Cycle a bike

Solo to Bangkok

Jonny on 1 December 2011

After two weeks on a tropical beach we found ourselves on a long-tail boat crossing back to mainland Thailand where we would switch our climbing-legs for our cycling-legs then collect our bikes and thoughts before cycling North across the Thai peninsula to Bangkok... little did we know but our trip was about to be shook up more than an iced Mojito on Phuket.

A quick call to Radka's mother revealed that her grandfather's health was progressively deteriorating and any day could be his last. A few days later we cycled to the nearest airport where Radka boarded a plane home-bound for Prague, her return date unknown, or not at all depending on how things would go back in Czech.

I nearly slipped off my bike due to all the tears as I left Radka sobbing at the airport doors then cycled down the twisting exit ramp waving at each bend. I couldn't decide if I was crying because it was the first time we'd been apart in 5 years or because my shades broke on the way down the ramp.

I asked Radka how she would like to spend our last day together and she said back on Tonsai where she could soak up as much sun as possible before returning home, I think she just wanted a mango shake and a Thai massage.

I solo'd it North to Bangkok, pretty much uneventfully, until I spoke to Zuzka and Jens (our cycling predecessors) who told me I would pass 'Chumphon', a town where I should stop and meet their Thai friends Ting and Phu. I turned up at their Leather shop, unannounced, where I delivered some pictures of their time together with Zuzka and Jens. A warm welcome extended over 4 days in which we sat talking and making jewellery in their shop. I bumped into 'Christoph', another cycle tourer who Ting and Phu also welcomed very kindly.

After Chumphon was a long road rolling over some small hills with the strong satisfaction of advancing closer to Bangkok. I love cycling with Radka the most, but I also really enjoyed cycling alone. The best part was that any decisions could be made instantly without the need for discussion, the worst was having no one to share the moments with.

For some reason, this stretch of road was littered with angry snappy dogs who chased me with a passion to kill. Each day would bear at least 4 chases, and not small dogs either, sometimes Alsatians and even a Rott-weiler (luckily his stamina wasn't as proficient as his snap).

One day I was enjoying the road so much that I decided to do a long 120km stint but realised too late that with night came more dogs. They were no longer scared by the threat of me swinging my dog killing stick because they could no longer see it. Some scary animals must lurk in the forest at night because the dogs had gang'd up into packs. I saw a big pack at the top of a hill so I stopped and asked the first guy on a scooter to accompany me, he told me ''nothing will happen'' then drove off. No more scooters so I approached with due caution. Six of them started chasing me from the left, I sped up then swerved across the road. Another pack joined from the right! With that I instinctively swerved back again causing the bike to fish-tail throwing me head first over the handlebars. The devil on my shoulder laughed hard as I bounced and slid across the road with no helmet on, finally coming to a halt with my head smashing on the concrete. I jumped up and started shouting and chasing everything around, including the nice man who had come over to help me reassemble the carnage that my bike and bags had now become.

It was pitch black by now and I still had 5km until the next town. 1Km further and another little hell-dog began chasing me, I stopped in the bushes and totally lost it, screaming at him whilst smashing my stick so hard on the floor that it shattered.

Upon reaching the town I was greeted by a group of guys sitting on their veranda who called me over for a beer. ''What happened?'', they asked, referring to my black eye, ''Have you been in a Muay Thai fight?'', ''No, I said'', then explained the whole story over a beer ... I later reached a beach hut where I washed my face to find that my black-eye wasn't bruised but simply dirt from when my head had hit the floor.

The next day I took a bus to Bangkok in anticipation that the same dog-plagued roads lay ahead. I regretted this for not one second when I stepped off the bus at 10:00pm to find many, many dogs lining the street wearing ''we hate cycle tourers'' t-shirts.

In a scene from an apocalyptic film I walked down the nearest and darkest alley where I could see a fallen tree blocking the way. Lit only by the shadowy light of a small, orange lamp, I stood on the biggest branch and snapped myself a new dog-killer. I emerged with the intent to kill.

What actually happened was that I stopped the first guy I saw and asked him directions to the nearest hotel. He said it was miles away so I cycled in the direction he pointed. A few minutes later he appeared from a taxi and said I should stay with him because ''it's dangerous at night''. He looked friendly enough so I agreed, a little regrettably when I realised he was the campest guy in the whole of Bangkok.

We reached his apartment to find just one bed (ooops) and he proceeded in removing his make-up whilst I watched Shrek 4, dubbed in Thai. I bought him breakfast then said goodbye. The last thing he asked me was if I had a partner, before saying, ''Jonny, together, England?... Wan, no together''. He was a real gentleman (no attempts on the first date) but I did sleep with one eye open.

The cycle to Bangkok city centre was interesting but slightly grim as I passed much evidence of the devastating floods that had hit left Thailand only a few weeks earlier. Some areas were still using long hoses to pump water off the streets.

I finally reached Khaosan Road, the main tourist strip of Bangkok where I checked into a dorm for only 3 euros a night. From here i'd explore Bangkok by bike! 

Photos

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