THAILAND: = = but ≠

March 28th, 2017 in Malacca, Malaysia

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Every year, hundreds of thousands tourists escape their cold and gloomy existence to spend a week or two on a sunny beach somewhere in Thailand. We all have a friend, a neighbor or a colleague that keeps going back, year after year. But would any of them ever write a blog about it? Sure, they might post a few (too many) pictures with their feet in the sand or with some exotic cocktail at sunset, but a blog post? Why would they? 

Thailand is one of those countries (at least in Sweden) that, even if you haven't been there yourself, you know sort of what to expect. So many people have already told the stories of the northern lush jungle mountains, the beautiful southern beaches or the crazy island-parties. So why would anyone want to hear about that…again? 

This is what's running through our heads as we sit down to write about the six weeks we spent in Thailand. And it probably doesn't help that we spent most of our time in such exclusive places as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Tao and Krabi. Sure, in between those places, we might have been part of a slightly different (and smaller) group of tourists but on the whole, our experience isn't that different from everyone else's. So, we are going to keep this brief… Not because we didn't like Thailand, we did, it's just that this is more of a vacation photo-album than a bicycle-tour-reflection of a strange and foreign country. 

Our first stop was the country's capital, Bangkok, where we were to meet up with the slightly younger Imskog, Pinsho Pontus. While waiting, we fixed our bikes, did some shopping, drank some beer (Mikkeller! !!) and went to the dentist. Going to a dentist after spending a year cramming Snickers down our throats was probably the scariest thing on this entire trip and we are ashamed (but not too surprised) to admit to a total of eight cavities between us… 

Once reunited with Pontus, we traveled together to Chiang Mai where he is currently studying. 

From Chiang Mai we hired motorbikes to get even further up into the mountains and a place called Pai. Here we hung out with the backpacker crowd, explored the surrounding mountains and visited a really cool and untouched cave system (that we unfortunately didn't bring a camera for). 

After our mini vacation off our bikes, we followed the coast south from Bangkok. This was the first time we saw the ocean since Turkey and we made sure to take a dip whenever we got too hot. Even if the cycling here is some of the easiest we done on this trip it's also some of the hottest (with the exception of Turkmenistan), so having continuous access to the ocean for such a long stretch came in handy more than once. 

When we reached Chumphon, we took a ferry over to Ko Tao for Ida to get her Open Water certification and for Robin to do some general diving. 

After another ferry back to the mainland, we continued south to Krabi where we stopped for some paradise-exploring and rock climbing. 

Early morning, just two days before we were to exit the country and after the only night we camped in Thailand, we hit our 20 000 km mark!!! Reaching this milestone really put things in perspective. Not so much because of the distance we've cycled (although that's quite impressive too) but more as it reminded us how little we had left on this journey… 

With so little time left until we're to begin our next chapter in Sydney, we're really starting to feel the lack of Australian visas and signed employment contract. But also, with an end date set and Malaysia really being the last country for us to explore, we are going to try and fit as much as possible in the time we have left.

So thank you Thailand!
Thank you for the flat and smooth roads.  
Thank you for the awesome food and super fresh fruit.
Thank you for easy relaxing days and air-conditioned nights.
Thank you for everything. But just like all the other tourists, it is time for us to move on… move on to one last challenge, climbing one last mountain and have one last adventure… before returning to reality…