My sense of relief surprises me as I look from the plane and see the familiar bike carton you see in the picture below, moving along the baggage conveyor down to the handlers at Vientiane airport. But the relief is soon tempered as I consider the looming challenge ahead of ‘bike reconstruction for dummies’ without a useful guide. Gavin, my son-in-law, had been a strong encouragement as we reorganised pedals, handlebars and wheels to squeeze Rafiki into what seemed an impossibly small carton. (Small that is until you attempt to manouver aforementioned carton up 3 flights of stairs to a teak-adorned Laotian hotel room.)
‘When you take it out, the best thing is to start by making it look like a bike again,’ Gavin had suggested in a kindly attempt to allay pre-departure angst. It was sound advice, and the pedals and handlebars are soon on. Well, sort of. There is an uncharacteristic wobble in the front forks, and the brake cable seems to be on strike, refusing to return to its original position, but all-in-all, its starting to look quite bike-like.
Just the tyres to re-inflate, I glibly think, and get out my brand new and unused mini-bike pump. 45 minutes later, no air has entered either tyre, and its time to humbly admit defeat, and sit out in the evening sun and work out Plan B, given that I’d obviously been sold a faulty pump. Of course it was only as I headed across the room that I notice a small round washer-sort-of-thing that had rolled across the floor. Amazing how much better the pump works now.