11 months and a few days…

Ok, not much time so I have to try and get as much down as quickly as I can…

So to start with Thailand is nuts. You think you travel to places and the local inhabitants have a different mental state that means a large number of things that they register as completely normal are to you strange and even on occasions offensive, well Thailand for me raises the stakes somewhat. The Internet café I am sat in at the moment doubles as a marriage agency. The girl on my left is chatting to some random western guy, as is the girl in front of her etc.. To read off the wall “Find a farang…” oh I can not be bothered typing it all just read the companies site -http://www.thaipersonalconnectionltd.com/marriage-agency http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farang  and off on an interesting tangent http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_slang_terms_for_white_people_in_non-Western_countries

Crossing from Lao after a 15km “detour” (read as getting Martin and I getting lost) the first thing I saw was a 7/11.. Actually that is not strictly true, the first Thai thing was a big sign saying that if you smuggle drugs you will be executed..  Smooth wide open roads where they drive on the correct side of the road (read as the left hand side) friendly people and a climb in living standards that is comparable to many countries in europe was a complete shock. (I spent 30 seconds rooted to the spot with my mouth open in one of the largest supermarkets I have ever been in staring at the carrots on display. No holes, no dirt just perfect carrots all of an identical size, all washed and neatly dressed with a nice little sign… When was the last time I saw that? Kashgar? Speaking of which, for those who follow China… http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/25/china-s-hottest-cities-and-kashgar.html )

 I am in the north eastern corner at the moment and this is supposed to be the poorest region of the country (Newsweek which the above link comes from is running an ad soliciting donations to help Thai kids in this very area) so lord only knows what it’s like down south. The marked difference in affluence to its surrounding neighbours has meant a huge number of ex pats are living here. When you can get an English breakfast, a pint of Guinness, tescos, emmerdale and corrie on the box and hoards of simpering woman then for a lot of men this is about as good as it gets.

The women are something else, imagine a second hand car salesman with a nice smile accompanied by a fat german man in his early sixties. Is it a symbiotic relationship? Sometimes it is better not to over analyse things. Other topics though should promote disgust in even the most cynical of people, there are eleven year girls openly available in Udon Thani…

Yeah.

So, good and bad, good and bad. To add to the change has been the separation of Martin and I. That makes it sound a lot like a marriage but after spending four pretty intense months with the guy well yeah he is now conspicuous in his absence. His road heads east to Vietnam, Cambodia and back into China (good luck with that one mate!) to finish in Hong Kong. After that, Japan and then the Americas on the way back home to Uruguay.  Follow his journey (and keep your fingers crossed for tailwinds for him) on www.bossanovabikeride.com and be witness to the first Uruguayan to cycle round the world J Mate it’s yours if you want it…. Ride safe pal, I could not have done China without you.

With one friend gone another old one has turned up. Dave is living here in the north of Thailand and I have spent the last couple of days with him and his girlfriend Pookie looking at monkies, elephants and more randomness than you can shake a stick at…

DSC_7032-email

(I do not have a lead for the camera so i am just going to rip off other peoples photos from the web… :) this is Khumpahawapi 14km from Daves village  where you can feed the monkies that roam around the central square, that unlike their crack smoking Lao counter parts that are chained up seem to be well taken care off and do not want to rip your face off…)

Life is a lot slower and more traditional in the villages whilst the food is simply sublime. (Try melon fish with peanut and chilli sauce, fresh spring onions out of the garden and sticky rice out of a beautiful bam,boo basket  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticky_rice)   wrapped in a lettuce leaf in the same manner you would roll a tortilla… hell just sticky rice and pookies mums peanut sauce. Or the special bbq’s they have here which is a metal bucket lined with cement to allow charcoal briquettes to be burnt. We cooked beef sat leisurely on the floor and also ate buffalo whilst visiting a local zoo. Grasshoppers have also been tried but I drew the line at going out and catching field rats to bbq… ) The Thai whisky which is about a lot, has a serious kick on it but helps in talking with the locals when you do not know a single word in thai let alone the regional dialect which is Isaan.. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isan  )

 Dave is teaching English in the local school and I have just chickened out of standing up and doing a presentation for them tomorrow. I will stick to the cycling and leave moulding impressionable young minds to people slightly more responsible. A couple of acres, a manic two stroke 150cc Honda bike and some friendly locals.. village life has a lot going for it and I can see why Dave has put his stick in the ground here. His girlfriend and him have show wonderful hospitality and I am reminded of how difficult it is at times having good friends scattered around the world…

So from here I head south tomorrow solo for the first time in a while. Uzbekistan was the last time I cycled on my own, barring a couple of days in Tajikistan. I am going to miss Martins company for certain but I am excited to be by myself again as when there are two people I think a little bubble of companionship forms that prevents the random people that make the journey so memorable intruding upon on occasions. But when it comes to camping solo or watching bikes or a million and one other things well yeah..

The other person who has been floating round my head of late is Malte. It was always his intention to get to Thailand before what happened, happened in Turkey. I never in my wildest dreams thought the roles would switch. I remember sitting in a field in Greece laughing at him saying you have over 16,000km to go, Nepal is easy it’s only getting through Pakistan that poses an issue… Life is very strange at times and the one thing that is being reinforced of late is that the more you see the less you seem to understand.

Leave a Reply