Apr 21 2012
So what did we learn by cycling from Bangkok to Singapore? I learned that if I can do this, then anyone can be a cyclist. You just have to keep pedalling. There isn’t another way. As Yoda says, “Do or do not… there is no try.” He’s pretty much spot-on for a fictional gnome: just do. I also learned that I love cycle touring; the freedom to slowly make your way through a landscape is amazing. Yes, yes, magical tableaux and friendly people blah blah blah. I know it sounds like travel writing whitewash, but here’s the true nugget: it feels great to look behind you and realise you’ve come more than 2000 kilometres under your own steam. That’s it. It feels like freedom and isn’t that what we travel for? Freedom to explore, to discover, to try, to be different people even for a moment.
More pragmatically, I learned that cycling in the rain sucks. Just change into your swimsuit and some sandals and ride through it. Sunglasses are not optional. Suncream should be powerfully protective and applied regularly. Helmets save lives people — put them on and get used to having terrible hair. You will become amazingly smelly cycling through the tropics.
Tiger balm and prickly heat powder are important, one for your muscles, one for your, errr, crotchal region. Pack really light; I basically only wore one pair of shorts to cycle in every day and saved one pair to wear after I showered in the evening. Wash them in your sink regularly. Take lots of pictures. Music is important — I prefer really bad top 40 that I can sing along to at a loud volume, but whatever is your jam — load up your MP3 player because it’s a long journey.
This has been one of my best travel experiences in Southeast Asia, and considering I’ve been travelling in the region for eight years, I think it will be for you, too. Go forth and pedal!
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