Well after nearly two months since we arrived in Bangkok I'm
finally getting around to updating friends and family who are wondering
if we are still alive. Part of the reason we have gotten so far behind
is that our research into buying bikes in Thailand had been far less
thorough than it could have been. The relative ease with which we put
everything together in India, a country infamous for its beauracracy,
had lulled us into a false sense of security. Looking back it's
apparent that a fair portion of the ease we had in India was due to the
good fortune of having hooked up with Lalli Singh. We actually had
similar good fortune in Bangkok as far as finding a bike guy that we
felt was reliable and honorable. We had picked a hotel in Bangkok
solely for its distance from the tourist insanity of Khaosan Road
without being to far away from the action. As soon as we arrived we
inquired of the hotel's manager Supaap as to the best place to begin
our quest for a couple of big bikes. The issue in Thailand, and Laos
too for that matter, is that there are no bikes larger than 200 cc that
are built here. There are plenty of big bikes available however
including Harleys and BMWs, but they come with a hefty price tag
though. Wanting a bike that can be taken out of the country adds even
more spin to the equation. To take a bike out you need the "green book"
or registration book. On a new bike this can take months and rentals
outfits aren't about to give up the green book, if they even have them
(many of them don't). Registering the bikes in your own name is also
problematic in that you need a certificate of address which is
difficult with an ordinary tourist visa. Our visa is good for 90 days
out of a six-month period but only 30 days at a time, which means you
have to leave within 30 days and then you can come back, The other
option under those circumstances is a power of attorney letter that
allows you to temporarily export the bike for personal use.
As it turned out, the owner of the hotel where we stayed was a classic bike and car collector and when we asked the manager Supaap about bike places he said they had a girl working there in the hotel office whose family owned a motorcycle shop. He said that after we got settled in to our room we should come back down and see him. When we did come back down he sent us with the girl telling us the place was nearby. In fact the place was literally right around the corner, and it was actually one of the names that we had on our short list of places that were recommended by various people on the internet. The place was Dynamic Motors, run by a quiet and knowledgeable man named Yutpol. We let him know what we were looking for, and told him the ideal thing for us would to get two of the same model bike to minimize the number of spares we had to carry. As it was Friday, he told us to check back with him on Monday and he would let us know what was available. We spent the rest of Friday and all of Saturday and part of Sunday running from shop to shop only to find that a lot of the used bikes that were out there didn't have the papers, or that the papers were damn near as expensive as the bikes. When we checked back with Yut on Monday he told us he had found two Honda Africa Twins. It is a model I had tried to purchase from a Swiss guy I met in Mexico some years back, and are not sold in the US. He said the bikes had not been ridden in a few years and he could have one the next day and get it ready for us by the end of the week. He said the other could follow by a few days. Once we were sure he could provide us with the needed letter we agreed on a price, and the first bike was road ready by Friday. The second bike still had not arrived yet though, and so we decided to travel two-up to Ayuthaya about a hundred klicks north of Bangkok for the weekend.
For now we'll let this page serve as the home page for the Southeast Asia portion of trip, and I'll try to update this saga in the order in which it unfolds. The "Home" button at the bottom of this page will take you to the start of all this toad and frog nonsense with links to the various locales/segments. Subsequent pages will have a link called "Southeast Asia Home" that will bring you back here. There will also be a SE Asia specific directory page. For now, I'm not going to do a Bangkok page because for the most part all we did there was shop, go to movies, and stress about getting the second bike on the road. The "Next" button below will take you to the Ayuthaya page.