1st November 2014 Border entry to Thailand no problems. Laos and Thailand can be considered to be part of the notorious Golden Triangle, and yet both leaving Laos and entering Thailand there where no customs checks at all, not even a cursory one, first time yet, at any border.

Thailand actually feels a lot like Australia i.e. driving on the same side of the road, eucalypts and something about the roads and landscape is very familiar.

We are half way down to Bangkok and it is steamy, hot and humid at 9.30pm.

6th November 2014 We have been free camping along the coast south of Bangkok and have spent the last three days at the Ban Chuen Beach Resort at Thailand’s most southerly point, near the Cambodian border and it costs us just $7.00/day for us to camp right on the waters edge. The South China Sea here is like a lake with sandy beaches and palm trees; Shades of Zanzibar and we nearly have the place to ourselves.

We found a dolphin corpse on the beach and before long a TV crew arrived, interviewing some of the locals (but not us). Must have been a slow news day.

We stayed away from the tourist traps such as Pattaya. Nearly all of the tourists were fat, bald/shaved headed old men holding the hand of a much younger Thai woman.

Cleaning up our car in readiness for Australian Customs.

7th November 2014 Last night we went for a walk along the waterfront and discovered a celebration in full swing. Loi Krathong is Thailand’s Festival of Lights, held on the evening of the twelfth lunar month, where large lanterns are lit and set off into the sky along with floating flower arrangements with candles and fireworks. We joined in setting off our own lantern, watching the fairy lights and of course the full moon.

14th November 2014 We are still here at Ban Chuen Beach Resort, waiting for the Australian Customs approval for the troopy, but we are quite happy with the delay. We spend our days doing not much broken up by the occasional walk or swim. At this rate we’ll never get home.

19th November 2014 Still bumbling around here. We wake up at some time and get breakfast done by about eleven, waste some time, lunch, more bumbling, read a book, perfect sunset, stroll down for some Thai dinner at the native restaurant.

The arrangements for the car are just about done so we are trying to organise our departure from Thailand so that we get back home about a week before Christmas. We ran out of time to try to ship the car to Fremantle and then drive to Sydney so we are shipping directly to Sydney, gives us more space.

This holiday area is very quiet at the moment, which suits us, I don’t know if it’s because of the recent coup. There is no real threat in our area but in the south-eastern provinces there is some kind of terrorist/revolutionary activity going on. Our Government advises us to “Reconsider our need to travel in Thailand”, too late now (They said this about Ethiopia and Sudan also) The country is still officially under Martial Law but in reality things seem normal to us, ignorant, naive, travellers.

22 November 2014 In the evening we strolled down to our regular restaurant and, for a change, it was very well patronised with a karaoke at full tilt. We had a meal and stayed a while watching the entertainment, some of which was quite good. Upon returning to our campsite we noticed Moon Festival balloon/lanterns going up accompanied by fireworks further on up the beach, so we investigated. A party was in full swing also with karaoke so we crashed it and were welcomed with open arms as we were given food to accompany the drinks we bought at the bar. Then the karaoke invitation, and, having been primed earlier on, I could not refuse and gave them my version of jailhouse rock helped on stage (not onto the stage) by a Can Caning chorus line of grinning, sweaty, Thai twenty something’s. Yes you can do the Can Can to Rock&Roll (You have to use 4/1½ time, for you musicians)

At the end we did receive enthusiastic applause although I do note that I wasn’t asked to do another song.

27th November 2014 Still at the same place, I am just sitting outside at the table doing some reading and a long, thin black snake has slithered under my feet. Talk about react, I surprised myself, leapt on to the table but it was gone when I looked under.

Our shipping agent has just told us to bring the troopy up to Bangkok to ready it for shipping. It’s really starting to feel like the end of our holiday.

3rd December 2014 We reached the office of our shipping agent in Bangkok only to find that the Customs office at our entry point to Thailand, Mukdahan, had not issued us with a “simplified customs declaration form (for motor car and motor cycle temporarily imported or exported)” which means we can’t export the car, and, after many phone calls it became clear that we would have go back to the border post to get this form. This is a distance of only 700 kilometres. I still haven’t been able to find compulsory 3rd party insurance, I need new brake pads, the troopy is due for an oil change and I have a flat spare tyre (luckily I carry two). Gee I feel relaxed about this!   NOT.

We reached Mukdahan after ten hours driving spread over a night and a morning. The customs office duly issued the necessary document with an apology but after travelling a little way Judy realised that there was a signature missing, so back to the border post where the signature was duly added. I dread to think of what may have happened if it hadn’t been picked up until returning to Bangkok. I will make no comment about the customs post. The brakes by this time truly needed some attention. On the way up I had used the brakes as little as possible by using the gears to slow down, adding yet another dimension of stress to this episode, and so at the first opportunity we had the repair done at Toyota In Mukdahan, who were really good by doing the work as quickly as possible and arranging accommodation for us. Thank you Edith. I also found compulsory 3rd party insurance.

So we had a most enjoyable evening here going downtown and having a cook-your-own-meal experience where the modified, upside-down wok cooker is placed right in front on the table and you select whatever meats and vegetables you want to cook. When we returned to our hotel we were treated to a karaoke round robin of six female singers all singing melancholy ballads that are so popular here. We did sit through four of the singers, a perfect nightcap.

4th December 2014 Spent the next few days in Bangkok, preparing the car and papers for Australian re-entry, this gave us an opportunity to treat ourselves to a luxury, five day, stay at a five star hotel while we acted the part as true tourists.