September - Thailand/Malaysia Border – Hat Yai - 60 km
I cycled the short distance to Hat Yai, found myself a room and
had a relaxing day. I played on the computer and in the process
managed to delete my entire Flickr account. Agggg! I don’t use
it much for photo sharing but more as a place to store my
pictures, so there were 100’s of pictures. I also spoke to Lois
and we made an arrangement to meet in Bangkok on 23 September. I
better get moving then.
September - Hat Yai – Patthulung - 97km
Along the way two youngsters on a scooter stopped and gave me a
100+ sports drink; how sweet of them. The people of Thailand are
so kind, always waving and greeting as I cycle past. I cycled
past many fruit stalls selling delicious-looking tropical fruit.
I got the idea of making short movie clips of my days, but it
did not work as well as expected. It was actually quite
difficult. For some or other reason, I couldn’t play my GoPro
videos on my laptop, even though I have downloaded all the
necessary programmes. I found all this very frustrating and gave
up in the end and went to bed.
September - Patthalung – Thung Song – 97km
I stopped for breakfast at Route 41 and met the most wonderful
people. The owner is a photographer and he gave me one of his
postcard books. I felt a bit sluggish but soldiered on as the
weather was a bit overcast and a good day for cycling. I made
the mistake of having a late lunch after which I felt so lazy
that I decided to take a room right there. That’s why I never
have lunch along the way; it makes me so lazy and I can’t get
going again. Fortunately, there was a good and inexpensive hotel
in town with large, bright rooms and a spacious ground floor
area for storing the bike.
I wanted to sort out my photos but could not get connected to
the internet, so nothing came of that.
September - Thung Song – Ban Tha Rua (Surat Thani intersection)
- 108 km
It seemed that I was going slower and slower, and then I
realized that I have cycled over a 1000 kilometres without a day
off. The rain came in, and I had to hide for an hour or so
before continuing. I cycled on to the Surat Thani intersection
where I found lovely rooms next to the petrol station.
September - Ban Tha Rua – Bamboo Hotel - 30 km
There was a gap in the weather, so I left my accommodation in a
hurry. I did not get very far as it was less than an hour before
a new storm moved in. I struggled on for another few kilometres,
but when I reached a petrol station with a convenient hotel, I
pulled in and got myself out of the weather.
September - Bamboo Hotel – roadside cottage - 90 km
The weather forecast gave me around three hours in the morning
of cloudy skies before the thunderstorms came in again. Along
the way a spotted a sign for a spa and thought: “Why not?”
First, I had to walk for a bit through the forest and then found
lovely baths. I did not spend a long time as it looked like the
weather was coming in again.
Fortunately, they were wrong, and I cycled nearly the whole way
without getting wet. Just as the weather came in I was right
next to a 24-hour joint and could not believe my luck. Normally
these 24-hour places are love-motels but this one had some cute
bungalows at very reasonable rates. Not that I was going to
argue about the price in that weather, and I was more than happy
to unload my dripping wet gear in their little cottage.
Fortunately, they also had a small store where I could get
cup-noodles, beer and crisps. I was more than content.
September - Roadside Cottage – Chumphon - 90 km
Cup-noodles were obviously not designed for maximum energy but
as the weather forecast showed only cloudy skies in the morning
with thunderstorms later in the day, I wasted no time in getting
on the bike. I pedalled like a women possessed in the direction
of Chumphon. There was no sightseeing on this day, just the
occasional water stop and then off again.
Along the way, I could see the impact the rain of the last few
days had. There was water everywhere, rivers were in flood,
drains were blocked, and if your house was not on stilts, you
were in trouble.
I pulled into Chumphon before midday and before the rain came. I
headed straight for The Farang Bar, a place where I have stayed
before. It was not as lively as before, but the rooms were cheap
September - Chumphon – Nipa Beach Bungalow - 110km
I felt tired so stopped for breakfast after about 20 kilometres.
Not that it helped much, and there was nothing else I could do
but carry on. At least this part of the coast is scenic and
always a pleasure to cycle.
For the first time in many months, I saw other cycle tourists
along the way. They were (as most people on their way south) in
a great hurry to get out of the country before their visas
expired. We chatted for a while and then continued on our
By the time I reached the turn-off for Nipa Beach Bungalows, I
was happy to call it a day.
September - Nipa Beach Bungalow – Prachuap Khiri Khan - 100 km
It is amazing how quickly one gets used to the cooler weather.
The temperature was back to the mid-30’s where the previous
couple of days were around 27ᵒC.
Even the snakes seemed to enjoy the warmer weather, and I kept
a beady eye out for them basking in the sun.
When I woke the following morning, I was happy to pull the
blanket over my head and continue sleeping. There was no need to
rush anymore as Lois was not coming to Bangkok, as expected. I
did little the rest of the day, except for making the final
touches to the new blog. At least that was done; it was more
work than expected, especially after I deleted all the photos
from my Flickr account.
September - Prachuap Khiri Khan – Hua Hin - 101 km
The day passed quickly as I picked up a bit of a tail wind. Hua
Hin is, for some unknown reason, a very popular place,
especially amongst westerners for both short and long term
stays. The narrow lanes between the main road and the ocean are
lined with western restaurants and bars (with prices
accordingly). All, of course, with a Thai companion on the arm.
I found a basic room on stilts over the water, and it was easy
to stay an extra day. I did little as it rained most of the day,
which I did not mind as I was snug in my little room.
September - Hua Hin – Samut Songkhram - 118 km
I had a most pleasant day on the road; it must have been due to
all the rest days! The weather was excellent, and I found
interesting back roads. I followed a river of sorts and the road
ran through luminous green rice paddies; past large, brightly
coloured temples and past small riverside fishing villages where
the dogs lay sleeping in the road and hardly bothered lifting
I seldom pass through these villages unnoticed and friendly
locals will always shout a greeting, or giggle and point. I
arrived in Samut Songkhram just as the food stalls were setting
up, which is always a good time.
I found a hostel and although the rooms were tiny, I was the
only one there and had all the space to myself. It was Friday
night, and the streets were lined with food stalls; I could
literally pick and choose from the numerous carts lining the
September - Samut Songkhram – Bangkok - 98 km
Instead of following the main road, as I normally do, I weaved
my way through the village roads towards Bangkok. It was a far
more enjoyable ride with scores of “Hello, farang!” and food
stalls. The interesting thing is that when buying anything to
drink along the way, it automatically comes as a takeaway in a
handy plastic bag which can be hooked onto the handlebar.
The last 30 kilometres into town was along Phetkasem Road, which
turned out to be a complete nightmare. Gridlock traffic made for
a slow and frustrating ride. Eventually, I turned off onto a
smaller road which meant I had to take the ferry across the
river. This was not a disaster, but the stairs to and from the
ferry made for a whole performance with the heavy bike.
Fortunately, many hands made light work and soon I was at Peachy
Guesthouse, my old trusty accommodation in Bangkok.
September - Bangkok
I did virtually nothing the whole day. It was Sunday and I could
only go to the Indian Embassy the following day. I also read
that it takes nine working days to process the visa. I guess I
will be in Bangkok for a while.
28 Sept – 2 October -
I am stunned,
absolutely stunned, I'm telling you. I'm sitting here and cannot
believe the Indian embassy in Bangkok does not issue visas to
foreigners. The reason I’m so stunned is that there is an online
application form that must be completed and submitted, which I
before going to the embassy, I checked my application and it
stated “Your application was successfully submitted”. Off I went
to the embassy, application in hand, just to be told that they
have changed the rules about 2 to 3 weeks ago, and foreigners
can no longer apply in Bangkok!! Have you ever??
I checked the
internet, but I’m none the wiser as to which of the neighbouring
countries still issue visas to foreigners. I will have to phone
around in the morning. To clear my head, I decided to walk
instead of taking a bus and also to take a few pictures along
the way. In the process, I lost a lens cap in the river. The
blood moon in Aries is not good to me, at all!
I eventually spoke
to the Indian Visa Centre in Kuala Lumpur, and it appears that
foreigners can apply for the Indian visa there. Truth be told,
the reason why I am so annoyed with the whole saga is that I was
staying with Peter and his lovely family on the outskirts of
Kuala Lumpur and could have applied for it then. But no, I had
ants in my pants and wanted to get going!
I phoned Kuala
Lumpur again, just to make 100% sure, and this time the answer
was, “You can apply but have a 50/50 chance of getting it”. I
don’t know how that works; I thought the answer to my question
would be a simple “Yes” or “No”. I also phoned the Indian
embassy in Myanmar and was told that “Yes” I can apply there. I
hope that it is correct and that I don’t get there and are then
told a different story.
That all said and
done, it is no secret that I love Bangkok. I love it for many
reasons. Where else in the world can one board a water taxi and
a few minutes later a modern Skytrain that will drop you right
in the middle of the buzzing CBD? Just walk around the corner of
these modern skyscrapers and you will find people living on
stilts over the water, right in the heart of the city centre.
Even in these modern times the river remains the heartbeat of
the city where you will find tugboats, barges, river taxis and
longtail boats, all dodging one another. Old temples sit snug
amidst modern architecture and old wooden structures cling
desperately to rotting stilts. I smile when I see longtail boats
plying the waters, looking for the unsuspecting tourist. Add to
that the weird and wonderful, pierced, dreadlocked and tattooed
farangs, and I could easily linger awhile.
I had a genuine
nightmare of a day which started off with an innocent haircut.
The haircut turned out to be a total disaster, and there was
just about enough hair left for extensions. After that episode,
I went into hiding for the rest of the day.
After sunset, I
regained some confidence and took a walk, tripod in hand. I was
surprised to find Wat Po (the temple of the reclining Buddha)
open. Although the temple itself was closed, one could walk
around the grounds. There was no one there except me, which was
I have been
procrastinating – a week has passed, and still I have not taken
the bike for a service. I have done over 8 000 kilometres on the
same chain and cogs and thought it necessary to have it checked
4 - 7 October
I took the bike to
the local bike shop and walked back along the old klongs and
canals of Bangkok. These old waterways still exist, and although
many have been filled there are still a good few left. I found
locals living, trading, socializing and just going about their
daily business. I squeezed past narrow doorways, stepping over
shoes and chickens as I followed the canal back to my place. I
ducked under bridges and through markets, past crooked houses
and interesting restaurants. Bangkok never fails to amaze.
I took a walk to
the bike shop to see how far they progressed with the bike but
they were closed, so I continued walking past the bike shop and
found a multitude of fascinating things. First, I found locals
crafting monks’ begging (alms) bowls; I understand that they
have been doing this continuously since the 1700s!! Hopefully
not the same guys!
I walked and
walked through traditional markets and modern shopping malls
until I reached the Goddess Tubtim Shrine. At the shrine were
many oversized phalluses of all shapes and sizes standing tall,
proud, and dare I say, erect – proof that even in the spirit
world size really does matter! The shrine honours Chao Mae
Tubtim, a female fertility spirit. Women visit this shrine when
they are trying to conceive. And if rumours can be believed, the
shrine has a good success rate. Women will return if their wish
is fulfilled, and place yet another phallus at the shrine in
gratitude. How weird!
I then took a
water taxi back to my place which was an experience in itself
and not for the faint-hearted. One needs to jump on board rather
quickly as the boat hardly comes to a halt before moving on
again. Not an easy thing to do with a camera in hand. The ferry
did not go all the way to where I lived so for the last few
kilometres I took a motorbike taxi. If one is a nervous
passenger it is best not to look, as my driver weaved through
the traffic with no regard for any rules.
8 October – 10
I'm always looking
for interesting things and today I set off to an abandoned
building. Known as the “Sathorn Unique” this 50-storey building
was left unfinished in 1997 during the world economic crisis. It
was to become one of the most luxurious residential buildings in
all of Bangkok.
I met a young
Australian couple also wandering about. The building was however
fenced, and one could not get inside. Next door we found a small
restaurant with a garage roll-up door leading to the yard of the
old building. The Australian girl and I walked out into the yard
and immediately the owner of the restaurant slammed the door
down, yelling that she was calling the police. No amount of
begging by the boyfriend could get her to open the door again.
In the meantime, I thought it a good opportunity to look around
but there was a caretaker who would not allow any walking
To my utmost
surprise, the young Australian girl started speaking in Thai to
the caretaker, explaining our predicament. (I later learned that
her mother is Thai). He unlocked a side gate for us and we were
set free!! We walked back to the restaurant and found the
boyfriend still trying to get the owner to open the door. They
were rather surprised to see us.
morning I woke to a constant drizzle. Around midday it eased off
and right there and then I decided to pack up and head out of
Bangkok, even though I have paid for an extra night. Halfway out
of the city, I decided to take a bus to Mae Sot (the border town
between Thailand and Myanmar). Seeing that I have cycled this
route twice before, I did not find it necessary to do so again.
I turned off to
the bus terminus, which was on the other side of the railway
line and passed the area where they were busy building the new
extension to the Skytrain. I pushed the bike through the muddy
construction area just to arrive at the bus station covered in
mud, with everyone staring at the crazy woman!
The next bus to
Mae Sot was only at 20h00, which meant a relatively long wait.
Not only a long wait, but it also meant that I arrived in Mae
Sot at 4h00 in the morning! Once there, I had to cycle in the
pouring rain (and without lights) the few kilometres to the
centre of town. I found a room at the Porn-Thep Hotel, which is
nothing like it sounds, but inexpensive at 150 Thai Baht (about
I just read an
article by Tim Ross where he states: “If you are reading this
(that is his blog) then you have probably seen Bear Grylls on
TV, read a book about climbing Everest, been to a talk on rowing
the Atlantic ocean, signed up for a blog about cycling around
the world… or something like that.
blogs, talks and TV programmes are great at getting people
excited and inspired, but they’re often less good at telling you
how to go about doing something yourself.
understandably, they want to make their stories interesting,
they have a tendency to focus on the drama, hardship and
near-death experiences of their trips. Unfortunately, that can
also mean they’re quite off-putting.”
I thought: My
word, why does this man (who has done so much), find it
necessary to exaggerate his stories? All he needs to do is come
cycle with me (LOL) and I’m not even doing anything adventurous!
In any case, I was
a bit ahead of myself in saying I’m going to India. India is
still more than a 1 500 kilometres away, and I need to cycle
through Myanmar (again) to pick up an Indian visa. The only
border crossing between the two countries is the one in the
remote northern region of both India and Myanmar. This is a
restricted area, and I will have to pick up a permit in Yangon.
What I’m saying is that it is still going to take me some time
to get there.
I will cross the
border into Myanmar tomorrow and then start heading in the
direction of Yangon.