Chasing Temples In Thailand8 Posted by b_puliti - March 25, 2015 - Bike Tour, Pedal, Thailand, Travel
We cross into Thailand from Malaysia at Thale Ban National Park and immediately find ourselves in the throes of an open-air market. People peruse stalls and stuff their overflowing bags with cheaply-made goods and clothes before walking back across the border to more expensive Malaysia. We ride until we reach a roadside “resort” that’s more like our own personal air-conditioned bungalow. After a day of pedaling under the sun, we’ll take it—and we’ll take advantage of the outdoor swimming pool that comes with it. Our first meal in Thailand is dinner that night and it's the spiciest thing we’ve ever tasted. Brendan eats toddler-sized spoonfuls and Justin announces that he thinks his lungs might close up. The red pepper flakes, chili paste and jalapenos—condiments adorning every table—go untouched at ours. (A common market sight.) We seem to have left the rain at the border and the next several days are spent in the blistering sun pedaling beautiful back roads that take us past tiny huts, forests of palm and smiling faces. Pedaling through the largest Buddhist population in the world opens our eyes to a starkly different culture where orange-robed monks collect food each morning, where the air smells of sweet-burning incense and where there are more ornate temples dotting the landscape than there are McDonald’s locations in the whole world. The abundance of 7-Elevens more than makes up for the lack of golden arches, though, and we stop in frequently to linger in the air condition, take in the dizzying array of local seafood-based potato chip flavors and buy cold energy drinks that taste more like overly sweetened fruit punch. Open-air food markets are plentiful and we stop at them all day long. In fact, we have a stove with us, but we don’t use it a single time while were here. Instead, we eat our way across the country, thoroughly enjoying the market and street food we come across multiple times throughout the day. (Crickets, anyone?) When New Year’s Eve comes around, we station ourselves at Pak Meng beach in Hat Chau Mai National Park. Our budget bungalow is tiny, dirty and full of ants, but we’re within walking distance to the Andaman Sea and we ring in 2015 on the beach in our bare feet with Trang locals and others from nearby provinces. We make our way toward Bangkok in the New Year, stopping in tiny fishing villages and then taking a small boat to Railay Beach along the way. After weeks of exploring the country’s small, rural villages, Bangkok is a shock to our system. Neon lights, tuk-tuks, ping-pong shows and an incredible amount of “ladyboys” are what we take away from our time in the most populous city of Thailand. Far too soon, our time in Southeast Asia, and our time touring with Brendan, has come to an end. We're saddened to be leaving Southeast Asia, but in our hearts we know we'll be back.