We leave the flat land behind and start our journey towards the mountains of Thailand. We have been looking forward to this because in the mountains we always experience the sense of adventure and freedom. It’s hard work, but you get so much back. The untouched nature, the people always seem more generous, the beautiful views and the coolness at night.
The first day we climb to 650 meters altitude. We feel strong and are slowly but steady heading towards the top. It is a busy road with many motorcycles and large four wheel drive cars with roof tents.
The last days the insatiable hunger keeps coming back. And because our night lasts so long, we sometimes wake up hungry at night. We have decided to eat more even though we don’t always feel hungry during the day. We think it is because of the heat. Today we start… We have eaten rice somewhere and order a dish to take with us on the bike. A little later we come across ‘mango sticky rice’ for the first time since Bangkok and can not resist taking that with us as well.
During the climb we force ourselves to eat and then once we started we realize how much we need it. It feels like we could eat endlessly.
The next day we want to make a lot of kilometers because we want to get close to a big climb that is on the route to 1150 meters. We just want to have to do that climb and be able to start in the morning. So we cycle 110 km today.
Today we don’t have a high climb that seems endless but a lot of up and downs. The day is long and going up and down and takes energy but we notice how strong we are.
At the end of the day we are demolished. We look for a temple to ask for a place to sleep, but the monk directs us to a resting place on the side of a busy road. We cycle there but are not sure whether we are allowed to sleep there and find it too crowded and noisy. We cycle on to the next temple, but there is no adult monk and the people who are there don’t really know what to do with us. First they show us around the complex and then they call someone who speaks English. That person gives us permission to set up the tent. They take us to a storage room just outside the complex, but we indicate that we don’t mind sleeping outside. Then they take us to a room on the complex where we can set our tent. While we are setting up the tent, the lady comes to us and send us away again.
We have to cycle behind a couple on a scooter she try’s to tell us. They will help us. First we cycle to a fire station but we are not allowed to stay there and then we cycle on, back to the rest area on the side of the road. Meanwhile it is dark and we want to eat and sleep. We thank the couple for helping us and try to find an as quiet spot as possible. We eat the food we bought earlier and go to bed. We’re going to have a restless night.
The day of the first real infinite climb. The road is winding and the cars tear past us. Cycling is more restless than we had envisioned. Later we read about this route that it is especially popular among motorcyclists. We make it to the top and decide to go a little further and then look for food and a temple.
Arriving at the temple, the monk speaks proper English for the first time. He welcomes us very enthusiastically and takes us to a room with a bathroom and a washing machine!! Wow how great! We were really ready for some clean clothes and a nice bath. The energy that was lost for a while is completely back. We enjoy the view over the mountains with the sunset for a while and then go to sleep in a bed.
The next day we decide to hitchhike. Not because we can’t handle the mountains. Not because we don’t like cycling, but because we haven’t felt safe on the road we’re on the past few days. It turns out to be the only way through the mountains and it is seen as a highway here. And as we sit in the truck and see how fast it tears through the corners, we notice again how happy we are with our decision. We enjoy the surroundings from the back of an open truck which lays high on the road and make a jump of 200 km in one go.
So you see… that you can better not expect anything. We were so pleasantly surprised the first days. We cycle through villages, nice cities that surprised us, along rivers, in between rice fields and were able to avoid the major roads. Now in retrospect we see that we were looking forward to a part of the journey that is now a bit disappointing. So just enjoy the now and let everything come to you. And what is especially important that we travel healthy and safe.