Tour de Bangkok - Farang Style
Story by Fiona Morison
April 28, 2005
Well what a fabbie way to spend yer Birthday........on a bike 30km east of Bangkok in fresh air, lovely countryside that revives the soul and a great day had by all.
I had checked out this company that does cycling tours all over Asia and some 1 day tours within Bangkok so decided to go for it. Jayne mi chummie and I got the cycling gear on and were picked up at 7am from my house. We met our Guide for the Day Khun Tam, the van looked very professional the bikes were on top of it, Spice Roads Cycling Tours advertised on the side, helmets at the ready, water bottles filled, fruit, munchies, nibbles all organised and off we set out of the City and on our way. Now couldn't actually tell ye what road we went or direction as we were in full flow with our chat and didn't take much notice!!
We arrived at Karubislam Mosque in the Nong Jok District parked the van, got our bikes down, made sure all was ok with them tried them out and off we went. Jayne gave me one of those Yellow Smiley Face Happy Birthday balloons, so it had to be tied to the back of my bike for sure, so when we went past the local Muslim school all the kids were well excited to see me....then I realised it was mi balloon they were pointing at not me!! They were all so cute in their uniforms and like any other playground the noise of laughter and happiness echoed around.
We had a wee look at the Mosque it was built in King Rama V Reign and was obviously a well used part of the community there. We were welcomed with lots of Hellooooo's and Ahhh Farangs!!! Tam our Guide put money into this machine beside the Mosque and out came this carnival like Happy Birthday tune especially for me!! Then I was handed this jug of food - I thought oh no, have I got to eat this, what is it....but no no it was to feed the fish - it was good luck to do this on yer Birthday and also make merit. So the fish got a grand feed that morning and I got good luck for the rest of the year. So there ye go I'm sorted for this year coming!!
So off we started on our tour, the bikes were great, good sturdy mountain bikes it was still very early so it wasn't too hot and it was great to get the wind in yer face and the freedom of the countryside. We stopped off at a wee stall and got some breakfast - I'm sure you've all seen them being cooked on the side of the road, they're small oval shaped pieces being cooked seemingly called Kanomkrok. They consist of coconut milk and rice baked. I wasn't on for trying them I'm a bit of a chocoholic so had taken mi Cadbury Dairy Milk with me in its wee ice pack and mi Starbucks Cup with Coffee ready to add hot water!!! So I was to have that later on, anyway Jayne gave them the thumbs up and said they were really grand. On our way again, the roads were really quiet and we just took it at an easy pace taking everything in on our way. We stopped off at a Buddhist Temple which was certainly out numbered by Mosques in this area, to have a wee drink and a 15 minute break. Tam took out lots of fresh fruit, water, biscuits, crackers, and a welcomed cold cloth wipe....you should have seen the dirt and muck that came off our faces and legs just in that early stages but hardly surprising as everything was just so dry and baked. The Temple had some Monks wandering around, one was painting a big poster and making a smashing job of it, there were some kids running about who sat next to us and played some games with stones, the Temple dogs came and sniffed around us to see what was going on it was all very peaceful and tranquil. Off we set again, the van followed us all very professional - felt like I was in The Tour De France - Lance Armstrong has his Yellow Jersey on, hey I had my Yellow Balloon on and was set to take on the roads of Thailand!
It was an easy cycle the roads were very flat it did get very hot but Tam took care just to keep an eye on things and pace it out really well. It was all a really humbling experience as we saw everyday families at work, we had to get on this old fashioned tractor and get our photo taken, amazing piece of machinery, the farmers all came out and we got our photos with them, they wanted us to put on their hats, the kids came too so a family shot with some Farangs - something to tell their neighbours about that night. Women slept in hammocks some others gathered on the road side having a chin wag, some were solitary figures working the fields, others were fishing in the Klong river, life went on at a very slow pace all of them smiling and waving at us as we went past.
We stopped for lunch at a very Thai/Market restaurant - the woman started cooking the dishes but the way the wind caught it - it came our way and the chillis and spices caught our breath, even Tam had a coughing fit, our eyes were watering and every time ye went ti speak ye got a mouthful at the back of yer throat, the locals of course thought this hilarious, these Farangs sitting coughing and spluttering! We got that under control, and had a very nice lunch, very freshly cooked and we were well looked after and attended to by Tam who saw to all our needs over lunch - he was a great chappie. We chatted to him about his background and life, all very interesting for sure. We thanked our chef woman and again was on our way. Ohhh after that wee stop tho we had seized up a wee bit and it was actually good to get back on the bike and get going again. Got the energy levels up and was on our way once again. The day actually flew past, we covered 43km. The bikes were put back on top of the van, we went round a real typical Thai market, bought some fruit, veg and beans, lets just say it wasn't for the faint hearted and certainly not for the vegetarian! The van headed back to Nong Jok and we were to get a long tail boat down the Klong and meet it back there. Unfortunately there was a wee problem with the boat, Mai Pen Rai tho, they worked on it while we sat and took all the on goings in of the town, altho the smell from the Klong was quite hard to ignore..Oh lah lah. I'm actually breathing in as I write that bit!! Ok off we went on our boat it was repaired and went whizzing down the Klong...seemingly it ran right into Pethchuburi area of the City. We saw all sorts of sights as ye do going down the river on a boat and as always the kids with their big white teethie grin, showing off for the camera, having a great time bathing in the water, people doing their washing, old Grans and Grandas sitting watching the world go by, it took no time to get down and we arrived back at the Mosque where we had started our day. We met the van jumped in and collapsed. We were filthy, dusty, grimy, burned, sweaty and dirty, but a smashing day was had - it was really just fabbie. We headed back into Bangkok still chatting and jibbering on and got home around 5.30pm - my smiley face balloon was still smiling altho battered and worn having had a special day out - a wee bit like myself! Nothing a shower and a large stuffed pizza wouldn't sort out, and a Birthday Treat I'll never forget.
If anyone would like to find more about Spice Roads the information is below, and I would certainly highly recommend this well run organised company and a great mega day out.