Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm Not Dead, So We're going to Surat Thani.

I had to get out of there. I don't like being sick and am definitely not good at it. I had pretty much decided that no matter what, if I wasn't dead, we were going to move on to Surat Thani the next morning. But my body decided that it hated me and added yet another new symptom overnight- nausea accompanied by vomiting. Undeterred by this new development, I went out and got cereal and yogurt, had dry heaves (yay.) when I returned, ate, felt better. Colin was unconvinced by my pronouncement that I was fine, but I told him there was no way I could spend another day in bed, we had to go.

So we finished packing, loaded the bikes, and took off for Surat Thani. As par for the course, a gentle rain began to fall as we left. It rained, on and off, for most of the day. I actually did feel pretty decent for most of the morning, but toward lunchtime, my nausea returned. Colin spotted a roadside bbq chicken stand, and we pulled over. Hoping that putting something in my stomach would settle it, I nibbled on a chicken leg and ate a few balls of sticky rice before handing the remainder over to Colin to finish. Once we were back on the road and I'd had a few minutes to digest the food offering, I did actually feel better. 

We continued on our ride, and the rain continued to fall intermittently. In one of the sunny breaks between the raindrops, we stopped to refuel the bikes. After filling the tanks, I sat down next to my bike (feeling a sudden and urgent need to nap), while Colin adjusted his clutch in an attempt to reduce the slipping (unfortunately, the recent oil change didn't fix it). I still had the 14mm wrench in my daypack from my brake adjustment in Koh Lanta, so I didn't even have to get off the bike to adjust it. Extremely bad move. Sitting in the seat, I leaned my head over, put the wrench on the nut that locks the clutch adjuster, and gave it a turn. It seemed stubborn, so I pushed a little harder. And then I felt the unmistakeable feel of bolt threads collapsing. Somehow, from my vantage point in the seat, I was not loosening the bolt, I was tightening it. I got off the bike, attempted to loosen the lock nut this time, and to my dismay, the nut simply rotated in place. To make matters worse, there was now oil dribbling out from around the clutch adjustment bolt. The clutch adjustment bolt sticks out through the engine side cover and passes through an oil seal on the way. Between the lock nut and the engine side cover, is a washer. Apparently, if this washer is not held tightly to the side cover, the oil seal doesn't really seal. Now that the lock nut was stripped and loose, oil was dribbling out. Oh no. We broke out the tools, and after much fiddling, were able to get the lock nut off the clutch adjustment bolt. I had hoped to have only stripped the nut, but unfortunately, the threads in both the nut and the bolt were crushed. There were a few good threads left on the bolt near the oil seal (they had been protected by the washer), and so we looked around on the bike for another nut that could maybe work on the bolt. We couldn't find another suitable nut, so I gingerly threaded the stripped nut back onto the bolt and hoped that it would catch on the remaining threads. It did, and so I tightened it as much as I dared. It seemed to be holding the adjuster, and so I reached up and thumbed the started button, only to watch oil come pouring past the nut. Huh (that's not actually what I said, over, and over, and over). We were in the middle of the countryside, with no real place to get parts or help, so we needed to fix this now. I explained what was going on to Re, and she said, why don't we just use some Gorilla Tape? I think she meant to use the sticky side against the engine case (that was what I meant), which might hold the oil in momentarily, but not for long. But it was still a good idea, which I changed a little bit. We took a small piece of Gorilla Tape, folded it over, sticky side to sticky side, and then cut a tiny hole in the center. We slipped it over the clutch adjuster bolt, carefully pressed it against the oil seal and engine side cover, and then threaded the nut on top. Basically, the double layer of Gorilla Tape was taking the place of the washer. We adjusted the clutch and then carefully tightened the nut as much as we dared, crossed our fingers, and I reached up and thumbed the starter. Yay! No oil ran out this time

For the remaining 60 mile ride to Surat Thani, every five miles, I rode up next to Colin's bike to inspect it for leaks. It was a pleasant surprise to us both that the tape held for the entire journey! But the break in the rain did not. As we neared the city of Surat Thani, somebody pulled the rain lever again. It poured. When it turned into a veritable deluge, we decided to seek shelter and pulled off the road under an overpass for half an hour, during which time, the rain didn't even stutter. Since it was getting late, and riding in the rain and the dark while searching for a hotel in a city for which you don't have a map is even less fun, we forged on. We did manage to find the hotel we were looking for after another 45 minutes of riding (no it's not the only place in town, and we did stop at others along the way, but as soon as I would reach the reception desk, they all said, “full,” so we kept looking). 

When we arrived and the woman at the counter said they had rooms, even though the rate was 100 baht more than the online rate, I was delighted. Cold and soaking wet (the reception lady actually had to get a towel to soak up the puddle under my arm as I completed the registration form) feeling like crap again, but delighted. While Colin unloaded the bikes, I carried our helmets and daypacks to the room and got out of my riding suit. I was chilled and thought a nice, hot shower would help, but first, I had to stop to worship the porcelain god and make an offering of dry heaves. Once showered, warmed, and dried, I climbed under the covers and went to sleep. Since I really didn't feel like eating anything, and it was now dinnertime, Colin walked out to the market and found some pork and noodle soup for himself, and returned with soda water and crackers for me (he is such a sweetheart!). Then, since I thought I might like a Gatorade, he went back out and brought me two of the Thai version of Gatorade (much sweeter and more syrupy) as well. The crackers and soda were sitting well, so I drank one of the fauxtorades. It sat well, and I felt much better. Except that now, my palms and soles of my feet were tender and itchy (could this really get any worse?). Doing my best to ignore them, I brushed my teeth, got back under the covers, and went to sleep for the night.


  1. Where would we be without Gorilla Tape?

    RE, I hope you're feeling better soon!

  2. You two are such great troopers! You are an inspiration! Keep on truckin'.....

  3. I checked in just to make sure you were ok. You don't sound OK but you are obviously brave to keep on going. You have a devoted nurse maid too! By the time you read this I hope you feel better. I am thinking of you and will wait to see the next posting.