(written by Dave)
First a comment about the flood delay. For any readers following Thailand news, you may know that there is quite a bit of flooding being reported. We’ve been in Thailand for more than two weeks and have seen a fair amount of rain, but have not seen any flooding. We’ve been following the news as well and actually read about flooding in places that we’ve been through already. There is a map on one of the news sites that shows flooding in our current province, but here again, we’ve not seen any. We have mapped out a route through Thailand (see below) and the next couple of days are well outside any reported flooding. Having said that, the province three days ride from here is having issues now and more flooding is expected as the upstream waters make their way down through central Thailand and more rain is expected.
So… We’ve decided to stay one more day in Hua Hin to let the situation clear up a bit. We’ve still got those 2 or 3 days of safe zone riding but this way we’ll arrive at the end of the safe area with less chance of having an issue – just hope that the rains ease up, for us and most certainly for the locals who are affected and much worse off than we are. After all, we are ensconced in Chris and Mandy’s place where life is not too bad.
So, onto the route. We are planning on heading north from here with a couple rough dots to connect that readers may recognise. Our first stop of note will be in 2-3 days at Kanchanaburi. The river Khwae runs through this town. Most readers would know this river Khwae as the River Kwai from the famous book/movie The Bridge on the River Kwai. We’ve learned that many of the details of the book and movie are historically inaccurate. In fact the bridge that tourists are routed to isn’t really from WWII. Still, the area was occupied by Japanese and the suffering that allied soldiers endured during the war building the Thai/Burma railway was real. There are a number of museums and war cemeteries in the area that we’ll try getting a look at.
From Kanchanaburi we have about a week’s ride to Chiang Mai in the north of the country. This famous city is part of the Silk Road and has a significant history related to commerce. It is also a cultural crossroads in Asia. It is closer to China, Laos and Burma than it is Bangkok. Much of it’s history comes from these cultures mixing through the centuries. Finally, this region marks the southern end of the Himalayas and is still pretty wild (i.e. you can see tigers and elephants in jungle here!).
From Chiang Mai we plan to head to northeast Thailand and another work colleague’s home. We are hoping to meet up with Forrest and work on his tree farm for a few days. Or at least spend some time in his village to see a little more first hand how locals live. Forrest is from the US but has lived in Thailand for many years.
By now, our 60 day Thai visas will be at their limit so we have to head north to Vientiane, Laos. We have heard such great things about Laos and are really looking forward to visiting this country. It is reputed to have amazing highways but no cars. Rumour has it that we will ride brand new roads for days on end with little to no traffic. And best of all Laos was once a French colony. We have heard that you can easily get baguettes and croissants in most larger towns – ah French bakeries, I can’t wait.
We plan to ride from Vientiane south to Cambodia, following the route that takes you along the Laos/Thailand border in a big sweeping arc to the right. We’ll get 30 day visas for Laos so that should give enough time to reach Cambodia without rushing. Finally, in Cambodia, we hope to basically ride cross country back to the Thailand border and onto Bangkok. In Cambodia, this should take us right through Siem Reap, the home of Angor Wat.
I won’t bore you with the list of stops along the route because I’m sure that they will change. And of course, while we have big destination points like Chiang Mai, we’ve learned throughout this trip already, the real moments happen in between the big points anyway.
Since it’s hard to post photos of where we might go, I thought I’d post a photo I took at the night market tonight. We went to the night market for dinner and had a great Thai curry and a Pad Thai. We did not have dessert but I could not pass up the chance to photograph the dessert topping cart. If you look closely at the photo below you will see the following dessert toppings:
Normal: peanuts, chopped peanuts, rock melon
Kind of weird: lychee fruit, various rice noodles, coconut flakes, red jello balls
Just plain wrong: chicken chunks, chick peas, black beans, corn
Tomorrow night, we’ll have to ask for a dessert with the works – just to see how they use all this stuff.