Yesterday was another of my tourist days. Very tiring too, we covered 270 miles via minibus, train, boat & elephant but no biking.
Our first stop was Kancchanaburi military cemetery dedicated to the 6,981 folks killed whilst building this part of The so called “Death Railway” a startlingly high number from Cambridge who were part of of The Fen Tigers as The Cambridgeshire Battalion was nicknamed , more details can be found here and here Apparently 24 Officers and 760 Other Ranks killed in action or died as prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese. All terribly sad since one of the survivors worked at The Cavendish so I got to know him quite well and his intense loathing for the Japanese.
We toured the museum which was a bit higgledy piggledy but interesting especially, for the old train spotter in me, that one of the engine’s used by the Japanese on the line was built in England in 1921. We then took the train for 100 minutes crossing the famous bridge over the fast flowing Kwai (actually Khwae Yai) river and the amazingly close shave with the cliff face at Tham Krasae.
Then it was onto a lovely lunch at Kitti Rafts restaurant on the river Khwae Noi followed by a high power bomb up the river, you should see the Thai idea for an outboard motor then a leisurely drift back on a bamboo raft.
After the river excitement it was a sedate ride on a 42 year old elephant, must say I prefer the bike! it’s decidedly very wobbly up there. After this we paid a quick visit to the Sai Yok Noi waterfall which was OK but not in full flood mode.
13 hours later we arrived back in Bangkok. The tour was booked with R.A. Travel Agency and given the full on day was good value at the equivalent of £36 but please guys cut out the buses with blackened glass, we are tourists wanting to see out not the president wanting no one to see us!
Here is the route we took:The 150 photos of the day are here
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An excellent mornings cycling. It began and ended on busy dual carriageways initially with big trucks to suck me along later big tourist buses. Not so well endowed with coffee shops today but plenty of small towns.
As a lark I rode the bike over the official weighbridge Total weight for bike, clobber & me was 120kg, My weight in the hotel gym tonight was 82kg , the main bag weighs 8kg and the bar bag 4kg plus about 1kg of water & bananas so the bike must weigh 25kg
It was real fun coming into Bangkok on really crowded roads, the bike is superb at weaving around the traffic so I was at the magnificent Windsor Suites Hotel at just after 12 noon having left at 6.36 so a good time for over 61 miles. My bike is now in pride of place in the foyer behind the concierge’s desk
The Room on the 22nd floor is the plushest yet with commanding views over Bangkok, a separate lounge & humungous bed & all for half the price of some b&b’s I’ve stayed at in the UK.
I’m having to stay here till Sunday as my new spectacles won’t be ready till saturday afternoon. I’ve also commissioned someone to make a silk pillowcase for my lovely Chinese silk sleeping bag that I use in less salubrious establishments. Tomorrow I’ve booked for the River Kwai ‘experience’, I’m not sure if Bas Humphreys from my Cavendish days would call it that after he nearly died building the thing..
According to bikemaps .net I now have 1923km of pedalling to Singapore & 30 days from Sunday to do it in.
The Strava is here:
all the photographs are here
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I managed to be on the road at 6.30am after discovering the reason for my leg sore yesterday was because the saddle had twisted slightly to the left so well greased up with vaseline (not recommended according to Sally) I left Bamai Motel feeling comfortable and determined not to get dehydrated today.
cool idea to write name of shop in chocolate
I was helped by the conveniently spaced , western style coffee shops so every hour or so I stopped for a jumbo Frappuccino and a 600ml bottle of water and cake Yummy to if a bit expensive. It seems there is a clear two tier pricing system here. Local food is cheap ie meals for £1 to £2 and Western style food like coffee & cake for £3 . This scheme worked well, I even at to stop for a pee at one point
The road is quite busy and is in the process of been dualled although interestingly its the bridges that get left till the end, maybe they have a shortage of cement or steel? The result for me was good, as I used the unfinished empty carriageway hopping onto the busy road to avoid the unfinished bits
After 67 miles at 1pm it started to get way to hot for me so I pulled into the rundown Phaon City Hotel
This evening I discovered a great little restaurant the other side of 12 lanes of traffic It has a cool name of ครัวโสภณ the menu is in a similar style, luckily a young couple on the adjacent table spotted my bewilderment, the girl had lived in London so spoke good English, so within moments I had another great Thai meal. The young guy aspires to cycle like me and if he is reading this please send a copy of the pic to me at [email protected]
Here is today’s Strava:
Todays pics are here or if you want the complete set of pics and not have to use the dreaded Google+ thne go here http://geoffjones.com/pictures
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Today I made the early start, starting out just as the dawn broke. I had a quick eggy breakfast next door to the hotel and then set of for the border.
It was a struggle with a head wind, although I managed a few miles behind mopeds carrying enormous loads, no view but equally no wind All the roadside places were selling petrol in old coke bottles and I couldn’t help but think they made perfect molotov cocktails (Wow Mia didn’t realise it was a Finnish addition to the English language). I battled on wondering why the garages sold such small cans of drinks.
I made the 30 miles to the border in Poipet where everyone was exceedingly helpful and contrary to the article I read last night with no spivs about to rip me off. In fact there was no charge for the Thai entry visa and everyone, including the so called spivs were very helpful In fact I think the best way across land borders is by bike
My word what a total and utter contrast is Thailand! The shops have doors and recognizable junk food! there are private cars with no motorbikes trying to break the Guinness book of records for how much/many you can carry on a bike & yes they even have Tesco and a mobile phone shops like in the UK, So I easily got a SIM, £17 unlimited internet for a month. However, they use totally unrecognizable writing, so when it comes to finding a hotel what do you look for?
After my visit to Tesco where I did my trick of drinking one litre of juice in one gulp and leaving the empty container in the store I just at to find somewhere to stay as my shorts had made a sore at the top of my leg/bottom area so cycling was very painful. Open Street Map showed a bed symbol so I was going slowly searching I found what looked like motel rooms so I pulled in, a lady on her bike took me to down and let me have room 3 for 300 baht (£5.56). With WiFi if I sit outside. Finally discovered it’s called Banmai Motel
Here is my 50 mile Strava showing a gentle incline all day coupled with the headwind & stupidly high temperature & its no wonder I feel wrecked:
A few pictures are here
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I left the comfort & splendour of the Angkor Era a bit later than I would have liked at just after 7. The lateness was, at breakfast, I received an email alert from Wordfence saying some files in a blog I run had suspect files so I just deleted all 8 of them
Outside it was a gorgeous morning about as hot as an English summer’s day Traffic was heavy initially but manageable especially with the good road service. I hit upon the start of a cycling race I tried keeping up but these kids were fast! at 21mph I gave up and conserved my energy for later.
I love the amount of stuff that these guys tow around on their mopeds from around 12 adults to amazing stacks of mattresses etc. A couple of young girls came up and chatted to me in good English as we cruised along at 10mph. However, the road suddenly became very bad so they shot off.
I found a dealer for all the two wheel tractor things that are ubiquitous around Cambodia & Vietnam. Apparently they cost about $3,000 and made by Tra Chang a subsidiary of Kubata in Japan and imported via Thailand. Engines are up to 140HP so considerably more powerful than an Ox! The farmers with less than 5 hectares all use them as real tractors are at least 5 times more expensive. Apparently they (maybe) are called Power Teller’s
As the morning drew on it got hotter & hotter and soon coconut/Sprite stops became more frequent Culminating in a garage just before Sisophon which had electric & real fridges where I consumed 3 cans of Sprite leaving a puddle on the table from the sweat pouring down my arms. I reckon it was upwards of 35degrees ;-(
So after 68 miles I collapsed on the bed in my $15 room at Nasa Hotel in Sisophon, leaving 25 miles or so to the Thai border at Paoy Paet (Poipet)
Here is the Strava, nic & flat apart from one pimple.
and a few pictures here
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I downgraded to a Tuk Tuk today to check out the local gruesome killing fields memorial here in Siem Reap at the Wat Thmcy temple. Totally stunning to think that the capital city was emptied of people and that around 2 million folks were murdered or 25% of the population. Even worse for me was the poor two year old kid laid out at the entrance with an adult who had the most monstrous sized head ever & tiny body apparently it’s hydrocephalus
We then went into town to look around, so I can say been there done that, if beer swilling & tourist junk is your thing then it’s great. I had a manicure but wasn’t in the same league as the one I had in Hanoi. I retreated back to the comforts of my 5* hotel, it’s gorgeous pool, friendly staff & excellent internet!
Getting out of the Tuk Tuk I must have dropped my wallet which I didn’t notice for several hours However, one of the staff had spotted it and handed it to reception – phew,
I decided to try a Swedish massage at the hotel but I know something it didn’t even come in the same league as one of Sally’s. I think the girl was a beginner
Tomorrow I move on towards Bangkok which is 400km away, there are some places to stay in Saophoan at 100km so I should be OK, although it’s the busy 6 road. I found an opticians in Bangkok to replace my spectacles so it gives me somewhere to aim for in that vast city.
Today’s gruesome photos are here.
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Today was a day of luxury for me, no push bike but a hotel car with driver & an English speaking guide all to myself for the day. First we joined the thronging masses, more like Disneyland than an historic site, around the inner set of temples at Angkor Thon, climbing to the heady heights of Baphuon (whilst the guide rested at it’s base) then on to to the temple apparently made famous in the film Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm. We stopped for lunch at the very expensive and not very impressive Triple K restaurant ($4 for a coconut!). then after lunch it was a walk around the legendary Anghor Wat. Since it was still early I cajoled the pair into taking me down to Lake Sap to see the Vietnamese floating village with its tank of crocodiles & other emporia. On the way the guide wanted to show me his favourite silk shop, but silk at $45 a metre I quickly walked out.
On our return we got talking about massages & that everywhere so far the word massage equalled sex He explained that wasn’t the case with a traditional Khmer massage so I ended up having a two hour prodding, pounding twisting, stretching session for $25 at Siem Reap Khmer Massage, more like a Daphne Pilate’s workout than one of Sally’s relaxing ones. Will be interesting to see if my heel is any different tomorrow, she certainly found the pain point in it!
A pretty full on day, a lot more expensive than my regular days. I’m not sure if the extra cost gains a lot more value & in fact I enjoyed my solo trip to Koh Ker just as much. What would be good is a trip with someone with a lot more knowledge especially why did they move from Hinduism to Buddhism. Speaking to the managers tonight & reading Wikipedia I managed to learn a bit more.
a couple of hundred photos are here as an experiment I’ve added them to Flickr here using the F-Stop uploader. Terribly slow as I guess it’s uploading the full file size images
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