Thanks John. Happy New Year to you and everyone else too.
Yeah, work eh? I better do some of that. I'm plotting my return to Asia though.... but I better do something about the bank account first. I've spent the last month being the go-fer for the missus. She had her second hip replaced in early December, a few days after I got home. She's ditched the crutches now but not before leaving them where I could trip up and smash the crap out of my foot. My little toe got broken and dislocated... sticking out like a Pommie tea drinkers' pinky. I think there might be a bit more damage in there though, so will have to get to the doc again at some stage. It isn't the toe that's keeping me laid up... its the damn foot.
I've been somewhat absorbed with customs issues too... lots of emails and phone calls. My shipping agent hadn't extended my KTM's Temporary Import Permit in time before it expired - I guess I should have made sure it was done before I left. There's been discussion of having to pay import duty and taxes, me having to return to Thailand to sort it out, etc, etc.
We think we've got a solution... an authorisation for my mate to export it on my behalf, but only because I was able to send Customs over there a copy of the surgeon's bill, showing why I had to come home.
Exporting the Norton is fine - but only because I brought the frame home with me on the plane. My Beeza hasn't made an appearance yet. If it doesn't make it before the container leaves, I may end up doing some road riding on a '47 Beeza in Thailand. I'm somewhat on tenterhooks about that one still.... my contact was doing his second trip to the border yesterday to get it. Last week's effort, after 4 separate confirmations that it was ready to get, turned into a disaster when he got there.... ie no bike. He went again yesterday, having had confirmation that it was there... but I'm still waiting to hear.
Can't wait for this one....
Nice eh? I'll run it on historic plates.
Meanwhile, I better finish off my story from Laos eh?
Monica, the German woman who runs the Jumbo Guesthouse in Hongsa, Laos (she does lots of elephant-based tourism for guests, hence the "Jumbo") took me around to a friend's house.
This young woman has just had her first baby.
Her husband is a soldier, doesn't earn much - IIRC 700,000 kip a month (plus some allowances for phone and petrol) - about $85 a month.
Her job, for the first month after the birth of the baby (born here, in the bamboo hut) is to sit on that stool near the fireplace and take care of the baby and to do nothing but that. I believe she's not supposed to was for the first month either, which presumably is about bonding with the baby.
Her husband's job is to take care of her and everything else. Keep hot water on the fire, for herbal teas, etc, provide her the best of food and wait on her, hand and foot.
On the food front, while we were there, this kid turned up to sell the husband a rooster.
The baby was just a couple of weeks old when we went around
Here's the kitchen for that one-room hut. Its outside in a bit of a lean too - closed in on three sides.
Anyhow, that was it in Laos for me for this trip. I had to head for the border. I was carrying rego papers for the KTM that showed an expiry date of that day, although the bike actually had registration for another six months (but the papers were back in Oz). I struck problems both sides of the border.... despite me actually being 100% legit with my bike for once. On the way into Laos, they'd run out of "green forms" ie the Temporary Import Permit for the bike and I'd just been waved through. Fortunately I'd got the guy who waved me through to stamp a photocopy of my rego papers. On the way out, the guy at customs was giving me grief because I didn't have a green form (TIP). About the third time I said "they run out of forms"... with me waving the photocopy around, he waved me through.
At the Thai side, one of the guys kept asking for my export form, or something like that. I gather the Thai-registered bikes get it. As mine was on a Thai TIP... which you hand in when you leave, I had no papers. It all got sorted in the end, but only after it'd gone up the chain of command two more levels.
I plugged "Riders Corner" in Chiang Mai into the Garmin and let it take me there via the fastest route. When I rolled in at 2:30pm, the guys were somewhat surprised at my early arrival. I'd done 510km and a border crossing.... and gone through some damn heavy rain as well. I'd kept my speed under 100mph, as my chain was on its very last legs. I looked down at one traffic light and spotted one of the rollers sitting on the swingarm. Oops. It sounds a bit like an Abrams tank in the final drive area. Both bikes are definitely in need of new chains and sprockets.
I parked the bike at that stage and that was my last ride apart from dropping it to the shipping agent on my way to the airport. Would you believe, it rained on me as I took it out to them at sparrowfart the day I left? No rain gear, of course... and me going straight from there to the airport for 3 flights over the next 22 hours. Lovely.
I'll see if I can dig out some Loy Krathong photos, which was the night before I left. A fabulous event, well worth taking in - and Chiang Mai does it better than most, I believe. I've also got the link to the music video clip I got roped into in Jakarta.... I'll post them up when I sort some more photos out.