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Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Phuket Bike Repairs – Part II

Posted by TravellingStrom on March 14, 2013

As promised here is part two of the bike repairs, better late than never eh 🙂

I grabbed a cab to the airport early after brekky and after checking in I sat around reading, watching the chicas and some not so chicas!

There were a group of them, they must be a footy team or on a losing bet or something, how embarrassing!! The flight was uneventful, which is always a good thing and I had some great views of the shipping around the port of Singapore and the Malacca Straights as we came into land. I had no baggage claim and was on the train to town in no time. I had stopped to get info at the airport and now knew which train I needed for the hotel I had chosen, and also the Suzuki shop. I phoned the shop and he told me he closes at 5pm, so as I had lost an hour during the change of time zones, I better get cracking!

I had found the hotel OK, but the price was different now, if I had booked online(42$) but normal $126, so I went next door to the 81 and grabbed a cheaper room. Then I high tailed it back to the train station a few blocks away and went for a ride to get my spare parts. Although I was looking for a Suzuki shop, at first all I could find was a Fookhin Pawn Shop.

The train system here in Singapore is extremely easy and efficient. Of course it makes it easy in a country that speaks mainly English, as it used to be a British Territory during the Colonial era. For those who have been following my travels, you may recall the Hellfire Pass and The Bridge Over the River Kwai post I did? Well, the allied soldiers that were stationed here in the war were all transported north to do that work. Anyway, I was able to get to the shop with 20 minutes to spare and bought my parts that had been set aside. Lucky for me I had called earlier as they do not take credit card and that allowed me to visit an ATM to grab some cash. In the following photo of the train occupants, the quiz question is, why is the lady on the right looking so bored?

Answer, she left her smart phone at home 😉

At the Suzuki shop the only issue I had was with the piston rings, but they were an optional purchase and would not be needed to get me back on the road. I had specified a part number from an 07 model(the only parts manual I had), mine is an 08 and for some reason it is different, even though the piston is the same? He did not have any to match what I needed anyway, and so I had to make a decision, I bought them just in case they could be used. But, I would of course need to find out the difference at some stage. Later!

Next on the agenda was playtime, and for that enter stage left, Glenn 🙂

Glenn is a chap I met up in Chiang Mai when I stayed at Riders Corner last year. We went for a ride together with Phil the owner. We got on fine and now we were going to have a few beers on his own territory. When I told him where my hotel was he just laughed, apparently I was smack bang in the middle of the red light district!!!! Ahh, so that was what those girls were asking me 😉 First off though, I have to say, Singapore is EXPENSIVE!!!! Everything costs heaps, but maybe that is because I have just spent the past 5 months in SEA which is dirt cheap 😦 If that is the case, I am not looking forward to the life back in Oz!!! As we drove to a bar of Glens choice, I remarked on the fact there are not many scooters or bikes on the road, this was very noticeable to me after SEA traffic. Glenn informed me that the government has taxed the buggery out of it all. To hopefully save traffic chaos, before you buy a bike(any size from scooter to Rocket III), you need a letter of permission(or something like that), this costs $2,000 if it is granted. Then you buy the bike at whatever the import cost is. Then you register it(costs a lot), then you pay road tax(costs a lot), so all up, a $1,500 scooter may cost you $8,000. For cars, it is even worse, the new rules that just came into effect means if you want to buy a car, the ‘letter of permission’ will cost you $92,000, yep that is not a typo, $92,000 and this is only to give the ability to buy a car, then rego, road tax you name it!!! This LOP lasts 10 years, you then need to pay another 92k or whatever sum it has risen to.

So, anyway, back to the beer. We found a place next to the river where we had a few beers and I had some ribs, then we went to party and according to the sign, we had found the right place(if you are wondering about my gear, I brought with me nothing to change into, I would shower with this stuff before bed and wear it tomorrow after it is dry, or even if not) 🙂

What happens in Singapore stays in Singapore 😉

The next day I returned to the Suzuki shop, and on the way saw the working girls just arriving for another day of hard. I cannot remember getting home last night, this morning, so maybe these are different girls? Anyway, back to normality with a hangover, I had been thinking that the piston rings would not be a good idea, because I could not be sure of what they will do to the cylinder bore, there must be a good reason for the change in sizes(I found out later a different depth and thickness of the grooves meant a different ring size). But, the shop would not refund me the money, so I tried to swap the credit for a new clutch switch(mine is buggered) but he had none, a new side stand switch(mine was ripped off in Kyrgyzstan), also none in stock, bugger. My main reason for returning was to get a new air filter, so in the end I swapped the ring kit for two of them, the price was ‘same same’ 🙂

So, once that was achieved I headed into town to do some shopping. Now, shopping and me are not a common sight and as I have no fashion flair, it would be a waste of time anyway. 😉 But, my mum had asked me to see if I could find something and as I had been given the shop name and the area to look, it was but a trifle of time and effort 🙂 I did find the correct shop, and did purchase something, but it is now considered an official ‘surprise’, so all you get is the following hint 😉

So, now I had done all that was needed and I went back to the hotel where I had stashed my bags and grabbed them, then went to the airport. It mattered not that it was early, I figured I needed to buy some food for the plane flight and I could use the free WiFi and maybe relax in the aircon 🙂 The planes here are frill free, if you want to eat, you buy it on board at extra cost or bring it with you. This goal was also achieved, we took off, I saw a great sunset from whatever height above wherever and arrived safely. My taxi driver had turned up as promised(the same person who took me here, was it only just yesterday) and the trip to town was easily done. It was a relief to be back and having the bike bits I needed to continue my journey. Dinner was a simple cob of corn from the street market while I caught up with emails etc.


Before I went to Singapore I had taken my seat down to an upholsterer and asked for a new cover. The old one was ripped to shreds from age and wear and tear, not from the crashes. The result was good, I like it, he did an excellent job getting the new cover to fit with my Airhawk bladder and cheap too at $20.

Upholster Phuket GPS – N7.90710 E98.37630

I picked this up and took it along with the spare parts to the bike shop and left them to it. It was Saturday, and Park, the mechanic, said my crankshaft would arrive tomorrow, so that is good news 🙂 They would not start the work until Monday, but it was still a week or more earlier than it would otherwise have been if I had waited for parts, so I feel the time and effort used in going to pick up the parts was well worth the expense, a good outcome all around 🙂 I was now free for a few days and I basically spent that time on my rental scooter chasing Geocaches of which there are heaps on Phuket Island. That evening Frank came around and took me on another tour down to the south of the Island. Before we left I spotted some young school kids all kitted up in nice uniforms, it turns out to be their school celebration, held once a year. 🙂

The area we went to was a seafood area, you buy the seafood direct off the market stalls, then take it to the nearest place to have it cooked and served. Here you can also be tempted with the sales pitch of the local touts, Frank managed to buy something, although the hat he was fond of was a tad smaller than he wished and he bought something else, a wooden cane toad in fact! {check out the size of some of them prawns, they are huge, who says the fishery is over fished, ours back home just needs to be less managed and better utilised. If the people here can still catch the size and quality of what I saw here, every bloody day, then there is something wrong with GBRMPA[Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

After the scrumptious prawns and fish we headed back to town and saw a group of big bikes and music and noise. We both looked at each other, and went to investigate 🙂

We had a few of the beers but we were sort of left out of everything. It was a private birthday party we had sort of gate crashed, they let us in, but except for the beer girls, it was a bit quiet where we were sitting, which was not a bad thing 😉

The next day was a full on Geocache day, I had planned a string of them to attempt, and left early on the scoot with plenty of water, sunscreen and my GPS. 🙂 I won’t go into the whole lot but give you a general feel of the things I saw. The first is a cache right down at the bottom tip of this headland, right above the tide line!!

Here is the view back the other way

I did a number of caches before looking for something light to eat. I was on a beach called Kamala and found a grocery store , by jingo, I think I hit the jackpot 🙂

Just to give you an idea of the tourism factor here, check out this sign, recognise the language?

Yep, this is a Russian area, but not as bad as Patong Beach down the coast a bit, that is supposed to be real full of mainly Russians. I liked Russia 😉 One of the caches was at the place called the Big Buddha, and yes it was huge, it dominated the hill it sat on.

An early morning photo would be real good. The road down was fast and scary on the scoot, but at least I had disk brakes 🙂

The next day I went and did some more caches as I did not want to disturb the bike shop to early. There were a few more down near Kamala and Kata beaches. One of them was a surprise, it was a memorial to the people who lost their lives here during the Tsunami in 2006(it was a surprise because I did not know this area got hit, although I knew Burma got hit, and it had the same western coast line). An artist had designed a stylised metal sculpture to portray the earth’s magnetic field and the interaction with the ground.

As I was cruising back towards town I spotted a couple of real nice signs 🙂

Of course I sat down and had a beer and watched the game, this is the first footy game I have seen since the State of Origin whitewash of NSW last year 😉 [I have heard a rumour that there are people out there trying to use their digital TV recorder to record The Biggest Loser, but all they get is the last 7 years replays of the State of Origin, but I am not sure if that is true or not 😉 ]

The next day I did a few more geocaches before finally dropping in to the workshop, good news, the engine was together and it may be ready to start up that afternoon, maybe 😉

I left them to it and on my way around the place I saw this BMW wannabee, it is actually a Honda under all that 🙂

I once again lazed around, I had no real interest in doing blog updates, I was becoming very lizard like with all this downtime 😦 When I was riding and doing a daily update, the effort involved seemed to be a lot less than trying to encompass weeks and weeks of travel in one post. At this moment, writing this, I am trying to write a post that makes sense, but as I go through all my photos I think, I want to write about that, and that and that. But, I can’t, because then I would be back to trying to catch up on 3 weeks of day to day events, which I could make interesting, but not if I rush it. So, I have to skip a lot, and maybe one day come back and ‘insert’ posts where they are missing. The only real thing that kept me amused was Geocaching, and reading books, I always love that. I also don’t mind a bit of music now and then either. During my stay here, although I met up with Frank a number of times, he has his own life and business to run, the same with Jeffery. I had as usual gravitated to bars as my source of amusement and socialising. One of them was called Michaels Bar. This was a pommy bar and it took me a while before I saw or met the owner. The owner was a bit crook, apparently sitting in the corner knocking back booze every night with customers for 14 years will affect you!!! Really, I must remember that and try not to own a bar, I hate being crook !!!! 🙂 I wonder if it counts if your girlfriend owns one ❓ Something to ponder on anyway 😉

Michaels Bar Phuket Town GPS – N7.88281 E98.38838

I met some nice people there and the cook made one of the best stir fried chook and noodle dishes ever, worth a visit and although they do not have Bundy Rum, they have nearly everything else around. I have had some relaxing times there, usually late night ones 😉 While drinking here I was told about another place. They said he owns a Harley and is a nice chap, well why not, I am always game for a bit of fun. So, one arvo I went and found a place called the

Rider Cafe GPS – N7.88412 E98.38748

I never actually got a photo of the place outside itself, but plenty from inside. I found two people there with a guitar, one was the owner Teddy and his mate Jamie. As it turns out we hit it off together right away, bikers beer and music, how many language barriers can that cross 🙂 This is myself, Jamie in the middle and Teddy the owner.

{And before you bastards say anything I have not gained weight, I am just rearranging my muscle mass, my weight is the same as when I left 😉 } Teddy is a surgeon at the local private hospital, his wife runs this cafe and he also plays every night in a blues band down the road about 30m called the

Rocking Angels GPS – N7.88458 E98.38737

The chap on the left is called Patrick, he owns this place and it opens just before they start jammin’ around 9.30pm. This place rocks(or should that be blues???) I spent many a night here listening to some good music. This is where they get their shit sorted out, it draws a good crowd. They are still chasing a full time dedicated drummer and over the next few weeks I saw a few. The thing is, these two have been playing music together for about 10 months, this means when a drummer turns up, he has to learn how THEY play the music. Anyway, they were both very nice blokes, I have a lot of time for them. Here is a couple of action shots.(I had some sounds too but as I am forced to link my laptop with my mobile phone to access the internet, I will leave the sounds until later.)

Every Thursday night they have a gig down in Patong Beach. Of course they hope to get others, but you can’t go too far wrong when your only paid for gig is at the Hard Rock Cafe 😉 I met up with Jeffrey and his girl down there and we had some (expensive) beers while taking in some sounds 🙂

There was even a chick band, they did some good stuff as well 🙂

So, around 11pm we headed off, as we had parked in different locations, we missed each other for the ride back. In this situation, as you do, you think, is he ahead, or am I ahead, so you keep on going and as it so happened, I stopped because I saw an oldish lady burning herself with hot coals and burning brands, and along with the loud music, I had the urge to stop and see what was going on? It was near midnight about now and Jeffrey saw me and also stopped. We were both engrossed in the happenings and goings on. It seemed to be something like Voodoo(or what I think may be), but there was Buddhism and Hindu and other religions involved? We think it may have been a gathering after a funeral, but it was blocking half the street so I gathered it was quite public? One young girl was in a trance, the old lady was driving a sharp knife into her own tongue, and then did the same for the young girl, who screamed(like who wouldn’t). The smell of incense, burning wood, hair and flesh was quite different!! But the families were all there, then they brought out some young traditional Siamese(Thai) dancers, this whole episode lasted about an hour before I left and it was ongoing!!!

So, once I got back to town, I did the trawl of the local joints that I am used to hanging out at but they were all closed(it was gone 01.30, so why was I surprised 😉 ) But, then I happened on a bad thing, a two scooter accident. At the speed these things zip through traffic, it is not unusual, and as they all disobey the road rules and don’t wear helmets I guess this will continue to happen. The girl was carted away, I saw no blood, but as she was not moving I think it was more internal. I had no need to use any of my 1st aid skills, nor breathe toxic waste into her lungs as the medics were already arriving as I pulled up!!

I left the scene and went to my bed.

to be continued

Cheers from Phuket

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