The plan for this vacation was completely different. I was already on the Turkish Airlines website, I was already choosing a very convenient flight via Istanbul to Miami, and then suddenly a Finnair advertisement appeared for me saying about flights to Bangkok for PLN 1600. As a person who clicked on such advertisements instinctively, only to be outraged by the scam a moment later, of course I clicked. And in fact: a flight from Warsaw to Bangkok (via Helsinki) with an excellent departure on Friday and back on Sunday evening / Monday morning cost roughly that. A cake and a ticket bought. Dreams of Key West and all the things Will Smith sang about were turned into Pad Thai. Because I knew so much about Thailand. And I did not predict that from the north to the south, Thailand is in a straight line almost as long as from Warsaw to Spain.

Buying a ticket, and THEN googling about logistics is not a good idea. First of all: what to do there, and secondly: when something is on promotion, sometimes it brings some tricks. Therefore, it will not be an entry "What to do with a bicycle in Thailand", because not only did we not prepare well enough, but also we were there with our half-bikes. Instead of bike-packing, we have train-bike-plane-bus-taxi-ferry-packing. This is a text about what we've done and what you don't have to do anymore.


We take two Bromptons:
- one with an elegant lady's handbag mounted on the front to make it look nice
- the second one with a 50l backpack. from Decathlon. A bit heavy, but it is comfortable to handle.

The assembly of the backpack is self-made: a cut PVC tube from Castorama under the saddle, mounted from the bottom voile straps in the trunk. We care about quick assembly and disassembly, because we change means of transport quite often. Assembly takes about a minute to two, disassembly takes about 30 seconds.

In addition, two fabric water bottle holders from Decathlon and on the Karoo handlebar, which die during this trip.

Additionally two Brompton suitcases from Vincita, thanks to which we carry them as regular checked luggage, not a sports / bicycle (onion!). We leave our suitcases for storage at the first hotel. If it wasn't for that, we'd probably put them in Dimpa Bag from IKEA.


The entire trip is around PLN 9,000 for two people:
air tickets alone 4,500 (because checked baggage twice), PCR tests twice for two people and generally zero looking at expenses on the spot.

A trip to Thailand is a very simple matter, sir / madam, especially when you buy the ticket 6 days before departure. Then you only need to buy insurance for EUR 50k for everyone, book a hotel from the list of those "approved to receive guests from distant countries", arrange with this hotel to pick up from the airport and take it to the point that performs PCR tests for COVID, drive to the hotel and kept in the room until he got your score and could let you go. Unless it isn't, then get ready for 2 weeks of sitting and looking out the window. For this, collect some additional papers, such as a vaccination certificate and a few forms, and send all this using a huge form to get a Thailand Pass that will allow you to enter the country. And everything would be fine if I had not completed this form 4 days before departure, and the last message was not "thank you, please give us 5-7 days to approve the documents". Then the only thing left is to do a PCR test max 72h before departure and keep your fingers crossed that it will come out negative.

Yes, we did the test before departure, after arrival and we also got a DIY test to be done after 7 days on the spot. You have to put the result in an application that keeps track of where you are.

Saturday.

We land in Bangkok. When viewed from a plane, Bangkok begins on the horizon and ends on the second horizon. It is the warmest and most visited capital in the world. If I were to write something else about this city and country at the same time, a fragment of Wikipedia would be the best for it:

During his coronation in 1782, Rama I gave his capital a name consisting of 43 syllables. Over the following years, 21 more syllables were added to this name. (...) The full name of Bangkok in Thai is: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมร รัตนโกสินทร์ ม หิน ท รา ยุ ธ ยา มหา ดิลก ภพ นพรัตน์ ราชธานี บุรี รมย์ อุดม ราช นิเวศน์ มหา สถาน อมร พิมาน อวตาร สถิต สักกะ ทัต ติ ยะ วิษณุกรรม ประสิทธิ์ (…), which is translated means: The city of angels, the great city [and] the residence of the holy gem of Indra [the Emerald Buddha], the unconquered city of God, the great capital of the world, adorned with nine priceless gems, full of enormous royal palaces, equating to the heavenly house of the reborn God; a city donated by Indra and built by Vishvakarman.

Wikipedia

We can learn from this that:

  • There is nothing to learn Thai, because it will not work anyway.
  • the kings of Thailand are interesting characters and I can't write anything more about them because I will end up in jail if I go back there. However, I recommend myself to pogoogla the current king Rama X and his dog, appointed marshal of aviation.
  • Thais take faith seriously. This is one of those nations who, after seeing our Great Jesus Świebodziński, would not ask "What's this ?!" or rather "Why is it not golden?". With them, the golden counterparts of Jesus and Papayas / Popes are on the agenda

After landing, everything happens by itself and is super smooth. Everything is handled "in the American way," which means that for each activity there is one person, generally smiling and seeming to like his job. So one places us in a chair, one gives us the form, one takes the form, one takes us to a taxi, one takes a taxi through the research point to the hotel. At the hotel, someone picks up our luggage, someone serves at the reception desk, someone brings food so that we do not starve to death in quarantine. It looks as if each of the 15 million inhabitants of the Bangkok agglomeration had a job here, which he really cares about. It's awkward so much everyone is nice. We land somehow after 8 am, we do the tests around 10 am, the result comes to the hotel around 6 pm and then we can start the vacation.

If there's something to be said after a 3-hour bike ride in Bangkok, that's one thing for sure: you don't want to cycle there. Not that it is dangerous - no one has honked at us all week and we never had a dangerous situation. I would say that I felt about 4x safer than in Warsaw. It's just not quite a city made for cycling. 3-4 lanes everywhere, heavy traffic, intersections, traffic lights, one-way roads, curbs and generally the worst. Our plan to go to major parks and major attractions quickly collapsed. For reasons unknown to me, parks are closed in the evenings, and all temples are tightly hidden behind closed walls. All we can see are their roofs.

We sleep in the Graceland Hotel Bangkok and pay a staggering PLN 1000 for it, because you need to include transport and 2 x PCR tests.

The street we live on dangerously resembles a crossroads between old and new Las Vegas, and the number of escort ladies is higher than the number of passers-by. However, these are different ladies than those known, for example, from Amsterdam. Style they are more like girls going to the local disco, but at the same time many of them just walk by the hand with a typical European tourist. IN normal I would say to the environment that this is some kind of pathology, in Bangkok it is so popular that it becomes normal. Same as the ladies who are still gentlemen - though I don't know how to write it so as not to offend anyone.

In the morning we decide to flee the city. This is not a place for bromptom people. Honestly, I don't know for what kind of people this city can be. Except, of course, those hunting ladies.

Sunday.

In Thailand, there are generally two options:

  • you go south, because you know: Phuket, Krabi, beaches, sea, sun, islands, boat, Instagram etc.
  • you go north to Chiang Mai and then Chiang Rai. There are hills, it is cooler, fewer tourists go there. Although it seems that everyone who has not taken the first option is going there, so I don't know about these tourists.

A week at the beach sounds very bad. The north is a little bit tempting, like this, for example Doi Inthanon driveway would look very good in our bicycle portfolio. Especially since it is considered one of the heaviest in Asia: 22.1km with an average of 8.6%. Alternatively, on the other hand: 46.2km with an average of 4.8%. However, I am quickly reminded of my face on each, more stiff ascent I climbed on the Bromptom, and I would like to thank you for such a holiday. To preserve a bit of pleasure, we would probably travel all day, and taking into account the availability of accommodation along the way - two days.

So our goal is Khao Sok National Park, which is located some 100km north of Phuket, and the strategy "we'll get there somehow". In a straight line (crossing the sea) it is about 550 km. We hope that while driving through unremarkable areas, we will see this ordinary country. Whether it will be interesting - no one knows.

This is generally one of those days when we go out before dawn and we don't make it before dark, even though we have practically no breaks. Because it looks like this:

We leave early to catch the 8:20 train. 10km in Bangkoks(?) road conditions take some time. On the way, 10 minutes of downpour, during which there is as much rain as in July. Local trains are great, because they may not be turbo accurate, but they cost as much on average from PLN 1 per hour. Obviously riding at an average speed slower than your average road bike. An hour's drive and we check in at some local market (because most stations are the equivalent of our markets), where we jump to the ferry across the river along with the sea of scooters and drive to the next station. It's such a trick, because the stations are a kilometer apart, but there is no bridge. Another hour's drive and we reach one of these big tourist attractions: Mae Klong Train Market. This is a station like any other, but more so. It is so narrow that sellers put together some of their stands to accommodate the train. I admit, quite funny:

The number of kilometers ahead of us is unknown to us. We're just going south, trying to stay as close to the coast as possible. We only manage it a little, because we see the sea for the first time after some 70 kilometers. Previously, there were some crops, some jungles, cities and generally such exotic Mazovia. The difference is that instead of fields with cabbage there are fields of ... salt. Of course, we only learn that it is salt at home, from Google. When we arrive, it just looks like a flooded field.

It's so warm that it couldn't be warmer, really. A visit to the Death Valley and the Moroccan mountains is a piece of cake. For the first time I am riding in such a warmth that ants appear in my legs, my head is spinning and I don't even want to drink anymore. It is worth adding that we wear masks almost all the time - the locals probably never take them off. We take a break in 7-eleven to survive. For 45 minutes, we look blankly ahead.

When we decide to move on, fate quickly lets us know how good this idea is. We hear a bang and a second later there is no air left in the rear wheel. If the Brompton has any obvious defect it is the rear inner tube replacement process. Half an hour in the heat of the head. As the 1/2 kilo Marathons are immortal tires, I only have one spare. Well, when pumping the wheels, I did not think that they would be used at a temperature higher by a few dozen degrees, and the load would increase a bit through the backpack in the back (not because of pad thai and mango sticky rice). I have a hole in the tire that you can put through your thumb. From that moment on, I was riding like the Flintstones, jumping on a square instead of a circle, and with my soul on my shoulder, hoping that she would last a few hundred kilometers. Of course it has endured, everything in Brompton is indestructible, even if it is broken.

In the vicinity of a town whose name I cannot read or copy (because Strava uses local names) we drink the best milk and ball tea since visiting Taiwan. It is so good that no matter what happens next, I can already consider the whole trip successful. The fact that it is from a booth called Hop Chafe, of course, does not affect my opinion. So is the fact that we drink it on the beach at sunset. Does it mean that we do not manage to reach any hotel before dark? That's possible. But maybe it is also because we stop to see various strange things along the way, such as a statue in the sea, hands sticking out of the beach, temples in the field and so on. For fans of strange buildings, Thailand will be perfect

We end the day in a luxurious sounding hotel FuramaXclusive Sandara Hua Hin at Cha-am Beach (PLN 132) in one of those typically tourist, seaside towns.

We spend 13 hours on the bike that day, so it seems to us that the holidays have already lasted 3 weeks.

Monday.

The plan for that day was to visit the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Nothing comes out of it, because it turns out that due to the pandemic, almost all trains are canceled, and those that are departing at completely different times than Google suggests. Adding to this the lack of accommodation near the park, the uncertain situation with the tire, the perceived temperature is beyond the scale I know, we decide to jump a little by train. Buying a ticket from Hua Hin (very nice station) to Prachuapkhirikhun it's fun, of course, because saying the name feels like I'm casting a spell. Fortunately, Thai people are so nice and so helpful that nothing is ever a problem for us in this country.

Traveling on the local train may be slow, but very enjoyable. I don't know if it would be possible to pack a full-size bike, but I suspect that even if you had to put it on someone's head, it would not be a big problem. Luckily, Bromptons always fit on the shelf above your head.

The mentioned place is perfect, it has everything we need. Some monasteries, some promenades, massive rocks sticking out of the sea, a huge market with strange food on the promenade, and the day is generally very good.

In the evening we try to get to the beach hidden in the military area. It requires a run over the runway and some barbed wire, the conversation with the military is standard: they ask us where we're going, we say we don't know. They ask us if we will be able to return from there before 18.00 (I have the impression that all beach / park areas in this country close at 18.00), I said that of course. Why should I not make it if I do not know where I am going. Of course, we don't make it, but we come across a beautiful sunset and a lot of soldiers sitting up to their necks in full gear in the sea. I do not take pictures of them, because when I stand illegally under the sign of "taking pictures", I thought that it is not worth taking the risk. I don't know if the employer would have waited 5 years for me.

We sleep in Zea Zide Hotel for PLN 96, because it has a funny name and as it is going to rain the next day, we decide to spend it on one of these great beaches.

That day, my wonderful navigation, which helped me with many better and worse ideas, is dying. Hammerhead Karoo decides not to turn on anymore, depriving us of a convenient navigation option [*]

Tuesday.

We are starting Tuesday very well. At night, it falls from the sky from 100 liters per centimeter, and there are even times when you can't see lightning. In the morning, using the window, we decide to go to these carefully selected beaches the day before. Or at least 7 meters away from the hotel. A very good plan:

Suspecting that leaving the sea might be quite difficult, we decide to enter the Wat Khao Chong Krachok monastery visible in the distance. We have a lot of time to the nearest train, where we spend 6 hours. We spend it watching wild monkeys running around the area. In fact, I could spend my entire vacation like that. Monkeys probably have high-life, because a lady on a scooter passes us every now and then selling bananas and dog food, and the locals willingly buy them and give them to the monkeys.

I invite you to the gallery in proportion to the size of the time we spent observing their lives:

In the afternoon, we get on the train and go to the end of the world, to Surat Thani, 360 km away. On the way it is raining so much that it cannot rain any more. We get a luxurious meal consisting of rice and the equivalent of a can of our mackerel in tomatoes, only instead of the can is plastic, and instead of tomatoes - curry. There is even a microwave to warm it up, but we only discover it after eating it.

The plan is that when we get off the station there, we will somehow get to the destination of our trip, which is another 120 km away. Blogs warn against beaters at the destination station, because it is better to use buses that run regularly. Due to the pandemic and the fact that we are at the end of the rainy season (the weather forecast says that there are no chance of storms every day, the 90%), there are no tourists, almost no buses, and it turns out that we are probably the only tourists who are looking for these beaters themselves. In order to save time, we catch a taxi that takes us to the middle of the jungle and leaves us there, because the driver cannot find our accommodation.

This center of the jungle, which all blogs describing sleeping in wooden bungalows and tree houses, is, of course, a place consisting practically only of accommodation, restaurants and tour operators for tourists. However, we do not want to be worse and we take the tree houses ourselves. If someone likes squeaking, mosquitoes, ants and (in our case) the light shining through the window straight into the snout, I recommend it very much.

The same evening, we book a full-day trip, because it turns out that there are just 2 vacancies for it. At that time, we do not know yet that we will end up in a park as empty as it is almost never. We are ready for one of those adventures we despise - an organized tourist trip.

Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, we go back about 60 km by bus, which we drove the day before. It turns out that maybe and in fact we are in the "main" town of the whole landscape park and all trips start from here, but it only makes sense when you come from the south - from Phuket. In our case, it was completely unnecessary. I present the problem on the map:

As befits professional tourists, we recommend the option of accommodation on the lake recommended by everyone, because it sounds like entertainment for the lame. This is a mistake, because the accommodation on the lake is not (at least in our case) about sleeping in these fancy, instagram, floating houses, but about being close to everything. Because just getting from the marina to interesting places takes a minimum of an hour. I do not hide, the park itself makes a pretty good impression on a good morning:


However, it quickly gets exactly as we feared. We are a small group of people and almost the only tourists on the whole big lake. We sail a boat with an engine like from an American muscle car (it accelerates to ~ 30km / h), we visit some caves, rocks, everyone around is extremely passionate, and we are like old folks, with a face "meh". Cycling, however, is very dissolving in terms of both the scenic aspects and the assessment of what is an adventure and what is not. It was not. Especially that in cloudy weather it does not look at all like Instagram and flyers. Not only that, there are two Czechs behind us! WTF. It's as strange as the fact that we were traveling with two Hungarians from the airport to the hotel!

The most interesting moment of the first few hours of the trip is a swarm of bats and our guide trying to explain to us that this is a Batman animal. It gets a little less fun when I mention that a swarm of bats appears when we approach the forest and it is he who, with his clapping, makes them take to the air.

When we reach the floating houses for dinner, the trip is saved. We get free time, which can be spent on canoeing on the lake. It does not sound like an adventure of a lifetime, until you take into account the fact that we are practically alone to the horizon and that the lake has many branches that look like small tropical rivers. And in these arms you can try to look for wild animals. We are attracted to one of them by noise like a bulldozer pulling trees - it turns out that we came across an elephant. Cool, cool - a minute of observation, we keep swinging the oars.

Only after rejoining the tour it turns out that it is a fluke and everyone is outraged why we are so little excited about this meeting. Half an hour later, we are all sitting on our rocket and sailing to this place, hoping that maybe they are still in the area. The event must be not a small one, even our local guide seems excited. It turns out that in fact - even two elephants are still there. Our hurray-optimistic trip dies in ecstasy.

Overall, I recommend it, the adventure is quite good. These houses on the water might not be such a bad idea if you plan a few local trips with a small group of them. Although maybe in a slightly less rainy season than we are there. Apparently, the water level will drop by several meters in a few months after our visit.

Thursday.

On Thursday it's raining as if it wanted to prove to us that living in a tree house is the only way to survive. We put on capes and decide to go to the jungle. On the way, we catch the best mango sticky rice we'll ever eat - in a multi-story restaurant that is currently for sale, so you probably won't know how good it was. Again, we pay almost PLN 40 per head for entering the National Park and 10 meters after the gate with tickets, we learn that practically the entire walking trail is closed because it flooded with rain. Yes, there is one walking trail in the park on site.

What can I say - you just go through the forest - back and forth. The biggest attraction is the countless number of leeches that break through our socks and generate trickles of leaking blood. A very nice experience. I think that in my life I will never meet an animal worse than a jungle leech. There is no way to detach it or see it quickly, it comes from nowhere. I recommend.

In order for the day to be full, we also go for a bike using the moment of the weather window. The window was waiting for us to go as far as possible and it ended very spectacularly. To shorten getting wet, we take a classic shortcut that causes the mud to stick to everything. The wheels stop spinning, the shoes weigh half a kilogram more, the gear ratios do not change. My hub gear will not work until the end of the trip.

We get home about 16 minutes before the arrival of the agreed taxi. Luck, because in front of the reception we meet a guy with a hose, misfortune because he has just run out of gasoline. Yes, most of the stuff is on gas, even a water compressor.

As if the adventures weren't enough, we also return to Bangkok that day. Something between 13 and 14 hours by train sounds pretty scary, but couches in the second class of the express turn out to be at least as good as some hotels. Especially that, as usual, the bikes fit in the luggage containers. Only once does the water bottle fall on someone's head.

Friday.

We check in at Bankgkoku somehow before 9 am. 10 kilometers covered in a traffic jam on a three-lane road, in the fumes of exhaust fumes and unimaginable heat, confirms that we do not want to stay in this city. We go straight to the Eastern Bus Terminal. It takes about 37 seconds from the moment I arrive at the train station to the moment we sit in the van that takes us to Pattaya. The van has no place for luggage, so Bromptons travel as a human - we just buy them a seat ticket. Pattaya is supposed to be one of the worst places in the world. Something like Mielno crossed with Calpe, Batumi and named the center of world sex tourism. We hope it will be so bad that it will be good.

2.5 hours drive later it turns out that unfortunately it is pretty good. We spend the next day like real tourists. We go back and forth along the beaches, promenades, food stalls and hotels. I am ashamed to say this, but I like Pattaya. Maybe because the main street, with its specific fame (ping pong shows and those things), is closed. That is, the street itself is open, but all places of joy and fun are closed from the top. A truly fallout atmosphere - cool.

In the evening, we come across the biggest party of the year by accident. There are over one hundred million people on the promenade, the fireworks show lasts half an hour, the number of food stalls would not be ashamed of our National Stadium in its heyday. If we come back without the virus, I will probably lose faith in it. This also explains the dozens of photographers on the nearby hill, with whom we waited together for the sunset, which turned out to be on a completely different side. I was just waiting for the sunset with them, and they were waiting for the fireworks display.

It is worth adding that, contrary to what we have heard about Thailand: wherever we are, it is indecently clean. Even on a pedestrian street with a million people eating strange plastic things, there is not a single garbage on the ground. When we cross the same, completely empty street the next day, its condition is still perfect. Maybe this is not the local crap, but the tourists, who are currently very few? It gives food for thought when we confront it with the Vistula boulevards on a Sunday, August morning.

When we take the opportunity, we come to eat worms for the first time: some grasshoppers, larvae, frogs and we don't know what else. The taste is a bit like fat-flavored chips. I think once in a lifetime is enough.

We sleep in OYO 1027 Patumnak Beach Guesthouse for PLN 74 - it's close to the beach, nice and has its own nice restaurant.

Saturday.

We spend Saturday morning sunbathing. Sunbathing is one of the most difficult sports activities. Usually we give up after a few minutes, here the sea is warm enough that we endure a little longer.

Then it's standard - a trip by three lanes to the bus stop and a 2.5-hour drive to Bangkok. Then a visit to the hotel to pick up a suitcase, a move to the hotel next door, a bit of getting lost in the city and driving in refuse on the expressway, because I still haven't mastered moving around this city by bike and we are in the sky train that takes us to the airport.

And we are going to the airport, of course, not because we have an outlet, but because there is a place that interests me the most during this trip: Happy and Healthy Bike Lane. This place corresponds to why during our entire trip, we did not see a single road bike (or folder). It is this happy and healthy cycle path that is where everyone is. From kids on small bikes, through ordinary trekkers, to very expensive bikes with cyclists in PAS and Rapha and those Asian inventions whose names I do not even know. Tuned Folders, 18 ”Roads and so on.

They are all on this 23-kilometer long path intended only for bicycles. The route has 4 lanes (2 for the fast and 2 for the slow ones, but still for normal ones) and not a single junction along the way. It also means that when you enter the loop, you will not turn back, because the whole thing is released around the airport and fenced on all sides. Every few kilometers there are car parks with toilets and vending machines with food / iso. In addition, of course, at the start (and you can only start by entering through special gates with a chip) a bicycle town consisting of bicycle shops, pubs and paths with obstacles for kids.

On the one hand, a fairy tale, on the other, unimaginable boredom. Considering the lack of bends, bends and any views, you can safely treat it like a stationary bike in a gym or just a Zwift with the possibility of tipping over. And of course, all of this is free, you can rent a bike, helmet and whatever else you want, there is medical assistance and free pump tracks and BMX classes for kids. And a separate route for roller skates, skateboards and runners.

For me it is a sensation worth seeing, because I have never seen such an abstract idea anywhere in the world. It's a pity we don't get there until after dark.

We sleep in Citrus Sukhumvit 11 by Compass Hospitality for PLN 132 - why in such an expensive one? I don't know, but it's kind of luxurious. In the morning we take a taxi to the airport and check in at home on Sunday evening. 6 days of vacation, and you feel as if you have not been there for a month.

If you only read the summaries then I inform you: Thais are super nice and helpful, prices are rather low, we hit a time when there are no tourists, trains, organized tours, open places we planned to visit and many other things. Besides, it's quite OK and I'm pretty sure we'll never go back there again, because I feel that the neighboring countries are much more interesting for a non-beach tourist. Of course, it's worth sitting on the beach for a week and eating mango sticky rice.