Colombo, Sri Lanka – Bangkok, Thailand
I booked a flight
to Bangkok, Thailand, where I hoped to get a visa for Myanmar.
The flight was leaving at 7h20 but for some bizarre reason the
taxi could only pick me up at 3h00. At least it gave me enough
time at the airport to have everything wrapped.
A few hours later
I arrived in Bangkok and it was just as I remembered from a few
years back. I headed straight for “backpackerville” and I’m
still convinced that it is the only place where one can stroll
down the street and buy deep-fried scorpions on a stick. I
headed for the same area where I stayed before and found a room
at the New Merry V Guest House on Phra Athit Road. The Peachy
Guest House next door was even cheaper and had ground floor
rooms, perfect for a cyclist.
The following day
I visited a few temples; I find the temples of Thailand
absolutely exquisite. They are not only old, but they are also
very colourful and ornate. I visited Wat Pho (The Temple of the
Reclining Buddha), famed for its giant reclining Buddha that
measures 46 meters in length and 15 meters in height. It was hot
and there were thousands of tourists so I just wanted to get out
of there in a hurry.
I walked back to
my room past many stalls. These stalls were selling all kinds of
things, including second had false teeth. Now, I reckon by the
time you sell second-hand false teeth, no one can accuse you of
I had plenty of
time to explore so I took the Skytrain to the shopping centre to
look for a new charger for my phone. It seems that my phone was
not charging anymore. I hoped that it was only the charger and
not the phone itself. I always love using the public transport
as it feels like one has learned something when you can get
around the city using local transport.
I received my
Myanmar visa and was ready to pack up and leave Bangkok. The Mae
Sot / Myawaddy border was one of the borders open between
Thailand and Myanmar, and it was about a weeks’ cycle away as
there were many places of interest I wanted to visit along the
I went for a leg
wax and a pedicure and that evening took a walk along the river
to take some pictures. There was not much to capture, except for
the old fort on Phra Athit Road. I took a few pictures and then
went for a beer and something to eat in the alleys.
Bangkok – Ayutthaya - 90 km
Although slow it
was easy riding out of Bangkok. I somehow found myself on a road
with plenty of road works which made the going rather slow.
Eventually, I landed up next to a canal which was quite nice as
it depicted typical rural life in Thailand - plenty of temples
and rice paddies. It was boiling hot and I was happy to reach
Ayutthaya where I found a cheap room at U. P. Inn.
It was already
late, but I took a walk to the famous ruins of Ayutthaya, now a
UNESCO world heritage site. The city of Ayutthaya was a Siamese
kingdom founded in 1350 and was the capital of the country until
its destruction by the Burmese Army in 1767. In its day, it was
one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. It also
marked the pinnacle of the Thai domination in the region.
Today the ruins
are spread over a vast area and I decided to stay another day to
see some of the outlying ruins. The following day I got on my
bike and visited more of these amazing ruins.
23 March -
Ayutthaya – Lopburi - 65 km
It was a short and
easy ride to Lopburi where there were more amazing ruins. Again,
it was easy to find a cheap room (NooM Guesthouse) as these
places are geared for backpackers. As the town of Lopburi was
small, it was easy to walk around it. I took a walk to the Prang
Sam Yot temple/ruins with its resident troop of monkeys.
Hindu-Buddhist beliefs, the monkeys have divine connections and
should not be harmed, and although a menace they are fed instead
of being chased away. Nice for the tourists but I‘m sure the
shopkeepers hate them by now as they run in everywhere and grab
whatever they see.
24 March -
Lopburi – Nakhon Sawan - 131 km
I was lucky that
the day was overcast and made for easy riding. At first I
thought it was going to rain and a few times I stopped to take
shelter but nothing came of the threatening clouds. There was
nothing of interest along the road so I pushed on to Nakhon
Sawan. I should have camped at one of the many service stations
along the road, but I soon found myself in the town and found a
room at P. A. Place Hotel. The hotel had convenient ground
floor, motel-style rooms and was close to food.
25 - 26 March - Nakhon Sawan – Kamphaeng Phet (Kamphaengphet) - 126 km
Again it was half
overcast, so I made use of the “good” weather and pushed on to
Kamphaeng Phet where there were another UNESCO site. Soon after
leaving I met Mel and Lee along the road. They were travelling
by car and stopped for a chat. Mel is Australian and Lee from
Thailand. They now live and are warmshower hosts in Chang Mai,
where they settled after cycle-touring for 3 years.
I stopped at one
of the many roadside stalls to taste the rice cooked in bamboo;
I can now vouch that it is the best rice I have ever eaten. Once
in Kamphaeng Phet I looked for the Three J Guest House, a
fantastic place with the most interesting rooms.
There is nothing
quite like running around old ruins like a famous explorer … if
only I did not lose my phone in the process. I spent the day
wondering around Kamphaeng Phet Historic areas.
27 March -
Kamphaeng Phet – Tak - 70 km
This day marks 8
years of cycle-touring for me.
I have seen many
wonderful things, met some fantastic people and ate some rather
strange things. I crossed mountains and deserts and many a day
doubted my sanity! I have done some strange and stupid things in
my life, but I think this tops it all.
Never the less,
it was a great day on the road as I followed the river to Tak.
It was a relatively short day, but I noticed what looked like a
large mountain range en route to Mae Sot and the Myanmar border.
I thought it best to stay put and tackle the last 90 km the
28 - 29 March - Tak
– Mae Sot - 90 km
I packed up and
left without having breakfast, thinking that I will have some
along the way. I, however, never saw a suitable place. It was a
slow and difficult day over the mountains and not very smart to
not eat. Once I cleared the first big climb I could see another
one looming. Fortunately, the weather came in a bit and it
became overcast. I huffed and a puffed, creeping at a snail’s
pace up the steep inclines.
Finally, I spotted
a temple on top of a hill which I hoped marked the high point.
Cars were tooting as they passed - it must be a good luck thing.
By that time, I was dead tired and was happy for the downhill.
The downhill was equally steep and I sped down and into the
border town of Mae Sot reaching speeds of up to 70 km/h.
I was beyond tired
and hungry but managed to find a cheap room at the First Hotel,
which very much looked like it could have been the first hotel
in Mae Sot. The rooms were huge and fitted with very elaborate
wooden (Burmese teak, I guess) furniture. Even the passages and
staircase were adorned with large wooden carvings. I stayed in
Mae Sot the following day as well, did my laundry and ate more
than two days worth of food.
As all border
towns, Mae Sot was interesting with an interesting mix of
people. I had lunch at Khrua Canadian, and for once did not have
noodle soup. Dave and his wife have been running the restaurant
for 17 years and he didn’t only know his food but also the
region very well.