Shortly after the border crossing Malaysia challenges me with a very steep gradient. It is very comfortable for me that the locals speak English quite well. I can communicate with them.
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Shortly after the border crossing Malaysia challenges me with a very steep gradient. It is very comfortable for me that the locals speak English quite well. I can communicate with them.
While looking for a new accomodation I pass an inconspicuous side road with a small sign, that has a bed, a knife and a fork painted on it. At first I just walk past it and then I think, that I want to have a look at it. The house seems to be located at the end of the dead-end road. I go there and ask for a room. The owner offers me a room in a new building and points towards a vintage-style wooden house.
My inner voice tells me: That's it! We go inside and i am stunned. The house is completely furnished with antiques. The owner and I immediately understood each other and are having a conversation about antiques. A noticeably sympathy emerges between us. It was clear for me that the price for the room will exceed my budget.
Long time we talk about many topics and then Wiroj, the owner, gave me the room for an extremely favourable rent price including breakfast.
Because there are no other guests in this wooden house, I am free to choose a room there. I immediately feel comfortable and a feeling of beeing at home growes in me. Family Saengbangka tochingly cares for me and reads all my wishes off my eyes.
I got the whole upper floor all for myself with a nice terrace. The universe takes care of me very well, this is a great birthday present. I have a feeling that I have found a home/family. It is something special for me, that these things take place with completely strange people.
I stay some days there. Saying farewell to Wiroj and Chomkhae is deeply emotional and warm. Chomkhae's eyes well up with tears, which effects me deeply. This situation adresses me for some time for this day. A string bond developed between this family and me.
I want to cycle over the hills at Isthmus of Kra to reach the coast of the Andaman sea. The road leads ably around the hills and the gradients are not too challenging. If there is a chance to leave the highway I take it.
The hills become steeper and I think that there will be a next challenge for me until Ranong. That was not the case. I'm looking forward to be in Ranong because there are these hot springs. I arrive there in a very relaxed condition. In the evening I pay a visit to the hot springs.
There is also a fruit market, where I get to know the so called mango plum, a great fruit. Without my luggage I explore the area and cycle into the canyon of Ranong.
Actually I just wanted to make a small trip but at the end I cycled about 60km. I found pristine nature in the national park. In the evening I allowed myself an extended Thai massage with flavoured oil. It was so good that I booked another massage for the next day.
I decide to make a visa-run one-day-trip to Myanmar. A wooden boat takes me to Kawthaung, where I get my passport stamps for entering and also for leaving the country. Another boat takes me back to Thailand, where I get a 30-day-visa on arrival again. This visa-run is much cheaper than purchasing a visa extension in Thailand. Early in the day I leave Ranong to make use of the chill of the morning. The next national park awaits me. The way leads through mangroves to Hat Bang Ben. At this place one can leave all his cares behind.
In the Wasana resort I find a small bungalow for accomodation. Once again I feel as right as rain. The owner is a Dutchman and we understand each other very good. I am glad to travel timelessly. I enjoy the nature and the silence for some days and wander through the rain forest in the nation park, where are some deserted beaches and fishing villages.
The fisherman live in simple huts. I can see their satisfaction in their faces; they are shining it. I watch the harvesting of the palm fruits, of which they make palm oil.
There are many cashew trees, from which they pick the cashew apple that is holding the nut. For one day I chill at the bungalow at ease.
The wonderful landscape accompanies me along to Khao Lak. On my way to there I get to know Dirk, who is also a long-distance cyclist. He is staying in Khao Lak as well and right now on his way to the beach, where I've had my second breakfast. We make an appointment for the evening.
From Dirk I get to know Tom, who runs a restaurant in Khao Lak. A past Tsunami destroyed many houses in Khao Lak. Today not many marks are left from this event. At Tom's place I get to know a Lakota-indian, who comes to visit Khao Lak every year. I continue along the coast throough many Karst hills. The landscape is unfamiliar.
The hills are not high, they just stand around. There are no big "Anstiege", but it goes up and down continuously. In addition a headwind takes lots of my strenght for the last days. I even have to pedal downhill. There is hardly any accomodation in this area. Those, that I find, are too expensive. One of the expensive ones allows me to camp onto their ground and to use the toilets and the natural water pool, which is as good as a shower.
On the way to Krabi I take a longer break at the bay of Noppharathara. I really like it here so I look for an accomodation. The beaches around Krabi are very touristic.
In a hostel I get to know Chiko. He is from India and lives in Melbourne. Dropped out for an indefinite period of time he travels to various locations of our planet, where he can do rock climbing.
I stay some days there before I flee from this touristic place to have a look at Krabi.
Once I reach the small city of Klong Thom I spontaneously plan to visit the Emerald Pool. I discover once again the silence and serenity amongst the people here. They don't have the avarice for money in their eyes.
There is a mart at night, which I pay a visit. They show me how the make the tea there. Immediately I am in contact with the locals. Their food is much better and cheaper than elsewhere - they do not want my money.
On the next day I cycle into the mountains of Sa Monrakot, where the Emerald Pool is located. I leave my luggage in my accomodation place.
The Emerald Pool is a natural water pool with turquoise clear water, where I can take a cooling bath. A long way through the rain forest leads to the blue pool. The crystal clear water contains deposits of ore, which where taken here by the river stream. It was a wonderful day there.
Because of the many tourists I am still not sure whether to visit the island Koh Lanta. It is early in the morning and I can just calmly explore the island with my luggage and then later decide, if I want to stay there. I reach the island by ferry. While exploring I meet Heidi and Hagen from near Munich, Germany. I want to pay them a visit later in Germany.
In spite of the many tourists, the island is quite silent and relaxed. I am cycling a lot there. Some of the beaches are hardly populated, so I go to swim in the ocean quite often. Every day there are thunderstorms that bring abundant showers. The locals say that the rainy season is coming very early this year.
On my way to the malaysian border I cycle on many small side roads, which are very branched, almost like a labyrinth. Once again I find myself in a village, where the road branches off in two directions, and I don't know which way to go. A woman invites me for lunch and shows me how to get out of the labyrinth. She then spontaneously takes her motorbike and guides me for about 10km out to the main street. The rain forces me to stop many times. All the people are very helpful. At a police station they offer me tea, and as the rain does not stop they even gave me something to eat.
After that one of the policemen, Satir, drives home and returns with a bag full of fresh fruits. Another time, when once again the rain did not stop and it was already dusk, the next accomodation is 30km far away. The locals allow me to sleep on the floor of a roofed school terrace. One of them accompanies me to this school, which are usually located near Wats, where the monks live. The monks offer me a plank bed and I am invitet to a Wat for dinner, where the village-people celebrate a funeral. For them it seems to be a naturalness that I am part of the celebration. The day before I experienced the same situation at lunchtime. A sadness rises in me that I have to leave this wonderful country soon.
Every buddhistic thai wants to visit this pilgrimage site once in his lifetime. This location is relatively unknown to tourists, so there were just a few around. The coast at this place is fabulous. I cycle small side roads through palmplantations and sleepy villages. I travel like this from one bay to the next one. This part of the coast is mainly used by thais at the weekends. I found a hardly describable silence and serenity there. Many times, while looking for a place to sleep, there is neihter anyone present at the open acommodation's reception nor do I find any soul around the whole resort. It is also hard to get directions, because there are so few signs, which then are written in letters that I cannot read. A lot of times I had to rely on my good sense of direction. I then rode on hit-or-miss in the direction, that I assumed to be the right one.
Sometimes it turned out I was correct! Or not ???
While I made pauses from cycling I often went swimming in the ocean. The voices of the rainforest accompany me and the sun pampers me all day long. This is a good life. I am grateful to experience it. Most of times I stay a few days at the same place. Thoughts come to my mind: I could start a new life here later on or just have a break here from travelling.
The first big Resorts arise in front of me - package touristing incoming. There is a new ferry from Pattaya to Hua Hin since January, which I intend to use. In Jomtien I look for an accomodation; it is quite near to the pier of Pattaya. At the harbour office I want to get a ticket for the ferry for the next day. I've been told that I cannot take my bicycle on the ferry because it does not fit into the x-ray scanner, which they use to scan the luggage. But I don't give up! I cycle along the pier to look for alternatives, but I wasn't successful. A little frustration comes up when I think of cycling through the industrial zone south of Bangkok in order to reach the coast of the gulf of Thailand. It would be 250km of cycling without side roads. My anger and frustration, that is coming from my stomach, helps me to cover the whole distance within two days! I reach Samut Songkhram just on time when a train is arriving the Maeklong Railway Market.
The market is located directly beside the railway. When a train approaches, all the vendors with their marketshops have to retreat a little to make room for the train. I did it and finally I am at the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Anger and frustration are gone. The night I spend in Phetchaburi. There is a festival of lights at Wat Mahathat Worawihan, which is the emblem of the city.
The whole hill with all the magnificent buildings is illuminated by chains of lights and lampions. Many people visit the festival wearing their ancient and traditional costumes. My way leads me to the south direction on gravel roads far away from the highway. In Hua Hin i meet Jonas and Claudia, with whom I spent one day in Phetchaburi. On the next day we visit the Pharaya Nakhon Cave. It is an impressive dripstone cave, where in its inside was built a temple (more info on the internet).
We have been there just in time to see the early morning sun shining into the cave. I was very impressed.
The first karst-like mountains come in sight and it makes fun cycling through this beautiful landscape far off the highway.
Once again there are isolated beaches and fishing villages. Thailand fascinates me. Many times I go swimming into the ocean, because the temperature is rising from day to day. At times, at noon, I measure 46,8° Celcius. In Prachuap Khiri Khan a road leads through a military base to the bay of the lemons. There I have to cross their runway. When a plane takes off from the base, the road is closed manually with a barrier. This place is paradisiac: isolated and dreamlike beaches, the rainforest and small villages.
A small fishing village is fascinating me. The time seems to have stopped here. Every one is calm and relaxed while working.
At this place I eat the best fish-curry, that I ever had, with my feet in the sand and a free view towards the ocean. These days I have met some long distance cyclists on my way. I plan to stay at the coast of the Gulf until Chumphon.
Crossing the border to Thailand did not cause any trouble. I used my 60-day-visa, which I got from the embassy in Saigon. The quality of the streets are improving instantly in Thailand.
The way to Trat leads me along the coast through small fishing villages, where I got stuck again. At my accomodation in Trat I accidently meet Natali and Patrick, who I met earlier in Vietnam. They are on their way to Koh Chang, which is also my planned destination in order to stay there three weeks together with my daughter. Shortly after the ferry-crossing I have to climb a mountain to reach the west coast. This is a challenge. Never before on my trip i faced gradients like this one. Because of my heavy weight I don't manage to cycle uphill even in the lowest gear. It takes a lot of effort to push my 70 kilograms of bicycle and luggage all the way up.
As always the reward is waiting on top of the hill: a fabulous view at the coast. I arrive on the island some days ahead of scedule and begin to discover it. I get to know Max from Munich, who is travelling around and recording videos, which he later sells as documentary films to TV-stations. Frank and Hans, who also stay here in winters, tell me some facts about this island and they even give me some hints.
Koh Chang is a mountainous and wooded area. The ocean is crystal clear with a torquoise color. Small hotels line up the coast. The buildings must not be higher than three floors, beacause the are placed in a national park. We have rented a bungalow for our holiday in the Bonnja Resort.
At the place of Christine and her son Manuel it feels like family atmosphere. We enjoy the silence and serenity and we like to relax at the beach. My friends Natali and Patrick are staying hier as well and their place is not too far away from ours so that we meet quite often. A close friendship develops. At the beach my daughter surprisingly meets a friend from cologne, who is travelling with another friend togheter in Thailand.
A funny clique we are. We book a boat-tour for snorkeling and do some other things toghether.
I spend a lot of time with my daughter, which is good for the both of us. I am really happy about us beeing here right now.
Right behind the border the roads get really worse. I head for the Mekong in a landscape of mixed farming.
Soon I don't worry about the bad roads any more. The many new impressions catch my attention. I enjoy being on the way here. I leave the highway and go on on gravel roads. I observe the life of the locals in the small villages.
This is the real Asia. The interior of the houses is mostly simple: A big room with sleeping places and a kitchen with a fireplace, sometimes in a clay pot. The people are content and this is what I read in their faces. A wonderful feeling to be here. Almost all houses are built on stilts. In cases where the houses are not built above the water, the area under the houses is the place where life happens during the day.
In Kratie I make a break of some days and discover the area by bike and without my luggage. Not far from Kratie you can still meet the Irawadi sweat water dolphins in the Mekong. I also meet Eva and Joost, a couple from the Netherlands at my accommodation.
They rent bicycles and we make a tour to the island located in the Mekong close to Kratie. Sometimes the Mekong has an enormous width and we enjoy to follow this river.
On the way to Kampong Cham I am invited to a wedding right off of the street and for some time I am their guest.
An about twelve year-old girl from the neighbourhood is learning English at school and is my translator.
As I am not pressed for time I stay in Kampong Cham for a few days and explore the area with my bike, and without luggage. So I need no other transportation.
I meet Olga from a place close to Moscow.
She rents a bicycle for one day and is happy to ride over the biggest bamboo bridge of the world to the nearby island in the Mekong with me. Later we visit an old temple complex outside the city.
To bypass Phnom Penh I leave my beloved Mekong. It is hard for me and I remain sitting at the river for half an hour before I move on.
The roads are becoming worse, partly tar is missing or there is only gravel for many kilometers. A rough track instead of a National road. Sometimes, in order to relax, I choose the highway. But soon this is too stressful and I prefer side roads again.
My goal is the next national park. Christmas and the beginning of the new year are close. I think of where I would like to spend these days. My choice is Sihanoukville a tourist destination. At that time my idea was that this was the best place for me to be over the holidays. On my way to get there I buy fruit in a small village. One of the saleswoman asks me if I was a German. She tells me that she is married to Michael a German and that they live here. At a tea in his house we make an appointment for New Years Eve in Sihanoukville where he will be with friends and family.
Two days before Christmas when I am in the nature park already, I pass an Eco farm with a resort. I have a look; the price is not really my taste. I don't have a lot of cash with me. But I like the bungalow and the quiet place and want to stay. Paying with credit card is not possible and the next ATM (cash dispenser) is 30 kilometers away. I check my finances, explain the situation and make a good deal so that I can stay until one day after Christmas eve. Next day I happen to meet the owner and we have a longer conversation. My bungalow is only available for one day and I don't like the next one at all. I mention this in my talk with the owner and when I move over I have a very nice bungalow with a pleasant view. I spend Christmas eve in peace and solitude. I have no internet and I cannot let my beloved ones in Germany know that I am well.
On the way to Sihanoukville in the Botum Sakor National Park I am surrounded by the jungle, a sparsely populated area, and I enjoy to be here. The idea to go deeper into the jungle gets stronger and stronger. Doubts come up if I can make it without jungle experience. In the moment I arrive at the crossing to Sihanoukville it is clear: I accept the challenge of the jungle.
During the next days I am on the road with my bike on jungle paths. Occasionally I find small settlements with a few houses and I spend the night in my tent.
Finding something to eat is difficult. Sometimes I find something or I eat from my emergency supplies. You never know when you will get to the next settlement again. The days in the jungle were the most beautiful Christmas gift I ever received. For the first time in my life my body feels absolutely free.
Later on I meet Donath in a small village teaching English to two children in a wooden cabin. He asks me to do the teaching on the next evening. In the village he looks for a place to stay for me and I can see how a family in Thailand lives on the countryside.
The onward journey is very hard, up and down all the time. I am hungry, riding for some hours and haven't seen a soul when something appears on the horizon which doesn't look like nature. It is a street kitchen and some fruit stands. I eat noodles with vegetables and fried egg. My day is saved and I feel well. The day ends in Ta Tai, a small place on the river, still surrounded by the jungle. I find a budget accommodation . The next day the landlord who also offers jungle tours, invites me on a free tour in the jungle.
I spend New Years Eve in Krong Koh Krong at Paddy Bamboo Guesthouse, a nice location with friendly guests. At dinner I meet Gerry a German who is living here for some time.
We meet from time to time and a friendship develops. Manuel a friend of his, has a boot in Ta Tai and one day we make a tour on the river in the jungle. On this tour we visit Thomas who runs a resort on the river. Gerry and his friends tell me a lot about the Cambodians and the foreigners living here. I visit the nearby fishing village and the mangrove forest. My visa expires and I leave Cambodia.