Thailand! We meet once again....
Having spent the whole of last winter in this country, the familiarity of everything around us is like slipping on a pair of old well-worn shoes. All the smiling Sawadee-Kah ladies are still here! On the Songthaew ride to our rented apartment we pass by the old blue-white-and-red oil-drop logo of the PTT gas stations, the curly Thai script (that we can't read) on every sign, the 7-11s on every street corner... 55555! OMG, remember 555?
The last time we felt this sense of homecoming was when we returned back to Mexico after spending a month riding around Cuba.
We've parachuted back onto the resort island of Phuket with only the tiniest subset of our warm weather riding gear, leaving behind the majority of our stuff with our BMWs back in Croatia. The only other thing we brought with us is our bathing suits! :)
Because it's friggin' hot once again! No more running from Old Man Winter.
The very first thing we do is visit the storage unit to liberate our Hondas
And once again, we're mobile on two again!
They're so shiny and clean! I'm so glad we gave them a wash before we put them away. It's like unwrapping a brand new bike!
We wheel our gleaming machines out into the parking lot, reattach the battery terminals and then thumb the starter on Neda's bike. Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk BRRRAAAP! YEEEEEAAA-boooooyyyyy!
We were a bit nervous that nine months sitting without a battery tender would have left our batteries flat. It wouldn't have been the first time...
My bike's turn: Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk.... Ka-chk Ka-chk Ka-chk... uh oh...
Stick the bike in 2nd, clutch in and push the bike down the parking lot. Pick up the speed to a light jog. Dump the clutch, jump on the seat and thumb the starter at the same time... SAWADEE-BRRAAAAAP!!!!
I love small-displacement motorcycles!!!! Ever try to bump start a 1200cc twin? It's not going to be anywhere as easy as this! I remember trying to bump my R1200GS once. I had to stick it in 4th gear. And start rolling it from the top of Mount Everest...
Neda is back to cross-stitching
Now that we're taking a break from our travels, Neda is bump-starting her cross-stitching once again. While we were busy frantically riding all over Europe, her hobby had to sit on the back-burner (which is not a good place to put cloth on) neglected.
Did I mention we have a swimming pool? Those bathing suits we brought are being put to good use everyday!
We are staying in a much better class of accommodations in Thailand these days. For our camping money, we are now living like KINGS!
Speaking of which, the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, just passed away last month. The whole country is in mourning since he was so beloved. His son has now taken over the throne, but I get the sense that the people don't like him as much as his father. But no one can say anything out in the open or out loud, for fear of being put in prison because of the leste majeste laws.
I'm not going to say or write anything either. You can go Google it yourself. I like our life here in Thailand, Sawadee-Khrap.
If you ask her, Neda will tell you that Thai food is her favorite food in the whole, entire world. She is savoring every meal time here
Not to go back to that money thing again, but in Thailand, we can afford to eat out every single meal, every single day. Our apartment has a small kitchenette, but it's basically unused.
There's a certain relief to not having to watch your budget like a hawk all the time. It's like finally being able to exhale after holding your breath for such a long time. Sawadee-AAAAAH...
So... life is not all peaches and cream in the Land of Smiles...
I've hurt my back somehow. I can only walk for about half-an-hour before I have to find a hard surface to lie down flat on my back. And no, this isn't some lame excuse to get out of hiking!
It's excruciating. I've never felt this kind of back pain before in my life!
I think it's from sitting on an airplane for over 24 hours. I did some research on the Internet to try to find exercises to relieve the pain. And I spent about four days on the floor waiting to see if the pain would go away.
It didn't. Sawadee-Crap.
So we looked up a physiotherapist in Phuket. I don't really have a medical plan or insurance while we're in SE Asia, so I was a bit afraid of the cost. In Canada, you'll pay about $100 per session for physio. I asked the Thai doctor how much to fix me. He told me for an hour and half of heat therapy, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and deep tissue massage, it would be $15.
My back was fixed in four sessions. I went for six sessions just for fun. Happy endings for all involved!
5555! We're going to live here forever!!!!
While I treated my back, Neda was treating herself in other ways
Like mo-fo-ing KINGS, I tell you...
One thing we've got to get used to again is how early the night falls here. At the equator, the days are exactly 12 hours long, no matter what time of year it is. Which means, it starts to get dark around 5PM and the sun always sets at 6PM, give or take a few minutes depending on what month it is.
We are out one evening to meet up with Trevor, a fellow RTW motorcycle traveler. He just so happens to be in Phuket at the same time that we are!
Going out for drinks with Trevor and his friend, Julie, who's visiting him here in Thailand
Trevor has the distinction of meeting up with us on five different continents now! First in California at a motorcycle travelers meet, then in Panama for the Stahlratte crossing to Colombia, then we put him up at our place in Croatia and he returned the favour in the French Riviera, then he smuggled illegal alcoholic drinks into Morocco for us and now he's here in Thailand!
How cool is that?!?!
Trevor's originally from Australia, so if he ever goes back home, we'll go pay him a visit and make it 6 for 6.
Trevor borrowed a CB500 during the time that he's here. Big bike for Thailand!
He's leaving to go to the airport, flying to Pattaya to go meet his dad, so we have a farewell brunch and then give him and Julie a proper Thai-motorcade escort out of Phuket.
I remember when we last left Phuket back in the spring, we were so sick of the heat in SE Asia that we gave a pass on the world-famous beaches on the island. Didn't even visit once. But now we're totally in the mood for some sun, sand and surf!
Hop on the bikes to go to the beach
The beach is about 20 minutes away from our apartment.
Okay, so just because we're Thai-Affluent, doesn't mean we're Stinkin-Phuket-Rich. Beach-side places are significantly more expensive than places in the interior of the island. Plus we have bikes anyway, so we don't mind riding all over the place.
Our favorite beach that we go to all the time is Kata Beach, near where we stayed in the spring time
Ah, the smell of the salt sea air! The visual treat of the bluest of blue skies meeting the golden sands of the beach. The sounds of... Russian being spoken everywhere?!?
There are a lot of Russian people in Phuket. There are more people speaking Russian than English on this island. It's actually quite uncanny...
So Neda is out playing in the waters and I'm getting a little sun on my UK-Food-Pregnancy-Belly when this old Russian guy sitting next to me, with a much-larger Borscht-belly than my first-trimester Cornish-Pastie-Tummy, strikes up a conversation. In Russian.
It's not like I don't understand Russian, which I don't. It's also that he's had about two too many bottles of vodka this afternoon.
With my limited Croatian knowledge, I'm trying to piece together what he's slur-mumbling to me. So then he tries sign language. He points at me then at himself. Okay, "Us". Then he points at Neda out in the waters. "Zena?" he asks? Ah, that's Croatian for wife. "Da. Zena." I reply.
Then he points at an older woman further down the beach. She's face-down on a blanket, tanning herself. "Zena", then he points to himself.
Okaaaay.... Slowly I begin to understand. Either he wants to trade Zenas or he wants a foursome! Whut!?! EWWWWW! NOOOOO! GROSS!
"Dosvadanya! Dosvadanya!" I quickly move my blanket further away down the beach.
My zena, having the time of her life! Oblivious to all the Slavic pimping activities going on behind her back
If you look up the word, "Frolic" in the dictionary, this is the picture under the definition
Despite the gross Russian encounter, Kata Beach has become our go-to spot for sun and sand. Every couple of days, we stuff the beach blankets in the top case and spend the late afternoon on the beach when the sun is not as high and hot. What an idyllic life!
One afternoon, we head to Kata, despite the forecasts predicting rain. It's not going to rain!
Then the skies darken and we're racing back home to beat the showers! 555!
We found a great crab place, just down the street from Kata
Two weeks here and life is good in Phuket.
However, this was never meant to be our final resting place. Phuket is cheap for a resort town, but it's not Chiang-Mai-cheap. Also, we've got a life that we've started to build up in the mountains of Thailand. We like beaches, but not every single day. The weather is more temperate up north. Plus, we are motorcycle-people and the twisty roads in the north are calling out to us. This little vacation has been nice, but now it's time to get back to our real life.
We've got to relocate both ourselves and our little motorcycles 1500 kms to the north.
First things first, we bring our suitcase to the post office and mail it Chiang Mai. Total cost: $8... 55555!
Okay. One final push - a road trip to northern Thailand - and then we can finally take that loooooong extended break from our travels that we've been talking about forever.