Thailand is the ultimate touristic country! In the middle of the dry season, we thought to meet a lot of tourists but no, not so much. But we avoided the beaches of the south of the country. After crossing the border with Malaysia, we reached the local big city Hat Yai and took a night train to Bangkok. Trains accept bicycle but you have to pass it through the window!
We arrived in Bangkok immediately in the traffic jam. In Thailand, at least half of the cars are pickups, in the countrysides and in the cities. The BTS, elevated railroad is above several avenues so sometimes the atmosphere of the city is oppressive.
Fortunately, we were hosted at Matthieu’s home, an expatriate who is from Fanchon’s village. The flat is comfortable and at the bottom there is a supermarket with different kinds of occidental food. We cooked some nice dishes from our country. It’s pleasant! We drooled in front of the french cheese but the very high prices stopped us. We had to be patient.
With Matthieu we were quickly in the Thai atmosphere, we savored some famous dishes. Delicious! He gave us several basic rules. When you say “Hello”, it’s better to join your hands under your chin. Don’t speaking about the king, just asking questions. Don’t touch the head of people even children, it is the most sacred part of the body. Unlike, feet are considered like the impurest part. Don’t show the sole of your foot, mainly in the temples. Women can’t touch monks and they have to change their way if they meet one. They can’t give something to him, they have to drop it off.
We decided to take a cooking lesson. After a small tour in the market, we cooked 5 different dishes. We savored them immediately after. Succulent! It was maybe a mistake because we began to eat some delicious dishes cook by a chef and after on the road the food was less fine and tasty.
Thailand people eat really very sweet. Preparations contain at least one or two soup spoon of sugar and often, people add more in their plate.
80 km from the north of the capital is situated the ancient capital Ayutthaya. Destroy by the Burmese in 1767 and abandoned, today there are dozen vestiges from this period. With bicycle it was perfect, we could move easily among them.
The 5 of December is the king’s birthday’s. The oldest monarch of the world celebrated his 89 years old. For this event, shows and fireworks were organized. Thai people love him. To pay tribute to him, they wore yellow tee-shirts (king’s color) and bikes rambles were organized : “bike for dad”. But we know only few things about him. The lese-majesty is a crim in Thailand. Journalists refrain from writing about him for fear of making a mistake.
Sick of cities, we climbed to the Khao Yai park famous for its fauna, especially elephants. If you meet one on the road, the recommendation is “above all stay in your car”. And if you are ridding bicycle, what happens? On the road, Gabriel had the good luck to meet one. He especially had the good luck to see a guard’s car which was managing the situation and repulsing the pachyderm in the jungle. The campsite where we slept was occupied by a kind of deer. They searched in the bin that unconscientious campers leave out side. One night, a deer pulled our bag with food out of the tent, fortunately it didn’t open it. During a trek in the jungle with a guide we caught sight of impressive birds : hornbills.
Here in altitude, nights are fresh. In the morning, Thai people was taking themself with the thermometer indicating 17°C. It looked like exceptional!
After the park, we went down and stopped at a warmshower a bit different. He is the boss of an environmental research center located in the middle of the forest. We lived for several days almost cut off from the rest of the world with researchers. Many of them were interested by animals such as royal cobra. Some snakes had an electronic chip and can be located at any moment. One of them was sleeping under the roots of the tree next to the kitchen.
The centre welcomed groups of students. We could participated at numerous workshops with them and mostly we washed the dishes. Thanks to this, we spent great moments with workers of the center. In the kitchen, there was a team of about ten persons who arrived at dawn and prepare the three meals per day for 150 – 200 youths. Here everything is made by hand, they use only raw ingredients. The dishes were also washed by hand , we just have tried to understand why they really want to dry it while the weather was very hot!
We met there also some cyclists: Pascale and Pascal and the incredible Michael. He is 62 years old and after he lost his house because of fire, he decided to ride all around the world.
After several days we got back the road and went to see one more time old stones because we love it. Really older than Ayutthaya because they date from the XI century. Luang tam, Phimai and Phanom Rung khmer sanctuaries had the same architectural style as the famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There are sculptures of Shiva and the famous nagas, water snakes who look after the sanctuaries.
To escape wild animals (as snakes), we always asked to pitch the tent in the courtyards of temples or official places. In a police station, we were agreeably surprise by a great welcome. In the temples, we were sometimes with chickens, cocks, and dogs a bit noisy. Especially when the night arrived they decided to catch the chickens! But there is a lot everywhere in Thailand. And monks offered us water and shower. It is always appreciated to sleep clean!
However we had some problems to protect us again mosquitoes. During the day everything is fine but in the twilight they go out. Repulsive products are unless and they bite through clothes. We had to sheltered us in the tent at 6 p.m.
We spent Christmas at warmshower’s in Kon Kaen, the big city in the north-east of Thailand. We didn’t do something special just a Thai massage. At the time it was not very nice. Masseuses could feel we have ridden a lot, some of our mussels are tight. They pressed very strong on some spots to relax it. One of the lady stood on Gabriel’s legs and made a pressure with her feet. After we felt really better!
The last city in Thailand is Nong Khai, along the Mekong river. We found a great hostel with view on the Laos situed in the other side of the Mekong river. Before to cross it, we visited the surprising Buddhas Park. A Laotian artist, inspired by a meeting with a monk decided to create many statues and gather them together in a park. The concrete was used to make them but this materials is not really precious. We were startled.
We found in Thailand many interesting things: history, nature, gastronomy, handcraft, religions… People always smiling are very kind. We understood why tourism is working here.
The 27 of December 2558 (Buddhist year), we cross the friendship bridge who link Thailand and Laos.