Mar 25 2012
And we’re off! Gaby and I took this first of many, many pedal strokes on Monday morning, bright and early. Ok, actually, not as bright and early as we should have, but we did make it out of the house by 8:30 and felt like that was a win. We cycled south across the bridge into Thonburi and picked up our bicycle-mad friend Dale who was going to accompany us for the first two or three days before returning to Bangkok by train (this in reverse). At around 11:00 (we stopped for some coffee, and then for some snacks — we’re really dedicated to eating) we were headed south through first the outer suburbs, and then the industrial ring, and finally, into semi-countryside.
The first day’s cycling was, honestly, a bit of a challenge. The best route out of Bangkok towards the south is a minor expressway, but it’s an expressway nonetheless, and we were pedalling alongside transport lorries that whooshed past on their way to warehouses in outer, outer Bangkok.
Things improved a bit after Maha Chai as traffic thinned, and finally we were able to turn off onto a tertiary road towards Samut Songkhram. Countryside Thailand is really quite spectacular — rice fields, water buffalo and school kids playing in quiet villages. Ask me in a week if I care about any of those things and I’ll probably punch you, but it’s been lovely so far.
We spent the night in Samut Songkram at Thailand’s Crappiest Hotel, the Alongkorn Hotel (title pending until we complete the Thailand section of this journey) — the front desk guy was showing the room and using the fact that there was a flush toilet as a selling point. SOLD. We were so tired we would have slept in the hall way. We gorged on noodles and fried rice at the night market and then had ice cream and beer to finish the evening off. I was asleep by 9:45pm, aching bones wailing against the roar of the fan. Status: 91km/2000km completed.
The second day we tried our first 100 kilometre day. Results? Success, but a qualified one. I thought I was going to die at one point, but we did ride through some beautiful salt flats (they are beautiful, in an odd way as they stretch off, rectangular and silent, towards the sea on one side or the horizon on the other. As we got closer to Hua Hin, the beaches got nicer. The last 20 kilometres was on the expressway into Hua Hin — a veritable catalogue of bad development, muffler shops and motorcycles driving the wrong way in the southbound verge — and I wanted someone to shoot me in the face to make it stop. But then we got there and had a coffee and went for beers and food and everything was amazing again. In bed at 10:15, I slept like a dead stick. Status: 222km/2000km completed.
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