A night at the police office

Finally we were back at the sea side

Finally we were back at the sea side

Country: Thailand
From Bangkok to Chaiya
Lesson learned: Don’t hang the wet laundry on the bike if it is raining cats and dogs
Laughed about: The neighbor’s faces when a TV-crew blocked their small street to tape the weird foreigners
Most wonderful miracle: Hot springs right next to the street
Food we ate: Fat with eggs, coconut ice cream, donuts, guava, cookies and dragonfruit
Greatest challenge: approximately 45 mosquitos
Days on the bike: 6,5
Kilometers cycled: 648.50
Average Kilometers per day: 99.77
Total Kilometers cycled till Chaiya: 12299.25
Total days travelled till Chaiya: 687

Thailand by bike part 3: July 2013

It was a lot easier to leave Bangkok than it had been to enter the town. Thanks to Ben. He worked for a TV Channel, read about us and our project in facebook and contacted us right away. That was why we did not leave Bangkok all by ourselves but accompanied by him and his small team. They interviewed us and filmed how we packed our things and loaded the bike. We had to say goodbye to Koy and Brian several times just to make sure that it was on tape. The neighbors were confused. What were the weird foreigners doing there again?

Ben joined us on his bike and together we followed his colleagues with their cameras in the car. That was great because we were guaranteed an entire lane all for ourselves and we felt ridiculously safe in the crowded streets of Bangkok. When his colleagues returned to the studio, Ben decided to accompany us all the way to the road number 35 that would lead us out of town. We made it out of the city center in no time, thanked Ben and continued alone. Around us was nothing but heavy traffic, industrial suburbs, dust and factories.

The air was filled with an interesting but disgusting mix of smells. Was it poop, rotting animals, garbage or burning rubber? We could not tell. The only thing left for us was to hold the breath and pedal faster and faster. Eventually this had to come to an end.

Ice cream stop on the way. Coconut with peanuts .. yammi!

Ice cream stop on the way. Coconut with peanuts .. yammi!

In the early afternoon we reached the first shrimp farms and salt farms. The only smell now was the fumes from the traffic. We searched for a possible camping spot for quite a while, but the salt farms were all muddy and the streets were full of traffic. We asked a nice old couple for permission to search for a dry spot on their property and found a tiny wooden hut with a terrace that was a bit smaller than our mosquito net. Perfect. I laid down and tried to sleep. It was barely sunset. Back in Bangkok I had been used to a whole different sleeping rhythm. While I was forcing myself to sleep, a couple of mosquitoes somehow found their way under our mosquito net. By the next morning I counted the mosquitoes inside the net.

Our little hut hosted more blood suckers than humans.

Our little hut hosted more blood suckers than humans.

I gave up after 20 but estimated the number of happy, tired and full mosquitoes to be about 45. The bloodsuckers outside the mosquito net were less tame. They had not had breakfast yet and attacked us immediately. We decided to skip the breakfast and were surprised how very quickly we could be ready to cycle off.

After another 22 kilometers we finally left the crowded and smoggy big highway and continued on the small 2021, a street that would later turn into a scenic road with bicycle lane, view points and information about the culture, salt farms and agriculture nearby. I was especially impressed by the blue bicycle lane sign.

Bike lane in Thailand

Bike lane in Thailand. We were very impressed.

Just outside the town Cha-Am we made our way to the “Eco-Camp” to pitch the tent there. But when we arrived, we had to find out, that eco-camp had nothing to do with campfire, wilderness or camping. It was a resort with wooden bungalows. But the place was closed, as the three guards (who worked anyways) explained to us. On the way back to the street we took a turn and just pitched the tent somewhere between the hills.

Salt farms in Thailand

Salt farms to both sides of the road

We did not have a single bloodsucker inside the tent and I slept great. At 5.30 am we were fresh and alert, ready to hit the road again. In Cha-Am city we cycled along the beach with all its sunshades, beach chairs, guesthouses and souvenir shops. I had nearly forgotten that we were in a country visited by 22.3 million people in 2012. We filled our water bottles at the water machine where we paid 3 Baht for 3 liters. Two big new bottles would have cost us by about 26 Baht. We saved money and plastic.

So close to the Eco Camp and yet so far from anybody who could see us

So close to the Eco Camp and yet so far from anybody who could see us

When we crossed Cha-Am we were forced to get back on the big highway number 4. On my left I saw plenty of hotels, luxury summer-residences, and industry. To my right there were four lanes of rushing traffic. We had to stop every now and then because somebody parked on our lane and traffic was too fast to overtake. One time we stopped next to a fruit stand and the salesman gave us quarter a dragon fruit each.

Roberto found two of his kind and befriended them immediately

Roberto found two of his kind and befriended them immediately

We bought four more and ate them as a dessert. We spent the night in the tent again next to a playground somewhere off the main road. When I finally fell asleep, somebody knocked. Visitors at this time of the night? Well, we had two possibilities now: pretending that there was nobody at home or opening the door. Outside three confused policemen with torches watched into the sleepy faces of the dirty foreigners. After a moment they started laughing and sent us back to bed. Just a couple of crazy farangs.

The small roads were much more fun

The small roads were much more fun

By the following day we got into the first hills. We had 2 ½ kilos of watermelon even before breakfast and were hungry again soon after. The street was all boring but at least it was cloudy and not too hot. In the afternoon we turned into a smaller street and cycled towards the sea. We were really in need of a proper shower, but all guesthouses nearby the sea were over our budget, so we continued the ride towards the Pa Kang Forest Park where we found an official camping area.

Could have been the perfect camping spot.

Could have been the perfect camping spot.

Unfortunately there was nobody there to ask permission or pay the fee and there was no possibility to take a shower either. One entrance was closed, the other one was open, the owner’s house was empty but there was light and the dogs took care for the house. We spent the valuable half hour right before sunset in the park waiting for the owners who never showed up. We really did not want to be woken up by the police again, so we continued the search. It was late when we found a motel and enjoyed a wonderful shower. We had cycled 393 kilometers within 3 ½ days and had quite some laundry to do.

Rubber tree

Rubber tree

By the next morning we started with a climb, and another one, and another one. We had been cycling for days on flat roads and with clouds, but today we were climbing in the rain. The rambling path led us through strip cultivation of both, pineapples and coconut palm trees. We crossed villages and fields and every now and then also passed some rubber tree plantations. After 33 kilometers we reached the first shop.

Chopak was happy to get out of her routine

Chopak was happy to get out of her routine

The saleswoman Chopak was fascinated with our travels and could not get enough of our pictures from back home. Mudflat, pyramids, snow, desert and castles; she wanted to see it all with her own eyes. The grass is always greener on the other side. Chopak lived between coconut palm trees, sandy beaches and banana trees. Who would not want to change with her? Chopak gave us some more coke, water and cookies for the way before we got back into the heavy rain. I even got cold every time we stopped.

Through the jungle again

Through the jungle again

We had the same problem again: the only guesthouses were nearby the sea and because of their good location they were too expensive for us. Our laundry was still wet and so was the tent, so we decided to find the cheapest of all the bungalows and moved in. In no time we had defaced the beautiful beach view-terrace with all our dripping laundry and the wet tent. Since we were wet anyway we had a quick swim with all our clothes in the sea at sunset. It was still raining. There was no hot water for the shower and I did not get warm until we had boiled the second big pot of noodles.

A fisherman on his way to work

A fisherman on his way to work

By the following morning it was dry, but our laundry had not dried even a little. We had our free coffee and watched a photographer who made a grey and rainy beach shooting. He also took a couple of shots of us and his assistant explained me the way. Roberto did not understand a thing, but I was surprised how easy it was to read the “map” that he painted with his finger in the sand together with a lot of Thai words: 18 kilometers straight, do not turn right towards the airport. Do not turn left at the crossroad but take the shortcut straight for another 18 kilometers.

This map man gave us the most accurate directions we could have asked for

This map man gave us the most accurate directions we could have asked for

We hung our wet clothes outside our bags again (yes, it did not help again) and got on the bikes. It was a lot hillier than on the day before, but the way was incredibly beautiful. We did not see the coast a single time but we rode on a single-track trail straight through the jungle. It was green, humid and full of jungle noises. Very few cars passed and I searched out for monkeys or snakes. It was exactly 36 Kilometers later that we arrived in Chumpon.

Leaving the beach

Leaving the beach

The photograph’s assistant had given us the perfect directions. We spotted a market and stared at the stands like hungry wolves stare at chicken. In no time we had ordered and eaten plenty of dishes and salads and even a few pancakes and other desserts. Can you believe that we have a dessert after breakfast?

After our first dessert, a nice lady brings us two guavas as a present. I thanked her a lot. Three presents in four days! I was deeply touched and thought about the many tourists who still believed that Thailand was a pace full of mercenary salesmen who saw foreigners as walking ATMs. It seems like those people have never left the touristiest areas, where the salesmen pay high rents and have high standards.

A motorbike ride through the sea

A motorbike ride through the sea

Just a few kilometers further outside the tourists are an attraction for the people. Less for their wallets and more for their weird behavior, their funny look and their merry stories.

Behind town we had to get back on the big road. Roberto asked for a place to pitch the tent and a family sent us over to the neighboring house: the police office. The policeman invited us with open arms to spend the night inside the office. We put our bags upstairs in the small wooden house and sat down between the mattresses, clothes lines, pictures of the king and the TV. Roberto took a shower downstairs under the house and I helped him to wash his hair. He had only his underpants on, when three other policemen came back to the office. Roberto was deeply embarrassed but there was no way out.

Our new friends and helpers were happy to share their office with us.

Our new friends and helpers were happy to share their office with us.

Back upstairs we shared donuts with our new roommates and spent a mosquito free night on a soft mattress.

The rain stopped at night and came back at 6.30 am. Our new friend had prepared us the probably oiliest and fattiest egg for breakfast. We ate it all up and praised his cooking. Not many Thai men are brave enough to enter a kitchen and we had to support that.

Breakfast in the police office

Breakfast in the police office

Before I packed the bags on the bike I had another quick look on the gears. Some of them were not working fine anymore and I wanted to fix them. Some may think that after nearly 2 years on the road I would know how to fix basic stuff like a gear box. For half an hour Roberto and I make it worse and worse and when we finally brought the gears back to the initial situation we were happy enough. We are both not too gifted with any repairs except for broken spokes, breaks and flat tires.

We really apprechiated having a proper road map

We really apprechiated having a proper road map

So who needs the two small chain wheels anyway? I was forced to stand up on my pedals for every climb, but we moved surprisingly fast forward. There were plenty of signs pointing to national parks, waterfalls and caves. Most of them were still far away from the main street and we could not afford the detour with the time pressure that we had. We only stopped when we read “Hot springs in 500 meters”.

The street was dirty and wet and I couldn't wait to find a public tap to wash myself

The street was dirty and wet. Fortunately I found a public tap to wash myself before we arrived at the hot springs

It was time for a break anyway and we got off the street. I tried to read the prices at the pay booth, but they were written in Thai. For me it read: Bla Bla 10 Bla Bla Bla 20 Bla Bla Bla Bla 200. My personal interpretation was: Children 10 Baht, Adults 20 Baht and Foreigner 200 Baht. But it seemed that the species travel cyclist was part of both subclasses: adult and foreigner. We were lucky and the young man in the booth asked us for 20 Baht only.

Off the dust and dirt and into a short spa-stop

Off the dust and dirt and into a short spa-stop

The pool had the perfect bath tub temperature for wimps like me: It was just cold enough not to hurt. My neck muscles finally relaxed while I enjoyed the atmosphere. Birds tweeted even though there were no speakers, orchids were not made from plastic and the jungle plants and humid air were also real. A hot spring in the jungle – that was by far the coolest break.

After a while I felt like new born. I got on the bike and did not even feel how my body moved the pedals. Or did the pedals move my body?

The hot water helped my muscles to relax.

The hot water helped my muscles to relax.

With the time the landscape had changed. The jungle had disappeared behind more and more rubber tree plantations and palm oil plantations. We speeded through. At night we had an average speed of 20 km/h on 110 kilometers. I should ride with defect gears more frequently.

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  1. Héctor says:

    I never cease to be amazed at the many obstacles that you need to overcome and how you manage to do it.

    Take care.

    • admin admin says:

      Our main strength comes from the purpose of our project. Behind that our families, our friends and the people. That is all we can say. – Roberto

    • admin admin says:

      Thank you a lot Héctor for your comment. I believe that the obstacles are important to believe in ourselves. Every one that we overcome gives us a little more self esteem for the next one.
      And things always happen for a reason. I like how they happened so far 🙂
      The best wishes from Malaysia,
      Annika

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