We are in off the long, sandy, wet trail. We’ve reached Bangkok, and the first leg of our journey is complete. But before I get to the hectic up-and-down day we had to cap off the leg, let’s go back to Prachuap Khiri Kahn, the King’s Coast, and the few rainy and flat days that got us here.
We took an unanticipated rest day in Khiri Kahn during what we thought was a rare rainy day. As it turned out, Southern Thailand has been hit with the tail of a typhoon, so the next few days as well turned into a small period of moderate temperatures, frequent thunderstorms and tropical downpours. However, mistakenly thinking the rain was over, we were the next morning hit by a series of these short downpours and forced to seek shelter when we could find it. The thing with tropical rainstorms is that if you feel raindrops coming, you have maybe a minute or two to seek shelter before it starts pouring. The first shower we were fortunate to be in a place where we could do this. The next time, not so much. In the end, I was thankful for the free warm shower, but less thankful for the chafing that ensued.
This weather has also brought with it some pretty strong headwinds along the beach. Nothing quite like Tierra del Fuego, but enough to be a nuisance. Our greatest enemy on this tour has been slight uphill and slight headwinds. Not enough uphill or headwinds to feel as though it’s worthwhile to be fighting hard, but rather just enough to make you wonder why you’re having to fight that hard in the first place. Frustrating.
These days have also brought with them the first truly frustrating days of the trip. With the pedal to the metal in order to get Sophie out of Thailand so that she doesn’t have to pay too much in overstay fees, we’ve been sore, tired, and mentally exhausted a lot of the time. This has made us less able to deal with some of the minor frustrations that life generally just throws your way. Headwinds, clouds of bugs (extra protein for the ride, I guess), park entrance fees that we didn’t really have to pay in the first place in order to camp, wrong turns taken, a broken odometer that was double-counting kilometers and eventually broken entirely, and a flat tire in the middle of Bangkok have all added up to a moderately more frustrated last few days. There are some days where you start in a sour, groggy mood and it generally gets better, and some days where it doesn’t. One or two of the last few days have unquestionably been the latter.
The broken odometer was something that made me sort of unnecessarily frustrated yesterday morning. That thing had gotten me through days where there was nothing to see except its numbers tick up and the unending flatness of Argentinian Patagonia. Sad to see it go, but we were fortunate to come across a nice bike shop soon after that sold Cateye odometers. Unfortunately, I can’t edit the odometer on the new one, so my “total mileage” is starting at 0 again. Sigh.
Fortunately, today’s ride into Bangkok was one of the days where things got better as the day progressed. We had always anticipated bussing into Bangkok because we just didn’t want to deal with the traffic on the main road into the city. Fortunately, this proved to be an endeavor that went, overall, pretty well. More often than not on a trip like this you just have to throw plans out the window, and say “I hope we make it to X city by Y time by Z method for a goal price” and try to come as close to that as possible. Things were certainly simpler in Patagonia. One ferry from one very specific landing to another specific landing at predictable times. One road from Point A to Point B. Add in the SE Asia language barrier, unpredictable bus timetables, traffic, the general unwieldiness of our gear and bikes in this setting, and you have the logistical nightmare that loomed over today.
Brief blow-by-blow recap of the day:
We woke up at a beach campsite with about a 25km ride to where I thought a bus terminal might be, along a road that might exist, to take a bus to a 14 million person city 120km away where we may or may not be able to spend the night with someone we know. I receive an email from the Warmshowers host I contacted last night telling us she can’t host us for the night. Other friends do not return our message.
The bus terminal wasn’t where I thought it was, and then when we found some sort of private depot the owner gestured to us that we wouldn’t be able to load our bikes onto his bus. In retrospect, it was a tour agency that didn’t really serve our purpose anyways. So we left, seeking the train station or another minibus station that showed up on Google. It got better from here. The minibus station was our key, as about four drivers immediately stopped what they were doing to help us load our bikes onto a bus, sending us on our way to Bangkok for only about $17. During the ride I got an email from my Aunt telling us that we could stay the night at her place in Bangkok, but I anticipated the bus dropping us off at a station about 15km of nasty city riding from where we needed to be. That turned out to be wrong, as the bus dropped us off about 2km away. We got dropped off, and reassembled our bikes on a median in the middle of the city.
Cut to mad, adrenaline-fueled (helmeted!) dash through the city.
Brief intermission for fried chicken and to fix Sophie’s flat tire.
Continue mad dash through city.
Eventually, we met up with my Aunt I was reunited with her dog Lucy, who I helped raise during the summer between 4th and 5th grade.
So there you have it. We’ve made it to Bangkok, and we’re over 900km for the trip. We’ll be here for a few days. Today I personally crossed the 4000km mark for my trips in general, but was robbed of that satisfying moment where my overall distance clicks from 3999 to 4000 because of my new odometer. Sigh #2.
Life has ups and downs. More ups than downs overall today.