Tag Archives: southeast asia

Deep Southern Thailand- Songkhla to the Tak Bai border (Thailand) into Kota Baru, Malaysia

(once again this map doesn’t show our exact route since google maps can’t be that precise. There were tons of unmarked back roads through this section and they were incredibly enjoyable!)

Distance– 287 kilometers

TOTAL distance of the trip 1,372 kilometers

# of flat tires still only 1 this entire trip (….annnnnd we just jinxed it)

The “deep south” of Thailand is quite a bit different from the areas that we have traveled thus far. For starters it is a more politically charged region. There are a couple of separatist groups that want various degrees of autonomy from the Thai government and law. Over the years this region has seen its share of conflict amongst the Thai authorities and the mostly Muslim population. There have been attacks across the region to create chaos and make it difficult for the Thai authorities to control the region, but these attacks haven’t been targeted at tourists. Still the presence of military tanks and regular police checkpoints gave this area a different vibe than anywhere else we had traveled through in Thailand. In fairness many of these checkpoints were unmanned painted blockades made of old logs.
All of the people that we met along the way were very friendly and very curious about our journey. They were excited to see foreigners traveling to this part of Thailand. Even those who spoke no English were able to express their amusement with our trip. We even got to take part in a couple of photo shoots with women working at our hotels who all  on us wearing our helmets and standing with our bikes  for the full effect.

They're all matching! Mikes photo shoot with the women working at our hotel in Yala.
They’re all matching! Mikes photo shoot with the women working at our hotel in Yala.

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Day 16- June 20, 2015- Songkhla to Sakom

Distance: 49.3 km

Since the real bridge was out we got to use this alternative route instead.
Since the real bridge was out we got to use this alternative route instead.

We woke up this morning to heavy rain storms, which was a great reason to extend our rest day for a few more hours. By the time the storms cleared up it was nearly noon, so we got some delicious sandwiches from a shop as we headed out of town. The ride was unremarkable and uneventful – flat and hot. The sandwiches were the most remarkable thing about this day actually! We knew that we were not going to be able to make it to our intended destination because of the late start, so we started to look for hotels on the side of the highway.
During this ride we started to notice that many of the road signs were now marked with another language in addition to Thai characters and the rough English translation we were now seeing Arabic on many signs.

The welcome sign at Leela Resort- seemed pretty self explanatory
The welcome sign at Leela Resort- seemed pretty self explanatory

We ended up staying at a Muslim resort that was not only welcoming and comfortable but also quite conservative, another reminder that we had entered a new region of Thailand. Our room was discounted because of the Ramadan holiday, which coincidentally started on the day that we started cycling in a Muslim region (more to come on this in Malaysia but suffice it to say that we will be spending ALL of Ramadan cycling in Muslim areas). We shared the empty beach with a lost herd of cows that afternoon as we enjoyed one of our first days on the beach.

Day 17- June 21, 2015- Sakom to Yala

Distance: 83.7 km

One of the first roadside tanks we saw outside of Yala
One of the first roadside tanks we saw outside of Yala

Today we made a game-time decision to change our route and head inland for a bit towards the land-locked province of Yala. Coming off of the large highways we were able to stay on back roads almost the entire day. These roads wound over and around farmlands and past the bases of some beautiful hills. The best part was we didn’t have to share them with any other vehicles for most of the day.
We chose one of the first decent looking hotels when we reachedYala. As we began to do some long-overdue maintenance on the bikes, we came across our first big technical challenge of the trip – one of the spokes on Mike’s rear tires had broken!

Finding the broken spoke in Yala
Finding the broken spoke in Yala

We knew that this was an issue that had to be fixed before going on any further. However that evening as we read the recent news in Yala and learned of explosions that had been going off last month in the town we were a little wary of venturing around the town to fix it.

But as we had said before, these smaller attacks weren’t new to the region, we knew what we were getting into, and across the board our experience in the region had been positive. In general world news tends to focus on the negative and scarier aspects of a region, and those stories end up overshadowing the many bright points of a place and the people who live there. That’s not to say one shouldn’t be wary of these reports, as we obviously were. It is to make a point that if you go into a place with a sound knowledge of the recent events, and the underlying tensions with the understanding that events like these are out of your control and shouldn’t control your actions (and don’t stay in the sketchy areas of the city) you could end up coming out with some really wonderful experiences.

Day 18- June 22, 2015- Yala to Narathiwat

Distance: 79.8

A view of downtown Yala from the hotel room
A view of downtown Yala from the hotel room

We identified some good cycle stores in Yala that would hopefully be able to fix Mike’s broken spoke so that we could get back on the road today. Mike rode Kiri’s bike around town with his wheel looking for cycle shops. He passed by people casually opening up their shops as pickup trucks carrying armed policemen whizzed by. Although most of the cycle shops weren’t open at 9 am, he was able to find one later in the morning – and the mechanic did a great job fixing the spoke! Turns out that absolutely no English is needed to get such a job done, cyclists all over the world are always willing to help out.

Our hotel for the night. When we checked in we were asked how many hours we wanted the room for.
Our hotel for the night. When we checked in we were asked how many hours we wanted the room for.

Once this was fixed we were eager and ready to get on the road so even though it was noon we loaded up the bikes, took some pictures with the excited hotel staff, and cranked out 80 km in the afternoon! The ride was scattered with some gentle hills but was absolutely beautiful, minus the military compound that was directly outside of Narathiwat. For our last night in Thailand we stayed in one of the Thai “24 hour” hotels that was on the outskirts of town – clean and cheap!

Day 19- June 23, 2015- Narathiwat to Kota Bharu

Distance 74.4

Our last breakfast in Thailand was yogurt, peanuts, and a pastry on the side of the road- in honor of Ramadan.
Our last breakfast in Thailand was yogurt, peanuts, and a pastry on the side of the road- in honor of Ramadan.

Our last day in Thailand was filled with mixed emotions. We were sad to leave a place that had been so hospitable, friendly, and even forgiving in the most difficult of situations (rainstorms, broken spokes, etc). Regardless, we were excited to experience a new country. The ride to the border brought us through a series of police checkpoints along a highway and was pretty unremarkable, as we were pretty used to seeing these by now. The border town of Tak Bai seemed pretty interesting and we stopped for our last Thai iced coffee 😦

The border at Tak Bai was not only extremely easy and straightforward, but was also lots of fun! But when you get to take a ferry to cross a border and don’t have to pay anything to enter a country, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a great experience.

Exiting Thailand for the first part of what we agreed was the easiest border crossing we've done.
Exiting Thailand for the first part of what we agreed was the easiest border crossing we’ve done.
The ferry border crossing that connects Thailand and Malaysia
The ferry border crossing that connects Thailand and Malaysia
Enjoying the ferry ride
Enjoying the ferry ride
The big buddha statue about 10k in from the Thai-Malaysia border
The big buddha statue about 10k in from the Thai-Malaysia border

During our ride to Kota Baru we found ourselves passing more buddhist temples than we had seen in our last three days in Thailand, which we hadn’t really expected since, you know, Malaysia is known for being a pretty highly Muslim country.

Later that evening once we had arrived in the conservative Muslim city of Kota Baru we found ourselves at a night bazaar that, despite the different food, looked suspiciously like the night markets in Thailand. Starving from a long day of cycling where we hadn’t been able to find too much food we bought all the new treats we could find-  murtabak (a malaysian stuffed pancake), fried noodles, blended drinks, grilled fish, stuffed squid- all ours for the buying! But unlike in Thailand, people just seemed to be sitting down and staring at their food. So we settled in and joined them in the countdown to sundown when this Ramadan fast-breaking session could finally begin. No we certainly weren’t in Thailand anymore.

Some Malaysian treats at the Bazaar
Some Malaysian treats at the Bazaar
Counting down the minutes until we can break the fast
Counting down the minutes until we can break the fast

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Week 2- Surat Thani to Songkhla, Thailand

(note- this map is not our actual route, we’re working on getting our GPS tracks online but for now this is just to give you all some idea of what we did)

TOTAL distance of week 2- 418 kilometers
Total distance of the trip so far- 1,085 km
TOTAL hours cycling- 27 hours (and 2 hours of hiking)
Average speed- 14.4 kph
# of days on the bikes- 6
# of flat tires- 0


Day 8- June 12, 2015- Surat Thani- REST DAY

Today we took the day off because well, we’d been riding for a week straight, our butts were sore and we decided we deserved it. We spent 2 nights and 1 day in Surrat Thani where we did some bike cleaning and maintenance, took a few naps, and attempted to go on a date to a highly recommended restaurant that was celebrated for being “romantic and cheap”. This date never happened because the restaurant didnt exist and after over an hour of wandering we ended up by the docks with a pizza, pad thai, and a few beers. Which honestly might have been better than whatever this restaurant had to offer!


Day 9- June 12, 2015- Surat Thani to Khanom

78.2 kilometers in 5 hours and 45 minutes of riding time
Average speed- 13.6 kph

One of the monoculture fields of palm oil producing trees (we're guessing) that have been planted all along our route. While monoculture from deforestation is obviously a terrible thing, they've at least offered us some shade.
One of the monoculture fields of palm oil producing trees (we’re guessing) that have been planted all along our route. While monoculture from deforestation is obviously a terrible thing, they’ve at least offered us some shade.

We decided that it was about time to take a beach holiday! We’d been riding along the Thai coast for a week and the water did look beautiful, even though it was a little warm. We opted not to go to Koh Samui- the island off the Thai mainland that is a popular tourist destination. Instead we looked at a map and figured that if we could get ourselves out of this city and onto the Thai coast again we could find a beach bungalow and not be surrounded by tourists. Some quick research showed that there were nice beaches in Khanom and plenty of bungalow options. It seemed like an easy laid-back beach getaway.

We arrived to find many bungalows available (and many closed for the low season). After checking at a few and stubbornly sticking to a low price that we were sure we could get we settled on a hotel we still don’t know the name of. The wall was decorated with a picture of a half-naked Asian woman on one wall and a framed picture of a motorcycle on the other. Mike spent our first five minutes killing all the cockroaches in our bathroom. Turns out that right next door was a French man who had just opened up a complex of bungalows for a nice low price with great food and beanbag chairs to relax in, so we spent most of our time there. We decided this spot was probably not the spot we wanted to stay at for our beach vacation, and started to make a plan to continue south the next day for a shorter day on the bikes and more beach time.


Day 10- June 13, 2015- Khanom to Sichon

37.8 kilometers in 2 and a half hours of hiking and 1 and a half hours of biking
Average speed- no need to talk about it

Mike on a bike
Mike on a bike

Mike’s GPS showed a three kilometer gap between where one coastal road ended and the next began. There was a national park in this gap. Still, we could not understand why Thailand would be so forgetful as to just forget a necessary section of road. So we asked a French man who was living in the area about this seeming oversight:
“Is it possible to bike through this area?”
His first question was, “What kind of bikes do you have?”I think we made it pretty clear that we were on bicycles not motorbikes which is what most people here assume we are riding when we tell them we’re going all the way to Singapore.
He said there was a road. He said it was a “clay” road. He made a wavy motion with his arm to indicate that it was hills. But he did say it was possible.

Choose your own adventure
Choose your own adventure

The next day we were forced to walk our bikes up the steep inclines of the paved road that wound up around the cliffs that looked over the sea (mind you this is the road that still exists even on the GPS; we weren’t even on our imaginary road yet). We started to think this French man might not have been exactly an expert on this area.

We followed the paved road down literally to the “End of the Road” beach resort. In front of us was a beautiful beach. In the direction we wanted to go there were cliffs. Behind us was a steeply graded hill. We asked the friendly Thai owners how to get to the other side of this nonexistent road and they agreed that yes there was a road but said it wasn’t safe.

This homestay was our last sign that the road we were about to attempt through a national park was a BAD idea!
This homestay was our last sign that the road we were about to attempt through a national park was a BAD idea!

This was not the first time we had been told that a trail we wanted to go down wasn’t safe. And we really didn’t want to backtrack five kilometers just to get to a highway that we didn’t want to ride on. So we decided to turn onto this dirt road. We understood that for a change we would be carrying our bikes up and down steep mountains, not the other way around. These cliffs were made un-ridable by the loose dirt and large rocks littered across the path. We knew we were getting into at least a three kilometer hike with our bikes and all of our belongings. And then we started talking about the potential to find elephants in this park.

One of the bigger hills we walked up here, so we had to leave one of the bikes behind, at least for a bit.
One of the bigger hills we walked up here, so we had to leave one of the bikes behind, at least for a bit.

Downhills were slow, we wore out our breaks and our knees. Uphills were an ordeal. We pushed and pulled our individual bikes up steep gradients just struggling to keep some kind of forward momentum. At times we would team up to push one bike up at a time, leaving the other sitting there patiently at the bottom of the hill waiting for us to go again. Or we would portage the things- one of us would take the panniers and the other would push a slightly lighter bike. Through some combination of these struggles we emerged on a paved road 3.3 kilometers and 2.5 hours later. The first sign we found warned trucks to take the coming declines in a “low” gear.

The views from the tops of these hills were amazing
The views from the tops of these hills were amazing
Because taking pictures seemed more pressing than helping get the bikes up the hill...
Because taking pictures seemed more pressing than helping get the bikes up the hill…
The entrance to this dirt-road, cliff-filled, seaside national park that we were about to walk all the way through.
The entrance to this dirt-road, cliff-filled, seaside national park that we were about to walk all the way through

Day 11- June 14, 2015- Sichon to Nakon Si Thammarat

72.7 kilometers in 4 hours and 38 minutes of biking time
Average speed- 15.7 kph

Side of the road stalls that sell all kinds of  yard decorations that you can find all over the country!
Side of the road stalls that sell all kinds of yard decorations that you can find all over the country!

Wanting to prove that we had learned a lesson from yesterday, we spent most of today on clearly marked, existent roads. This kept us on Highway 401 near the coast almost the entire day. Up closer to Sichon there were a few quiet back roads, some paved and some not, that took us in the direction we wanted to go in. After finishing with those we got back on the highway for 30 kilometers until we reached the town of Tha Sala. From there we had to stay on the highway to cross the river and after that we just stuck to the highway for the rest of the day. It is exhausting having semis blowing past you all day, and we tried to get off and find more back roads at a few points but those just ended up just bringing us back to the highway.

Nakon Si Thammarat is pretty much just a big industrial city, although there are some beautiful wats and gates over the highways, and lots of good street food. Once again we probably had a harder time finding a hotel than a Thai person would have because all the signs were in Thai and not many people spoke English. The only indicator that a hotel is a hotel here is the number “24” buried in the Thai writing. This is there to indicate that the “hotel” also has rooms that can be rented by the hour. There were definitely enough of those on the outskirts of town, as well as a few English guesthouse signs once we got further into the city.


Day 12- June 15, 2015- Nakon Si Thammarat to Hua Sai

90.96 kilometers in 6 hours of riding time
Average speed- 14.5 kph

The large chedi made for the buddha at the oldest buddhist temple in Southern Thailand
The large chedi made for the buddha at the oldest buddhist temple in Southern Thailand

We got a later start today again because we HAD to! Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan is the biggest sight to see in Nakon Si Thammarat. It is also the oldest wat in Southern Thailand AND it didn’t open until 8:30am. And we weren’t about to miss that!

Just casually enjoying a beautiful ride and ignoring the massive storm rolling in
Just casually enjoying a beautiful ride and ignoring the massive storm rolling in

In the later parts of the morning clouds gathered over us and a light drizzle started to fall on the road. Kiri noted that in Cambodia (where she had spent the last five months working) sometimes a drizzle is just a drizzle and sometimes it is a warning that you should take cover. We rounded a corner and saw the downpour we had been “warned” about waiting for us . We quickly pulled off and took shelter on the porch of a friendly Thai family home. When Mike was greeting the woman who lived there he pointed towards the sky and said “nam” (literally “water” in Thai- one of our few Thai words). He thought he was making conversation about the falling water that had trapped us there. A few minutes later she brought us a pitcher of water – the language barriers just keep on coming! Luckily the warm hospitality of the Thai people made nothing about this situation seem rude or intrusive.

View of the massive chedi from outside the Wat.
View of the massive chedi from outside the Wat.
Some of the decorations inside of the temple
Some of the decorations inside of the temple
The 170 odd chedis of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan
The 170 odd chedis of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan

Day 3, June 16, 2015- Hua Sai to Ban Kokud

82 kilometers in 5 hours 30 minutes of riding time (8:00am-4:30pm including a 3 hour stop in Ranot)

Average speed- 15.2 kph

Leaving the roads shown on the GPS to create our own route was a great decision today!
Leaving the roads shown on the GPS to create our own route was a great decision today!

This morning started with even more language barriers as we found ourselves at a Muslim restaurant for breakfast. As we entered the roadside venue, we received many curious and friendly looks and the locals warmly greeted us by clearing a table and getting us some chairs. Although we couldn’t communicate much with words, we have gotten quite used to non-verbal communication, and ordered our breakfast by pointing at other people’s good-looking food, smiling, and nodding. With the help of the other customers we were able to get a great breakfast of cold noodles in great sauce with a platter of greens to go with it all – a great way to start the day!

The morning weekly market in Ranot that we happened to be in town for!
The morning weekly market in Ranot that we happened to be in town for!

Today was a great reminder of why traveling with a flexible schedule in Thailand is a great way to enjoy not only the destinations, but also the journey. The goal of today was to go 110 kilometers to our next stop. However, our route happened to bring us though an unexpected gem of a town in the late morning that changed these plans for the better. Cobblestone roads and ornate lamp posts paved the way into the laid-back town of Ranot where we found a weekly morning market packed with clothes and food and fish from the nearby lake. We decided to scratch the plans of biking the entire 100 kilometers and spent a few hours soaking in the vibe of the town by wandering through the lively and colorful market, eating local delicacies, and napping and relaxing in the shade of some trees. After a relaxing late-morning visit in Ranot, we decided to continue cycling for a couple of more hours in the afternoon.

One thing other bikers had warned us about was dogs. So far we had a couple of minor incidents with dogs chasing after us and barking, but nothing too noteworthy. Today they were practically lining the streets waiting for us to roll through so they could chase us. Some were just short-legged yippy rat-like dogs but others more closely resembled wolves. We have found yelling and kicking at them to be effective ways to deter them. Ringing the bell seems to have the opposite effect.

Happy little sting rays!
Happy little sting rays!
Sharks or fish?
Sharks or fish?
Some of the clothing and food stalls of the weekly market
Some of the clothing and food stalls of the weekly market

Day 14, June 17, 2015- Ban Kokud to Songkhla

50 kilometers in three and a half hours

Average speed- 14.3 kph
Songkhla LakeThe three big tourist areas in Thailand seem to be the southwest coast near Phuket, the northern region around Chiang Mai, and obviously Bangkok. Since starting this trip 2 weeks ago, we have been traveling off this trail and were starting to get to the point where locals were starting to take a ton of interest in us. We’re guessing tourists almost never make it this far on the south-east coast. Mike tried to order breakfast in Thai this morning, and accidentally got us plain rice and a bucket of hard-boiled eggs, but his attempt caused all the Thai women to burst into giggles and request pictures with him.

Enjoying the free ferry ride into Songkhla! Wish we had brought our umbrella like everyone else!!
Enjoying the free ferry ride into Songkhla! Wish we had brought our umbrella like everyone else!!

Our interactions with locals in this region has been one of curiosity and hospitality, and this will continue to become a common occurrence. When we are able to explain to people that we are biking from Bangkok to Singapore we get shocked, impressed, and confused looks from the locals who cannot understand why anyone would ever attempt that without a motor. In the last week though these looks also seem to come with free snacks or bottles of water either out of sympathy or a desire to help us in this seemingly ridiculous quest.

Highlight of the day- avoiding an extra 20 kilometers of biking by taking a free 5-minute ferry across clear turquoise water to the peninsular town of Songkhla.


Day 15, June 18, 2015- rest day in Songklha

The cat and mouse statue in Songkhla
The cat and mouse statue in Songkhla

Today we were planning to take a day off the bikes and walk around and see some of the sights in the city. After wandering around in the morning for a little over an hour we were so overheated and tired of moving at a walking pace. So we got back on the bikes in the afternoon and started our own scavenger hunt of Songkhla. We took a glorified overpriced elevator to the top of a hill that overlooked the town. We fed monkeys coconut shells until one tried to steal our water bottle and Mike tried to fight it off with a spoon. We found the mermaid statue, the cat and rat statue, and the mid section and rear end of the serpent. To top it all off, no day in Thailand would be complete without a night market – and the weekend market in Songkhla is one of the best we’ve seen so far!

Songkhla skyline
Love locks on top of Songkhla
Part 1- monkey eats coconut husk
Part 1- monkey eats coconut husk
Part 2- monkey steals our precious water
Part 2- monkey steals our precious water
Part 3- Mike fights back
Pad thai at the weekend night market in Songkhla
Pad thai at the weekend night market in Songkhla
Weekend night market in Songkhla
Weekend night market in Songkhla

How (NOT) to Start a Cycling Trip in Bangkok (hint: go to Hua Hin instead!)

So we’re meeting up in Bangkok- I’m coming from Cambodia, Mike’s coming from Tanzania. The plan is to embark on our first bike trip together- from Bangkok to Bali- 2 months- just us and the bikes. Half of that equation was still missing.

Starting a month before getting to Bangkok I spent HOURS online trying to figure out if this plan was really possible. Could we actually find bikes in Bangkok that would carry us for at least 2 months? And I read many blogs like this one that said “yes, of course” which reinforced my pre-perception of Bangkok being this magical place where you could find everything your heart desires!

Bangkok skyline on the loveliest of days
Bangkok skyline on the loveliest of days

Initially we were looking to buy used bikes because that was much more “in” our price range. To do this we would have to go through Craiglist or one of the many local markets. This was going to be difficult for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t speak Thai
  2. I don’t know my way around Bangkok AT ALL so couldn’t find people on Craigslist even if I tried
  3. The local markets are really hit-or miss. People report finding great deals on there, they also report finding unicycles. Cute one-speeders are the most popular city bikes in Southeast Asia which was not really what we were looking for.
  4. I didn’t have a ton of time to devote to this search

So my last option seemed to be to visit all the bike stores I had found (again, through blog posts like this one) to see if I could find us some new bikes that weren’t outrageously expensive. In three days (in between site-seeing and searching for a bagel) I managed to visit 3 locations:

  1. Probike- located near Lumphini Park- this store mostly offered Trek bikes- all were new and shiny and beautiful. The cheapest hybrid/touring bike was around  $500 but that price went up quickly as you looked at road bikes or mountain bikes. They sold Ortlieb panniers for around $200 for the pair. They also had racks, tools, apparel, etc. They were busy and no one in the store seemed terribly concerned that I was there, and I was terribly overwhelmed so I left.
  2. Just an example of one of the crazy malls in Bangkok that you might have to sift through to find what you're looking for
    Just an example of one of the crazy malls in Bangkok that you might have to sift through to find what you’re looking for

    BikeZone- located next to Amarin Plaza right off the Chitlom BTS stop- this store was actually closed when I visited but I didn’t feel any great desire to return primarily because it didn’t look like they sold bikes there. It did sell cycling accessories but from what I could tell from pressing my nose against the glass peering into the dark store- their prices were comparably high to ProBike. This visit was worth it because there is an AWESOME bagel cafe- the BKK Bagel Bakery– which I highly recommend!

  3. Grasshopper tours- located near the Democracy Monument- this stop was more out of desperation. I remembered reading somewhere that sometimes Grasshopper tours sells their used touring bikes and/or accessories so I stopped in. They weren’t selling anything at the time, and didn’t seem like they ever did. The women working their gave me the name of a local market and that was all I got out of that.

Backup about a month before I even arrived in Bangkok- I had put a message out on a Bangkok Cycling Forum looking for a class or someone to teach me basic bicycle mechanics (I figured it would be important for one of us to have some knowledge of this before we headed off on a two month trip). I had gotten John’s name- the mechanic associated with a company called Tour De Asia– a touring company/bike shop based out of Hua Hin- a beach town that’s a 2.5 hour bus ride south of Bangkok.

After setting up a two-day course with John (which was an amazing decision- it was one-on-one hands-on instruction on everything from changing a tire to identifying and mitigating issues with the front or rear derailleurs to daily preventative upkeep of a bicycle) he offered to set me up with one of his company’s lightly used touring bikes for around $500. Because that price seemed kind of high and I hadn’t even tried looking in Bangkok yet I turned that offer down.

The Hua Hin skyline- just a tiny bit calmer!
The Hua Hin skyline- just a tiny bit calmer!

Fast forward to a few days ago- I have found NOTHING in Bangkok, Mike is getting here in a week, we’re trying to start this trip in a week in a half- I was supposed to find us bikes and panniers and I had found nothing. I am supposed to be learning how to fix this imaginary bike in a few days and I had NOTHING. I asked John again if he has any leads- he connects me to Chris- the owner of Tour De Asia- who offers up some great deals from his shop- which I realize is in Hua Hin. So rather than spend the next two days frantically scouring local markets only to probably end up buying a fancy new bike and fancy new panniers- I jumped on a bus down to Hua Hin- which turned out to be an AMAZING DECISION!

I arrived and called Chris- he came by my hostel and drove me over to the Tour De Asia shop which was filled with almost new Marin bikes. He started talking about his company- they lead tours across Thailand and through other parts of Southeast Asia- they’ve got a ton of experience with cycling in this region- they’ve got routes that get you off the main highways and onto more scenic back roads. They’ve got accommodation recommendations for the whole Thai peninsula as well as the names of bike shops across Thailand. They sell used bikes, used panniers, rear racks, helmets, multitools, hand pumps, cycling jerseys, butt cream, bike locks, etc. All of these “used” items have been “used” once or twice on one of their tours, impeccably maintained by John, and are resold at a great price. He offered me the bike, panniers, rear rack for a great package deal and threw in a free water bottle- all for around $550.

The Marin bike that I ended up buying! She's a beauty!
The Marin bike that I ended up buying! She’s a beauty!

As if all that wasn’t enough- they offered to let me store my bike there while I had to go up to Bangkok to extend my visa and pick up Mike, and also offered to let us keep all of our extra baggage at their shop which is much better than our original plan to leave them at our hostel.

So our current plan is this- once Mike get’s here we will take a bus down to Hua Hin, pick out a bike for him, pick up my bike, and start off on this trip! Easy peasy!

Here are the biggest reasons why you should go to Hua Hin before starting a cycling trip in Thailand- especially one that is going south:

  1. It is NOT  BANGKOK- you don’t want to cycle in Bangkok- it’s a huge city with insane traffic that you don’t want to navigate on a bike. Hua Hin is more laid back, there’s only two huge roads going through it and those are avoidable, and once you get past those you are on to the pretty cycling of Southern Thailand (so I’ve heard).
  2. Tour De Asia is based here! I seriously cannot emphasize enough how wonderful Chris and John were- they were like our trips guardian angels. No one knows cycling around this region better! (Even if for some reason you want to check out your other options- I saw three other bike shops along the main road going through Hua Hin).

Approximately one week until take off!

(Some of those blog posts I was relying on are listed below:)