Wednesday, 13 August 2014

We make it to Thailand!

Meeting the boss at AP Honda! 
Nepal customs were surprisingly thorough. I had to unpack EVERYTHING while they inspected it all with a fine tooth comb. I then had to remove all the fuel, disconnect the battery, lower the tyres and (to make it fit in the crate) remove the bars, mirrors, front screen and topbox. I opted not to remove the front wheel and pay a little extra for a very slightly bigger crate. I didn't know what help I would have when I arrived in Thailand and with no centre stand, it's not an easy job to put the wheels back in place. It was a decision that later proved to be the right one.

Bangkok felt very different to my last visit 11 years ago. I am still undecided as to wether it is Bangkok that has changed or me! It certainly felt more modern and the Taxi service from the airport, where I had expected to get ripped off, had got themselves organised and above board. Get in line, record your destination at the desk, pick up your slip, taxi assigned and away you go. Meter all the way! I was impressed!

After 2 days in a very cheap, but surprisingly modern, clean and friendly hostel in the centre of Bangkok (Glur Hostel and coffee shop) waiting for Rhonda to arrive, I headed back to the airport where I was informed that I would have to come back on Wednesday as it was the Queens birthday and a two day holiday. I was not at all impressed! Everyone I spoke to just said the same thing "Holiday. No customs". Unwilling to head back without Rhonda, I decided to give it my best shot and see if I could find a way around this. As with India, I was willing to try anything but would start with gentle persuasion! I pulled out my now dogged Sunday Times article that I had so far found useful on these occasions, and showed them what I was doing. I then said I had to have the bike today as I had a press conference the next day. Actually I had a meeting with Honda Thailand's Head office and an interview with Two Wheels magazine so it was actually, kind of true!

After speaking with several people and waiting around a lot, I was told that the customs boss was going
to come in on his day off to sort it all out for me! Result!!! I couldn't believe it to be honest. I had not actually expected it to work, especially after seeing for myself the rows of empty desks and the quiet offices.

I cannot fault Thai customs for their efforts but the amount of times they, and the agent driving me between buildings tried to rip me off for hundreds was tiring and extremely irritating. Had I not questioned and challenged everything, I would have been out of pocket by more than £300 that afternoon. I also would have paid £4,000 guarantee on the bike instead of having my Carnet stamped. However, on refusing to pay, eventually we found a way around this. The Carnet was not stamped but the relevant paperwork was produced eventually with a copy of my passport as guarantee!!! Many people had paid this money as I was shown their paperwork. It seems though there was never any need for them to do so! It pays to question everything and take nothing at face value when dealing with Thai customs!

The Honda Surgeons
11 hours after arriving at the airport and almost being worn down by the constant battles to hold on to my money, I was taken to my bike and began the process of putting her back together. I paid the agent to get me some fuel and by 8pm I was riding out of the airport and free! Albeit in the dark!

It was a great day with AP Honda. They looked after me and Rhonda very well. Rhonda was given full service and check over and after 13,000 miles she was still holding out with all her original parts. They did however find a leak in the water pump and so a small repair was required. The mechanics looked like surgeons as they worked on her, in their amazingly white uniforms! How do they keep them clean I wonder? I was interviewed, fed and lavished with gifts from the team. They even sorted my insurance out and all at their expense. I was honoured and extremely grateful for their support. Any problems with me or Rhonda during my stay in Thailand and I have been instructed to call them and they will help using any one of their network of 900 dealers dotted around the country. Now that is what I call support! Hopefully we won't need it but it is very reassuring to know they are on hand if the worst happens.

Tomorrow I hit the road again and start my ride up to Northern Thailand and eventually over to Laos.

I have now also set up a GOFUNDME page after several people have asked how they can contribute. The support on this trip has been overwhelming and I cannot thank everyone enough. The contributions from this page with go towards getting me to Antarctica  and  20% will be donated to Rally4Life. In the first day you have already raised over £500. That is amazing! THANK YOU. The target for this leg of the journey is £6,000.

Let's see if we can't make a little bit of British history together and get on that elusive 7th continent.

Please visit to make a contribution or just share the page with your friends.

Thanks you.

Lots of love

Steph and Rhonda



  1. Good for you and Rhonda--13k and going strong--Glad your safe--will worry more when you both are in Mainland Mexico tho!! GOD speed!!!

  2. Goes to show that you're as tough and hard wearing as Rhonda, but in a good way obviously.
    Well done for sticking to your guns and not giving over extra money that was probably just going into someone's pocket !

  3. Hi Steph (& Rhonda),

    Welcome to Thailand! We've been following your adventure since before you left home. It looks like you're taking the northern route crossing from Northern Thailand into Northern Lao, but if at anytime during your trip you find yourself near Ubon Ratchathani (gateway to Southern Lao & Cambodia) in Northeast Thailand, please let us know. We'd love to support your cause by offering you a free room and Rhonda a covered parking space at our place- The Outside Inn ( You'll find our contact info, including email, on our website. Please let us know if you'll be in our corner of the country.

    Happy & safe travels,

    Brent & Tun
    The Outside Inn, Ubon Ratchathani Thailand

    1. Hi Brent and Tun. Thanks very much for your support. Just had a look at your website and WOW it really does look a stunning place you have there. Really wish I was coming in that direction. At this stage it is not the plan but if things change then I will find any excuse to come and visit!!! Thanks again xx

  4. So cool girls! Safe travels and keep the wind in your face. Greg. X

  5. If you have some problems getting a Vietnam visa, say goodbye to those problems because we at the visa service will be providing you with your visa.