Bus from Bangkok to Tak
I took a bus from Bangkok’s Mochit bus station to Tak (a 7-hour drive North West of Bangkok). There isn’t a website to book your tickets, but as I had read, most buses (and trains) will take you and your bicycle. Luckily, this turned out to be true. I took the state owned Transport Co bus for 320 bath for myself and 200 extra for the bicycle – which could fit in perfectly without having to take anything off. Nice!
After cycling about 15 minutes I got myself surrounded by an angry mob of stray dogs, showing their teeth and barking at me. I didn’t want them to bite my juicy calves and catch rabies on my first day of cycling! Fortunately, I was able to get away from them quickly by increasing my speed and yelling back at them. Raising your hands as if you’re going to throw something at them also helps. Luckily, this turned out to be a single event during the following days. Most of the dogs are of the lazy type, lying half asleep on the road, and when I cycle passed them, they notice me just last minute, and that scares the shit out of them – in a funny way. It reminds me of running passed people in the park who wear headphones. Ever seen their reaction?
Quiet countryside roads
I quickly found quiet roads and cycled along the Ping river, passing small villages, wooden houses (often lifted from the ground by poles), banana and mango trees, and lush green tropical forests.
Finding my first hotel
I hadn’t booked any places to sleep in advance as I had read that these should be about everywhere. I passed a town with hotels after 60 km but felt like cycling more. 15 km farther North I started asking around for hotels / guest houses. I got sent in different directions, phone calls were made, and eventually I got to a supposed guest house. It really looked like it, but when I asked whether I could sleep there, the lady running the place told me “no, no, no!”, and didn’t want to deal with me any further. I decided to cycle back to the town with hotels, where I found one with an available room after another 2 rejections, resulting in almost 100 km for the first day, and my patience having survived the test.
After a well deserved rest, I was cycling again on peaceful countryside roads. People said hello, smiled or waved at me. One guy passed me on a motorbike, waved at me, and gave me the kissing gesture – in a very gay way. I waved back and laughed about it. I already knew it’s okay to be gay in Thailand, and that’s great.
A little later I had to stop to pee. While I drove to the side of the road to park my bike, I saw another guy on a motorbike in the distance waving again, and I waved back. While I started doing what I had to I thought “wait, I think that was actually the gay guy that passed me earlier”. At the same time I realized that he could have seen this as a sign I didn’t intend to give at all. Probably, what he saw, was a smiling, fit guy on a bicycle waving back at him twice and then walking into the bushes. Could it be a hint? And indeed, while I wasn’t even finished, he parked his motorbike next to my bike and walked up to me. First he smiled and enthusiastically said “selfie?” I thought “alright, just a selfie, that’s fine.” After the selfie he looked at me and suddenly tried to grab my by the balls. Just in time, I managed to block his hand (Krav Maga style), firmly said no, and increased the distance between us. Then he asked whether I wanted to sleep at his place. I said no again. Then he pulled out his wallet and showed money that he wanted to pay me. No again. Besides, it was only 200 baths. Even if I would be interested, I wouldn’t be that cheap, man! He looked disappointed and started to apologize “sorry, sorry!”, and he took off on his motorbike again. During the rest of the day he passed me two more times and yelled “sorry!” I actually found it quite funny and could laugh loudly about it inside myself.
Riding into the hills West of Lamphun and going off-road
On the third day I went into the lushly forested hills on some of the smoothest tarmac I have ever seen. The climbing was good exercise and rewarding. The scenery got better the higher I got. I was enjoying it thoroughly.
On the fourth day I got on a few gravel roads, some marked on my map as a broken line (usually meaning a hiking path). One part was really awesome, more like a mountainbike trail, up and down, on rocky surfaces, going through a kind of tunnel through the jungle. Tough but totally worth it!
A little word about the weather. The first few days in Bangkok and my first day cycling were pretty hot at 35 degrees Celsius maximum. But after that, the temperature maxed at about 30 degrees, and with a small breeze, that has been really enjoyable for me. Also, I don’t really notice the humidity. Perhaps because I expected it to be much worse – that everything would be wet all the time and couldn’t dry. Actually, when I wash a shirt and let it hang in the breeze during the night, it’s as good as dry the next morning.
Keeping in mind that it’s freezing cold in Holland right now, it feels even better over here.