Bangkok or Bust

Let me borrow from cardboard TV Irish for a second to say “feck, but it’s dusty here.”

The Bangkok caper started unravelling when I knocked a lens out of the favourite aviatory-style sunnies I’d been chuffed I’d taken. That was less than halfway in.

This is when I discovered the dust, with the results you see below.

Bangkok is the worst, but it doesn’t get much better on the open roads from there to Chonburi and Pattaya, and on to Rayong etc. Loads of heavy trucks, and the routes are lined not with farmland and tree plantations, but with industry, which worsens the dust. Manufacturing plants, etc, and dozen of As Vague As Possible Logistics ( Thailand ), all in forbidding concrete. It could be a Mad Max movie.

So, flustered and dusted, and trying to listen to my phone for motorway turn-off details, I got myself well lost several times. On the way. I discovered that motorways ( they’re marked with big blue signs ) are not the domain of little scooters. Little scooters are not allowed on motorways. When little scooters approach motorway toll booths, rabid Thais come out of booths shrieking and waving their arms. It doesn’t help to shrug and play the stupid foreigner, they forcibly U-turn you quick-smart, never letting up with the yapping. They’re not at all amused when you do it again.

Google Maps

Once I figured out that I should have told Google Maps to avoid toll-paying roads, I quickly found my way through Bangkok to the Police Clearance Centre Headquarters. I arrived around midday, possibly why it was a cattle pen. BUT, what with the aid of some 1980s ticker-tape-style number chits, I was through there in less than an hour. I was, strangely, only one of two Caucasians there.

Even given the time of day, Bangkok seems way dustier, and hotter, than Rayong. The swarms of scooter-riders are also more aggressive, lots of people enjoying games of dodge through the traffic. More advertising, of course.

I got out of Bangkok as fast as possible, what with having to be back at work today. The escape went ok, except for a slow leak in my scooter’s front tyre, and a never-ending slow climb to Chonburi, about midway to Rayong.

So, here are the numbers, bearing in mind that Einstein here managed to get lost on the way back as well. Gas – 270 Baht ( ~= NZ $13 ), mileage – around 350 km total , time – left Rayong 7.10 a.m., return about 4.30 pm. Stopped for mid-afternoon lunch ( 3 eggs, olives, cucumber, nuts, cocoa drink ), pumping tyres, getting lost, re-fuelling ( the tank takes about 80 baht worth ), and Bangkok.

I might have made another tactical blunder. Given a choice between collecting the police clearance slip in TWO weeks, and receiving it in THREE weeks ( by post ! ), I chose collecting it.

I’m now wondering whether this is wise.