Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maiden Voyage CBR250

Nut and I are about to head down to Rayong to make the maiden voyage with the new CBR250, a three day trip. There is nothing special to see there but her friend Kaan is honeymooning nearby and we thought we'd spend an evening with her and Tony, her brand new German husband. And then last night we were at the Gecko Bar with Homer friends Albie, Phil and Andy who are going to Pattaya for a few days. Out of the blue Nut says, we will meet up with you in Pattaya! Where that came from I don't know because her usual sightseeing preference is for temples and flower gardens but I reckon now our first stop will be the sin city itself. It's only a couple of hours away and on the route to Rayong. Luckily today is Sunday and the roads, usually jammed with vehicles, should be relatively open.

I've been driving here and there in Bangkok and it's been not much fun really. In about 60 miles of driving I don't think I've ever managed to shift into top gear. Man, the traffic here is positively intense. Gridlock is the norm and the moto drivers totally insane; they swerve around cars at high speed, weaving in and out of traffic. As I sit waiting I see over the roofs of the cars up front to a veritable sea of heads, mostly unhelmeted, bobbing back and forth, here there and everywhere, as motorcyclists make for the front of the queue. Long, hot waits at a light can be overcome on a bike by squeezing between lanes and moving forward always forward, avoiding side-view mirrors as you go, often completely circling around a vehicle that's "blocking the aisle" hoping some other crazie doesn't cut in front as you maneuver in the tight spaces, until you've bulled your way to the head of the line.

Of course I don't want to stand there for 3 light changes in the heat and exhaust fumes any more than they do so I pull (some of) the same stunts. It's the only thing that makes driving here bearable -- we do insane things to remain sane. How sane is that?

But how in hell anyone can stand to drive a car in Bangkok is simply beyond me. I have an excuse for now – my bike is new and exciting and I want to drive it. But as a regular means of transportation? No.
I'll take one of the 90,000 or so taxis that inhabit these same streets – they're ubiquitous, cheap, and air conditioned. And I'll try to figure out a way to get us moved up north. Chiang Mai has it's share of ugly traffic jams too but compared to Bangkok, Thailand's Big Apple, it's a small city. And you can drive out of it in 30 minutes.

I bought a lockable top box that has a backrest for Nut. Because this isn't a long jaunt  we will be able to put all of our stuff into that. I've got the GPS mounted and powered and while the free OpenStreetMaps software I'm using doesn't get all the one-ways and "no left/right turn" situations right it still makes driving vastly easier. I couldn't do without it.