The End of Chapter 1: Part 1

The past few days have been magical.

The Tuk Tuk is finally registered, we have renewed our Visas and washed dishes and clothes. Now we just need to renew the permissions to Myanmar, get the Carnet du Passage and find one pillow.

Magic was made on wednesday. We had to renew our Pakistan visas in the Embassy and it started the usual way, waiting in the lobby not knowing when our application would be handled. After almost two hours of waiting, the secretary called us and in the most polite way pledging us to follow him. The Counsellor had invited us for an audience.

Mr. Amin welcomed us with open arms, with his very good Indian friend by his side, offering dates from Mecca and multicoloured mouthwatering traditional Pakistani sweets. He was clearly inspired by our project and referred us as his little brothers. Mr. Amin opened his heart and mind, and it was magic.

For the next hour or so all worlds came together as we discussed religions, languages, understanding and unity of all peoples. It felt like he gave us a mission. A mission to understand the common ground of religions and beliefs that we will encounter on our journey, and in a way a mission to unite all the cultures within our own minds.

By the end of the meeting he gave us his phone number for any difficulties we might encounter, granted us visas without charge and we are honoured to call him our big brother.

Feeling fancy at the embassy.

Feeling fancy at the embassy.

I have been to a Pakistani Embassy twice in my life, both for this project, and both have opened my eyes to a group of people who seem more humane than most. They seem to be the opposite of everything I have ever read or heard and I am truly waiting to see if the country is as great as all their people I have met so far.

After the magical encounter at the Embassy, we met our journalist friend at his new condo for a pool and a Sauna. A SAUNA!!

It was the first sauna in over 3 months and we got so excited that we blabbered everything we knew about saunas. We enlightened our friend Peter about the Finnish Sauna culture and the Sauna Spirit, Löylyn Henki, a Finnish belief that is unknown to most of the world. I think Peter thought we were mental because the Sauna is just a hot room with a stove. This might be true for most of the world, but not for the Finns.

For the Finns the sauna is a place of Magic, a place of Birth, Healing, Cleansing and it is one of the rare places on earth where even ‘the Finnish Man’ can open themselves to communicate with other beautiful souls. A Finn needs the Sauna like the Monks need their temples. This is a little bit exaggerated, not much, but you get the point of how important the sauna is for the Finnish culture, and the Finnish people, and you can imagine how good it made us feel. Thank you Peter for taking us to the Sauna. Thank you for all the beautiful people we met there who shared the magic with us.

After wednesday the magic has continued. Our close friend Jukka arrived here yesterday by surprise. He didn’t know if we were still here, and we didn’t know he was coming. He was spending time up north and suddenly felt the urge to come to Bangkok for no specific reason. He was just in time for the final farewell party, and it would not have been the final one without him. So thank you Jukka!

We would also like to thank our Thai sister Wanida, for all the wisdom, great conversations, and unforgettable moments we have shared. And an extra super big thank you for coming with us to the Transportation Authority to find our lost papers. You are the best detective and one of the best people we have ever met anywhere. Thank you.

And a final thank you to everyone at P. Hot Pot for everything. You took us into your family, and we truly feel like we are part of it. This has been our home away from home. Thank you.

The time here in Bangkok is coming to an end and it has been a journey within a journey. After these magical days we are finally ready to move on.

Today is the Equinox, the beginning of a new time. Spring has begun and it’s time for new life and boost in growth. Tomorrow we hit the road and start the long-awaited unveiling of the Tuk Tuk.

Ins’ha Allah.

Thank you everyone

Are the vegetables greener in Cambodia?

You know the old saying, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’? Well I was thinking about this a while ago and with the logic minded brain that I have, I came up with a theory.

If the grass is greener on the otherside, that means that wherever you look, the grass is greener than the patch of land under your feet, right? Doesn’t this then mean that whenever you move anywhere, the grass just keeps getting greener and greener? Doesn’t this then mean that everything is just going to get better and better?

So are the greens greener in Cambodia? We don’t know. We never got there. Instead we got to a piece of land that was not Thailand, and I’m not sure if it was Cambodia either because we could see passport checks to both countries about 300m apart. We were standing in the middle with two huge casinos on both sides.

We missed the bus and wouldn’t have made it on monday night so we decided to pay a few hundred extra baht and take the easy way. First buses left at 5am and we were asked to wait because 1 had come unreserved and they asked for one more van. This was quite a good chance space wise and sleeping would have been excellent if the driver hadn’t gone like crazy over every bump. I found myself hovering over the last 3 seats and then pounding into them time after time.

The door was opened and we were greeted by a blindingly shiny light from the outside. Half a sleep we packed our bag and found that the minivan had gone, so had the guide and the third man. Everyone was shouting something about visas and we had no idea where to go. We started walking and got a bit lost trying to steer away from the crowd and were greeted with a beautiful view of Cambodia.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Next to this back alleyway on the right was the actual Aranyaprathet bordercrossing, or other words the gate to gambling country. I think both can be used to cross from Thailand to Cambodia, but the other costs money and gets you a stamp which saves you from paying fines from overstay. We were 2 days late for this visa run so it cost 1000baht each.

After paying the fine we got a receipt and it was off to the casino for the all included breakfast buffet. The omelette was good and the thai food, but the chorizo-type sausage things were horrible and so was the thing that was next to it on my plate. And whats with buffet orange juice? Aloe vera and dragon fruit seeds were tasteless but the pineapple is always a good choice. And they had proper Thai coffee! After breakfast we waited a moment outside and looked at whats for sale at the small duty free stalls.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Then walked back to the Thai side and were stamped back in. It was back into the airplane minivan ride and we were half an hour early in Bangkok @ 13.30.

Cambodia is yet to be discovered by us. Maybe next time.

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

Holidays are over

Today was the first steps we took on Myanmar soil. Very exciting! If you need to do a quick visa run from Ranong, here’s a link to a good explanation on how to do it cheap by yourself. Don’t fall on the organised visa runs, they are really expensive and it’s actually quite easy to DIY. Immigration opens daily 8.00 a.m. make sure you are early as the queues get longer and boat rides more expensive the later you go. Things you need with you is a new uncreased 10 dollar bill printed after 2007, your passport and a new copy of your passport.

We spent a total of maybe 45 minutes there, mostly in the immigration office and a quick tea (which was really good). Apparently Myanmar is a big tea-loving country that has no coffee of its own, but lots of great tea. There’s even some wild tea left in this part of the world, which explains the excellent Burmese tea leaf salads we had on Phayam the other day. Apparently they use tea leaves in many recipes intended for eating instead of drinking.

After the visa run we took a bus to Chumporn and now we are sitting on the night bus going towards Bangkok. Holidays are over and the final push before departure is about to begin.

We’ve met some really nice people on our detour down south and had some excellent conversations. One of the most interesting was about an equation between power, responsibility and freedom, and how they work together to form the balance. And why the balance these days is a bit out of whack. It’s amazing what people think of when they have time to think. But lets not go there, at least not yet.

We got some comments from our empowerment blog and we are sorry about offending some people. Please don’t take offence from our thoughts. We want to be open about our thoughts and sometimes it comes out a bit bluntly. Sometimes it’s quite scary to speak your mind and the bluntness comes from trying to spill it out. They are just thoughts and nothing more and our thoughts are no more right or wrong than anyone else’s. Empowerment is about feeling good, so we are truly sorry 🙂

The time is now 22.58 and it feels like a bushel of bananas is hanging from the eyelids. Sleep is calling and we need it.

Two weeks of freshly picked visa, nine hours of bus ride, and a bagful of hope that in the next few days we will finally get our tuk tuk should be a recipe for something great. We will do our best to not under cook it or over do it, because even the best of recipes can end up being a disaster if not done with care.

Myanmar, kuume nousee.

Vuoden vaihtuessa olimme paratiisisaarella Andamaanienmerellä.

Meillä ei ollut sen enempää sähköä kuin autojakaan. Sen sijaan meillä oli rauhaa, riippumattoja, telttoja, intian valtameri ja kaskaat joiden siritys oli voimakkaampi kuin paloautojen sireenit Bangkokissa. Vuosi 2013 oli valmistelujen vuosi, vuosi 2014 on tekemisen vuosi. Välissä oli hyvä rauhoittua ja kerätä voimia. Maanantaina ollaan taas Bangkokissa ja pistetään pyörät pyörimään.

Sitä ennen pitää kuitenkin käydä Myanmarissa. Thaimaan viisumimme kaipaavat uudistamista joten käymme huomenna pikavisiitillä. Silloin emme paljoa ehdi paikkoja koluta. Mutta Burman kuume alkaa vähitellen kutittelemaan. Tähän mennessä olen ajatellut Burmaa lähinnä haasteena, miten saamme luvat järjestymään, kuinka pärjäämme tuk tukin kanssa huonokuntoisila teillä, miten selviämme kulttuurishokista, entä kuvausluvista jne. Haasteita joiden selvittämiseksi on tehnyt töitä.

Lisäksi olen rakentanut käsitykseni Burmasta toisen maailmansodan historiaan sekä Thaimaalaiseen toimintarymistelyyn Bang Rajanin varaan. Miltei odotan törmääväni viidakossa majuri Wingaten chinditeihin tai hulluun viiksiniekkaan vesipuhvelin selässä.

Vielä en ole käynyt Burmassa, mutta täällä raja-alueella one saanut sen verran hyvät maistiaiset, että olen alkanut odottaa Myanmarin-etappia, paitsi haasteena, myös vesi kielellä. Viimeisimmät päivät olen kiskonut burmalaista ruokaa, teenlehtisalaattia, inkiväärisalaattia, munacurrya, munakasta jne. Kaikki on ollut aivan jumalattoman hyvää. Ja mikä parasta, kävimme keittiön puolella opissa joten pääsemme jakamaan makuja teidän kanssanne 🙂

Nyt odotan Burmalta hyvää ruokaa ja hyvän ruoan lisäksi seikkailua. Läpikulku on vastikään auennut ulkomaalaisille. Tulemme matkustamaan paikkoihin joissa valkoiset ovat viimeksi käyneet 70 vuotta sitten, kiväärit kainaloissa. Vanhukset muistavat vielä miltä he näyttivät ja nuoriso on kuullut mahdollisuuksista, sijoituksista ja rahasta mitä valkoiset tuovat tullessaan. Sitten me saavumme paikalle Tuk Tukillamme.

Eiköhän tästä seikkailu saada aikaiseksi.

.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.