A day in the journey from the Netherlands to Singapore on a bicycle. In Thailand. The land of temples, forests, farmer fields, crazy traffic and delicious street food.
I start this day peacefully in a Thai temple where monks host me as a guest. And try to make my way to South East Asia’s biggest and most chaotic city, Bangkok.
8:00am: Street dogs wake me up. I slept last night in a Thai temple. The monks feed the dogs, they are everywhere here. Today it’s going to be a long day. I want to cycle the last 140 kilometers from here to Bangkok. Now that I woke up, I’m going to start the day with making an omelet on my can stove.
9:30am: Teeth brushed, omelet eaten, I pack my belongings and prepare to leave. The monks are nowhere to be seen. I want to thank them. Yesterday they brought me two bottles of water and instant noodles. I am leaving without saying goodbye. They’re probably doing their daily morning meditation.
10:00am: Nice tailwind on the road. I’m trying to keep a pace of 25 km/h in average. Actually left a bit too late for a day of 140k.
11:00am: A quick stop at a grocery store for new water bottles. It starts to be really hot out there. As I pay for the bottles the lady behind the counter says with a smile: “I love you.” I don’t know how to respond. I smile friendly to her as she is starting to laugh and look at here colleagues. I walk out the store with a smiling staff behind me. They all laugh. “Farang, farang,” it means foreigner and I hear it everywhere. I like the attention though. It makes stops like this funny and special.
11:30am: A snake along the road. Sometimes I see them sneaking away, alive and well. There is not much movement left in this one. Seems that he is not been dead for long.
12:00: What is that? On what did I almost ride my bicycle? That’s a strange creature. It looks like a big lizzard. Also hit by a car. I’m beginning to wonder where I pitch my tent in between every evening. I think I really don’t want to know. All that creepy tropical around here.
12:30m: I cycle into Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand. After two weeks, I see Westerners again. I want to make some photos in the old part of the city. It is a historic park. Entrance 50 baht. I decide to cycle in a meadow next to the historical park. For free. I’m going to have a lunch later from that 50 bath.
12:45am: A Thai boy named Min, from Bangkok, is looking curiously at my bicycle. He point to my t-shirt encouraging and make some pictures with his analog camera.
13:00am: It’s pretty touristy in downtown Ayutthaya. Probably the food and drinks are priced for this. I decide to go out of town for a lunch. I take the ferry to the other side of the river, I end up in a temple. Older ladies sell food next to the entrance. I order a papaya salad and some chicken on a stick. The lady comes to bring me an extra omelet and says that I don’t have to pay for it. Thai people are friendly.
1:45pm: A car stops 200 meters in front of me. As I approach the car starts driving slowly in front of me. I don’t trust the situation and slow down behind the car. Suddenly, the window opens and a white smartphone appears. And then a thumbs up. The girl next to the guy at the stear wheel start to make pictures of me. They’re enthusiastic.
2:30pm: I cycle on a main road. There’s a lot of traffic. Sometimes the trucks roar past me very closely. I can’t keep up on the average of 25km/h. I’ll loosen my ambition for it. But I have to keep on going fast because otherwise I’ll arrive too late in Bangkok. An average of 23.5km/h I also agree with.
3:30pm: Today it’s so hot that I can’t take it anymore. I decide to take a needed break at a road restaurant. I order a bag with ice cubes and two sports drinks. After half an hour I jump back on my bike. I’m at half of the distance which I need to cover to reach Bangkok today.
6:30pm: Night fall. I decide to eat something again. I order a noodle soup and a coke. I get the coke and wait for 10 minutes. No noodle soup. The message has not got through. I try it again, with more success. I also book a hostel right in the center of Bangkok. Today I’m going to make it, I’m almost there.
7:00pm: Back on my bicycle. Another 30 kilometers. It is now completely dark and I got my head torch on. The roads are getting busier and busier. I’m in the suburbs of Bangkok.
8:00pm: At the traffic lights I’m being watched by a cavalcade of motorcyclists. It’s funny. People just stare. All the time.
8:30pm: The traffic is chaotic. Everything goes through each other. People occasionally put their thumbs up for me. It’s nice.
9:30pm: Arrived in Bangkok! A new milestone on my way to Singapore. Now ‘only’ a small 2000 kilometers to go.
10:00pm: I arrive at the hostel. It’s chaos. Loud music. Tourism everywhere. I just have to get used to it but I get an adrenaline rush from it. This city is crazy and so incredible big. I’m going to have a few days rest here. I check in at the booked guest house with the friendly Thai hostess.
10:15pm: While I drag my bike up in the guest house, a couple of guys ask me where I come from. When I tell them that I come cycling from the Netherlands they start to ask the usual question which I get often. How many kilometers I cycle every day. Or I am not robbed on the way. I always tell them that the world is quite a nice place. And you don’t need years of training to do it. It remains for many people a kind of impossible thing. I don’t want to think so. After the small conversation I take a shower to refresh myself.
10:30pm: I buy in the busy main street a beer and a coconut to celebrate that I arrived in Bangkok. When finished them, I dive into my bed. A shared bedroom for a small price. I don’t really care either. Right now, I’m going to have a good rest here.