You may or may not know this about me – I’m not a very talented cyclist. In fact, ask any of my family members and they try to hold back a guffaw located in the depths of their bellies with the thought of me maneuvering quiet, wide, tree-lined streets let alone meter-wide elevated jungle walkways on a two-wheeled vehicle. I don’t have a good track record on a bicycle, let’s leave it at that.
I am, however, trying to remedy this track record, first this summer in Chengdu (Phil’s holding back the laugh now), attempting to navigate the nasty bike lanes and traffic of the city and now, in Thailand where bicycle is one of the best modes of transportation in our quiet little suburb.
I start with a spice roads cycle tour through southern Bangkok and a adjacent neighborhood Bang Kra Jao. The “Bangkok Jungle” half day trip met on Sukhumvit Soi 38 (famous for a great foodstall street at the top of the soi) or “Soi Sam Sabai” (extra happiness) in front of the very swankily decorated Face restaurant complex.
We then moved into the Klong Toey slum, navigating little alley ways and main Bangkok roads and experiencing a glimpse of how over 100,000 Bangkok residents live.
From there we made it to the Klong Toey pier where a tailboat speeded us and our mountain bikes across the Chao Praya to Bang Kra Jao, a sleepy peninsula across from the city that is land designated and preserved for the Mon ethnic minority.
After a quick change of a flat tire (yea, within the first 10 minutes…wasn’t me!), our guide Nee showed us the route and we were off! This is where things got exciting. The peninsula is heavily “jungled”, which is also home to many coconut and banana plantations. To get around local residents use meter and a half wide elevated walkways which we, with minor trepidation, biked on to get around the island.
Biking around the jungle definitely caused one of those surreal moments of realization “a huge heaving metropolis is literally across the river from us.” It was beautiful and peaceful. Minus having to hold my breath and focus on not rolling right off the elevated path into a mossy bog.
There were several pit stops on the tour, a couple of temples (one over 250 years old, built in the Ayutthaya era) and a floating market (luckily, open on Sunday!) that sells yummy duck and noodle soup right from the boat.
As we made our way back home we hit a bit of a downpour but it seemed all the more rewarding as it cooled us off and made us a little less smelly. I was very impressed with spice roads though and hope to use them again, maybe here or here? All in all it was a great little ride, one I couldn’t do on my own at first but feel like it would be interesting to try again. Here’s to success on a push bike!