15,000 km cycled! Myanmar and Thailand
We’re down to just 3000 km left, and I’m planning on being home in less than 2 months! I am now in Prachuap Khiri Khan, with about 10 days left in Thailand before I hit Malaysia. I’m still slightly hesitant to call it the homestretch, but we’re getting close. It’s been quite a while since the last post. I’ve been riding mostly on the highways which gets a bit dull in itself, but I’ve come across some cool places on the way.
South of Mandalay lies the new capital of Myanmar, called Naypyidaw. Area-wise, it’s absolutely massive. Population, not so much. Basically the Burmese government just chose this new location and built this new capital not much more than a decade ago. It’s complete with tons of Vegas-style resorts, huge museums, all of the governmental buildings and so on. Everything you would expect from a big city. It’s all been weirdly spaced out though, so you’ve got loads of open land in between buildings, making travel distances really big. Closest supermarket to my hotel was a 16 km roundtrip for me, even though my hotel was basically in the center of the city. I was one of the only guests staying at the hotel, but it was fully staffed and probably one of the biggest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It was a bit eerie. Went for a swim in the pool but could barely enjoy it because I was being stared at by all the staff. This was just one of dozens equally huge hotels in Naypyidaw. The roads in the city are gigantic as well, even boasting a 20-lane highway. Worth noting, it is completely empty. No-one is around to use it. Most of the city is a complete ghost town. The only people you would see during the day, were workers keeping the streets clean. It seems like all the countries money are being pumped in to this empty city. Really bizarre place, and incomparable to anywhere I have ever been. Seems a bit silly if you ask me… Cool experience nevertheless, and definitely the sort of place I enjoy visiting, just for the absurdity of it.
Riding on south from Naypyidaw, next stop was Hpa-an. I decided on staying there for a full 4 days, mostly to work on application for university (I’ve applied for Anthropology). Turns out Hpa-an is a really cool place though! After the first couple of days, I was rejoined by Matt and Becky who had had to redo their route, and therefore were crossing the same border as me. We got hold of a couple of little motorbikes and went out to explore our surroundings. Think I might have to go for a motorbike rather than a bicycle next time! Really enjoyed riding it anyway. Particularly cool was the batcave in Hpa-an, which is literally just a cave full of bats. You can’t enter the cave, but at sunset the bats all come flying out within a few minutes. No-one knows exactly how many bats live in the cave, but estimates range from hundreds of thousands to several millions. Neither would surprise me. As they fly out, you see them as black swarms painting the sky in the distance. It was actually really beautiful. We explored a bunch of caves and temples, and eventually got back on the bicycles and went for Thailand. The heat is the real killer at the moment. There was a pretty big hill between us and the Thai border that we had to cross. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sweaty in my life. The temperatures are usually in the high 30’s, and humidity is sky-high as well. It really drains you of energy and keeping hydrated becomes a challenge in itself. At the border, Matt and Becky went north towards Chiang Mai, and I went south towards Bangkok. So that would sadly be the last time I get to ride with them on this trip I seems. It’s been an absolute pleasure having them by my side though! Their company has definitely made for a much more memorable trip.
On the Thai side of the border there was yet another mountain to climb. On the way up I’d basically decided on calling it a trip and going back home to Denmark. It was that tough. Mind you, I’m really bad at dealing with the heat. I thrive in the cold. After a couple hours of hauling my sorry self up this mountain, a guy in a pick-up came to my rescue and offered a lift. Obviously, I took it. He drove me up to the top of the mountains where there was a little market going on and fed me with a bit of bread before driving off. Incredible how a small act of kindness like that can really change your mood for the better. I was then on my way down towards Bangkok on the busy, but flat, motorways. Riding on the motorways in the heat takes its toll as well though. Usually I’ll stop every 10-15 km to cool off a bit at a petrol station or anywhere that’s got air-conditioning or a cold drink of sorts. Thailand is pretty easy in that way, since it is very developed, almost like riding in Europe. Eventually, I made it to Bangkok.
I made it to Bangkok just a couple of hours before my dad arrived for a week’s holiday. We spent the first couple of days checking out the sights in Bangkok before moving on down to Railay, Krabi to enjoy the beach. It’s a beautiful area, with loads of islands and beaches to explore. It’s also pretty touristy for that same reason, but that is sort of what you’d expect from some of the most famous beaches of Thailand anyway. My dad has gone back home, but a week off the bike, simply swimming around and enjoying ourselves, meant that I’ve had a bit more energy to get going. That, and a new pedals and chain, and quite a bit less wait on my bike has made for a more tolerable riding experience. It’s a matter of pushing on for the next few days, as my visa expires pretty soon as mentioned. Looking forward to exploring the mega cities of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta. All coming up within the next couple of months. I’ll also know the date of my flight back home very shortly.
The thought of the whole thing coming to an end gives me mixed feelings. A big part of me is looking forward to having completed this monster challenge, and being able to enjoy some time with friends, family and everything else I miss from back home. But, once in a while, the thought of going back home to everyday life will get me to panic a bit as well. Even though I haven’t even been on the road for a full year yet, it’s such a full-on lifestyle that it’s almost becoming hard for me to remember what life off the bike is really like. It scares me a bit, not knowing what going back home is going to be like. I’m quite certain that I’ll have to keep busy somehow not to go insane, but I’m sure I’ll work it out.
Since the last post I’ve received a whole bunch of donations meaning we’ve now raised more the 5000 euros! That’s more than 38000 DKK. That’s less than 12000 DKK left to the target. I’ve got a few articles coming up which will hopefully help out with the fundraising. If you want to know more about the cause I’m riding for, you can read all about it through the link below. To everyone who has supported me and the cause so far, THANK YOU!