Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 29 Mon 26/07 - Taken for an unforgetable Bike and Train rides along the River Kwae

Today Distance: 130.5 km         Total: 2009.7km

Today Temp : 23 - 33c
Time on Bike : 6hr 01 min
Ave Speed : 21.6 kmh               Max: 52.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%                         Max: 13%
Altitude: 425m                           Max: 287m
Today spending : 598baht          Total: 11140baht

Sharp at 6am as promised,I was ready to ride.Both Udom and Tao came 5 min later with their own cars.Without wasting any time,I and Udom hit the road while Tao drove his car to park in the railway station for the return train journey expected to be late evening.Tao then joins us at one of the junction 15 mins later. We rode on the Highway 323 to Kanchanaburi,then follow by a right turn into a small road leading to the old town,this is the place where the famous Bridge over the River Kawe situated.Along the row of shop houses,you can see lots of tourists and countless resorts/guest houses.Thanks to the US led Allied forces who bombarded the bridge during the WWII to cut off the Japanese military supplies.As a result, several hundred thousands of death including those who were forced to build and never got the chance to come back.Hence they name this -The Death Railway. And I will get the chance to experience it on my way back.I was given one hour to see around the bridge and take pictures before we continued our ride. Udom/Tao being a good host,shown me some of the interesting places like the Kra Sae Cave , a station where the railway line runs beside a dangerous bend rock cliff with a spectacular view 50m down is the river kawe. And also a great Chinese Temple where I donated 100Baht for a bag of rice. In return, we got a free vegetable lunch.We push for a final 28 km for a total of 130 km to the Wang Pho station where Tao was a former employee,and thru' his good relationship with the station workers,we only paid for the bikes for 90 baht each. For locals its free but foreigners have to pay 100baht. There are many tourists and the locals as well,filling up the seats almost to full capacity with our bikes cramped in the washing corner.The train ride was really an unforgettable experience of a lifetime,not only in term of his great history,but the splendid scenery of its rock cliffs and river views, and the wonderful fact is,after so many years, it's still running !!!! By 8pm we finally finished the 4 hours long train ride in Ban Pong.We headed for dinner straight where I paid the bill for 270 baht as my thanks to both my wonderful hosts Udom/Tao.If not for them,my work will be a lot more difficult to do it on my own. Tomorrow I will catch a overnight bus to Chiang Mai and start riding from there.The reason for this is - my Thai 30 days visa will be expiring on 7th Aug,it is impossible for me to ride all the way,what's more with many mountains ahead.Udom and Tao will fetch me there.

Day 28 Sun 25/07 - Bangkok to Ban Pong Homestay with local Cyclist

Today Distance: 123.5 km        Total: 1879.2 km

Today Temp : 26 - 34c
Time on Bike : 5hr 51 min
Ave Speed : 21.0 kmh              Max: 37.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 1%                        Max: 3%
Altitude: 126 m                         Max: 97m
Today spending : 125baht         Total: 10542baht

An early start at 7.30am in Bella-bella Riverview guesthouse,feeling strong and raring to go after having rested 4 days. For the 1st time, I had clean up and lube my bike in the bathroom yesterday,with my bike sparkling clean and armed with a city map,I am off on my own.The morning traffic was light with mostly taxi and buses on the roads, missing obviously are the private cars and the motorcycles,being Sunday,guess most are still on the beds. After crossing the Chao Praya river on the Khrung Thon Bridge,Phutta Monthon is the next big town to aim on Highway 338.It then join to Highway 4 at Nakhon Pathom where I rest stop for lunch.The traffic started to get intense and the narrow shoulder has many uneven surfaces and patches of sands/stones. I have to be on top of my nerve cycling on this mad mad Highways.At Ban Pong ,the 80 km mark,the unexpected happens. I saw a man in his 50's, flag me down in front.He spoke Thai to me,but I pointed the Malaysia flag,then he realised and started to speak "OK" English " where you going sir?" `" kanchanaburi" I replied. "what's your plan there?'' The conversation looks good "I want to see the Bridge over the River Kwae,you know? maybe have a train ride?" He seem very interested on my plan and say "How can I help you?" The chances for a free stay looks positive " Can I stay in your house?" He seem surprised at my direct shooting but soon recover and say " Ya,Ya! no problem you can stay in my farm house" " Thank you Sawadee Cup" I unloaded my panniers, the bike and 123 everything into the back of his Isuzu 4x4 mpv. When inside the car,I came to know his name is Udom and is a diehard cyclist here.He even plan out the itinerary for me " Today I bring you to the old market in Ban Pong and tomorrow we ride together to Kanchanaburi to see the bridge and come back by train,ok?'' " What more can I say " " Ok Sawadee cup" But what I didn't know is after having my bath and change to a new clothing in his farm house,he came back with his touring bike with full cyclist outfits " come let's go " It's hard to say no. So off we go with me following behind at a very fast pace 25-30 kmh. We rode along the backyard of small roads with sugarcane and maize fields in between.Another of his friend named Tao joins in later on his racing bike. At the end of the ride, our bikes were carry in Tao's car and back to the farm house. Tired,but happy at their enthusiasm in cycling.Tomorrow will be another long day as i was told 130 km . Crazy peoples of Amazing Thailand!!!