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Post 296: Buying a Bike in Thailand ...

Even at the end of January, the plan was really still quite simple. On the 10th of February I’d fly to Thailand and meet Tassaneeya in Khon Kaen. On the 14th of February we’d throw a big party for friends and family and then head off to Hanoi in Vietnam. In Hanoi, we’d buy a little Minsk motorbike and then set off riding in a leisurely circle until we finally arrived back in Hanoi via Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. We’d then sell the Minsk, return to Thailand and fly back to England for the summer. Unfortunately things didn’t turn out as expected and while there was indeed a big party in Khon Kaen on the 14th of February, it wasn’t my name on the invitations … mai pen rai

The timing wasn't ideal, but then I can hardly blame Tassaneeya. Lets face it, putting up with me for the past 18 months hasn't been easy and the prospect of covering 20,000Km on the back of a Minsk, well, it's not every girls dream. We remain good friends and I wish her every happiness for the future ... life goes on.

So, several days before departure, my plans had to change and the new plan was quite simple. Don’t have one. I arrived in Thailand on 10th February and headed down to the beautiful island of Koh Chang and then back up to Sattahip with new found friends. From Sattahip, I moved on with more new friends and arrived in Nakhom Ratchasima. It’s Thailand’s second largest city, but in all of the time that I’ve been based here, I’ve seen no more than four or five fellow Europeans, and that‘s just the way I like it. I didn’t intend to stay here for this long, but I found an Apartment Hotel for just under seventy pounds a month (yes .. a month ) and it seemed like as good a place as any to relax and work out what to do next. Broken bones and burns aside, I’ve been borrowing and renting bikes and to be quite honest, it’s a pain in the arse constantly changing. It was time to bite the bullet, time to buy my own little bike in Thailand. After all, there are millions of them around, they’re cheap to buy and run, so just how difficult could it be? …… mai pen rai

I soon discovered that in order to register a vehicle, Thai people require an ID card plus a copy of their House Registration Document. Unfortunately it’s the same rules for Farang (Westerners). I need a 3-Month Non Immigration Visa in my passport and a letter from the local immigration office confirming my address here in Nakhom Ratchasima. Two hurdles and two instant failures. In Vientiane, I got a double entry 60 day visa, that with a little good management will allow me to stay in Thailand for 180 days. It is unfortunately not the 90 Day Non Immigration Visa that they require. Secondly, in order to rent the room for a month, they needed to keep my passport, but I needed my passport to go to Laos for the new visa. The problem was resolved by Aeg’s sister Aporn, renting the apartment in her name and thus leaving me in possession of my passport. The local immigration office didn’t see it quite that simply, so there’s no letter confirming my address in Thailand ….. mai pen rai

So, without jumping through a string of expensive and inconvenient hoops, I can’t legally buy a bike in Thailand . Next best option. I buy the bike, register it at Fort Suranaree and have the documents made-out in Aporn’s name. Aporn then writes me a legal note stating that I have full entitlement to ride the bike and if the need arises, to export it on a permanent basis. A beautiful solution to a bureaucratic problem. The only thing is, all of the documents are written in Thai. For all I know they could read "Arrest this man on sight" …… and I haven’t even touched on the selection of dodgy bikes yet …… mai pen rai

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