Saturday, 26 December 2009

Bangkok's Last Hurrah

We made it to Bangkok! The journey took 21 cycling days and covered approximately 1300 kms. We followed this route.

On the way here I was somewhat dreading getting back to the big city.
This city and I have had an romantic love affair, but since moving here over two years ago there are three things that I don't love about Bangkok: traffic, noise and pollution.

These three things do not make it very easy to cycle in the Big Mango. There are a few token
cycle paths scattered around, but most have been painted on the walkways in major shopping areas, where the foot traffic is just too condensed and you run the risk of running down strolling happy couples.

Lucky for me, there is a wonderful oasis in the middle of this concrete jungle - Phaya Thai Home. This is the apartment where I used to live (before setting out on this bike ride). Rose (my flatmate) has let us put our feet up there over past few days and we have really enjoyed reading our books, decorating the Xmas cactus, sitting on the balcony and watching the squirrels run around the garden. During this time I have caught up with friends, had a couple of massages and celebrated Xmas day by conquering one of my fears - riding in Bangkok traffic.

In Thai culture, it is common to do something good for someone else on significant days of the year - like birthdays, and public holidays. Christmas has never been very significant for me - but this year I woke up and decided
that I wanted to do something that I have been meaning to do for a long time - donate blood.

So I set out on my bicycle and rode the couple of kilometers to the Thai Red Cross, through Siam, the busiest part of town. I made it with my heart still beating, which is probably why it only took only five mins to fill the bag with deep red sugary cyclist blood. I was glad about that because the staff seated me right next to a glass window which faced the waiting room and I was a source of amusement for everyone else who was patiently waiting their turn.

Bangkok for Christmas was quiet but nice. I had street-side noodle soup for lunch this year with my close friend Nui, followed by some green mango whilst we sat chatting in Lumpini Park. Gem, Chris and I had dinner at Regan and Joke's place, where a mouthwatering feast combining several nationalities was enjoyed by all.

Today we will say goodbye to Bangkok and ride to Ayuthaya with some fellow Thai cyclists. For me, this parting feels more permanent. Bangkok has been good to me, but I am quite sure that 2010 has some changes in the midst. I am looking forward to some greener pastures - literally.

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