Thailand Redux

The first few days back on the Thai side of the river were a blistering 39 degrees. We were glad to have made the switch and endure the heat on the smooth roads of Thailand, with lots of places to stop and reliably cold drinks at regular intervals. The cycling was initially along mostly quiet roads sometimes hugging the Mekong.

After our second day of riding, the place we stayed at did not have cold water, which is the opposite of what we’d expect and not very welcome given the weather. I tried to rinse my hair using the bum gun, but that was also hot.

This part of Thailand is pleasant but unspectacular. We have a bit of a tailwind for the first time ever, so we’re able to do long distances despite the heat. The towns are pretty nice as well; not too big so they’re easy to explore, and we’ve been treated to lots of night markets and stalls in the places we’ve stayed. I had my first sweet roti from a food cart along the way, who knows why I hadn’t tried one before. The couple waiting before me had ordered a massive amount of them, which was great because it was fascinating to watch the skill of the guy making them – they are thrown and spun around a bit like pizza dough, before being fried (YES!) filled with extra egg, and topped with sweetened condensed milk and (as if that’s not sweet enough) icing sugar. Any food that involves condensed milk is always welcome in my life.

The civilised cycling was only really interrupted one afternoon when we were passed by a horror lorry which was oozing either slurry or dead chicken juice, and this was splashing back up from the road and being sprayed in a fine mist from the side of the load. When the second one screeched by it was only just bearable because we knew there was a coin laundry at our next stop and we had planned to go there anyway. Still, I was unhappy and braced every time I heard a large vehicle approaching.

There are a large number of Japanese restaurants and cafes in Thailand, which isn’t something Richard would usually go for, but because of the trauma of the day I was able to cajole him into one. It was a cafe that almost exclusively sold gyoza. Brits get a lot of flak for taking the perfectly good cuisine of another country and changing it to suit their taste; chicken tikka masala being the most obvious example. This happens the world over though, from currywurst to katsu curry. In Thailand, gyoza is available with various toppings and one of these is usually cheese. On the face of it this seems very wrong, but like putting curry in a pie it is also so very right.

The following day the weather had cooled a bit, but so had the tailwind. We rode through Ta Phraya national park, and while the nature was lovely the highlight was a statue of King Kong, glorious in its ridiculousness. We also got handed a big bit of descent, which was a welcome bonus, because it hadn’t felt like we’ve been climbing recently.

We stayed at a place off the beaten track which promised cabins and coffee, but didn’t have coffee. I guess that was the least important part though, because it had beautiful rural views and a comfortable night’s sleep. As we were leaving the owner came out for a chat about where we were heading, and told us that a Canadian had recently been crushed by a lorry when out cycling nearby. She emphasised the crushing part by slamming her hands together. So that was an upbeat start to our last full day of cycling before we cross into Cambodia.

The road on the last day of Thailand Part II wasn’t in great shape, but it was quiet enough that we could weave round the potholes without getting crushed by a lorry. The rice paddies along this stretch were really stunning, and an almost impossible shade of green usually only seen in energy drinks.  

We had cut getting our e visas for Cambodia very fine, but they arrived just in time to get them printed out before we headed off the following day to cross the border. As usual, reports of this border warn of bribes and shady shenanigans, and as usual it was nothing remotely like that. There were helpful staff, some simple forms, a short queue and with that we have been unleashed into the chaos of Cambodia.


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I want to see the world

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