Leech Attack

Team Leech Defense right before their first operation

Team Leech Defense right before their first operation

Country: Thailand
From Aranyaprathet to Bangkok
Lesson learned: A map that shows only the city center will not help to lead you towards it
Laughed about: Four grown men fearing tiny animals
Most wonderful miracle: Christmas in July.
Food we ate: Junk food, Mexican food and plenty of delicious Thai street food
Greatest challenge: bottom pain after 10.5 hours in the saddle
Days on the bike: 2 1/2
Kilometers cycled: 252.36
Average Kilometers per day: 100.95
Total Kilometers cycled till Bangkok: 11650.75
Total days travelled till Bangkok: 663

 

Thailand by bike part : From Aranyaprathet to Bangkok

I could have spent weeks in Aranyaprathet. The Thai border town was a complete surprise for me. We strolled through the night market full of clean food stands, drank sugary ice tea from the seven eleven, swam in the pool and Roberto got his bicycle tire balanced professionally for 1.25 €.

Annika and Roberto on a Tandem Bike

We met other cyclists on the way. A brave couple from France offered us to try out their tandem. We preferred only to sit on it. We would have probably fallen over after three meters.

But our Irish friends Donal and Brian from Bangkok were planning a short trip to a National park and we wanted to join them so we had to get going.

We left around noon. After few hours the traffic had slowed down. The street had gotten thinner and the villages were spread widely. In the early evening we made a turn at the exit to a small village and entered the temple to ask for shelter. For a moment I thought I must have mistaken the temple because what I saw were some colorful bungalows between freshly built shrines in a garden with green grass and flowerbeds. Only the orange monk clothing that hung outside to dry made me sure that I had not entered a luxury holiday resort by mistake. One of the monks spoke English and asked his teacher for a place to pitch the tent. The teacher opened us their “garage”. What they used as a garage actually was a really really big room with bathing facilities, some Buddha statues and one single car parked inside – even though there was space for probably 10-15 cars. Lots of fans hung at the walls and there were even light bulbs and electricity all night long.

Camping in a temple in Thailand

Our modest shelter for the night turned out to be a rather luxurious room full of fans and with plenty of space.

The monks got up at 4 am and we did not even hear them. We were on the bikes around 6 or 7 am. For the first 30 or 40 kilometers there was not a single village. I was glad that we had stopped so early the day before.

This was going to be a long day. The headwinds blew hard every time we got close to the summit of a hill. But when we reached the busier street there were so many cars overtaking us that we could use their wind to push us forward. The big road was rather boring and crowded but the shoulder was in a good condition. We got faster and faster and I had that crazy feeling that I could continue forever. It is that special kick that a proper physical workout gives the body and the psyche and I felt strong, happy and able to do whatever I wanted. Exactly at sunset we had reached 140 kilometers (old record was 132 in Greece) but there was no sleeping possibility nearby. In fact I had not seen a single hotel or guesthouse on the way. We asked around, cycled more, made some u-turns, asked again, continued, had dinner in a gas station shop and cycled even further. It was 10 pm when we had finally found a hotel in Min Buri in the outskirts of Bangkok, and we had 164 Kilometers done. What a day.

164 kilometers cycled

That’s how tired cyclists look like. 164 Kilometers and a new record. Wow, we really slept well that night.

Unfortunately the cheapest room cost 535 Baht. We asked for a smaller room, another guesthouse nearby or any other sort of discount but there was no chance. We had been spoiled by the cheap prices in other parts of the country. It was getting later and later and still we could not quite decide whether we should stay or continue the search. We stayed and by the following morning my mind was clearer and I could not believe that I would have nearly gone back on the bike at 10 pm just to cycle through some suburb in search for a room that was cheaper than 13.75 €.

Hotel in Min Buri

Only our buts hurt a little, but the muscles were surprisingly fine

Our muscles were surprisingly fine. We spent the morning with Garry from Australia who had found the love for life as well as the love of his life in Thailand. Time flew while we chatted and it was already 2 pm when we got started. I had a very good city map of Bangkok but I had not a clue how to get into the city. It was all confusing. There were bridges, elevated streets, toll roads, street signs to other neighborhoods and plenty of signs for the airport but not a single one having “Bangkok city center” written. The streets were quite busy but the traffic still flew. After four hours we arrived at Brian’s in the southern part of central Bangkok.

After nearly three month since our last visit in Bangkok we were so happy to see Brian and Koy happy as always. In our absence Brian had done us a big favor and caught the parcel from Unterwegs for us from the post office. Unterwegs sponsored us four front panniers for the bike as well as plenty of clothing made from Merino wool. Merino wool has the great advantage that it keeps the body warm when it is cold and fresh when it is hot outside. Apart from that it does not ever stink. That is a great advantage for cyclists.

Sponsoring parcel from Unterwegs

Roberto unpacked our new gear. It was sent to us back in January, but mail and customs are not too reliable in China so we had to have it re-sent.

It felt like Christmas in July when we sat on the floor armed with scissors and a knife to open the big parcel. Brian was as curios as we were – he had taken care for a mysterious parcel all the time but he never knew what was inside.

Roberto on one of the hiking trails in Khao Yai Nationalpark in Thailand

Roberto on one of the hiking trails

Only two days later Brian, Donal and their friend Sherlock took us out for a long weekend in the nature. The Khao Yai National Park was less than 200 kilometers away and it was the perfect spot to try our new clothing.

Beautiful nature in the Khao Yai National Park

Beautiful nature in the Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai is a peaceful place full of birds, deer, hiking trails, evergreen forest, grasslands, elephants, waterfalls and – as we found out on the third day – leeches. I had read about the leeches before and brought long leggings and socks as well as hiking shoes, a lighter and salt. The others were taking it easier with sandals and shorts.

The deer were not afraid of people

The deer were not afraid of people

We had not even hiked the first kilometer when I heard a yell from somewhere behind. “Denvir! Help! What shall I do? Help me! Come on, hurry up! Denvir!” the panic in his face was growing with every second while a tiny leech walked up his bare leg. Two others followed on his feet. “Salt! Where is the salt?” Donal shouted, “I need salt! Now!” Instead of helping him, our first reaction was to check our own legs and that was when the big panic started. Some grabbed the leeches with the hands, others ran in circles, some tried to get them off with fire, others with salt. I squat down on the floor to search for a stick so I would not have to touch the leeches. That was not one of my brightest ideas because the floor was where the leeches lived. But my legs were covered by three covers: long socks, long trousers and leggings. I want to see that power leech that can get through there.

A leech crawls on the floor

It is not easy to spot a leech on the floor. Would you have noticed this one?

Human beings are generally afraid of everything they do not know and that does not make sense and when the first of us slowly turned around to walk back, all the others followed. We were a mess. Some ran, others stopped to check their legs and feet and then ran faster so they would not lose the group. “Don’t take the short tracks! That’s where I got all mine!”, Sherlock shouted over to Brian. Brian’s face turned all white before he made a really big jump out of the short track and continued running. In the end of the short trip we had two soldiers wounded by three leech bites. I wasn’t between them. My new leggings passed the first test: leech-repellent.

A leech bite is harmless but bleeds for a long time.

A leech bite is harmless but bleeds for a long time.

I couldn’t stop myself from saying “I told you so”. Two days later on our way home we still found leeches inside the car. They all crawled towards me. That must have been the revenge for my boastfulness.

On our last day we discovered a hidden gem: A waterfall to swim in. Neck massage included

On our last day we discovered a hidden gem: A waterfall to swim in. Neck massage included

In Bangkok we rediscovered the advantages of life in a city. We went to the cinema, got our hair cut properly, danced salsa, joined a pool party, cooked Mexican dinner and ate junk food.

We had a great time with Brian and Koy, learned a lot about Irish culture by watching all Father Ted episodes and made plans for a future bike ride through Ireland.

A giant spider in Khao Yai

A giant spider hat its net right in the way.

Our days were full of good and exciting news. After a long search I finally found a affordable handlebar bag that had the exact size of my waterproof barrel. Together with the new front panniers my baggage size shrank a lot. Thanks to that same shop we got in touch with a local Thai TV team who wanted to interview us and even escort us out of town.

Goy and her Salon in Bangkok

Koy provided us two proper haircuts. I had my last one back in Serbia in November 2011.

Back home we finally bought the cheap flights to New Zealand. All Indonesia – New Zealand flights had stopovers in Malaysia and Australia, so we decided to start in Kuala Lumpur instead and fly to Melbourne, Australia cycle to Sydney and then fly to Christchurch, New Zealand from there. We will arrive on the third continent of our travel on October 18th. In order to book the baggage we first had to weight all our things.

What do the weird foreigners do wth all those bags and bikes on the public scale?

What do the weird foreigners do wth all those bags and bikes on the public scale?

Fortunately all seven-eleven shops are equipped with a public scale. The other customers were quite confused when we loaded the scale with each single one of our bags and later even the bikes. But now we know: everything we carry weights exactly 55 kg and the bikes weight 18.3 and 20.4 kg. Apart our own body weight – we both have each lost 15 kilos since we left Bremen.

Mexican Dinner party at Brian's with some old and new friends

Mexican Dinner party at Brian’s with some old and new friends: Asisa, Hannah, Kevin, Max, Brian and later Koy

Motivated by our recent very long cycling day we now want to spice it up and get towards Malaysia really quickly.

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  1. Carolyn in Nashville, TN says:

    Wonderful.

    • admin admin says:

      Thanks so much Carolyn for all your support! I am happy that you like our newest blog entry!
      All the best wishes from a bit further south,
      Annika

  2. Rike says:

    I totally want to – at least part-time – join your Ireland Bike Tour 🙂 I am dying to go back!!

    • admin admin says:

      Hey Rike!
      I don’t think we will be there before maybe 2016 or even later anyway. So we can start making plans in late 2015. Until then feel free to join us where ever else you want to! A hug,
      Annika

  3. Sherlock says:

    Leeeeeeeeech!that was quite emotional reliving that furious attack. Let me know when you are in Oz. tog e go bog e

    • admin admin says:

      Sherlock, the star of the show! We will let you know for sure amigo we would love to see you again…

      LEEECCHHH!

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