Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NYK Argus passes by the Japanese island of Shikoku

Today, the 75,000 ton container vessel 'NYK Argus' passes by the smallest and least populated of Japan's four main islands, Shikoku.

It travels with a speed of 14 knots at a draught of 35 feet.

The last reported position before was in the East Taiwan Straights (Taiwan Banks) at height of Quangzhou, China.

This was four days and about 1,000 miles ago.

It will arrive in Los Angeles on February 13, 8:00 a.m., 16 days from now.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Trip Part 2: Phnom Penh, December 2014-Bangkok, January 2015

Overview Trip Part 1: October 2013-March 2014

NYK Argus Container vessel in route

Quick update on the large container vessel NYK Argus' route after it picked up the motorcycle in Laem Chabang port, south of Bangkok.

The container ship went in short sequence from Bangkok, Thailand, on January 18 to Singapore, the containers were NOT reloaded to another bigger ship, then, surprisingly, the ship went in short order from Singapore to Hongkong to pick up cargo, then to Shanghai were it was moored for two days, now it travels north along the Chinese coast.

If you enlarge the picture you see the little tag, 50 minutes ago was the last recording (January 25, 2015) traveling with a speed of 14 knots (16 mph, 25 km/h), soon reaching the northern tip of Taiwan.

The ship has traveled since my bike was loaded already some 2,500 nautical miles. I think this is amazing.

It is assuring that the tag says: Destination: Los Angeles.

Friday, January 16, 2015

NYK Argus

The newly built crate has already cleared Thai customs, is loaded LCL ('Less-than-Container-Load') into a container and was trucked to Laem Chabang where it awaits loading on board the container vessel NYK 'Argus', sailing under the flag of Panama, Singapore-bound.

Maybe the motorcycle is in this container I've seen on a road in downtown Bangkok? Who knows.

NYK 'Argus', currently in Singapore.
Will take cargo and sail from Bangkok on January 18, the day of my flight back to the U.S.
This is only a intermediate ship, cargo will be reloaded in Singapore to sail to Long Beach California.
For those curious: Ocean freight from Bangkok to Long Beach CA is a mere $540.-, this amounts to about 4 US Cents/km. (13,500 kilometers)

The way this was handled by Prompt Shipping Company Ltd. in Bangkok can only be described as "perfect". A visit to their offices today on busy Rama IV. Road, a last meeting with Khun Nikorn, the General manager, and all is done and settled.

The NYK 'Argus' sails to the port of Singapore on January 18 where the container will be transferred to an even larger container ship taking the cargo across the pacific to Long Beach, California.

We will see how everything goes with U.S. Customs; it shouldn't be a problem looked at the transaction from a rational standpoint, but Customs isn't rational, sometimes.

The journey will take four weeks, instead of the three months it took to get the motorcycle here.

I paid my bill, say Good Bye! to friendly, professional Khun Nikorn, and head out for even more important issues, such as getting the 'best haircut in the world', from a young tomboy at a salon where I have been before. And taking more pictures, of course.

My wine loving friends from the U.S could probably be found here, I guess.

My architect friends here.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Walking the City

Without too much comment just some impressions from my walks through Bangkok. There isn't much to do for me anymore, I will have a last meeting with the Thai shipping agent tomorrow afternoon, my flight back to Chicago via Tokyo is on Sunday morning. I am not looking forward to the cold at all.

The temperatures here were wonderfully mild, little humidity, at least much less than in the coming months here.

Enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed finding the subjects and taking the image.

Police motorcycle

Japanese tourists

Military dictatorship 

Gift to the Shi, the Guardian Lion in the Buddhist temple, Foo Dog in the West, Komainu in Japanese.

Covered arcade in Chinatown. THis image reminds me a lot of the famous Paris 'Passages', I took an almost identical photograph there, Passage Brady, Paris.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Beware of VANGUARD Logistic Services, Bangkok!!!

One would assume that the shipping agent and company which conducted the shipping of the motorcycle from the U.S. to Thailand in 2013 would be the natural choice for return trip shipping.

Maybe in theory. But in reality one could not be more wrong!

To deal with VANGUARD's local Bangkok office was an experience I will not forget easily. Here, the level of customer disservice is defined anew. I have never encountered a more confusing, unhelpful, disorganized and unprofessional way of dealing with me, the paying customer. Their business policy seems to be to make it as hard as possible for a customer, at least in the case of a private shipper, like myself. On top comes their utter inability to speak English.

Maybe they deal with their regular commercial customers in a different way, who knows. I, at least, don't, and I don't want to know.

Due to my limited time here in the country I needed to get the return shipping squeezed in during my stay here, of course. My time in Thailand cannot be extended, plus the bike only has a temporary import license until the end of the month of January. After that, customs penalties will be applied (max. 10,000 Thai Baht up to 6 month, after that, potential confiscation of the vehicle.)

VANGUARD and their dismal 'service' did cost me around three precious weeks of my stay here, and without materializing into any tangible result.

After I realized that VANGUARD would be a NO GO, I contacted by email, and/or phone, including my office visits at VANGUARD ten companies:

1. DB Schenker, fully owned by German railways: Major shipping and relocation company.
No personal effects are handled.
2. Kuehne & Nagel, large Swiss based shipping company: Same.
3. DHL: No ocean shipping.
4. BlueSta Shipping, Bangkok. A contact I had from Thai friends of mine in Bangkok:
More than 1.5x the cost, yet no crating services, no U.S. Customs clearance. A weird experience too since the company doesn't have a web site.
5. APL Logistics, a contact I had from Frank, my German friend in Tucson, Arizona, who imports lots of ceramics from Vietnam to the U.S.: Never got back to me.
6. Boonma Outbound Inc., an affiliate of DB Schenker: Never got back to me.
7. Freight Center Inc. Never got back to me.
8. EaseFreight, Bangkok. Never got back to me.

The last shipping agent I contacted, literally, I had from my frantic search on the various motorcycle forums on the internet. It was Prompt Shipping in Bangkok.
(Contacting means to send about 15 pdf. attachments of various necessary documents, most of the time in 'installments' to avoid maximum data limits by the receiver, meaning countless emails.

Here is the link to where I found the company who finally appeared to be god sent:

I am happy that I was so lucky.

After my nightmare-ish experience with the same company who delivered the motorcycle to Asia, I can't image that any other agent would do a better job than Khun Mon from Prompt Shipping.

Thanks, indeed.

Sakolchai Transpack Bang Na: THE Place To Go For Expert Crating.

The very last ride of this trip:
Downtown Bangkok to the crating company in Bang Na.

Bangkok morning rush hour. Actually, it is like this for most of the day.
People are saying that in case the Vietnamese ever should invade Thailand, their tanks would get stuck in Bangkok traffic, and that would be the end of that.

Multiple layers of traffic in the Asian metropolis. From top:
1. Skytrain Light Rail System
2. Toll Road Highway
3. Pedestrian Walkway
4. Street level Traffic
5. Below: Metro

Voluntarily I wouldn't want to ride a heavy and wide motorcycle through morning rush hour from downtown Bangkok to the industrial outskirts south of the CBD, towards the harbor in Laem Chabang.

But today is a special day, indeed. My bike will be crated and trucked to the Thailand harbor in for ocean freight shipping back to the U.S.!

What a relief!
Almost in the last hour I found a terrific agent and shipping company who will handle everything from customs clearance to shipping and truck delivery to Champaign, Illinois. They are fast in the responses, very helpful and know this business. Their main work is to ship and clear customs for car manufacturers exhibition cars, which are broad for a brief time into the country, and are exported again. However, motorcycle shipping, private cars, even private yachts is what they know too.

I was truly lucky to have found them.

The agent recommended a crating company south of the city, which is a 40 minute ride from where I am in downtown, traffic already counted in.

I made it fine to the location which -due to the confusing Bangkok street designation system-  is best reached by using GPS coordinates. I arrive at 9.15 a.m., and after some telephone conversation with security at the factory gate, I am let in. The picture changes dramatically after the arrival of Khun Mon Mingmongkolkij, my Thai shipping agent from Prompt Shipping, who clarifies everything in Thai.

For then on the operation runs very smoothly; it is a pleasure to see the crew working to fabricate the crate.

In the meantime I have disassembled the windshield, mirrors, and front wheel; the precious front disc brakes are security wrapped and attached to the front fork, the battery is disconnected and the terminals and wires are safely wrapped in electrical tape. (We don't want to get into the fuel issue, but the little fuel which was left in the tank wasn't drained.)

It takes four hours to make the crate, including my prep work. The end result is a beautiful, U.S. spec fumigated wooden crate, entirely enclosed, no open slats, also a U.S. requirement.

A job well done!

I am somewhat spoiled by CRATETECH's crating quality at their Chicago location, but the guys could learn a thing or two here in Bangkok!

Thank you SAKOLCHAI!
The truck will come to pick up the box tomorrow morning.

The crate had a volume of 4.50 m3 on the way from the U.S. to Thailand, now, due to the front wheel being taken off, I was able to shave 1.00 m3 off which will make shipping cheaper.

Lots of picture taking by the SAKOLCHAI staff.

Khun Mon, in white shirt, my friendly and professional agent from PROMPT SHIPPING INC.

Almost done. Water vapor tight plastic wrapping.

Certified, fumigated wood necessary due to U.S. regulations.

A beautiful crate, much less expensive than in Chicago, better too.