How to cycle SE Asia.

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by Damian Harvey, Jul 9, 2003.

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  1. Buy a bike, some cheap crappy panniers and a plane ticket. Ride your bike around for a couple of
    months. Then come home a lot fitter and with some nice tales to trade for beers. Want some tales?
    Buy me a beer. : )

    Actually I'm all beered out so I'll just tap out a short tale. First some numbers. Dollars spent
    (excluding plane trip): 2200 Ratio of dollars to kilometres: 1:1 Days spent on bike: 19 Days spent
    on toilet: 4 (Tip: don't drink the tap water.) Times a little girl in Saigon beat me at scissors,
    paper, rock: 5 Longest day in the saddle: 147 km or 8 hours Number of punctures: 7 Cost to fix a
    puncture in Battambang, Cambodia: 500 riel or 20 cents Number of times Mr Pumpy led us astray: 6

    Anyway I promised a tale right? Here goes. We (my brother and I) just got off the boat to Ko Pha
    Ngan, a beautiful island off the east coast of Thailand. It's 6:00 am and we haven't really slept on
    the boat. We push our way past the moto taxi guys we are oblivious to the fact that we are pushing
    bikes and thus have our own transport. Jump on the bikes and head off to Bottle Beach which we've
    been told is the most relaxed, serene beach on the island. It's a 10 k ride to Chaloklum, where our
    trusty Lonley Planet road atlas tells us the road changes intoa dirt track. Can't find the dirt
    track so we go and ask the boat taxi fellas. "No road, you take boat at 8:30" they tell us. Seeing
    as it's only 7:15 we politely tell them to bugger off as they're obviously just trying to make a
    quick buck off the Aussie tourists. Check around the hotles and tey inform us that "Yes, there is
    indeed a dirt track to Bottle beach, just go up this here road and follow your nose, but it's easier
    to go by boat and you can't really ride on the track". Ha, what do the locals know we scoff, we're a
    couple of hearty, healthy young Aussie lads AND we have mountain bikes. So we set off this rutted
    little goat track, up some almost vertical climbs and obviously down the other side. After a half
    hour of this fun we come across this ditch in the road, did I say ditch? More like a bloody great
    ravine. Look at each other with trepidation, but we are hearty, healthy lads with MTB's so we manage
    to get across this gap. "I'll climb down and up the other side then you can throw the bikes over" I
    think that was the idea I floated. Another quarter hour of stumbling along a rock strewn "walking"
    trail feeling lucky we didn't just break an ankle, then the trail sorta just disappears. "Wait here,
    I'll walk on ahead and see if I can find some markings" I say. So I trudge off through this virgin
    jungle spot some red paint and come back confident that this is indeed the way. We decide that we've
    already invested too much time to turn back and besides the beach must be just around this bluff. We
    spend a good hour pushing, pulling, carrying, dragging and throwing our bikes (these are loaded
    mountain bikes remeber they weigh a good 40kg) though nigh on impenetrable jungle. Then we come
    across a point that's only 4 inches wide, sheer rock face on one side and a hell of a long fall on
    the other. Bugger this for a joke we say. So we promptly turn around and push our way through the
    same jungle, only this time we are out of water and food so it's a lot harder on the return trip. We
    stop in at a resort on the way back to Chaloklum and down 3 litres of water each while the guests
    look at us with eyes filled with dread, I can just see them thinking "Dear God, please don't let
    them stay here". But we haven't gone through this much pain not to get to our idyllic paradise of
    Bottle Beach. We roll into Chaloklum at 10:30 looking like Death warmed up. The boat guys are just
    about in hysterics as they see us, but one manages to stifle his giggles so he can say "A boat to
    Bottle Beach then, eh?" Yes, you bastard, a boat, because you sure as hell can't ride to Bottle
    beach. And Bottle beach was worth it. We stayed for a week. And didn't ride the bikes once. 15 km in
    four and a half hours. Not bad going.

    Cheers Damian Harvey

    This space reserved for standard disclaimer, witty quote, plug for own business in caps and large,
    bad ASCII art.

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