Thailand the Return
03 February 2007 - 13 February 2007

Our bikes had become utterly filthy from the dust of Cambodia, so we were very fortunate to pass a guy who's business was cleaning motorbikes by power washer. We stopped and had the bikes soaped, power-washed and air-dried for about 50 pence. They hadn't looked as good for months, so we spent some time admiring them and playing bike-related eye spy - there is not a lot to do in the border town of Aranya Prathet. Things got a bit silly when Kat's turns started to yield details about ball bearings. At least we haven't gone so far as to name our bikes - really, some people do.                                                                                                                 

    

Sunrise heading to the Lao border                                                         

We headed west from the border, a very exciting event, since it was the first time on the trip we had gone in that direction. For only the third time since setting off we had the dream combination of a tailwind and a flat road, and soared along for a couple of days with very little effort.

By the time we had reached our westernmost point and started heading northeast again, the traffic had become awful. We realised to our shock that we were now back within 50 miles of Bangkok. We hadn't realised we'd be going back so far. The highway remained the same all the way north - very built up, noisy and full of lorries. Much worse than any other road we had been on in Thailand.

We spent a couple of days skirting past some of Thailand's famous National parks, but it was difficult to appreciate much of the scenery properly due to the busy roads. National parks also always mean hills. It was only one real day of them, but it was a bit of a shock to our legs to encounter the blighters again. We were pretty pleased to find that we were now able do get through them without too much trouble, a few months ago they would have caused us problems.

Kat even overtook a truck on the way up a particularly steep one. The co-driver found it hilarious, so we were accompanied up the slope by his wildly excited waving, shouting and cheering. It must be quite a boring job.

For the last couple of days in Thailand we were a bit plagued with punctures. Well, we had two, but considering we both went seven months without one, it seemed like a big deal. We've both had a minor bout of flu each (naturally, Richard's was much worse) which feels very strange in the heat and humidity, and doesn't provide for the best cycling conditions. We were both so tired at the end of a day that we could just about manage to shower before collapsing in a stupor. Even eating was a bit of a chore. Still, the final day out of Thailand meant barely 25km over the border to Laos, so we couldn't complain too much.

It was a bit sad to leave Thailand behind us, apart from a short jaunt into Cambodia, it felt as though we had been there for a long time, and we had just got used to everything. From all we've heard about it though, Laos should be much the same in all the good ways, and even more laid back.