Yes, I am still in Thailand - although I have come and gone a couple of times. I stayed with Pannee in Bangkok in a cheap room where all the other residents in the building were Thai people working in the tourist service business. While in Bangkok we got fresh food in the markets and cooked in the room. We also wandered around all the interesting places where the hordes of tourists hang out. it became evident that my passport would still take some time, so we moved to the family farm in Ubon province, in the East of Thailand. Pannee's 2 sons live on the farm with her parents, and one of her sisters also lives on the farm. She has a house there, and also owns a portion of the land. They farm primarily with rice, but there are also some chickens, cows, and a buffalo. Her parents run a small shop as the farm is right next door to the village school and on a main road.
Due to my full passport I could not go to China or Myanmar/India as I had initially intended. I suppose I could have cycled around Thailand again, but I have been just about everywhere in the country, and I was enjoying the new experience of living on the farm. At the end of August I cycled to Laos, primarily to buy a new Thai visa in the capital, Vientianne.
I spent a week or more in Laos before returning to Thailand via the southern "arm" of Laos. I was careful not to return to Thailand immediately once I had obtained the visa. The Thai immigration authorities are suspicious of these visa runs (illegal work) and I met some people in Laos who had been refused re-entry.
On the day that I crossed back to Thailand I got an early start, and was headed for the farm where Pannee was waiting. It was a long day and by nightfall I was still on the road. I pushed on in search of a camp site, but never made it. In the dark a speeding motorbike without lights smashed straight into the back of me. The road was dark, but there was a wide shoulder and I was concentrating on riding close to the side without going off into the ditch. However, it is my fault for not using the usual flashing red tail lights (both of them had flat batteries). The motorbike also crashed, but he managed to take off again before the police arrived (leaving broken parts and his shoes behind). My bike and I suffered some unfortunate damage, I spent the night in hospital and the following morning the police gave me and my broken bike a ride to the farm which was still almost an hour away. The daily distances which I cycled on this trip to Laos and back to Thailand are as follows:- Ban Trakan farm to Amnat Charoen 82 km; Yasothon 62 km; Roi Et 70 km; Khong Kaen 116 km; Udon Thani 115 km; Nong Khai 61 km; Vientiane (Laos) 28 km; Savannakhet (by bus) to Muang Khong 159 km; Pakse 81 km; Laos Sue Kok (Thailand) 153 km (crash in the dark!). The total distance cycled up to the fateful night of 7 September 2016 is 137685 km.
I was in bad shape but fortunately Pannee took good care of me (dressing wounds, cooking meals, getting crutches and more medicine at the clinic in the village, and more). The above picture of me on crutches was taken more than 2 weeks after the crash, so the stitches had been removed and the other sores did not need dressing anymore. I did very little for about 2 months after which time I can at least walk again. In the mean time I managed to do most of the repairs to my bike (Old Saartjie lives on!). I also had to repair ripped panniers with fishing line and duct tape. Some equipment was damaged, such as the computer charger (hence the long delay in updating this blog). Now I've managed to sort out the charger, so I can use the computer again.
It was time for another visa run, now again to Malaysia. This time I was not on the bike, so it was convenient for Pannee to accompany me. It was quite a trip involving motorbikes, minibusses, various trains in both countries, and a ferry.
The Thai Consulate in Georgetown on Penang Island in Malaysia is most convenient for a new Thai visa. We returned to the farm 2 days ago, and I feel that I need a bit more rest and recovery before moving on.
There are some options, depending largely on funds. And eventually I did pick up my new passport in Bangkok on the way back from Malaysia.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (email@example.com)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 146 849 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za