Saraburi – Wan Muang (50km)

Day 2: 31st December 2008, Saraburi - Wan Muang (50km) –  Distance so far 122km “The Hill made by the Devil himself!!”

Woke at 7am and hit the road at 10am.   Had to go to a local bike shop to replenish our tube supply.   Went to the morning market to get breakfast (fresh fruit and nuts and water) and then hit the road.   Again we had to stick to the main road out of Saraburi for about 14km.   After this we ventured onto the more country roads which were relatively flat and quite by comparrison.  Stopped for lunch at a roadside stop where we had a combo meal of sardines in tomato sauce, bread, crisps, chocolate, coke and water (healthy right!!).  After our gassey lunch, we got back in the saddles under a Thai sun that would fry a decent sized omelette easily!! ha ha.  After a 8km cycle, we encountered a rather steep hill.  It was a hill approx 1km long (gradient 25 degrees).  We ended up dismounting our saddles and pushing our beasts of bikes the remainder of her.   After more puffing and panting than in a mediocre porn flick, we took a well deserved 15 minute break.  Cars and motorbikes struggled past us and trucks/buses were breaking down aorund us but we braved onwards for 10km.

Big Hill

After a relatively easy cycle to Wan Muang we prepared for our first night of camping (middle of a forrest at the edge of a  sunflower farm).   We set up our hammocks and mosquito nets, lit a good fire and cooked chicken fillets and rice which we purchased up the road.

Camping

Buying food is a very difficult task.  So we usaully resort to improvisation (flapping our wings or making chicken noises = chicken,  making pig noises etc etc)  As it was New Years Eve in Thailand and celebration time, we decided to do just that. CELEBRATE!!!  Picture this….Three Irish males walking in a remote region of Northern Thailand…it is pitch black…..we stumble across a family of 10 playing guitar and singing songs…..they look at us in a confused manner…..(as if we had been dropped from the sky!!)…. We were then asked to join in.   The feeling of being made welcomed was incredible.  We were offered coke, whiskey and chicken wings (which looked dodgy, but we could not insult them!!).   We played music into the night playing all the western songs they knew, which included Zombie by the Cranberries and Hotel California by the Eagles.   Not a word of English was spoken by them, nor a word of Thai by us but we had a brilliant night

New Years

Retired for the night to the serentiy of our campsite and to the comfort of our brand spanking new hammocks.

Cycle Begins!!!!

Day 1: 30th December 2008, Bangkok – Saraburi (72km) –  Distance so far 72km “Oh God, what is going wrong with our bikes lads?”

Woke at 6am and had a breakfast of fruit,toast, cereal, eggs.  We did our final preparations on the bikes and said our farewells to John and Eilis who were also leaving Bangkok to head south to the island of Ko Samui.

Stretching

We cycled approx 5km to Bangkok train station.  We had been advised to get a short train journey outside the city to avoid the mainroads/tolls and the general frenzy of the capitals traffic.   Incidentally, we did not notice a great deal of cyclists for the duration of our stay in Bangkok.  Traffic is primarily made up of motorbikes, tuk tuks and taxis.   After our short train ride out of the city, we got ready to start the collosess of a journey that lay ahead of us…. Then disaster!!!   Not one…but two punctures!!!  First Mikes valve burst on his rear tyre, closely followed by Brian’s front tyre.  As the Bangkok air frantically hissed out of Brian’s tyre he turned to us and gasped  “Oh God, what is going wrong with our bikes lads?”

Puncture

After this minor hickup,  the cycle commenced properly.   We started at 1pm with sun at its hottest (about 30 degrees) which was pretty damn tough.  The main road to Saraburi was very long and boring so we opted to go onto a more country road after 9km, which was a welcomed release.  On this road we were offered bananas from a motorcyclist and were cheered on by the locals as we passed.

Banana Motor Cy

We arrived in Saraburi just before dusk and checked into a dingy and unfriendly hotel.   That night we checked out a local festival in Saraburi where we ate corn on the cob and fried pork kebabs with rice.   We were ridiculously tired after the 1st day and the three of us crashed out in one double bed.  Zzzzzz.

Bangkok

Our Departures: 23rd December 2008, Dublin & Cork Ireland.

Brian and Paul departed from Dublin airport in the early hours of the 23rd of December,  whilst Mike departed the same day from Cork airport later in the day.  No problems from both sides with the flights.  Hang on!!!! Brian and Paul were ushered to their connnecting flight to Doa in Qutar from the Gatwick check in desk right to the boarding gates,  This was beacuse our inbound, Aerlingus flight from Dublin to Gatwick had been delayed.   We had minutes (no joke) to spare.  Exiting stuff at the time.

Our Arrivals: 24th December 2008, Bangkok, Thailand.

Brian and Paul arrived in Bangkok at 7am and Mike at 7pm on the 24th of December 2008. We all met up in the Prince Palace hotel (prounced Ping Palea by the Thai locals) in the center of Bangkok where we met John and Eilis. We decided to head straight out and venture around the wild capital of Thailand. Wooo hoooo!!!!!!!!

john and the lads

We headed for the famous Khao San Road, a bustling street full of bars, street stalls, music, ping-pong shows, tuk-tuks, and plenty of foreigners looking to have “good time”

Drank a fair share of beer and thai whiskey the first night and headed back to the hotel at a reasonable hour for some shut eye.

  khao San Rd

24th December to the 29th December “Shopping!!!!….for bike stuff!!”

We all agreed before we left that we would be able to get most of our cycling/camping gear in Bangkok.  This turned out to be more difficult than originally anticitapated.  Trying to find a good cycling & camping shop in the city turned into a bit of an ordeal!! We finally got a chauffeur named Tzeun from our hotel who helped bring us to all the appropriate stores we needed to visit. He charged us about 1000Th bath (about 20euro) for the whole day for his services. Thanks again Tzeun.

  Tzeun

We’d like to mention a lovely restaurant we stumbled upon in our final days in bangkok. We were booked into the Roof View hostel which we would highly recommend. For dinner that night John and Eilis suggested a nearby restaurant called Ida’s Gallery Cafe on Samson rd. We were both amazed and humbled to be served by the most genuine and charming host; Richard and hostess named Ida, who incidentally was due to give birth to a baby boy that night!!!! We were wined and dined into the early hours at this quant restaurant with the music blaring Creedance Clear Water and Abbey Road to boot… Great night!!!

Ida

After 3 days of visiting numerous stores we were ready for the trip.   We had picked up everything from our cooking pots to our laptop right down to the very cycling shorts we would squeeze into for the 15,000km that lay ahead of us.