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.