THAILAND 1: 24.11. - 18.12.2004

Route: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Uthai Thani, Lampang, Chiang Kong
Kilometer: 1179 Km              Ascent: 1760 m (in total)

Preface: Thailand: balm for heart and soul! Although many tourists travel to Thailand, the Thais stay loyal to their image: "Keep on smyling". Everywhere where we arrive with our bicycles, we are welcomed with a friendly smile. The roads are wide and very well paved, and at the service areas it was always possible to get a delicious soop and some cookies. A really perfect country for cycling.

Civiliziation shock Bangkok: After nearly 5 months in India, it was a real civilization shock to arrive in Bangkok: already at the airport absolutely clean toilets with toiletpaper, woman being emancipated and having equal rights, woman in miniskirts, civilized traffic, safe cars, cardrives blowing their horn only in emergencies, cars stopping for passangers, marks for blind people on the sidewalks, huge modern shopping centres, no garbage on the roads, dustbins in use, ... . Without the Tucktuck drivers (a Tucktuck is a motorcycleriksha) getting on our nerves, we would have thought to be in "paradise".
Lost laguagge: During our flight from Calcutta to Bangkok our airline (Biman Bangladesh Airline) lost one of our bags. Nearly all of our equipment was inside this bag. The staff from the airline was absolutely lazy and we had to push them all the time to try to find our bag. After one week, we again visited the airlineoffice, and finally they followed our suggestion to send a fax to Hongkong (we had a stopover at Bangladesh and at about the same time at the next mornig there was also an airplane going to Hongkong). We had good luck and they found our bag in Hongkong! After more than on week our bag finally arrived in Bangkok! During that time we had a lot of time to visit Bankok with all his shopping centers and sights. On the picture you can see the "TEMPLE OF DAWN". The world is very small, but sometimes a few meters seem to be as far away as on the other side of the world. We were already one week in Bangkok, when we found out, that there were two cyclists from Germay in the neighbouring guesthouse (since about two weeks). Susi and Daniel started their tour around the world in 2002 and travelled so far from Europe, Northamerika, Southamerika, Newzeeland, Australia as far as Southeast Asia. Susi is also a nurse and one of her colleague is a good friend of us (the world is really small!). But now Susi and Daniel are changing their transportsystem from bicycle to a Tucktuck (especially constructed for them). They also have a really beautiful website
Food: It seems that eating is the most famous thing in Thailand. Cheap foodstalls can be found everywhere and they cook most of the food in a wook. After the many vegetarian dishes in India, it was more difficult for us to find some food here, but if you are crazy about chicken, shrimps or squid, Thailand is perfect for you. If you are open for strange food, it is also possible to test fried bugs, fried grashoppers and maggots.
First accident: After 2 weeks we left Bangkok and after 10 Km a policeman forced us to leave the Highway. We just arrived on the normal road when a scooterdriver bumbed into me (from behind) and I fell from my bicycle. I had some small wounds on my left knee, ellbow and shoulder. The boy (about 17 years old) stopped immediately and brought ous to a hospital. Because I didnīt want to sit on the scooter I decided to walk, but after 1,5 Km it was to hard for me and we decided to take a taxi. In the very modern hospital I was examined from a doctor and treated an bandaged really professionl from a nurse. The scooterdriver payed for the costs in the hospital. In the meanwhile the police had arrived and on the back of their pickup they brought us back to our bicycles (still sanding in a garage whereteh accident hapened). Nothing was really broken and so we went back on the road. 
Elefanttrekking: After we missed twice th change to ride on an elefant in India, we used our change in Thailand. In hope for cheap prices and only some other tourists, we visited a small elefant camp close to Kanchanaburi (famous for the "River Kwai Bridge"). Our choice was not the very best, because together with us, a Bus with 30 Japanese tourists arrived, and the 30 minutes ride schould cost 6,- € each (twice as much as our guesthouse in Bangkok)! We waitet until the Japanese group was already 15 minutes in the forest before we started our trip. And it was great! After a while, our guide jumped of the Elefant and Nadine had to move to the hat of the elefant. With Nadine as our new guide, we started to explore the jungle. After the jungle we rode our elefant along a river back to the camp. It was a nice experience, but from all the swaying be became quite sick.
Tigertempel: In Thailand it is quite normal that the local people bring their "old" pets or orphan wild animals to buddhist monestarys. So during the mid 90īs a monestary close to Kanchanabury got two babytigers and in the meanwhile, they have small tiger breeding. Most of the tigers are "absolutely" tame, and each afternoon they are brought out of their chages for a walk. The tigers are so tame, that it is possible for visitors to caress them. As tought cyclist we are of courese not afraid of such adventures. Bur in contrast to all the other tourists, we took a lot of time for this (not just 5 minutes). We watched the scenario for quite along time, until we had the feeling that the tigers are treaten well and not abused for some nonsense. After more than half an hour, we also decided to stroke the fascinating beast of prey. For us it was absolutely fascinating, that the five tigers were strolling around a small canyon completely free (no chains) and relaxed, or just layed around. The tigers we not impressed from all the crazy tourists. One of the tigers even ate some salt from my hand.
Speeding up for Christmas: To spent Christmas 2004 not somewhere at the border between Thailand or Laos we decided to cycle a little bit faster. So we managed to cycle between 90 Km and 130 Km a day (with a stong headwind). But we also had goodluck, because the roads were very well paved and flat, and the pertolstations offered a perfect infrastructure (toilett, restaurant, supermarket, showers room, ...) for us.
Bordercrossing: After 960 Km in only 10 days we arrived in the Thai bordertown Chinag Kong. After a short shopping- and internetstop we cycled to the border. After less than one minute we had our exit stamp (the customs was not interested in us). In this region the Mekong River (Mae Nam Kong = mother of all rivers) is the natural border between Thailand an Laos and everybody has to cross the river with a small boat. We also brought our bikes on a small boat and crossed to Laos. The immigration procedure in Laos was also very fast and after some minutes we had our entry stamp and our boatticket for the next day.



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