Tuesday 21 May 2013

Oh, what a beautiful mornin'

Petals from Flame of the Forest
Tree - Delonix Regia

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye
And it looks like it's climbing clear up to the sky
Oh, what a beautiful mornin', oh what a beautiful day
I got a beautiful feelin' everything's goin' my way
From Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Current Location: Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Total Distance Cycled: 11,323 km
Snakes Alive: 5; Squished Snakes: 58+
Average Daily Maximum Temperature: 38 degrees C

It was one of those days. We hadn’t even left our guesthouse in Kamphaeng Phet, central Thailand, before we began getting those warm, fuzzy feelings. The guesthouse owner piled bananas and mangoes on our breakfast table and said, “free - no charge - from my farm”, referring to the property he owns west of the town towards the Myanmar/Burmese border. As we left, he handed us more mangoes and we squeezed them into a pannier.
With Mr Charin, owner of the 3J Guesthouse in
Kamphaeng Phet. He also owns an organic farm/
resort after giving up a career in banking.

We set off on a flat, fast road with the only sound the humming of the tyres on the seal. It was a one-gear kind of day - eleventh out of the fourteen provided by Mr Rohloff - and the bicycle computer read 20 kph.

After an hour or so we paused on the roadside and moments later an oncoming car did the same. The driver climbed out and called across, ”how can I help you?”
Rohloff gears - 11th of the 14 is
getting most use at the moment.
“We’re fine, thanks,” we said waving our drink bottles at him, “korp kun krap.”
Next it was a fruit seller on the side of the road. He insisted on giving us more bananas than we really wanted, and when Judy tried to pay for the extra ones he plied us with even more. It was getting ridiculous, so I hoped off the bike and took a photo of him. That brought more bananas and we had no alternative but to hang them from the handlebars in their plastic bag.
Fruit seller who overloaded us with bananas.

As we cycled, people waved at us from the roadside and shouted “hello, sawatdee”. Sometimes, as often happens, they burst into gales of laughter - perhaps amused by the thought that two farang should travel on a strange bicycle when everyone else uses motorscooters or cars. Or perhaps they found it entertaining to see two people on a tandem - fullstop. Whatever the reason, it was nice to be providing the entertainment instead of gawking at them out of a bus window.

Heading South

The countryside over the past few days has changed dramatically. Gone are the hills and mountains of northern Thailand, replaced by a flatness that extends as far as the eye can see. The towns tick by - from Chiang Mai through Lamphun, Lampang, Wang Chin, Si Satchanalai, Kamphaeng Phet,
We stopped for iced coffee and the girl on the right
emerged to practice her English and act as
Sukhothai, Khanu Woklaksaburi and now Nakhon Sawan. Mostly one night stopovers, mostly quiet at this time of the year with few tourists prepared to visit during the hottest month.

Pacific West Coast Lies Ahead

Our goal now is Ayuthaya, the former royal capital, which we have already visited once. We want to rest up there for a couple of days before hitting Bangkok to catch a flight to Vancouver, BC, for the next part of our bike ride.
Ayuthaya is still at least two days’ ride away (about 220 km) and we’re hoping for more beautiful feelings along the way.  
Machine planting rice.

Labourers form a chain to collect up
empty trays at a rice seedling farm.

The monsoon rains are late arriving
this year - good for a couple of
cyclists but a worry for Thailand
which is one of the big three of the
world's rice exporters.

Where machines can't operate in awkward spaces, the seedlings are
still planted by hand.
Map reading as we head south.


  1. Enjoying the blogs.. sounds wonderful, difficult, and worthwhile. These squished snakes concern me... not as much as the live ones though. xx

    1. Hi Cherie, yeah fortunately almost all the snakes have been dead ones, but we've had a couple of quite large ones (well, to us they seemed large) come slithering towards the bike as they tried to get away from the traffic. My reaction has been to lift both feet up off the pedals, try not to fall off, and tel Judy about them afterwards. Thanks for your nice comments. Regards.

  2. Geeze, Mike (and Judy) talk about timing... Oklahoma, I mean (I guess you will have caught up with that awful news). But good you chose a sweet number from that musical. It could so easily have been:
    Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, Oklahoma
    Where the wav-in wheat can sure smell sweet
    When the wind comes right behind the rain.... and knocks the shit out of everyone.
    No joking matter, of course. Poor buggers.
    But good to read your latest blogs (really good stuff - all of them), and interested you'll soon be on the way to Vancouver (I guess the bike breaks down into packageable bits?). Not sure if you've been to BC (and Vancouver Island) and the Rockies before, but it's pretty majestic stuff and you'll love it. You doing "the loop" (from Vancouver across the top of the US border to Calgary and then up and down the Icefields highway (fantastic!) and then back via the northern route..... or are you hurtling across the Canadian prairies further east?). Whatever, go well you two and may the sun shine.
    bruce and avis

    1. Oh... S... You can get out of touch on a bike. I did hear something about twisters but missed where they were. Whoops. As for where we are going - we are unplanned and adrift - except that we want to cycle the Pacific Coast Highway south to San Diego. But we should have some time to go further afield. The research is starting now. Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.


Express a view here.