Final Days in Thailand
My final day on the road was not on the road, it was, on the rails. Being used to doing things my own way the restriction of having to rely on the rules of others, what time I leave, how much I pay, where I sit, can prove for me a tad traumatic. But if this is all the trauma I am to suffer in life then I cannot complain. The train was the commuter from Hua Hin to Bangkok, £0.60 for a five hour journey left me in little doubt that I was not to be travelling Business Class. I enquired, I was to travel third class as was everyone else. Images of Indian lower class train travel sprung to mid. Families sitting on their haunches on the floor eating from metal pots with their fingers, curry being flicked this way and that as the train rumbles along ancient lines. Sweaty men with moustaches taking advantage of the ample opportunity for frottaging. The image was not good.
Impressively close to being on time the train rolled into the station. I wandered the length of the train looking for the luggage car in which to store my bicycle, there was not one. Bring it up here gestured the guard. I clambered up the steps and onto the train bike in hand and strapped it to a seat to prevent it from falling. I took a seat by the window and surveyed the scene. Students, rather a lot of students were my fellow travellers. And what a lovely bunch they were. The journey was for me a jolly affair for no reason other than I found myself enjoying being in the company of a group of people who clearly enjoyed being together, were having a great day out and displayed impeccable manners and courtesy. I thought of the Dantesque images I had earlier conjured up and chuckled that once again Thais were showing what wonderful people they are. The students looked rather surprised that I was chuckling to myself and so, feeling rather far removed from the cool mysterious adventurer image I hoped to portray, I stopped.
Arriving in Bangkok I had to find a place to stay. The hotel that has served as my home in Thailand’s capital over the past six years was, at the end of last year, quickly and without a word of warning demolished. There are remnants of a shell still standing but as a place for shelter it no longer serves well. I headed for an area just a kilometre or so from where I used to stay and this proved to be a wonderful choice. The area is predominantly a residential area on the outskirts of one of Bangkok’s tourist regions. Most of the area is given over to family life and small businesses such as, tailoring, ice making (very necessary in Thailand), laundry and of course the obligatory street food stalls at every ten paces. There is also a scattered collection of small cafes and bars. Smart and stylish they cater for the small ex-pat community, tourists and Thais alike. It really is a lovely area. And so it was in a new small bar by the name of the Lamphoo Tree that I whiled away my final couple of evenings in Bangkok in the company of some fine folk. This area, from now on, is my home in Bangkok whenever I return there.
So this journey is over. Around eight thousand kilometres have been cycled in the past six months through Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, some for pleasure and some for work. Now it is back to the UK for six to eight weeks where I plan to undertake some mini adventures with my brother Dicki. The first of these is this weekend when we will spend two days cycling on the ancient Roman road The Ridge Way. Along the way we will visit several historic and prehistoric sights and course a few historic taverns, and quite likely fall off in some mud.