Escaping Bangkok by Bicycle
Story by Sirinya Wattanasukchai
The Nation, April 09, 2005
A trip to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and temples and orchards further afield makes for an ideal weekend getaway
No matter how often you've visited Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, a ramble around the canal network on a bicycle provides a completely different view.
Consider Spice Roads' 32-kilometre one-day bike trip: During the six-hour ramble, cyclists see fruit orchards, temples and Amphawa Market and get to ride a ferry across the Mae Klong River.
Best of all is the appreciation of nature and the neighbourhood's unique way of life that slowly unfurls during the morning and afternoon cycling sessions.
From the floating market, riders are transported via long-tail boat to the cycling tour's starting point. The 20-kilometre morning session takes cyclists to Wat Bang Kae Noi, known for its collection of woodcarvings, and Wat Bang Kung, an old army camp from the 17th century, where a huge banyan tree now grows above a Buddha image. The trip proceeds at a leisurely pace to King Rama II Park before lunch at a riverside restaurant.
The 12-kilometre afternoon session, with fewer stops, pushes deeper into the country. This is a more contemplative ride, bringing cyclists closer to nature.
Riding through pomelo orchards, you will possibly do more than see farmers tending to their trees, fruit and plants.
During my trip, everyone was misted with the pesticide that a farmer was spraying on his trees. One rider joked that mosquitoes will never bite him again. But the misting was light, and how can you stop a farmer from protecting his crop?
The six-hour ride ends at Wat Chotitayakaram - not too short or too long a stretch. For serious bikers, the afternoon session was more interesting for its length.
Stops at temples and markets are brief, usually no more than 15 minutes. Riders regain their breath while the guides launch into brief descriptions of each place.
In addition to easy riding, the distance from Bangkok makes the tour very pleasing. But keep your fingers crossed for good weather. A hot day means dusty roads and a nagging thirst, while a rainy day makes the orchard tracks trickier to navigate.
The "Mae Klong Delta One-Day" tour costs Bt2,000, inclusive of the Bangkok-Damnoen Saduak transfer, lunch, accident insurance, entrance fees, bicycle, helmet, an English-speaking guide and an air-conditioned support vehicle.