Beaches, Beers and BreakdownsSeptember 3, 2008
I’m at the coast! And I might finally be able to use the snorkel and goggles I bought roughly 15.000km ago in Istanbul..
Talking about silly-things-to-buy-on-a-bicycle-trip. A motorbike might be a close second.
But everything else I’ve gotten is highly useful, and absolutely necessary. Like a cowboy-hat, trousers, another pair of trousers and ehm another pair of trousers… Shoes, I lost my crocs while dragging the bike in and out of trains, oh. That’s where the first breakdown comes in.
I finally managed to break free from Bangkok when suddenly my back wheel stopped turning. Even though I peddled like crazy, it did no good at all. And this just after a lovely day trying to navigate my way through the industrial outskirts of the city. I did have a nice lunch with a bunch of English teachers; surprised to see another ‘Falang’ in the area.
Turned out there is this thingy that connects the round bit with another thingy and that snapped. sooooo….
Had to get a new one, in Bangkok.
After being escorted to the train station by three Thai students eager to practise their English, and a Chinese man who helped me dragging the bike in and out the train (where I lost the croc) and then took me out for dinner while he was showing me the way,
I got sucked in again… Bangkok.
And I was just so happy I finally left! But what can I say. Don, My friend-with-a-Bullet from Nepal (he’s actually from Australia, I just know him from Nepal) had arrived. Together with the bike. I had a go and went straight down KhaoSan Rd. with Cristine (remember? from Vientianne/Nepal) on the back.
For the first time I actually went and did some sight-seeing, together with Don and Cristine I saw and did some of the main things to see and do in Bangkok, a temple, a reclining Buddha, markets, a big night drinking including karaoke, funny hats and a pingpong show… don’t ask.
Not feeling like cycling through the mayhem once again I dragged the bike on a train out of town.
And arrived in Kanchanabury. Famous for the bridge over the river Kwai. But I was more interested in this ‘tiger-temple’ I kept hearing about. But after hearing the tigers are sedated and lame I lost interest.
But my eye fell on an add inviting me to hug a giraffe! Sure, I’ll hug a giraffe. So with Don, who just bearly made it on the bullet and went back to Bangkok two days later to fix the machine, I rented a scooter and set off to the ‘open zoo’.
There, finally, we saw the tiger we’ve both been trying to spot in national parks all over Nepal and India…. Ok, the area was about 1 square km, but hey! You can’t tell on the picture… now can you?
And yes. we could hug the giraffes who stuck their heads into the van to try to steel the carrots we had to feed them. Never knew they have black tongues.
On the way back our tyre burst, lucky we survived due to Don’s wonderful driving skills. We also stopped right in front of one of them random really good coffee places, you find them all over Thailand, in really random places.
Taking this as a sign we enjoyed some real good coffee, got the bike fixed and returned home.
Where I set off the next day into the big unknown on my bicycle again (well, after making copies of Don’s very detailed map and lonely planet… maybe not that unknown..)
After visiting some temple-cave’s, there is a few of them around, I cycled into a village where a little Thai girl asked me if she could help me. She could, and she did. She actually took me to her student dorm and let me stay for the night. She also showed me around town and dressed me up like a Thai lady. I look nothing like a Thai Lady. Thai lady’s faces don’t burn… And my fingers don’t bend freakishly far backwards.
It’s pretty easy-going around here. One morning I wasn’t 5km out of town yet when an eccentric old gentleman asked me how many countries I’ve crossed. I like this question ’cause I know the answer (better than:why?) He then told me about his own travels and showed me his house where a little hut jam-packed with souvenirs and pictures from all over the world dubbed as his ‘guest house’. He has students staying there from time to time since he is a retired university professor himself. He offered me to stay and take a break (from my strenuous two days cycling). I got company as a girl my age joined me in the guest house. In the morning the professor cooked us breakfast in the slightly cluttered open air kitchen.
What a wonderful encounter!
this is Thailand.
Sometimes I stop for lunch at a restaurant where nobody speaks English, actually.. most of the time. But this one time I pointed at something on the menu (it was in Thai) and a plate appeared in front of me filled with a salad. Doesn’t sound too bad, if only the main ingredient weren’t cockroaches! Yuk! I sort of eat around the most obvious bits, couldn’t really enjoy it though..
I usually order noodle soup, I love it! Just think it’s a little strange that soup seems the only dish Thai eat with chopsticks.
And then I reached the coast! ….
Full of apartment blocks and dead-end roads that lead to private beaches so I got stuck on the busy main road. Expensive restaurants and people asking for money to use the road (ok, the road did go through a national park… I didn’t pay)
But things where about to improve.
I found this wonderful secluded beach and a German to share a tent with. Beautiful scenery, nice & quiet. WRONG!
It happened to be a Saturday night. So Thai people try to find the quietest corners to set up their karaoke-installations and build an instant party. And that they can do!
We figured we better join them. And we had a great night! Dancing and singing and drinking a beer or two. Great crowd, didn’t get too much sleep as we witnessed the sun rise.
So the next day i was a little tired and just as I sat down recovering two more bicycles showed up. I joined Rob and Marike for the day which woke me up a bit, men they have some pace! But I survived and in the evening we were joined by Ruud, another dutchie and a superhero! He just rode his Bullet Enfield all the way from Holland on his way to Indonesia! And he is 65!
We had a great night over a all-you-can-eat Thai style BBQ. And a beer… or two.
The last two days I’ve been joined by a Spanish couple.
Together we went to some interesting places and I’ve had a go at coconut-scraping and fishnet-weaving… I also stepped into a bit of glass that went straight through my shoe into my foot. ouch!
Just yesterday Maria’s saddle suddenly snapped off. So as we stood around a motorbike pulled up asking us where we’re going. As we didn’t seem to be going anywhere at that time he took us home and showed us around his rubber-plantation. That seems to be good business. He then went on by inviting the three of us for dinner and arranging a luxurious bungalow right on the beach where we could stay for free!
This morning I left early leaving Maria and Xabi behind. I need to make it to the border of Burma where I’m gonna hop across to get another 30 days visa. This one is going to run out soon and I still need more time for the compulsory Thai-beach parties and lazy-island-days.
Oomph, it’s a hard life.
some body’s gotta do it