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The Journey


September 2000

Back home again. Such a great thing! Fluffy towels in spotless bathroom hugged me after I had a refreshing shower and a dip in my beloved hot tub. I slipped into my silky house dress and ambled to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator which displayed all that my heart desired - smoked salmon, fresh olives, cold juice, bananas and strawberries and home made yogurt- a healthy welcome for a new day.

Such a life! I dragged myself and my cup a tea to the computer and with a single push on a button, got whole world on my screen. I was ready to travel.

Oh, really?! This easy idea of travel was interrupted by real life. The reality found me in damp Bangkok. No smoked salmon, no cold juice, and forget that silky robe. Yes, it was a cruel mistake, a pleasant dream.

After leaving Japan life has changed dramatically. At least the part that has something to do with the roads and culture has changed.

It was distressing to know in advance that nobody had been successful enough to release their bike from Thai customs, even after weeks of trying. Some of the bikes had been refused by Thai customs officials and were sent back to the previous port.

Arriving in Bangkok brought one of the greatest welcomes I have ever had. Erin and Chris Ratay were my e-mail correspondents for a year, since the beginning of their round-the-world trip. To make my journey between developed and less developed Asia easier they met me at the airport. It felt like we have known each other for years.

We soon met the rest of 16 motorcycle travelers that happened to be in the same spot at the same time. This was hard to believe, as the rainy season was just approaching and we were more or less in the wrong place. So many of us.... We had some good "info exchanges". www.HorizonUnlimited.com in life.

Some of you may need to know a little more about releasing the bike from Thai customs... I advise one single thing: do not let any customs agent tell you what is possible and what is not. Temporary importation of the bikes IS POSSIBLE. Even in the port! If anybody thinks different let them call customs authorities at the airport in Bangkok. Apparently airport customs officials know better than the others.

My bike was shipped from Japan and arrived on time! There is NO WAY you can succeed without an agent who will speak Thai for you and if necessary, willingly use their persuasive powers as a foreigner's agent. This was a great priority, believe it or not. Do not let the agent do it by himself neither. That would take the same as long as you may do it. The key is teamwork.

One full day would get my bike released if .. Ecu Line in Japan did not make any mistakes. Before leaving Japan I called them up and pointed out that the name on Carnet de passage was not written correctly. They were positive that would not be a problem. Against my better judgment and previous experience, I believed them.

I was in the port with the bike ready to go, but the paper said Benka instead of Bernarda. It took me an additional day to get it sorted out. The bribe of 25 $ was paid and some angry letters were sent to the "beginners" at Ecu Line Japan. No additional expenses for Thai customs were necessary.

I was glad to get the bike into my possession again, but trouble was just around the corner. Not long after, as I drove though the city, one mile down the road, one idiot with a little 50cc "buzzer" ran into my bike. Yeah, traffic is Bangkok is a bad news. No damage was done except the alert was made. This is not Japan anymore.

I was on my way to Cambodia and so were Ratays. We hit the road together for a couple of days and had a long list of special experiences. Cambodia is very, very poor but unique place. Not just the roads with the greatest pot holes in the world... (yes, falling into it with the motorcycle is not a problem at all!). It was dry, it was muddy up to the knees and hot like in an oven. The people are nice and curious. As soon as we stopped there hands were all over us, touching these unbelievable materials, colorful plastic and big bikes.

On my birthday (not the happiest) my fan quit working and I caught a ride on a truck. There I sat beside the bike, which was tied down with the borrowed tie-downs. Now I have my very own set. Just talk to Aerostich. They have got good answer just for every biker-part number 1800 222 1994. By that night we had enough people in the village of Poipet to solve the problem. We even got an outstandingly nice offer from a United Nations doctor from Switzerland who made sure we were watered with champagne.

Cambodia in general was fun. It was tiring, but we were rewarded on every step we made. In Phnom Penh I got a powerful "bug" that has been making me sick ever since. Echerihia Collie and too strong dosage of CYPRO caused me an ulcer and high level of stomach acid and all that gave me a bad ear infection and tyroidea problem on the side with sore carpal tunnels. God bless my travel insurance, by the way. What I would do without CORIS?

Vietnamese border was unfriendly, cold and needs to be attempted again, but from somewhere else than Cambodia. I believe I will try from Laos as I have spent already 150$ for Vietnam visa businesses.

Being refused from Vietnamese border in Cambodia meant nothing else but going back to where we came from. Back to Thailand, riding the greatest 500 km in the world. Well, I did it. All sick and in hurry as my Carnet was expiring, Slovene Automobile Association (AMZS) helped me tremendously and Thai authorities issued an extension in one hour - that is not a speed with which they usually operate.

These days I am dealing with computer troubles that seem endless. $90 for extended warranty on my laptop was one of the smartest investments I have ever made. In last month the laptop has been sent back for repair, serviced by me and a troop of Compaq technicians and my patient friends.

Summer was again time for upgrading the stock of film, batteries and the camera equipment. I am still carrying full bag of Canon stuff, by now worth more than my BMW F650.

I am on my way to Laos and Vietnam, then Malaysia and Singapore. From somewhere there I will ship the bike to Nepal and get ready for another traffic horror - India.

Well, I am still on the road. Still having fun but green grass of home is more and more often on my mind.

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