I have combined these days into a single posting because yesterday was a sorting out day which is only really of interest to anyone who wants to try cycle touring. So, what do you have to do when you arrive in a new country? The answer is not get a visa as that is usually done in advance or at the airport. Travellers who are in a country (where a visa is needed) without one have made a very expensive mistake (and over the years we have met plenty of folk who unwittingly fell into that category). For Brits, Thailand is visa exempt for 45 days – so that is one elephant trap we avoided.
But once we arrive, the routine is largely the same for every trip namely, first rebuild the bikes or, in our case now trikes. It always takes about 3 hours to do this. It took 3 hours for the bikes and took 3 hours for the trikes – I suspect someone more competent could do it in far less time but we don’t have Malcolm Garner with us on this trip. For those know Malcolm (and even those who do not), I recommend you store him away in your luggage for any future cycling trip. We have never quite managed to do that – so bike rebuilding takes 1.5 hours per machine.
Then, buy a sim card and phone credit. Local phone shops are now easy to find on googlemaps (℅ the guesthouse wifi) and are staffed by wonderful young people who know exactly what buttons to press to charge a 30 day sim card. They can also put my sim card into Bernie’s phone (hers is a 2-sim phone) and can probably also turn water into wine (but we did not need to ask the young woman to do that). That sorted us geriatrics out with a local phone with local internet access – an essential tool for all travellers this century.
Next we found a post office to post the bike bags to Bien in Hanoi, who has kindly agreed to hold them until we arrive. Many thanks Bien who agreed to this even though we have not even met each other! But he has met our daughter and my sister as both passed through Hanoi, so he feels like family already. Bien, we owe you as you have avoided us carrying an extra 6kgs of weight.
That is about it. Bangkok is a wonderful city but this is our third visit and so we have seen all the major sights – so decided to concentrate on logistics (as Steve Taylor would say) and push on as soon as we could. But we did wander around the river frontage and found a marvelous restaurant called “Steve’s Cafe and Cuisine” which we entered via an alleyway at back of a temple complex. Great food and a reminder as to why Thailand is somewhere you can never tire of.
Eleven hours sleep one night and then virtually none the next is a strange way to get over jet lag – but it hits us all differently. I was still in bed waiting to get to sleep when the alarm went off – having finished my book, read the news, despaired of politics in the UK and USA (don’t get me started) and done the deadly killer sudoku. Just the preparation for an 80km day.
We got up at 7, ate hearty breakfasts and then got on our way. The first 30km were through the outskirts of Bangkok. Flat, lots of traffic (even on a Saturday morning) and wide roads. I will try to upload a brief video which shows more than I could explain.
Gradually the roads were smaller, the traffic was lighter and we got glimpses of rural Thailand. We cycled to Ayutthaya along some of the same roads we had covered in 2019. So please look at that entry for a fuller description. Here are some pictures which show the landscape.
Lunch was FANTASTIC!!! We stopped at a roadside stall with tables and saw the food cooked in a wok before our eyes. As we arrived the lady “patronne” was delivering a plate of rice, vegetables and stir fried pork to a guest. We asked for two of that in our basic sign language and then washed it down with cola and fanta. Steve’s Cafe and Cuisine was good but this knocked it for six. Mind you it was pricey – we paid £2.50 between us for our lunch including drinks.
Then we had just 30km to go to get to Ayutthaya. The road was flat but the wind was steadily against us, so it was hard going. But the wind effect is not nearly as pronounced on a trike as we are so low down. We rolled into town about 4pm and Bernie collapsed.
Before I could do that, I had to tend to my gears and buy some petrol for the stove. Neither proved too difficult and the restorative effects of a hot shower proved their worth (as ever).