Crazy girl on a bike
I blame these guys... Not just these guys, there were a couple of other people too, but these were the people who first but the idea of travelling with my bike into my head..
I met the 2 of them in Gaeng Grabow, a series of rapids in the Mekong river midway between Mukdaharn and a small town called That Panom. They were plannning on following the river from Ubon Ratchatani to Nong Khai. I was on a daytrip, and was hoping to meet a couple of teachers I knew from Kalasin for breakfast there.
I was so impressed by the two of them. They could hardly speak Thai but, after a couple of weeks of cycling knew the words for very good ' 'you're strong' (they were - read their diary and you'll see just how tough the two of them are...), the 2 things that most people, seeing a girl on a bike like to shout at you as you ride past.
I've travelled with my bike before - but just on daytrips or odd weekends away. I reckoned 60km was about my limit. I've never ever taken it a long way.
There were other people too. Tuk, my friend in Bangkok who will be away for 2 weeks or so (maybe Chiang Mai, maybe someplace else) and refuses to tell me when she will go or when she expects to come back. Tuk's behaviour kind of screwed up my plans to come back from the south on the 8th of April. Suddenly I had a bike, a tent, a sleeping bag, a ton of clothes (waaaay too many), and nothing much to do for the next couple of weeks...
There was also the Belgium / Dutch couple. I first saw them in Ranong. They were waiting for the ferry to Ko Chang - and had had the sense to leave their bikes at the guesthouse. Me, and my bike were waiting for the one to Ko Payam. They'd started out in Kanchanaburi and were riding down to Singapore. I was a touch jealous, if only in an 'I wish I had the time (and energy...) to be able to do something like that' kind of way. I didn;t really envy them. 50-60kms a day on a bike in the middle of Thailand's hot season can't be easy.
I met Marly and Peter again, a few days later. This time they were with their bikes, milling around Kuraburi, a small town thats the main stopping off point for tourists heading out to Ko Surin, one to Thailand's best snorkelling sites, and, after watching me pull my bike and its front wheel out of the luggage hold on the botton of the bus, gave me the lowdown on where I could stay, and where to get my boat ticket from.
I stayed in the same guest house as them, left my bike next to theirs and had a chilled out couple of days camping next to the beach and snorkellling around Ko Surin. They heard my phone conversation with Tuk, and the resulting moans.
I have to move house soon. Next month, I plan to live in Naan and teach at a school there. I have to work out how to move my things and had already told a couple of teachers there that I would probably make the first trip, to look for a house and bring the first set of boxes around the 10th of April. Now Tuk, one of my friends in Bangkok who has happily let me store my things in her room for the last couple of months, suddenly refuses to let me go there and collect it. I'm still not sure when I'll be able to go back there. After Songkran I reckon, but when ??? I'm still not sure. Maybe around the 20th ???
Anyway... back to the story. I complained about Tuk, and about what I would say to the teachers in Naan - how can I tel them that I plan to bring my stuff there but have no idea when without making myself, or my friend sound like a complete arse... and what on earth was I going to do for the next 2 weeks ??? Much as I love bumming around on the beach, after a couple of days it gets boring, not to mention (for someone who hasn't worked for the last 6 months) a touch expensive.
Easy they said. Why not ride your bike to Phuket... and no cheating, and taking the bus this time. It sounded easier than it looked. No way can I do that I thought. But then, I'd thought the same thing about Ranong to Chumporn and, once I sat on my bike and started pedalling away it really wasn't that bad. If I was totally honest, I'd really enjoyed it. Even though I'd follwoed the main highway, there wasn;t much traffic. It was great to stop off, sip coffee and eat Thai Kanom at small restraunts in the little villages that lined the route south and there was lots to see. Riding a bike gives you the chance to take in the scenery, to take smaller roads that tour buses rarely take, to see kids scream hello, and wave like crazy then run away as soon as they hear you reply. The scenery in this part of the world is stunning, and the people so friendly. And being on the bike gives you an enormous sense of freedom. You can go as far (or be as lazy) as you like. Other than being somewhere with a guesthouse, or a place to put my tent before 4pm (the time it usually decides to throw it down with rain in this part of the world) there's no constraints.
I reached Phuket a day earlier than I thought... met a friend, spent a night and a morning wandering round Phuket town then an afternoon chilling out on one of the smaller beaches. I wasn't sure where to head to next. I'd reached my destination, around 170 kms or so, including all the detours and the bike trip was over... I celebrated with Som Tam and BBQ chicken (Thai style) and a few Singha's (English...) and watched the sunset.
Except that I got back to the tent and looked at my map. Phang Nga - by bike - was really tempting. The road didn't look that hard. 70 or so kms (if you counted the detour to the village of Kong Keeyan...) I spent a couple of days in Phang Nga and then headed here. Khao Sok National Park.
Today I was probably the hardest day so far. The first part, to Grapong was easy enough but the last part, a 3km climb up a mountain with no water was really tough going. It reminded me of my screwed up trip to Doi Wow in Naan a couple of months ago. But, after reaching the top the view on the way down... Limsetone cliffs shooting up out of nowhere was worth the sore knees and sweat soaked arms and T-shirt. The toughest day but by far the most exhilirating and probably the best so far. It should also be the last but this cycling things becoming really, really addictive. I love it. I just wish I'd had the guts to do this a long time ago...
After Songkran, I need to go back to Bangkok but where ??? when ??? how ??? who knows... For now I'm just gonna enjoy the peace and quiet of Khao Sok and think about that in a couple of days time. But, after the last couple of weeks, I know that putting the bike on a train or, even worse, pulling it's front wheel off and sticking it on a bus is going to be really, really hard.
|Create Date : 12 เมษายน 2551
|Last Update : 12 เมษายน 2551 22:00:28 น.
|Counter : 198 Pageviews.