a very busy month

Bangkok Travel Blog

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Old temples.

Hot Coffee, comfy sofa, no men. Very nice indeed - and also time to try to squeeze 32 contrastful Thailand-days into one blog entry.

The complete chill-out of Lanta, a long christmas break and a big new years eve meant that we had about 15 days off. Inspite of this we covered 1560 km. This is roughly the same distance that we covered over 30 days in Indonesia, with only 4 days off. Our average distance per day ridden is 91.7 km in Thailand. In reality this meant lots of days over 100km and a few 50 and 60 km days.

Southern Thailand is littered with beautifull kharst mountains, long valleys and lots of unruly forests and plants everywhere. In contrast to Malaysia, Thailands nature appears less subdued. It's beautifull and it's diverse.

Marsha and Daren having sundowners
I had never seen kharst mountains before and I instantly loved the steep and dramatic landscapes. Just as well because we had some very hard riding ahead of us; Our Nelle's map was hopelessly inaccurate and being amongst mountains distances became difficult to predict. A 90 km push to Ko Lanta became a 130 km day and so on. This riding battle was, unfortunately,  to get worse before it got better. 

First though, we enjoyed a week of complete relaxation with Daren's sister, Marsha, and our old friend Bernie who came to visit us. Armed with enough christmas spirit and gossip from home, to last us december out, we spent 5 days doing nothing but sunbathing, swimming, having sun downers and eating amazing food. Seing family and friends again after 3 months away brought reflections of home.

Bathing an elephant.
We've meet travelers who've been on the road for 5 and even 8 years, without returning home. Nomads who've settled completly on the road. Our trip has never been like that. Aware of the alienation from home, that long term travel can bring we have a very clear goal of arriving home this year. We're aiming for home, we look forward to our future there and we are firmly in touch with friends and family. The dream of going wherever the wind takes you, is not ours. Anyhow, if it was we wouldn't have gotten very far because we've had almost 2950 km of headwinds on the peninsula.

After our rest Marsha headed for Bangkok on the bus whilst Bernie, Daren and I rode on. And we were so busy! Long days and sickness made our first 4 days ride hard.

Christmas dinner on the balconny.
Also I had to learn to cycle with two men instead of one and I felt like I was constantly asking for a slower pace. Nevertheless twisted stubbornness made me ride 120 km in a day on only a bowl of rice. I couln't eat and had tearfull arguments, mostly with myself, about why I didn't get on the bus. Daren said I was pushing my boundaries. I only felt like I was pushing boundaries towards insanity that shouln't be pushed at all... But I did it, and learnt nothing from it as the next day I rode another 100 km on a similar diet.

The landscape remained beautifull and inspite of all of us feeling a little broken Thailand bombarded us with good experiences. We watched elephants being bathed, stayed in a couple of bustling towns and in the most unasuming, non touristy village we found a european and American aid funded guest house that doubled as information center and tsunami museum.

The salt plains in Western Thailand.
It was run by Pa Nuat.

The center was surrounded by children and youngsters playing ball games and cycling amongst various ecological projects. The tsunami museum is small but focuses on scientific facts, on the lessons to be learnt and on the future. It's harrowing but the whole project is an amazing success story of rebuilding a community from disaster.

Pa Nuat enthusiastically teaches the children about the importance of the environment; He teaches them to pick up their litter, to know the plants and to value nature with all it's tempers. There's a chickenrun, a fish farm, solar panels and a big room with a painted map covering one wall. Pa Nuat values difference and tolerance and in a community that's 95% muslim he will set glittering lights up at christmas, sprinkle fake snow and ask the children to bring small gifts. He wants them to have the joy and to see the world in a positive light. Im not at all surprised when I see the little black bird that hops after him nearly everywhere it goes.

Christmas too was fantastic. We spent it in a nondescript mediumsized seaside town 300 km south of bangkok. We all made danish/swedish-style stockings for eachother for the 24th, got stressed from christmas shopping and even made decorations. We cooked vegetables on our balcony and asked a nearby restaurent to cook our duck. Before starting our festivities we lit candles for the people that have left us in 2009, thanked them for good times and then toasted for a beautifull life. I like christmas a lot and the best thing was Daren and Bernie, who would probably have settled happily with a bottle of mekong whiskey, making such an effort to make this christmas as nice as it was.

In Bangkok we had the luxury of meeting up with another old friend and celebrate new years together. Midnight was spent on Ko san road with expatty expats, loud locals and in general a very happy crowd. A man arrived on a show off motorbike. Normally I would have laughed a little but this man was obviously not to be laughed at. After silencing an aggresive yabba'ed out youth with a single glance he turned to Daren , who as per usual had made firm friends with the strange people,:  "if you ever have problems on Koh san you come to me." We shared some good drinks and then left him to guard ko san for us whilst we headed on to celebrate. 

During the last push to Bangkok we finally seemed to find a rythm. We still did very long days for logistical reasons; We did sleep in a temple one night but after a 100 km day it is nice to have a hotel, to close the door and just chill. So now we get up very early and ride disciplined. Most of our day is usually done by 2 pm and we can then have a break during the midday heat and finish the ride in a more pleasant climate.

The ride to Siem reap in Cambodia was good too. As were now starting our days at local time we get to head out with the farmers. This means we can hold on to their small tractor-like vehicles and get a ride. I't's a very pleasant atmosphere that time of the day. People are happy, share their breakfasts and the riding is good.  The late afternoons are similar and our evenings are fun. We have played pool, drunk to much and as we were lucky enough to have a pool we have found time, after the long days, to compete in our important water races. Inspired by a backwards breast stroke swimming race my dad once invented, there are now multiple courses: the hoping race, the hoping on one leg etc etc....For the following days ride our legs naturally hurt lots!

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Old temples.
Old temples.
Marsha and Daren having sundowners
Marsha and Daren having sundowners
Bathing an elephant.
Bathing an elephant.
Christmas dinner on the balconny.
Christmas dinner on the balconny.
The salt plains in Western Thailan…
The salt plains in Western Thaila…
Bangkok
photo by: Deats