I believe I am the first guest writer on Tori’s blog. I have not asked her yet if it’s ok, so if you are reading this… it was or is?
Very few of you, I think, can even begin to imagine the enormity of Tori’s self inflicted global challenge.
I may be able to give you some idea by outlining the difficult first day I have just had…..
I am writing this overlooking a stunning view of the sea from a Petributes (luckily autofill put that there, I’m not going to change it as it could prove to be rather a good advert!… Should have been “pre-booked” boutique hotel). Tori is still on her way, cycling about 120 kilometres in the blistering heat. Nothing compared to the day I’ve just had.
It started by me laying out all of the items I brought along for the trip on the 5 star hotel bed in Bangkok. Firstly I had to decide what to put in the two sided bike pannier soon to be strapped onto the bike I had just bought. The ride back through the streets to the hotel is not to be recommended to anyone. I’m sure the tunnels Tori did in Japan were no doubt scary, but the traffic onslaught was more than enough for me. I eventually thought it more prudent to ride along the pavement but soon realised it was better to be on the road in order to avoid all the motorbikes on the afore mentioned “safer” pavement!
Anyway I digress….
Do I need both sets of watercolour paint? Oh, and the two paper pads? Yes, Tori is bound to want to have a go. Do I need both bottles of rubber resist masking fluid? Yes. You can never have too much of that. Do I need the splatter spray bottle? Yes, good for painting, and could come in handy for cooling off! Oh.. and a pot of gold paint? Well the Wat roofs in Cambodia are very gold and big; they need their own pot of colour.
I’ll take it all.
So, that’s one side of the pannier full then, no joke.
Seeing as the bed is still more than half covered I am going to have to make some sacrifices. Shoes and jeans in case Tori wants to go clubbing. OUT. (A good excuse not to go clubbing. I can get away with that with Tori, obviously not so in the extremely unlikely event I were to be doing this with Ami!)
Now the delicate subject of underpants. I’ve got too many (Ness packed). As most men know, one pair can be used in serious action for at least 4 days… “right way”, “wrong way”, “inside out right way”, “inside out wrong way”. That’s the first couple of hundred miles taken care of. A quick swim, or if I really have to wash them it will extend their use definitely – indefinitely.
Same principle with all those socks! Left to right, inside out, right to left. Sorted!
Finally after putting a few more things in the “outbox” I set off to reception to check out leaving the case to be collected in 3 weeks on the return journey.
I then went outside to collect my bike. It took me half an hour to work out how to attach the panniers. The concierge had kindly put the bike stand down. It took me a while to work out how to put it back up.
It was me who taught Tori all her initial biking skills…… It’s a bloody miracle she’s managed to get anywhere.
Official start to my challenge….
Walk to Skytrain… Nearly have heart attack carrying bike up the stairs. (Can’t wait to offload stuff brought out for Tori to lighten my load…. she’s used to it, end of).
Managed to work out where to go and had to carry bike up another crippling set of unforgiving stairs. When Skytrain arrived, I did not get any “Land of smiles” smiles from the packed train passengers, not even from the ones who had escaped shin injuries as I reversed into the zero room available.
I forgot to say that I was approached on the platform by a nice German chappy who asked me what I was doing. As usual I gave him the “Full Monty” on Tori, and of course the littlebluebike bit. I’m sure he will be a new Blog customer, as indeed will the Aussie teacher I met at a restaurant last night. He assured me all his class will be logging on too, so Tori…. expect a surge in the blog hits count. I have told absolutely everybody, including the policeman (he will feature later on), although I’m not sure how interested he was. He might surprise us all and tell his rich mates back at the station!
Back on the train…. While I was enlightening another poor “sufferent” (is that a word? If not I’m sure you know what I mean), I missed the stop required. This involved negotiating more bloody stairs!
Eventually I got to the station paired with the rail link to the airport. (Don’t worry, I’m not flying to Siem Reap, although it’s beginning to seem like a rather attractive option).
Hang on a minute I need to go and get a beer.
Devastated….. They’ve got no beer! “Boutique Hotel”… My Ar…se. “They’ve got some at 7/11”.
Walked to 7/11, made a selection and went to pay. Obviously it was not legal to buy any until 5 on the clock! Drat!
Anyway now approaching train ticket office….
Policeman (also not the same one as later) … “Where are you going with that bike”!
Rather worried me “The airport”.
Him again “You can’t take that thing on the train”.
Should have thought of it to start with really, I’m usually quite good at that.
A few months back Mum (Ness of course) Ami, Alex and I had a trip to London. During a nice meal it was decided that we should have a race back to the RAF Club using two modes of transport, Ami and I chose the bus, N & A, by default got the Tube (Underground for those tuning in from abroad). The first race was to the door of the restaurant. Some disgruntled customers later, we started. N & A scurried off the find the Tube station, Ami started asking where the nearest bus stop was. I however had spotted something.
AMI !!!! (pointing) get in that! You’ve guessed! A convenient London cab.
“RAF Club, and make it snappy”! (Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell the crocodile sandwich joke).
Very shortly we passed the “losers” running like hell for less convenient transport. Ami and I had to duck down to avoid discovery. We were both crying with laughter, I’ve never heard Ami laugh as loud or as long! I said to her that “I didn’t get where I am today” (customary quotation) without bending some of the rules. “Bending” I say, not breaking.
A while later, nicely tucked up in bed, the silver medalists arrived. “Waking up” (with obligatory faux snoring) I asked where they had been, and why had it taken so long.
We did not own up ’till next morning. Ness was not in the least bit surprise, in fact she had suspected some deviation from the rules. Ami and I did a very convincing story about the bus journey, the views from the top, and route. The views and route were much the same in the taxi.
The diligent rule enforcing policeman kindly sprang into action to help and said I would have to go by taxi. Looking at the state of me he must have realised there was no real likelihood of me actually cycling anywhere. A trend I feel has the potential to continue.
He took me and the bike downstairs, sensibly in a lift (fat chance of me carrying it again)
Phone calls were made and a taxi large enough arrived. 1500 Bhart. “YES” I heard myself shout, rather too quickly and loudly. No bartering was carried out, I just didn’t want him to change his mind.
On the way he had the pleasure of me telling him what I was about to do. Cycle to Cambodia with my daughter. He looked at me sideways and asked how old I was. “60, or 61, I’m not sure”.
“Ah! You velly strong”. I assumed he meant my legs. I gave him a forced smile, knowing he was completely wrong. Tori later told me “strong” can often mean “fit”, unfortunately also completely wrong.
A few miles and catnaps later we were pulled over by a policeman (this one!).
Apparently my mate had been contravening lane discipline, having his wheels in two lanes at the same time. Very naughty. Not really surprisingly my mate went for some cash in his top pocket. Quite quickly, no very quickly (although I had not thought it through) I thrust the paper with our destination address…
“It’s so kind of you to stop us, can you give us directions to get here? Oh! By the way my daughter is……….”
The diversionary tactic worked! We were sent on our way WITH some of those smiles, especially from my driver mate. He was velly pleased to have avoided the “fine”!
Before we reached the hotel, I asked him…. “how much to Siem Reap”, and for his card. It might come in very useful.