Wednesday 30 January 2013

Brothel Blunder


Distance travelled: 7,629 km
Backside rating: Judy the Stoker 7/10, Mike the Captain 5/10
Biggest bike problem: Spokes breaking on front wheel, necessitating rebuild
Most interesting place in Thailand: Old capital of Ayutthayah

The stain on the sheet said it all, but it was getting late and we needed a roof over our heads.
Darkness had closed in as we reassembled the bike on the platform at the Prachin Buri railway station after our journey from Bangkok. A nice railway man gave us some rather vague directions to the Sophia Hotel, which he said was ok. But when we came to follow them it turned to custard and the hotel was nowhere to be seen.
Party time in the cathouse with potato chips and iced lemon tea.

We rode along in the dark, trying to keep out of the way of the traffic and hoping to find any hotel or any sign with a word that looked a bit like “tsunami” but means “hotel” in Thai.

Eventually, Judy spotted one and we turned down a poorly lit street.
A disturbed night and planning our escape the next morning.
The young woman “receptionist” and her male colleague - wearing white powdery makeup - couldn’t have been more helpful. Yes, they had a room, and yes it had air conditioning. Forever looking for a deal, Judy asked if there was a cheaper room with just a fan. The young woman said yes, but seemed in no hurry to show it to us. Afterwards, we realised it was probably occupied, probably by the hour.

After getting the bike repaired, we took a train from
Bangkok back to Prachin Buri. This time there was
no luggage van and we had to uncouple the Beast of
Bridgwater and pass him in through a carriage
window. He was stored between two hand basins.
We took the one with aircon and the stain on the sheet, and wheeled the bike in. I was reluctant to examine the stain too closely, but it looked suspiciously damp so I found a plastic bag, strategically placed it over the spot and threw our blue silk sheet over the bed. In a corner lay an empty condom packet - at least someone was practicing safe sex.

When we ventured outside our door to find something to eat, two young women, overdressed and over made up, were lounging in the foyer with a male minder. Awful music poured from a bar. Judy gave the threesome her usual, confident "sa-wut dee ka" but they ignored her. Something made me keep my eyes averted but I glimpsed high heeled gold shoes cast on the floor, long orange hair and Angelina Jolie lips. It was terrifying.
We walked out to the main road and tried unsuccessfully to find a place to eat. The dogs roamed and I picked up a couple of broken pieces of masonry as potential weapons.
The only place open looked like a small family run business where the family was on the turps. A couple of bottles of whisky sat on the table and a third bottle, possibly rum, was almost empty. We bought potato chips, two small packets of biscuits, some strange looking baked things and something to drink.

Back at the cathouse, business must have picked up because one of the women was missing. The other continued to ignore us.
After a simple meal the previous night, we were ready
for breakfast.
We barricaded ourselves in our room. Judy stuffed a blanket against the door to try to muffle some of the noises and we sat down to a bleak and rather odd evening meal. During it, we tried to convince ourselves you haven't really cycled in Asia without spending the occasional night in a brothel.
When we went to bed, the plastic bag under me rustled every time I moved and I had trouble sleeping.
The next morning we set out early. Two hundred metres up the main road we spotted a sign. It said Sophia Hotel and in Thai there was a word that looked like “tsunami”.

South East Asia Without a Tent

For nine months our tent has been our safety blanket. We slept in it most nights in Europe and loved the shelter, privacy and comfort it offered. We are camping people.
Shadows from an olive tree on the walls of our tent, Greece.
The decision to post it was a big one, but we have not used it once since setting out from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Having to go to Bangkok presented us with an opportunity to get rid of 3.5 kg of deadweight. It may not sound much, but you try lugging it up hills and into headwinds, and we anticipate plenty of those in the months ahead.
Packaged up and ready to go. Our tent and our multi fuel stove about to be
posted in Bangkok.
The decision on whether to take a tent is one that is given careful consideration by many touring cyclists visiting SE Asia. The consensus seems to be that you don’t need one, yet many cyclists (including ones we’ve met) have a small tent strapped to the rack above the rear wheel.

Our decision has been driven by the desire to get rid of weight. The tandem’s front wheel has had to be rebuilt and any weight we can get off the bike may reduce the chances of further problems. It feels like throwing away our safety blanket, but we still have a mosquito net if we ever get really stuck. And at a pinch, we may even find a brothel for the night.
We've found no use for our expensive multi-fuel stove here in S.E. Asia
 so have posted it off. Of more use is this simple little electric element
 (shown above with red handle) which enables us to make a morning cup of tea
 in our hotel bedroom.


  1. Oh the tent! What a big dEcision! Good on u tho, must be a heap lighter :)

    1. Hi Merran, yep, the difference is subtle but it's there. Can feel the bike moving away more easily from stationary, we seem to "accelerate" (that's a joke) a bit more quickly. And it gets some weight off the top of the bike, makes it less top heavy. So all good.

  2. I never thought that would happen! Thinking about it I can't remember campgrounds in Asia, although I'm sure they're around somewhere. Where did you post it to - home, or on to another destination?

    1. Hi Jennie, the only campgrounds we've heard about tend to be in national parks, but to be honest the thought of the heat/mossies etc puts us off. Also heard about someone who had the floor of their tent eaten by ants and more recently, an English couple we met had their tent ripped open by food seeking monkeys. We've sent the tent on to Hong Kong, as we hope that will be the end of our SE Asia leg.


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