On November 4th Fred the bike is embarking on a six month journey across Southeast Asia. Starting in Singapore, Fred plans to make his way up the west coast of Malaysia, across Thailand, Cambodia, up through Vietnam and into Laos. After that... who knows? Fred invites you to follow him through his adventure. Any advice from fellow travelers is always welcome.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Chumphon-Ban Bang Boet

Total Distance:94.32km
Total Time:5h55m42s
Average Speed:15.9km/h
Maximum Speed:45.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:1581.18km

Yesterday I resumed my cycling experience. I regret to inform you that I have encountered yet another delay in my trip. What we all knew would inevitably happen finally did. I injured myself. Before you start to freak out and assume the worst, let me assure you it is not that bad. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me go back and describe the days events for you.
I arrived in Chumphon on the 26th. I stayed there an extra day in order to do a Visa Run. I had originally planned to do it in Ranong, but Chumpohon eliminated having to back track for a day. The Visa run was quite an experience. They take you a van to the Burma-Thai boarder where you then take a boat to an island in Burma. The island us completely desolate. The only thing there is a Casino. You sit there for an hour, at which point you get back on the boat and reenter Thailand. Simple as that. Another 15 days on your visa. It all went well and the next day I was ready to hit the road.
I woke up early in hopes of making all the way to Prachuap Khirikhan, which is a long and gruelling 180km or so from Chumphon. However, having spent the last week exerting the bare minimum in physical effort that is needed for human survival, I suspected I might tire out and be unable to make it the whole way. As a backup I could stop in Bang Saphan, about half way through the two cities. There are two roads that go from Chumphon to Prachuap. I opted to take the secondary highway as it runs along the coast and would make for a more scenically pleasing ride. I stand by my choice. The view, although nothing spectacular, was nice and I had the road almost completely to myself. The only downside was the rather harsh head-wind which slowed me down significantly. At one point I was travelling on only the smallest of inclines, unable to push myself past 10km/h. Despite the wind, it felt good to be on the road again. I was instantly reminded of why I chose to do this in the first place. It is so nice to be able to take in every inch of a country. Experience everything it has to offer. To often people travel to only the major cities and resorts in a country, never really seeing it's true culture. The ride, though tiring, was great.
After about 60km I was starting to get tired. I decided to stop for a break at the side of the road. That's when it happened. There was a slight decline getting off the road. I planted my feet ion the ground steadily guiding my bike down the hill. All of a sudden I lost my balance. I toppled over, bringing Fred down with me. With him all geared up he's quite heavy. My leg got wedged under him and one of the pedals gauged a fair sized chunk of skin from my leg. I got up and tended to my bloody leg. Everything seemed to be okay. The cut was deep, but did not render me unable to ride. It didn't seem to require immediate medical attention. A sat for a bit, drank some water, and got back on the bike. When I started riding I received a most unwelcome surprise. My knee hurt with an intensity I have only ever felt once in my life. Panic start to set in.
For those of you who don't really know me, now would be a good time to tell you I have spent the past two years recovering from a rather bad injury to my knees. I tore various ligaments in them while skiing a couple of years ago. The healing process was a long and unpleasant one. One I don't wish to repeat. So I sure you can imagine my fear when I found myself unable to pedal my bike.
Given the circumstances I think I handled it fairly well. Don't get me wrong. there was a fair amount of panic involved. However I was able to collect myself and come up with a plan. I was still pretty far from Bang Saphan. There was no way I could ride there. Worst case scenario, I could hitch. A single woman riding a bicycle through SE Asia is brave, but hitching... that's just plain dumb. I would only do it as a last resort. I saw a sign for Ban Bang Boet Beach 25 km away. Luckily a lot of the terrain was downhill. I could coast through the downhill parts, and walk my bike for the rest. So that's what I did, the whole time praying there would be some sort of resort there. It was a risk, but my best bet.
Upon arrival a sense of relief filled my body. Three resorts, all of which cost a pretty penny. Desperate times call for desperate measures though. I wasn't about to go in search of another place to stay when I couldn't ride and barely walk. The people there took pity on me and gave me a discount. 1000 baht, down from 1500. Still pricey, but what can you do. This morning I woke up early, arranged for a ride to Bang Saphan and caught a bus to Prachuap Khirikhan. Ban Bang Boet is pretty "one horse". The possibility of needing to see a doctor still exists, so I'd rather be in a city where I have access to a hospital and buses to various places if need be.
Today was my first bus ride. I didn't like it. Watching the landscape zoom by didn't do it justice. I missed my bike. I missed my method of travel. I'm in Prachuap now. My leg feels a little better. I think I'll rest here one more day. Hopefully I'll be able to ride, but if I have to I'll bus it to Bangkok. I only have 13 days to get to Cambodia, so time is of the essence.
So that's the story of my first, and hopefully, last injury. I'm optimistic that everything will heal and I'll be back on track by the day after tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ko Phangan

I know I said i would stop with the dilly-dallying. That I would get down to business and resume my life as a cyclist. However the lure of Ko Phangan was just to much to pass up. I've spent the past week on the island. Basking in the sun, meeting good people, and eating good food. Then there is the party element that went along with my stay on the island, but I'll let you use your imaginations on that one. So here it is. What I Did On My Christmas Vacation...
I had nearly lost faith in the islands of Thailand. I had heard such great things about them. The other travellers I met made them out to be these care free paradises. After visiting Ko Phi Phi and Ko Samui, I far from shared this opinion. I found them to be nothing more than a haven for those wanting to practice behaviors which are considered taboo at home. All the businesses, big and small were run by westerners. People taking advantage of this country which, over the past month, I have grown quite fond of. There was no Thai culture to be seen. They were plagued with western commercialism. Every inch reminding me of why I left home in the first place. How ever Ko Phangan restored my faith.
Don't misunderstand. It is still a very touristy island. But it seems to attract a different kind of tourist than the likes of Phi Phi and Samui. Phangan is truly "beach culture". Swinging hammocks, dreadlocks and bikinis, late night parties, and smiling faces. It was refreshing to find a place to just chill out and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. I managed to score a bungalow in one of, if not the best places on the island. Liberty Bungalows has it all. Beach Front properties that exist away from the ubber busy Had Rin Beach. A place where you can really relax. Don't even get me started on the food. It is run by the best chef in the world. You name it, she can cook it...and she can cook it good. I spent a small fortune on food Not because it was overpriced. Actually it was quite the opposite. But because everything was so good. Every morning started with a fresh, wholesome breakfast. After dinner the night would conclude with a rich delectable dessert. I could go on for hours about it. I really could, but I won't. Lets just say it was the perfect place to spend Christmas. I'm glad I took the chance on Ko Phangan.
I have now returned to the mainland. The boat ride here was brutal, as I spent a good portion of it with my head over the edge of the boat tossing my cookies overboard. Tomorrow I go to Ranong to do a quick boarder run, then it's back to business. I have 15 days to get to Cambodia. I estimate 9 or 10 will be strictly riding. I plan to stop in Bangkok for a couple of nights. Unfortunately, due to the time crunch, I have little time for other stops.
So there you have it... "What I Did On My Christmas Vacation".

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

What canI say? Thailand has made me somewhat lazy. I have been here for almost a month, and cycled very little. Now I am in Ko Phangan, enjoying tha layed back atmosphere and soaking up the sun. Hey, it's the holidays. Holidays are for rest and relaxation, which percisely what I intend to do. There's no harm in that. Well, there's not a lot to report. I just wanted to check in and let you all know I'm still alive.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ko Samui-Sarat Thani

Total Distance:99.85km
Total Time:5h19m25s
Average Speed:18.80km/h
Maximum Speed:51.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:1486.86km

It seems although now I'm just riding around in circles. After spending a four nights on Ko Samui I decided to head back to Sarat Thani and start heading for Bangkok. I don't know why, but I didn't like Ko Samui all that much. I guess it due to how over-run by tourists it was. It was easy to forget all together what country you were in. It was slightly depressing, how this beautiful piece of Thailand had been completely corrupted by the western word. Pizza places out number noodle houses ten to one. It was time for me to go.
I left my hotel on Chewang Beach early in the morning. In an attempt to avoid a couple of hills I had hit on my way there, I decided to go the other direction. Not only was it twice as long, but there was twice as many hills. At least now I can say Fred and I did a full loop around the island. I caught the car ferry back to Don Sak. While on the ferry I began to feel rather nauseous. I chalked it up to sea sickness. However, once off the boat it didn't subside. The whole 70km back to Sarat Thani my stomach burned. I seriously thought I might die. Once in Sarat Thani I checked myself into a hotel and slept for the next 24 hours. It was probably something I ate. I'm feeling much better now.
While I was laying in bed I rethought going to Bangkok. I have to be the world's most indecisive person. I decided to give the islands one more chance to impress me. Tomorrow I head for Ko Pha-nong. Hopefully it will leave me with a better impression of Thai Beach life.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Surat Thani-Don Sak (Ko Samui)

Total Distance:77.99km
Total Yime:4h11m37s
Average Speed:18.6km/h
Maximum Speed:51.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:1387.01km

After arriving late in Surat Thani I rode around aimlessly looking for a place to stay. Once again, my Lonely Planet guide failed to produce any information that was the least bit accurate. Finally I found a place to stay. It was not a bad little place. The woman who ran it was quite the animated little character. She stood no more than five feet tall and, although due to the language barrier I can't be sure, seemed rather impressed with me and Fred. She even went as far as to check my tires fore me before I left in the morning. I left a little later than usual, around 8:30am, as I didn't have that far to go. I got on my bike and rode down the 401 to Don Sak Pier, where I could board a car ferry to Ko Samui. There are passenger ferries that are closer to Surat Thani, but a car ferry is always easier with Fred.
It wasn't that far to the ferry. Just over 70km. In comparison to some of my more recent trips, it should have been an effortless ride. It should have, but wasn't. My legs burned from riding that hill in Khao Sok the day before. It was the first time since coming to SE Asia that I've really felt the effects of the previous days ride. I made it there in one piece though, which is all that matters. I boarded the ferry at 12:30 and was on my way to Ko Samui to spend some more time lying on a beach. Rough life, I know.
I don't know how long I'll stay, as it is rather expensive. There's a couple of other islands to hit up on the east coast as well. It's sort of up in the air right now. One thing is for certain, come Christmas day I'll be lying on a white sandy beach.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Takua Pa- Surat Thani

Total Distance:167.02
Total Time:9h49m15s
Average Speed:17.0km/h
Maximum Speed:55.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:1309.01km

Takua Pa was somewhat of a one horse town. Actually I would have been shocked if they had a horse. However, I did really enjoy it. It is a major hub for bus transfers to other cities, with many people who have breif stopovers in the town. There is a night market there that is probably one of the best, if not the best I have yet to encounter. They have everything and anything you could possibly want there. From food, to shoes to camping equipment. I had a great meal, or should I say meals, from the various vendors there. Although there is only the one hotel, and it was a little pricey it was a nice treat. It was clean and comfortable. Two things which are often sacrificed when looking for the best buget hotel in a city.
Initally I had planned to make my way to Cambodia. After giving it some thought, and realizing that would put me in Bangkok for Christmas I changed my mind. Bangkok seems like a depressing place to spend the holidays. I wpould much rather spend it on one of the East Coast Islands. I decided to start making my way to Ko Samui, via Surat Thani. I awoke the next day and set off early, as it was going to be a big day. I had no idea how big. It was a misty morning. It was a little cool, which was nice for a change. About forty-five minutes into the trip, as I was cycling throught the fog, I could see something approaching me. It was rather large. At first I thought it was a truck, but it wasn't quite that big and was moving far to slow. As it began to emerge from the haze, I finally realized what it was. An elephant. My heart began to pound and I started ripping through my bag, looking for my camera. I was so excited, I hadn't yet seen a wild elephant. Then the fear began to set in. Are elephants dangerous? I don't know. I've only ever seen them in zoos.
Okay, so as it got closer I realized there was indeed a guy walking behind him. It wasn't actually wild. It would have been a much better sory if it had been. It was still pretty cool though.
I continued along my way, heading toward Khao Sok National Park. I had wanted to stop there, but the park fee is expensive. Not really worth it for a one day visit. Looking back I should have taken a couple of days and stoppped. It's my first real regret of the adventure. While I didn't go through the park, I did ride along the outskirts of it. It was amazing. One of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Lush green forest, high mountain peaks, filled with all sorts of wild life. The ride up to the summit was no easy feat. It was actually pretty excruciating. Very possibly the hardest thing I've ever done. Well worth it though. I'd do it again in a heart beat. Words can't even begin to describe how beautiful it was.
The ride through Khao Sok took a good few hours. I thought it would take half as long, so I was quite set back time wise. I decided to take a nice long break afterwards. I was tired and still had a ways to go. I stopped at this little family store in the middle of nowhere. The people didn't speak English, but I could tell by the expressions on their faces that they were good, kind people. I sat for about an hour watching them play with their kids. Laughing and having fun. Running around their store, which also doubled as their home. It was amazing to see that these people who had so little were probably the richest I'd ever seen.
I reached Surat Thani around 7pm. Not to bad, but it was already dark, which made finding a hotel a chore. It was probably my hardest day so far. It was probably the best too.

Phuket-Takua Pa

Total Distance:134.32
Total Time:7h03m01s
Average Speed:19.1km/h
Maximum Speed:44.5 km/h
Total Distance So Far:1142.00km

Okay, so I spent a little longer loitering around Phuket than I had initially anticipated I would. As it turned out I really enjoyed it. I stayed in the city, at the On On Hotel. Phuket town is significantly less busy than the surrounding beaches. It isn't so swamped with beer swilling tourists. The travellers in the city tend to be the ones with a greater appreciation for actual Thai culture. Over all it was a pleasant stay. I did manage to make it out to the Phi Phi islands. It was a short lived trip. I suggest anyone heading that way take at least a few days to enjoy it, as there is an abundance of things to see and do there. That having been said, make sure you are prepared to deal with a piece of Thailand that has been completely consumed by Western culture. Aside from the breath taking beaches and scenery, one could easily forget what country they are in. None the less, it is worth the trip out there.
After spending what could be perceived as a little too much time in Puket, I was ready to hit the road again. I've been cycling for a month yet without receiving a single flat tire. To my dismay, when I pulled my bike out to leave Phuket, the rear wheel was completely flat. As if that weren't bad enough, about half way through the days trip I received yet another puncture. I completely blame "British Rob", whom I met in Phuket. Rob if you are reading this, I just want you to know you're a total wanker. I don't consider myself to be a superstitious person. However in this case I'll make an exception. The day before I left, Rob just had to ask how many flats I had gotten. When I told him none, he just had to marvel at what luck I had. WANKER! He completely jinxed me.
The trip to Tukua Pa was nice. It felt great to be back out on the road. I rode through Khao Lak, which was scenically the nicest part of the day. There was many hills in that area but, although long, they weren't very steep. I almost stayed the night there, as it was only 30km from Takua Pa. However the cheapest place I could find was 500 baht, which I was unwilling at the time to pay. The economical value of the On On had spoiled me. As it turned out, once in Takua Pa, I discovered there was only one hotel which cost 600 baht a night. I guess it serves me right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Be Advised!

To all of you whom are currently travelling in Thailand, be advised. After spending my time in Phuket, under the assumption I could re-enter and gain another 30 day visa, I awoke to discover that as of this morning the Thai Government has changed it's policy on visa re-entry. Over land travellers will now only be given a 15 day visa upon entering Thailand. If you are arriving via air however, a 30 day visa will still be granted to you. The plus side is you can now re-enter as many times as you wish, as opposed to the former 90 day maximum. This is particularly bad news for any cyclists out there planning to do Thailand by bike. My advise to you is don't dilly-dally, as I have been doing. I'm now in a position where I have to pedal my nicely tanned behind off. If need be I'll take a bus into Cambodia. Just thought you all should know.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Phang Nga-Phuket

Total Distance:104.51km
Total Time:5h09m37s
Average Speed:20.30km/h
Maximum Speed:41.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:1007.68

In light of my less than enjoyable Phang-Nga experience, I had decided to wake up early and try to leave before sun rise. Not just because I wanted to get out of Phang-Nga. I also wanted to beat the heat and make it to Phuket by late morning. To my dismay, when I went to leave my hotel, I found the doors were locked and there was nobody to let me out until about 8:30. The song "Hotel California" rushed into my head, and I started to chuckle. "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". Once the gatekeeper came and freed me from my cage, I was off. Unfortunately, I rode in the wrong direction for about 20km. Once I noticed the signs were all pointing me toward Krabi, I turned around and back-tracked. So much for an early start.
Despite the events of that morning, and of the previous night, I remained in surprisingly high spirits. It's hard to complain when you're surrounded by a beautiful, lush paradise. Plus I have nobody to complain to.
Once again the day was unforgivably hot. I have to start riding either in the early mornings or evenings. By the time I hit Phuket I was, once again, completely drained. The ride was a nice one though. I have been quite enjoying the terrain in Thailand. There are quite a few hills in comparison to Malaysia, but none that are overly steep or long. It helps keep things a little more interesting. I haven't had any run-ins with dogs in awhile (knocking on wood as I type). Perhaps the vicious beasts are contained to the southern tip of the country. Some how I doubt it though.
Given that I was pressed for time, I had initially planned to make my stay in Phuket a rather short one. However, once getting here I decided to revamp my plans a little. I've decided to head up to Ranong, where you can take a day trip into Burma, receiving another 30 days upon reentering Thailand. This way I can take my time around this area, as I am really enjoying it. Right now I am staying in Phuket city. I will spend a couple of nights here and then look into staying on one of the near by beaches. The hostel where I'm staying is very cheap. Depending on prices in the beach areas, I may continue to stay here and just ride down during the day. It isn't very far from Phuket town. I am staying at the On On Hotel, which was used in the filming of the movie "The Beach". A little cheesy, I know, but as I said the price can't be beat.
I know I am moving at a relatively slow pace. Most cyclists keep moving every day, or at least every second day. I am on vacation however. What fun would it be if I didn't stop to smell the roses?

Krabi (Ao Nang)-Phang Nga

Total Distance:106.98km
Total Time:5h31m35s
Average Speed:19.36km/h
Maximum Speep:49.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:903.17km

Upon arriving in Krabi I had wanted to go directly to the beach and skip the town all together. I drove around for hours, in the dark I might add, trying to figure out how to get there. Finally I gave up, rode back to town, and checked myself into a hostel for the evening. As it turned out I'm glad I did. Krabi is actually a not bad little town. The next morning I woke up, received some proper directions, and headed down to Ao Nang beach. Ao Nang was beautiful. Sandy beaches, clear blue water, and mountainous cliffs. It was enough to take your breath away. Like many of the beaches I've visited on my trip, it was rather touristy. I'm looking forward to finding one that is not so inhabited by tourists. I spent a few days there soaking up the sun, swimming, and doing a little kayaking. Overall, a good break. After that, Fred and I hit the road once again.
I was hoping to make it all the way to Phuket in a day. The heat of the Thai sun , however, proved to be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated. I reached Phang-Nga by the early afternoon and was completely wiped out from the heat. I opted to spend the night and go the rest of the way the next day. Probably a smart choice. Had I continued I'm sure I'd be lying dead from exhaustion and dehydration on some highway in Thailand right know.
I had heard good things about Phang-Nga. Various people had suggested I stop there if I couldn't make it the whole way. It's most commonly known for "James Bond Island", which is a nearby island where they filmed...you guessed it, on of the 007 movies. Don't ask me which one, as I don't know and don't care. Aside from this tourist attraction I found Phang-Nga had very little to offer. It has, up to this point, been my least favorite stop. There was nothing to do or see. and I found the people to be quite rude. I did see a fair amount of other travellers there, all of which were sporting glum looks on their faces. I can only assume they were having similar experiences. I decided to call this one a right off, packed it in early, and went to bed. The way I look at it is if, in the past month, this has been the only place that I've really disliked, I can't complain. You can't win 'em all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Total Distance:188.52
Total Time:10h53m11s
Average Speed:17.3km/h
Maximum Speed:50.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:796.19km

Before I begin, I keep meaning to tell you, I haven't been including any distance not travelled by bike nor the distance spent travelling around places on bike in a leisurely fashion. I feel this would "fudge" the numbers, so to speak.
Let me start by saying today was a far less successful day than those past. I still love Thailand and, just to clarify, do not hold anything that happened upon Thailand or the people who reside here. The first 75km of today's ride was non-stop rain. We're not talking a little mist either. It was a full on down pore. That alone wasn't actually that bad. It was sort of a nice break from the blistering heat. It was rather rainy though, which is my least favorite of conditions to ride in. It makes it like you are constantly going uphill. I was, once again chased by many dogs today. I think I'm going to invest in a water pistol and fill it with bleach or something to spray in their eyes. I know it sounds cruel, but some of them are honestly going in for the kill. The worst thing that happened today, and I do feel really bad about it despite my recently acquired distaste for the Canine kind, I ran over a dog. If all dogs go to heaven, I'm surely going to hell. He was just a little guy too. I didn't kill him, at least I don't think I did. He did get up and stagger off yelping after. I was trying to read a road sign, which can be difficult as the majority of them are in Thai, and I didn't even see him there. The last bad thing that happened was that I got lost. Perhaps it was my punishment for running down Benji. The ride from Trang to Krabi should really have only been about 139km. I didn't actually want to stay in the town, but in one of the places down by the beach. I searched high and low and could find no such places. I know they exist. I have a friend staying in one as we speak. I guess I'm just dense. It added at least an extra 2 hours to today's ride. Eventually I gave up and stayed in town, which turned out to be pretty cool. At least now I know I can do a 190km day.
Last night I stayed in Trang, where my problems with the language barrier continued. It was a pretty boring place. Sometimes the worst part of a bike tour can be where you end up stopping. Everyone there goes to bed at 8pm. Not very fun when you don't arrive until mid-afternoon. Krabi is much better. There's more tourists who come here, so it's a little easier finding people who speak English. I'm going to try to learn some Thai while I here. At least the basics, like how to order food and ask where a hotel is.
I think I will be here a couple of days. I can't linger too long though, as you only receive a 30 day visa upon entering Thailand. I'm going to do Thailand in two shots. One now (the South) and one after leaving Laos (the North). Still it's a long way to the Cambodian border, so I can't dilly-dally.


Total Distance:141.12km
Total Time:7h54m44s
Average Speed:17.8km/h
Maximum Speed:44.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:607.67km

So, I finally made it to Thailand. I arrived in Satun via ferry. Unfortunately, I allowed my laziness to get the best of me and didn't quite make the morning boat. I got to Satun at about 2:00pm, which was too late to start cycling. So, I had no option but to spend the night there. Finding a place to stay in Satun was no easy feat. I did find a place, but unfortunately had to share it with various creepy-crawlies. I spen tthe night enjoying the company of an entire nest of wasps just above the door inside my room. I suppose it could have been worse... I don't know how exactly. I woke early the next morning and was off like a dress on a prom date.
Riding through Southern Thailand was AMAZING! I was impressed by Malaysia. I think mainly because it was something I had never seen before. Malaysia is nothing compared to this. (Sorry Malaysia, I still love you) Imagine riding through a land with towering mountains, fillrd with hidden caves, waterfalls, and beaches. Bamboo huts line the roads. Everything looks beautiful and pristine. This is where I am now. The roads in Thailand, so far, are just as good as Malaysia. The terrain is a little more challenging. That is to say, there are actually hiss that exist here. It's not too challenging though, just enough to keep it interesting. The people are so nice. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, shouts hello to me on the road. I think you get the point. I really like Thailand so far.
I do however have a couple of complaints. The first, and most important particularly to any of you other cyclists put there, is the obscene amount of dogs here. Some are wild, some domestic, I'm positive a few have been rabid. One thing is for sure, they all love to chase down cyclists. They're fast little buggers too. I experienced a couple of problems with dogs in Malaysia, but nothing like this. It's actually pretty terrifying. The second complaint I have, to no fault of the Thai people of course, is the language barrier. I can't even order a meal in a restaurant. I've taken to just sitting there looking idiotic until they bring me something. It's actually worked out. I've had some of the best food since being here. Still, it's hard not being able to communicate in the least. I guess I have to work on my Thai.
So that was my first impression of Thailand, and it was a great one!

The Islands

After all that biking I decided it was time for a rest. A well deserved rest, I might add. I started off by spending a couple of days in Georgetown, on Penang. A very cool city, filled with travellers from around the glob. Most of whom had been travelling for quite some time, with little or no intention of returning to their place of origin any time soon. I met all sorts of folks hanging around that island. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I have to say, my favorite part of Penang was definitely the architecture. European inspired buildings line the streets of this Malaysian Island. It was a great place to wonder around, just checking things out.
After a few days in Penang Fred and I headed to Lankawi via ferry. Lankawi was completely different from Penang. Filled with tourists and geared totally toward them, I must say that sort of thing is not really my cup of tea. Still it was a great place to lay around the beach. I should also mention, as a duty free zone, beer is insanely cheap in Lankawi. We're talking 30 cents Canadian a beer. However everything else is over-priced. I did how ever meet a couple of interesting people. Among them, Les, who is training for the Iron Man Competition. Les, if you're reading this, good luck to you!
I did manage to squeeze a little biking into my time on Lankawi. A great place to bike. My cycling computer broke, and I happened to find a pretty cool little bike shop where I could replace it. I've had good luck with these things so far.
So that was my holiday from my holiday. After a couple of days soaking up the sun in Lankawi, I was off to Satun to resume a cyclists life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Total distance:92.42km
Total time:4h40m19s
Average Speed:19.78km/h
Maximum Speed:48.48km/h
Total Distance So Far:456.55km

My stay in Taiping was rather uneventful. Excluding, of course, my experience with the AJ Special. I awoke early in order to get a head start. I left Taiping just before 8:00am. I searched for somewhere to have something, anything, for breakfast that wasn't rice, but to no avail. Finally I decided just to eat some of the fruit I had received as a gift the day before along with some peanuts I had in my bag. With a full tank, I was ready to hit the road.
The ride to Penang, again, was rather flawless. There was a fair amount of construction on the roads, which slowed things down a bit. The day was hot. The hottest so far. I tried to keep well hydrated and stopped for plenty of breaks, but there was really no escaping the blistering Malaysian sun. By the time I got to the Ferry Teriminal to Penang I was going a little mad from the heat.
I got off the ferry and found a hostel almost instantly. Accomodations here are very cheap, and the rooms are clean. It's a nice change from a few of the places I've stayed on the road. There are a lot of other travellers here. Most of whom are somewhat long term. It was nice to finally be in a place where there were people ready, willing , and able to engage in conversation. It's always interesting to here other people's experiences. Other than my second day of cycling, I have yet to meet other cyclists. I am told, however, that there are plenty in Thailand and Vietnam. I look forward to running into them.
Penang is a beautiful sight. I think I will stay for at least a couple of days and absorb some of the laid back beach life attitude. After that I will haed to Thailand. I have no definitive route yet, but let you know when I figure it out.


Total Distance:90.94km
Total Time:4h43m03s
Average speed:19.23km/h
Maximum Speed:42.68km/h
Total Distance So Far:364.13km

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days. Access to computers has been few and far between. After a couple of well deserved days rest in Pankor, I hit the road again and headed up to Taiping. Pankor was lovely. Beautiful white sandy beaches, tons of good food. It was quite touristy, which I didn't mind as it had been a while since I'd had anyone to speak to. The unfortunate part was most of the tourists pretty much stuck to themselves. That's okay, like I said it gave me a oppertunity for a much needed rest. I took Fred out on a ride around the island. It was very hilly, which was a nice change of pace. The ride from Pankor to Taiping was relatively flawless. The weather was rather hot. It wasn't unbearable though. The terrain still remained flat. There was a couple of hills near Taiping. I don't know that I would even qualify them as hills. More like slight bumps in the road.
It was a relatively boring ride. I'm afraid I don't have much to report. I stopped for a juice at a little village. There was an older man who took quite a shine to me. He asked me questions about my trip and how I liked Malaysia so far. I told him I liked it very much. before a left he loaded me up with free fruit. For whatever reason the locals have taken to feeding me. I don't mind. Free food is the best kind.
Taiping was far from exciting. I went to an Indian place for dinner. On the menu they had something called the "AJ Special". When I asked what it was I was told it was special naan. "You should have chicken with it", the waiter said. I agreed. When the food came out I was unpleasantly surprised. The "AJ Special" consisted of a peice of naan topped with icing, bananas, strawberry syrup, and multi-colored sprinkles. It realy was not very good, and not at all what I expected. It didn't exactly compliment the chicken either. I ate it anyway. I was very hungry.
So I guess the advice I can give you from this part of my trip is, if your ever in Taiping at an Indian restaurant, DON'T ORDER THE AJ SPECIAL!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tulok Intan-Pankor

Total Distance:80.86km
Total Time:4h40m05s
Average Speed:17.32km/h
Max Speed:29.53km/h
Totoal Distance So Far:273.19km
Today could either be described as good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I thought it ended up pretty good, but I'll let you judge for yourself. I left Tulok Intan around 8am this morning. It was a little later than usual, but I figured I didn't have as far to go. Everything was running smooth. It was a nice day outside, I was going a little faster than I normally go, and I was in a really good mood. I transfered from HWY5 to HWY58, where the traffic wasn't as bad and the landscape was slightly different. I saw my first rice feild, which was pretty cool. About 30km into todays ride it started to rain. Then it started to pour. About 40km into the ride the rain started to let up. Just as it was ending I heard a thud. Then I felt a thud, and another. It seems somewhere along the line one of the pin wheels fell off my rear dereullier. I sat there contimplating what to do. My bike was still drivable, but only in one gear(low gear) and only between 17-20km/h (depending if I was on an incline or decline) I decided to stop at a near by fruit stand for a cold drink and some fruit. As I was sitting the sipping my coconut juice, the people at the stand started bringing me different things to try. All of which was delicious. They sat and chatted with me, asking me questions about Canada and my trip. When I went to pay them they shook there heads. "No Pay. For you, free".
After that I hopped back on my clunky bike and slwly moved down the road. Two men were working on a car outside of their house. I pulled in on my bike and asked if they could help. They tried to fix Fred with some parts from an old bicycle they had. Again I asked how much. Again there was no charge. The quick fix was actually worse than the missing part. Now I coulg only move at 14km/h. I continued like this for maybe another 10km before I decided to just remove the part. By this time it was blistering hot outside.
I finally got to Pankor at about 4:30. Upon arriving at the Island a man walked up to me just to let me know there was a bike shop in town, just in case I needed anything. What luck! I took fred down and got him patched up. The bike mechanic was a very nice man. He actually had some good stuff too.
So, that was my day. Like I said, I thought it turned out to be pretty good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kuala Selangor-Tulok Intan

Total Distance:101.94km
Total Time:5h07m22s
Average Speed:19.90km/h
Maximum Speed:39.46km/h
Total Distance So Far:192.33km

Hello All. Today we rode from Kuala Selangor to Tulok Intan. Kuala Selangor is anything but a hip happening town. It is remarkably beautiful though. I woke up early this morning, wanting to get a head start just in case it rained. As I was loading up my bike who should I see coming down the stairs but two fellow cyclists. We had spent the night in the same flea-bag hotel. I wish I would have known the night before. That way we could have shared info about our journey's. That is to say they could have given me info, as my journey up to that point had consisted of one day. They were going in the other direction, which was a shame as todays trip was a little boring and I could have used the company. None the less, it was nice to know there are other people just as crazy as me.
Todays trip was slightly boring. I think the novelty Malaysia had worn off a little. Don't get me wrong, it was still a sight. However after a couple hundred kilometers of the same thing, it tends to loose its affect. When people tell you west coat Penninsular Malaysia is flat they really mean it. Today I encountered one hill, which was only about ten meters long and not the least bit steep. It didn't make for the most challenging ride. On the other hand, it's a nice way to ease myself into the trip. There wasn't a drop of rain today. Nor was it too hot. It was actually pretty perfect. There was some cloud cover and a nice breeze. It made for good riding.
Towards the end of todays trip I ran into yet another cyclist. Also headed in the opposite direction. He was one hard core dude. He cycled all the way from Germany (with the exception of China, as he couldn't get a Visa) We sat and shared in some Lychee Fruit. Later an Icecream Man showed up and gave us a couple of free Cones. It was nice to see that there are people even crazier than me.
I ended today in Tulok Intan, where I'm paying an arm and a leg for accomodations. I asked the people at the Hotel if they were the only one in town and they said yes. Naturally, as soon as I walked outside I saw two more. I guess it serves me right for not shopping around, but I could use a sleep in a nice place anyway.
That's all for now folks. Talk to you soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

KL to KS

TOTAL TIME:5h12m05s

I left Kuala Lumpur this morning at 6:30am and headed towards the west coast. Leaving KL proved to be less of a challenge than I had thought it would be. I did, however, get lost...twice. The first time is KL, the second directly after leaving KL. Unfortunately the second time landed me back at my hostel, which is where I started. For those of you who know me, this shouldn't come as much of a shock. I did get lost one other time, transfering onto HWY 54, headed toward the coast. However it was only a minor set back. The first half of todays trip was great. Not to hot, not to cold. Riding through the Malaysian jungle was like nothing I have ever experienced, nor ever will again. It was truely inspiring. The Malaysian people are great. Curtios to a slow moving cyclist. Frequently I would recieve a honk followed by a thumbs up or a friendly wave. It made the ride just that much more enjoyable. After a couple of hours it started to lightly rain, which was actually quite refreshing. Into the third hour it started to pour. At first I didn't mind. It was sort of fun zooming through the big puddles of warm water. Into the fourth hour, it started to get to me. I decided to stop in Kuala Salengor. It was disappointing. I would have liked to go further, and was feeling up to it. I did do almost 100km today though, which is nothing to scoff at.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finally In Asia

After problems getting out of America, a 20 hour lay-over in Korea and many sleepless nights we are finally in SE Asia. We arrived in Singapore on Tuesday. The city is great. Lots to see and do. The people are nice and the food is great. What more could one ask for? We leave Thursday for Kuala Lumpar, where the actual bike trip will begin. Then up the West coast and into Thailand. Hopefully there will be no more problems, but I'm sure that's wishful thinking.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Minor Delay

Upon checking in for our flight to Korea at the Seattle airport Fred and I were refused entry onto the plane. Apparently in order to enter certain Asian countries you require proof that you are leaving, meaning you need a ticket out. Let this be a lesson to any of you planning to travel Asia with a one way ticket. IT'S NOT POSSIBLE! It's been worked out, and we will be leaving Seattle this Saturday. Cross your fingures and hope for the best.