Monday 20 May 2013

Counting the Kilos

Current Location: Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand (click link above for map)
Total Distance Cycled: 11,179 km
Squished Snakes on Road: 50+; Alive and Wriggling: 5
Backside Status when 10 is Bliss: Mike the Captain: 1; Judy the Stoker: 4

Cake, biscuits and more cake - adding calories
at Si Satchanalai.
The woman who put the rat in the fridge is to blame. We were waiting for our noodles, or feu, in a small restaurant on the side of the road in southern Laos. As we waited, a woman appeared from the open air kitchen holding a dish about the size of a small bread and butter plate. Lying on it, and hanging off both sides, was a dead rat. The woman had an air of pride, or at least of satisfaction, as she showed the rat to a couple of her friends and I figured she must have caught it out the back. As I watched she slid it, almost lovingly, into the fridge.

Noodled Out

Our coffee arrived but to my relief the noodles never surfaced - there must have been a lost in translation moment. But ever since, I have struggled with noodles. Every time I am faced with them, I search the bowl thoroughly with my chopsticks trying to identify whatever bits of meat I can find. The pork balls are fine, and I can tell my pork from my chicken but occasionally there are weird things which I can’t figure out. Sometimes, I just can’t face noodles.

On the Menu

All the above is a roundabout way of explaining why I may have lost quite a bit of weight and Judy has not. She never saw the rat on the plate, and doesn’t have the same aversion to noodles that I have developed. There seems little doubt that in Laos - an extremely poor country - rats do turn up on the menu. Some days later we saw a group of women emerge from the jungle and try to sell live rats by flagging down passing motorists. And in Luang Prabang, a bunch of dead and skinned rats were on sale in the morning market. I guess protein is protein wherever it comes from, but my western sensibilities struggle with the idea of eating rodents.
It takes two to tandem. On a quiet back road travelling
south from Sukhothai. The day's high was 38 degrees C.
I have been aware for months that I have been losing weight, and recently Judy’s been telling me my backside has disappeared. The other day as we waited for our pad thai to arrive I spotted some scales outside a minimart. The digital screen seemed to be winking at me in the sunlight, so in the end I kicked off my shoes and inserted one baht into the slot.

Moment of Truth   

The result: 70.8 kilos. That’s 15.7 kilos lost since we set out cycling our tandem just over a year ago.  
In contrast, Judy’s weight loss has not been so dramatic. She is somewhat coy about the subject but after intense questioning I can report that she has lost “several kilos” since setting out. After further questioning, I have established that “several” might mean a maximum of four.
Provisions for monks at a wat in Chiang Mai.

Why the difference?

We both work hard physically on the bike and for those who say the person on the back of a tandem can cruise, I would disagree. I can sense when Judy the Stoker eases off on the pedals (usually as she wipes the sweat from her brow) and she seldom does. She is behind me pedaling steadily uphill and down and in the heat of Thailand in its hottest month (May).
All I can attribute it to is individual metabolisms and perhaps the fact that being on the front means I live on my nerves more - steering, braking, dodging cars and motorscooters and potholes and generally fretting about the bike. Maybe that’s enough to worry those kilos away. Then again, Judy never saw the rat on the plate.

Judy the Stoker's Quotable Quotes

"I really liked the one (cake) with the hundreds and thousands and the jam on it. The vegetables were ok too," after meal discussion.
"Was that a drop of rain or was it someone's air conditioning with a drop of Legionnaire's Disease?" while walking on a city street.
"If you are a cyclist at one of these police roadblocks all they want to know is if you are happy," on being questioned yet again by smiling armed policemen.

Bike porn No 2 - Room for a

Bike porn No 3.

Prayers - Chiang Mai.


  1. Guys I'm going to have a steak and cheese pie, followed by a cold Heinekin on your behalf in an effort to balance your weight loss :-)


  2. Steak and cheese pie. Alright, you know how to make us truly homesick. Can just imagine it. Yum! As for the beer, we drink the local Chang these days poured over ice. They say when you start drinking Heineken with ice you have been in SE Asia too long.

  3. Jude - he did exactly the same on the motorbike as well! Came back looking like a Biafran and I was still a heifer! Not much energy expended on the back of a Honda 500 though.... Enjoy x


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