*Warning: excessively long post, only immediate family need feel obliged to read*
For anyone who knows us or has been following our blog, you would not be wrong to assume that we were not at all prepared for what lay ahead. For example, instead of purchasing appropriate road bikes, we opted for the cheapest bikes we could lay our hands on, which happened to be mountain bikes – not at all fit for our purposes (in fact they tethered us to the road!).
DAY 1: ‘NOT THE BEST START!’
Chiang Mai to Lampang – 106km/66 miles (Route 11)
And so it begins… 0km down, 800km to go…
We’d aimed to start at 5.30am, so rising at 7.30 we were slightly behind schedule. We were slightly put out further when first mounting our bicycles and discovering our little rucksacks were far too heavy for the front baskets that we’d bought to save weight on our backs, and we couldn’t turn the bike handles to steer. Nevermind… they’re only little…. on our backs they go! Rather than panicking at these small hindrances, we went for a calming latte in Starbucks to send us on our way! Of course this was an error, and the enormity of actually doing the bike ride, rather than just talking about it, soon sank in. Continue reading →
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in the last six months, it’s this: we hate travelling by bus. However, backpacking on a budget in SE Asia rarely leaves us with a wide variety of transport options, and three weeks of travelling through Cambodia and Vietnam saw us on four ‘sleeper’ buses, and a total of 41 very, very uncomfortable hours.
Nothing is more nerve wracking than the wait for the bus (usually a couple of hours on the edge of a road by some bins), and the same questions circle our minds every time: will we be sitting near each other? Will the air con work? Will my neighbour be a vomiter? What time will we arrive – 4am? 1pm? (Both equally possible.) Why do they demand punctuality from us when it’s so hard to achieve themselves? Will they have toilets on board, or should I go to the toilet just one more time? And lastly, why do I still have some hope that it won’t be that bad? It will be.
The most modern and popular areas of ‘new Bangkok’ are accessible by the skytrain (BTS). This floating train network is a really simple and comfortable way to travel, with long trains and some serious air conditioning! Also a great alternative to swinging off the back of a motorcycle in a haze of fumes, if you want to get somewhere quickly. It’s one of the few places in Bangkok where you won’t catch a whiff of food – strictly no eating or drinking. It’s refreshingly cool, clean and crisp (except for rush hour and the inevitable face to armpit stampede).