Firstly I think it’s been clear for our previous posts and updates that we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Thailand. It’s the second time we have visited this beautiful country, last time we headed south from Bangkok and visited Koh Tao. The short time we had on that trip we loved. So I wasn’t sure if it would live up to our previous impression, but I had nothing to worry about.
Where to start with all the things we’ve enjoyed? Thailand as a whole has so much to offer for tourists, bike touring and everyone else in between. Beautiful beaches, amazing hills and mountains, cool cities, interesting history and culture, delicious food, and incredibly kind people. Hence why so many people visit every year. With tourism it of course brings the bad with the good, drink, drugs and sex tourism. The closest we came to any of that was cycling through Pattaya one morning on our way towards Bangkok. It was a grim scene.
But going back to the good. The roads have been amazing to cycle on. We haven’t come across any bad roads at all and have managed to escape with two punctures during our month here, both on my bike. The scenery has been interesting and varied, and the terrain has mostly been fairly easy, other than our 2 days in the hills between Petchabun and Loei, but that was good training for Laos. We were surprised to see so much cycling infrastructure and promotional boards saying, ‘Bike for Dad’ (Dad being the King of Thailand). I felt safe on the roads and all vehicles moved out to give us plenty of room whilst we were cycling. I had been slightly concerned about how it would be but I had nothing to fear. Other than the number of dogs who enjoyed chasing us, but as Andy said they were harmless just gave us a shock every now and then when you’re in your own little world cycling along.
Thai people are extremely special (and no, for once, I’m not being sarcastic). Everywhere we’ve been people have smiled, waved, given us a thumbs up, with no need to be so kind to the foreigners cycling through their small town or village for a fleeting moment. To me a smile means a lot. They are genuine. People seem happy and content with the life they have been given. I think that is an amazing way to be and I admire them for this quality. Whether it is down to their religious beliefs I’m not sure but the only other place I have visited and came away feeling the same towards the people was Bali. Another area where Buddhism is an important part of the culture. Either way it has felt exceptional to be here and be treated in this way. There is a lot more to say about the wonderful people of Thailand but I will leave it there.
To both Andy and I food is always an important part of travelling, and we were very excited to be spending a whole month here eating Thai food. It has not disappointed us. There has only been one meal I have not enjoyed during our trip, otherwise it has lived up to all our expectations. We have eaten out for every meal (other than breakfasts). Whether it has been an 80 pence bowl of noodles or a 3 pound seafood Tom Yum soup, the balance of flavours is always delicious and spot on. Generally it is very cheap to eat out, of course that always depends on what your budget is.
Not only is the nature beautiful in Thailand but the temples and traditional buildings are as well. Every 5km or so there is another temple, shining bright in the sunlight. They are called Wats and Andy (with his great sense of humour) kept on saying, “Wat?” and I would say, “I didn’t say anything!” so he’d say, “No a Wat!”. This went on for some time, that’s how cool the conversation gets after so much time being together. Mostly I love him though!
Moving on to the highlight of our time in Thailand. It’s a hard one to choose, but we just love being by the sea and so our time cycling along from the Cambodian border to Bangkok was brilliant. Easy, chilled, being able to swim after cycling, camping on the beach, a quiet stretch etc etc amazing. Then again cycling along the Mekong River was an unexpected highlight. We had so much time sitting by the water with a beer watching sunsets, eating good food and people watching, it was a lot of fun.
The lowlight of our time is not especially a negative but if I have to say something, it’s been the heat. Some days it has been over 40 C. To counter balance the negative it has meant we’ve been up earlier and then we’re usually done by 11-12pm leaving us the whole afternoon and evening to explore the area or just relax in our room, which is something we haven’t done before on our tour.
I remember coming into Bangkok for the first time 5 years ago and with it being one of my first visits to an Asian country (that wasn’t as developed as Japan or Hong Kong) thinking it was so different to home and my norm, wow how my world has changed since then and so have my opinions. Thailand is such a convenient country to travel through, helped along with the icy cold 7-11s for breaks along the way to hide away from the heat. The roads were brilliant, the food was amazing and the people beautiful inside and out. A trip to Thailand doesn’t have to be to party on a beach all night (unless that’s what you’re into) the country has so much to offer and I hope we will back here in the future.
Total number of nights in Thailand – 30
Where we slept – Hotels – 25
Camping – 3
Train – 2
Total distance – 1,328 km