ManMadeMachine

We’ve been stuck here in Bangkok for three weeks due to political unrest. In the older posts we mentioned that we have used our time effectively, but as you can’t fight against bureaucracy, what does this effectively mean?

Our main obstacle has been to get our tuk tuk registered, and of course, it’s not that simple. The bureaucracy that is supposed to make our lives easier and safer does the complete opposite.

First of all foreigners can’t register tuk tuks without special permission. There is even a limited number of licences per year for the locals. We managed to get the special permission for the registration and the head of the Transportation Authority has said he can register our Tuk Tuk for us. So why the delay? Because of the clash between people and machine.

Bureaucracy started off as a simple way of people organising different things. Kind of like a simple computer. After years and years the bureaucratic system has evolved, and it has become a machine that has taken control itself. The Matrix in real life. This can be seen clearly since we have all the people we need to sign all the papers we need, but because of the one database in one office that is closed, nothing can be done. A glitch in the system.

Last week, to our luck, the office opened up because the protests have quieted down after the elections. Hooray, the glitch was fixed! Two hours later the Transportation Authority was surrounded by disabled people protesting against the bad disabled mobility on the public transportation system and it was shut down once again. If someone is effective, it’s the protesters. Got to give them credit for that.

We continued to search for different routes. Yesterday we had an appointment at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, European Division, and now we have the head of the TAT supporting us also. This means we have the head of the Bangkok Transportation Authority, the head of the Tourism Authority and the head of the Finnish Embassy supporting us and giving us some leverage to go all the way to the Transportation Authority of Chiang Mai to register our Tuk Tuk. Effective? Perhaps.

We have been so effective that we even managed to arrange ourselves the permission to pass through Myanmar twice already. Unfortunately we have not been able to leave and all the work has been in vain, though it does soothe the mind to know it is possible.

This all feels like Humanity vs. ManMadeMachine. We have met everyone we can, in person, to try and bring out as much humanity as possible. It seems to be working because all of the people we have met have been absolutely wonderful and have helped us in every possible way. This project has inspired all of them and they all want this to happen, but with six people looking at the windows blue screen of death, what can you do?

To keep ourselves busy, tomorrows blog will be about our ventures within the bureaucratic system, and how we try to bring out the humanity within.

Holiday in Cambodia

Life is all about taking opportune moment and using it right. As Miaymoto Musashi said,  “Do what you do, but do it steadfast and determined.” Here in Thailand this kind of attitude has became priceless for us. Circumstances are changing, Bangkok Shutdown has slowed our tuk Tuk’s registeration process, and we still have no certainty when will it happen. So we are using our time here in Bangkok, trying to get best out of it. There’s plenty of work to do. Filming and preparations for the journey, including emailing three different ministries in Myanmar.

Today in the morning, I really felt that I want to go forwards from Bangkok. Don’t get me wrong, I love this place. It’s like the fragrance in the air, fragrance of a distant fires with a little bit of cinnamon in it. Scent of adventure. I guess you know what I’m talking about, the urge to see the next place.

So it occured half ‘n hour ago that we must go to Cambodia. You see, Bangkok shutdown has delayed our departure, so we must do all sorts of bureucratic somersaults to keep things proper ‘n working. One of those things is our Thai Visa, and we just figured out that we cannot extend our visas twice in the immigration office, and the visas end today. So we did the carpe diem and decided to go to Cambodia for a visa run. So soon we can update a DIY guide on how to do a visa run from Bangkok to Cambodia, to accompany the DIY guide visa run Ranong. (http://tuktuktravellers.pallontallaajat.net/2014/01/06/visa-run/).

Tomorrow we should be back for some proper Tuk tuk Training, and border closes in 8 hours. Better start running 🙂

 

.Juho

Motor Vehicle Merry-go-Round

When travelling around the globe on a motor vehicle, there are a few things that all motorists should know. First and foremost, and the most obvious, is to be prepared for anything.

The real world is full of potholes, gravel roads, no roads, steep climbs, steep downward slopes that overheat the breaks, rocks that hit and break things, twigs that jam and scratch, rainfall that makes some roads into huge mud cakes etc. etc. etc. It takes just a moment for the wrong thing to happen at the wrong time and suddenly you can feel all your hopes and dreams slipping away as your motor vehicle comes to a stop, or refuses to move.

Prepare as much as you can for everything, and then let it all go. Don’t be stupid and take a truckload of stuff just in case. Take tools that can do many things, get a good understanding of physics, try fixing something before you go, think of many situations that might happen, use your imagination, and trust yourself to find a way to keep going.

The fact is, If you thought of it, it probably won’t happen. Life doesn’t want to do things the way someone thought it would go. Life is full of surprises, and thats the best part. And when it comes to breaking down in the middle of nowhere, there’s a 99.9% chance that there is at least one person around willing to help. It’s human nature, it’s life.

But then there’s bureaucracy. It’s not the real world, it’s the world on paper. If per chance you are driving your motor vehicle from New Zealand to Europe, around Africa or along the west coast of South America, it is mandatory to have a piece of paper called Carnet de Passages.

The Carnet allows you to temporarily import your vehicle without having to leave a cash deposit at the border. It is, in essence, an international guarantee for payment of customs, duties and taxes to a government should the vehicle not be re-exported from that country.

In other words you give around a few thousand € (depending on the price of the vehicle) as a deposit and you get it back when you import the vehicle into the final destination.

The Carnet de Passages en Douane can be obtained from the national automobile association or touring club of where ever you might be.

For more info visit the wiki @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnet_de_Passages

Other bureaucratic papers are of course Visas. There are a few options for this. Transit Visa, Tourist Visa and for those filming something you might need a Press Visa.

A transit visa is usually quite easy to get, but it’s for a very limited time. Iran gives 5 day transit visas, Azerbaijan gives 72 hour transit visas etc. It depend’s on the size of the country and your route. A transit visa cannot be renewed or lengthened.

A tourist visa can be obtained for a much longer time and thus you can enjoy the country a little better while driving around. In both cases Point of Entry and Point of Exit must be given and some countries want the whole route with all the names of the places you want to visit. If you stick to the plan you should be alright.

Usually the Carnet and Visas will suffice, but some countries have places called restricted areas. For example north eastern India is mostly restricted area. If you want to pass through these, you must obtain a special Restricted Area Permit.

This can be obtained along with the visa, if they see you fit for going through. Restricted Area Permits in India are for a maximum of 2 weeks, even though the tourist visa is for six months. You MUST have the Permit with you at all times while in the restricted area, and you MUST leave before it expires.

Then there’s of course the international driving licence. This is just a passport photo and filling in a piece of paper. It’s as easy as frying an egg.

Bureaucracy is a bunch of obstacles designed to milk money from your nipples. Its annoying, but if you comply and go with it, it’s easy. Try and fight it or lose your nerve and the bureaucratic cow kicks you in the face.

Apart from these you should be alright. So if you prepare and get the paperwork you’re all set.

And the rest is up to you.

 

PS. If you have more good tips, give us a comment.