Thursday, 24 July 2014


When I eventually left Bangkok I had 6 days of cycling to do through the North of the country so I could cross the Mekong river into Laos before my Thai visa expired. I'd hardly done any cycling for some time, so I wasn't looking forward to this "race" at all. My plan had been to have at least 3 weeks to get back into the cycling, cruising along this route and enjoying the scenery. But that was not to be, due to my own negligence - having to wait in Bangkok for the return of my lost wallet.
BUS AND TRAIN THROUGH LAOS TO CHINA. I had previously (about 5 years ago) cycled a certain route through SW-China up to Chengdu city. That route took about 3 months to cycle, and my plan was to continue onwards from there. I was going to get the Chinese visa in Vientianne, Laos, and then take public transport from there all the way to Chengdu in China.
Daily distances cycled since Bangkok were:- Ayutthaya 93 km; Muak Lek 107 km; Nakhon Ratchasima 125 km; Ban Phai 137 km; Udon Thani 131 km; and Vientiane (Laos) 91 km. Long distance bus stations in particular tend to be on the outskirts of cities, allowing me plenty of opportunity to find my way around in the urban traffic. The distance which I cycled in Vientiane, Kunming, and Chengdu between trains, buses, and hostels was 95 km. This takes my total so far to 122 258 km.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


This title is perhaps a little optimistic as I haven't left the city yet. At least my miserable complaints (see previous post) seem to be a thing of the past. My illness has left me – well, most of the time. So I've regained my appetite, and there is a great variety of tasty eats on the streets.
As I mentioned before, I'd managed to recover my computer, and I even found a reasonably priced new battery so I don't have to keep the thing plugged in all the time like before.
However, the big news is that I have received my lost wallet which Gabriele sent to me from Florida USA (and of course the important thing is the bank card in the wallet). Even although it was sent express mail (stating clearly on the package “Extremely Urgent – please rush to addressee”, the parcel was rushed to a shelf somewhere on the 3rd floor of the district post office, where it had been sitting for more than 2 weeks (regardless of numerous enquiring phone calls, with tracking number info given). Anyway, I'm so pleased to have received the errant plastic that I won't complain any further.
During my time here I survived 2 big Buddhist holidays last week. Without much else to do during these times I amused myself by wandering around Bangkok on the fairly cheap public transport like the river ferries and the Sky Train. I've also made some friends around here, so I can usually find some company if I sniff around a bit.
Let's not forget that Thai Kickboxing is probably the biggest sport around here, and even in the touristy area where I've been staying there is a training gym (tourists can also take classes there).
I've previously referred to this area (Banglamphu - Khao San district) as the local “backpacker ghetto”. Well, that is not strictly true, as the place has a number of different “personalities”. Yes, there are the hordes of tourists (some of them rather unruly – in fact, Thailand is known not only for it's huge tourism industry, but also for it's “sex tourism”). So on the one side you get all the eating and drinking, prostitutes and lady boys, and parties. Then, right in the middle of this space is a large Buddhist temple and monastery – in the early morning one can see stragglers trying to find their way to the hotel, mixing it with orange-clad monks begging for alms. Also, this area is part of the original Bangkok, and the spectacular royal palace is just down the road within walking distance. So is the National Theatre and the Museum.
Well, before I really grow roots around here I'll be moving North tomorrow. However, I first have to brave the traffic (not looking forward to it, as I haven't even cycled any significant distance - let alone with a loaded bike - for some time). Also, I've cycled into Bangkok from the North the previous time that I was here, and I recall that it wasn't much of a pleasure (going out South was much simpler).
The pics which I've included in this post are just a variety of sights which I've seen in the past couple of weeks around Bangkok.

Saturday, 5 July 2014


It felt good to be back in Bangkok again for the 3rd time on this bike trip! I arrived at night, I needed a place to repack bags and assemble the bike (Old Saartjie), so I took a taxi to the Banglamphu “Backpacker Ghetto” area where I had stayed twice before. I could not remember the name of the place where I had stayed the previous time, but by some miracle I found it and now I'm staying in a room just down the hall from where Leana and I had stayed four and a half years ago. I was going to stay a day or 2, but after 10 days I'm still here waiting for my wallet to arrive. Luckily the room is cheap and the area is interesting. I've also made some nice friends.
However, besides losing my wallet at the airport in the US, I have had some further misfortune. As there is no wi-fi in my guest house, I take my computer with me to the little open-air bar/restaurant around the corner where there is wi-fi. One thing led to another, and to my great distress the bag with computer, my room key, and about $100 was stolen. Somebody knew more or less where the thief lived, the Tourist Police came to investigate, but to no avail. Then one of my local friends did some investigation of their own, and found that the computer had been sold to a shady dealer – and the only way for me to get it back was to pay about another $100! Luckily all my important info was still on the computer.
I was planning to take public transport through Laos and Southern China, as I still have a long way to go to the West from Chengdu. But the way that the few Dollars I'd saved has been disappearing, I may have to re-think my former plans.
Oh yes, probably a good thing I'm not on the bike right now. A few days ago I picked up a really bad bug (food? water?), and I've been lying low since then - just over a year in North America and my hard-earned immune system deserts me. Amongst other symptoms, I haven't been able to keep anything in my stomack, and in this hot and humid climate it is not good to be de-hydrated (there is of course no AC in my cheap room, and I have to keep running to the shared bathrooms down the hall). However, I imagine that I am feeling a bit better today, so perhaps I'm getting over it.
I'll probably be in the city for a couple more days, so I'll still have the opportunity to re-live the past and ride the river ferries, the Sky Train, and so forth.
Unfortunately there is not any further cycling distance to report, as I'm not yet back on the bike. Hope to be on the road soon, as this report seems to be nothing more than a sorry tale.