From Bangkok I make a short detour to the south to meet two friends in Chon Buri, who I had met about a year ago in Turkey. Giom from France and Felix from Spain have cycled for a Fundraising project from France to Vietnam and are now going on through Southeast Asia.
Together we look at the map and make our way to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. On low-traffic side roads we navigate us with a map and compass around the greater Bangkok area. Even the smallest roads are mostly in excellent condition and the car drivers leave enough distance or wait patiently until there is an opportunity to overtake.
How much more fun cycling is if you don´t constantly have to look in the side mirror to avoid the next oncoming bus or truck, and don´t have to be afraid to be flattened mercilessly. Potholes, dust and constant honking are things of the past. It seems that the Thais have not yet discovered the horn in their cars, but they know the turn signal and use it well.
My company also contributes to the stress-free cycling: I don´t have to take care of everything myself , the tasks are divided , and I have two persons who not only speak English well , but also share my way of thinking , they are also on the road for quite a long time. We start cycling early, when it is not so hot, make a break at noon to eat noodle or rice in different variations. The food is good and varied. After eating Felix takes his “siesta”, a short nap to recharge the batteries.
Tourists and also cyclists are not unknown in Thailand, but the recumbent bikes from Giom and Felix get a lot of attention and provoke astonished exclamations left and right of the road. So much outstretched thumbs as a sign of respect or “well done” I haven´t seen for along time.
In the evening we look for one of the many Buddhist temples to sleep. The monks are friendly and we can hang our mosquito nets under a roof. Sometimes in the half-open ceremony hall, which is used for funerals and ceremonies, sometimes also in the main temple under the watchful eyes of many golden Buddha statues. This has the disadvantage that we are awakened at four a clock in the morning from a loud bell, and shortly afterwards the monks come to the temple to perform their morning prayer. There are often only a few monks in a temple, less than ten, and the murmur of mantras is also very good to fall asleep again.
The monks in Thailand live on donations, which are collected by the monks in the morning on a begging round or which the people bring to the temple. The supplies in the temples are well filled: bags full of rice, bottled water, instant soups and instant Nescafe, which the monks like to share with us. One day we even get soap and new toothbrushes.
One morning we are invited to a breakfast. After the monks have finished eating, we ‘re on. A big pot of rice, and about fifteen different Thai dishes await us – we eat as much as we can, at the end fruits afterwards until nothing more fits in. Due to full bellies we have to delay our departure a few hours.
Trough countless rice fields we are heading north, the first mountains on the horizon arise, and the days go by quickly.
Some photos are from Felix and Giom