but who knows where that is now. I get my little prop stand out of my tool kit (it's not as stable on this though), and ask the three people near the bike to help lift it up. Who knows what they were actually doing but I managed to get it under the bike by lifting from the handlebars.

I then start trying to put the front wheel on with all these nepali hands flying in trying to help, I think, or just pointing and commenting to others. I get the front axel halfway in but it won't go all the way because the bike isn't quite high enough, I ask them all to help lift the bike again so I can just get the axel in, but somehow they manage to drag it around the floor slightly, almost knocking it off the stand (because they weren't actually lifting it) and getting the front wheel and axel in some odd position that may have damaged it. I lift the bike up by the handlebars again and move the stand back slightly to get the height I needed.

Note to self: Nepali help is... Possibly the opposite of help.

Now the front wheel is on, I start bolting all the other bits together. While I'm doing this there are lots of poeple gathered round picking up bits of my stuff, examining it closely, folding things that aren't meant to be folded, opening and closing stuff. I just ignore it and go about my business.

After about an hour of bolting stuff up while dodging nepalis it starts to look like my bike again. I tell Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy that it's all done and he says ok follow me, we march off to the customs office to get Mr. TerminalGuy, then for some reason we back out into the hall, and then the stairway, and then halfway up the stairs, where they have this long discussion about how much I need to pay, but they never actually tell me an amount. I tell them I have very little money on me anyway. And they offer to take me to an ATM, plus I need to get fuel too because the bike is empty. Sure, why not. I thought it would be a taxi, but no, Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy gets hold of a bike, a 180cc thing and he can barely get his feet on the ground while on it. I ask him if he's ok to ride it, which he says yes, of course. I jump on the back, and then we set off on a very jerky wobbly ride to the airport ATM. I note that I'll need a change of underwear.

He drops me off at one ATM and I try to get 10000r out, but this one won't let me get it the money out. I turn around and tell him I can't get that much out, then I ask, "how much do I actually need to get out?". Now it's at this point he stops speaking English. We rope in a few other people and he has these long discussions trying to explain why it's 10000r to people, and then they all tell me that the total cost may not be 10000r, but that I could use the extra money for fuel or food or anything. I keep trying to ask what is the actual amount in fees that I need to pay, but nope, keeps coming back to 10000r. I tell my translater that I know he's ripping me off, but before it was 8000, now it's 10000, and I just want to know the actual amount to get the bike out of customs because I may already have that in my wallet. I know he has the documentation in his pocket and I say can I see it, but he pretends it's not there of course. So now he's annoyed with me and no longer saying anything in English. We go up to the next ATM, which works, I get 10000r out which I do plan on using for food, and then hide a lot of it in various pockets.

We then set off on the bike again, him almost falling over with me on the back, I think we're going to get petrol, but nope, we end up back at the cargo terminal. We to back inside and try and find Mr. TerminalGuy. And I start asking, where are all the reciepts for this, there's some discussion and then they hand them all over. 1795worth, just like I thought.

Now the problem is they're holding on to the bit of paper that lets me get the bike out of the customs lot, plus, I still need fuel.

We end up outside where there's no one in earshot again. I then said, that I know they are ripping me off, and I'd gladly pay double for their help, but not 8000. Looooooooonnngggg nepali discussion, Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy is now wearing his cranky pants and almost jumping up and down. I'm laughing at it all anyway. Eventually Mr. TerminalGuy counters with 7500. I laugh again and say no, How about 4000 (they have helped after all). More crankypants, more discussion, more laughing. 7000 from them. At that point I give up because they're being jerks from jerktown and they still have the paper I need to get out. I get the 7000 out of my wallet and you should have seen Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy grab for it! I did actually comment to Mr. TerminalGuy about Mr. JumpInTaxiGuys grabbing for the money.

Then I say, I still don't have fuel. So Mr. TerminalGuy asks Mr. JumpInTaxiGuy. No wait. You know what, I'm changing their names. Jerk1 is JumpInTaxiGuy, Jerk2 is TerminalGuy. So Jerk2 asks Jerk1 why I still didn't have fuel cause that was one of the things we were meant to get. More nepali discussion, but then eventually I'm on the back of the bike with Jerk1 and we go to the petrol station. Jerk1 says to give him 500r, I say no, the pump is still counting. Fuel comes to 370r for 3 litres, and then Jerk1 goes for my change and keeps it! It's amazing that he's being like this right in front of me. I wish I got a photo of him so I could plaster his name all over the place for being a jerk, and I wish there were jerk police to report these guys to. What jerks.

Back on the bike to the cargo terminal with my expensive fuel, Jerk1 gets stopped at the gate, some angry words from one of the gate guards to Jerk1. I'm allowed in anyway so I go in, no idea if Jerk1 got in, never saw him again. I only see Jerk2 as he hands my documents back and gives me the ticket out.

Inside I put the fuel into my bike, wheel it outside, put my motorbike gear on, all while a crowd of nepalis are following. I start the bike (it works!) and then one of the guys that was standing around my bike the whole time says "porter charge" (jerk3). I pretend not to understand this, and just keep putting my gear on and then ride to freedom!

But I'm stopped slightly before the gate, oh right, ticket out. They check it but it takes a little while, and in this time Jerk3 has caught up and says "porter charge" again. This time the ticket checking guy is there (niceguy1) and he translates for me, but is laughing because he knows they're being jerks. But they're persistant jerks. I'm not sure if Jerk1 or Jerk2 were going to pay them. So I get some money out, 85r, and try to hand it to them, but they didn't want to take it! I said "if you don't want it I'm going!", and niceguy1 is there telling me to go anyway.

Six hours after leaving the guesthouse I'm back into the freedom of crazy traffic that is Nepal. All up it was 7500r to get my bike out which is about $90. All this from asking directions. What jerks.

Here's some calming pictures of Kathmandu from the top of the guesthouse:

Looking north, away from Thamel.

Looking East.

Looking Northwest.

Prayer flags.

Nighttime north.

Monkey temple all lit up in the distance.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Chatuchak Market

Yesterday I went out to Chatuchak Market again to look for silk. It's the largest market in Thailand. It's big. I got lost several times. There's a clock tower in the middle which I could see from the BTS, but I never actually got near it.

One of the roads through it.

The other direction.

The map...
There's LOTS of clothes here. Lots of them advertise being able to make copies of American brands. There are hundreds of tshirt stalls so if you need one this is the place to go. A lot of them have signs up saying no photos and no copy, but I'm sure half of it is copied from elsewhere. There was even one tshirt stall dedicated to rage faces.

Through it there are various coffee and other drink stalls, and some places selling food, massage stalls, a large group of pet stalls. Most of the stalls are grouped together by type (as shown by the different colours on the map) but there are different stalls all over the place too. Lots of things being sold here, although slightly more expensive than in other shops, but you're meant to bargain a little bit.

Lots and lots of rows like this.

100% fakesilk.
I was there to pick up some silk. I wanted real silk but I thought the likelihood of finding that was quite low. I found the above 100% Thai silk stall and they wanted 150baht (about $5AU ) per large piece. I picked out four bits and got them down to 500baht for the lot, not really trying. I'm sure I could have got it for less but I kept getting lost while looking around and I was only interesting in finding the store again so I could get it and then get out.

It is fake silk though, I tried the burn test to verify. But I didn't really expect to find real silk at that price. The real silk goes for around $30/meter from what I understand. I should have got it in the north when I was there. I avoided buying it in the north east because I read that it's produced over in the north west near Chiang Mai, but once I got there I didn't see any. There was also a silk farm in Cambodia which you could tour, but I didn't see any at the markets there either (didn't want to pay at the farm!).

I have since got some real silk from the Jim Thompson store, it's expensive there but most likely real. I will check however...


A cafe hidden away inside the market.
My market haul! A lot of this stuff is sold all over Thailand/Laos/Cambodia.
My lunch. Some kind of chicken chilli fishball noodle soup. No idea what it's called, but I've only seen it in Bangkok (doesn't mean it isn't elsewhere)
So after the markets I headed up the road to get a photo of this!

The elephant building! Not the best from this angle, but I wasn't walking any further yesterday.
After market day I headed back to the hotel to remove my mashed up toe from my stupid shoes. I solved that problem today when I visited The North Face store and spent up big on better shoes and a jumper for Nepal.

All that's left to do is to wait for the sprockets to be delivered tomorrow, buy a chain and brake pads, pack, and then wait until it's time to fly to "Phase 3: South Asia. Part I: Nepal. Esquire.". Yes, that's the title I'm going with.