– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

Day 478 (Thailand Day 25)

Despite every intention to go on a little adventure today, I didn’t. Nonetheless, I made some good progress on my website management tasks, uploading diary entries into WordPress and preparing some Instagram photos. It’s all very tedious and time consuming, with no tangible reward at the end of it. I need to keep in mind that I will appreciate the effort in the long run. In other news: I washed my stinky clothes, arranged a skype date with one of my brothers, and received the news that my Meetup gathering has been rescheduled for Monday. I also received a message from the mother in the family who invited me to lunch five days ago. She has invited me to visit her at her Bangkok home.

Day 478 (pic)

My street

Accommodation $ Airbnb apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 12,915km
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Day 477 (Thailand Day 24)

I felt quite restless today. It seems cycle touring is a great way to feel as if you should always be doing something or getting somewhere. While working on my website, I am going to have to ensure I get out for at least one physical activity every day to avoid going crazy. I ventured outside twice today, but each time I only needed to walk 50 metres to reach my goal. The first was a 7-11, where I did some grocery shopping. The second was a street food vendor, where I bought dinner. Bangkok is a big place and it is very easy to feel lonely and isolated here. In an effort to prevent this from happening to me too much, I joined a Meetup group and will be going to a mini seminar about international travel on Sunday night. Hopefully I will meet some interesting people there!

Day 477 (pic)

Rooftop

Accommodation $ Airbnb apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 12,915km
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Day 476 (Thailand Day 23)

My body didn’t let me sleep in, so ingrained in my system is my 5.30am wake up time. I wasted some time on social media before getting onto my chores. I researched what I needed to do to get a new Australian passport and got stuck into the instructions I prepared for myself: (1) Get new passport photos taken; (2) Print out application form; (3) Withdraw enough money for the bill; (4) Walk to the embassy; (5) Submit it all. DONE! I have a two-week wait ahead of me now. I am hoping this will be enough time to complete the work required to keep my website ticking over and edit some more videos. On my way home I stopped off at a massage place and treated myself to a one-hour Thai massage. With a fancy dinner last night and a massage today, I think my Bangkok treats are already exhausted. The only other real treat I will afford myself will be a beer in about a week’s time when I plan on catching up with a guy I met in the Thai embassy in Singapore. He is from England but runs a successful online clothing store that operates out of Thailand – as well as having a friend in the big city, I am hoping to gain some insight into the business world.

Day 476 (pic)

Apartment view

Accommodation $ Airbnb apartment
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 12, 915km
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Day 475 (Thailand Day 22)

I did it! I rode all the way into Bangkok city. I enjoyed the ride right until I got into the centre, by which time the adrenalin rush of crazy highway-riding had waned and I was tiring from concentrating so hard. I thought I had time to kill before I had access to my Airbnb accommodation, so I headed to Kao San Road to see if I remembered anything from when I was there 12 years ago. I chose a lusciously decked-out street stall for lunch and ate until I felt sick. I actually nearly spewed from filling my stomach with so much food. It was probably having two massive fruit smoothies (in addition to a massive plate of food) that did it. Next to where I ate was a guy with a sewing machine. I took the opportunity to have some pants repaired, the back pockets of which needed resewing. It cost a whole AU$1.20. Pants, fixed, I rode to Lumpini Park and lay down under a tree to let my entire being focus on digestion.

After an hour or so, I set about finding my Airbnb place; a private apartment that I scored for a cheaper price than a shared dormitory room in a hostel. It took me a while to navigate my way there but I eventually found the café above which the fifth floor home is situated. I let myself in with a code I received by SMS from the owner and was confronted with the challenge of hauling my stuff up five narrow sets of stairs. Doing so was almost more tiring than riding here.

The apartment is beautiful. My own massive bed, small bathroom, mini kitchen and balcony with city views. Magic. While moving in I met Lexie who lives two floors down. She is a Malaysian girl in Bangkok teaching English. She invited me out to dinner so we headed down the street to a nice restaurant. Normally I would freak out at throwing money at dinner, but tonight I didn’t care. I had cycled to Bangkok after all, which for me was cause for a little celebration. In the mood to be frivolous, I didn’t hesitate to order a bruschetta entre followed by a pasta dish as a main, all washed down with beer that was served in a teapot. It was a Buddhist holiday where alcohol wasn’t really allowed to be sold; the teapot did the job of hiding what we were really drinking). Not done with food, I treated myself to a chocolate Frappuccino on the way home. Once again I feel like I’m going to be sick from too much food!

Day 475 (pic)

Getting some pants sewn while I digest

Accommodation $ Airbnb apartment
Distance ridden today 97.01km
Average cycling speed 18.7kph
Total distance ridden 12,915km
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Day 474 (Thailand Day 21)

My mission today was to ride further than I have ridden before. I need to check my previous stats but I might have succeeded. I got on the main highway and didn’t leave it until I turned off towards Samut Songkhram. At a midmorning break I stopped at a café where I met a group of Australians riding from Hanoi to Singapore, then Perth to Canberra. One guy was Laurie, an ex-SAS soldier with one leg. The aim of their ride was to raise money to help military veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder via a project called The Long Ride Home. As I was nearing Samut Songkhram, a car pulled into the scooter lane ahead of me and out stepped a girl who energetically waved me down. She runs the hostel in town and wanted to see if I was interested in staying there. I had seen the hostel advertised on the internet, but thought the advertised prices were too high, like most hostels in Thailand. I told her as much and she explained that the walk-in prices are much cheaper. I left her by saying I was going to ride to the next town anyway so wouldn’t be able to stay. I really thought I was going to ride on to the next town, but on checking my map, I realised I was being far too ambitious and if I kept going then I would be riding well into the night. I ended up surprising the girl at her hostel and, as suggested, received a much cheaper rate than that being advertised online. I am very glad I ended up here at the hostel. The design of the place is impressive, from the brick veneer walls to the cardboard menus. So much creative energy was clearly put into the build and what has resulted is one of the coolest little hostels I have ever seen. I have so many new ideas for my own hostel that I dream of starting day.

Day 474 (pic)

Cool hostel

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 148.06km (New record!)
Average cycling speed 14.9kph
Total distance ridden 32km
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Day 473 (Thailand Day 20)

This is such an amazing life – to be able to jump on the bike and ride the day away, all the while filling the mind with incredible memories of meeting cool people in stunning locations. My morning took me past more mind-blowingly perfect coastal scenery painted by glossy water, clean white sand, colourful fishing boats and rocky scarps dropping into the sea. Around midday I found myself in the small fishing village. I rested for a few minutes while I watched a boatload of tiny fish being unloaded onto the jetty and wheeled onshore, then I began my search for a place to eat and hide away from the scorching sun. As I pulled up to what seemed to be the only restaurant in town, a family (mum, two aunties and two kids) started chatting with me and then invited me to join them for lunch. They were having a weekend away from Bangkok to check on their rubber tree ‘garden’. I was treated to a seafood feast, including the spiciest tom yum soup I have ever eaten. After the family left, and with a stomach full to the brim, I found it hard to keep my eyes open. I draped myself as comfortably as I could across the back of my bike (while sitting down on a bench seat) and began to doze. I was half asleep when the restaurant owner tapped me on the shoulder and invited me into his home (behind the restaurant) for a sleep, directing me to a Thai-style bed (a wooden platform). I snoozed for about forty minutes while the hottest part of the day passed.

In the afternoon I decided to ride through Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. The incredible natural beauty that greeted me made it well worth the extra kilometres it required. More stunning coastline brought me to Pak Nam Pran, which was busy with Thai and European tourists enjoying life in pretty beachside resorts. It made me think that there is so much of Thailand that Australians miss out on because they don’t know anything other than Phuket. The resorts were clearly beyond my budget, so I ventured inland in search of cheaper accommodation. If there were any signs displaying such a thing, none were in English and in the end I decided to seek shelter in a temple. I was given a space in a massive tiled hall with a golden Buddha overlooking my little home. After washing myself and my riding clothes, I ventured out for some street food, starting off with strawberry yoghurt frappe (25b / AU$1) followed by phad thai (30b / AU$1.20) and finished off with a banana/egg pancake (25b / AU$1). I am full and satisfied, in terms of both food and life.

Day 473 (pic)

Dusky Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus)

Accommodation Free-camp (Buddhist Temple)
Distance ridden today 106.86km
Average cycling speed 19.7kph
Total distance ridden 12,670km
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Day 472 (Thailand Day 19)

I continue to pass through an amazing part of Thailand. My stomach (mostly) behaved itself, so I was able to get on with enjoying what turned out to be a very pleasant day on the bike. I started out by heading up the hill at the end of Ban Krut Beach where a magnificent golden Buddha overlooks the ocean. From there I took some quiet roads to a spot marked on Maps.me as “Buddha in a cave”. As I cautiously made my way towards the cave, I accidentally drew the attention of every man and woman in the surrounding area, my presence being announced by the local gang of dogs which raised a raucous song of angry barking. A set of stairs led me to the cave entrance where a monk emerged and proceeded to explain something to me with much mad gesturing. It wasn’t until he followed me inside that I learned what he was saying – he had been telling me to look out for the etchings that decorated the cave’s ceiling. I assume these were made by people hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Awesome!

As I rode on, I stuck to the coast as much as I could, passing through cut little villages, rubber tree plantations and pineapple fields. I came across one lucky temple that was situated right on a beautiful stretch of beach – what a place to be a monk! Eventually, I reached Khlong Wan and was immediately swept up in the energetic and happy atmosphere being created by the hordes of Thais who were arriving for the start of a long-weekend holiday. I instantly felt I could call the place home for the night. What was mostly striking, though, was the scenery. As I rode down the main road, abuzz with activity, the dramatic peaks of cragged rock were aglow in light cast from the setting sun. These peaks rose out of water that lapped at the shore of a picturesque sandy beach. A pier lets you walk right out over water that laps the sandy shore of a post-card-perfect beach. To complete the scene was a spectacular sunset, wispy clouds turning into flames against a still-blue sky.

As I rode down the main street I was a hit with a feeling that I could call this place home. It took me a few goes to find a place to stay (nearly all had been pre-booked by Thai holiday-makers) and I had all but resigned to ride on to Prachuap Khiri Khan when I found a room in a guesthouse on the edge of town. After a super quick shower, I headed back into town and made the most of the remaining light with a stroll along the beach.

Day 472 (pic)

Heavenly

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 70.17km
Average cycling speed 16.9kph
Total distance ridden 12,563km
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Day 471 (Thailand Day 18)

What a relief it was to wake up feeling almost normal. I even felt ready to eat something again. My guts still gave me some trouble and the pain in my legs told me they were still full of toxins, but compared with yesterday I was doing great. I whiled away the day resting, editing photos and planning my dream tiny house while overlooking the ocean. I have also started researching accommodation options for Bangkok, where I need to sort out a new passport and travel visas. It seems the best deals are available on Airbnb. I tried to book a place but you need an active phone number to do so, which I don’t have right now.

Day 471 (pic)

Ban Krut’s Buddha

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 12,493km
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Day 470 (Thailand Day 17)

Things have taken a turn for the worse. I spent last night in foetal position suffering intense cramping of the stomach and uncontrolled expulsions of its contents. The culprit: unripe pineapple. Yesterday afternoon I came across the first fruit stall that I’d seen for a few days, so I couldn’t help stuffing my face. The pineapple wasn’t very juicy (being a bit unripe) but in my desperate state I didn’t let it worry me. Of course I had to eat the whole bloody thing! Halfway through the night I decided to google my situation and that was when I learned that unripe pineapple is quite poisonous. It was a rough night to say the least. By morning I was still doubled up with an unsettled stomach, but decided I’d rather feel sick while cycling than feel sick doing nothing. I only lasted a short distance before my body was depleted of its energy resources. Fortunately, this brought me to Ban Krut Beach, which on first impressions looks like a pleasant place in which I can recover. I spent the rest of the day in bed, unable to eat.

Day 470 (pic)

Fishing territory

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 32.21km
Average cycling speed 16.3kph
Total distance ridden 12,493km
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Day 469 (Thailand Day 16)

I got a massive fright when I nearly ran over a cobra. It reared up and flared its hood, but luckily I was outside of striking distance. I spent much of the day on the Royal Tourist Drive, a scenic route passing pretty fishing villages. At times I veered off the main road to explore the communities and bays that dot this coast. So picturesque were they that I instantly found myself thinking I should spend a whole day at one. I inquired at one place offering accommodation, but discovered they were closed for renovations. As I was making my inquiry, a storm that had been moving towards shore from across the ocean finally hit, furiously lashing the coast with strong wind and torrential rain. I took cover in the reception area and ended up dozing off while waiting for the storm to ease. As I waited, I decided not to stay, thinking that if I keep stopping at every beautiful place then I would never make it anywhere. I don’t have to stay a whole day in a place to soak up its beauty – it doesn’t hurt to enjoy the moment, if only for an hour or so, before moving on. I continued my way along the coast, stopping in at Laem Son Beach before reaching Suan Luang Beach where I spent some time looking at the accommodation offerings (all major resorts though), deciding in the end to return to the main road for a cheaper place to stay.

Earlier in the day I came across a disturbing place. Lured by a ginormous statue of Buddha that was under construction, I stumbled across a park where I took a photo of a nice statue of a kangaroo. Walking on, the next thing I knew I was surrounded by statues of humans being subjected to all sorts of torturous acts. A sick feeling developed in my stomach and I started thinking I’d better get the hell out of there. Just as I was leaving I came across a little sign that provided some kind of answer as to what was going on. It said: Hell Area: portraits of humankind who have committed sin while alive, as Buddhists believe. The kangaroo had been part of the Heaven Area. Heaven help you if you have sinned!

Day 469 (pic)

Sinners

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 122.41km
Average cycling speed 19.1kph
Total distance ridden 12,461km
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