Travelling by Pedalling


Thai hospitality

Last week we received a lot of hospitality, met interesting people and had good conversations. It helps us to understand the country better, but it is also just fun to meet people. 

It started when we left Chang Mai. We ended up in a beautiful area. An area where there are many coffee plantations, so there are also many coffee shops and we think it is a popular environment for the Thai people because it is full of homesteads and bungalows. It makes it difficult to find a place to sleep and we decide to ask people to camp in their garden. The first people ask us what we want to pay for it. We indicate what we have paid at the last campsite and indicate that we will get back on the bike early the next morning. They don’t want to help us. No problem, we will cycle a little further. We stop at a coffee shop, behind the shop there is a piece of land. The owner turns out to be an Englishman. He lives here with his family of his wife who has past away. He decides it’s ok if we stay. Immediately he ensures that we can shower, that we have drinking water and can make a fire if we want to. His niece gives us fried rice and a salad. And we can decide ourselves where we want to pitch the tent. 

The next day we get talking. He shows us their piece of land and all vegetables, fruit, coffee and tea that grows there. He has several people who work for him. He shows all the details that his wife has created in the garden and around the house. He tells us more about the previous king and his mother. He tells us more about what is coming on our path and what we should know about it. It is interesting and for the first time I have the idea that someone knows a lot about the culture and ironically it is not a Thai. 

We say goodbye and cycle further. Today we are climbing the steepest roads so far. And after not doing so many kilometers but having been struggling for hours, we stop in a village. We couldn’t find any food for a while and the best sleeping places are far behind us so decide to ask at a temple again. While we are addressing a man who is building something next to the temple, a couple stops on a scooter. A German man and a Thai woman get off. The man, to who Q is talking to turns out to be her father. They help us to ask at the temple, but when we get approval, they indicate that we can sleep with them in the garden. We follow them to her parents house. We have a nice evening with good food, a beer and nice company. 

In the morning we eat breakfast together before we say our goodbyes. Maybe see you in the Netherlands or in Germany. It is a hot day on the bike but we are comfortable with it. In the evening we stop at a village on a rubber plantation. It is really a beautiful place. Green hills with open fields in the valley and a river with bamboo bridges. We pitch our tent in a bamboo hut built for the farmers who use it to rest out of the sun. People who drive by can just see us and we get different responses. Some people give us a smile, some are surprised and some seem to be a bit serious. When it is dark and we are already in the tent, a man passes by. He appears to be the village chief. He comes to check who we are but above all he wants to know if everything is okay. He gives us incense against the mosquitoes and then leaves again. 

The next morning the village chief comes by again with a bunch of bananas and gives us a hand to wish us a good trip. We are briefly warned of the mountains that we are going to defy today. And we say no problem. We have braved so many mountains. 

Maybe we laughed a little too hard because that day we cycled / walked 20 km in 4 hours. It was a beautiful day and the first part. We have to cycle on unpaved roads through beautiful landscape. But the moment we went back on the paved roads, we have walked the most steepest roads so far with the bikes. Usually q can cycle and I have more trouble with it or I have to walk but we both had to walk here. 

We arrive that day near Chang Rai where we have planned New Year’s Eve. We pitch our tent next to a lake just outside of the city. When we are completely settled, a man comes by with his five dogs. He asks if everything is okay. He is an Englishman and lives a little further with his Thai wife. He indicates that we can take a shower at his home and have a nice beer. It is 8 minutes by bike from here. But then we would leave our things here. Do we want that? We ask if it is possible to pitch our tent in the garden with him. Yes no problem !! 

When we have packed everything up again, we follow his Puckup truck. We arrive at a beautiful house with a guesthouse in the garden, a swimming pool and many animals on the land behind the house. We can sleep in the guesthouse. We have nice conversations, have a beer and eat some fried rice and pizza from the market. He invites us to walk the dogs on pineapple fields the next morning with sunrise. If we are lucky we can pick something for the road. 

The next morning we take a beautiful walk, pick pineapples, have breakfast with four of us and q swims in the pool. Then we say goodbye and cycle on to Chang Rai where we will celebrate New Year’s Eve.