Sunday, 16 December 2012

104. And we're off! Well, almost...

And we're off. Well almost. We were planning for a quick pedaling departure from Bangkok when we arrived back last Sunday but then after spending most of Tuesday at the excellent tropical medical centre at Mahidol University, where we got some tests done and vaccines updated, it was revealed that Ellie had smuggled a couple of different kinds of parasites, including Giardia lambia, back from India and a several days of treatment was prescribed to 'kiw 'em' as the doctor said.

 The offensive screw

With Ellie recovering I set about doing some bicycle chores that I hadn't got around to and envisioned doing on some quiet day in a few weeks. Fortunately, however, I chose Bangkok to change the internal cable on my Rohloff speedhub (my internal gear hub). Untouched since San Francisco, the torx screws that hold the axle ring in place weren't budging and a good effort on one of them only proceeded to strip the nut. An eclectic and heartfelt array of profanities didn't seem to help either. So it was back to the kind masters at Bok Bok bikeshop - Hma and Kop - who have been minding our bikes and gear since we've been away and had them all set to go by Tuesday evening for the voyage home across Eurasia. With visions of another saddlepostgate keeping us in Bangkok for another week or two as our 30 day visa stamp ticks away merrily, I showed them the offending screw. Other customers gathered around the small workshop and threw suggestions in. The gods at the Rohloff factory in Germany, for whom Hma is now a direct disciple, were consulted and came back with a relatively unsophisticated reply that involved weilding a hammer quite forcefully at the hub. Hma disappeared to a nearby car garage, returning 30 minutes later with no success. Finally it was agreed that we should try welding it and so the following morning we drove to the outer edge of the city in an hour's traffic and took a turning that led into a scrap yard with a number of savage canines changed up in the shade of rusting motorcars. We handed the wheel over to the guy running the place and in two minutes he had welded another bolt to the stripped nut and popped it out. Voila. The journey will continue. So with a new internal cable put in and an improving Ellie to cycle with, we're all set to depart for our first destination, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where we hope Santa will bring us two Chinese visas.

 The offensive parasite

 All set to go (actually this was taken by Hma outside Bok Bok bikeshop back in April when we set off south from Bangkok). Not much has changed though apart from some new hubs and rims (one each), pedals, bottom brackets, and cables.

Next year will mark the thirtieth anniversary since Peter McVerry set up the organisation to address the urgent needs of housing and support for young homeless people in Dublin.  So far through the very generous donations of a few friends and well-wishers we've raised almost 600 Euro for the Peter McVerry Trust and I'm hoping to get much more than that between now and when we get home. From Bangkok to Ireland will be somewhere in the region of 20,000 kilometres via China and Central Asia and it would be great if we could raise one euro for every kilometre cycled! Credit card donations can be made on my web page at here, or by clicking the link at the top of my blog 'Donate to the Peter McVerry Trust'. Many thanks also to Hma here at Bok Bok for donating some of the expenses for fixing up the bikes to the Trust.

Bangkok, Thailand

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