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Bikes and cockroaches

Posted on 31 Mar 2013 | 13 comments

Away from the beaches there is a completely different Thailand waiting to be discovered. We decide to stop in Kenchanaburi with the famous bridge over the river Kwai. It’s a lovely town and we are soon taught we are not pronouncing it correctly, it should be more like ‘square’ (without the s obviously). The town has a small but impressive museum, which explains a lot of the history of the railway line, including the bridge.

the famous bridge over the River Kwai

the famous bridge over the River Kwai

In Ayutthaya we rent bikes because we can’t find any local shop that sells second hand bikes. They’re only one dollar to rent for the day, so we zoom around visiting old temples and an old elephant kraal. They say the Thai might have found their inspiration for this city and all its temples in Angkor Wat, and they certainly are impressive.

historic elephant kraal still in use

historic elephant kraal still in use

some ruins look even more impressive by night

some ruins look even more impressive by night

trying to blend in, not quite mastered the lotus pose yet

trying to blend in, not quite mastered the lotus pose yet

I didn't have a yellow cloth to cover myself

I didn’t have a yellow cloth to cover myself

gruesome statues to show you what happens if you don't do the right thing

gruesome statues to show you what happens if you don’t do the right thing in life

We really like the head of a Buddha statue, completely surrounded by roots of an old tree at the Wat Phra Mahathat and the impressive 3 stupas of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, especially at night when they are lit up for a few hours after sunset.

the three stupas

the three stupas

how cool is this!

how cool is this!

After talking to some locals we discover a town about 20km east of Ayutthaya is the best place to buy secondhand bikes from Japan, apparently they are much better quality than the Thai-made bikes…

This becomes our mission when we leave Ayutthaya – buying our bikes for the trip. With the language barrier it’s not easy, but there is always somebody around who speaks English. After a few of those detours and runarounds (hope you included our search for bikes in your calculation for the total kilometers :-)) we finally find what we are looking for. A car garage that seems to have expanded into second hand bikes. Two rows of bikes parked out the front and we can try anyone we like.

our new bikes!

our new bikes!

After test riding many bikes around the carpark, we decide to buy 2 very similar silver bikes, one with front basket and reflector, the other without. One with bits of rust spray-painted over, the other without, one has a rusty chain and one doesn’t. They both look fairly well-used and the saddle doesn’t really go up high enough for Jon, but they are now our bikes and we love ‘m.

We ride them around town to find a nice place to eat, we use them to drop off our clothes at the laundry or simply to explore a town or temples. We’ll see how long they last on the back of the car with the dust clogging up all the moving bits, but hopefully they will survive with a bit of TLC (liefde en verzorging voor de niet-engels sprekenden).

We drove past a festival when looking for a place to stay and decided to explore, we are still not sure what they were celebrating, but it was big and busy. Stallholders were giving us food to try, not sure what it all was but some of it tasted good. We were quite happy the owners of the insect snack stalls didn’t offer us any of their cockroaches, beetles, frogs and larvae… the local kids seem to love them though and apparently you squeeze the big ones to see if they are good. But if good means fat enough, crunchy enough, oily enough or something else we couldn’t work out.

one of the snack stall - look closely to see what he is actually selling

one of the snack stall – look closely to see what he is actually selling

some cockroaches anyone?

some cockroaches anyone?

or maybe you prefer some frogs?

or maybe you prefer some frogs?

The festival had it all, food stalls, snacks, freak shows, snake charmers, clothes, guns, knives and any other possible weapon you could think off, and lots and lots of drooping lights hanging from the trees. As it was late and dark as we left, we had to wake up some monks at a local wat to ask permission to camp. They are always happy to let you stay in a corner of the wat and apart from lots of barking dogs at first we had another good sleep.

for the Dutchies: how about using a poffertjes pan like this?!

for the Dutchies: how about using a poffertjes pan like this?!

13 Comments

  1. That looks like heaps of fun. Our weekend at Port Vincent compares, but only just ;-). What are you planning for Jon’s upcoming birthday?

    • Hmmnm, good question. Breakfast in bed for sure, but we haven’t thought of his birthday yet. Maybe we’ll have our first rest day of the trip, although I doubt that’s what he wants! Any suggestions?!

  2. Oops even vergeten, maar hopelijk nog op tijd. Ik denk dat jullie 23.000 km rijden 🙂
    Fijne rijs! en tot in Nederland. Groetjes, Jessie

  3. Ieuw, zelfs gebakken zien ze er ranzig uit…Als ze leven ben ik er ook niet al te dol op, as you know;-)! De andere foto’s zijn prachtig, ziet er indrukwekkend uit allemaal! Veel fietsplezier! x Sandra en mannen.

    • 🙂 ja, dat weet ik wel!
      We hebben nog wat meer foto’s van dieren aan de Thailand pagina toegevoegd, speciaal voor Niels en Jens, hoop dat ze ze leuk vinden. En Jessie, je bent nog op tijd hoor! Dikke kus, jx

  4. Jude, they’re Giant Water beetles…….much tastier than cockroaches!
    We’re leaving CM on the 3rd – may see you on our way south?

    • Thanks Guy! Still couldn’t convince me to try one…! Yep, keep us informed about route plan from cm to border. We’re most likely going through cardamom mountains and into T in the far south east corner in a couple of days. Would be great to catch up somewhere!

  5. Love the your stories, especially about the food!
    Maybe that thing we’re using in Holland isn’t even ment to bake “poffertjes”

    • Hmmm, interesting thought! Never thought about that option.

  6. We did a tour around the bridge on the River Kwai and the Burma Railway from WW2 some years ago and there was a fantastic Dutch memorial/museum about WW2 lives lost the tour co took us too.

  7. Hi folks, heerlijk om te lezen en zo al mijmerend met jullie mee te reizen! Heerlijk om te zien dat de fiets een onderdeel gaat vormen van jullie droomreis. Annie en Theo.

  8. awesum reading! im learning from you about thailand although ive been there five times 🙂 congrats to yr own bikes! great way to get around and see things…i hope yr wearing helmet?! enjoy guys!

  9. Love your new steeds. Almost 29’ers!

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