Country number 11!
Waiting at the airport in Kolkata we had felt slightly stunned to have made it there with our boxes and GI systems intact were delighted to see the 2nd European faces we’d seen in India- and they we cycle Touring too! Although not on the same flights, but heading to the same destination it was great to swap tales from the road with the couple who were not going a dissimilar route from us but at much more sensible pace.
The first flight was at 2am local time so a bit of a tiresome wait but it went relatively smoothly and we both dozed around being served what we think was a meal of congee?
Landing in Bangkok at 6am local time we had to get straight on it to get through customs and collect the boxes/bike before checking in again for the next flight. The second flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was booked on the road to add distance to Thailand to help make up our deficit so we had no connection.
Bangkok Airport felt like a completely different World after a month in India with so many different nationalities and cultures. We managed to negotiate the boxes onto the second flight and crossed everything again we would see them intact at the other end. Departures gave a breathe if fresh air: Western food and drink and even a Boots pharmacy to stock up on supplies. A short flight followed and Thai Smile is not only a friendly but very efficient airline and as if by magic our precious luggage arrived safe and sound.
We found a much quiter, if still warm, place to unpack and rebuild and it was much less stressful than Ahmedabad. Stevie did a great job getting everything sorted for the bike and Laura got the iced coffees in‐ luxury!!
Feeling it was all too good to be true we set off from the airport along a reason but relatively quiet road along the river Ping which was rather beautiful and a short day of 25 miles to allow recovery time.
Our first hotel in Thailand was brand new and spotless.set back from the main road it was an oasis of calm and the staff were lovely and friendly in typical Thai fashion. Cold welcome drinks and everything we needed in the room- including loo roll and we felt completely spoilt!
Once a thunderstorm had cleared (good thing we missed that on the bike) Laura splashed out on a dip in the pool to ease tired muscles before we headed to the restaurant for dinner. What we had failed to check was the restaurant closing time, used to everything staying open late in India, and we were 10 minutes after closing. The family who owned the hotel had sat down to eat and we were a bit embarrassed to intrude. Despite this the waitresses still offered us a seat and was kind enough to let us get some dinner. The next problem was what to eat- we negotiated a menu by pictures and after figuring out she was having to check every choice we made with the kitchen optedto keep it simple with fried rice and chicken. This was soon rustled up and came with a complimentary local dish too! The family dining offered us both a whisky and soda too and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome despite intruding on their evening.
A wonderful first night and Thailand and we slept very well.
We struggled to get going a bit, still sleep deficient and far too comfortable in our wonderful hotel!
But not too late getting on the road we tackled the first moderate climb of the day up to 2000ft.
Paddy fields gave way to forest and jungle and elephant crossing warning signs appeared again. We kept our eyes peeled, but to no avail and on the glorious descent passed an elephant conversation centre but didn’t have time to stop for a chat.
A field of wallowing buffalo was a second best and the roads remained good and the countryside scenic so we couldn’t complain.
The novelty of a KFC sign played on our need for familiarity/Westernisation and we had an early unhealthy early lunch.
It temporarily got hotter but then we got drenched in a warm downpour before drying off again, not minding the fluctuating climate too much after the incessant heat in India. Another stop at a petrol station to refresh and Stevie came dashing out of the mens saying there was the biggest insect he had ever seen and it was green and had 4 legs…further investigation proved it to be a stick insect and had 6 legs..
With rolling roads our progress wasn’t good enough to make it through the Mai Wa national park to find lodgings so we stopped earlier at an old but beautiful lodge resort next to the river for the night.
After we had got used to our shared room guests of ants we followed directions to a restaurant 2km down the road. 2km is a lot further than you think when you are tired so we were relived when we spotted a basic place with an outdoor kitchen buoyed with confidence from our adventures at Indian dhabas we walked in and weren’t too phased by the language barrier. Opting for what looked like fish soup from.the photos on the menu and using Google translate to say “beef” and “vegetables ” we sat down and watched them work in the open air kitchen. It didn’t take long for the soup to arrive but it didn’t appear to be fish…
Laura’s veterinary anatomical knowledge identified white and grey matter, afferent and efferent nerves and prominent spinal arteries…the size suggesting bovine in nature. There was no avoiding the fact it was spinal cord soup!! Also lacking in spoons Stevie managed to spill a fair portion of the broth over the table trying to pour it over his rice and we were getting nervous this would be the whole of our dinner. Just in time a lovely platter of stir fried beef and veggies arrived and it turned out they had forgotten the spoons instead of it being a culturally different way to eat soup. We finished off everything else including the soup broth but neither of us could bear to chew put ways through they chunks so we had to high tail it out of there feeling guilty for leaving food that had been so kindly prepared for us.
We found a corner shop for more snacks and another beer for the potter home. Feeding our pet ants a piece if popcorn to keep them out of the bed we were soon asleep but Stevie was plagued by dreams of soup and ants…
Thailand: no filters!
After a rather satisfying petrol station breakfast of rice and basil chicken set us up for the first stint and although rolling we made reasonable progress into a headwind. The breezes just about stopped it getting too hot but it was still pretty toasty when the sun came out. Having a lane designated for mopeds and cyclists made a great difference.
Treated to views of the forested hills in the national park it was a great ride and we were very excited by the range of things 7eleven will microwave for you for lunch!
It flattened slightly and the wind move for the last part of the ride allowing us to push our average up and arrive at a lovely resort with just enough time for Laura to have a quick splash in the pool before dinner. The resort was owned by an Austrian gentleman and his Thai wife and Laura never expected to be speaking so much German before getting back to Berlin.
It was only later we found they were technically closed due to ill health on the husbands part and they let us stay without making any fuss! We were even treated to spag bol for dinner and having such a friendly stay certainly helped take the pressure off.
A solid “Americanische” breakfast helped us get a good start. We crossed the River Ping to get a break from the highway for a bit but the road was still good and we got to see the village life along the side of the road. Lots of smiley faces as you would expect from the country of smiles.
We could have counted on a 7eleven for second breakfast and we are already familiar with the layout and options making our stops efficient.
Rolling on there were less paddy fields and more maize, sugarcane and bananas. We pushed on well barring a stop for cold drinks in a supermarket which was remarkably similar to Wetsern ones and yet another 7eleven for lunch where Stevie almost got trapped in the massage chair due to his calves of steel. It has caused him significant injury…but he doesn’t want to go put about it…or so he says…
Earlier in the day there had been a rustle in the bushes and Stevie cried “massive lizard” but Laura only got glance of a tail disappearing and wasn’t convinced the sun hadn’t got to him and it was another dog, but then another dived across the road before Laura could grab the camera. On lookout now we had no chance of missing the massive beast sauntering across the road, so large he couldn’t be bothered to sprint!! Close to 2 metres in length we definitely were lucky to escape with our toes and agreed that stopping at 7elevens was definitely the safe option.
A riverside hotel in Chai Nat is not quite the luxury we are used to in Thailand but has a lovely view over the river. Dinner was a quiet affair with us being the only ones in the restaurant and a soup so spicy we were both left choking! It was very tasty but considering we’ve been a month in India you would have thought our heat tolerance was higher.
A tired mornings groan out of bed and and eclectic mix of Thai and western breakfast got us onto the road and straight into headwinds, which were then to persitst all day. It was to be one of those days where the miles dragged, every stop was too frequent and too long and we’re struggled chat light heartedly with conversation quickly turning to how many miles we needed to average on this leg and whether we’d get the boxes we need to pack the tandem.
But we pushed on and tried to be grateful for the opportunity to ride in such a beautiful country with such good facilities for cyclists. You can probably guess where we stopped for food and liquids…it wasn’t 9-5…
Paddy fields were more common again and bit waterlogged fields with curious lines of little boats with paddles to aerate the water- maybe some kind of fish farm? We spotted fishermen on the bridges posed with spearguns and the bird life was a plenty. No more giant reptilians today though, but as it gets more populated near Bangkok dog chases have started again. Something about India we were really grateful for was the “good dog” dogs, but some of these Thai dogs mean business and a knee jerk reaction from Laura on hearing the scamper of paws caused Stevie a severe jolt and injury just as he was freewheeling.
A slog into Nakhon Pathom, a big town near Bangkok, and we were ready to call if a day. But in a horrible flashback to Bratislava the first 3 hotels were full but we were finally lucky other fourth!
There was no restaurant though so we had time ventured put into the town. Laura’s ability to find pizza anywhere kicked I but the restaurant was closing when we got there, they seem.to close early here so we knew we had to make up our minds quickly. The next place along was very much open but looked very tradional with people sitting corssd legged on cushions eating and we were concerned if we even got Stevie into that position we’d never get him back out of it! The third place was a rather greasy mix of fried chicken and rice and we felt we needed something more nutritious so just plumped for a restaurant with lights on, people in, tables and big bowls of steaming soup.
What we didn’t count on was having to cook our own dinner! When a pot of stock was plonked on the induction hob in front of us and plates of raw meat and vegetables arrived the waitress obviously sensed our dilemma and quickly helped us out. She deftly used the chopsticks to make little parcels of beef and cheese and we cooked up a feast in our lot of stock. Certainly an experience when we were just after a quick bite to eat but we enjoyed it!
A bit of a faffy start from the hotel but we at least were set up with a breakfast of cornflakes and chocolate ball cereal and a banana.
Despite the weather forecast the wind seemed to have dropped and we were able to power on along the highway. Not the most scenic riding but at least directional and getting past Bangkok. We’d almost made 50 miles by midday when the familiar sign of the golden arches was too much of a lure for us.
Admittedly we potentially over ordered slightly in our excitement and mistakenly ordered double chips too so left feeling rather stuffed.
At least we had calories to ride with and we’re heading for Cha Am on the East Coast. Finally a bit more scenery but busy streets and towns replaced the quiet countryside of the North. The beach was within half a mile but we could barely glimpse the sea between the buildings lining the front. At about 80-90 miles there were plenty of holiday resorts, spas and seafood restaurants temptingly off the main road, but all too early in the day for us. We’re not sure if it would better the best or the worst thing to join in with the holidaymakers.
Branching inland slightly we opted for a basic hotel at the right distance and still managed to find a bit of protein recovery fish for dinner.
What a day…
It was definitely not the best of starts with Stevie having a tough night battling fatigue from the flight, indigestion and struggling to get enough liquid in during the night and Laura up too late doing admin. We were both pretty knackered and grumpy. There was talk of a short day, looking for the nearest decent hotel and even the implications of moving flights… we were not in a good place!
But we got going, Stevie steadily to try and preserve hydration and energy and Laura trying to take some of the slack. With both of us making sure we drank every half hour things improved a bit but Stevie still didn’t have much of an appetite and the 7eleven fare is getting a bit tiresome.
A long drag along the highway did neither of us any favours and morale was rock bottom. But onwards we rode.
Turning off onto some rougher roads added some interest and then finally we were in full view of the sea and could hear the waves crashing! Feeling like this was a bit of a reward for our efforts helped and we even got over the fact the pizza cafe was closed and had a late lunch on the seafront. We could now chat on the quieter roads and Stevie was feeling better too.
Stopping again briefly, a bit of wd40 and a clean up sorted the noise that had been coming from the cassette for the past few days and we were starting to win again…
And then came the big one!
The fact we’d almost ignored due to how rubbish we were feeling and a milestone it seemed we would never reach today:
A THIRD of the distance around the World!
Our perseverance and hard work had paid off, on this day especially but on everyday before.
There are no easy days on this record, but some are harder than others.
Our final reward for the day is a cabin at a beachside resort we somehow managed to find at dusk with the waves crashing metres away in the darkness. Our luck really was in as we though a hot dinner was unlikely but we figured out there was a restaurant a mere 500metres up the beach and we’re delighted to find them still serving. A delicious meal and a couple of beers and a beautifully peaceful stumble back along the beach. Laura couldn’t resist a skinny dip in the bath water temperature sea and for a moment we were in another World. A brief respite before it all starts again tomorrow, and we are still very tired but hopefully in a much better place to continue to take on the challenge.
Total mileage 6000miles!!!
Mileage: 697.68 miles
Pizza: 2 slices
Punctures: 0 !!!
With special thanks to @huubdesign.com for this video…it seems a long time ago now we filmed it!