Greetings. I am in Bangkok, just about acclimatised to the heat and humidity. The first few days here I couldn’t leave the hotel room for 5 minutes without looking like I had just had a shower. Rehydration salts have become part of my daily diet; as has Chang the local beer thanks to Jennie my friend from university with whom I have spent the last 2 and a half weeks with.
We stayed in Bangkok for a few nights, wandering round the bars and restaurants and even visiting a few of the sights while we were here. Then we hopped on a bus up to the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai, thinking that it may be a little cooler and the riding superior to the south. The bus was a treat in itself compared to India, air conditioning, comfy seats, a loo and films showing. In Chiang Mai Jennie bought a bike (her bike in England needed some work and had to tackle the coast to coast tour a few days after she arrived back) and the next day we set off in the direction of Chiang Rai near the border with Laos and Myanmar. The riding was pretty nice, generally flat, smooth tarmac and plenty of places to stop. We also had a couple of stunning days climbing and descending through knobbly tree covered hills, crossing rivers and cycling through vast plantations of litchi (the best I have ever eaten). It took us 5 days to reach Chiang Rai, not an impressive speed but a nice speed to cruise at, it was her holiday from work after all.
After a couple of days we hopped on a bus back down to Bangkok after a trip to the white wat, a Thai temple designed by a local artist. Most of the wats in Thailand look pretty similar; gaudy gold and red affairs, admittedly with nice patterns on them but not to my taste. The white one however is one of the most interesting religious buildings I have seen, using similar sharp swirls as the traditional temple but all in white and silver and a distinctly gothic feel, lots of skulls, bones and 2 huge statues brandishing weapons at the entrance. Definitely worth the ride away from the bus station on a massive busy road.
On our return to Bangkok we hopped on a bus taking us 2 hours south east of the city and then a ferry 12km out to Koh Si Chan, a small island mainly frequented by Thai’s for a weekend getaway. It was a very relaxing little place where we rented a scooter and rode to little beaches, up to high points for nice views and to the many seafood restaurants that it is famous for. After a few days and a trip to a smaller island we reluctantly pushed ourselves back to the sprawl of Bangkok to get a few things sorted, like selling Jennie’s bike, backing up my photos for her to safeguard in England and last night Jennie got on a plane back to England.
So tomorrow my trip will again go back to frugality after being treated to nice hotels, good food and beer daily. I will also have to get used to my own company again after a period of constant company and plenty of chums in Pokhara. I am excited though; I feel ready to get moving again, I am keen to ride and have even fattened up a little bit (relatively speaking). I have new countries to explore, new people to meet and most excitingly new food to try. The food here is vastly different to India and Nepal and gets me excited everyday. I see things that I have never seen before in my life but still haven’t had time to try them yet. But I will save some of the culinary delights I have tried for my next post.
So tomorrow the compas will be pointing east, to Cambodia. The rough plan is to tour Cambodia, maybe ride along the seaside for a breeze, then aim north, up the narrow, hilly strip that is Laos to cross into Vietnam and then ride down to the South zig-zagging my way across the map. But that is a rough plan, we will see what transpires. I hope everyone is well at home. It’s nice to hear that the ladies at Tynwald are still reading about my adventures. I will try and keep you more up to date whilst I am here after a sojourn in Nepal. And James, Happy Birthday for the other day!