Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 267: Leaving ...... ready or not

Grant Johnson, world traveller and founder of Horizons Unlimited, famously shortened the handles on his wife’s tooth brush and razor in order to save unnecessary weight. Times have changed and what back in the 1990’s seemed like an incredibly radical act is now the absolute minimum that some people will do. It’s no longer enough to simply chop off the handles because if you're really serious about travelling, you also have to drill out the remaining stems. Failing that, you could always buy a pre-prepared titanium model from those lovely people at Touratech.

Each to their own, but personally I think it’s a load of old bollocks. No matter how well prepared you are for a big bike journey, you’ll always end up with double the amount of kit that you really need and only half the amount of money. Poor Circulation wasn’t exactly the ’Blueprint’ for adventure planning, but we managed to get everything that we needed onto the bikes, including the kitchen sink. Yes folks, we took the kitchen sink. A 15 litre collapsible plastic affair that really didn’t see too much action in the washing-up department, but it worked really well as a foot bath. I certainly wouldn’t recommend any would-be traveller to rush out and buy one, but at least when people looked at the Tigers and made the inevitable comment, we could reply in all honesty that 'Yes .. we’ve got that as well'

Last week I mentioned that there was no longer a plan for South East Asia, and there still isn‘t. I fly out next week and from Bangkok I’ll take a bus to Pattaya in Chon Buri, where I’ll hire myself a bike. The thing is, I hate Pattaya. I’ve been there twice, once back in the 80’s when it was bearable and once in the 00’s when it wasn’t. Pattaya is everything that the cynics believe Thailand to be. It’s brash, it’s vulgar and it smacks you in the face on every street corner. While it‘s easy to avoid the seedier side of life in Bangkok, in Pattaya it’s as unavoidable as the humidity. So, why the hell am I going to Pattaya?

In Bangkok 2008, I rented a Honda Phantom from a rather strange and seemingly reclusive guy called Mr Moriarty. Since then, he seems to have become even more reclusive. Emails are returned and his telephone is unobtainable, the mysterious Mr Moriarty has vanished. As Mr Moriarty was seemingly the only provider of rental bikes in Bangkok, that unfortunately leaves me with Pattaya. Assuming that I can pick up a decent bike there, it’s then a question of North or South?

I’m travelling light, and because I’ll probably end up riding a ’Break-Back Scooter’, that’s probably the only way to go. Everything that I’m taking, apart from my laptop and crash helmet, fit’s neatly into my old Krauser Topbox. I know that everything fits into it because that’s what I’ll be using as my suitcase. Sure, it looks a little odd when you’re walking through airport terminals, but it should fit neatly onto the back of any bike that I find and hopefully it's secure enough to stop any chancers from making off with my things.

On Tuesday morning, a courier delivered a package to my door and inside of the envelope was Dakar Duck. Apparently, and probably not surprisingly, he’s done far more travelling than I in the past year. He’s completed the 'Dawn to Dusk' 24-Hour Enduro and spent some quality time ‘off-roading’ with Austin Vince and Lois Pryce down in Spain. Add in a few trips to Wales and a treasure hunt in the Pyrenees and all in all, he’s had quite a busy year. He’s looking quite grubby, but I honestly haven’t got the heart to clean him and he'll just have to come along as he is. I’m not entirely sure what he’s got to look forward to, but hopefully it’ll be a rewarding mystery tour for both of us.

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