After landing in Bangkok I deposited my bike at a friends apartment so while it enjoyed a 10th floor view from a balcony in Bangkok, I enjoyed the views on the western Islands of Thialand. I had already arranged to meet my friend Mirjam there and the timing after India could not have better. At first it took some getting used to. Firstly I hadn’t seen such an array of foreigners in a long time and secondly I hadn’t seen as much skin throughout my entire time in India. Gone were the days of modest trousers and long sleeve shirts and in were the mini skirts and bikinis! The islands also provided me with an opportunity to improve my rusty English which had suffered badly since I started in Tibet. This is apparently a cycling journey so I won’t go into details on my “Holiday from a holiday” as a jealous Swiss architect I met called it. Suffice to say however the sojourn in the islands was nothing short of paradise.
Off the bike and into the water Ko Lipe.
After the Islands it was back to Bangkok to collect my bike and access the damage from the flight. The quick release on the rear tyre got quite a bash and needed replacing but otherwise it was in good order. Bangkok really eats into your time, the most remedial task takes time as travelling through the city is agonizingly slow. I also took the opportunity to get my top-up vaccinations as I hadn’t time to finish the entire course in Ireland. Due to the amount of stray flea ridden dogs that roam the street the rabies booster was top of my list. I found a local clinic that spoke English and had vaccinations. It was a strange experience as the doctor tried to flog other unnecessary vaccinations for South East Asia on me, it was like a vaccination market! To increase my scepticism about the clinics professionalism they looked bewildered when I produced my vaccination record book. Obviously a dodgy choice of clinic but I hadn’t the patience to schlep myself across the city in search of an alternative! The entire process took 3 minutes as I was escorted straight into the doctors room bypassing the miffed patients who waited in line. Presumably I was paying “farang” foreigner price for this VIP service. Other housekeeping was my search for pepperspray which was impossible to find in India so I was advised to go to chantauk market the biggest in Asia. There I had the choice of knuckle dusters, tasers, pellet guns and a fine array of pepper spray. In the end I settled on pepper spray and a taser for good measure.
Python on the road 60km north of Bangkok. I'm not sure the dramatic angle was necessary as it was a scary enough site from a distance!
Since entering Thialand my daily schedule has had a serious overhaul. The daily slumbers till 8am are now blissful memories of the past as I attempt to beat the main heat of the day. Thankfully to compensate for these early starts I have managed to buy gas for my stove and a fresh brew of caffeine awaits me every morning! India was just as hot however and I’m beginning to think I was running on fear alone in India, using speed as my weapon against the unwanted attention.
It felt great to be back on the road after 2 weeks off the bike. People talk of the crazy Bangkok traffic and fumes but in comparison to the likes of Kolkatta or Delhi it was like a retirement village as I confidently nipped in and out of the early morning traffic. However the hierarchy of vehicles on the road was the same as India leaving bicycles and dogs scrambling for their lives.
A brief 80km brought me to Ayuthaya the former capital of Thialand. The sacred and now sacked city shows glimpses of the former capitals richness through its dotted ruins around the city. Once again the bike came into a world of its own as it let me cruise to all the ruins with the ease of a local. The peace of Ayuthaya was a welcomed change from Bangkok and in the same spirit I treated myself to a 2 hour massage that evening. The hat trick of cycling, touring ruins and a long massage had me on conscious in my bed by 9.30pm! Bangkok served as a good place to learn about how to pick a respectable massage parlour. Thialands main income comes from the sex industry and is closely followed by tourism. Sadly there is definitely a correlation but the Thai men are certainly no saints. Massage parlours with open view beds are a safe bet and insure no hokey pokey is going on inside. Parlours with draw curtains and private rooms upstairs normally offer more than a massage! The sad fact is that the masseuses don’t actually get paid a salary and normally receive as little as 30% of the price of the massage. To ensure a liveable income the ladies complement the massage with services I’m not going to go into but suffice to say their services cost a lot more than a massage.
Country National B roads...but quite often little more than dirt tracks!
Cut me some slack....one of many confusing signposts!And yes, I did take the wrong road!