Hi all, Been a while since my last trip report but since March (and I still have not figured out how to post pictures) my only trip has been to and from the 7-11 in Mae Hong song. The papers finally cleared on my shiny new (...ish) motorbike and this coincided not only with my Birthday but also two weeks holiday and best of all England won the Rugby, well the semi's anyway. So it was off to North East Thailand. After having a few days in Bangkok I arrived in Khon Kaen and a veritable dearth of Police officers and Military types, not alas to welcome theantlion but for some Government official, as usual the Thai's remained closed mouthed about who it might be. After being picked up Chumpae by the previous owner I finally got to see the machine I had been fantasising about for the past few months. She is beautiful if a little orange that luckily matched my helmet. After driving around the block to get the feel and with a parting farewell I was off and on the road again. Nothing like driving in Thailand, well actually there really is nothing like driving in Thailand, after having experienced the terrors of the Indian Highway, might makes right and Tata's are at the top of the food chain, South America where basically anything goes, England where you have to pay to breathe, Thailand was a welcome breath of fresh air. Everyone seems to take notice of everyone else and the roads are remarkably clean with little in the way of rocks (my biggest fear) or the ubiquitous girl on moped with phone in hand or terrifying huge semi's tearing along the roads I was in heaven. After four hours of driving stopping once to fill up I was in Nong Khai, just behind the lunatic that tore past me at a thousand mph, on the road to NK. Had to be Farang, thought I as no one else seemed to be driving with such celerity. After checking into the Mea Kong Guest House and a quick refreshing shower and superb meal, down by the river, it was out to the bars. NK has a veritable plethora of them and is great for short time fun. I started at the Danish Bar where I sat outside watching the late night workers tear along on their way to the party opening the Weekend festival. I should have mentioned that on the last full moon of the last lunar month there is a massive party in NK and, in fact all over Thailand. After a while of the watching the packed out mopeds going one direction and the ambulances going the other the place closed 2pmish I walked down the street to a place where the lovely Isaan ladies beckoned me in and resumed drinking. Watching the James Bond movie I bought a bottle of tequila and a game was invented where every time Bond kills someone we had to take a shot. Anyone who knows Bond knows that Goldfinger has the lowest body count of any Bond movie, until the final five minutes when we forced to consume the entire bottle in less time than it takes a Prom date to say 'OK'. After holding the hair back for one of the girls as she subsequently vomited, as I am sure Bond would of done I headed off home. Awaking the next day and finding vomit on the bed, how did that get there, I slunk away to my booked accommodation at the Mekong Royal, overpriced and overused with a charming in-house Thai traditional, massage service I fell asleep to awake three hours later and realised that to see the NAGA fireballs as planned would take a super human effort. Slipping my underwear over my trousers it was back on my trusty steed and off to find some adventure. Heading East I had been reliably informed that I could not miss the event for all the vehicles parked up. I stopped at the first place I came to that was a high school 45 kms from NK. Dismounted and headed into the festivities the sun was just setting and I bought myself a bottle of Coke, once bitten twice shy. I was soon invited to sit down on a mat got to talking and received the monica of Mr Bean. The sun set, no fireballs, we drank some more, no fire balls, we talked some more and suddenly a shout went up. Everyone turned the direction I was not looking and cheered. Slow and sensible turned round nothing, too fast. So back to talking again the shout went up turned round still too slow. Now frustrated with the development I stopped talking turned to the direction they has all pointed and sat determinedly watching. After about half hour and flat refusal to turn round I was rewarded with the first of a series of fireballs. They looked a lot like fireworks except for their upward trajectory almost symmetrical downward journey. I was unsure what to say as they looked exactly like the fireworks everyone was setting off, except for the fact they were in the middle of the river; give a bunch of Thais a festival and a bunch of explosives and I grantee you an event to remember. They were going off all around straight up into the air, skipping them across the top of the water, or if the mood took them into each other. How everyone remained unscathed is one of the continuing baffling mysteries. One particular memory is watching one approach an unsuccessful; launch realised the fuse was too short for reigniting so stand there with arm out stretched holding a lighter to the fuse. No health and safety no problems. I returned to NK and my worn room fairly early although I was reliable informed the festivities carried in until; the next morning. I awoke late and headed to the sculpture park to see the mind of the mystic shaman the guide book told me about, simple cheap fun, the sculpture park was definitely worth the effort and would have been better if I had had a guide to tell me what each one meant, but the massive swarm of bees hanging from Buddha's arm was enough to convince me of the value of the place; not sure how long the park will remain however as they are made o9f concrete and showed signs of wear. The it was back to NK for a meal and a quiet beer, or at least that was the plan. This was rapidly scuppered after going to the Riverside bar, run by Brendan and Noi, where the beer flowed as well as the ladies. A large screen TV had the football on and after watching Man City being routed by Chelsea, WEST HAM were o playing rivals Portsmouth away, a no score draw meant a somewhat non plussed evening. After the bar closed and we had finished our beers we wandered down the street and became involved in a game of diminoe's that ended at 5am. The next day was check out and I headed to Udon thani to meet up with my new founded Thai's friend and get myself some Motorbike trousers at, well I forget the name but it is at Centre Point about 500m down the road from the train station, just drive around until you see the sh'ot bikes parked out front. Got myself a wicked pair of protective pants and then off to my friends nephews birthday party. Nothing like a Thai party for drinking Karaoke, dancing and general merry making. It was here that I saw the training Thai's receive in Fireworks. A bunch of five year olds a box of matches and as much fireworks as they could carry and the street was soon alight with pops and explosions. I met the Thai Nos. 1 jockey from yesteryear, university professor and was propositioned bty Romantic's ideal. Finally managing to tear myself away at a late hour. I took the next day as recovery time before heading to Chiang Kang on my return trip. here it gets marginally more boring overnighting in Chaing Kang at the only place that said Hotel, so had decent parking. A solid Teak hote; by the Mekong I could easily have stayed here for a couple of days to enjoy what is a sleepy little town to recover form the preceeding mayhem, but I have to be back at work on Monday and so stopped only one night. The next day was the only early morning of the whole trip, so far, and I left at nine as I had to reach Phrae. This is farily achieveable but I was on 17 inch and had selected to go through the parks. It rained the whole way, I saw nothing but clouds wet gravelly roads the whole way but enough of the surrounding countryside poked through to give me hope that in the drier months this would be a driver worth the effort. Stopping in Phrae after a nine hour drive I stayed at the Mayeom Hotle and took a coupe of baths before deciding I was too tired to go out and settled in with the Halloween movie on T. I arrived CNX today after once again getting pissed on. I love my new bike and the 17 inches are not for off roading but probly saved my life and got my home a lot quicker than nobblies. So I am now within striking distance of my destination and back to work; but look on the bright side I had a wicked time. Those of you who read this all the way to the end thanks and see you out there.