from Jeff - November
(Friday) Bangkok (Thailand) 108KM
Last night I went to a German/Thai restaurant for some good ol'
German food, which ended up being most delicious! The place is run
by a German man and his Thai wife and this guys was a big time socialite.
We would purposely sit strangers together and start a conversation.
After that he would leave with his pint of beer to talk to another
group. I actually quite liked it and ended up meeting another German
and his Thai wife, a French man and his Thai wife and a Belgium
couple who I ironically ran into again today (November 20th). There
were some great conversations on history and politics of south East
Asia and they enjoyed my antidotes about my trip in China.
Today's ride was uneventful as I took the expressway back to Bangkok.
12 lanes with a kind of super expressway above that on stilts. I
did feel a little melancholy as well knowing this was the last ride
of the trip. I keep reflecting (day dreaming is dangerous while
riding!) of previous rides in China etc. This trip has really been
amazing when I reflect - I will have to write a book!
When I got into the city limits of Bangkok the number of scooters
and motorcycles increased and at each stop light there would be
a mad dash - just like you see at the start of a motorcycle race
- it was truly amusing and wish I could have filmed it! I can't
believe I will be home in 4 days - I love Canada!!!
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(Thursday) Bang Saen (Thailand) 54KM
Not too much to say about the ride today but Pattaya deserves a
paragraph or two. As my friends know I am not religious but there
was a T-shirt that coined Pattaya: 'Good guys go to heaven - Bad
guys go to Pattaya'. It makes Koa San rd. look pretty tame and it
is an all night 24hour kind of place. Basically you have lots of
old white men and 3 times as many Thai women. There are all kinds
of bars and nightclubs and to give you and idea of the general practice.
You have a bar with maybe 20 seats around it and about 10 girls
working/standing behind the bar. You then have a few white guys
with their "Thai girlfriends" or in the process of acquiring one.
In some cases it is white guys with young Thai "men" - there was
a lot of guys wearing men's close but wearing makeup etc. - werd!
The women usually range in the ages of 25 - 35, which is okay, as
they know what they're doing at that age - no pun intended. When
you sit at the bar they are watching you, and if you look at any
of them for a split second one of them will start with "Do you like
her??". I would respond, "no, no, I have girlfriend". They would
almost immediately say, "where is girlfriend!!!!!" - "Canada" -
"you need a Thai girlfriend" - "No, no I love my girlfriend"...
what was cool though is after that they would not drop the subject
and actually have a conversation with you. I would tell them about
my trip and they would tell me about their lives and what brought
them to Pattaya. I never pressed them with why do screw old men,
I thought it wouldn't be a fair question and I can guess the answer
anyway. There was one girl who worked one of the bars that I swear
was 16 and since I had had a couple of beers already - I pressed
her a little bit. The other girls kept saying she was 19 but I wasn't
convinced so I told her to "go home". I think I probably told her
this 10 times but she was a good sport and didn't get annoyed by
my drunkenness. It reminds me again of you must fix the problem
as a whole, but it is hard to see someone that young involved in
this business. I hope she finds a way out....but.....
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(Tuesday) Pattaya (Thailand) 96KM
Today's ride was more or less just going through the motions. The
only thing that really bothered me was the old 'gooch' - other than
that there was no stiffness from the previous ride. I took a slightly
different path then on the way out here, which allowed me to stay
close to the coastline on highway 3. I passed a turtle nursery,
which I wasn't allowed to visit, and then stopped in Satta Hip.
I ate lunch and left, as it was basically a military outpost with
a small fishing village. After that the rain came down again but
again I didn't mind as it helped me keep cool.
Pattaya is quite the opposite of Satta Hip - red light district
comes to mind!! It was kind of sad but an eye opener nonetheless.
I will stay two nights as it is fairly reasonable for a hotel but
the food seems to be a little pricey. I will probably hit Bang Saen
again in two days and then I will be in Bangkok!!!
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(Monday) Rayong (Thailand) 188KM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
UGGH - TIRED!!!! Actually considering this is the longest distance
I have ever biked I don't feel that bad. There was also a little
extra sweetness as I passed the 7000 kilometer barrier!
I left Trat around 9:30AM and about 15km outside of Chanthaburi
it started pouring - Okanogan style - but it didn't let up and just
got heavier and heavier until it was so strong I decided to take
shelter in Chanthaburi. I have never seen rain like this and it
was quite impressive!
I had stopped in a guesthouse in a different part of town than the
last time, which was actually a lot nicer. I had lunch and waited
out the main part of the storm until it was only raining lightly.
When I first started out the ODO was flaking big time and eventually
wouldn't track the kilometers - I was freaking cuz I hadn't past
7000 kilometers yet and no one would believe me! Anyway I finally
gave up and took a picture of it next to a sign saying 'Chanthaburi'
and started riding again. Within a few kilometers it started working
again - phew!!
What really made this ride possible was the temperature dropping
a few degrees. It was still warm but when riding you will get a
nice breeze sometimes. The ride itself was kind of up and down but
no long climbs - the longest maybe 500 meters which is nothing -
and there seemed to be more downhill's. I finished around 6:30 in
the dark and found a cheap, dirty, noisy hotel! Tomorrow we ride
to Pattaya - resort capitol!!!
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(Sunday) Trat (Thailand) 80KM
The ride to Trat only took about 3 hours but the heat was almost
unbearable. I left around 8AM but by 9AM it was already uncomfortable
to ride in. There is definitely more downhill heading west towards
Bangkok and if it was a little cooler I could have done a bigger
ride. When I got to Trat I went to a guesthouse to grab a meal ('The
Trat Guesthouse') as I was starving, they served me possibly the
best Tuna sandwich I have ever eating in my life! After that I sat
around and contemplated going to Koh Chang which is an island resort
about 20km away but I was just exhausted and grabbed a room. I showered
and then took a nap. After waking up I decided to do a little walk
down by the river area and was surprised by the number of small
guesthouses. The street here is also narrow and no cars are allowed
down it. Eventually I stopped at the Cool Cafe guesthouse/restaurant
for a meal. In fact they had made me the Tuna sandwich, so guess
what - one more please! The two ladies running the place were very
nice and it wasn't long before we started talking about travel etc.
Both wanted to visit Nepal and Tibet but I guess it is a little
pricey for them. I had a few beers and some good laughs before heading
back to sleep. One thing one of the ladies mentioned is that Thai
women are like Tigers - the next day I was still laughing at that
one as I rode to Rayong. Anyway in the morning I had to have one
more Tuna sandwich - they were that good!!!!
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(Saturday) Kao Yaon? 43KM
Yesterday was a good day as I finally got out and did some biking
around Sihanoukville. I started by going to a local 'Wat' on top
of the hill overlooking the town. The main building had its doors
shut so I didn't venture in, but I did get some nice pictures of
the surrounding temples. I then battled tooth and nail up to the
top of the mountain, which soars 160 meters above sea level - any
Ontarian would agree with that statement!
Okay the vertigo really wasn't that bad and the view was quite awesome
so I hung out for a bit and took more pictures. It's a kind of grassland
up there with these large boulders everywhere. I then descended
to the Vietnamese memorial commemorating the overthrow of the Kyhmer
Rouge in the 1980's. From there I went to Independence beach which
was virtually empty and in fact a much nicer beach than Ochheateal!
There were actually some waves although nothing compared to Hawaii.
Today I was happy to see all of the responses to the November 11th
post. I read through them and hoped on the old bike to catch the
ferry back to Koh Kong - I just made it!!! During the ride I sat
inside for the first hour but since most of these countries have
an attitude of 'fuck liability' you can ride the roof which I did
for the rest of the journey. The border is about 8km from the ferry
dock and of course everyone from the boat beat me to it so I was
basically last to get through. They always ask which hotel you are
staying at and in fact most of the other countries wanted this filled
in on the entry visa as well - China was the exception, they just
wanted to know what cities you visited - and they always knew when
you were lying. Anyway Trat was a little far to go to as it was
getting dark so I stopped in this town which I can't really remember
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(Thursday) Sihanoukville (Cambodia) Remembrance Day!
Let me start by thanking in the most humble way I can - the men
and women who fought for our freedom in the first world wars.
Hopefully I will never have to fully comprehend what going to war
means but from what I have read it is Hell on Earth. These people
went to the ends of sanity and beyond in some cases so I can speak
freely. This must be never forgotten. Thank You!
I would also like to salute our current Canadian armed forces for
representing Canada as a strong peaceful nation and supporting some
of the current war-torn countries. I sight Afghanistan as one of
those countries and I often wonder why our fellow citizens need
to be there. However I am often reminded of what the possible chaos
that could exist if they weren't there. I have never been a supporter
of war or large military factions but in this day and age it seems
to be more and more relevant - thanks to America! I appreciate our
troops being there and hopefully they do not feel forgotten as I
might suspect. We love you and your courage is beyond recognition.
I hope you all come home safely.
On the lighter side:
I did a snorkeling excursion for $10US that entailed several islands
and a warm sunny day. It started with an hour ride to an island
were we snorkeled for about 40 minutes. We then went to a secluded
beach for lunch. Well actually we went snorkeling while our guides
fixed lunch - BBQ Barracuda!!! It was really tasty...
We actually spent good deal of time there and I laid on the beach
with the surf running over me. When it got a little to hot I moved
a few feet until I was submerged in water, but it was shallow and
damn warm - it was awesome!!!! Its times like these I really want
to spend time with my girlfriend, just relaxing and enjoying nature!
We drove to one more island and the snorkeling was really good -
no comparison to Hawaii or Mexico - but very good. The Urchins were
the size of soccer balls - Dave and Tim eat your heart out!!!! During
the last bit of snorkeling I saw a clam which was a brilliant blue
on the inside of his gums but there were too many urchin to get
a close look. During this trip I was finally able to get in my first
real conversation with a Cambodian about the Killing Fields. Apparently
this is now studied in school (very good) and his dates of the events
were dead on as I had just finished the book "SideShow" and for
once my memory was decent.
There is still animosity toward Thai and Vietnamese people but not
so much Americans. The biggest irony is they widely accept US currency.
About the People:
There are no old people in Cambodia, cuz well, they were exterminated.
There is also a lack of intellectuals because well, they were exterminated.
In general most people have a sad or non-expressive look to them.
However if you smile at them, you will receive a most generous and
genuine smile back. These truly are nice people and boy have they
suffered. They long for the past when they had strong kingdoms -
although oppressive in nature - and their borders were unchallenged.
As I stated before 1/3 of the population was exterminated, either
by bombing (American), land mines (American & Chinese), bullets
(American & Chinese), starvation, or by the Kyhmer Rouge economical
way - axe handles or machetes to the back of the neck (you save
bullets this way).
To be fair to the Americans, there were people who truly tried to
help these people repel the Kyhmer but they were limited. For Example:
America gave tonnes of ammunition etc. but were not allowed to train
or manage army personal or give tactical advice. Most of the AID
actually ended up in enemy hands due to the outright selling of
artillery by corrupt officers or the abandonment of arms - does
this sound familiar Mr. Bush.
There were also American reporters trying to get the story out in
the public but Kissinger had them either expelled or silenced. I
truly believe Kissinger was an arrogant liar and to this day denies
he did any wrong doing - such irony from a nazi prison camp attendee
- hmmmm does Israel seem to have the same motives????
Finally Nixon was a complete lunatic - and paranoid to boot! George
Bush looks like an angel next to him... so ummm Americans...when
are you going to make your leaders accountable? Currently the only
people who keep them in check is Al Quada. What's it going to take
to make people interested in 'Real Politics'? So far I can only
fear as the real motivator - Hitler - Mao - Reagan - Stalin - Bush
- Lenin... I guess the only option for me is to become freakin priminister!!!!!!
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(Tuesday) Sihanoukville (Cambodia) 10KM
I am currently staying at the Ochheuteal beach which is a tourist
A little history on Cambodia:
Prince Sihanouk was the last royal head of state that had full power
of the country. He was a bit of an eccentric but he kept Thailand
and Vietnam from invading this small country. In the late sixties
he was overthrown by General Lon Nol who was supported by the Americans
as Nixon thought Sihanouk ''flighty'' and incapable of supporting
America in it's destruction of Vietnam. Lon Nol was a complete moron
and through his incompetence led the country to utter destruction
by not repelling the Kyhmer Rouge. The Kyhmer Rouge were a communist
group of Cambodians who held Marxism to the strictest of codes -
similar to Mao and his cultural revolution. After the Coup, Sihanouk
was allowed to reside in Peking (Beijing) as Chou En Lai was a gracious
man - actually he really was a smart man and China would be better
off if he never died of cancer. After Mao took over he encouraged
the Kyhmer to retake the country by military means which was also
supported by the North Vietnamese. They supplied a good deal of
the munitions although American aid eventually started falling into
their hands - does this sound familiar? When the Kyhmer Rouge finally
did capture the capitol Phem Phom what we know of the "Killing Fields"
During this time an estimated 2-3 million people of the 7 million
Cambodians were slaughtered!!!!!!!!!
This occurred between 1968 and 1978 and the main causes were: American
bombing / North Vietnamese invasion / and Kyhmer Rouge which actually
was responsible for most of the Killings. The first initiative of
the Kyhmer Rouge was to empty the cities of people and return people
to the fields. This would allow them total control of the people
and break potential resistance. Of course when your seventy years
old, walking 40 kilometers after starving for two months was not
an option, so you just laid on the ground and died. The amount of
people that starved to death is horrendous but there were other
deaths even more gruesome. Intellectuals - yes doctors, teachers
etc. were killed or sent to the fields to work - hmmmmm did there
occur some overlap in communism that allowed Mao to do the same
thing? It is believed that the instability of the country caused
by the 4th Reich of Nixon/Kissinger allowed the Kyhmer Rouge to
gain power. It is also evident that America dropped more bombs in
Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam than both world wars combined - maybe some
people didn't like this? Why is it that people hate America?????
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(Monday) Koh Kong (Cambodia!) 104KM
I made it to my fifth country in as many months'. There was a little
confusion at the border as you drive on the left side of the road
in Thailand and the right in Cambodia. They sent me to the Thai
side where they thought I was entering from Cambodia not vice versa.
Anyway I grabbed the form and walked to a bar on the Thai side.
First a boy cam e over saying they needed to see my visa and when
I told him to get a lost an officer showed up a minute later. He
wanted to see my passport and once he saw I had already entered
Thailand and not Cambodia he told me to 'finish your beer and then
come over'. To enter Cambodia I paid 1,100 Baht ($30CDN). Outside
there were numerous young men trying to get me to go to this or
that guesthouse. I laughed and said I bike - no taxi!!! Well the
joke was on me as the idiots at the visa office stamped my passport
wrong. When I got to the top of the hill 2 kilometers away they
wouldn't let me through the checkpoint! I went back and the visa
guys sort of half laughed ''sorry we fucked up guess you ride the
hill again". Exaggeration. Anyway I decided to take a cab this time
and they didn't even check at the checkpoint - oh well fuck it I
am in a new country.
People entering Cambodia from Thailand - DO NOT CHANGE BAHT OR US
DOLLARS into REILLS. All three are widely accepted and the exchange
makes you loss money! Anyway I booked a ferry ride to Sihanoukville
as it is only 4 hours and previously I heard the road was bad. Apparently
it isn't but it is 280KM or lay on the beach after a boat ride...
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(Sunday) Trat (Thailand) 81KM
I arrived in Trat fairly early in the day and after my usual stop
at the 7E I went to check out the coastline. I rode around for a
bit until I found a section of river with restaurants around it.
I didn't see the coastline form there but decided to stop in one
of the nicer looking restaurants. It was mostly of log construction
and completely open with a nice breeze flowing through it. I sat
with the owner for a few drinks and chatted about the history of
Thailand and Cambodia for a while. This area is almost never visited
by foreigners but that made it all the more relaxing. After a few
beers I rode back to town to book a room at the Trat hotel for 200baht.
It was a nice room but facing the main street so very noisy - I
found out the next day the guest houses are about a block away and
cheaper. Trat is more of a staging point for the surrounding islands
(Ko Chang mostly) but I found it had a little bit of character and
was worth a visit. I should be in Cambodia tomorrow!
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(Saturday) Chanthaburi (Thailand) 125KM
One thing I haven't mentioned about Thailand so far is the Thai
food - it is excellent!!!! The average dish is 30 baht ($1CDN) and
the only complaint I can think of is small portions. But for the
price just order two! The road continues to be very good and has
lots of room for bikers. However the heat just saps my strength
- the small amount my puny body possess- and I find I am drinking
massive amounts of fluids. I must thank 7-eleven for their continuing
roadside support, I often have two or three Gatorades and then lay
down on the sidewalk outside the store - foreigners are wacko!!!
Lately, due to the heat and lack of a clear goal it has been very
hard to stay motivated and sometimes feel I am wasting my time.
However I am very close to Cambodia which means most of the future
riding will be towards Bangkok and my trip home. I need all the
motivation I can grasp at these days. I feel 5 months is a perfect
time to come home - I will keep this in mind!!!
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(Friday) Rayong (Thailand) 140KM
Wow! I finally got a decent ride in!!! The map scale is a little
bigger than previous maps so I have to do a mental adjustment -
it really doesn't look that far! The road was 4 lanes or greater
for 80% of the way and in great condition (Canadian quality). When
I finally got to Rayong I decided to ride to the coastal area to
try and find some cheap guesthouses and to be near the ocean of
course. The cheapest I could find was 600 baht ($20 CDN) which was
way out of my budget range and a place that you stayed monthly only
which was astronomically priced but very nice. There was a nice
beachside restaurant so I grabbed a meal -tasted incredible - and
then rode back into to town. I found a noisy hotel to stay at for
400 baht (rip-off) - glad to leave the next day! On the main drag
itself there are many food vendors and I happened to find one selling
pigs feet but I came to my senses and ordered sliced pork on rice
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(Wednesday) Bang Saen (Thailand) 14km
At this time I must bow down the incredible, unfailing healing power
of Gatorade. Just so you know the biggest chain store in Thailand
is 7- Eleven but they do not have the version of 'lays' I long for.
Yesterday I downed about 6 or 7 of the 400ml Gatorades and today
has been no different. I feel a lot better and have upped the dosage
on the diarrhea pills in order to stop this crap - no pun intended.
It was a very short easy ride and top see ocean again was very nice
as it has been almost 5 months! The room was a little quaint but
had TV, fridge and AC and was very clean for 200 baht. The last
place which sucked cost 450 baht so the hotels are sporadic in cost
and location except in tourist type locations. I booked two nights,
as I really need to fully recover if I wish to make Cambodia on
this trip. Quickly browsing the Internet tonight I see to my dismay
it is a close race in the elections and people in the Bush camp
are already declaring victory. What a bunch of arrogant pricks -
what are the chances they are abusing their power for inside information.
Or maybe they just fixed the polls or paid of the vote counters.
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(Tuesday) Chon Buri (Thailand) 60KM
I was so sick on Sunday night I ate 3 spoonfuls of soup for dinner
and cowered back to my room with my tail between my legs. Monday
I spent most of the day in bed but was able to eat twice that day.
I mostly watched the election debates with disgust for American
politics. I know Kerry is no saint but Bush - the supposed leader
of the country who wasn't legally voted in (yes this is fact!)-
Constantly losses his temper and has the resolve of a kindergarten
student. Are you Americans really this stupid??? Do you really think
someone like Kerry or even Gore would not be strong enough to make
hard decisions? Do any of you have a clue how the president gets
his information and how he makes decisions? Have you ever heard
of Watergate? Do you know who really controls America and controls
the voting and the issues?? Wake up America, you have been in steady
denial since 1945!!!!!! I would really be ashamed to be an American
these days and in fact most Americans I meet out here are very knowledgeable
of their countries folly's and simply are embarrassed by it. However
that is not enough, you must change what is wrong with your country.
There is no reason America cannot be the world leader by 'Fair'
means. Okay sorry about the rant!
This morning I ate breakfast and no listening to my sister's advice
(which I usually do when it comes to sports related stuff) I set
off for Chon Buri. I must mention again the road conditions in Thailand
are great and the drivers actually pass other cars using their turn
signals - novel idea! I coasted along at about 20km/hr, which is
of course very slow as I am only carrying an extra 5 - 10 kg in
my packs now. The heat was exhausting as expected and I am almost
as tired as the last day I rode. It was another struggle to find
a hotel and when I got there I showered and crashed for an hour.
I started drinking Gatorade!!! I also met an American couple who
were teaching here, they said the beach is only another 6km. I guess
I know where I am going tomorrow!
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