|Our first camp spot in Thailand|
We lost Eric and Amaya on the day we met them but as we were waiting for them at a traffic light, a Thai boy passing by on his Giant (fitted with a Rohloff) stopped and asked us about our trip. He very kindly cycled with us to a cheap hotel and went on his way. When we returned from dinner we found not only him but his friend Ton sitting in the hotel patiently waiting for us. Ton is a cycle enthusiast and is one of only a few people importing Rohloffs into Thailand. He fits them into old mountain bike frames. Ton told us about Bok Bok Bike, a touring specific bike shop in Bangkok and even rang up Hma, the owner, to tell him we were coming. They were very sweet guys.
The next day we rolled into Bangkok and to my brother Ben's friend Tom's house. Tom has been living there for eight years and is married to a very lovely Thai lady called Mam and has two very sweet girls, Zoe and Naomi. They took us in and looked after us wonderfully. We were fed amazing meals, splashed around in the swimming pool, had massages and generally took advantage of their incredible generosity. It was brilliant.
|Tom and Mam and family|
|Zoe showing us how it's done|
|Tense times with Dog and Frog|
|Good job Cob has his protective sunglasses on|
|The seat post when it finally came out, very rusty|
|Big smiles all round|
|Nook and I and Hma|
|The huge gold reclining Buddha|
Our next long stop was on Koh Tao island, a place which couldn't be more different from Bangkok. I really wanted to go there because my old school friend Darren is there doing his Dive Master course. Koh Tao is a diving island, with fifty dive shops squeezed into the 17 square kilometers. It is a bubble of travellers diving and partying, people who arrived and have never left, and Burmese workers manning the boats and cleaning the dive equipment. Julian had never dived before so he did his three day open water dive course while I did a refresher course and tried to find Darren. It was Songkran (Thai New Year) while we were there. The Thai people celebrate by throwing a LOT of water at each other, I stepped onto the street and was absolutely soaked immediately. I hitched a ride in the back of a truck full of very wet Thai people and tanks of water to the other end of the island. The truck stopped every time it passed another truck and we all threw water at each other. It was slow progress. Not having come equipped, one person generously gave me a small plastic cup with which to throw water at passers by but it was not much defense against the buckets and hoses everyone else had. I found Darren in his dive shop and we spent a pleasantly drunken afternoon being periodically soaked. Someone had the bright idea of using food colouring and we all changed colour every few minutes. It was great. I hitched back down to our end of the island to find Julian dry as a bone doing his homework. The next day the sewers had overflowed from all the water.
|Fire poi on Koh Tao|
|Even the kids had little bamboo baskets|
The next cyclist we met was Troy Cobb from Pennsylvania. He's been cycling across China into South East Asia. On the first day we met he clocked his 10,000 kms. We cycled together and had a beer in the evening to celebrate. We'd be camping in the Buddhist temples quite often so we set off there together to ask for sanctuary. A man at the temple stopped us and invited us to his home to sleep, his name was Pa and was very friendly. He set us up a bed in his music studio among the drum kits, guitars and Chinese two stringed violins which was all had a go on. He bought us beer and crackers and sang for us and his little girl Proy, not Troy, brought us a beetle to play with and tried to teach me Thai. In the morning we woke to the sound of Pa playing his wooden flute and his wife went to the market to buy us porridge for breakfast. The whole family were lovely.
|Troy eyeing up Julian's rather phallic desert|
|The Mosque in George Town|
|A HUGE six inch scorpion I spotted on the climb to the highlands|
|So so so sweaty|
|Beautiful butterfly at a sanctuary in the highlands|
|What're you looking at?|
|Rhinoceros beetle! Look at that horn!|
|That's a good cup of tea|
|Jet and her tea|
|Wheeler dealer Dan and his cup|
|Rene clocks his 10,000 km!|
|A very beautiful descent from the tea lands|
|Very sad to say goodbye!|
|The Year of the Dragon in Melaka|
|On the river front|
|The bikes ALL the cool kids have in Malaysia, I want one|