Out of Laos and into the Maelstrom

 Goodbye, dear Laos

We finally made it out of Laos, with copious paperwork and hurried scurrying on the border control. The friendly border guard took pity on us and upgraded our bike visa to 6 months. We can only stay two on our visas, but its nice to know the bike can have a little holiday of its own.

The ride down south to Bangkok was somewhat fleeting- we had less than 48 hours to be in Bangkok, to pick Sue and Steve up from the airport. I can remember a lot of blurred trees racing past, and swerving lumpy tarmac at 100kph.

We stopped overnight in Nong Khai, and ventured out to find food. We didn't find any. But we did find a gaggle of chinese dragons, enormous and curling round and round with people running round underneath. There was strange deafening cymbal music in the background, and fireworks, exploding far too close with the sparks falling on the audience and people hiding and covering their ears. In the middle there was an altar with people worshipping in the madness, silently.

Hungry, defeated, and cursing our stupid vegetarian inclinations, we sat back on the floor of our room, and cooked 'cheese sauce' pasta with Kraft slices. We ate as much as physically possible, then flushed the rest down the toilet.

Ten to nine the next morning saw us stop and turn pink, and Adam try, unsuccessfully, to hide behind a small kiosk.  We were in the local Carrefour supermarket, watching the staff dance.  It was performed by every person in the shop.  It was fabulous.  There was camp clapping.  The uniformed security guards with slim hips seemed to be especially enjoying it. The steps were straight out of Kylie’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ dance, as performed throughout numerous gay clubs across Britain a few years ago…

We only went in for sun cream. 

Since racing back into Bangkok and performing some of my best ever navigational acrobatics the other night I have seen:

A temple cat listening intently to piper bird music in rocks, trying to find the damn birds.

Sue releasing doves from a little red box. They flew straight back to the owner, to be caged again, in return for food.

Several arguments with tuk tuk drivers and much huffing and panting.

A temple lit up a night with lights like fireworks in the trees.


108 donation bowls being filled at the golden Buddha.

Edibles for sale in the market street yesterday, glutinous green goo in plastic bags, trays of jelly pink sweets.

A painted wooden parrot in a tree at the temple

A lady boy blowing a kiss at Adams crotch, unsubtly

People lying drunk on the street in Khao San at 7am, having passed out where they were stood.

A prostitute wandering past arm in arm with a tourist.

Adam overhearing the drunken purchasing of a prostitute. They went upstairs.

Steve driving into Bangkok for the first time in crash traffic. Sue in the back cowering.

We also saw this lot:

temple cleaning


looks Russian, I think...


a brief (ha ha) summation of the prevailing attitude in Bangkok...

 a Rolex branch in Chinatown

 matching down to the soles of their shoes, I wondered about their pre-school texting sessions

 pick your idol...

A couple of days later we meandered down towards the South, oblivious to the enormity of Thailand.  A Hot Springs sign caught our attention, and we traveled far out of our way to visit the pond-like spring.  On the way back to our route we got very lost.  As soon as I stopped navigating though, things drastically improved. 

A two meter snake slithered its way across the road.  Sadly we were slithering our way along the road at a far more rapid rate, and we hit it straight on.   It slammed into my foot with the impact.  It was a strong critter.  To its credit though it didn’t do anything as defeated as actually stop, let alone die, and I turned to watch it change direction and sneak back into the undergrowth.  No doubt it was far less sure of the urgency of its original mission over the other side.

The road disintegrated for a while, and gave Sue and Steve a chance to see a real road.

We passed a large furry monkey performing a strange dance on its hind feet at the side of the road.

We reached a National Park and spent the night camping, next to Sue and Steve in their bungalow.  A worrisome slithering underneath the tent saw me, bleary and confused, searching the tent with much trepidation by the light of the laptop.  I found the culprit the next morning and scolded him thoroughly.  It was a large toad.


 on the way. it looked a lot like a scottish loch.  but was a LOT warmer.

The next day we looked at the map.  Possibly it may have been better to look at the map before leaving Bangkok.  So as to accurately judge the distances etc.  But it was a bit late.  So, over a nutritious breakfast of vegetables in oyster sauce and papaya chunks, we decided we’d have to hotfoot it for hours on the motorway in order to reach anywhere any time soon. 

The following night was spent similarly, camping next to the bungalow in a deserted overpriced beach resort, after a hectic day of motorway riding.  Luckily though there was a restaurant down the path and we spent the evening supping chilled Chang and feeding liver and onions to a very surprised hound. (A communication error: when in Thailand don’t ask for ‘Soy Sauce’, unless you really are requiring Liver and Onions, and were just too shy to order it.)

Koh samui:

Aah.  Paradise.  Palm trees, cobalt water, sunsets over beach, old fat men with young thai girls…
Koh Samui is a flagrant assault on the senses.  This morning I wandered around Tescos, buying packaged melon with the other expats.  Giant flabby men whizzed past in the street, their bulldog tattoos blurring with the speed of the miniscule scooters they perched on.  Tiny thai women sit, bored, in the massage parlours their longterm British clients have bought them.  No one wants a massage. 

The bungalows are nice though. The beach is beautiful.  The palm trees seem to have been planted in a perfect allignment of Beauty.  The sand is powdered Canderol. 

The hotel next door has rooms with private, screened patios facing the beach.  Last night I watched a large naked man scamper across one as he realized too late that it wasn’t a private beach.  The security men stand guard 24 hours a day in front of a private built jetty.  The CCTV cameras train on us mere mortals passing by. 

I sat on a sun lounger by the pool, drinking beer and contemplating nothing, strenuously.  All day. 

Tomorrow I may go for a snorkel.  Or at least think about it.

SHOCK HORROR:  News Update:  Our driveshaft is wrecked!!  This is very bad news.  There was a hole in the gator, loads of dust has entered, and the grease has dried up.  Now the metal appears to have torn itself apart from riding so far with no grease. 
Now we will probably have to ride back up to Bangkok and wait to get the part sent from somewhere, and then fitted.  It will probably cost a few hundred quid, meaning our meagre resources are now even more meagre.  There is no way we can afford to get to Cambodia and Vientnam now.  And we were considering leaving the bike down here and getting the bus back up and down again, to save the dull motorway riding for two days, but now we can’t.  Oh bugger.

News Update:  Three hours later:
There is a man who may be able to help here on Koh Samui.  Adam and Steve took the bike there earlier.  Apparently he may be able to order the part from a friend of his on the mainland by tomorrow, and fit it for us himself!  If this is the case it is a small miracle, and I may have to reconsider my faith…  We don’t find out until tomorrow.  The part costs sixteen quid.  We don’t know about labour.  That’s even if its remotely possible.  We shall see. 


  1. Sorry to hear about the driveshaft. How are you guys getting on with getting it sorted? If you find that you're stuck, I can post around some useful sites on your behalf if that helps.

  2. Hello, I'm very glad I discovered your blog on the lonely planet forum, it's very inspirational and I Really hope I can do a trip like this someday. I also wish I was this good at blogging, next trip I go on I need to be better with my blog. This blog is really well written and it reminds me of what's good in life.
    Thank you for writing this, it's an awesome read!

  3. hi igor, luckily we managed to get it fixed yesterday by some small miracle! so we won't have to travel up to bangkok with it which is good news, and it wasn't expensive either. though there is now a new and bad noise we have to sort... we shall see what we can do about it, but may still take you up on that offer if we cant figure out what it is. hoping its not gearbox related. :\ cheers, nicky

  4. Sasha, just got your comment, thankyou very much!! it really cheers me up to hear you think its good, somehow all the photos on this one got chopped in half though. not sure why...
    all the best, nicky

  5. Glad to hear you have the driveshaft sorted. As for the new bad noise, turn up the volume on your ipod and you won't hear the noise. On second thought, maybe not a good idea.
    Sounds like you are still having a great time. Thanks for all the updates

  6. Hi I am Shahidul,a university studnt from Dhaka.I met you(Adam+Nicky)on my 22nd birthday and invited you on my room.your arrival on my birthday gave me much pleasure and a golden opportunity of being your friend.I sent you an email a month ago but you didn't response to it.It shocked me very much.My email address is ishahidul59@yahoo.com.I wish your happy life.

  7. Hello Nicky, your trip around the globe sounds epic and awesome. I will keep reading and absorbing until your return... lots of love Tushari xxx

  8. Hi Shahidul, I remember you very well and really enjoyed your birthday at your house- there is some stuff about it on here too! I wish we had had our camera with us that day! I am so sorry, we really didn't get your email anywhere, I don't know where it went! Adam has just emailed back to you, and I wanted to say Hi too! I hope the course is going well! All the best, Nicky

  9. Herman, thats not a good plan. Bad things happen... and we've had enough of those recently! Take care, Nicky

  10. Hey Tish, thanks for reading the blog!! How are you these days?? Haven't spoken to you in an age!! Hope all is well with you, I was sorry to hear about Austin. lots of love, Nicky

  11. Hey there. just found your blog in lonelyplanet. It inspires me a lot and I hope I can do the same someday. haha are you still in Southern Laos? I'm from Indonesia and I read you plan to go Australia so I assume you'll also go through Indonesia, won't you? Have fun you two!

  12. Hello Ricky, we have moved on and are now in Southern Thailand. We will be crossing into Malaysia in a week or so and then making our way to Indonesia from there. Glad you like reading, all the best, Nicky and Adam.


Say hello. It makes us happy. Ta, Nicky. x

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