Seven days, and five visas. Derek reckons it's some sort of record. He was picking a month. But I've worked hard for it, cycled 250km in Bangkok traffic, stood in very long queues, and been very patient, and kept my cool.......yes I know you're amazed Fletch. And now it looks as if I'll be able to ride on out of Bangkok on Friday, the King's Birthday, with visas for Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Nepal in my pocket.
Would like to have India as well, but their visa starts the day you get it, so it would have run out by the time I got to the border. Would also like to have sorted Pakistan as well, but I can't apply anywhere except in NZ if I'm a tourist traveling. So there is a problem to be solved. How to get my passport to the NZ Pakistan Embassy, when I need it with me? Any solutions or ideas appreciated.
The normal mixture of folk in the lines with me. So many heading for Myanmar. Many to retreats. Doesn't sound like fun to me. Woken at 3am. No reading, no power, no talking, no TV, radio or music, no food until 9am. Just meditation. Then your last food for the day is at noon. I think I'll do my meditation while riding Fiona through the countryside.
So Bangkok is going off. Public holiday Friday, and big celebrations. The last ten days I've been watching the crews tarting the city up. Flags, yellow for the King, and blue for the Royal Family, and red white and blue for Thailand, are going up everywhere. Yellow bunting is being put up on bridges, fences, buildings and monuments. Thousands of yellow flowers are being planted. Everything is being scrubbed clean and repainted. Quite a BIG wow.
Along the roads near the palace, whole streets are being closed off and covered by huge marquees. Music, flowers, stalls, especially selling yellow shirts, are everywhere. At least half the people I see are wearing yellow. This is BIG. Military, everywhere. But not wearing yellow.
But still the traffic, the markets, the pace of the city, continues. I'm becoming pretty skilled at riding in the traffic. On a bike you just don't need to stop, except I do, at lights. Sneaking up between queues of traffic is an art. I follow the Motorbike taxis. I wear my high viz top, yellow. They wear high viz orange, with their registration number, and order number, and they go anywhere, footpaths, one way streets, across medium strips , so I follow them.....
The tuktuks are pretty cool too. Pretty flash, and with a bit of grunt, but not as good as bikes getting up the gaps between traffic. Sometimes this is a little dodge, and you really don't want to knock any car wing mirrors. Car drivers do NOT like this, and get a little agitated. I made the mistake a couple of times early on. I learnt.
Taxis, are very colourful here. Pink seems to be a favourite colour, with some yellow, and a few green. There's a bit of complaining from locals in the papers lately, that taxi drivers are ignoring locals as foreign fares earn more. They are all very courteous though, and give this mad foreigner on a bike, plenty of room.
So I'm pretty pleased to be almost done here, and keen to ride on out. It's been fantastic staying with the Williams family. It's great staying with locals. They've been fascinating me with stories, as good as any episode of Shortland St. Derek is very much in the know re the goings on and history in all of SE Asia, and it makes for fascinating chat over dinner. SE Asia has a lot of very recent history. It's just nice to be able to talk English and be understood as well. Thank you very very much for your hospitality folk. Really appreciate it.