17 – 19
April- Katmandu – Bangkok - By Air
After what was
quite a rushed visit to Nepal, we finally left for Bangkok,
Thailand. In order to be in time for our flight we left our room
at 05h00 and cycled through the quiet dark streets to the
Airport. There was however no need for our early arrival. The
flight, which was scheduled to leave at 9h00, only left at
11h15. We landed in Bangkok after 15h30 (local time) - a
On arrival, we
immediately experienced the sweltering heat of Thailand. After
a rather costly taxi ride into the city, we found a guesthouse
in the very touristy area of Banglamphu. We huffed, puffed,
sweated, and at last got the bikes reassembled and our bags in
A short walk down
the very touristy street of Th Khao San, with its bars,
restaurants and street food vendors, gave us our first taste of
Bangkok is a
culinary feast for the brave of heart. Ernest, never one to be
put off by a “smiley” (roasted sheep’s head in South Africa),
was enjoying all the available food including steaming bowls of
Thai noodle soup with offal and, who knows what all, is in it!
20 – 22 April
Modern Bangkok was a bit of a shock, there was no hooting and
drivers obeyed the traffic rules, they even stopped to let you
cross the road!! After months in India, it came as a bit of a
surprise (a pleasant one).
alleys of Bangkok however never failed to amaze me; here one
could buy anything from amulets to secondhand false teeth and
bridges! Chinatown with its narrow and crowded pavements offered
everything from food to fluffy teddy bears and jewellery.
river is still a major means of transport and ferries
continuously run up and down the river. It was also easy to get
around by ferry as one could buy a day pass and just hop on and
off at the various jetties.
- Bangkok – Samut Songkhram -
itching to get on the road, and it was far less stressful
getting out of Bangkok that what it was getting out of any
large-ish Indian town. Soon we were on the highway heading
South-East. The heat and humidity, I could see, was going to be
a major factor. It was boiling hot, even early in the morning,
but just the fact that there was a shoulder to the good roads
and motorists obeying the traffic rules made it a pleasured
being out. We cycled past salt farms, which made me thirsty just
looking at it.
reached Samut Songkhram at around 15h00, and although still
early, we decided to stay for the night. We found a room in a
hotel with air-con, bar fridge, clean linen and TV!! What
- Samut Songkhram – Puk Tian Beach -
Unfortunately, we had to leave our luxury room with its air con
and brave the heat again. We turned off the highway soon after
we set off and followed a far smaller road along the coast.
Ernest being the "highway-man", did not appreciate this but
tagged along. Past marshy areas and small villages, until we
reached the beachy areas of Thailand. No beaches where one could
lie in hammocks yet (which I have envisaged).
Finding food was a bigger problem than I had expected. Being
vegetarian is not a concept that the Thai’s understand. Cooked
veg is considered a salad and a salad is not the usual green
salad which I’m used to, but rather a lightly steamed crispy veg
and noodles (chillies & sugar is added to most dishes, and if
you say “no sugar” they look at you in amazement). Add to that
the problem that we are now often out of the touristy areas,
language becomes a real problem. (Ernest enjoys the food, with
all sorts of meat and seafood in the dishes – sometimes a
surprise or even a mystery).
Puk Tian Beach village we found a nice little bungalow, a block
away from the beach. We went out for T/A food, but as expected
Ernest had more success in this venture than what I did.
- Puk Tian Beach – Hua Hin
We were slow in leaving Puk Tian
Beach, but eventually we got under way. Along the way we passed
the resort town of Cha-Am where the locals were in full swing
enjoying the Saturday morning at the seaside. We decided to
carry on, and soon we reached the large holiday town of Hua Hin.
It looked far too good a beach to pass by, so we found a
guesthouse on stilts in the touristy area overlooking the ocean.
There are not really any waves, but the breeze brings up a swell
which laps under the wooden deck of the building.
The beach is lined with deck
chairs where one can sit and sip a beer with the ocean at your
feet. Hua Hin is also famous for its night food markets, where
one can eat to your heart’s delight (again not for vegetarians).
28 April - Hau
Hin – Prachuap Khiri Khan - 98km
Once again we left
late. I do not know how other people get away so early, we seem
to be faffing around forever. So far, the road has been as flat
as a pancake, not something I ever complain about. Halfway we
stopped again for some noodle soup, which one can find
everywhere along the road. We reached Khiri Khan early and found
a hut just north of town. The scenery is now more and more as
I’ve always expected Thailand to look like, with long white
beaches, a flat ocean and green jungle-coated limestone
pinnacles sticking up in and around the ocean.
That evening we
took a walk into town to the night market and once again stuffed
ourselves. Now that we were out of the tourist area, things are
also a lot cheaper, accommodation as well as food. Ernest lapped
up the oysters (7 for around R10) but did not have the stomach
for the crisply fried bugs (grasshoppers, large cockroaches,
grubs, chicken feet and what looked like worms).
29 April-1 May - Prachuap Khiri Khan – Bang Saphan (Thalu Beach) - 115km
situated right on the beach amongst palm trees, is what I have
been looking for. With hardly any tourists and a long white
beach it’s heaven. It’s a short walk of 250m along the beach to
a restaurant where we could eat for very reasonable prices.
Needless to say, we stayed a few days, swimming and lazing in
2 May - Bang
Saphan – 89km
What a beautiful
ride!! Thailand must have one of the most beautiful coastlines
in the world. We followed the coast south, stopping at a few of
the bays along the way. There were rain showers around us all
day, but we were never actually got caught in the rain. We went
so slow that we did not make Chumphong as we’d planned. We found
a bungalow along the way where we stayed for the night. There we
also met a fellow South African, who is now living in Thailand.
We had a bite to
eat in their bar/restaurant, I seem to be eating the same food
every day (Thai Curry) as not a big variety is available for
vegetarians. The food is however fantastic! The only problem is
that this food is not very substantial and not really energy
food to see you through a long cycling day.
3 May -
We took a
leisurely ride from our overnight stop, having brunch at Hat Tha
Wua Laen Beach. Once in Chumphon we headed straight for the
well-known “Farang Bar” where most backpackers stay. What a
pleasant surprise, the rooms were really good value for money
and the place had a good bar and restaurant. With hot water in
the shared showers, who can complain. They can also organize
boats to the nearby islands, busses and visa runs. Great place,
no wonder everyone hangs out there.
We were lucky to
make it to our room just before a heavy storm moved in. With
thunder and lightning, I was pleased for the roof over our
heads. At least these storms never appear to lasts very long.
Once the storm moved over we took a walk to the nearby
supermarket and found bread, cheese and mayonnaise (something
different from Thai green curry for a change). We also wandered
around the large covered market where Ernest found a lot of
tasty bits to eat (however, he gave the smoked rats a wide
4 May -
Champorn – Chaiya - 142km
Ernest received an
e-mail from his friend Rossouw, saying that they were holidaying
in Puket but will be leaving again on the 8th. We
decided to race there to see if we could meet up with them.
Therefore, it was peddle, peddle, peddle. At least the road was
good and we found good roadside accommodation for the night,
air-con and all. Ernest cooked up a mean pasta in the room for
our long distance the following day.
5 May - Chaiya
– Au Leuk 170km
It was peddle,
peddle, peddle again and we made it to Ao Leuk just as it was
getting dark. Fortunately, we found a real cheap room at a
petrol station for the night. Although it was a rather long day,
we did pinch off a few moments for photo’s of the impressive
limestone pinnacles amongst the rubber and oil palm plantations.
6 May - Au Leuk
– Phuket - 140km
At least the road
was scenic as we peddled the last long stretch to Phuket,
crossing the bridge onto the island about 40 k’s before reaching
the town. Once there, we looked at the map again, just to
discover that Rossouw and Dawn were at Patong Beach at the other
side of the island. At least it was not far to Patong Beach, so
we decided to stay the night in Phuket town and do the last
stretch the next morning.
7-8 May - Phuket
– Patong Beach - 21 km
Although it was
not far to Patong Beach, it was via one of the steepest hills we
have encountered in a long time. It was so hot and humid that I
cycled myself right out of my sandals. (I had to stop and put my
socks on in order to prevent my feet slipping out my sandals).
We met up with
Rosssouw and Dawn at their very fancy hotel, which was situated
right on the beach. We were rather envious to leave in order to
find ourselves a budget room in one of the back alleys
(fortunately a rather nice room with TV, aircon, fridge, nice
hot shower, and patio to store the bikes).
That night we all
went out for a few Singhas to celebrate Dawn’s 50th birthday the
Patong Beach is
extremely touristy, packed with bars, restaurants, dive shops
and souvenir shops - not to mention scantily clad Thai girls
enticing the Farang (foreign) men. Ernest and Rossouw could only
look with envy at all the beautiful girls!
We spent 2 days at
Patong Beach, meeting up with Rossouw and Dawn ever so often for
a beer. It is extremely expensive, as one can expect from such
a touristy place, but still interesting to watch all the Farang
men (with beautiful young Thai girls on the arm) doing their
thing. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with cities and
touristy places. It is far too overcrowded and expensive, but
at least one can enjoy all the luxuries of what it has to offer.
I loaded my photos
on CD and bought some small presents for my sister’s kids, which
Rossouw and Dawn kindly took back to South Africa with them.
I replaced the
earphones of my iPod (caught in the front spokes, which comes
from fiddling with the music while I’m cycling). I bought
toothpaste and hair conditioner and now I’m totally broke again.
It rained most of
the 2nd day, but at least I had an early morning swim before the
rain came. Rossouw and Dawn had to return to their resort
during a rain torrent (hope they got a tuk-tuk or something. The rest of the day was spent on updating the web site. I also
handed in some laundry to be washed in a machine!! At least it
will be clean again and I just hoped it would be ready the next
morning by the time we wanted to leave. It was also no good
doing the laundry in the room, as it was too humid to dry - with
the result that everything smelt damp! In fact, it does not
only smell damp but is actually damp all the time.
I even went as far
as getting a sim card for my phone, to great delight of my
family. However, it seems I can only send but not receive sms’s
(phone calls I can receive).
9 May - Patong
Beach – Thai Muang - 100km
We only got away
at about 11h00, due to waiting for the laundry to return.
We followed the
West coast North, as we had to head to Ranong from where one can
do the visa run to Myanmar (Burma). We ambled along, past small
beachy villages which are still struggling to recover from the
By the time we
reached Tha Muang it was time to look for accommodation and we
saw a small obscure sign for a lodge. We followed the sign up a
little gravel road behind some trees, and booked into one of the
rooms. We soon discovered it was actually a house of ill repute,
with a supply of condoms and toothbrushes, as well as
“interesting” pictures on the walls (no heart-shaped bed
though). Well, it was clean and priced right, so why complain?
10 May - Thai
Muang – Riverside Bungalows (Khao Lak) - 52km
We explored the
fantastic beaches along the way, but could find no cheap place
to stay. Due to the 2004 Tsunami, the basic beach bungalows are
all gone and new, fancy hotels are being constructed on the
We carried on and
soon saw a sign for Riverside Bungalows and camping. What a
great place it was as well. Lush green gardens with gazebos and
a great pool. We pitched our tents and lazed around the pool
for the rest of the day. Needless to say, we also were eaten
alive by the mosquitoes!!
By now, I am
covered in mosquitoes bites, a heat rash and suffering from a
chronic upset stomach. Ha-ha, that’s life on the road!!
11 May - Khao
Lak – Khuraburi - 83km
Thailand is a
cycling paradise, it’s scenic, the roads are good with wide
shoulders for bicycles and every now and again there is the most
gorgeous beach. As we headed north, we cycled through
fantastically wooded areas, and although it is incredibly hot
and humid (it is summer and the rainy season) it was an absolute
pleasure. Average temperatures of min 24 – and max between 36 –
40 with a humidity factor of 75%)
We have also now
discovered what the cheapest eat is around here. Instant
(genuine Thai) noodles and sauce cooked with lots of water into
a soup, with some added fresh veg. Delicious!!
In Khuraburi we
found a dilapidated riverside hut on stilts for the night. The
setting (right over the river-bank) was so good that we parked
our bikes without haggling about the price.
I even managed to
find a wi-fi connection in the one corner of the deck and after
folding myself into a pretzel I managed to send an e-mail or
two. (Oo Technology!!)
12 May -
Khuraburi – Hat Bang Ben (Laem Son National Park) - 83km
It was another
great day on the road. Much of the coast here is covered in
mangrove swamps. We cycled up and down hills and through much
wooded areas again, until we turned off the highway to Laem Son
The beach at Hat
Bang Ben is a long sandy beach with views of several nearby
islands. We found a room near the beach and had a great swim
before cooking up our noodles again.
13 May - Hat
Bang Ben – Ranong - 60km
It was a lovely
slow ride into Ranong, where we found room at the Kiwi Orchard
Guest House for a reasonable price. It’s a real backpackers
place with a restaurant, bar, boat and bus booking facilities
etc. They also organize visa runs to Burma (transport to pier,
boat across gulf, assistance at immigration, etc.).
We have been
extremely lucky with the weather so far, and have seemed to
escape the rain showers while cycling on most days.
14 May - Ranong
(to Myanmar and back)
In order to renew
our Thailand visas we had to take a boat to Myanmar. Boats
frequently scoot across the gulf to the border town of Kaw Thoung. Once there it’s a case of paying $10 for the Burmese
visa and be stamped in and out at the same time. I was livid to
find out that they actually gave us a visa for 2 weeks (not only
a day pass as expected). If we knew that, we may have been able
to bring our bicycles and cycle in Myanmar for 2 weeks.
boat (as Ernest correctly pointed out at the start) did not
sound too healthy but we got away in a cloud of smoke. Coming
back, we were not as fortunate, as the whole engine exploded
with a laud bang and there was oil everywhere. Fortunately this
is a very busy area and soon help was on its way. A similar
type of boat had to drag us along, but halfway it gave up and
handed us over to another boat which saw us back to Thailand. This one did not sound all that healthy either as it burped and
splattered but eventually got us back to the pier which we’d
left a couple of hrs earlier.
awaited us, as the new Thai visa was only for 2 weeks and not a
month as expected. Now we will have to peddle like the clappers
to get out of Thailand before 28 May.
15 May Ranong – Kra
Buri - 60km
It was a short and relaxing cycle past
waterfalls, rivers, and beautiful forested areas. Just as we
reached Kra Buri, we noticed a sign for accommodation and
investigated. The little bungalow looked quite comfortable, and
the weather looked threatening so we decided to stay and carry
on to Chumphon in the morning. Little pied songbirds with red
cheeks seem to be a popular part of Thai culture, and
particularly in this region we noticed that these birds in
individual cages were often for sale, and each household along
the way seemed to keep one of these. Dogs and cats (not only
Siamese) are also all over the place, and seem to co-exist
16 May - Kra Buri – Chumphon - 68km
We headed east over the hills towards
Chumphon, back to the Gulf of Thailand coast. A good day for
cycling as it was cloudy but we had no rain on the way. In
Chumphon, we headed straight for the Farang Bar, where we stayed
previously and rooms are cheap, clean, and convenient.
The constant heat has caused both Ernest
and me to develop a heat rash - known as prickly heat. It’s
quite common and one can get a powder, which apparently helps,
for the rash (we will look out for it). Now we are not only
covered in mosquito bites but also in a heat rash!! Not a pretty
17 May - Chumphon – Bang Saphan (Lola
Bungalows) - 114km
It was our first entire day of rain on the
bike. It was mostly light, but continued all day long - at least
it was not cold.
By the time, we reached Bang Sapan the
rain had stopped and we stayed at Lola Bungalows (where we’d
also stayed before). It has such a great setting, right on the
beach, that it’s hard not to stay there. We cooked instant
noodles again (I’m kind of getting sick of noodles), as it was
all we had.
18 May - Bang Sapang – Prachuap Khiri
Khan - 100km
We followed the highway, which makes for
easy but uninteresting riding all the way to Prachuap. What a
good thing an i-pod is!
Once in Prachuap we headed for the quiet
little beach north of town, where we stayed in the same rickety
hut as before (we’re such creatures of habit). This is not a
shelter for bad weather, as one can see the sky through the
roof. The floor was also not very level, and once on the toilet
one had to hang on in order not to fall off.
19 May - Prachuap Kiri Khan – Cha-Am -
It was back on the highway again. A rather
soul-destroying ride as we headed north. Once in Cha-Am we found
a room, food, and settled in for the night. We decided to stay
on the next day in Cha-Am so I could try and sort out my
finances via the internet. Ernest is totally broke, and I’m
heading that way too. Therefore, I need to come up with a plan
to keep us afloat.
21 May - Cha-Am – Samut Sakhon - 129km
We followed the coastal road North on our
way via Bangkok towards the Cambodian border, which was still a
few days of cycling away. We picked up a bit of a tail wind and
made the best of it, carrying on to Samut Sakon. We found a nice
roadside room at a reasonable price and were surprised to find
that it came with air-con, TV and a bathtub, something we have
not seen in years.
Ernest cooked pasta, which he had been
carrying in his bag for a while, mixed with mayo, it was
delicious! (it’s amazing what all comes out of those bags of
22 May - Samut Sakhon – Chachoengsao -
From Samut Sakhon we followed the highway
through the South of Bangkok, a slow stop start-day. We had to
stop and ask directions all the time as the route was not very
clear or direct. The first 60km was very built-up, but once past
the built up area, the road was quieter and we cycled past what
seemed endless shrines and temples. The road mostly followed a
canal lined with wooden houses on stilts, the locals all
seemingly making a living out of fishing. That there is still
any fish left in the river is amazing, as all methods of fishing
is being used from Chinese nets to wicker baskets. These tiny
fish are then dried in the sun on large webs next to the road.
I felt hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty
(what’s new) and we stopped at a petrol station next to the road
for a rest (Petrol stations are abundant and have 7-Eleven shops
& nice toilets). The weather started looking threatening and we
enquired about accommodation. We found a room in a brand new
hotel right next door, and I’m convinced that we were the first
Farangs to stay in there as were a constant source of interest.
23 May - Chachoengsae - Sa Khao - 139km
Once again, we had a tail wind as we
peddled towards the border. We made fairly good time, as we were
trying to out-cycle the threatening looking clouds. We were
lucky to make it to Sa Khao without encountering any
thunderstorms, even with Ernest having a flat tire along the
way. After looking around we found a really nice bungalow at the
far end of town (with air con) at a reasonable price. Soon after
we arrived, the rain came down (when it rains in Thailand, IT
I can’t believe how lucky we have been so
far, always just one-step ahead of the storms. I come from a
region in SA (Cape Town) where thunderstorms are unusual, and
where one locks up the dogs and covers the mirrors when a storm
strikes! Ha ha, South Africa is also not the safest country and
a loud blast of thunder is enough to make me fall down and start
to leopard crawl!
24-25 May - Sa Khao – Aranyaprachet - 58km
After about 5km, we stopped and bought
some nuts (as Ernest is now going ballistic about me not eating
any protein). It was a short and hot ride into Aranyaprachet,
the border town between Thailand and Cambodia. We decided to do
some laundry before proceeding and therefore stayed an extra
night. It is so incredibly humid that nothing dries quickly. We
stayed at the Market Hotel, which is well geared for
backpackers, with a restaurant, air-con, swimming pool and bar
(and outside ground-floor rooms, good for bikers).
Once again, we were lucky as it rained
really hard the next day (our rest day), making it so humid it
feels like one is constantly in a sauna. Although the rain is
not cold the thunder and lightning scares me a bit and I feel
much better being inside than out on the bike.
We even found a bike shop, I replaced my
much worn gloves, and Ernest bought 2 new tyres (about R35 each,
a fraction of SA prices) – due to a donation from his sister
Olga. (He is just not a happy man unless he is loaded with all
kinds of spare stuff, now he is as happy as the proverbial pig
again. If he had enough money, he probably would have bought two
spare rims as well!! Ha ha that’s Ernest for you, always laden
with all kinds off stuff – which often comes in handy to say the