A day in the life of a cycle traveler in Thailand

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.

Breakfast, making omelet at a temple

Eating breakfast at a Thai temple

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.

Dead snake

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.

In the old town of Ayutthaya in Thailand

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.

Friendly woman's along the road - street food

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.

Still 68 on the go to Bangkok

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.

Nightfall getting to the centre of Bangkok to sell street food

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.

Reaching the city Bangkok from Rotterdam on my bicycle after 10 months cycling

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.

  • Jan Makker

    hoi Henk, ik snap niet hoe je in die chaos en in ‘t donker de weg naar je geboekte hostel hebt kunnen vinden. Razend knap hoor! Geniet van je vakantie!

    • Henk van Dillen

      Ik gebruik een off line applicatie op mijn telefoon. MAPS.ME maar al zeg ik het zelf, het was niet het veiligste ritje van mijn reis 🙂

      • Jan Makker

        Donker en fietsen is een linke combi, toevallig deze week bijna ‘n fietser van links onder de auto gehad. Zucht. Dat appje Maps.me, daar werkt Martijn Doolaard ook mee. Die zit nu in India, op weg naar Myanmar. Verder meen ik soms in je verhalen te proeven dat je uitkijkt naar de finish, NL, familie, vriendin, boterhammen met hagelslag. ‘n Hele goede en fijne reis verder Henk!

  • Herman Bonnie

    Top verhaal weer! Zet ‘m op nog eventjes

  • Gerrit Lodder

    prachtig verhaal Henk geniet van je paar dagen rust.

  • Bert

    Dat was weer een mooi verslag Henk, nog even … succes.