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Ben Oostdam's letter of May 23, 1955
from Bangkok to his fiancee and parents in Holland
(translated from Dutch), page 11


(Pity I have to hurry a bit, otherwise you would receive this letter only on Saturday. Sorry, I would have preferred to write in more detail, especially since I only have to do it once) So we followed an oxcart track because we were sure this would eventually end at the river. Indeed, we arrived at a small village where we sought shelter for a while and asked the way to Bangkok. They could not put us across the river, that would have to be done some two kilometers downstream in a larger village. Is it easy going there? Yes, only one narrow bridge. So we continued and immediately got ourselves into trouble. There was a valley of a tributary which we'd have to cross. Sounds easy, but first we'd have to go down a 75 degree slope a few tens of meters. Well, that wasn't too hard, turning sideways into the bushes whenever we picked up too much speed. Next, up a dilapidated board; I climbed underneath to see if the wheels were on properly. A sharp bend, and then the bridge started, but first we had to lift the scooter across the ends of two pilings which were too close together to allow the scooter to pass. Once the scooter was secure, I first took some pictures, even though it was drizzling.

Then I climbed back in the saddle, because I did not fit on either side. I gently rode across the slippery bridgedeck, which was about two feet wide. Fortunately there was a board on each side so that one could not skid sideways. That would have been a nasty experience, because of the large boulders in the riverbed some 50 feet down. There were another two pilings which barely impeded the bridge's fate of subsidence and across which we had to lift the scooter, after which we could take a breather. Only briefly, however, because we had to keep the engine running for its hardest ordeal of the entire trip: to ascend a similar steep slope, some 120 feet long, narrow and muddy and with a deeply eroded gully alongside. When the scooter stopped on this slope with both brakes on and the two of us pushing, it kept skidding down nevertheless. Fortunately, Mom found a board to keep it from skidding back. I stood next to the scooter, put it in first gear, and when I accelerated it practically jumped forward and up in such large jumps, that we almost could not keep pace. This lasted some sixty feet, then I fell and barely managed to throw the scooter on its side so it only skidded back a few yards. In the meantime we were sweating like cattle and needed a break again. Far above us, an engaged couple was watching and giggling, and we considered making a type of winch or charter some buffaloes, but in a final effort we managed on our own!


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