Chiang Mai to Prachuap Khiri Khan to Bangkok
approximately 2,000 km of sunshiny adventure!
Follow our adventures right here!
Randy, Anita and Deana are headed to Thailand for six weeks
of self-supported, free-range exploring by bicycle.
Thailand: Can’t We Stay Just a Little Bit Longer?
We have come to love Thailand. It’s so full of life and humanness. The people are precious and the culture here just makes you feel like you’ve been wrapped in a warm cozy blanket. Buddhist beliefs permeate all aspects of life here, and people continually try to make good karma by doing good. Thais are good people. They are inspiring. As tourists we have felt safe—always. More than safe, actually. We have felt like Thais were watching out for us, and sending good karma to keep us that way.
Although we had big long faces at the prospect of leaving, we are taking with us a lifetime of memories. Six weeks flew by like lightning, yet it seems so long ago that we hopped on our bikes all wobbly and uncertain about what lay ahead.
Randy and I have loved Thailand twice. Just as we were completing our 2020 tour COVID had broken out. It took three more years before we could return this year, but we never forgot how much the experience meant to us. As with all good things, we wished others could see, feel, smell, and taste it all for themselves. That’s why we brought along Deana, who is hungry for adventure and capable of long tough days in the saddle. We had a lot of fun, epic rides, and grand experiences.
We left the hotel at 7:30am to get to the airport with time to spare for our 12:00 noon flight. The immigration and passport control lines were so long and so congested we actually found ourselves running down the terminal at top speed, bags in one hand and boarding pass in the other to make our flight without a minute to spare—like a scene from a Hollywood movie.
On the airplane I was watching the ground crew on the tarmac as we readied to taxi down the runway. Workers who probably see hundreds of flights per day. As our plane started to move the two men put their hands up in the air and waved bye bye to all on board then gave a little wai (a Thai bow of respect). Yep, even the very last person we see on Thai soil before going airborne gives us a warm & friendly sendoff.
How can we not love the people of Thailand?
Khob khun kha….Thank you so very much Thailand. We don’t know when or how, but we do know one thing—we will be back!
Bangkok—Fitting it all in
We can’t do it all. We need to recognize that our flight leaves on Thursday and accept reality (maybe cry a little too). So we prioritize. Shopping at The Bobae Market, then massage, then an evening bike tour of Bangkok.
The Bobae Market is a clothing market that primarily sells wholesale but will also deal with bargain hunting farangs like us. We can’t try anything on, but that’s to be expected when one bypasses retail. At the canal boat pier we must have appeared to know what we were doing because first some Australians and then some Americans asked us for directions. After helping them figure out the system we realized—we’ve been here a while! We know where things are and how to get around (‘Cept for that bus). We feel like regulars! We don’t wanna go home! Can we stay a little longer???
The massage was a fantastic experience. Those ladies find every single tight muscle and work them hard (you might cry)! For having petite hands and tiny sized Thai bodies, these massage providers somehow morph into Incredible Hulk when it comes to power and strength. Deana and I came out all bendy, twisty and pummeled into muscular submission. 60 minute Thai massage—highly recommended if you have $10 to spare! ($12 if you leave a tip—worth every bhat!)
Randy opted to shop at MBK mall with Ben in order to avail himself of the air conditioned atmosphere, spend some time with his son, and maybe find some treasure to bring home. (Despite returning empty handed).
We had a final opportunity for some two-wheeled exploration. We took the Evening Bike Tour excursion with Jay, from Velo Thailand and it was an exhilarating experience that exceeded our expectations, and one that can never be replicated at home! Amazing Jay knows her way around the city. She took us down hidden alleyways that would have been impossible for us to discover on our own. Jay is also a wealth of knowledge and was able to answer some enduring questions we’ve had. We saw Bangkok the way we love to see all of Thailand—on bikes, seeing it all—the beautiful, the flawed, the gnarly—all utterly interesting! In the lesser visited west side of the Chao Phraya River we saw tiny communities connected by even skinnier knobbly pathways that twisted and turned into hidden areas that enthralled and delighted. We visited The Flower Market, Wat Arun, and Chinatown. The road through Chinatown was crazy with cars, people, taxis, tuktuks—we squeezed through, around, in front of and behind all the moving road users. Jay confirmed what we’ve come to learn—there are no real rules (not that are followed, anyways). You go by instinct. Look for an opening, put your hand in the air to stop traffic then flow to where you need to go.
We flowed to the Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market, Thailand’s largest wholesale flower market, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a sprawling market with endless rows of roses, orchids, carnations, and miles of marigolds, jasmine and lotus flowers to name a few. It’s difficult to comprehend the enormity of its size and the scale of production. If we didn’t have so many questions it could have rendered us speechless.
Night time riding in Bangkok is amazing!
Bangkok—Lots & Lots of Wats
One could, but shouldn’t miss the important Wats in Bangkok. The Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and the Golden Buddha (Wat Traimit, which we didn’t see). There’s also the Grand Palace which is…well, grand! If you love beautifully maintained, ornate, shiny gold & glistening architecture of cultural importance, then doing some wat-hopping in Bangkok should be at the top of your list.
Interestingly, although Emerald Buddha is housed in an enormous, gorgeous structure on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the physical size of the Buddha image itself is a mere 66 cm (26 in) × 38 cm (19 in). Photographs inside the temple are not permitted (so you’ll have to Google it), and people must have fully covered shoulders & knees to enter. You must kneel on the floor and not face your feet toward Buddha. Also, you must remain silent. The Emerald Buddha is adorned with three sets of gold seasonal decorations: two were made by Rama I, one for the summer and one for the rainy season, and a third made by Rama III for the winter or cool season.
The Reclining Buddha statue represents Buddha during his last illness, about to enter Parinirvana, the stage of great salvation after death that can only be attained by enlightened souls. Reclining Buddha is big. Like, really really big. in contrast to Emerald Buddha, Reclining Buddha is 46m (151 ft) long and 15m (49 ft) high. Buddha’s feet are also inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Alas, pictures are better than words!