Monday, 27 August 2012

Following Eddie Murphy and Coming to America

Well I made it to Canada, were I had the biggest shock of my life, the price of food and drink in Canada!

a 12 pack of small Bud cost me £17!!! I am not going to mention the price I had to pay for the hotel just in case my kids are reading this and think that I have spent all of their inheritance.

I would say the hotel was fairly close to the airport
So after a couple of days it was time to take the Greyhound bus from Vancouver main to Seattle where I would change bus and finally arrive at Tacoma to collect my bike.

The Greyhound bus terminal
On the way we got talking to some firefighters that were doing a charity event. I asked if I could wear a helmet and very soon was given a hose to play with !

Me playing at Fireman Sam 
At the bus depot the bus pulled in and we started to make our way to the bus. The bus driver shouted at us "Going somewhere? then back it up to the line!" I was quite shocked. This bus driver didnt take any messing!
Soon we were on the bus and at the border.
The approach to the USA Border
Luckily the bus was allowed to take the bus lane and within 30 minutes all the passengers were processed. There was one girl who got a proper grilling but did eventually join us back on the bus. 
I was given a 6 month stay due to having an american visa, so I was very pleased at this, though I too got a bit of a grilling.... suppose its just all part of the process.

The bus swap over was fairly easy and within a few hours we had reached Tacoma, then a short but very costly $10 taxi ride to our hotel.

Today Dazzer and me made our way to customs to get the paperwork done, The bikes however will not be released till tomorrow (Tuesday) so hopefully in the very near future I will be on the road again.
I need to do some small repairs and hopefully find somewhere to do an oil and filter change.

view from my hotel with the docks in the background

Till then... ride safe

Friday, 24 August 2012

Hey I am in Canada :-)

So there I was lazing around in Bangkok, staying at an apartment block about 10 miles north of the city. Very cheap at £9 per night and for that you got a lovely room with balcony, fridge freezer, microwave and large flat screen tv.
It was a bit out of town though! So I soon found myself using the underground and Skytrain (Train goes above the city). Also used TukTuks and scooter taxis.
Scooter taxi's were great fun but a little frightening ! Basically you jump on the back of a scooter with no protection and agree the price and then its off ! zig zagging thru the traffic like a madman ! but its a quick way to get around as Bangkok has major traffic congestion.

So I decided I would squeeze a few days in Cambodia, I decided to move to the city where the hotels went up to £12 per night and also visited the redlight areas. I didnt stay long in the redlight areas, they were packed and it was scorching hot even at night!
I did get approached by a lady of the night, In China town of all places ! I was looking for some where decent to eat and ended up once again in the KFC!

So I took the train to the border, 180 miles for £1 thats value for money!
however it was very hot and jam packed! The novelty wore off after 20 minutes, to make matters worse the train was delayed and it took 7 hours to reach the border.

Seller come thru the train every 20 minutes selling a variety of food and drinks

I sat next to a young lady who later in the journey I gave a cig to, in return she offered me some sort of sexual favour, well I think it was unless she was miming that I needed to clean my teeth !!!
I then spent the next hour looking at her, struggling to see if she had once had an adams apple!

So you take a TukTuk from the train station to the border. Once there you have to find the visa building. Be aware that a lot of people will try and scam you. Just tell them you already have a visa and head thru the arch to the official building.
$20 later you will be issued with a visa and then its off to find transport to Siem Reap. I managed to buy a mini bus ticket for $10. This mini bus was shared by 10 others and the air con was so bad we on the back seat just melted! my shirt looked like it had been taken out of the washing machine and put on wet!

So I booked into my $12 hotel, which was lovely and had a pool, great for cooling off after a long day touring.
The I was there picture :-)
I also booked a TukTuk driver for the day at $10, he took me to all the ruins at Angkor Wat, I have to say, they were spectacular ! The downside was it was very hot with the temps touching the 40's.

The whole day was fantastic and I even got to see some monkeys.

I took hundreds of pictures, the temples are full of interesting statues and the walls are lined with sculpture and carvings/

The only downside was the locals trying to sell you things. I just felt they were a bit too much in your face!

After a couple of days I headed back to the apartment in Bangkok to get ready for the flight to Vancouver Canada.

1 of the hundreds of pictures I took that day

So arriving back in Bangkok gave me a few days to sort out washing and get last minute bits for the trip. The flight was a 1 stop over. So I can now add Japan to my list of countries (only joking, I didnt even get out of the airport lol).
I tried to sleep as much as I could on the flights, the flight time was 17 hours in total but because I was crossing the International Dateline I would be going back in time for the first time of this trip.
So I departed Bangkok at 8 in the morning, arriving in Vancouver Canada 2 hours later !! 
I have to say, this time I have really struggled with jet lag, today I had to go back to bed (only for 1 hour but slept thru the alarm and woke up 4 hours later).
Well tomorrow I head off on a Greyhound bus to Seattle USA, where hopefully Tuesday 28th Aug 2012 I will be re-united with my beloved bike ! Its been almost 3 weeks since I last saw my bike and I am getting quite excited about all the places to see :-)
So Ride Safe and take care :-)

Monday, 13 August 2012

lazing away in Bangkok Thailand

When we left Sabuk we took fantastic twisty scenic roads and had a night wild camping on the beach before taking route 7 down to Busan
Stunning scenery

Beautiful beaches and lovely warm sea's

wild camping on the beach

Well we managed to get the bikes loaded onto a RO/RO ferry bound for Tacoma USA.

It was touch n go though! we (Dazzer and I) had looked over google maps for the port and thought we had it all sussed. It looked like about 30 miles from the hotel in Busan to the port of Masan.

Because the bikes are not allowed on the motorways we allowed ourselves 3 hours to get to the port where we were meeting Mr Kim our custom rep.

All was going so well despite the very heavy traffic at 7 in the morning and the temp rising to 30 !  about 10 miles from the port we took a wrong turn and ended up on a motorway.  We got stopped at the toll gate and  we were told to turn around. However Dazzer went off and managed to get permission to use the motorway as long as we had an escort.
So an escort was found and instead of following him he insisted that we went in front.  This is were it all went down hill !! I think we took the 2nd exit when we should have taken the 1st. After 20 minutes of riding up and down different roads we managed to get split up!  With Dazzers phone not working all I could do was try to find the ferry and hope he managed the same.
After another 20 minutes I finally found myself on the road to Masan (though there was no road signs saying "Masan"!).
By this time it was almost 10 and I was starving, so I spotted a Macdonalds and thought, sod it, Im going to grab breakfast and work out where to go next.
Just as I sat down an american lady asked me if I was an English teacher, I quickly explained and in a few minutes she was on her phone and managed to contact Mr Kim.  I was instructed to stay at Macdonalds and he would come and get me.
How happy was I to see Dazzer in tow with Mr Kim, he had also found Masan and had stopped at a petrol station were they rang Mr Kim for him.
So 15 minutes later we were at the the port and the bikes were checked over by customs and finally handed over to the freighter's. The bikes are now due to land in the USA around the 24th Aug.

So we got a lift of Mr Kim and took a bus to Busan bus station, from there it was a short tube ride to the hotel.  4 hours on bikes to get there, 1.5 hours to get back by public transport !

The next day we set off to the airport to fly to Thailand for a few weeks (we had been told it was really cheap to live and eat in Thailand).
However our first hurdle was our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather in China (a change over flight). They did say Korean airlines were doing a direct flight to Bangkok, so we quickly headed over and booked and paid for 3 seats.
I must admit, it was the first plane I have been on that hands out complimentary drinks and snacks, YES free beer :-)  must make a note of that airline !
My first view of Bangkok

I have however had a right old time trying to get my money back from ! They wanted me to ring them from Thailand, when I said they could ring my hotel they refused saying they were an incoming call centre only ! so finally after 7 days they have agreed to look into it!  I will update my blog when the money has been refunded... however I will never use opodo ever again.

I am now living in a lovely room with balcony, air con, fridge, microwave and big TV all for £9 a night ! and the food is so cheap here :-)  however the downside is, the hotel is on the outskirts of the city and Bangkok's public transport is not the best.  So its taxi's to most places, however they are quite cheap to!

I have been to a massive shopping mall called Fortune IT shopping mall, 4 floors of computers, cameras and all IT things.... IT heaven for me lol.  I did manage to get my laptop repaired in under a hour for £10.  I dont think you will ever get that service in the UK.

View from the top of the Fortune shopping mall

I have also visited the Pantip shopping mall, tons of computers and even more dodgy software, which is quite funny because they sell this stuff next to a big poster saying "software piracy is a crime, 10 years in prison etc" quite ironic I think?

I also visited the weekend market, its the biggest market I have ever been to. The downside was it was so hot and humid all I could do was walk around like a leaking sponge. 3 hours later I was off back to my air con hotel :-)

So I am now thinking about a few options, move to another but more expensive hotel in the city and enjoy the night-life or head to Cambodia on the train.... or find a beach somewhere and just totally chill !

I do now one thing, I am really missing riding my old motorbike !
I just had to take a ride in a Tuk Tuk, great fun !