#2 Bang Saen to Pattaya

A very pleasant night in Bang Saen at a guesthouse advertised entirely in Thai. How did I find it? Well, I was aiming for this one but couldn’t see it. The one I stayed in was in the same street. Next to? A block away? Not sure. In any case, after cycling for 8 hours and 115km I wasn’t in much of a mood to look too far from where my Garmin directed me. It was certainly cheap and cheerful, but with air conditioning and the opportunity to chain my bike outside the door it suited me just fine.

I have a photo, but it will have to be inserted later as it’s on the DSLR, not the iPhone which I’m using to type this up.

So, day 2 took me 46 kilometres further south to Nai’s unit (Moo’s brother) in Pattaya. While the beginning of the ride was leisurely through back roads the majority was spent on the dreaded Sukhumvit Road (main highway).

The 46km took me just over 3 hours. 3:03, giving me trip totals of 161km and 11 hours 11 minutes, for those keeping score.

I arrived in good time. After lunch with Nai and some work colleagues, and a nap, I spent the afternoon relaxing, by cycling. To the beach and around the town.

A great seafood meal in the evening with Nai. It was all good but the chilli and fennel (the Dutch part of me makes it hard to not like anything that tastes liquoricey) pipis were outstanding. And then a little more site-seeing and games of pick the nationality of the tourist (by far the biggest percentages coming from China – all (most!) bussed in, in double decked coaches with tour guides waving flags to keep their flock from getting lost, and Russia, so many Russians in Pattaya.

I can’t tell you the name of the restaurant but if you are in Pattaya, and want to know the best place locals go to, it’s on North Pattaya Road, right here:

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#1 Bangkok backstreets and beyond

It was always going to be a challenging day. Day 1 of cycling. Fitness down a little since leaving Australia almost a week ago. 100+ kms. Adjusting to the heat, traffic and road conditions.

And navigating out of Bangkok.

I was a little too casual with my route planning (with maps, a bicycle GPS computer and a smart phone with internet I’m unlikely to feel truly lost), however it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. Overpasses, spaghetti junctions, tollways, dead ends, and concrete lane dividers. I experienced them all within the first couple of hours.

At one point I was turned around by a traffic policeman. “U-turn, u-turn”. “Go Bang Saen”, I countered. “U-turn, u-turn”. Not possible by bicycle along that road it seems.

The condition of the road was mostly good, for one stretch there was even a bike path which followed a canal for perhaps 10kms. A welcome break from the traffic, so long as you were prepared to share it with a handful of motorbikes/scooters.

Cycling in the heat is draining and I stopped off at a number of shelters like the one below to rest.

At one point I lay down on a grassy bank near a Tesco supermarket. Absolutely dripping with sweat I had my first ‘helpful stranger’ encounter of the trip. A lady selling drinks came over to me with a big cup of ice to add to my (warm) water. A good opportunity to offer a small gesture in return. She spoke no English but perhaps she has a friend who does.

The most challenging part of the journey came towards the end of the day cycling in rush hour traffic in Chonburi. After seven hours on the road the last place I wanted to be was stopped at traffic lights choking in exhaust fumes. It made me feel queasy.

Bang Saen wasn’t too far away though, and with that, day one was completed.

Rest & relaxation

I’ve been in Thailand for five nights, and have travelled zero out of the estimated 2267 kilometres I hope to cover before January 20.  That’s ok, all in good time.

I have though, had a very enjoyable few days with Dad and Moo, and family.

After catching up with Anne, Anek, daughter Lily and Ba Tong, Nai drove us to the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum.  Rated by TripAdvisor as Thailand’s top museum, free entry gets you a headset and interesting commentary from Australian veterans that guide you through the horrific details of the World War 2 POW camps and the building of the ‘Death Railway’.

It was excellent, but heavy going.

Later that day we rode a section of the track that still operates, the highlight being the Wampo viaduct, a (but not the) bridge over the river Kwai.  That’s in Kanchanaburi where we stayed the night.

Back to Bangkok and another night at Anne and Anek’s townhouse before an unexpected night at a luxury hotel courtesy of Dad.  I won’t be seeing much more of this for the remainder of the trip!

Great to catch up with my old buddy Haan last night for a meal.  A Korean I met in Melbourne who is now living in Bangkok.  We’ll do the same tonight and then tomorrow the trip proper starts.

Have a look to the right for new photos as I upload them to Flickr – not sure yet how to integrate to WordPress.

So strap on your helmet, put on your fluoro yellow safety vest and join me, because it’s a….

 

 

 

 

5 reasons to feel more organised.

#1 Joining the newly purchased panniers is…. a front handlebar bag.

I did some riding this weekend with the bike packed the way it will be when I leave Bangkok.  Which, if I’m to think about, will be happening in about ten days from now.

Deep breath…and hold for three, before exhaling into a big sigh….

While the set up felt comfortable enough I was conscious of the unequal weight distribution.  It was all behind me with left and right panniers and my go-to day backpack occy-straped to the bike rack.

This new bag will take the Canon from the day back, and perhaps passport, travellers cheques, and wallet from the red bumbag – which I’ll take anyway – a real regular on o/s trips for me since its purchase in Brisbane over eight years ago.  Come to think of it, bought for my last trip to Vietnam.  A trip to Hanoi with JH, to to see Jim, before spending two weeks travelling overland to Ho Chi Minh.  A trip filled with many memorable moments, including it seems, devouring some succulent Australian lion, the date stamp on this photo, 25 April 2006, 11:58:43 pm. I’ll have mine with grrrrrrrraavy.

#2 Also getting ticked off the ‘to do’ list, a new bottle of chain lube, another spare tube, a spanner for removing the pedals and a tyre patch in the event a tyre of mine gets sliced open by some nasty debris.

#3 My bike is boxed, with pedals detached, handlebar separated, and tyres removed and deflated.  It took a good couple of hours too, just like the blogs said it would the first time. I’m not sure when I’ll next need to pack a bike in a box by myself, I’m hoping a friendly bike place in HCM will do it for me for the return leg but when I do, I’ll be able to do it in less time. Probably.

#4 I’ve finished mapping every leg of the trip using Ride with GPS.  This is a fantastic program I only discovered the other day. It saves “maps” to my new Garmin 510 (an early Christmas present, thanks Sam) that are able to be followed. It’s “maps” in inverted commas because while a GPS path is able to be followed, like you can on your computer, tablet or phone there are no graphics. None. No colour. No labels. Not even any roads. Just a line to follow and instructions for upcoming turns. It sounds strange and perhaps I’ll have to post a photo to help my description but having tried it out would say it actually seems to work quite well.

#5 After finding another couple of things today I’m happy with the collection of Australia-themed memorabilia (even if everything except for the boomerang is made in China) to give away to yet unknown smiling Thai, Khmer and Vietnamese I meet during the next two months.

$3 for a pack of three at a Chinese run two-dollar-shop type store in the main strip in Carnegie, which were later spotted being sold individually, for $3 each(!) at a souvenir shop on Swanson St in the city.

Five reasons to feel more organised, with one or two others still needed before Thursday morning.

Deep breath…and hold for three, before exhaling into a big sigh….