One day, at nightfall, I’m still on my bicycle. I am in Thailand. It is 5:00pm and the sun put his latest smile on this piece of earth. Where am I going to sleep? Every day it’s a challenge to find a good spot. Shall I keep on cycling or dive here into the fields? I am lucky because here in Thailand the people are very friendly. Especially in this villages. I decide to go to one of the Buddhist temples and cycle inside the place. A monk sit on a chair and stares in front of him. I approach him and greet kindly with: “Sa wat dee, ghap.” I start with some hand gestures to explain that I want to sleep here. The monk look at me surprised and it seems that he don’t understand anything of what I’m trying to make clear. It is getting a little bit dark already. The monk start to stare again, ignoring me. I don’t understand, he doesn’t understand. I decide to keep on cycling for another place.
If I could only speak his language.
Vientiane in Laos, on the day that I could get my Thai visa, I immediately decided to leave the city. Even though I met a special person, I still felt not quite comfortable and had to move. The previous day was my birthday, which all in all, turned out to be quite nice. During the day I visited the famous Buddha Park. On a scooter for only 7 euros to rent. In the evening I sat with five other nationalities and blew out candles on a birthday cake.
I never had experienced a birthday like this.
The next day I cycled across the border from Laos into Thailand. And yes, here I came to the first point of my entire trip where I had to change lane. In Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore the traffic is driving on the left side. And I cycled already for 10 months on the right side of the road. I needed to learn watching over my right shoulder instead of my left shoulder.
Immediately when I crossed the border I remembered something. Didn’t I receive an invitation from someone here in northern Thailand? I decided to quickly look for a restaurant. For some WiFi to check it. Internet works outstanding here in Thailand. And yes, it was Bram Verloop, a Dutchman, who had found me online through an interview for a local Rotterdam radio and invited me through my website. “Henk, I see you come near Udon Thani, where I live, and you’re very welcome here.” I sent him an email back that I would arrive in the city today.
By nightfall I arrived at Bram’s house. I liked him immediately. Everything was going on a relax phase here: “You know Henk, I have a room for you, you can stay here as long as you want.” I decided to use this days to just come back to myself, to feel good again. Actually, I felt better immediately, this was the right meeting with the right person. Something that I’ve missed for a while. Good humor, just enjoy life. And yes, tropical Thailand is a good place for that.
The days flew by. Ad, a friend of Bram, came every day to visit to celebrate that Bram had a guest. A guest who cycled from the Netherlands to here. It was fun and felt like appreciation. I then found it hard to leave again. But I felt good, charged with fresh energy, and ready for the next 600 kilometers to Bangkok.
So this is how I was introduced to the ‘relaxed’ part of my journey. Relax because the temperatures are better. The lunches noodle soup on the road cost me less than a euro. There is a nice tailwind blowing me all the way to Bangkok. I purchased a ‘bike for dad’ shirt and that was a good idea. A lot of people are enthusiastic about it and put their thumbs up for me.
‘Bike for dad‘ stands for father’s day, but with the king as a symbol as the father of Thailand. The Thai people have great respect for their king, and I try in this way to interfere in their culture.
In the twilight I find between farmers’ fields a spot for the night. It is always exciting when I walk through the Thai meadows. I look focused around me for snakes and spiders. If I step on one, that probably will happen only once.
The next day I try to make another attempt at another temple. This time I ask a Thai person I met in Udon Thani, to explain my story over the phone to the monk. It works. He takes me to the shower in the temple where I can refresh myself. Let me see where I can pitch my tent next to a large Buddha statue.
He start to bring me bags with Nescafé coffee. The kettle does not work, at least every time the power goes off. I grab my little pan and stove and start to boil water. That’s how we sit together this night next to Buddha. We can not talk to each other but it seems that we understand each other.
It feels good. I currently not want to be anywhere else than here, in Thailand, with this monk, at this temple.