Perth, Western Australia

Chris and I went into the city on Tuesday to drop off our passports at the Thai consulate. It was not a good day for me – I hate driving in the CBD, where everything’s busy and compact and crowded, and I hate driving when Chris is yelling in my ear about how stupid I am, and combining the two leads to problems. At one point I nearly got rear-ended because I didn’t realise I was on a one-way street and just swerved across the other lane when I saw a parking spot. While parking elsewhere, I also managed to hit the curb with an awful crunching noise that somehow didn’t do any damage to my bumper.

I also noticed throughout the day that the gearstick was very stiff, which culminated the next day with the engine gears making a horrible shrieking sound when I tried to put the car in reverse to go to work. I got it moving eventually, but every time I changed gear I had to really force the stick. I got my Dad to check it after work and apparently I’ve worn the clutch out. It still works as long as I really force the clutch down to the floor, but I was counting on selling this car before we leave, and that’s the sort of thing that would probably put buyers off. Also the passenger window won’t roll up. Also there’s a huge dent in the side. Also you have to turn the engine over a few times before it starts. Also it’s fourteen years old and hasn’t been serviced since 2002.

Anyway, I didn’t want to risk driving all the way into the city again today in case my car exploded halfway down the freeway, so I took the train. Visiting the consul was a quick, hassle-free five-minute trip, which is probably the last time I will say that about any consulate visit for the next two years. A sixty-day Thai tourist visa costs $45, by the way.

The consulate had a framed portrait of the Thai king, whom Chris commented looks like the kind of guy who just grew into power on the shoulders of a more legendary father. Apparently it’s illegal in Thailand to insult the king, so remember, it was Chris that said that. I think he’s dashing and handsome and undoubtedly a just ruler.

Incidentally, what’s with protesters pouring blood all over the streets of Bangkok? That’s weird and gross.

On the way back to the train station I stopped off at Budget Backpacker, a little store on Barrack Street with discounted backpacking gear. I bought my backpack there last year, before taking it to Korea, leaving it in the corner of my apartment for two and a half months, and then taking it home. This trip should be a little more intense than that, so I bought a sleeping bag as well. Chris is confident that we’ll need one (each, we don’t share, that’s super gay). I’m not so sure we’ll ever find ourselves in hostels and guesthouses that don’t provide bedding, or venture into a wilderness area without renting lots of other stuff first, but better safe than sorry. It was only $45 and takes up virtually no room in my backpack anyway. Now I just need to buy good shoes and a micro-fibre towel.

Now the biggest hassle we face is applying for a Russian visa, for which we have to sift through several tour companies to see who offers the cheapest business visa invitations, then mail our passports and papers off into the cruel concrete maw of the Russian consulate in Sydney, and hope that some bleak and miserable Soviet bureaucrat finds it in his vodka-clotted heart to approve us for business visas, rather than stamping DENIED across everything. I think it’s quite telling that the Russian consulate has an email address, but doesn’t bother to provide a phone number. I sent an email to them with a few queries; it was, of course, ignored.

41 days to go!