Off The Road Asia: The Rockdown Continues

The second half of 2021 has been no better than the first in terms of traveling or freedom of movement. Thailand started to get its Covid numbers under control and it commenced its vaccination rollout during the third quarter. I managed to get 2 shots of Pfizer in September courtesy of a government expat vaccine scheme.

Despite the improvements, Thailand has remained locked down with restrictions for most of the year. Entering the country still requires an arduous amount of paperwork, insurances, Covid tests, and a quarantine period. The Kingdom had a “soft opening” on Nov. 1, but just a trickle of tourists braved the wall of bureaucracy.

A new variant called Omicron surfaced in late November bringing with it a new wave of paranoia and restrictions. This fourth wave was not as bad as the Delta version, yet more restrictions were imposed. Thailand was preparing further quarantine measures for entry in mid-December making any overseas travel a nightmare in terms of returning with rules changing on a daily basis.

Everything is still pretty much closed around Bangsaphan and there are still bans on bars and restrictions on alcohol which is doing the battered tourism industry no favours. Needless to say, the place has been desolated for most of the year with most shops, restaurants, and tourist-related services being shuttered. Schools have also been closed for most of this year so the boys have become video game experts.

Bangsaphan remains as sleepy as ever, we rarely see other people and have the beach to ourselves most days which is a blessing, another upside is that there is a very low risk of Covid here.

When the levee breaks

It has been the longest rainy season in living memory with rains that started in June and intensified to a crescendo of storms in late November. The threat of flooding emerged again after one such storm dumped 2-months’ worth of rain on us in 3 days, but fortunately, the new flood defenses in town held up. The season finally changed in December following nearly half a year of daily rains, and the welcome cool northeasterly winds returned.

There was only one road trip with a ride on the Enfield up to Kanchanaburi in late October to see Mike before he moved to Cha-am and stay up in Sai Yok. The lockdown situation was no better there with most of the tourist soi shuttered up. The fleet was expanded again with a nearly new Honda 150 Click to run about on.

As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months with very little to distinguish one from another, we turned to music to get us through the monotony. Friday nights have become “Rockdown” sessions where a small group of like-minded people gathered at the bungalow to expand their musical knowledge and have a good feed and drink. Friday Rockdowns and Saturday Jammin sessions have been the lifeline to get us through the latter half of a year of tedium so it hasn’t all been doom and gloom.

One ray of light this year has been the addition of a new family member, Marlo the Retriever pup. The month-old ball of madness joined us in September and has proceeded to chew everything in sight since. He has finally bonded with Bruno who is getting on a bit now.

Writing this in mid-December, the only thing we have to look forward to now is a Christmas cook-up and 3 days of camping and unplugging from Covid news and mindless stats over New Year. We’re praying for a better 2022 and the possibility of a road trip somewhere … maybe.

These photos were all shot on a mobile phone, and yes, I took a lot of sky pics and sunsets as there wasn’t much else to do!