Posted in Thailand

From the Rayong province to Sa Kaeo

The coast of the Gulf of Thailand is now far away, the landscape has changed a lot, only the hot climate has remained. However, the first night on the edge of a low mountain range similar to yesterday was a bit cooler than the nights by the sea, even if we were only about 240 meters high, about 50 km north of Chantaburi. The climb at the end of today’s stage on the hot afternoon was pretty hard, because even if the temperature now drops to 25°C at night, it is still 33°C – 35°C in the shade in the afternoon – with almost permanent sunshine. The rather loose cloud cover doesn’t change that much. That’s why I add short breaks from time to time so as not to neglect drinking water, and on this ramp of 6 – 9% gradient we could even do this in the shadow of a wandering Buddha.

The route lengths are now between 60 and 100 km and because of a tire damage to Maik’s bike, I rescheduled the stages a bit so that we had enough time in Chantaburi to get help from a bike dealer there. A nice young man, who, however, had more in mind of his just arriving delivery of new goods than some things from Maik’s bike that we had to look for in his shop after the repair. North of this provincial town, along the smaller country roads, there are many small settlements that more or less merge into one another; rubber tree plantations and also small plantations of oil palms are occasionally seen. The little bit of agriculture along the coast hardly caught my eye; Cassava is grown there, sometimes pineapple. Rather, we had to cross a large chemical and oil processing plant west of Rayong, which apparently manages the oil supply for part of the country.

From Phala Beach, the road led almost straight at a short distance parallel to the coast and to the chemical or refinery facilities, which could already be seen in the distance from the local beach. The shortest way to get past it is going through it, and even if it is a complex on the area of a small town, after less than half an hour this area was behind us again. In the subsequent suburbs of Rayong, this picture was quickly forgotten. Instead, village flair with the usual shops, street vendors – an open barber shop. The young lady patiently presents herself with the boy’s cut in her chair. It is more of a coincidence that I stop for a drink in the shade directly opposite her shop.

You drive into Rayong, similarly as between Chonburi and Pattaya, through slowly getting denser commercial and residential buildings. Tourists hardly get lost in this region, at most outside of Rayong, further east of this somewhat larger provincial town, and of course rather near the coast. Rayong itself is a few kilometers north of the sea. There is a large market with sometimes chaotic delivery traffic, as in other cities. And the post office there was easy to find.

The beaches further east are already much more lonely than they were in the Pattaya area and even in Phala. In spite of the traffic that is always there, of course, it is great to cycle there, and it is nowhere near as stressful as in the major tourist resorts. Along the Lan Hin Khao beach there are colorful, small fishing boats on the beach and many small improvised restaurants under palm trees offer crabs, prawns, sea snails and other mollusks. Before you can look at them in large aquariums. This is nothing for me, but the demand seems to be high.
From Ban Phe, near which we paused a day, there are also regular ferries to Ko Samet Island. There you can meet for overwinterers from Europe or retirees who spend the whole of their retirement in Thailand, e.g. a friendly Swiss, formerly a chef, who has been living in the country with his Thai partner for 7 years, on this secluded stretch of coast now for 2 years.

In the Bay of Klaeng, at Ban Pak Nam Prasae, not only does a broad river flow into the sea, on the banks of which there is a picturesque fishing village with at least as many trawlers as residents, the area is also a vast wetland where mangroves grow and apparently over a large area are also replanted. In a restaurant on the river bank, where there is delicious fish soup, the spirits of the seafarers are given a friendly attitude with food donations, just like the spirits who are everywhere in this country – an interesting facet
Then someone suddenly burns fireworks on a monastery site near the restaurant, because the Chinese New Year is just around the corner. What a hell noise – from time to time we had heard something like that, but it was always difficult to assign and somewhere far away.

But we will soon leave the coastal area, Chantaburi is about 10 km inland in hilly terrain and from there we went temporarily into the mountains today. In Ban Nam Ron, after the effort, we now sit briefly in a café, which is attached to the large petrol station at the intersection there, and drink iced coffee. The place is not big, but there is at least a decent motel and there we surprisingly meet another Berliner – by bike – we call him Günter. He left his previous life as a BVG bus driver behind and now spends the winter in Thailand. However, he is traveling in the opposite direction and wants to drive further south via Bangkok.

Posted in Thailand

From coast to coast


The entire coastal area between Chonburi and Bangsaen is characterized by hotels and so-called resorts, smaller hut or bungalow villages of varied price categories. This continues roughly to Pattaya, whose skyline can already be seen from Bangsaen. This is a holiday region of the Thais themselves, but is also popular with many other Asians and Europeans.
Between the cities, with their riverside promenades, there are always long sandy beaches on which a narrow strip of shade-giving coconut palms is laid out, rows of shops with food stalls and fish boats. There are always simple takeaways and loungers lined up in the direction of the water, which you can rent together with a parasol. This is not particularly inviting, but the way to the big hotels, often right across the street, is not that far.

I only make the mistake once of wanting to ride a bicycle in such a tourist stronghold directly on the beach promenade or on the coastal road. Too many coaches invite travelers to or depart from or wait for day trippers. Group taxis, delivery vans, or people who just want to drive their cars to the sea and are looking for a parking space repeatedly block the left lane, which than is difficult to drive for two-wheelers. You can get faster e.g. in Pattaya with some distance to the sea.

From Bangsaen we drive south along the coast for a few kilometers on a sunny morning, past a small fishing port and after passing the Burapha University campus, which even has its own post office, up to trunk road 3. The sun means well, just like on the first days and the 30-degree mark was quickly exceeded in the early morning. Right at the second traffic light, where we have to stop, two other European-looking cyclists come from the coast onto the trunk road and turn in our direction. A retired Dutch couple, he is about 70 years old, as he says, who spends the winter in Thailand and neighboring countries. We talk briefly about the mutual travel plans, but then drive at our own pace for a few kilometers on the six-lane highway and soon shorten through the fishing village of Bang Phra, which is located directly on the coast.


Later we meet the two again, because they are faster on the highway than we are in the winding alleys of Bang Phra, where we follow a river, on the banks of which are a few boats.
In Sri Racha, we temporarily leave the coastal region completely and drive the next 35 km through commercial areas that alternate with agriculture (cassava, sugar cane) and mostly strung together settlements. Driving is fun here and road traffic is much more manageable. Only at two crossing points with a freeway is truck traffic again more violent.

Only in the late afternoon do we come back to the coast and into the middle of Pattaya. It’s not just rush hour along the quayside and the traffic is largely at a standstill. Because of the large number of pedestrians and the construction site that runs along them, we are not really able to make any progress on the promenade. So back to the second and third row and in the near of a hill above the ferry port, about 2 km from the coast, we find very quiet rooms for the night.
The next day, the traffic volume changes. From Pattaya, we first drive south with a certain distance parallel to the hectic quayside, a fairly new arterial road almost only for us cyclists, at least until it directs us again to Highway 3. It is always loud here and the traffic keeps flowing, but because of the wide hard shoulder you can ride here almost undisturbed and, depending on the wind and terrain profile, you can move forward relatively quickly. So we wind the first 15 kilometers along this expressway and then turn into a hilly region, in which, in addition to a large golf area, there is also an important destination for the Buddhists of Thailand, the Big Buddha Hill. Here the contour of a seated Buddha is painted in gold on the steep wall of a huge, once broken granite rock.

The route leads along reservoirs and past two quarries, sometimes winds up uncomfortably, and now brings us far away from the tourist strongholds on the eastern Gulf Coast. On the 332, which leads further east, we come almost directly to a construction site where we have to accept a detour of about 2 km, which then also gives us an almost exclusive asphalt strip for a few more kilometers.
We take a slightly longer lunch break just before a crossroads in the shadow of a street restaurant set back from this street. There is a delicious soup with crispy noodles and the hot broth is really good, even though I am already heated up by the constant sunshine while cycling.

We meet highway 3 again in the afternoon and this time follow it for a few kilometers to the east before we drive the last 5 – 6 kilometers back to the Gulf Coast. In Phala Beach the selection of guest houses is not particularly large and since Maik still wants to jump into the sea, we stay in two bungalows directly on the beach. Here you can count the people on the beach with just one hand. However, in the hazy distance towards Rayong you can also guess the silhouette of a huge tank farm and the pier for tankers that juts out into the sea, which then somewhat dampens this idyll.

Posted in Thailand

To the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand

It was not before early in the morning that the pump’s engine stopped, which pushed water from the main channel into one of the side arms to supply the surrounding fish ponds. The monotonous chug accompanied the sleep, which was difficult and intermittent in the unusual warmth. Nevertheless, we start from the Chai Khlong Resort somewhat rested at around 28°C and a slightly hazy view in the morning. In order to avoid the wide trunk road and above all the construction site there, we soon drive on a narrow side route through fresh green rice fields and after less than 2 kilometers we meet two older women on packed touring bikes exactly on the top of a small canal bridge. Two cycling enthusiasts from Amsterdam who have been traveling through Thailand for about 8 weeks, and not for the first time, as they say.

Shortly after this chance encounter, we stop at a small street restaurant for breakfast. At least that is our wish. The friendly cook is already cleaning up, but she also means that we can get something to eat and then makes two portions of a delicious rice pan with vegetables and shrimps. A good start into the very hot day in the early morning, and since we only want to drive to Chachoengsao today, we then roll leisurely through the flat landscape, in which rice fields and dry wasteland alternate. Here, too, mobile pumps in some fields provide water distribution from a larger channel that runs parallel to the road into the branch channels that run along the fields. Many herons lurk on these channels for apparently abundant prey in the water. Storks sail across the landscape and sometimes land clumsily on the coconut palms.

The landscape is also a little dominated by the many Buddhist monasteries, which are never arranged in the same way and sometimes lie directly on the street, but sometimes also clearly apart. So I had classified the singing song, which was suddenly perceptible from an indefinite direction, as coming from one of the monasteries. But it had nothing in common with the monotone chanting of the monks and when coming closer, Arabic fragments could be heard in the singing of a male voice. A muezzin from one of the four mosques, also located in this area west of Chachoengsao, who does not call for prayer in the morning, but apparently prays down the entire Koran singing, or better: sings into the area via a distributed network of loudspeakers.
We roll right past a Koran school, the mosques are a bit off the side street and not even 10 km apart, as I will see later on the map. An interesting change in the otherwise very Buddhist dominated Thailand, and if I look closely, some of the young women in this area also wear long headscarves that cover their necks, as women in Malaysia or Indonesia do.

Later in the evening we also hear the actually very monotonous chant of the Buddhist monks who celebrate their kind of prayer in the ‘Wat Sothon Wraram Wohawiran’, a monastery with a large temple complex, which is within walking distance of our accommodation in this city. This temple is obviously very popular with the locals and is full of visitors in the afternoon, as we drive past on the way to the guesthouse where we are staying.

In Chachoengsao we need three attempts to find a room because the first two favorites are already fully booked. I would not have expected that, but this way we come to a corner of the city where this temple district and a small night market adjoining it attract people. On the opposite market we have noodle soup made with seafood in one of the restaurants for a late lunch.

On Sunday we set off early in Chachoengsao, only have a quick breakfast of two toasts to have anything in the stomach, but then we are stuck in traffic for a while because the cars in front of the temple area, which was already well visited yesterday, go in both directions today queue for a long distance to get to the parking lots on the premises. Although they offer a lot of space, we had seen that yesterday on a tour of the extensive grounds, but the access is cumbersome and with such a rush a bottleneck. After about 10 minutes we are past it and roll quickly out of the city at 28°C in the morning. We drive a few kilometers south on the edge of the six-lane 314 and quickly branch off onto smaller connecting roads, which are also flat but not so straight any longer through former swamp areas on the Bang Pakong River.
After about 18 km, as ordered, open but covered and directly above a larger fish pond, there is a friendly restaurant, where we get a noodle soup with fish (who cares?). Finally some iced coffee and the rest of the day is going so well again.

The easier, straightforward route to the coastal areas north of Pattaya would have meant a much shorter route, but these 4- or 6-lane trunk roads also mean a lot of stress due to the permanent traffic with a high percentage of trucks. We drive here a much longer but much more varied route, which always leads to and from one or the other wide road and along it, but also has less traffic and also offers a lot more insights into the country. After 71 kilometers, we still arrive quite early in the afternoon at our destination for today Bang Saen.


Posted in Allgemein, Thailand

Starting again in Bangkok

The bike bags are always packed quickly, just before I start. The bike takes a little longer, but I tied it up the day before I left, now only the large taxi has to be on time and then it can actually start. Where? First I fly to Bangkok and then I want to cycle again towards Cambodia and further north-east. I applied for and received visas for the neighboring countries, even for China, which was a very time-consuming process because you have to appear in person at the Visa Center in order to not only submit the application but also your fingerprints. As an individual traveler you also have to declare every overnight stay in advance, and if you want to travel overland, as I plan to do, you also have to explain your plans in some detail – without mentioning the bike, for sure.

So roughly where I ended my trip two years ago, I want to get back on the roard and the flight from Amsterdam is even on time in Bangkok. Early morning, it is hazy and of course very warm, actually a wonderful day, but I have to get used to the high sun and the oppressive heat. It is about 32°C in the shade when Maik, a friend from Berlin, and I start at one of the many exits of the airport terminal. Maik will accompany me for about a quarter of the planned route.
However, we are initially on the wrong level. The built-up street that leads past the exits of the arrival hall leads as an elevated street directly onto the motorway. So we push the bikes back into the building and take the closest elevator to the basement. There we come to the ground level from the terminal and can turn below the highway to the next intersection with a smaller trunk road to the right and towards Chachoengsao. Airports of this dimension are not designed for cyclists.

Oh yes, it’s a hot day. From the airport to Luang Phaeng Road, which then takes us further to the east, the road runs through very spacious commercial areas and large green areas located on the airport site, which will surely also have storage or factory buildings at some point. After that, the traffic becomes denser and more hectic. The street is partially lined with many small shops and workshops, bus depots or other commercial areas. Sometimes a wide moat crosses the course of the road, which is then spanned by a longer but also narrowing bridge; unpleasant traffic points.

From one of these bridges, I see a street restaurant a little off the road, which we then head for in and finally have something to eat and take a break. However, the warmth of the early afternoon builds up under the relatively high canopy. An older Thai woman runs the small food stall and cooks us some vegetables with meat and a fried egg in her wok with the rice, which she already has ready in an insulated pot.
Here I now have the peace of mind to deal with the phone card I bought at the airport. It works right away in my smartphone, so I can keep in touch with home, as well as occasionally uploading texts like this one.

A few kilometers further we pass a bicycle dealer, whose open business can also be seen from the street. Maik still needs a bottle holder on his bike and the friendly man can promptly mount a suitable part on Maik’s bike. Our water requirements are high and having at least one bottle at hand makes drinking a little easier. I’ve always had three holders on my bike.

So we gradually come closer to our goal for today, which I chose not far from the airport for the day of arrival. A small hut village, far from the main street, which has now been transferred to a construction site, on a side arm of the canal running parallel to the street. Unfortunately, it is not quiet there, as a water pump chugs around the clock, but it is clean and inexpensive.

The desire to explore the strange, exotic places of the world has always been great for me and as long as my environment allows me to give in to it from time to time – well, I like to plan and much more that that, I prefer to implement my plans.

Posted in Thailand

From Bangkok to Sa Kaeo

I already traveled from Bangkok on Tuesday and now have moved three more days away. Especially today the wind was favorable, so that I was able to move forward quickly despite a slightly undulating terrain. With the temperatures now rising a little, I really like that, because I automatically take more breaks and still don’t need any longer.

Since I had my accommodation in the Thai capital west of the broad Chao Phraya River and the actual center, I first had to cycle across the city and then from the eastern edge towards the airport. A constantly busy route, on which I was able to drive past the ever long traffic jam on the left, as well as all the many moped drivers, who fearlessly work their way to the next traffic light, gather there, always groping, and then as a growl, roaring swarm pour over the not yet clear crossing already two seconds in advance of the next green phase.


About 17 km of stress, hectic pace, dust and soot clouds from sometimes old trucks took more than an hour before I could take a deep breath on the arterial road towards the airport. The traffic there was not much thinner, but the road was a little wider.
Full attention requires shared taxis that drive relatively slowly in the left lane, sometimes not much faster than I do, and whose drivers look more at potential roadside customers than at me.
Only far behind the airport, which I didn’t see much from a distance, did the traffic really get thinner. There are several depots of coaches and dozens of these buses, which presumably pick up or deliver their passengers directly from the airport, either go to these depots, dusty open spaces behind high fences, or turn at a widened turning point and drive towards the airport or Bangkok as their return destination.
After far more than 30 kilometers, there was also time for me to finally take a longer break and eat something. However, one can no longer speak of restaurant density, I have to drive a little further until I find one, and on the sheltered outside area with a view of a small lake I sit in the shade for about half an hour.


No more commercial areas and industrial settlements along the road, just settlements and shops. For example, a bicycle dealer where I was allowed to take a large air pump to properly refill my tires. With around 5 bar in the wheels again, it rolled so well again.
But shortly afterwards the really dusty part of this day began: the road was turned into a construction site for many kilometers, the roadway was milled and reduced in width, the substructure was expanded on the right and left, and some were newly created. Now I was an obstacle for trucks that only passed me when there was no oncoming traffic. I got really big so that nobody tried. The drivers can’t help it either, but if such a wide truck drives in front of me and burrows in the dirt with its big wheels, then I have to swallow the dust.
Luckily, I was able to switch to a smaller road ahead of time and, like in another world, I drove towards Chachoengsao much more relaxed.
It is also a larger city, which I then reach after 78 kilometers that day. Rice is grown again in the wide landscape, which is crossed by many canals.

For the next two days, routes 304 and 359 were mostly expressways in my direction, which I could avoid only partially. It was actually pretty easy to drive on these fairly straight roads, since the wind now comes from western directions and pushed me well here. In addition, the traffic on Route 359 was significantly less than the day before on 304.
The landscape has now become much more barren and drier, a lot of sugar cane is grown and this afternoon, before I reached Sa Kaeo, I could see black columns of smoke standing over two fields. As in Africa, the fields are burned to make it easier to harvest the sugar cane. The region is relatively sparsely populated, restaurants or comparable micro businesses have become rare in villages, and even more so outside of them. But what people have, they offer you.
In the afternoon heat I had a big appetite for an iced coffee, tea or at least a cool coke and at a restaurant that was separated from the street by a narrow ditch, I disturbed the lady of the house from her afternoon rest in front of an old-fashioned television, which ran outside in the shade, and asked for a cola, since coffee or tea were not very likely. I also got it and a glass of shredded ice, too. I hadn’t even seen her husband in the shade on the bench next to her simple chair. But he obviously woke up and came to me and added a packet of toasted bread to me, apparently the only thing his kitchen could offer at the moment. A nice gesture, I thought by me.

The Chinese New Year is now over and many small fireworks were lit this morning around the motel where I stayed. In each case a small carpet of firecrackers that rattle and closes with two loud firecrackers. The birds in the surrounding area always feel terrified. I had heard something like this already in several mornings here in Thailand, but never as massive as this morning.

In Sa Kaeo I am now shortly before the border to Cambodia and in the evening I eat typical Thai again, have Pad Thai made and also let prepare a delicious, spicy papaya salad with seafood in a mortar.

Posted in Thailand

From town to town


In Samut Songkhram I get the flair of a larger Thai provincial town again, after a long sunny day on the bike and a somewhat unfriendly landscape. I have now said goodbye to the northwestern beaches of the Gulf of Thailand. Chao Samran was the last nest in which several beach resorts vied for guests and where the first-class touring coaches from Bangkok apparently made the first stop south to unload their passengers at a large, mass-processed beach restaurant for about three-quarters of an hour.

The bus then drove south, for me the landscape became more barren in the north. On a large surface, water is distributed and evaporated from the sea from an extensive trench system, and the salt that remains is then laboriously extracted. On some surfaces there is simply water, on others the salt sludge that has already remained due to evaporation is leveled evenly with small rollers. No tree, no shade, for many kilometers.

The city of Samut Songkhram is a little north of long-distance connection 4, on which I had to drive a few kilometers due to a lack of alternatives. The hard shoulder is wide there, but the constantly passing traffic with its permanent noise annoys and is quite a burden. It is almost relaxing again to slowly move through the streets lined with unadorned, dilapidated concrete buildings. I have to drive even more attentively here than on the edge of the trunk road, because the many motorbikes, shared taxis, small vans that stop abruptly at the side of the road or come from an entrance or side street are no exception, but rather the rule. Moped drivers also like to drive in the wrong direction.
The streets of the city are hopelessly congested when I get there in the late afternoon, but over the weeks I’ve got used to cycling past the traffic jam as cheekily and persistently as the motorcyclists do, and if necessary between the standing cars change lanes to advance to the next set of traffic lights. Later I am cut or ‘disconnected’ by vehicles that are illegally stopping at the side of the road.
I still find my hotel near a sports stadium without any problems, however, and I get a room on the upper floors for well under 1000 Baht. The prices in the holiday resorts near the beaches have been significantly higher lately.

I don’t have much time to explore the city because of the dawn. There is already a night market around Wat Phet Samut, the streets are full of people and only partially closed to traffic. Getting through on foot is not that easy, but it is extremely exciting. The background noise is indescribable, where in the twilight thousands of birds are now settling on the roofs of the houses and in the many cables that are routed above ground all over the streets.

For dinner in a street restaurant on the outskirts of the city center, which is very popular with locals, I first have a wok serving and later a second portion of rice noodles with seafood, vegetables and eggs. Since I have asked again for a version ‘not so spicy’, the cook does not use any spices at all, so I still have to order a bowl of fresh chili. I also eat it empty, because now I’m used to a certain hotness that I don’t want to miss.

At night it is somewhat cool at the moment, the temperature drops to below 26° C, but the next morning brings a lot of sun and I have to do an 80 km stage. From Samut Songkhram I first drive on the smaller route 3092 for less than 20 km almost straight with a few kilometers distance parallel to the wide long-distance route 35. Furthermore, there are salt pans that take up space on both sides of the road. After about half the distance, however, the asphalt suddenly stops here – the beautiful road turns into a construction site. Fortunately, only for a short piece of road.
But the side route then flows into the trunk road just before it crosses the Sunak Hon River, and on the edge of this 2x three-lane, highway-like road I cycle towards the capital Bangkok. If it weren’t for the noise and exhaust fumes of the many vehicles, it wouldn’t really matter. I benefit from truck traffic on the edge of the broad road, in that the air vortices that these vehicles bring, reduce the wind resistance a little bit, so I ultimately make much faster progress than if I were just pushing the air in front of me. But the noise and the dust are very unpleasant in the long run.

Along the wide trunk road there are industrial and commercial areas, car dealers, a kind of amusement park, a shopping mall, but also a large temple complex and after about 40 km I take a longer break in Samut Sakhon and eat fresh from the wok again in a side street. The women who run such small food stalls keep laughing when I try to put together a dish by pointing to their ingredients, some of which are in bowls, some of which are spread out.
Samut Sakhon is also located not directly on this expressway and there is no direct junction there. I have to take an exit with the traffic that first leads in a different direction and then catch the right way at a larger roundabout. When changing lanes, of course, I’m careful, but I’m sure to drive, pushing myself between the vehicles with my hand signals, which is not that difficult because you can’t drive fast in a column. Because nothing is worse than having to stop somewhere on the left edge with the heavily packed bike and then cross over several lanes to the other side from a standstill because the desired exit is there.
At this point, the roundabout leads straight to the ramp of a bridge, which then crosses the motorway. Behind me is a police pickup truck, on the back of which there are several officers, one of whom later, when the car pulls past me, waved my gestures while maneuvering across the various lanes and rewarded them with his thumbs up.

I then reach Bangkok in the afternoon. From Singapore it has become a little over 2600 kilometers, which I have covered by bike in the last six weeks. Highway 35, along which I mainly drove from Samut Songkhram, became a 2x five-lane imposition, whereby the traffic out of the city was apparently even denser than that in my direction towards Bangkok.
But I set off of this street about 15 km before the center, drive on one of the smaller suburban streets, which also run straight to the center, in the direction of Chom Thong or Thon Buri, where I ultimately find a nice room for three nights in one of the smaller hotels. Extend your legs on a wonderfully designed, padded windowsill.


Posted in Allgemein, Thailand

Encounters? – Yes, many.

I already have stopped counting them, as they simply are too many, the number of other traveling cyclists that I meet on the road here in Thailand. Often it’s not more than a ‘Hello!’ or a sign, beckoned by the hand. And even some of them do ignore me; maybe they too, they already have seen too many other travelers on a bicycle.
The northern part of the Gulf of Thailand is a good region for cycling tours, and the more I come to the north now, the better the touristic infrastructure gets. More southward, in the area between Chumphon and Surat Thani, the resorts are small, simple and partly abandoned, maybe because it’s not the season now for local tourists. But there I could find a rural and more original Thailand that doesn’t exist in the north (at least not along the coast line). European or Australian tourists usually do not come to that region, with maybe some rare exceptions. Accommodation there still is relatively cheap, what doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be simple or on a lower level, but the quality can just be different. And around the city of Chumphon the ranges are somewhat hilly, so maybe because of this fact bicycle tourists see this region as the southernmost boundary for longer tours starting from Bangkok.


But north of Chumphon I meet several cyclists who travel through the country for two or three weeks, as I do, besides other tourists or people who stay here for the whole winter. There are a lot of retired people from all corners of Europe who circle on their scooters through the cities and along the beaches, deeply bronzed of the tropical sun.
And there are places between Chumphon and Prachuap Kiri Khan with a more or less concentration of people from Northern Europe. Beaches in this region are not the beautiest, with few exceptions that could be an insider’s tip.
In proximity to Ban Krut, for example, where a 20 km long beach region is terminated to the south by a wonderful and picturesque bay. And also near Huai Yang, which is almost completely in the hand of Scandinavian expats and tourists. There the beach is ending in the north at the boundary to a natural reservation and inside the village and in its surroundings several ad-signs promote the sale of cottages and the development of properties in swedish language.
The little train station remembers also a little bit to Sweden, because it is made of wood and painted in yellow and red colors. Most of the stations along the line Surat Thani – Bangkok are arranged more or less in this style, but here at this station the association to Sweden is obviously.

Station of Huai Yang

And now, about 100 kilometers north of Prachuap Kiri Khan, the beaches are no longer an insider’s tip, here the hotels stand close to each other, almost seamless, restaurants court for clients and shops offer souvenirs and colorful beach tissues besides suitcases and bags  (e.g.) and have creative names,  such as “The Hugo Boss Collection – Beach Schneiderei”.
Tourists are jogging along the beach in the morning, others cycle with rented city bicycles up and down the promenade or lie for half the day in the sun. At the edge of the city Cha-Am hundreds of beach umbrellas are arranged in several rows along the beach, like they are at the Italian Adria or the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
This isn’t mine, but the high demand for accommodation creates a diverse range of possibilities to find a bed, and so I can choose between beautiful arranged facilities with private security and affordable rooms in also nice hotels, also near the beach, but which maybe have their best seasons already long behind. Maybe they are a bit dusty but they aren’t that booked-up as modern hotels and nevertheless they offer the comfort that I’m searching for as a cyclist after a long stage. At least I experienced this in Pak Nam Pran and also in the near of Cha-Am, where I stay for another day of relaxation.
In Thailand it’s obviously not a problem to rent reliable bicycles with a luggage rack for a good price. Yesterday I met two cyclists from Germany in the restaurant of a seafood farm where I had a longer break for lunch, who have rented bikes in Bangkok and were cycling from there southward. Like others I met before, they also want to return to Bangkok later by train, doing a one-way tour with the bicycles. The mountain bikes they are using now cost about 150,- Euros for three weeks, an affordable price. At least compared to the transport costs, charged by an airline for the shipment of an own bike and the effort for its packing, that also has to be taken into account.
The two just have taken their own cycling bags and saddles from home and use this gear now with the rented bicycles.

Less though, but kind and surprising chance encounters that I remember well, did I have at the beginning of my journey in Malaysia. On the one hand there has been the driver of a mini-van that was trying to stop me on a hot and sunny morning with signs of his waving hand while he was passing me, which was successful first in his second attempt, because of my skepticism with such behavior. It was a big surprise for me when he was giving me a can of an isotonic drink (Plus100).
Another time, few days later when I was starting early in the morning only with a banana and some cookies in the stomach, because the hotel wasn’t able to offer breakfast (in Batu Paha), I had my first break at a restaurant that seems to me likeable by the side of the road. It’s a sunny morning meanwhile (after an overclouded sky earlier this morning) and some of the tables under the wide awning are empty.
In the small vitrine close to the cooking plate, where someone is baking chapati, there are some dough balls stapled on display, beside a bowl with raw eggs and another one with green leafs and spring onions. In front of the vitrine are placed some smaller bowls with different thin sauces – could be hot and spicy. In a big and isolated bucket is some sticky rice.
I ask one of the two women, who obviously manage the restaurant together with the man at the cooking plate, for coffee, which I get delivered shortly later in a glass by the other lady. Hot and black with a spicy note and a little bit sweetened. I ask the woman what I can get to eat and make sign to the dough in the vitrine – Roti, is her answer, that I don’t understand, but I make sign that I would like to get two of them, accompanied by two fried eggs, sunny side up. A short while later I have two crispy thin chapati on a dish right in front of me on the table, topped with a fried egg. The second egg maybe was getting lost in space (or in the surrounding  noises). Additionally I get a small bowl of a brown and viscid sauce that also contains some chili seeds, a fact that lets me hesitate to taste it. But then it turns out, that this is just a delicious and mild peanut sauce with a note of curry that also gives a good taste to the roti. So I’m really satisfied with this kind of second breakfast, and maybe I also let on about it.
While I’m eating, I write some notes into my diary, as usual when I have a break, and I’m still not finished with the two roti, when the kind lady that was serving the meal talks to me about money. Yes sure – I’m thinking, I also have to pay for the food, and I touch my wallet in the small bag at my belt. No, no – she is denoting, it’s already paid, an elder gentleman who is sitting at a neighboring table, did pay the bill for me.
Uups – is my first thought, and I don’t have the right idea what to reply to this generous gesture, as it astounds me a lot. I definitely noticed this friendly Muslim at the table next to me, an elder gentleman dressed in a grey colored caftan and wearing a white Taqiyah on his grey-haired head, accompanied by an also elder lady, when I was arriving respected them, but then I didn’t pay more attention to them.
I don’t know what to say, am at least thoroughly thankful to him, while the lady is nodding friendly to me. He also smiles without saying a word, while he is moving away slowly. For me it’s not clear what was making the man paying for me, but I’m glad about his gesture.

This kind of encounters makes a part of the charm and excitement of such a journey, that I wouldn’t want to do without it, neither those random encounters with other travelers or globetrotters, who have developed this special love for locomotion with a bicycle, like me, too.

There are e.g. the two young Swedish couples, that both started in Stockholm to travel the world (one of them), or as far as Singapore, that I met within an interval of about 2 weeks, and there are Kanzo from South Korea and his wife from Thailand, who I suddenly had right in front of me, cycling in a slow manner, the morning when I was leaving Malacca in the north direction, and who also were taking the time to talk with me about their experiences and travel plans.
This was more or less the best encounter, that I had in Malaysia. To meet such friendly and unhurried people is a rare experience.

Theoretically we could have travelled together till the border of Myanmar, as they were putting their focus on that country, and I was passing a border checkpoint to Myanmar first two days ago, but my travel speed is too high for them. So we only roll together along the edge of the main road for few kilometers, beside some heavy traffic, found a place in the shade and with some meters distance to the road, where we could talk for a while. Kanzo has already retired from his former work, has enough time to really move slowly, and both of them don’t travel for the first time through Asia. But he is the first and only that I met traveling with a recumbant bike.

Encounter north of Malacca

Before I started my journey I have supposed that I would meet cyclists, have anticipated this, but not that it would be so many over all. In Africa it have been rare encounters, when I was traveling there in the past. One time a German cyclist in the south-east of Burkina Faso, who was traveling through the whole West-African region, a Canadian in the north of Malawi who was on his world tour, two French cyclists in Zambia – that’s it. But anyway, nowadays no-one is really alone, who travels with a bicycle around the globe.

Posted in Thailand


View of Dinsor Mountain, north of Chumphon

A day like this starts with little surprises. Once I wake up from a morning power cut. The main switch of the bungalow drops noisily due to a lack of mains voltage – no cooling and no running water. Brushing your teeth with drinking water from the kettle from the day before (yesterday I had boiled water for coffee), shaving is currently out of order and I use the toilet flush with care. It would be good to have a spare bucket filled with water here, as they had actually been in the respective bathroom in some hotels in Malaysia, but it doesn’t exist.

Another time it starts to rain after the clock rings. At first gently, but the sound of the drops of water falling on the floor in front of the hut slowly swells, turns into a noise and quickly increases from a patter to a roar on the tin roof.
For the time being, I can’t get out of here, not even to walk (or to run) the approx. 300 meters to the main building of the complex, in which I had stayed here on Bang Boet Beach for one night. But since I want to have breakfast and at some point also to continue to drive (the rain has to stop again), I go after more than an hour of waiting, in which I was able to sort photos and mail, but with an umbrella and a thin jacket. In the meantime, however, the water in the bungalow complex is ankle-high in places on the already higher, tiled paths. It is the first time that my otherwise water-repellent shoes are full. I can let it dry for a while later. This morning I don’t leave until much too late in the morning. But it is also the first day on which the temperature remains fixed at 24° C. Permanent clouds, drizzle, wind – actually not so bad for cycling.

From Chumphon I don’t go too far at first, only to Saphli, which I want to use as a starting point for a short mountain hike in the afternoon, the view from Dinsor Mountain is also great later. It only takes a while to find accommodation, because the first two hotels / motels where I want to ask for a room are closed. But I find a facility just outside the village, in which at least two of the rather large number of huts are already rented. Here I get a wooden Thai-style hut for the night.

The next day I start a little earlier after I have written two cards. Due to the strong wind from the sea, I occasionally have a tail wind on the road in the north. The climb to Dinsor Mountain is a little easier than expected. I buy fresh bananas from a large fruit stall on the street (lots of pineapples and melons). The area remains hilly for about 10 km until it joins Route 3201 towards the beach. Now it goes flat again and from here the hard shoulder is also signed as a bike path in both directions. Really, with round, blue signs and a bicycle symbol on the asphalt. Is that maybe for tourists? – Unfortunately, the strip marked in this way is parked right at the beginning.

On the short sections of road that I drive directly to the east, the wind blows strongly towards me from the sea, but I will soon turn north again and then have the wind gusty and transverse to my direction of travel and at least that doesn’t matter noticeable. Today I have two encounters: behind a long bend, in which the street turns its direction by almost 270 degrees, and where also recently newly paved, there is a restaurant on a narrow river, which runs a bit parallel to the street and that Restaurant leaves little space. It is therefore long and difficult to overlook, but there are four bicycles with panniers on the wooden fence to the street that catch my eye immediately. The associated drivers sit in the shadow of the restaurant and spoon pasta soup, nice people from Holland and Belgium. I order a fresh pineapple and apple juice and sit down with them, we chat for a while in German, which is sometimes good for me. They are cycling from Bangkok to Chumphon (I was there two days ago) and want to go back by train.
This is a pretty clever idea when you look at the main wind direction.

I only take a lunch break a little later and experience that the cook can also miss the right ingredients. The portion of “Stir fried seafood” is not particularly large according to the menu (rare that there is a menu at one of the many small street restaurants), but this small portion is hopelessly seasoned with ginger, chilli and green pepper. Okay, I’m hungry, but it has never tasted as bad as here.

It is actually really wonderful to cycle along the beach like this, deep in Southeast Asia. I am now more than 2000 kilometers from Singapore and have crossed 10 degrees of latitude.
This area is sparsely populated overall, larger towns are mostly further inland along the railway line to Bangkok, but rarely directly on the coast.
During a short break in the shade on the beach, two other cyclists loaded with panniers roll past me on the street in the opposite direction. They don’t notice me, they are obviously happy to be able to get on with the wind very quickly.
It is not only coconut trees that give shade in the narrow strip between the sea and the street, cedars are loosening up the image more and more frequently. In the wind, however, they look rather disheveled with their rather shaggy branches. In some places, their long needles form a carpet along the edge of the street.


Every few kilometers, karst rocks and sometimes smaller mountains with small islands off the coast strip form a natural end to a longer stretch of beach. The tidal range does not seem to be very significant, at low tide the flat beach is 20 – 30 meters wide, and there is practically nothing left of it at high tide. The bays can be 8-10 kilometers long.
The thoroughfare then winds further into the country, adapts to the terrain in many curves and sometimes long detours around such a mountain. A Buddhist temple complex is often located in particularly exposed locations. There is plenty of variety.


Posted in Thailand

Treasures and little devils

Chedi des Wat Kaew bei Chaiya

Today I have a real hotel room again. Not on the beach, but still with a view, spacious and clean, the small fridge is filled with water bottles and for tomorrow morning I have breakfast in view. A good feeling after a stage of 71 kilometers through uneven terrain along the coast.
I rinse off my sweaty sports clothes, shower and then run a few errands, looking for something edible for tonight. I saw two advertising posters of a pizza baker earlier – that would be a change.

Chumphon is another provincial capital in the south of Thailand, has banks, a train station, a lot of traffic in the streets and a lot of bigger shops, as I saw when I was looking for the Nanaburi Hotel earlier. There is a shopping mall nearby and I urgently need some postcards and a new tube or can of skin cream.
Ever since I was recommended and sold a can of aloe vera cream by a pharmacist in Port Dickson because my skin had blistered on my calves that Sunday, I’ve been using it every day after showering, to give the skin a little relaxation after each sun-intensive day. Accordingly, the can is now almost empty.
I quickly find what I am looking for with the creme, and I ask around for postcards without much success – I may be lucky tomorrow at the tourist information office.

Since Surat Thani I have been traveling north along the coast, Bangkok is still about 10 days away. The street I use does not always run directly on the beach, but mostly at a short distance from it, sometimes it also hooks, bypasses a hill or connects settlements that are not lined up like a string of pearls. Here too, away from the heavily used north-south connection 4112 (later 4134) and the parallel railway line, are small villages, run smaller and wider rivers, at the mouth of which there is sometimes a small fishing port, loamy water to the sea, which here ‘ Gulf of Thailand ‘ means. At Pak Nam Suan there are some larger trawlers on the quay wall below the bridge that spans the river there.

Am Tha Chana-Fluss bei Laem Pho

Sometimes the road is straight, e.g. for about three kilometers, the narrow beach in sight, in the distance small, darkly forested islands in the slightly crumbled water. Palm trees provide ample shade on the green strip between the sea and the road, sometimes individual cattle graze between the palm trees, accompanied by small, usually white, herons.
Then the road winds through the green landscape past countless pools of water, breeding pools for King Prawns , about 1 to 1.5 meters deep, where motor-driven paddles constantly hit the surface to oxygenate the water so that the crabs thrive better. In order to keep water birds away, these breeding basins are spanned in a star shape with wires or strings in mostly red color. Crab production in a really big style.

The supply situation has worsened somewhat for me in this region, because where is no through traffic, there are generally fewer people, the range of freshly prepared food is also significantly lower. I don’t find anything between Chaiya and Lamae even in the early afternoon because there is simply no settlement along the street. Palm trees, crab breeding facilities, isolated plots of land, yes, but no outpatient cook who would have built up somewhere with her utensils, no mini-restaurant, at most once a shop where I could have bought cookies, nothing else.

In this actually somewhat remote area there are also a relatively large number of Buddhist monasteries and temple complexes. And in quite different condition, some of them look very new, some are being built.

Wat Ma Pring in the vicinity of Surat Thani

When I leave Surat Thani on Sunday, I stop, for example, immediately after a few kilometers on a small cross-road at a wat, the chedi of which I had see glow over the palm tree tops the evening before. A morning market is just being abrogated there when I arrive. There’s hectic activity around the facility while I try to take a few photos of the white dome. So far I had only seen a few such chedis of similar construction, and they had always been colored gold. This one is now white. No one is to be seen from the monks, but villagers and some wild dogs, one of whom seems to be threatened or disturbed by my presence, at least he yaps all the time when I am there. The older gentlemen in the shadow of the neighboring small houses are not initially disturbed in their conversation, but then they try to scare the animal away.

Ah, the dogs; from now on I have an eye and two ears on them. In the morning I drive a short distance on highway 420 and soon turn off again to drive in an arc through an area where pretty villas with palm plantations come off. There have been a lot of stray dogs so far, either they didn’t let me bother them on the bike or they scared away because they didn’t know what to do with the almost silently moving something. For the first time, however, I meet dogs that apparently also have a guard function and are not strays. In any case, I am barked from one or two properties and also attacked by a beast. And this behavior towards me will continue to increase over the next few days. Sometimes it is simply difficult to just stop somewhere and ‘come down’ briefly in the shade, because sometimes it is that as soon as I stop, it starts yapping somewhere nearby. On Monday I really want to just put the bike against the next palm tree.
Since the yapping goof-off sometimes leaves behind me at the property boundaries, then run next to me and do a murder spectacle, without snapping or biting seriously, I take it more calmly now. Usually they fix my panniers and not even my legs.
This morning a whole group came running after me from a lot of land …


But there are also wonderful experiences. To get a nice meal for example, on a street corner right next to a school, where several generations take care of the guest, who has appeared out of nowhere with a helmet and sunglasses and is now asking for pasta. Grandma makes sure that my little bowl of broth, which is sometimes served with the actual meal, does not become empty, while the little one plays with some figures in the shadow of the simple tin roof.

At a larger temple complex on the edge of Chaiya , where the remains of one of the oldest temples in Thailand are located, a friendly, mischievous, older monk tries on my bike and whose extensions are interested in explaining something to me about the buildings of the facility. But I can’t quite make out of his hard-to-understand English. He soon goes on with his laptop bag in hand and I leave the spacious temple area again and roll back to Chaiya . On the way towards the beach, where I want to spend the night in a (for me) first beach resort on Sunday, I suddenly see a black BMW R25 standing on the veranda of a café. The old single-cylinder motorcycle is really spruced up. Unfortunately, I do not find out in the café whether it should catch people by bike as an eye-catcher or whether it is still ready to drive. Before I do the last 10 -12 kilometers on Sunday, I want to eat something, and the coffee just tastes good there.

Beach here does not necessarily mean beautiful paradise, even if countless coconut palms suggest such a picture. The beach is hopelessly littered in places. The sea sweeps back everything on land that has gotten into waterways, marine life, garbage ships or whatever for many years. Only a few resorts that want to offer their guests something apparently remove the garbage on their own shoreline.

The accommodations are still simple, sometimes at a little upper level, but at slowly increasing prices. The overall price level is lower than in Malaysia. So far I have not spent more than about 23 euros here, and that was more or less in the big city (Krabi) for a very well furnished room in a fairly new, small hotel. Yesterday on the beach it was also about 22 euros for a not very fresh hut with terrace and rather shabby bathroom, otherwise it was rather 13 to 15 euros for a simple but clean room. I was also the only guest there at Pak Nam Tako . In the two previous quarters at Lamae on the beach and in the area east of Chaiya , there were maybe one to three other local guests. The more busy operation probably takes place here in a different season.

At an open air museum “Coffeehouse”

Now here in Chumphon the hotel I chose, located in a side street, is regularly booked. There are a few other hotels and also European tourists in the city. I hear German-language sentences in a small group of somewhat tanned beards and while I am walking through the city another globetrotter arrives with his bike at one of the hotels on the main street.

Posted in Thailand

From Krabi to the gulf coast

The last two days I drove across the narrow country, from Krabi up to the east coast of Thailand. From the big city, I first went back to National Route 4. Krabi is located just a few kilometers away from this long-distance connection, which ultimately leads up to Bangkok. Just a short distance on this broad road to the junction towards Wat Tham Sua, a Buddhist temple, the founder of which is said to have lived here in a cave with a tiger – Tiger Cave Temple. It is the largest temple complex I have seen, so far.
Then I come through one of the most scenic areas in the country, with little traffic on the narrow side street, which, however, already leads to a heavily used country road after about 15 kilometers. The bizarre karst mountains stretch like a ribbon to the north and the road initially follows them, winds along them.


Here I meet a Frenchman who can be recognized from afar with his fluttering safety vest. An elderly gentleman, retired as he says for a year, who uses his time to cycle across Asia. He comes to Thailand from Bangladesh via Myanmar, is not here for the first time and wants to take a closer look at some things now that he has time. He probably doesn’t have a lot of opportunity to communicate in his native language in this region of the world, so we talk for about a quarter of an hour before everyone goes on his way again.
I also learn from him that there was a bomb explosion somewhere in south-east Thailand a few days earlier, which may also explain the increased presence of armed police that I had seen twice during roadside checks further south-west.

The landscape becomes mountainous for a few kilometers, whereby four climbs demand a lot of power, as they are quite steep with a gradient of up to 10%. After 35 km I take a lunch break in the slightly larger town of Kao Phanom in a restaurant that is run by three women. They prepare noodles with seafood and vegetables fresh in the wok. I drink iced coffee. A combination that I can get used to.
The fact that there is only rice as the basis for a dish in such a simple restaurant has become rare. Most of the time, the cooks have several types of pasta in their display case, where I, as a customer, can see directly what is on offer. Thin glass noodles, or broadly rolled glass noodles, or soaked, yellowish soup noodles e.g.. Rice is always available, but not without alternatives

After about 50 kilometers, the landscape becomes flatter again, the karst mountains have now disappeared from view. Rubber trees and oil palms interact in larger plantations in a still undulating landscape. Over the course of the afternoon, the sky will cloud over without starting to rain. Until I arrive in Phrasaeng in the late afternoon, the sky is almost completely blue again. A nice day.
I can only find the motel available in town with the help of local residents, as there are no Latin-language references. The rooms there are very simple, but the Pontip Motel is far enough away from the street and tired as I am, I sleep quite well there.

For breakfast the next morning I look for a small restaurant in Phrasaeng, where there is no business yet, but the two women working there are already far away with their preparation. It doesn’t take long for me to have a portion of pasta with vegetables and seafood on the table. They cann’t offer any coffee, but I can find it later on the way.


Route 4133, which leads further to the north, becomes wavy right from the start, just like the terrain itself. Gone are the karst mountains, it is a green, undulating landscape, through which the road now runs almost straight to the north, and it takes the waves, as they come. For me this means an uphill and downhill in a recurring sequence that brings me overacidified thigh muscles relatively quickly. The sun is laughing from the top of my neck at 32° in the shade and still high humidity. Being sweaty has become a permanent condition. It had cooled down a bit last night, but with the condensing humidity, none of my clothes hanging out from under the canopy of the motel room got dry.

So I often take short breaks and drink a lot, but in the end I still progress at an average speed of 17 – 18 km/h, because where it goes slowly uphill, it goes downhill much faster afterwards. I only ‘move’ between 20 and 65 meters above sea level. In the meantime I see Buddhist monasteries or temple complexes on the street more and more often, mostly bordered with a wall.
I take a longer break after around 40 kilometers, ask for ice-cold coffee right away, because I always got it where it was cooked, but people just grin at me.
The small restaurant at a village crossroad is run by a friendly couple and overall they are quite surprised by my visit. But are happy about the apparently rare event, let me choose what I would like to have cooked and the wok gets work quickly. Another guest, who speaks some English, is listening to me about my trip and takes a short trip to get me a small can of an ice-cold mixed coffee drink. 15 baht – he says and also gives me a bag with a sandwich and two bananas. That would be free of charge for me and maybe I could use it as provisions.
Later, when I say goodbye, the cook wants to be photographed with me and gives her smartphone to her daughter – so people are always nice.

In the late afternoon on the outskirts of Surat Thani I find a wonderfully quiet, small resort with row bungalows and an attached restaurant, so that I don’t have to go into the city, tired as I am during the day, after 88 kilometers.