Neil’s Wheeling #22, #23 & #24 (Almost home)

Neil’s Wheeling #22 Feb 28, 2014

Time writes;

Well I know it has been awhile, and here we are in Bangkok staging for the long, wrong way around the world, trip home.

All is very well, and we have maintained a pretty incredible and fast pace the last leg down the mighty Mekong. Just as many stories per day as ever and as I have said before, quite different than the first half given the varied histories of the Lao vs the Burmese, and the way-different connections with our fellow travelers. blah, blah, blah.

Our health has remained from good to excellent, though Neil likes to complain about how tired he is then off we truck, amazing all whom we meet with his strength. Just like every grandparent we have all known…charging straight ahead, waving his cane gently in front, not seeing much to the sides or far ahead, nor hearing much either . He is awesome! Now when he grouses, I just brace myself for how fast we are getting ready to go.

Did a half day tour of the megalopolis today, he kept trying to divert our guide to the political demonstrations downtown against the Prime Minister. At first, days ago, I thought he was just digging at me because I’m totally not interested, and I have even scoffed. Total waste of my life energy.

He is gonna go, probably tomorrow. Told me to tell you all he will wave to you via CNN. We have even seen the King’s Army stationed all around the city so they can be deployed quickly. I expect I’ll stay close with him after all, in case he needs to be dragged away or something. In actuality, we’re mostly being told it’s all sorta quiet for now.

Good story, though, huh? Standby.

Will have internet access for about 36 or 40 hours, then dead air as we begin transit. My dumbphone continues to disappoint and fail.

gsn t

Steve adds:

Only Neil thinks that attending a violent political demonstration would be interesting. Maybe he can see someone shot, someone beaten to death, someone blinded by teargas. I hope that he gets some good pictures of blood on the pavement. Wouldn’t that be fun?

——————-

Neil’s Wheeling #23 Feb 29, 2014

Tim writes:

Another great, adventurous day. Struggled with Neil’s bad legs getting into and out of the tuk-tuk (motorcycle with a bench seat sized for Asians on the back).

We commandeered for the morning to go to Chinatown (with 10 million residents here in Bangkok, the Chinese population is HUGE). There is a very common saying here, translates as “Same, same. But different”. Chinatown market was just that.

Then after intense negotiations, the driver who could only speak about 10 words of English, (two of which were “Papa” and “ok”) took us as close as he dared to the demonstrations, very concerned about attracting attention of the King’s army who would treat him ruthlessly if they had suspicions of bombs hidden in the tuk-tuk. He did good, dropped us off to walk in. Not quite an active war zone, but as close as either of us has ever been.

The government has totally isolated the permanent camps set up to protest, and another election is set for Sunday (tomorrow here) in a number of provinces that aborted their part of the national elections [that were held earlier in] Feb. Doesn’t affect Bangkok, but of course this is where the “statements” would happen – bombs and shootings in the recent past.

Incredible, bustling city, and the core for miles is surrounded by blockades, overturned buses from the last two months, concertina wire, and sandbagged/netted compounds constructed by the army and also the protesters.

We walked right in to the no man’s land and wandered in total awe. Just couldn’t trek into the permanent camps of the protesters because of the heat and more and more difficult barriers. The army just watched us wander. I think Neil got his fix!?

And, all’s well that ends well. He had to work very hard, a very physical challenge, and it took the driver and I both to physically lift him in and out of the Tuk-tuk a half-dozen times. Whew!

We check out at 11 tomorrow morning, then eventually work our way to the airport for an 11:30 pm flight for Seoul, 10 or so hours in the terminal, then a very long flight to SF, then Eugene. Gonna be hard, but we know how to do this by now.

This has gotten long, gsn t.

Steve adds:

“This has gotten long.” Is Tim referring to the email or the trip? I suspect, a little of both. Hang on, Tim! Help is on the way – in the form of a return ticket.

———-

Hello all;
John Wagner (whoever he is) sent me this message regarding Neil’s Wheeling #23, dated Feb 29, 2014.
Is it Feb. 29th on the other side of the dateline? Is it a time warp? A vortex? Event horizon? We may never know. Or did I just miss three years? Getting old is hell.

Many people are confused about the dates at the end of February. You see, when you cross the international dateline going west (as Neil & Tim did), then turn around and come back it confuses everything.

Going west you gain one day, if you travel during the morning. Then, when you return, if you leave in the evening, you arrive before you left on the previous day. On the other hand, if Neil and Tim had continued in a westerly direction, they would have gained a second day. This would make them, two days younger than a person who stayed home in Oregon.

The Internacional Systeme du Chronologique puts an extra day in February that is available, if needed, to make everything come out OK. Otherwise, we would have two choices: 1) Everyone in Oregon would have to change the day that they celebrate their birthday; or 2) Neil and Tim would be two days younger than when they left town. And, God knows what a load of braggadocio we would hear from them!

So, I inserted an extra day in February. Everyone is happy. We don’t have to hear about it from the travelers. Of course, if they seem a little tired when they get home, now you know why. They traveled for three days to make up for the lost days.

If it were me, I would have just stayed in the same time zone and ordered take-out Pad Thai.

-Steve

———-
Neil’s Wheeling #24 Mar 2, 20914

Tim writes:

Quick status check with state-side messages and a note to let you all know we are headed out to the Bangkok Airport.

All going as planned and I asked Neil if he had any “last words” to relay. He got too wordy for me to write it all down, sez “It’s been a trip and a half”. Some other stuff about his traveling buddy, but I couldn’t hear him.

Don’ know if you all heard, but after our adventure into the Thai no-man’s land yesterday, they declared a truce and the anti-gov’t protestors removed all their camps, etc. (for now at least). We ventured back to the sites this morning so Neil could get some souvenirs, all the international TV trucks, etc., etc., were packing up and they were tearing down all the bunkers and netting and sweeping up months and months of garbage

Of course, Neil wants everyone to know it was probably his mediation skills the pushed the negotiations over to success.

gsn. `See ya’ll soon. t

Steve adds:

What ever happened to the poetry contest? The entrants were:

John Wagner

There once was a man named Van Steenbergen,

Who got himself squished by a manure wagon.

Now again he’s away

Somewhere west of Bombay [or east of Cathay]

With his friend Farmer Tim from east Orgon.

His itinerary tends toward the random,

And he’s lucky he has a leg to stand on.

As his trip comes to a close

He’ll just follow his nose,

Which we hope is not something he’ll land on!

Mark Aldridge

There was a young lesbian from Rangoon

Who invited Neil up to her room.

And they argued all night

About who had the right

To do what and how to whom.

Mr. Vong

ດອກຂອງມັນມີສີແດງ.

ເຄົ້າແມ່ນສີຟ້າ.

Neil ແລະ Tim ພັກ

ໂດຍບໍ່ມີການທ່ານ.

And, the award goes to: … Mr. Vong for his clever rhyme of “cheapskates” and “warm Diet Coke.” His prize, a hearty handshake, will be sent by FedEx.

We still have long airplane flights to endure, followed by the inevitable rough time as customs agents and Neil argue about the value and legality of Neil’s “imports.” I hope that the medicinal powders and herbal teas are not confiscated. Because his suitcase was full, Neil put them in Tim’s carry-on.

-Steve

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