Thailand 2

Now we can breathe again and stow our breathing protection cloths at the bottom of the bags, because in Thailand it is noticeably less dusty. However, it means double concentration, because it is left traffic again and the Thais have the second most traffic accidents worldwide. The area is very nice! First, the little busy road with beautiful views over hills and then we enjoy a refreshing downhill. The lunch we make at a rest area with a little hut for us even with electricity! It is again stiflingly hot. Only at 15:30 clock we continue cycling. After shopping, we hike up the next climb, which proves to be extremely steep once more! Unfortunately we do not find a place to sleep as planned. So we fight to the very top. Only after sunset we arrive sweaty on the top. We find a nice place with a wonderful view, but we have to do without a shower.
We are exhausted! The last days and the stage in Laos were extremely tough! Fortunately, it is mostly downhill. We take it easy, have a coffee and in Bang Song Kwae we eat our beloved Pad Thai. Surprisingly, it is a hearty hamlet. When we discover a washing machine and the owner shows us her hostel, we take it with great pleasure! The owner of the hostel is also a teacher. It’s just the summer holidays. She likes to show us the school. Here English is an important subject. Several times she wishes that Judith comes to teach English at her school. Yes, who knows maybe later … In the evening, there is a party at the river. The music is extremely loud and unpleasant for our ears even with ear plugs!

We use the break to plan our trip to China more precisely. We realize that our 30-day visa is way too short! This is a big problem now. If we plan to travel from Laos to China as planned, then it will only take us two weeks to get to Dali into the region where we want to go. After only 23 days we would have to be in Shangri-La, where we could then extend the visa by 30 days. That’s just not enough time and as much stress as we had in Iran, we did not want to have it again. In travel reports from other travelers, we read that for the same reason, they did a 14-hour bus ride in a sleeper. We don’t feel like riding in a bus for such a long time, so we decide a little reluctantly for the variant aircraft. We are a bit frustrated and we feel other-directed! Once again we question whether we really want to travel to China or not. In the end, we decide to travel to China and book a flight from Chiang Mai to Kunming.
Ironically, after the second night in this hostel, Andi wakes up with red, itchy spots all over his body. He must have had nocturnal ant visit 🐜🐜🐜🐜🐜 The hostel owner drives us to the hospital, where Andi gets a soothing ointment. We continue cycling. The track is very nice, even if it is always peppered with very steep climbs. In the evening we cycle to the nearest pharmacy, as Andi’s ant bites are extremely itchy again! Once again we are allowed to spend the night in the open auditorium of the school.
The next morning, we buy vegetables and fruits from the market for the next two days. It goes up to the Pu Chi Fa and in this area we will only come to small villages. For the first time we drive past a mango plantation. The track is beautiful and the road is lonely. Only when the road turns into gravel and gets even more steep, that we have to push our steel horces in the midday heat 3/4 hours, we realise why the road is so lonely. After a lunch break with the most beautiful view we fight our last climbs to the nice, asphalted mountain trail. Now we have almost all vertical meters and with the most beautiful view we cycle to the village below the Pu Chi Fa. We camp at a campsite ⛺️, enjoy the beautiful sunset and look forward to the cooler temperatures.

The next morning we cycle up to Pu Chi Fa. Wow, this piece has it all again with these steep street! Despite asphalt, we have to push. Why build the Thai only such steep roads? Also on the downhill it has extremely steep sections in it, ski slopes are nothing in comparison! Luckily we did not come up from this direction!
We stay overnight in a cozy hostel after shopping at the Sunday market and cooking a fine dinner. The next morning, the last raindrops fall. There was heavy rain during the night. We make ourselves comfortable on the way on the nice flat road along the Mekong to Chang Kong. There we organize a bus to Chiang Mai and find a cheap accommodation. However, at night it pays off that sometimes it would be worthwhile paying a little more for an overnight stay … The mosquito net is so holey. that it does not help. It itches us all over and when we turn on the light, we see little animals crawling over the mattress. If we crush them, they leave a trail of blood. We pack our inner tent and put it next to the pool. After two hours, we wake up again, as it starts to rain. Since we only set up the inner tent, we have to move quickly under the roof. What a night! Fortunately, the next day we can just sit on the bus to Chiang Mai for 5.5 hours.

In Chiang Mai, we stay six days. At the Triplecat bike shop Andi can replace his Brooks saddle and Judith’s saddle gets for 100 baht (3.-Fri) a new leather cover. We also replace Judith’s tires and Andi’s rusty chain. The heat in Chiang Mai dampens our exploration. So we enjoy ourselves in the cool cafes and restaurants …
On April 3rd we say goodbye to Thailand and fly to Kunming. We are looking forward to the adventure China.

Conclusion: We have taken in northern Thailand one of the most beautiful routes. Unfortunately, at the end we saw much less than planned from northern Thailand, but we were somehow saturated by Thailand and it became unbearably hot. Thailand has changed a lot in the past years. The island KoLanta was a clear highlight of Thailand. Free camping in Thailand is extremely easy, as it is easy to camp in public places such as schools or border crossings. So Thailand would be the perfect cycling destination. But beware the Thais are tuning the cars, motorcycles, tuktuks and even trucks and thunder loudly over their perfectly paved roads. This can be extremely dangerous, as the traffic accident statistics show. In addition, the roads are extremely steep, which makes cycling not so attractive.

Thailand 1

Early in the morning we land in Krabi. Our bicycles are already waiting for us. Air Asia convinced us very much, very uncomplicated handling of the bikes. We build them together and cycle to Koh Lanta, where Andi’s godmother is waiting for us. In the Funky Fish Bungalow we are warmly welcomed by Eri. The next day we visit the dental hygienist. We enjoy the fine and varied Thai food here. Already at night Judith feels feverish. She has probably caught a cold flu on the plane. After three days, Judith is fortunately well again, but she still needs a few days until she is fit enough for cycling again. Finally after 8 days we are back on the road again.

By boat it goes to Krabi and from there in the direction of Ao Nang. The way there is very nice with these exciting rocks. Ao Nang, on the other hand, is extremely touristy, so we go straight on. Fortunately, the track is very shady and has little traffic. When it dawns, we ask at a shop, if we are allowed to camp here. To our pleasure they allow us. As it gets very hot around noon, we set the alarm clock at 5:15 am, pack up our extremely wet tent, have breakfast and cycle already with the first daylight. It is very green again. Our way leads through palm oil, rubber tree and banana plantations. The highlight of this route is a gravel road through the jungle. We’ll make a long lunch break in the shade. Shortly before Kao Sok we are allowed to camp at a football pitch. The dimming of the headlight system is left to us. The next morning, as we feel our bags in the dark, we frighten back. Our arms and legs are burning and we quickly realize that we slept on an anthill. 😳 We quickly pack our things and free our ants 🐜 🐜🐜🐜 infested bags. After a whole hour, we managed to get rid of those nasty little animals. In Kao Sok we recover in a coffee from this morning exertion! Even after a shower, we always have the feeling of being attacked by biting ants. At 15:00 o’clock we continue on a small pass and look forward to the airy descent. How beautiful passes are! 😀 Before it darkens, we find a place to sleep under the palm trees.

The alarm rings again early in the morning and once again we pack the tent totally wet from the high humidity at night. The landscape does not change so fast here. There are many monocultures. The first time we see a Cashnewnuts tree.

In the evening we can camp at a school. What a luxury it is to camp with light and electricity. Well rested, it will go to Ranong the next day.
In the heat of the day we arrive exhausted in Ranong. Since we like this town, we are looking for a cheap accommodation and stroll in the evening through the evening market.

We cycle along the border to Myamar. Another night we stay at a school. We are very grateful that the Thais are so uncomplicated! 🙏 This evening, we are presented by two families with bananas. We can not refuse this gift and will not have to buy bananas in the next few days😀. When Andi wants to lock his bike, he notices that the rear wheel is touching the frame. As we observe the tire closer, we notice that a spoke is broken. We remember that the backpack ribbon came into the wheel. This must have been the cause. Luckily we have light and the spoke is replaced quickly.
No photos

On the way towards Chumpon we meet the German cyclist Stefan. We try to help him fix the tent poles of his MSR tent. We wanted to buy a MSR tent in Bangkok, because the zippers of our tent are broken. Mhm, we think this over again 🤔 A little further than Chumpon we find a very nice place to sleep right on the sea. We enjoy our breakfast with a beautiful sunrise. The road here is very busy and we meet Thai cyclist on race bikes from time to time. At lunchtime, we stop by a coffee and ask for a fresh coconut. Unfortunately, they do not have one, but they organize some and give it to us for free!😀🙏

The landscape here is very much influenced by the palm oil plantations. Luckily we come back to the sea in the evening and behind a school directly on the beach, we camp once more at a beautiful place👍😀 The breakfast tastes great with such a beautiful sunrise. We pedal the last few kilometers to Bang Saphan Noi, where we want to take the train. Once there, we learn that we can take the night train and the bikes we can easily take for 100 baht (3-Fr) with us. Thus, we explore the town and meet many Swiss and Germans, who spend the winter here. We quickly realize that this place has some nice coffees and good restaurants to offer. In the night train, it is cooled down a lot. Luckily we have a warm sleeping bag. When we arrive in Bangkok in the morning, it rains. Since it is Friday and we can get our Chinavisa only on Monday, we are looking for a cheap accommodation. Which is not so easy!
We use the time in Bangkok to do some shopping and repair our tent. The two zippers at the entrances replaces Judith patiently by hand.

On Monday we go to the China Application Center. After a long queue our visa application and hotel bookings are not enough. They still wanted to see our plane tickets, although we try to explain to them that we are cycling. We also have to write a confirmation, that we finance the trip ourselves. We quickly realized that the cross at “unemployed” they do not like. They also want to see a bank statement. Without further ado they send us away and we have a lot to do! This means, we book a flight in a travel agency, we recreate the visa application with the cross at “employed” and put us on Tuesday again in the queue, this time with an express request. We are more successful, but we still need to explain, why our Thailand visa expires. We leave the visa center with good cheer and hope for a successful issuance in two days. On Wednesday we are asked to send an email with a statement to the Visa Application Center, explaining why we traveled to Turkey and Iran. On Friday, 4 days later, we are unfortunately informed that the China Visa, despite Express request now takes 1 month. We can not wait that long! So we try to extend our Thailand-Visa, we cycle to the other end of the city (25km). However, the immigration office closes at 15:00 as expected at 16:30 …. not our lucky day! 😢

After an intensive planning weekend, we try to proceed with one of our plans and apply for an exchange pass at the Swiss embassy. Unfortunately, this does not work, because the Swiss law does not allow to travel with two passports. The problem is, that the place of exchange must be in Switzerland, not at the traveler abroad. This in turn makes a second passport for cycling unusable, because you have to have both passports when crossing the border, as the exit stamp in one pass and the visa for the next country in the other pass. Brilliantly, this would be so you could send the unused passport on a journey after traveling through the border, to obtain a visa in your home country, as this is often much easier, you get longer visas and avoid tedious waiting times at consulates. By the way, this is possible for the Germans and Austrians!!

Since this plan did not work out, we organize the night train to Nong Khai, to cycle from there to Vientiane in Laos. So we hit two birds with one stone, because we do not have to extend the Thaivisa and we apply here again for the Chinese visa. According to our research, this should be easier there.

Day 254

In der Nacht juckt es uns und es hat Moskitos. Das Moskitonetz ist jedoch kaputt und nützt nichts. Als wir die Matratze inspizieren, sehen wir kleine Insekten krabbeln. Wir packen unser Innenzelt und stellen es im Garten des Hostels auf.

Zum Glück müssen wir für die Busfahrt nach Chiag Mai nicht ausgeruht und fit sein.

Day 253

Nach einer erholsamen Nacht machen wir uns gemütlich auf den Weg. Für einmal geht es gerade aus am Mekong entlang. Schöne Kaffees laden zum Verweilen ein. In Chiang Khong organisieren wir den Bus für den nächsten Tag nach Chiang Mai. Wir und unsere Beine brauchen etwas Erholung, bevor es nach China geht 😂

Total distance: 45 km
Max elevation: 387 m
Min elevation: 303 m
Total climbing: 233 m
Total descent: -173 m

Day 252

Am Morgen kämpfen wir uns zum Pu Chi Fa hoch. Die Strasse ist soooo steil😳 Leider ist die Sicht etwas milchig… Nach einem schönen Höhenweg mit ein paar saftigen Gegenanstiege geht es steil runter!🎢 Zum Glück sind wir von der anderen Seite her gekommen! 👍😀

Total distance: 56.72 km
Max elevation: 1478 m
Min elevation: 367 m
Total climbing: 882 m
Total descent: -1805 m

Day 251

Heute fahren wir eine von unseren bisher schönste Strecke. Der Höhenweg bietet super Aussicht auf die hügelige Landschaft mit den Wiesen, Mangoplantagen, Erdbeer- und Kohlfelder. Aber bis wir die Höhe erreicht haben, kostete uns einige Schweisstropfen, denn wir mussten 3/4 Stunden stossen. Wir waren alleine und es war schön, aber nicht unbedingt zu empfehlen 😂

Total distance: 55.14 km
Max elevation: 1304 m
Min elevation: 383 m
Total climbing: 1180 m
Total descent: -289 m

Day 250

Oh nein, Andi muss einen nächtlichen Besuch von Ameisen 🐜 🐜🐜 gehabt haben! Überall juckt es ihn grausam, das ist dann schon die dritte Attacke von Ameisen, aber diesmal waren wir nicht in unserem schützenden Zelt. Aber warum nur Andi, Judith bliebt total unversehrt. Die Strecke der Route 1148 ist traumhaft schön! Es hat fast keinen Verkehr und die schönste Aussicht über die hügeligen Felder und Felsen. Einmal mehr übernachten wir in einer Schule 👍

Total distance: 78.76 km
Max elevation: 866 m
Min elevation: 292 m
Total climbing: 1503 m
Total descent: -1379 m