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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kampot-Phnom Penh

Total Distance:150.64km
Total Time:8h14m22s
Average Speed:18.3km/h
Maximum Speed:28.8km/h
Total Distance So Far:3144.18km

Welcome back to Phnom Penh! The ride back to the nation's capital was... very similar to the ride away from it. I stopped for a great lunch at a little restaurant in a small town about half way. I had fried rice which, surprisingly was one of the best I'd ever had (my Oma's excluded, of course). It may have been that I don't think I've had fried rice since leaving Malaysia. Malaysia definitely put me into fried rice overload. In any event, it was great. The Khmer sure do know how to cook. The rest of the ride was a little more difficult. The head winds became stronger as the hills started to level off, and the closer I got to Phnom Penh the worse the roads got.
So, here I am. Once again in Phnom Penh. I just watched the biggest rat I've ever seen walk across the common area of the guesthouse. At least I won't be sleeping alone! Tomorrow I'm headed off to a different place, so I should have more to tell you.

Sihanouk Ville-Kampot

Total Distance:102.90km
Total Time:5h09m54s
Average Speed:20.0km/h
Maximum Speed:55.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:2993.54km

Sihanouk Ville is a mellow layed back beach town. Which is exactly what I needed after spending a couple of weeks biking around the dusty, dry roads of Northern Cambodia. I spent my time basically doing nothing. It was a few days of nothing but relaxation. However after a few days I started to become restless and, as all good things must come to an end, so did my trip to Sihanouk Ville. It was time to take Fred back out and give him some exercise. Unfortunately, my route to Sihanouk Ville was not all that well thought out. In order to get anywhere I would have to significantly backtrack. I had about eleven days left before my Vietnam Visa was in affect. I figured the best way to kill eleven days would be to go to Battambang, which is the only major city I missed.
So, that's what I'm doing now. I have to backtrack about 250km. Then it's another 250km to Battambang. The worst part is, in order to cross the boarder into Vietnam, I have to backtrack again. I can either cross near Phnom Penh or Kampot. That's a whole lot of biking. As I said I should have thought it through better. At least it's a good way to pass the time though. Plus I'll be in excellent shape for the hills of Vietnam and Laos.
You would think it would be the same direction both ways. For some reason it was 5km longer going back to Kampot. Crazy! Once again it was a great ride. There was a slight head wind, but the hills and the trees seemed to block most of it, making it a little more forgiving. Once again, upon arriving in Kampot, almost everything was full, and it took a good hour and a half to find a room. Kampot isn't the most exciting city in the world, but I will give it one thing. It's a great place to watch the sun set.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kampot-Sihanouk Ville

Total Distance:97.09km
Total Time:4h40m38s
Average Speed:20.7km/h
Maximum Speed:51.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:2890.64km

I had intended to stay in Kampot for a day and check out the few sights that are there. However after assessing the amount of time I have left in Cambodia, which is a lot, I decided I would come back in a few days when I need a brake from beach life in Sihanouk. I didn't actually make this decision until 7:00 this morning. By the time I left it was about 8:30, making for a later start than I'm used to. It isn't a far ride though, so I didn't mind so much.
The ride from Kampot to Sihanouk Ville was, hands down, the best I've had in Cambodia. The road was beautifully paved. Traffic was tame up until right before hitting Sihanouk. Most importantly, there were actual hills. Not huge ones, but after riding the flat lands for days it was a great change. Given my late start there wasn't a lot of stopping today, but I did make time for a couple of quick brakes.
Sihanouk Ville is even busier than Kampot. I guess I should have taken into account that it's Chinese New year. I experienced the same thing on New Years Eve in Thailand. It took me hours to find a place. I'm not very content with where I am. Tomorrow morning I'll look for something better. I've got a line on a couple of good places. I went for dinner tonight at a great little family run Indian place. The boys who were working there were so cute. They were watching American movies to try and brush up on their English. Periodically they would jot something down from the film. A few minutes later they would come to my table and use the newly learned phrase. It was pretty good entertainment.
The North was great, but it's nice to be back on the back. It's not comparable to Thailand, but it will certainly do. So, for the next few days it's time to kick back and relax.

Phnom Penh-Kampot

Total Distance:149ish
Total Time:6h20m14s
Average Speed:22.89km/h
Maximum Speed:?
Total Distance So Far:2793.53km

If you are wondering about the lack of specs, my cycling computer wasn't working. Not to fear. It's all better now, so from now on my reports should be more accurate. Phnom Penh was... another big city in a trip full of big cities. Honestly, I was a little tired of sight seeing. I think Ankor Wat puts you into tourist over load. I checked out a couple of sights. Most of which were related to the Khmer Rogue. It was sad and depressing. As I'm sure you would imagine. The rest of my time was spent mostly just bumming around, eating curry, and drinking banana shakes. My life is hard, I know! None the less, I did enjoy Phnom Penh. I even managed to convert a backpacker into a cyclist. He was so impressed by the cyclists in our guesthouse, he decided to buy himself a bike and follow suit. Cambodia, however, is not the best place to purchase a bike. After seeing what he ended up with I predict he may have some problems.
The ride to Kampot was great. I was feeling slightly on the lazy side, so there was a lot of stopping involved. The locals here are awesome. They always want to chat, even if they can't speak English. I stopped for a drink at one shop. The ladies there took a special shine to me. They were pretty enthralled by my piercings and tattoos, especially once I showed them my tongue ring. I've never seen people laugh with such hysteria. A lot of cyclists have the go-go-go attitude. Constantly trying to improve of time or stamina. Sometimes you have to stop to smell the roses. I'm not in a rush. This isn't a race. What's the point of cycling a country if you're not going to enjoy the actual country?
Kampot was extremely busy. Almost everything was booked. I did eventually find a room, but it wasn't cheap. It did have hot water, which was a nice treat. The city itself is sort of lacking in excitement. It's riverside location does make for a great place to watch the sun set.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kampong Thom-Phnom Penh

Total Distance:158.78
Total Time:7h24m12s
Average Speed:21.4km/h
Maximum Sped:30.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:2648.53km

Hurray for Phnom Penh and it's geographical location which lays to the south. Finally, a day with the wind not directly in my face. It's so nice to resume a regular pace. Have I mentioned how much I hate the wind? I hate the wind. Except, of course when it's at my back. It may not have been directly at my back, but beggars can't be choosy.
While I have thoroughly enjoyed the persona of the lone cyclist, I embraced the chance at cycling with some company for the day. Antony and i left for our 160km excursion early in the morning. this was my first time cycling with a companion and, overall, it was quite enjoyable. Antony, being a former competitive race, kept me on my toes. Or, rather, the balls of my feet. I maintained a pace with him, without too much effort, for the first 110km. However, after lunch I lost him. I guess he was just a little too fast for me. The ride today was nice. the newly paved roads are beautiful. Although the scenery stills leaves something to be desired and the landscape remains flat as a ten year old boy. Today was not without it's problems though. I had a head on collision with a moped, my front rack fell off not once, not twice, but three times, and i broke a spoke. Before you all start freaking out about the collision, both Fred and I are without the least bit of injury. Although I do believe my front rack falling off was a result of the crash. There isn't much to tell regarding it. Some kid on a moped wasn't paying attention and pulled out in front of me. Luckily, I have the reflexes of either a very slow cat or a very fast turtle, and was able to lay on the brakes just enough to avoid a serious accident. The racks falling off was a bummer. It happened about 30km before Phnom Penh. The must have come loose when i hit the moped. When the fell off they knock into my wheel, busting one of my spokes. I have never experienced a broken spoke before. I guess there's a first time for everything. Luckily Carol came across me while I was fiddling with the racks and offered me a helping hand. Camaraderie among cyclists, you gotta love it.
Finding a replacement spoke in Phnom Penh proved rather painless. While there are no specialty bike shops here, there are various road-side shops which deal with old clunky one-speeds, and one of the was able to fix the spokes and reinforce my racks. So, Fred's all set for the ride down to the beach. I'm looking forward to the beach. It's been a while since I've seen water, and the dusty dry air in northern Cambodia is getting to me. I still have a while before I have to be in Vietnam, so we'll see what exploring I can do in the south.

Kampong Kdei-Kampong Thom

Total Distance:81.82km
Total Time:5h5m49s
Average Speed:16.0km/h
Maximum Speed:26.3km/h
Total Distance So Far:2489.75

Head-winds, head-winds, and more headwinds! It's been nothing but head-winds since Hua Hin. The good news is I'm about to change my course of direction from east to south so, in theory, it shouldn't be so bad as of tomorrow. My stay in Kampong Kdei was uneventful, t say the least. There is absolutely nothing to see or do there. About an hour after checking in to my guesthouse I was suffering from the deep regret of having not just sucked it up and continued on. I spent the majority of my time either sleeping or reading. At least i was well rested for the next day. My room did come equipped with a shower, however the water didn't work. When you turned it on it would only run for about five minutes before conking out. I left Kampong Kdei smelly, hungry, and suffering from severe boredom.
The ride to Kampong Thom was flat, dull and windy. Perfectly in suit with the preceding days. Once in kampong Thom I checked into a guesthouse and has a much needed shower. I met two other cyclists there. Antony, from Belgium and Carol from London. Both of whom I had crossed previously in Siem Reap. I'm surprised at the amount of cyclists in Cambodia. I thought I would meet the most in Thailand, but I guess the newly paved Cambodian roads have brought them here.
I've received a great deal of flack for having so much gear with me and, while it has yet to be a problem, I think I should consider reducing my baggage before hitting the hills of Northern Vietnam and Laos. I'm a bit of a pack rat, and enjoy having a certain amount of material items with me. Reduction however, painful though it may be, is necessary.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Siem Reap-Kampong Kdei

Total Distance:60.24km
Total Time:3h46m05s
Average Speed:16.0km/h
Maximum Speed:22.9km/h
Total distance so far:2407.93

I had planned to make it all the way to Kampong Thom today. It is about 140km from Siem Reap, which is completely doable. However things never go as planned, and the day was anything but smooth. The head winds persisted. I've been riding in nothing but head winds since Hua Hin. It's started to get to me a little. After spending two months averaging in between 18-20km/h, these 16km/h days are a little disheartaning. Non the less, I'll continue to push through. I refuse to take a bus. The idea of it seems way to normal for me. Aside from the head winds the day was going alright. I set out at a decent time, stopped only for enough time to glug a little bit of water and, all things considered, was making decent time, until... I had changed my tires a couple of days prior. Since, the rear tire had gone flat, which I was hoping was due to the bad Siem Reap roads. No such luck! One of the wires must have been bent, causing a slow leak, because about an hour and a half into the ride I had yet another flat. There, on the highway, in the blistering heat, I had to pop them off and put my touring tires back on. It wouldn't have been that bad if not for the fact, that was again, I drew a crowd of Khmer men. It's sort of nerve racking changing your tires with a bunch of people starring at you.
Due to the delay I didn't hit Kampong Kdei until about 2pm. Fearing I wouldn't hit Kampong Thom by nightfall, I opted to spend the night there. There were a few guesthouses to choose from, surprisingly. I could have gone a little further, but was unsure of what the accommodation situation would be in the upcoming towns.
At least I had a light day of cycling, and set myself up for a light day to follow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Siem Reap

I have spent such a great deal of time here, that I feel in warrants it's own entry. Why, you ask, have I spent so much time here? A mix up with my visa application for Vietnam resulted in an extra three days in the city. I went to a travel agency the day after arriving here to purchase a visa and was told I would only be able to receive a fifteen day visa. I asked the travel agent if he was sure as I had heard from numerous sources that the standard entry visa to Vietnam was thirty days. He assured me that a thirty day visa was not possible, and if I wanted to extend it I could once in Vietnam. I took his word for it, which proved to be a mistake. After having paid for it and having it sent to processed, I found out it is possible to get a thirty day visa. I went back to the Agency where I had purchased my visa and told him of what I had found out. He argued with me, insisting still that I could only get a fifteen day visa. "Wait", he said, "I'll call the embassy and prove it to you!" I sat and watched him dial the phone. He spoke in Khmer, so I couldn't understand what he was saying, but the look on his face was all too clear. He had, in fact made a mistake. At first he tried to tell me I was S.O.L. However, I wasn't excepting this. I sat down and insisted he somehow rectify the situation and, after an hour of arguing, he got on the phone and had my paperwork reprocessed for a thirty day visa. As a result I ended up having to wait an extra three days.
There are worse places in the world to be stuck than Siem Reap. There is definitely no shortage of things to see here. Had I known I would be here for almost a week, I would have opted for a seven day pass instead of a three day pass to Ankor Wat. However, three days is a sufficient amount of time to see the majority of the Ankor Temples. On the first day I ventured out to Ankor Wat. It was amazing. The temple is gargantuan in size. Quite a sight indeed. The temple of Ankor Thom, I must say, I found slightly more appealing. Chiseled into it's large stone walls are solemn faces which stare down upon you. It's completely out of this world. If you continue down the road there are many smaller temples to be seen. They don't attract quite as many tourists, although getting a human-free snap shot still proved to be a little bit of a challenge. The area is totally bike conducive, which meant Fred got to tag along on this one. In fact, most tourists rent bicycles from their guesthouses to explore the temples. Most of them are rusty old heaps though, and I say many people looking at Fred with an envious eye.
On the second day I rode out to The Rolous group, a small group of pre-ankorian temples less visited by tourists. After riding around Cambodia on my touring tires for a few days, I finally decided to swap them for my cross tires. This decision would probably have been more wise had it been made in Si Saphon, seeing as the worst road in Cambodia is supposedly the one I took to get from there to Siem Reap. While the rest of the highways are paved, the same can't be said for any smaller roads I have to take, so I thought it best to strap on the treads. I woke up early in the morning to change my tires. While putting them on outside of my guesthouse I looked up to discover a rather large group of Khmer men watching me. Before I knew it I had an entire team pulling off the old tires, popping on the new ones and pumping them up. All I had to do was sit back and watch. It was actually pretty nice, and took a fraction of the time it would have taken me to do it myself. After that I was ready to head out for more temple seeing. I really enjoyed the rolous group. It was far less touristy than the main temples. The inscriptions on the walls are so detailed. The temples themselves are pyramid-like in structure. They are almost something you would expect to see in the ruins of Egypt. It wasn't far from Siem Reap. About a 15km ride, and the roads were beautifully paved.
On the third and final day of my pass to the temples I had planned to bike out to the Further Afield, yet another group of temples about 35km from the city. However it didn't quite pan out. After biking in the wrong direction for about 15km, I had to turn back and backtrack. Then, feeling the saddle on my bike was a little too low, I decided to stop and adjust it. When I took out the screw I discovered it was stripped and was unable to screw it back in. For two hours I sat there fiddling around with it, trying to find a screw on some accessory on my bike that would fit. Finally, I popped off one of the screws from my kickstand, which was a perfect fit. However, when all was said and done it was a little too late to make it there and back in reasonable time, so I had to skip this portion of the Ankor Experience.
As for the city of Siem Reap, it has been an experience. During the day shops and markets line the streets, selling everything from silk to t-shirts with cheesy logos. The night life is booming. There are a ton of restaurants, both Khmer and international, and a wide array of clubs, pubs and bars. I've been steering clear of alcohol. For no particular reason. I guess I just don't want to spend the entire time I have here in a haze. There are a few coffee shops though, and if all else fails you can always order a refreshing fruit shake or soda at one of the night time hot spots.
The people of Cambodia are, generally, nice. However walking the streets of Siem Reap, you feel a little like a walking ATM. Everyone is trying to sell you something. I've spent a small fortune here (with very little to show for it). However I don't really mind. Cambodia is a rather impoverished country. True, they take full advantage of tourists, squeezing every cent they can out of you. When you look around and see the amount of poverty here, you understand why. It's heart breaking. The Cambodian people are truly people in need. The streets are lined, day and night, with people begging. Some sell books or small trinkets, some perform traditional Khmer music, and some simply beg. It's so hard to turn your back on them, but it is such great abundance here, that you have to. If I were to give money to every person who asked I would go broke within an hour. In Canada there is, of course, beggars and homeless people. It's different though. Back home you can turn your back, or simply ignore, the panhandlers without it wearing to heavily on you conscience. First of all, about ninety percent of the time, you can rest assured the money they are asking for isn't to feed their bellies but to feed some form of addiction. Be it alcohol, drugs or whatever. Secondly, Canada is not a country that has been stricken with war and famine. There is an abundance of opportunity there. I say this, as someone with limited education and no formal training in any field, from experience. Here, though, things are different. People beg to survive. Last night I went to the corner store to indulge in a pre-bedtime snake. Outside were two women, both with baby in arms begging, not for money, but for someone to buy them milk to feed their children. Everywhere you look are men, women and children with missing limbs or disfigurements. Victims of a world they did not ask to be born in to.
For those of you heading this way, I leave you with this. While the constant begging can wear on one's nerves, be patient and try to show a little generosity. Think of all these people have had to endure. Appreciate the fact that they embrace having us here. That we have been given the opportunity to see this beautiful country. Consider all you have, and all they do not.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Si Saphon-Siem Reab

Total Distance:101.10
Total Time:7h32m00s
Average Speed:13.4km/h
Maximum Speed:25.4km/h
Total Distance So Far:2347.69

Si Saphon was amazing. The town itself has very little to offer, although I did have a couple of great meals there. I hired a Moped and driver to take me out to Banteay Chhmar Temple. It's about 60km from the town, which makes it just a little too far to bike there and back and still have a worth while visit. The temple was beautiful. Unfortunately much of it has been destroyed. In part due to trees which have grown over the years, breaking through the stones. Also in part to theft. Apparently people break off the stones, smuggling them into Thailand where they can be sold for a pretty penny. I am told, however, that the Cambodian Government is attempting to fix up the temple. It should take about fifteen years though. Regardless, if you're in the area it's definitely worth a visit.
After spending two nights in Si Saphon I was ready to hit Siem Reab. While they have improved almost all the roads in Cambodia, there is one remaining that still needs to be repaved. You guessed it, it's the road from Si Saphon to Siem Reab. It was a long, grueling day. The road was horrific, the landscape remained boring. I did see two other cyclists, but as we were all enduring the same thing, none of us wanted to stop and chat. It was good to know I wasn't suffering alone though.
I'm still optimistic that Cambodia's beauty will start to shine. I have been assured that all other roads have been improved. The head-winds remain, but seem to be bad only in the morning. Hopefully things improve. I'll let you know.

Sa Kaeo-Si Saphon

Total Distance:108.01km
Total Time:7h20m23s
Average Speed:14.7km/h
Maximum Speed:24.8km/h

My last night in Thailand, though quit, was a pleasant one. Sa Kaeo is anything but a hip happening town but it's not without it's charm. It's rather quant in it's own right. I went to a little coffee shop had a latte and read for a bit. I suspect this may be my last latte for a while, although I could be wrong. Maybe Cambodians are big into the gourmet coffee. I seriously doubt it though. I had a delicious meal from the night market. It was odd though. Usually they have places where you can sit and eat, but in this particular town you have to take your food to go. So my last meal in Thailand was enjoyed in the confines of my hotel room.
I woke up early and headed towards Cambodia. Surprise, surprise... the head-winds were back. The landscape proved even more boring than the previous day. I was more than willing to cross into Cambodia and experience something new.
Crossing the boarder was rather painless, although it took a lot longer than I anticipated. I didn't touch Cambodian soil until 1:30 in the afternoon. I still had another 50km before reaching Si Saphon. I could have stayed in Poi Pete, however it was sort of the dingiest town I've ever seen. I was all too eager to get out of there. The ride to Si Saphon was not very nice. The road was great. The Cambodian Government is repaving the roads, so I guess I picked a pretty good time to come. It was, however, windy as all hell. It was almost unbearable. I know I've said that before, but this time I really mean it. The scenery was nothing more than a big empty windy field. It slightly improved once I hit Si Saphon. I've been told many great things about Cambodia, so I'm optimistic that the days to come will prove better.
So I finally made it to Cambodia. 3 countries down, 3 to go.

Nakhon Nayok-Sa Kaeo

Total Distance:109.07
Total Time:6h3m57s
Average Speed:18.0km/h
Maximum Speed:34.0km/h

Well, it's my last Thai destination. The ride was nice. The wind finally let up and I had a decent days ride. My stay in Nakhon Nayok was rather uneventful. I did my usual circuit. Walked around the town, checked out the night market, and had an early night. It's hard to believe that by this time tomorrow I will be in Cambodia. I've decided to ride across the boarder. I don't like taking buses. They're always overpriced and I feel like such a cheater. I might regret the decision, then again it might go smoothly. I'm hoping for the latter.
There's not a lot else to report. The landscape in this part of Thailand has proved ultra boring. I wish I could have entered Cambodia from the South. It would have made for a much more exciting ride. However time just wasn't permitting.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bangkok-Nakhon Nayok

Total Distance:108.90km
Total Time:5h41m35s
Average Speed:19.1km/h
Maximum Speed:34.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:2028.29km

Bangkok was an experience, as I'm sure you all expected. I found a guesthouse just off of Khao San and set up base there for a few days. The entire area is swarming with Farang (white people). There's either a McDonalds Burger King or Starbucks on every corner. Still, I enjoyed it. I walked around the first day. Checked out the temples and the palace. It was alright, but nothing too special. I guess I'm just not that easily impressed. The next two days I spent biking around. I mainly stuck to central Bangkok. Although I did get lost a couple of times and ended up... well, I'm not sure exactly. I know this may sound odd, but weaving in and out of traffic in downtown Bangkok was actually my favorite part of visiting the city. Once you get over the initial shock, it's really a lot of fun. If you have ever played the video game Crazy Taxi, I would say it's comparable to that. Except on a bicycle, and with a much more real and imminent possibility of death. IT WAS AWESOME! However, cycling in a big city is sort of where I'm in my element, and I wouldn't suggest it for anyone who's skittish when cycling in traffic.
I met three other cyclists during my stay in Bangkok. Before coming to Thailand I was told there were people bike touring all over the country. I was beginning to think I had been lied to, as I have hardly met any. I met far more in Malaysia. But there they were, so I guess they do exist after all. One of them had just come from Cambodia. He had some good little tidbits of advice. Unfortunately, I didn't get much time to talk with him. I would have liked to pick his brain a little more. I managed to find a great bike shop where I could stock up on supplies. I think finding touring supplies in Cambodia may be sort of a challenge. For anyone seeking a good shop in Thailand, I strongly suggest it. It's called Probike, and is located just off Thanon Rachadamri, just north of Lamphini Park. They even have a good selection of bikes for anyone looking to buy one upon arrival.
I gave Fred a well needed tune-up and cleaning and took an early night yesterday evening. Although Nakhon Nayok wasn't that far away, Bangkok streets can be confusing, and I anticipated getting lost on the way out of town. Did I ever hit that nail on the head! I left my Guesthouse at 7:00am this morning. Four short hours later I was at the city limits. It's a good thing I like city riding. Otherwise I would have suffered a severe nervous breakdown. The important thing is I did find my way out. Again, I'd like to stress that riding around Bangkok is not for everyone. If you can't handle traffic, I strongly suggest taking a bus or train in and out.
Despite the confusion that was Bangkok, the latter part of the ride went smooth as possible. After resting up for a few days, my leg was in peak form. It feels even stronger now than it did before my little spill. The wind was minimal today. After leaving the city I made really good time and maintained a decent level of energy. The scenery left something to be desired, but you can't win 'em all. Plus in a couple of days I'll be in Cambodia, where there will be lots of new and exciting things to see.
I lucked out upon arriving in Nakhon Nayok. When I got into town' I was stopped at a red light and the man on the scooter beside me asked me where I was from and where I had biked from. I told him Canada, that today I had come from Bangkok, and that I had started in KL. I asked him if he new of a cheap hotel. A grin crossed his face. As luck would have it, he was the owner of a reasonably price hotel in the city. He showed me where it was, I checked it out, and it was to my liking. A good way to end a good day.
So, I did it. I broke the 2000 mark. 2000km So Far... And More To Follow!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Samut Sakhon-Bangkok

Total Distance:59.61km
Total Time:3h17m50s
Average Speed:18.1km/h
Maximum Speed:36.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:1919.39

Okay, so I decided to bike it. I know it went against everyones advice. I know I was taking a big risk. I know I could have ended up majorly regretting it. What can I say? I just couldn't bring myself to get on another bus. The ride to Bangkok was fine. As expected, it only took me an hour and a half to reach the city limits. About half way there I stopped, bought a good map of the city and a coffee, a assessed the best way to get to the city center. I thought it a wise plan. Getting to Bangkok was no problem. Finding my way to the center was no problem either. A couple of wrong turns here and there, but I think that was to be expected. It wasn't as busy as I imagined it. It wasn't as big either. Once in the center however, traffic was more congested and things started to get a little trickier. I ended up driving around in a circle, down the same two roads for a bout an hour in an attempt to navigate around the one way streets. One ways are always a pain. You know where you have to go, but have not the faintest clue how to get there. Once I found the general vicinity I was looking for, finding a reasonably priced guesthouse posed a whole new challenge. Luckily, as planned, I had set out early and had lots of time to ride around looking for the perfect accommodation. Eventually I found what I was looking for. Bare bones! No AC, shared bathroom, ultra tiny, and cheap. The latter being the most important.
So here I am. I've finally reached Bangkok. In a weeks time I'll be in Cambodia. The next day I take Fred out we will break the 2000km mark. I can't help but feel a sense of accomplishment at this moment. I've had my ups and downs, but not once have I regretted the decision to bike across SE Asia. When I first thought about doing it, it was just that... a thought. I never really expected to actually go through with it. I always thought, in the back of my mind, that I would bail out at the last minute. But here I am. Doing what nobody, including myself ever dreamed I would be doing at this time in my life. I don't want to sound conceited or over-confident, but I don't think there is any harm in having pride in what I am doing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Phetchaburi-Samut Sakhon

Total Distance:98.48km
Total Time:5h34m33s
Average Speed:17.3km/h
Maximum Speed:38km/h
Total Distance So Far:1858.78km

I spent the night in Phetchaburi and am sorry to tell you it was yet another dull destination. I really have nothing for you. I managed to find a hotel with minimal effort. The food was okay, but nothing spectacular. I woke up early in hopes of getting to Samut Sakhon at a decent hour. The women who ran the hotel I was at insisted on making me breakfast. While I was eating thy tried to convince me that I should stay for at least one more night, as Phetchaburi supposedly had more to offer than I realized. They showed me brouchers and tried to talk it up. The only things in the brouchers were pictures of the near by beach. I'm sure it is lovely but, having seen my fair share of beaches already, I wasn't really interested. I think Phetchaburi is a little hurting in the tourism department. At the very least I scored a free breakfast, which is always a nice treat.
The trip to Samut Sakhon was typical of what I have recently experienced. Windy in the morning, a little calmer in the afternoon, and wall to wall traffic. I made more stops than I usually would, as the wind and traffic start to get to you after a while. However I still made it to Samut Sakhon by early afternoon. I was excited to be so close to Bangkok, as well as the 2000km mark. 2000km will be quite an accomplishment. When I got to Samut Sakhon I stopped for a coffee. The woman who ran the coffee shop was wonderful. She suggested a good hotel for me to stay at, and some temples to check out around Bangkok. It's always nice to be greeted in a city by a smiling face. First impressions mean a lot, and she gave me a good one.
I was still undecided on whether or not to bike into Bangkok. On one hand, I was only 35km away. If I left relatively early I could reach Bangkok in an hour and a half and have plenty of time to navigate my way around the city. On the other hand, I really didn't know what to expect. The only cities of comparable size I've been to were Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. I didn't even bother trying to cycle in Singapore and KL was some what terrifying. I scoped out where the bus station was and decided to sleep on it. I would wake up early and decide then.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hua Hin-Petchaburi

Total Distance:82.36km
Total Time:4h50m02s
Average Speed:17.0km/h
Maximum Speed:37.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:1762.30

For any time I've complained about the wind, I am sorry. I'm am sorry because, until today, I didn't know what wind was and I've left you thinking I have been cycling through these horrific conditions. Well, today I did. There's a city near where I'm from called Lethbridge. It supposedly has one of the highest suicide rates in Canada. There's a theory that it is due to the often windy weather conditions. Some people think the wind drives you insane to the point where you just can't stand it anymore. Today I finally truly understood this theory. Today should have been a fairly easy day. I'm getting use to doing the big ticket kilometers, so an 85km jaunt should have been nothing more than a leisurely ride. No such luck. The wind was insane. It let up for the last half of my ride. I really hope this isn't an indication of things to come.
Other than that the ride was good. I got my third flat tire. I even impressed myself at how quickly I got it changed. It's not as hot here as it was in the South. I hope that continues. Biking in the hot sun can take a toll on you. My leg seems to be getting better and better. It's still a little sore, but I can feel it getting stronger.
Pranburi and everything North of it appears to be on giant suburb of Bangkok. The plus side is you don't have to worry about making it to a certain destination. There seems to be tons of places to stay. The downside is it's wall to wall traffic. I don't like to cycle with my ipod on, but today I had to just to drown out some of the noise. The roads are fairly flat. It's sort of like being back in Malaysia. The scenery is sort of lacking in comparison to the South. It actually reminds me of back home. In the distance you can see the mountains, but where you are is just flat fields with cows. A little boring.
I'm almost in Bangkok. It should take me two more days. There's some things I want to check out, so I could conceivably prolong it to three. then it's off to Cambodia.

Prachuap Khiri Khan-Hua Hin

Total Distance:98.76km
Total Time:5h83m23s
Average Speed:17.5km/h
Maximum Speed:35.5km/h
total Distance So Far:1679.94km/h

After sustaining a minor injury I decided to take it easy for a couple of days. I rested up in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Overall it wasn't all that exciting. There are a ton of monkeys there, which was sort of neat. It's not everyday you pass a monkey just walking down the street. It was a good place to rest. Being that there wasn't much to do any how, I didn't feel although I was missing out on anything. There very serious about there coffee there. There's a coffee shop every ten feet. A caffeine junky such as myself would love it.
After two nights there I hit the road again. My leg was still a bit soar, but I took it slow and it felt good to be riding. It seems although the further north I go, the windier it gets. At least there was a certain amount of cloud cover. It was nice not to bake in the sun all day. The ride went well. I passed through Pranburi, which is 20km south of Hua Hin. It was a lot bigger than I anticipated. Looking back I wish I would have stopped there, as I'm sure it would have been easier to find accommodations. I should of taken into account that I was travelling to a beach that's only a few hours from Bangkok on New Years Eve. I arrived in Hua Hin at around 3:00pm. I scoped out all the places suggested by Lonely Planet, but they were all full. I started going to every Guesthouse on the beach... all full! I decided I might have better luck if I steered away from the beach. So I went to every guesthouse and hotel in the town... ALL FULL. I only managed to find three available rooms. They were all ridiculously expensive. I finally settled for something that was about four times what I had expected to pay. However it was clean and had hot water, two things I seldom find in my travels.
During my quest for a hotel I bumped into a few fellow cyclists. Three men from the USA. They hadn't started biking yet. They had just flown to Bangkok, then taken a bus to Hua Hin. To be honest I think they are a little ill prepared. They seemed far to impressed with the fact that I had a map of Thailand. It's sort of a necessity if you're biking through a country. They also seemed to think they could make it from Hua Hin to Phuket to Cambodia in two weeks. That's probably about 1700km. Good Luck Guys! There's a learning curve though. I'm sure they'll figure it out as they go along.
When I arrived at my hotel there were three older Swedish men there. They were so impressed with my method of travel, they took me out and bought me dinner so they could ask me all about it. They took me to this all you can eat Swedish Buffet, which was quite pricey. Something I never would have treated myself to. They asked me all the questions everybody always asks. But given the free food and drink, I didn't mind answering.