As mentioned in the last dispatch, Anna and I are now off enjoying our honeymoon. In an unsurprising move, we have taken our bicycles with us on a month long trip in South East Asia. I’ve only got a vague route planned, but we fly in and out of Bangkok, and the rough plan is to loop out to the east, take in a bit of Cambodia and Southern Vietnam, before coming back to Bangkok.
I haven’t worked out exact distances and times, and some places are going to be just a touch tricky to manage around Christmas/New Years, but I’m sure that things will work themselves out. They usually do in this part of the world, especially if you’ve got a little bit of cash to help sort out hassles.
After a couple of days in Bangkok, we got a bus to Pattaya, and started riding south and east. We’re currently in Chanthaburi, heading to Trat tomorrow, and into Cambodia in the next few days.
It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the bike much, and Anna has never done any bike touring. So there’s been moaning, grumbling, sore backsides, a few tears, the usual stuff. Anna has been very good though.
Unfortunately the riding hasn’t been all that great so far – we should have got a bus further out of Bangkok. It’s a far busier, far more industrial area, for much further out of Bangkok than I realised. Plenty of places to eat, wide roads with a good shoulder, but just too much traffic. Our next stop is the last place of any real size, so things should start to quieten down then.
It has been interesting to return to Thailand. Some things I’d half-forgotten about, like the regular bus stops that are perfect for a rest in the shade, the rhythm of traffic and how to use it to cross the road, the ladyboys… There’s also some new things in this part of the country, like flash cafes periodically spaced along the road, all offering a range of coffees, cakes and free Wi-Fi. These places look like they have been transplanted from any Western city, but they’re either in the middle of nowhere, or in light industrial areas. It’s quite odd. If they were the standard roadside stalls, I would think nothing of it. But these are flash places, marble, glass, air-conditioning. The one we stopped at even had Asian garden gnomes. Very odd.
The food of course has been good, but I swear I have to stop ordering the papaya salad. The last one had me drinking beer and chocolate milk, to try and stop my mouth burning, to no avail. I couldn’t eat any of the other dish we had either, as it felt like my mouth had been burnt, and eating more hot (temperature) food just made things worse. Anna just laughed at me.
For any other cyclists coming through Chanthaburi, I can advise that there are at least 3 bike shops, with a couple of them carrying some reasonable kit. Some Schwalbe tyres even. Not Duremes/Supremes, but still. Oddly enough, there also seems to be a bit of a single-speed culture in this city too. Is this what happens when countries become more prosperous? They start adopting deliberately difficult cycling styles? There’s boy racers here too. Not sure I like this sort of progress.
Ah well. Cambodia soon, as long as the borders don’t get closed too much around Christmas.