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November 12th, 2000 · No Comments

Phuket to Krabi

Day 317

It’s day one of the rescue buses being on the road. Helen the organizer and my self had to solve problem one, Malcolm the guy who runs the company showed up with two buses to fit 40 people and 2 pickup trucks to fit about 29 bikes. Does this story sound familiar?

Lucky for us Malcolm is an American U.S. Army retired guy with a Thai wife. Malcolm and I spoke the same language. It took awhile for him to hear us, but finally it sunk in, we would get a bigger truck, but not for a few hours.

The dynamics of this one little mistake changed the flow of the entire day. We had two little pickup trucks and lucky for us a lot of riders on the road. If they had planned to ride the bus, we would have really had a problem. Just the same the day was far from perfect.

Helen asked me to manage the bus and then she rode off on the bike. I planned to ride in the full bus and the empty bus was to stop at kilometer 50 and 100 to pick up the riders who wanted to ride in from there. It sounds like an easy plan…read on.

At kilometer 65 we stopped the bus to find a toilet, as I got out I looked to the rear and saw our empty bus. It had followed us instead of stopping! The translator had gone with Malcolm to get a bigger truck and left the bus driver to fend for himself. He didn’t understand the directions, thus resulting in the mistake.

Terrific, it was over 100 degrees outside and people were waiting wondering where in the world we were. I jumped on the empty bus and in my best sign language directed him to turn around and go back. The whole process took forever. When we got to the last person on the list, one of them wanted to ride to 100 kilometers instead of being picked up at 50k. Exasperated I asked him why he wasn’t riding! He was now 4 hours behind the main group. He asked me what he should do and I told him go ahead and ride, as long as he didn’t mind making 20 people wait hours for his arrival in the heat of the day. He didn’t care for my answer and left in a huff. Oh well, it takes all kinds as Mother used to say.

All the problems eventually worked themselves out, but not until after many folks came into checkpoint with heat exhaustion and heat rashes. It was not a good day on the bike. At 1:15 I decided to do an “emergency sweep” of the road for our riders only of course. There were still 4 of them out and it was getting hotter by the minute. We rode to the last rider, guess who it was….

All I said was, “are you hot enough yet?” He got on the bus.

The next two riders were completely wet or rather glistening. They were glad to see me and we had no problem loading them onto the cool air conditioned bus. The 4th rider was far enough forward, she made it into checkpoint without our help. At 2:00 we loaded up the waiting riders and took off for the hotel.

The first bus, the bus I had been originally on had been in for 5 hours. TK&A still had not assigned rooms, they were all just sitting around in the tepid air of the lobby waiting for someone to get their act together. At 5:30 I was able to open the door to my hotel room. It had been along day.

After dinner I jotted down a “bus schedule” with rules for riding. I tightened the schedule and the rules so we had a happy medium, hopefully. Now I would be able to ride myself, instead of playing den mother to 40 adults.

Except, my bike has become a “live organ donor.” This is another Odyssey term, only Odyssey people will understand. It seems there are several bikes that are not being ridden. Instead their owners donate parts from the bikes to people who need them. Our “professional fully equipped” bike shop, isn’t. So these donor bikes are a great asset. However, my bike was not an intentional donor, someone needed a skewer, so they stole mine.

The skewer is the piece that goes through the hub of the wheel and secures it to the fork. Without a skewer the wheel does not stay on, the bike does not go!

When trying to get a replacement, I was told that if I discovered a large batch of skewers, to please let them know, because they need about half a dozen of them. Also the bikes in Thailand do not use skewers, they have a different set up. So, I know my bike was a donor to another matching Odyssey bike. I hope they feel good about being a thief.

Tomorrow my bike will be the recipient of another skewer, if I know who stole it, I’d go steal it back. But I don’t and that’s wrong anyway. I’ll just put my name on the list of “organ” recipients. I’m sure I’ll get one soon.

Al in Thai BoxersAl the Alien was so thrilled to be in Thailand, he ran out and took a Thai Boxing Class. He worked out so hard at the first lesson, now he can’t even walk, much less peddle a bike. He’s so sore all he does is sit and moan about his sore legs.

Tags: SE Asia · Thailand