Airbag Story

On Saturday. I went to my homeboy Ot’s shop, Wattana Sound, to get a bigger horn put on the car since it seems to be the only deterrent to the 50,000 students haphazardly riding motor scooters on the local roads.
His worker takes off the steering column cover and leans under to examine wiring bundles. He uses a tester and checks each wire and then inadvertently triggers the driver’s side airbag… POW! The airbag catches him square in the eye and is louder than a tire blowing out (I know this because I was across the street when it happened).
So eventually I return to the shop and Ot is waiting for me and shows me the problem… I make sure the worker is all right (he has a very small cut over his eye) and Ot assures me he will cover the cost for replacement at the Nissan dealer. I tell him that it’s more than just the airbag since the collision system is tied into the seatbelts and active head restraints via computer (actually, it turns out there’s a spring loaded system in the rear seats as well); Ot breaks out some cans of Beer Lao and starts making calls.
Somewhere in Bangkok, the steering assembly for an A33 Cefiro is placed on a truck bound for Mahasarakham, where we will have it installed on Monday.
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On Sunday morning, I am driving Nam to work when I hear this curious vibrating noise between my seat and the car door. I reach under to see what it is and my hand comes back up holding a U-shaped wire hair holder-thingie. Nam immediately demands to know who’s it is, and I’m hard pressed to answer, because I just have no idea… She’s has no reason to be suspicious, really, but then again, neither of us has any idea how the hell a girl’s hair thingie got in my car.
I thought about it all day and a weird scenario evolved in my head… I told Nam about it and she thought I was totally bullshitting, but we went to confirm my theory – we went back to Ot’s car shop. The worker who had been doing the wiring has long hair, and the force of the airbag deploying in his face knocked the hair thingie clear off his head and under the seat. Awesome!
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Yesterday we got the car fixed, so all’s well that ends well, I guess.

On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang

There are several ferries running from Trat to Koh Chang. We chose the Center Point Ferry because it was the only one that looked like it wouldn’t sink if hit by a stiff breeze. The signs for it on the roadway emphasized the fact that they were using Japanese ferries, which was somehow very comforting (I don’t know how I would feel about trusting my life, wife, and car to a ferry made in, say, Kazakhstan or Luxembourg, you know?). It might be since I rode the ferry so many times between Awaji Island and Osaka, but I guess it’s the same thing applied to electronics or cars.

Ferries are great places to check out other people’s cars. Check out the gravel truck.

All of the trucks are carrying building materials!
As it turns out, even though Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand, most of it consists of protected forest so everything has to be carried over.

At first I thought these life jackets were solid proof of this ship’s Japanese origin. However…

Not exactly comforting
I couldn’t decide which was more unsettling, the date of manufacture or the implication that these life jackets don’t work well immersed in petroleum products… Surely these weren’t made for papyrus rafts or galleons, right? Steamships?
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Like many tourist boomtowns, Koh Chang has a bit of a confused identity due to the high turnover of businesses. Businesses have to evolve in order to survive, and this also results in some curious hybrids:

A barber shop/real estate company

A burger joint turned into tattoo parlor and postcard shop

This sign, complete with roof, somehow reminded me of the dark wooden ones for onsen in Kurokawa, Kyushu.
We had arrived on the island in the afternoon and just followed the stream of cars off the ferry. Most seemed to be heading down the west coast of the island, so we just followed them since I was worried about getting stuck in the mud since it had been raining off and on all week. The strips of shops and whatnot defining the town areas were, quite honestly, depressing. We hadn’t driven a thousand kilometers away from home to be surrounded by druggie loser expat scum and backpackers in search of The Island, but that’s exactly who most of the island (and especially the town areas) catered to… My wanderlust soon kicked in and I pointed the car south and drove up and down hills, around blind corners, and past breathtaking views of the ocean from the tops of jungle cliffs.
We were on a search for the best accomodations possible, not too expensive yet in a nice location, and preferably away from fat sweaty Europeans in thongs and college students having mushroom epiphanies. Of couse, this led us somewhat off the beaten track:

My car said “oh hell no!” I said, “mush, bitch!” … and of course, that puddle was covering a foot-deep hole.
After following several muddy roads and doubling back after notfinding suitable accomodation, we drove as far as the main road went before reaching a guard shack and this ridiculously pompous sign:

Five bucks just to enter? In Thailand?
So here’s where we hit a curveball. The guard came out of the shack speaking furiously into a two-way and asked if we had reservations. I said no but asked if we could take a look around inside and decide there. He said we would have to pay to even drive onto the resort property. I said no way. He told me to wait a minute and spoke into the two-way. The man on the other end asked what kind of car we were driving.
“Cefiro.”

Membership has its privileges, yo.
Welcome to the Koh Chang Grand Lagoona. The manager was nice and sympathetic to a poor teaching couple from the country and offered us a private boat at one-third of the standard rate. Oh yes.

Morning view. The lagoon is salt water and contains approximately ten hundred thousand million fish.
We borrowed some bicycles and rode through the surf and around the huge resort grounds.

Covering up the resort’s unfortunate little secret.
This resort is pretty much perfect, and priced accordingly. That’s why it hosts royal family members, Miss Universe, and rich Thai families. We felt a bit out of place there, but everyone was really nice about it anyway. There were only two disappointing things about the resort: Weak water pressure on the botas, and an extremely rocky beach. The workers comb the beach all day, but in the surf there are fist-size rocks rolling around and waiting to break your ankle. This beach, in effect, is unswimmable and unwadeable, which is just a damn shame since it defeats the purpose of a beach resort. I guess rich people don’t like getting sand in their ass cracks or something, because none of them seemed even slightly interested in the water.

Our future parking space?
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Conclusion: The western coast of Koh Chang is just okay. Sometimes beautiful but always expensive. It’s also overrun by foreign shitheads and the weasely natives that follow in their wake. If we’re down that way again, we might check out the eastern coast, though.
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All links for the On the Road 2007 series:
On the Road 2007 (Part 1)
On the Road 2007 (Part 2)
On the Road 2007 (Part 3) – Koh Chang
On the Road 2007 (Part 4) – Overloaded
On the Road 2007 (Part 5) – Tamnanpar
On the Road 2007 (Part 6) – The Animatronic Chicken Roasters of Rayong, Thailand

momentous – 999999999


This was the entire point of that other post.
Some might wonder why I choose to commemorate 99999 999.9 instead of 100000 000.0. Well, I can’t really explain it; that’s just not how it’s done – we follows the little voice in our headses and it leads us on grand adventures… Right, Preeeciousss?
What a grand occasion this is.
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In honor of this momentous accomplishment, Nam and I have decided to go on a road trip from tomorrow. Where we go shall not be decided beforehand. We will pack for a few days, hop in the car, and see where the road takes us.
Be back soon!

Stripes

I totally just smoked this guy who wanted to race, on the way home. I’ve been a really good boy and not given into temptation until today, but this guy was a total asshole and cut me off. He was in a fast VW hatchback, so I gave him the lead for a while and let him eat my xenons. Then I passed him in the outside lane and that was that, because there was no way he could keep up. Not much to it, but it felt really good. This sleeper car of mine has earned its stripes. Someone has contacted me with an offer to install a custom Y-pipe without the 2 pre-cats I have on the stock system now. Don’t need it, though. It felt really good to smoke that guy; brought back the way I used to feel driving the Silvia at night on the coastal highway back home.

Note to self: Don’t race with wife in car. It still upsets her for some reason.

my new car

The overnight bus departs from Sarakham at 9:15 and arrives at Bangkok sometime after three in the morning. We took the “VIP” bus which costs another forty or fifty baht, yet is great value for the money since you get a hot meal, a bottle of water, and comfortable seating.
We stayed at Nam’s aunt’s house in Lad Prao and set out the next morning in search of a used car. Surprisingly, this was fun. I shocked a couple of dealers by showing them evidence of past accidents on their cars, so I guess the average Thai buyer is about as knowledgeable as the average American buyer. There was a lot less smooth talk than I expected, though. Of all the dealers we talked to, only one followed up with a phone call the next day. Altogether, there was little pressure to immediately commit to anything, which made for a nice experience. What made it even nicer was the car I decided on:

Love at first sight
That’s a Nissan Cefiro with a 3-liter V6 engine (which is important, since almost all of those imported into Thailand only have a 2-liter engine. Too wimpy.). As of writing this, there are only two others for sale in the whole country that I can find, and only one in black (I don’t care that it shows dirt and I don’t care that it absorbs heat, I like black cars). It’s slightly modified with aero kit and alloy seventeens, and it looks absolutely stunning in person. The sound system is crap, which is just how I wanted it since I like doing that part myself. I can’t believe I have to wait another two weeks to drive it!
Now all I need to do is bring it out here to the rice fields and build a car port for it.

In a world of white Toyotas…

I have to admit, Mitsuoka makes some real works of art; they stand out from everything else on the street. Take a look at their lineup.
My favorite, of course is the Le-Seyde, which is built on the body of a 180SX (the sister model of my beloved Silvia S-13). I used to see these driving around once a year or so (they were always white), but I haven’t seen one for quite a while.
In some cities in Japan, they use the TX-II or the viewt as actual taxi cabs – and riding around in one is a welcome break from the ubiquitous old Crown cabs.

Radar Detector

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My trusty cheap-ass radar detector. I go through one of these every couple years which is how long it takes for the solar panels/battery to run down. I need to run it solar because my Silvia’s cigarette lighter is broken. Come to think of it, that’s a problem I’ve seen on many Silvias, as well as the 240/180sx. Design flaw, methinks.