As I am writing this blog post, I just left Bangkok for a quick stop in Ayutthaya before I go further north in Thailand to Chiang Mai and beyond. I ended up spending a full week in Bangkok, but it was well worth it and very productive overall.
My main trip objectives in Bangkok were:
- Getting the bike serviced
- Stocking up on spare parts and tires for the next stage of the trip
- Sorting out my permit for Myanmar (which was revoked a few weeks before, very frustrating)
In addition, I had a number of civilisation therapy objectives:
- Eat a steak
- Have a decent cocktail (more specifically a Negroni)
- Catch a movie at the cinema
- Meet up with some old friends from when I lived in Bangkok in 2012
- Enjoy Bangkok’s amazing food scene in general
Day 48 – Settling in to Bangkok life: I actually arrived early evening on Saturday (day 47) and after checking in to my hotel I went straight for that steak. And I had said steak √ with an old friend √ so knocked two items off the list within hours of arriving to Bangkok. Great progress, so I rewarded myself with a bit of a sleep in on Sunday morning and then went about walking around my old neighbourhoods. A very nice and relaxed day, not much to report other than managing to tick that cocktail √ off the list in the evening.
My old neighbourhood in Sukhumvit from above
And walking around on street level
Day 49 to 53 – Running errands and having amazing food: I ended up spending the whole week, Monday to Friday in Bangkok. But rather than running through the week day by day I thought I might try a different approach and organise this blog post according to my to do list.
First off, taking care of the bike turned out to be really easy. I had already organised to drop it off at Britbike (the local Triumph dealer in Bangkok) on Monday morning and the manager Asawin and his guys did an amazing job with it! Not only did they service and patch up the bike √ in no time, they also gave it the most thorough clean it has ever received and managed to get me exactly the tires I wanted √ for the next stage of the trip.
Dropping off a dirty, tired bike at Britbike on Monday morning
Two days later, picked it up again looking brand new!
Now all I needed to do was to figure out how to pack everything onto the bike in a somewhat secure and effective manner. Easier said than done. After a few tries with complicated approaches (almost to the point of wearing the spare tires like hula hoops) I decided that I’ll probably just stack it high and see what happens.
Stacking it high it is. And obviously I’ll be wearing the helmet so it’s not even that high 🙂
I was lucky the bike points on my list went so smoothly, because the Myanmar permit part really didn’t. Basically to enter Myanmar with a foreign registered vehicle you need a detailed day-by-day itinerary put together by a government licensed tour agency sent to the Ministry of Tourism in advance for approval. Obviously I knew this from researching the trip to begin with and I was already working with a really helpful travel agent to arrange that. Unfortunately, my permit was revoked at some point when I was in Indonesia and nobody could tell me why.
Not much I could do about that until I got to Bangkok, where Myanmar has an embassy. So I head there on Tuesday morning. After waiting in line, then being pointed to a different line and finally getting to talk to someone who wanted to help me I leave the embassy with… almost nothing! They explain that the embassy has no control over the permits issued by the Ministry of Tourism, and have no way of helping me with that. But in the end I manage to get a phone number to someone in the Ministry.
Straight back to the hotel to grab a phone and see if I can sort this out (at this point I am also researching ways to ship the bike past Myanmar straight to India…). I call. Someone picks up. And after being bounced around for a while I get to a gentleman who speaks good English and has seen my original application.
So what happened? Well. Since I applied for the permit, the specific border crossing I was going to take from Thailand to Myanmar has been closed for foreigners. And rather than pointing that out and ask me to change my itinerary to enter at a different border crossing they just revoked the whole thing. Anyhow, that is what it is and he explains that if I just submit a new application entering at the Myawaddy border crossing there should be no problem getting that approved. Although the processing time is 10 working days… so that’s another one week delay in the schedule. Anyway, I get in touch with my agent in Myanmar again and we put together a new itinerary and submit a new application √ by Thursday morning. So now the plan is to enter Myanmar on Wednesday March 22nd.
Luckily, neither the bike or Myanmar errands took up very much time during the days (most of the time I was just waiting) so I had plenty of time to enjoy the much anticipated civilisation therapy. I went to the movies √, but then focused most of my attention on enjoying Bangkok’s spectacular food scene. And it is spectacular. And it spans the entire spectrum, from street food to some of the best fine dining restaurants in the world. Naturally I wanted to sample the whole spectrum so when I arrived I called Gaggan (ranked #1 restaurant in Asia for three years straight and featured in an episode of Chef’s table on Netflix – check it out!) and managed to get a table on Wednesday night.
Amazing street food
And fancy restaurant food
And finally enough hip cafés that I could get a decent brunch
Gaggan was absolutely amazing, very interesting experimental take on Indian cuisine, and very well worth the visit. Among the highlights were a tiny waffle sandwich with goat brain filling and a tomato matcha soup.
And because I stayed the whole week I also took the time to do some general caring for all my gear and equipment, essentially making my hotel room into a workshop for a few days. I even managed to rationalise away some things, roughly equaling the weight of my new tires so I could leave Bangkok more or less weight neutral.
Unpacking EVERYTHING in my room
Cleaning all my tools and equipment