We’ve finally made it to Bangkok – What a journey…
|Travel From||–||Ayutthaya, Thailand|
|Intermediate Location||–||Bangkok, Riva Surya hotel|
|Ending Location||–||Bangkok, Thailand (Shipping Warehouse)|
|Miles Driven Today||–||75 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||14224 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos, Thailand|
A little bit about the end of the trip
The trip into Bangkok was expected to be about 55 miles. This may not sound like much, but Bangkok traffic is notorious for being chaotic, and a bit overwhelming. And so, we started this, the final section of our 73 day odyssey of riding motorcycles, through 7 countries. Remember of course, that I had also ridden the bike through 13 countries in North America, and Europe.
And so, after 106 days of travel and riding, I had come to the place where I would celebrate the accomplishment, and ship the bike back to the US. What an epic journey it was. I cannot say truthfully that I enjoyed every moment. But, when I looked for a trip that I thought I, I made it clear to my friends, and myself that I wanted a trip that took me to places that few people ever go to. I wanted the trip to be epic, and I wanted to have to earn my merit badge, day by day, every day.
And so, I can say, without a doubt that I’ve accomplished my objective. I arrived safely, never having dropped the bike, with the exception of two times that it tipped over in parking lots due to shear stupidity, rather than a gap in my skills portfolio. I had to deal with food poisoning in China, poor visibility through my visor in a good number of places, cold temperatures in Kyrgyzstan, and China, and mud, virtually everywhere.
I feel that, as I complete this journey, and log this final entry of mileage, that I’ve changed. I’ll talk about some aspects of the change in a later blog post, but as it concerns to mileage, I’ve certainly improved my riding ability. I came into this trip, with excellent skills in low speed maneuvering, and I’ve certainly improved on those skills, even thought I stated with a good foundation, provided by the BMW academy in Greer, SC. But all other aspects of my riding have also improved. I am now confident to ride in virtually any conditions. I’ve ridden in gravel, mud, dirt, rain, fog, and sand. I’ve ridden in wildly chaotic traffic patterns of China, where no one ever looks before the enter the traffic flow, and where you are at risk every minute, and I’ve also ridden in some of the biggest cities in the world, Moscow, Almaty, Xian, Chengdu, and Bangkok. In every case, I’ve tried to use my head and my skills to arrive safely.
And so, while there were some issues on this trip, I would not have traded this experience for anything. I will likely be telling all of you stories about this trip for years to come. In fact, I’m already overwhelming Toni, and Christopher with too many stories of the road, but they put up with me, and allow me to drone on, eventually asking me to “stand down”.
Anyway, let’s take a look at how this final day went, and put this one in the books.
Morning – Riding into/toward Bangkok
The first 35 miles were uneventful. We stopped and took a break at a place, where we could buy a smoothie, and from there, we began to see the fringes of Bangkok. The level of excitement, and chaos steadily escalated until we were smack dab in the middle of their chaos, and we were still 15 miles from the hotel.
These last 15 miles were filled with event after event. I recall riding at slow speed, placing the bike, ever so carefully between two cars. My mirrors, and their mirrors were about 1-2″ apart, and if they had veered in towards me, I could have been sandwiched between them, and suffered the indignity of an injury, or worse. But, the folks of Bangkok are used to motorcycles, and they are not hostile to us, or to the small bikes. In fact, I’d say that they put up with bikes pretty well.
Riding through the highways of Bangkok
The video below shows what its like to drive in Bangkok. We’re surrounded by thousands of cars, and just as many small bikes. We need to keep momentum, so that we don’t have to start and stop too often, so you’ll see us looking, in fact hunting for holes, into which we insert the bikes. Watch closely and you’ll see Phil, Charles and I, always making progress, but often choosing different paths, only to join again in 50 yards or so. It’s a dangerous proposition to be constantly moving the bikes from lane to lane, but a necessary evil, if you ever expect to get to Bangkok.
VIDEO OF BIKES IN TRAFFIC
As we ride, but not shown in the video above, we sometimes have to make our way between very close quarters of cars. The video below shows just how close we come to touching the cars. This process happens hundreds of times during a ride like this.
VIDEO OF BIKES IN CLOSE CONTACT
So,we began to bob and weave through traffic, thinking that we’re all that, and a bag of chips. But something weird happened. You see, there are so many of these small bikes in Bangkok, and a good many of the drivers are pretty skilled, that I found myself laughing in my helmet, as I was passed, and out-maneuvered by one of the small scooters, or a small sport bike. It’s pretty funny when you’re driving along, and these things pass you, cut in front, scoot between two cars, and vanish like a ghost. They were fun to watch, but it was yet one ore thing to be very careful about.
In order to manage them, I found that I had to do a bit of blocking of their path, because I was afraid that they would cut me off, and cause me to stop unexpectedly. But, these small bike riders are also bike riders, so I did my best to treat them with the respect they need, in order to stay safe. That said, they felt to me like a swarm of mosquitoes, always buzzing, but swat as you like, you never ever touched one of them.
Eventually, we made a left hand turn, and found ourselves on the final approach to the hotel .3 miles to go…
Hotel Arrival – Checkered Flag
At this point, you could see the greeting party. Charles’s friends were holding up a banner which read “Finish Line”, but they are from Taiwan, so it was especially appropriate that the banner was being held backwards, with the wording going from Right to left, instead of left to right.
As we approached the banner, we did our best to acknowledge the greeting party, and we rode into the hotel parking lot, with confidence, a sense of relief, and some apprehension, knowing that our journey was coming to an end.
With the bike cameras installed, I also captured a slightly different view of our arrival.
Upon arrival, the hotel staff greeted us with cold towels, cold drinks, and a warm welcome. Truth be told, I put down about 4 to 5 glasses of their signature tea, and my body slowly began to cool down. The entire ride into Bangkok, the temperature began to rise, and by the time we reached the hotel, we were at 100 F. We really needed the towels and the drinks, and they were simply wonderful.
After 5 minutes to decompress, I took a moment to interview most of the riders.
Charles had gone overhead, and taken a few shots of our bikes, sitting at the ready.
Twisting by the pool (Customs Paperwork)
We may have arrived at the hotel, but there was still work to do on this busy day. Perhaps you’ll recall the old Dire Straights song from Brothers in Arms, where they spoke about “Twisting by the pool”. Well, our late morning activities seemed a bit like that. All of us riders were all full of excitement, but we were all tired, and were anxious to get the bikes to the warehouse, and get them shipped out of town.
Like it or not, we would not have a quick exit from Bangkok, and the ride to the warehouse would also have issues to be overcome. But, as I’ve said many times before, this is an adventure trip, and SHIT HAPPENS.
Our shipping coordinator was scheduled to arrive at 10:00, but at 10:30, we got word that he’d be arriving at 11:30. And so, at 11:30, Netipat arrived, and we began the paperwork. To his credit, the paperwork for 10 bikes took only 30 minutes or so, after which time, we took 15 minutes to get our gear on, and to once more, get on the bikes, and ride into the heat.
The ride to the shipping warehouse
The ride to the shipping warehouse was about 25 miles, but once again, it was through the streets of Bangkok, and the heat was already at 100 F. The temperature did not budge throughout the entire ride, but we did stop at a high-pressure bike wash, where we cleaned off all of the mud, dirt, grime, and other unmentionables, so that the bikes would be ready to put in a container, and ship back to our destination.
We finally arrived at the warehouse at about 3:00 or so.
Upon arrival, we began to ready the bikes for shipment. For me, this meant a few things.
- Remove all of the gas from the gas tank
- Remove the windshield in order to lower the overall height of the bike, thus reducing shipping costs.
- Fill the panniers with as much gear as possible, thus increasing shipping costs.
- Take off my riding gear, and placing it into the dry bag, and mount it to the bike
- Remove the 256 GB memory card, which captures video footage from the Innov K2 (F&R)
- Attach the windscreen, which was removed, to the bike, so that it will be transported, and can be reinstalled upon arrival
- Attach the spare front tire to the bike, for transport back to the US.
Completing this checklist would take about 30 minutes in total, and then, we’d be ready to go back to the hotel.
Removing fuel from the bike
Getting the gas out of the bike proved to be a little bit of a challenge. Initially, we did not have a siphon hose, but that was quickly remedied, by asking Edelweiss for the use of their tool. We then discovered that the correct way to get the fuel out, involved closing the valve, in order to create suction, and then opening the valve in order to release the fuel, into a bigger gas storage tank.
I finished everything up, hopped into the Van, and we all headed back to the hotel.
Report from the road
This will be my final report from the road, as a rider. I’ll publish a few more, as we enjoy 10 days of vacation in Thailand, but for now, this is it folks.
Returning to the hotel
Traffic was heavy at 4:30, so it took about an hour or so, but we finally arrived at the hotel. We no longer had our bikes, and most of us expressed feelings that we were naked without them, as well as simply wondering what we’d do tomorrow morning.
But, back at the hotel, it was now time to rush around one more time, and get ready for our final dinner together.
The celebratory dinner
The dinner was at the hotel, on the terrace. The food was pretty good, and we enjoyed the location very much, as I found a number of river cruise ships passing by in the night. The boats are beautiful, and well lit.
Toni, Chris, Isabella and I needed to be up, and back in the lobby by 6:00 AM, in order to get in the van for our next adventure, a trip to the Bridge on the river Kwai. So, by 9:00 PM, we were ready to head upstairs. We said our goodbyes to the group, and made our way to bed.
It was nice to know that the pressure of riding the bikes the next morning was gone, but because I scheduled us for this field trip to the bridge, we were, once again, on a tight schedule.
What would tomorrow bring
Tomorrow’s trip to the Bridge on the River Kwai should prove to be a fun trip, where we see some of American and World War II history.