The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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Tires for Bike Tours..
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Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
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all 3 book)
Thailand Daily Journal
Travel Writing, Blog, Travelogue
Bangkok to Aranya Prathet,
(November 22 - December 15, 2004)
||Landed in Bangkok in the wee hours of the morning. We
had arranged for a pick up at the airport but were disappointed to find
out that we were on our own for transportation. Our dream of having
someone standing at an airport exit with our name on a sign never
happen. No worries, a women from the Thai tourist agency helped us
get a taxi. Well at least we still had our hotel reservation. We
finally went to sleep at 2 am Thailand time. I think it was 2 pm
The exchange rate when we arrived was 1US = 39.85 baht.
The dollar is dropping rapidly so I expect this rate to go down as we
||Just getting use to the time change, having jet lag is
no fun. We walked around Lumpini Park and saw a komodo dragon
||Did a little sight seeing today. We took the sky
train to the river and jumped on a river taxi, first stop was the royal
barge museum, next was Koa San Rd. to have lunch and last but the best
we did a tour of Wat Arun, a temple built with porcelain tile. We
also watched a special opening ceremony for Loi , meaning floating
candle. This event happens on the last full moon of the year which
happens to be November 26. We will enjoy watching the event Friday
||A work day in the room. We are connected to the
internet in our room, a first for us. We paid 450 baht (US 11.39)
for unlimited access for 24 hours.
We contacted Yu today. He
knows Wan and Mou who are from Thailand and bike traveling around the
world. They are currently in the US, you can say we traded countries for
Yu took us to the probike shop. It is a modern bike shop with
everything a bike tourist could need. I am sure it will be a handy
place to know about when we come back through in a year. Yes we
plan to circle back into Thailand from the north through china, Laos,
and then Thailand, We will travel the entire length of the country
and make our way to Malaysia.
||I managed to pull Tim away from the computer to go to
the grand palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The Grand Palace was closed because
the King of Norway was visiting and staying at the palace, however, we
did get to visit Wat Phra Kaew. This Wat is connected to the Grand Palace
and is the location of the emerald Buddha which is most likely carved
out of jade. Next we went to the Wat Pho where the reclining
Buddha is located. The grounds also house a school for children
and a traditional Thai massage school. A fascinating place to walk
around and enjoy the architecture.
Finally we made our way over to Wat
Arun, one of the many places where Loi Krathong is celebrated.
“Loi Krathong” is traditionally performed on the full
moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which usually falls on some day
in November. The floating of a ‘Krathong' – a banana–leaf cup – is
intended to float away ill fortune as well as to express apologies to
Khongkha or Ganga, the River Goddess.
We watched old army landing crafts turned into floats go by.
People also set there floating candle banana leaf boats afloat from the
dock. It was a carnival like atmosphere with many food venders.
Take a look at some of the food, squid on a stick, pad Thai noodles, all
kinds of desserts as much of a delight to the eyes as to the taste buds.
Thai food can be spicy, I am glad I like the spice.
||More work on the bikes and paperwork, now that we are
running a business from the road we have more responsibility like doing
taxes, so I am now I must count our expenses along the way. What I
thought would take a matter of hours has turned into a matter of days of
imputing data and reviewing receipts, Those carefree days of not
paying attention are gone. I can not complain to much, I am
extremely happy with our lifestyle.
||I went shopping for maps of china and SE Asia, I found
a nice book store, Asia books that had a large selection of maps,
however, china was not covered. Maybe we can find some more
detailed maps the closer we get to china.
||Preparations are going well.
||We leave tomorrow and I planned to send a package to
the US with all my paperwork. Well I ate some very hot food and it
upset my stomach, so much I could not leave the room. By the time
I felt better it was too late to send the package. Tim volunteered
to carry it to the next town. Yu volunteered to send it for us but
we did not know how much it cost and we did not want to burden him with
our paper work. Yu is coming over in the morning to show us the
way out of town. A relief on one hand and on the other hand I am
dreading riding in the city.
Just when we were about to go to sleep
the hotel called and said that we should have checked out that morning.
Hmm, I checked my voucher and sure enough we had stayed an extra day.
Well we had plenty to do I just needed to settle the bill.
||Bangkok - Chonburi. We were up at 4:30 am to
finish packing. Tim could not find his riding gloves, we looked
everywhere, Tim decides to leave town without them. Yu arrived at
6:30 am, he had breakfast with us and we left at about 8:15 am.
The temperature is pleasant at this time of day, the traffic is not.
We leave the parking lot saying to ourselves, stay to the left, stay to
the left. Yu is an experience city dweller and immediately has traffic
stopped so we can get in the right lane to do a U-turn to head back the
other way. He communicates with hand signals and it works very
The buses, taxis, and motor bikes are the vehicles to watch, the
cars are courteous, they really don't want to run us over.
Motorbikes are a different story. We all move to the front at a
red light. When the light turns green they are off in a flash as
we take forever to get up to speed. I felt like I was in a tunnel
with motor bikes zooming by on each side. The city seemed to go on
forever, we followed an elevated highway out of town, it was nice
because it provided shade in places. The highways are divided with
one way traffic on each side an a u-turn to go the other way every
kilometer or so. Well this does not help the short distance
commuter at all. So the motorbikes work their way back in the
other direction, so they are coming straight at us. Most of the
time they give us the right of way but at times it caused a tight spot
going around parked trucks. Hand jesters worked well with them
too. We took a break after 30 kilometers and then rode on with Yu
in the lead. We took our second break around noon, I was feeling
overheated and needed to cool down. We stopped at a little outdoor
restaurant. When I paid for our drinks, I thought I handed the man
a 100 baht note, instead to my surprise they returned with change for a
1000 baht note. I am glad the man was honest, because I would have
never known the difference. This told me that I needed to rest.
We rested for an hour and Yu decided it was time to turn around, he rode
with us to the river, a total of 60 kilometers out of town, he had a
long ride back to town. We went on to Chonburi, only 20 kilometers
down the road.
Not 5 minutes after leaving Yu Tim said, guess what, I have a flat.
Oh no not on the first day out of town, just like the first day we left
Prescott, Arizona oh 2.5 years ago. We decided to move to the shade of a
furniture store office to change the flat. Before we could get the gear off the
bike a young man was at Tim's side with a pair of pliers to pull out the
glass and metal pieces out of his tire. Then they brought out a
rug for us to sit on. What a nice thing to do. We fixed the
flat, said our goodbyes and headed for Chonburi. Now it was time
to find a hotel. Tim spotted it first. We took the first
hotel we found. I do not know what street it was on or the name,
it was all in Thai. The clerk at the desk did not speak English,
no one did, but they knew what we wanted, so we had a room with a fan
and TV for 300 B($7.54). We were exhausted. We went to sleep
early after a refreshing shower and food. I was not even hungry.
||Chonburi - Pattaya. We left Chonburi and had the
fortune of having a strong tailwind. The wind blows from the north to
the south. We cruised easily at 30 km (18 mi/hr) per hour. The
road was flat to Si Racha and then rolling hills to Pattaya. On the way
into Pattaya Tim spotted a bike shop and to my amazement, they had XL
gloves that fit Tim's large hands, this would have never happened in
South America. Yeah, that means we do not need to go back to
Bangkok to buy a pair. Tim was relieved because his hands were
It was noon and the day was getting hot, we looked around
and found a motel for 450 B ($11.30). It has air conditioning
cable TV and a hot shower. Sold, I was too hot to look around anymore.
The name of the hotel is New Moon Motel and it is off of Pattaya 2.
This is on the less expensive side for this town, there are 5 star
hotels here and upscale resorts.
We got into the room, showered and took a nap. The heat will
take us a little while to get use to. It is not as bad as Costa
Rica, at least we can cool off in the shade.
A common drink here is green tea, sold cold with honey and lemon or
sugar free. Fresh fruit is also common, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon,
pineapple. There are all kinds of fruit that I have never tried
and plan to soon.
||Pattaya. We met some English fellows and Tim
decided to go out for a beer with them while I went for a massage.
I elected to have a Thai herbal scrub and facial. It lasted two
hours and cost 899 B($22.75). It was nice to get all the sweat a
grim off from head to toe. I was left feeling squeaky clean. There
were so many Thai massage places to pick from it was easy to shop
around. A facial alone ranged from 500 - 1200 B ($12.65 - 30.38).
||Pattaya Worked on the web page and posted photos.
We went to a German all you can eat buffet. Tons of food both Thai
and German. I especially liked the bean curd balls in a coconut
curry soup. They had great coconut deserts too. A number of
people tried to speak German to Tim, he blended in well.
||Pattaya - Ko Samet. Happy Birthday to the Thai
King. Today is his birthday and a national holiday. Our plan
was to ride to Rayong today and then set off for Ko Samet in the
morning. We got an early start at 7:00 am and were in Rayong by
11:30 am. We had a slight breeze in the morning until about 9:00
am then the winds picked up from the north. We turned east on 332
to cut the corner to Rayong. The wind was from the side so it did
not slow us down to much. On 332 we were on a nice country road
away from traffic. When we turned back on to Highway 3 the wind was
directly in our face. It started to get hot around 10 am.
After a long lunch we decided to ride the rest of the way to Ban Phe for
the ferry to Ko Samet (Samed). The one way ticket was 50B ($1.28)
The exchange rate has dropped to US1 = 39.2. However, they charged
us 100B ($2.55) per bicycle. I suspect that this is an overcharge.
We will see on our return trip if this is true.
We arrived on the
island and it was packed, the tourist office said we could camp near the
tourist office if we could not find a room. It did not look
appealing at all. We took off down the road and soon found that
all the bungalows were full. The only rooms left were large and
expensive. In desperation I asked someone if they were looking for
a room, (he had an REI pack so I guessed he might be American) it
turns out he just left a room and said it was probably still open.
We arrived as they were cleaning the room, the only reasonable room left
in Ao Phai. We piled in right around sunset just as the mosquitoes
were making a feast of my legs. Speaking of mosquitoes, we are in
a low malaria zone, so we are not taking our anti-malaria pills yet.
I believe it is always best to avoid getting bitten anyway.
||Ko Samet. Hotel The Last Resort 600B ($15.30).
The combination of a long day on the bike and the heat sent me to bed
early. Slept like a rock too.
||Ko Samet. Rode our bikes around the island today, a
15 km round trip
dirt road but up and down short steep hills. As far as I can tell,
the maps of this island are wrong, it shows paved roads, I must have
missed that because all we found were dirt, in some places the road was
concrete on some steep sections. My new bike handles
much better than the old one. I have better control going down
hill and it is easier to maneuver around obstacles like rocks and pot
holes. Since I am more relaxed I put my foot down less. Of course it is a bit easier unloaded. We went down to Ko
Kui a secluded beach with white fine sand. I liked the shade on the
beach. No one was there because the place is being remodeled.
We rode back and stopped at another beach for lunch. I bit cheaper
then the restaurants at Ao Phai. There are a lot of hidden
bungalows on this island so it would be wise to shop around. We
arrived on a holiday so we were lucky to find a room and had no way to
bargain hard. The best time to visit is probably during the week
because the weekends the entire island fills up.
||I am going on a snorkeling trip, it costs 400B ($10.20)
Tim has decided to keep his feet firmly planted on solid ground. I
will be gone for about 5 hours. We do not normally separate like
this so I feel lucky to go, Tim would not enjoy getting seasick.
Tim will stay behind and work on the web site and newsletter.
on the Smiley Boat Trip. I met two Swedes, Jessica and Fredrick, a German Hanes, and a
Korean Kim. We went along the beaches on the east side of
the island picking up passengers. We then went fishing on the west
side of the island, a line, hook and a piece of squid. We fished
for about a half hour and caught lunch, The Swedes guy showed me how to
catch fish, and I caught two, it was great fun.
We then went snorkeling, the reef looks pretty damaged, in areas it
is dead in other areas it is alive with colorful coral and fish.
There were many sea anemones as well. Finally we visited the shark
farm. Very interesting too. All and all I thought it was
worth the 400 B.
We met Hans, Kim, George and Rieca for dinner. We had great
conversations about world politics, Germany, Korea, USA and the middle
east, very interesting. I was cold and Hanes gave me his sarong
that he just bought, at the end of the evening he gave me his sarong.
Thank you Hanes. The sarong is covered with fish, very fitting for
a PHD in aquaculture.
Our plans are to leave tomorrow for Chanthaburi
||Ko Samet - Klaeng. We started out the door at 7:15 am
to catch the boat at 8:00 am this is when Tim noticed that he had a
missing bolt on his front rack. Tim must not have tightened it
enough when he reassembled the bikes in Bangkok. Ouch. He pulled
out a zip tie and but it through the fork and rack and we raced off to
meet the boat. When I was buying our tickets for the boat the zip
tie broke. The man at the ticket booth ran inside and came out
with a straw for Tim to use. This brought a smile to Tim's face,
he was not worried, he knew that he could find a replacement bolt
at any motorcycle shop. He used a thicker zip tie to hold the rack
in place. The boat was smaller than the one we arrived on, so my
bike was handed over to two men on the boat, as Tim was handing his bike
into the boat, it was slowly pushing away from the dock, so far that he
had to pull the bike back. He tried again and the bike made it
safely on the boat. This ride was cheaper, the cost of for each bike was
only 50 B ($1.28) less than the 100B ($2.56) we paid on the way over.
By the time we started riding it was after 9:00 am instead of riding the
busy highway 3 we stayed near the coast and rode the secondary roads
into Klaeng. Outside of town we stopped for a snack at a
restaurant that had a motorcycle shop next door. Tim and the young
mechanic went searching for a bolt for the front rack, in no time we had
a bolt and an extra for the road.
We arrived in Klaeng at around noon, it was already hot. We got
a room at the first hotel we could find for 200 B ($2.60) it had a fan
and plenty of room for our gear. We went out to eat and a couple
of restaurants, all the food was good. Except the plate of horse
meat I ate. Well I thought it was beef. They did not tell me
until after I ate it, it did not taste bad, it was the thought of eating
horse that bummed me out.
||Klaeng - Chanthaburi. I thought if we left early we
would beat the wind, no luck, it was blowing in our face at 7 am.
well at least it was flat. The wind seems to change direction
throughout the day, it mainly comes from the northeast but at times we
had a tail wind. By mid day it was a dead on head wind. I
could not wait until we arrived in Chanthaburi.
We headed towards the
downtown and asked where a hotel was, we were directed to the Chanthra
hotel. Our room was 150B ($3.80). They did not speak a word
of English, somehow I confused them and they thought we wanted two rooms
when I actually wanted two nights. It is custom here in Thailand
to pay for the room when you arrive. After we showered we came out
and they had someone translate and tell us we had to many keys. I
gave them back the extra key and we all had a good laugh.
We wandered around the gem street where 50 - 60% of the worlds rubies
and sapphires pass through. A fascinating place where tables and
table of people buying and selling gems, a bit of a frenzy actually.
Many people are walking around with large bags on their shoulder and
carrying large bags of gems. So this is where the jewelry network
gets it's gems.
We tried to call the US via the phone booth and the internet but with
no luck. Very frustrating.
||Chanthaburi. I went to the market and picked up
breakfast for 80 B ($2.15). Delicious food and much lower prices then
the tourist area. I also bought some coconut balls wrapped in rice
paper, I could not resist the little old lady who gave me a free one to
We went searching for the internet and found many places with
gaming, for some reason it is difficult to connect to the internet at
these gaming places.
We went back to the gem street and looked around some more, I saw
rubies, sapphires, and possibly citrine changing hands not one or two
gems but large bags. On a side street a group of gold smiths were
making the ring settings.
||Chanthaburi - Soi Dao. We left early and again
the wind was blowing hard from the northeast. It was mostly flat
until about 10 km out of Pong Nam Ron then we started to climb, I was
getting hot and wanting to take a break and around the corner we came
across a check point. They told us to stop. Oh boy, our passports
were buried. One man spoke English and he asked us where we were
going and where we had started. Meanwhile another man gave Tim a
bottle of red bull and then he gave me one. Just what I needed to
get me over the rest of the hill, a cold energy drink. I do not
know what is in that stuff but it sure has a good kick.
A couple hours
down the road we stopped at a fruit stand selling fresh papaya.
The little lady just giggled and laughed as she sold me a papaya, she
could not believe we were riding a bike when we could be riding a
scooter or in a car
or bus. Her laugh was certainly infectious, she gave me a great
papaya for 10B (25 cents) hmm good. We ate half of for a snack and
ate the other half later.
We came to the town of Soi Dao, I think, and looked all over for a
hotel. After riding around for an hour and talking to a number of
people we were pointed back towards the Soi Dao waterfall and found a
little fishing place with bungalows. Our room was 400 B ($10.20)
with a fan. they have a nice restaurant too.
||Soi Dao - Aranya Prathet. We learned that hotels
can be hard to find so we decided to ride all the way to Aranya because
we knew there were hotels there. It turned out that we had
finished most of the climbing yesterday. The morning air was cool
and comfortable. The locals thought differently, they were dressed
in coats and hats and I even saw someone with mittens on. I did not
think it was that cold. Then again I just landed here from Indiana
and I thought it was hot.
Our maps were not that accurate with the
road numbers, however, the road was signed in English so we knew where
to turn off the main highway and we had kilometer markers all the way to
town. We rode through farming communities growing papaya, sugar
cane, cotton and corn. We saw at least three different types of
snakes on the road. All of them were dead, one was as big around
as my forearm, I am sure he would have wrecked me if I hit him.
Tim took the lead the entire day, I was happy in his draft and when I
came around to pull the wind was amazingly strong. Riding behind Tim,
who makes a large draft (slipstream), takes 30% less work then being in
front. Tim was in front 100 out of the 105 kilometers. Tim likes
the flats and can hammer for hours. It took us 5 hours to get to
Aranya. When we arrived we were both tired and hot.
We found a hotel Aran Gardens Hotel 1. We are carrying two
guidebooks, Lets Go Southeast Asia and Lonely Planet Southeast
Asia. So far Lets Go has been more useful. We are at the
major border crossing from Thailand to Cambodia, a lot of tourists pass
through here on there way to Angkor Wat. Lonely Planet mentions
that you can time your bus and train so you do not have to stay here and
that's it no information. I can understand not having information about
every little town but not having a major border crossing is just
neglectful. Lets Go at least gave us the basic information.
If the Lonely Planet does not improve soon I will sell it to the nearest
||Aranya Prathet. We decided to get our Cambodia
Visa through the hotel, it will make crossing the border easier
tomorrow. I know that I can get my Visa at the border too but it
nice have. The man who runs the hotel speaks fluent English and is
very helpful. We paid 1,100 B for our Cambodian Visa.
to the internet has been an exercise in patience and persistence.
There are plenty of internet cafes but gaming is huge here and there
networks are set up differently and at most of them we can not connect
to their network. This will be a new problem to figure out as we
We went out to dinner tonight and walked through all the street
stalls of food. Fantastic food, the Thais are incredible cooks.
As I was browsing the stalls I had to look twice at what was on the
table. Huge dishes of maggots, grasshoppers and cockroaches.
Not anything that I would consider yummy. But then again, I have
not experienced famine.
Some thoughts on Thailand, it is a fantastic country to travel in.
I would be very sad if I was leaving and not coming back. We are
coming back and we will travel the length of the country from north to
south. The people in Thailand are all smiles and willing to help.
The tourist areas are more expensive, this is true all over the world,
and more people speak English in those areas. The food is the best
I have had anywhere. The variety is awesome, Tim is hooked on
curry, the spices are hot and sweet at the same time. The fruits
are familiar like watermelon and banana and exotic like rambutan a red
fruit covered with soft hairy spines. If you want and adventure of
the palate, Thailand is the place for it.
||Aranya Prathet. We are making our final
preparations for crossing into Cambodia, a country that has suffered
immensely. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and has
the most landmines. I have read that many people young and old are
missing limbs from stepping on hidden land mines. The process of
clearing them out is slow. I have to say that I am a bit nervous,
the living conditions will be tougher and the road conditions will be
difficult. I wonder what the people will be like, how does a
country survive genocide. In the mid to late 70's the Khmer Rouge
was in power. Pol Pot wanted an agrarian, farmer dominated society. So
he slaughtered 2,000,000 of the 7,000,000 Cambodians. He tried to
exterminate the educated population. I remember hearing about this
when I was a teenage, hearing about it is one thing, seeing the results
of the devastation is another. I fully expect Cambodia to be an
emotional as well as a physical journey.
SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to 9-15-06
December 16- January 16, 2005
Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Poipet to Tien Bien, Cambodia
Best Place to see Pictures
Cambodia Thumbnail Pictures
(January 16 - February 17 , 2005)
Tinh Bien to Cau Ganh, Vietnam
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Best Place to see Pictures
South Vietnam Thumbnails
May 22 - June 27, 2005
Guizhou and Hunan,
Zhangjiajie National Park China
Best Place to see Pictures
Pictures of Guizhou, China.
(July 16 - Sept. 3, 2005)
Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, China.
Beijing to Xian, Shaanxi, China
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail pictures from Inner
Full size Picture
Beijing to Jining, Inner Mongolia.
Grasslands of Jining, to Wuchuan (near) Hohhot
to Bautou, Inner Mongolia, China
Bautou to Yulin, Shanxi, China with Photos from Genghis Khan's Mausoleum.
- Yulin to
Yanan, Shaanxi, China
Chairman Mao's Headquarters and Residence in Yanan, China.
- Yanan to
Xian, Shaanxi, China.
Terracotta Warriors #1
Terracotta Warriors #2.
(Sept. 4 - Oct. 29, 2005)
Chengdu, to Zongdian, China
Best Place to see Pictures
Sichuan Thumbnail Photos
Full size Picture
- Giant Panda
Breeding Center #1
- Red Panda
in Chengdu, Sichuan, China #2
Chengdu to Kangding.
Sichuan, located in Southwestern China.
Mugecuo Lake near Kangding, Sichuan, China.
Xinduqiao to Tibetan Home Stay.
Home Stay to 4718 meter (15,475 feet)
Litang, Sichuan, China.
Litang Lamasary Tibetan Buddhist Monk Monastery
to Sumdo, Tibet
- Sumdo to
Xiangcheng to Derong, Tibet.
Sichuan Province to Tibetan Shangri-La, (Zongdian)
(Oct. 30 - Dec. 24, 2005)
Zongdian to Mohan, China
Best Place to see Pictures
Yunnan thumbnail photos
(July - Sept. 15, 2006)
Malaysia #3 and Singapore.
Taiping, Malaysia to
Best Place to see Pictures
Malaysia #3 and Singapore
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground