Europe, Asia · 51 Days · 154 Moments · October 2016

Mike, Rob and Jude's Amazing Bicycle Trip

17 December 2016

I met a Thai Brompton tourer Matoom and a wannabe tourer Tolga from Istanbul in the Beanaround Hostel. Plans were hatched, beer consumed........excellent inspirational evening.

14 December 2016

So, it was farewell to bro Rob, who pedalled off to the airport yesterday .......... and farewell to sis Jude today, who with bags stuffed with T shirts and other goodies, wisely took the airport train. As for me, I'm waiting for a new rear rim to be delivered from SJS Cycles in the UK before heading off into Burma.

13 December 2016

Back to Bangkok. Reached our final stop on our journey through Asia. Was exhilarating and a little scary for us negotiating our way through the city traffic after so long on the quieter rural roads. We have enjoyed a lovely fishy supper, courtesy of our chief navigator and leader Mike, to celebrate the conclusion of our amazing bike ride.

12 December 2016

After a pleasant stay in a guest house in Trat yesterday we have now completed our fairly subdued final bike leg of this trip, Trat to Chanthaburi. We located a guest house on arrival that was within budget after a tour around town. The River is indeed next to the river alas the view leaves a bit to be desired! We have booked a bus for the final 200k to Bangkok to get there in time for our flights.
Jude grabs the last of the wifi as we prepare to leave Trat on our last day of cycling. We headed for Chanthaburi and bought bus tickets to take us into Bangkok tomorrow. That's it apart from a bit of Bangkok shopping. We'll probably sink a few beers tonight (maybe even more than last night!) Ride Log: Trat to Chantaburi 72km. Grand total 2,197km

10 December 2016

Our riding days are nearly over (two to go) so we have treated ourselves to a bit of beachside luxury at the 4 star Mango Beach Resort. Ride Log: Choppy hills today- up to 10% 61 km Total 2,061km
Another day another border. Left Cambodia today and now back in Thailand heading for Bangkok. Done more than 2000k on the bikes so far. Checked in to a posh place, Mango Beach Resort, for a well earned bit of luxury. Had time for a swim and relax by the beach before watching the sun go down
This is the only elephant we have seen!

9 December 2016

We climbed over the Cardamon Mountains today so fair bit of up and down but lovely countryside (Jungle). Peaceful save for the intensely noisy tinnitus like crickets.Looking out for monkeys and elephant but no joy. Saw two toucan take to the skies from the tree tops when we came by. Quite majestic. We settled in Tatai and went with our host in convoy with a group of off roaders from Malaysia for a swim at Yatai waterfall. A good day all round.
We think this is about as close as we are going to get to an elephant! Ride Log: 82 km Total 2,002km

8 December 2016

Ride Log 08/12/16 After negotiating the busy road out of Phnom Penh we are back enjoying the lovely countryside. Distance 107 km Total 1,988 km
Family chilling at the front of our guest house in Botum Sokur.....just before my bike was knocked over by an inquisitive child. All good.. No damage to child or bike!
Somehow on a straight road over 50k I have lost my travelling companions. Don't know if they are ahead or behind. I think I need to press on to our destination at 105k and hope to meet up there! Thinking about it over tea and some other wierd edible thing!

7 December 2016

Ride Log 07/12/16 We started out at O630 and managed to get caught up in the Phnom Penh rush hour traffic.......or maybe it is always like that! We travelled the main highway (Route 4) all day with the big trucks and buses honking at us to get out of their way. Dangerous at times. An unhappy Jude elected to travel the whole way on the dirt verge. All arrived safely....... but probably our worst day of the trip traffic-wise. Distance 85 km Total 1,881 km

6 December 2016

Visited the Tuol Sleng genocide museum today which is situated in a school that the Khmer Rouge took over and used as a prison. They interrogated and murdered thousands of Innocent Cambodians. Most were taken to killing fields where they were murdered and deposited in mass graves. It is hard to imagine this took place such a short time ago....1970 to 75.

5 December 2016

Rode the bus from Siem Riep to to the big city that is Phnom Penh. Totally different experience to the very rural locations we have ridden through. Judith wasn't so keen but Mick and I got a buzz from riding through the busy yet somehow calm streets with none of the rage or inconsiderate drivers we experience in the uk. We had to escape a deluge this eve while on walkabout. Waited it out with an after dinner coffee and Jameson's. Look around tomorrow before a few days riding to the Thai border
Our bus to Phnom Penh. Happy now the bikes are safely stowed underneath.

4 December 2016

Ride Log 03 and 04/12/16 Temple touring the Angkor site - its huge! Trip Time ---- Distance 71 km Total 1,796 km
Visited the Ankor temples today...well we managed three all with quite different characteristics. Did the shorter tour circuit on our bikes but still clocked up 40k. Amazing structures and carvings but spoilt a little by the sheer number of visitors. Bloody tourists.... Ah that's us!!

2 December 2016

We see motorbikes being used far exceeding their design parameters. Huge trailers, three pig carcasses and families, often riding one handed with an umbrella when it's raining. This group of 5 is the most people we have seen.
Ride Log 02/12/16 Khao Ker to Siem Reap Trip Time 9h40 Distance 124 km Total 1,725 km Average speed 12.9 kmh We need a break! A lot of messing about and extra distance trying to locate our homestay at the end of a long ride. Not setting the alarm tomorrow, maybe some temple sight-seeing?

1 December 2016

Ride Log 01/12/16 Chaeb to Khao Ker Trip Time 11h08 Distance 155 km Total 1,601 km Average speed 14 kmh A full 11 hr ride today meant that we started before sunrise and finished after sunset. It wasn't planned to be so but a navigational oversight meant that we added an additional 40 km. A record distance for Jude who pedalled strongly all day, powered by banana fritters.
Longer ride today. Saw the sun rise and set from the perch of the Diddy bike. Just short of 100 miles through rural Cambodia. Quite a pretty landscape and friendly people but quite samey. Spotted these wonderful beasts pulling carts which is a first and raced a few rotovators which are used to pull trailers on the road. Huge snake...5 or 6 foot long slithered across the the road in front of me. Had only seen road kill before. Beautiful colours like a Buddhist temple

30 November 2016

Ride Log 30/11/16 Stung Treng to Chaeb Trip Time 6h43 Distance 86 km Total 1,446 km Average speed 12.8kmh At 05:45 we pushed our bikes out into the pre-dawn gloom......not because we are a bunch of insomniacs but because we were planning to cover 142km and that takes a while at 12kmh. As it happened we met a couple of tandem cyclists around midday and they told us they had found a guesthouse in the shanty town of Chaeb 16km ahead. That was a relief as we are all feeling a bit frazzled. Try zooming in on Chaeb on Google maps doesn't amount to much!
An early start this morning. Sunrise was cool as we crossed the Mekon at Strung Treng... By bridge this time! We met these Begian guys coming the other way on this amazing and huge tandem

29 November 2016

Ride Log 29/11/16 After our day off we set off from our riverside home, caught the ferry to the mainland and headed south for the Cambodian border. Immigration Control was quiet and efficient and then, after changing some dosh, we were on our way to Stung Treng, 60 km of mostly dirt road..... a flat, hot and dusty ride, to be finished as quickly as possible......which is what we did! Don Det Island to Stung Treng (Cambodia) Trip Time 7h12 Distance 86 km Total 1,360 km Average speed 12kmh
Our 'canoe' packed with bikes and cyclists.
Loading up after breakfast.
Food for thought.... Well they were outside a restaurant

28 November 2016

Trying out the hammock on our deck over the Mekong

27 November 2016

Ride Log 27/11/16 Khong Island>Don Det Jude says she is fit to travel so we set off for Don Det, a short ride down Route 13 and then branch off right for a ferry across to the island. Mike rates the 6km riverside path leading to our accommodation as the ride of his life. Tranquil, laid back and so photogenic..... Trip Time ---- Distance 28 km Total 1,274 km Average speed -- km
Our captain for the crossing to Don Det island
Ride Log 26/11/16 Pakse>Champasak>Mueng Dhong Original plan was to stop in Champasak but as we arrived there mid-morning we decided to cross back over the Mekong by boat and head on south down highway 13 and find somewhere to stop around 80km. We discovered that the first accommodation was near Dhong Island at 136km!! We were on target when Jude fell off her bike around 108km. Needing stitches to her elbow we flagged down a scrap metal truck to take the three of us (and bikes) to the nearest hospital. We had no idea where this might be but ended up being 40 km down the road on Khong Island. Thin on data as I forgot to switch the GPS off during the truck ride. The hospital experience is well covered on Jude's fb page. Trip Time ---- Distance 108km Total 1,246 km Average speed -- km/h Ascent ---m Calories ----

26 November 2016

Very pleased to be here to have the patient cleaned up and a couple of stitches. Jude very brave as no anaesthetic (and boy, that iodine stings!). A little concerned about sterility of instruments and how to keep the wounds dry.
Today started off well with a cross tailwind aiding progress on a lovely smooth road and then a serene crossing of the Mekong on bicycle ferry. This was followed by some of the straightest longest roads we have encountered so far and quite grippy at times. 66 mile in calamity... Judith's foot slipped off the pedal when standing up to give her butt a break she dropped the bike with her elbow and forearms taking the brunt. We dug some of the gravel out then hitched a lift in the back of a truck loaded with scrap iron to the nearest hospital about 25 mile away. We were very grateful for the treatment given but were wary of the hygiene and availability of equipment and dressings Still we are currently cosseted in our very decent lodgings for the night....tomorrow is a new day
Crossing the Mekong

25 November 2016

Ride Log 25/11/16 Pakse>Wat Phou>Pakse Sightseeing - A short but steep (12-15%) and sweaty climb up to Wat Phou and the Golden Buddha. Trip Time ---- Distance 20 km Total 1,138 km Average speed -- km/h Ascent 211m Calories 633
Mushrooms, chillis and such in the market. This lady was a bit embarrassed to have her photo taken.
Gentle 20k up to the golden Buddha with some wonderful peaceful views back across Pakse and the Bolevan plateau

24 November 2016

Ride Log 24/11/16 Khongxedone to Pakse. The Birdy chain tensioner snapped today but all seems to work fine without it! Reached Pakse and guzzling our first beer when the thunderstorm arrived. Hah, missed us today! Trip Time 5h16 Distance 65 km Total 1,118 km Average speed 12.3 km/h Ascent 164 Calories 1768
These buffalo were really enjoying their cooling wallow
Hello honey! Friendly furry face on the road today

23 November 2016

Ride Log 23/11/16 Pakxong to Khongxedone. No navigation required, just head SE on the undulating N13......and pedal away the hours. We pass the 1,000 km mark today......should be feeling fitter by now but we just feel knackered. Roll on the day off in Pakse! Trip Time 9h14 Distance 107 km Total 1,053 km Average speed 11.6 km/h Ascent 424 m Calories 2993
107 km run today, started out at 7am to avoid the afternoon heat. As it turned out it was a cloudy morning which soon turned into some heavy thunder showers. We sheltered at first but once soaked just carried on through it. We were tempted to stop during one downpour (photo) by the smell of grilling meat. As it turned out Jude and Rob had miscellaneous chicken innards and Mick tried out the baby frogs, all washed down with a BeerLao.
Some rain on route today, angry sky ahead!

22 November 2016

Ride Log 22/11/16 Savannakhet to Pakxong. Another flat ride but the second half on a dirt road to avoid the fast traffic on the N13 Trip Time 8h06 Distance 79 km Total 946 km Average speed 9.8 km/h Ascent 314 m Calories 2050
The school kids are always excited to see us and rush to the fence and shout and wave as we pass
An enjoyable ride today... Much of it dirt road tracking the Mekong south, although hardly saw the river. Quite remote and micro agriculture taking place. Saw one tractor and one thresher for the rice but most seems to be done by hand.
We crossed lots of rickety iron bridges today, many being replaced with new concrete structures.

21 November 2016

Long 8 hour bus ride today to get us several hundred kilometres further south into Lao. The bikes were hauled unceremoniously onto the roof of the bus for the journey causing some anxiety but all survived intact. Start riding again in the morning
Tuk tuk required to get us and the packed up bikes to the bus station on the outskirts of Vientane
First sign of Christmas so far, seems very out of place!

20 November 2016

Pizza and pasta last night, very cosmopolitan!
Go on......give us a kiss!
Judith giving her bike a freshen up in the car wash for the princely sum of £1. I had a beard crop instead at the barbers
Today has been a rest and fix day. I like it here.. Took a short ride out to get my whiskas shorn, my phone fixed up... Battery, back cover and case, laundry, coffee, cake etc. Rode past the monument that was built to celebrate the French departing. Strangely it Resembles l'arc de Triomphe
Recharging our batteries in Vientiane.......which is about 100km northeast of Jude's head : )
Suspected broken spoke requires attention
Mick has a rear wheel wobble and thinks he's got a broken spoke. It's Sunday, the bike shops are all closed so the bike is given a wash' wax (looks like new). This is so the hotel staff are not too offended when the hotel foyer is turned into a workshop. The receptionist even turns a fan on Mick as he drops sweat on the floor. It seems the offending spoke is just loose (like the bowels!). Time will tell.

19 November 2016

Ride Log 19/11/2016 Thalat to Vientiane (Capital of Laos) A flat ride but hot, hot, hot. Our first real dealings with traffic as we wiggled our way through the outskirts to our city centre hotel. Trip Time 7h30 Distance 91 km Total 867 km Average speed 12.1 km/h Ascent 252 Calories 2452
Rob has another bright idea while digesting the colourful map of Lao
Another pit stop. Rob steals the show with a heart-warming rendition of 'Baa baa black sheep'.
Took a break here for Lao coffee or vegetable tea. Mick is hoping to meet some fellow Cowboys on route!
Hit our first proper dirt road this morning. Soon got coated in the red stuff including the inside of our lungs... Should have got one of those damn masks!
No rain gear required for the next few days then
Ride Log 18/11/2016 Vang Vieng to Thalat. Another PB distance for Jude and everyone feeling the heat by the end of the day. Once we looped east off the N13 it was a quiet rural ride. Trip Time 9h12 Distance 103 km Total 776 km Average speed 11.2 km/h Ascent 832 Calories 3365

18 November 2016

Racing the school kids near tonight's destination, Thalat.
This lady cooked us our lunch of pork noodle and vegetable soup while the children got on with there homework. Every time I pointed the camera at them they would look down and giggle!
Dusty road followed by a cooling swim in Nirvana pool
Jude sorts out the very confusing Lao Kip notes- no coins.........Monopoly money. 10,000kip to the £.
Stashing the bags for the day's ride.

17 November 2016

Rest day today. Gentle ride out to the blue lagoon for a swim and a climb up to Poukham cave.
Ride Log 17/11/2016 Day off in Vang Vieng - Involving a little ride (of course!) to a local cooling off spot. Distance 14km Total 673km
View from the breakfast terrace this morning....sipping tea and feeling chilled😊
Ride Log 16/11/2016 Poukhoun to Vang Vieng Trip Time 8h33 Distance 102 km Total 659 km Average speed 12.02 km/h Ascent 839 Calories 3342

16 November 2016

Jude takes a horizontal shower!
Sipping a beer in rooftop bar in our Hostel after one of the best rides of my life. Too hot at times with a tail wind on the ascents and the temp pushing a steamy 35 We were leaking like sieves but even more dramatic scenery and smiley faced kids waving us on all the way. Super long descents and traffic free roads are heavenly. The biggest danger are the free ranging pigs poultry and cattle searching for rich pickings along the roads! Judith is new to cycling and broke her record today with our 102 k and 1000m of climbing. Chapeau to her!
Ride Log 15/11/2016 Kieukachan to Phoukoun Trip Time 5h50 Distance 50 km Total 557 km Average speed 8.6 km/h Ascent 1039 Calories 2137
Jude latches on to a freebie wifi connection in the middle of the one horse town that is Poukhoun
Wet washing all over the bikes. Hopefully it will dry on the 20k descent this morning

15 November 2016

Ride Log 14/11/2016 Luang Prabang to Kieukachan Trip Time 11h50 Distance 79 km Total 507 km Average speed 6.6 km/h Ascent 1981 m !!! Calories 3640
Fairly uneventful day starting with sticky fried rice with a fried egg, vegetable tea, uphill riding in less heat than usual, beautiful mountain scenery, butterflies and nervous pigs. Waving at loads of happy local children and finally arriving at our destination just before the massivest thunderstorm. Time for tea....fried pigs ears anyone!

14 November 2016

The accommodation is not up the usual standard. This is the washbasin and toilet flush in my room. Guess it could also be a bath or foot spa if you climbed in it.
Fabulous butterflies everywhere. This one is roadkill : /
Our most challenging ride to date. Two 1000m climbs each about 20k with a superb scenic descent in between. Very tough ride not least due to the 30 plus heat and humidity. Was sobering to see people washing in streams and we dunked our heads under any running water we could find to try and cool down a little. Some stunning scenery today.
Jude emerges refreshed and re-energised after showering in a roadside spring.
Jude takes a power nap before the afternoon climb.
Couple more shots of today's scenery.

13 November 2016

Ride Log 12/11/2016 A short evening ride from the slow boat jetty (hah!) to downtown Luang Prabang. Distance 6 km Total 428 km
Spot of breakfast overlooking the river in Luang Prabang

12 November 2016

Mission complete! Arrived intact in Luang Prabang after a two day boat trip down the mighty Mekong. Bikes were chucked fairly unceremoniously onto the roof of the boat but remained fairly intact. Met some interesting people and some stunning scenery particularly towards the end of the journey
Easy to forget, with such smiley people, how much Laos suffered during the Vietnam war. US munitions cases (dated 1969) recycled and used as verandah supports in Pak Beng

11 November 2016

Lots of rain... Trying out the local rainwear!

10 November 2016

Ride Log 10/11/2016 Chiang Khong to border crossing bridge then to Houayxay in Laos. Rob has first puncture (rear) Distance 26 km Total 422 km
New country (Lao) new beer. Yum...tastes good!
Having negotiated the border crossing we are now in Lao having lunch. The next leg begins, getting my head around 9000 kip to the pound
Got it! One shiny Laos visa.
Filling in forms and watching the thunder clouds gathering :/
Heading past the trucks at the border control.
The friendly Customs chief tells Jude to stand at ease : )
Rob takes first puncture of the trip just before the border crossing. Fortunately we are just outside a big shiny Customs building that we have entered by mistake. They bring us water and coffee, even asked if we wanted to join them for lunch!

9 November 2016

Ride Log 09/11/2016 Mae Sai to Chiang Khong Trip Time 9h:45 Distance 98 km Total 396 km Average speed 10 km/h Ascent 973 m Calories 3197
Boats on the Mekong. We rode alongside the river for much of the's brown and fast flowing!
Feeling pooped and fragile in the pouring rain. Jude up in the night with D and V and we are now into the bowel blocker pills........except Rob, annoyingly, who is downing a whiskey with his double expresso. Must run........

8 November 2016

Ride Log 08/11/2016 Mae Chan to Mae Sai Trip Time 4h:35 Distance 47 km Total 298 km Average speed 10.3 km/h Ascent 44 m Calories 1201 A lazy day with a 'flat as a pancake' recovery ride along the back lanes. A 100k push for the border tomorrow.
Pimp your rice harvester!
Judith motoring along!
Is that a kingfisher?
Mick says "We're so lucky, think about all our friends slaving away in some office somewhere and I'm here worrying about a pimple on my arse". "I've seen it" says Rob....."and you should be worried".
Mick and Jude prepping for today's ride

7 November 2016

Ride Log 07/11/2016 Fang to Mae Chan Trip Time 8h:43 Distance 93 km Total 251 km Average speed 10.7 km/h Ascent 745 m Calories 3085 Max gradient 15% !!! ......and max speed 67 km/h coming down the other side : )
Yesss! Cooling down in the pool with a beer after a hot day in the saddle. Some steep 15 percenters today. Diddy bike performed well though there is a disturbing noise and vibration from the Dynamo which kicks in around 25 mph
Aaww... My bike on a river crossing...I think we're bonding!
Thoughts turning to the climb of the day ahead. Fabulous weather.

6 November 2016

Ride Log 06/11/2016 Chiang Dao to Fang Trip Time 6h:15 Distance 75 km Total 158 km Average speed 12 km/h Ascent 611 m Calories 2482
Most useful photo we've taken!
Big Buddha
A few photos from today
Long and winding road. So impressed with the politeness of the drivers here. Not one issue all day. Smooth roads and good food too. Tasty soup noodle broth for lunch freshly made for the princely sum of 70p! Hard work pedalling the diddy bike but seem to average about 12 mph moving speed which is about the norm. Looking forward to tomorrow. Thunderstorms about so might get wet later in the day.
A misty morning......Mick's arty photo (no bikes!)
Waiting for breakfast
Ride Log 05/11/2016 Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao Trip Time 6:39 Distance 83 km Total 83 km Average speed 12.52 km/h Ascent 306 m Calories 2408

5 November 2016

We rehydrate in our jungle retreat at the end of a sweaty but very satisfying first day on the road. The home-cooked meal was 'top banana'.
'Can we go in (the temple compound) and look at the dragons?' says Jude, 'I love dragons'. 'Sure!' says Mick. A monk comes over to greet us but leaps away in shock when he realises Jude is a woman. A bare-legged woman too........Oops!
Mick and I enjoying the sunshine and quiet smooth roads
And we are off!

4 November 2016

Mick pointing to our street food snack requirements
The boys persuade Jude to reconfigure her baggage and after much tinkering with racks she goes off to check out her heel clearance. Success! Another bottle of Chang please!
Jude has sleepless night worrying about the 80km/ 32deg challenge tomorrow.
Checking into tonight's accommodation in Chaing Mai. Riding proper commences tommorow
The lady(+)boys are rigged up and ready to head into town.
Arrived Chiang Mai and bikes get to see the light of day
Jude checks out the user manual on her phone....... yep, I think that's good to go.

3 November 2016

Long train for a long train ride. 12hrs to Chiang Mai where we will finally ride our bikes not carry them
Chaotic yet exciting race to the train station to catch the overnight to Chang Mai; stuffed into a tuk tuk, bags bikes and passengers through traffic jammed streets. Made it, Phew.
Phew. Hot here....time for a it?
Wires. What a mess!
In the words of the Beatles...we can work it out. Jude trying to get the phone to work with new sim. Technology...friend or foe?

2 November 2016

Amazing tiny kitchen that tonight's seafood extravaganza came from!
Here we are with our new friend....mmmm beer is good :)
We found her......... or rather she found us! Let the adventure begin!
Rob and I are at Bangkok airport. Any of her friends got her mobile number? The one I've got is not working : /

1 November 2016

Hurrah! I'm here. Friendly and hot and humid. In true Wild fashion I have dived straight in to street food life with a massive seafood Tom yum and an equally huge Chang. I used quite exquisite hand signals to request a less spicy version of the soup and I'm sure it is but it's still a mega high on the burn your lips off your face spiceometer. Desperately trying not to look like a tourist straight off the plane but failing miserably
Safely arrived at Abu Dabhi enjoying a breakfast croissant observing a fascinating mix of humanity passing by.

31 October 2016

Well thanks to Alex I have been safely deposited at Heathrow T4 and sped through checkin without a hitch. Finally feels like the adventure starts as Ethiad put the wind beneath my wings en route to Bangkok via Abu Dabhi
I say farewell to neighbour Alice , bless, she gave me a big hunk of cake for the journey........and set off for Porto arriving, gratefully, around 8pm. Flight is at 6am tomorrow.

30 October 2016

Just to explain........ We are 3 siblings, Mick, Rob and Jude, who have somehow conspired to meet up in Bangkok and then set off on a cycle ride around Thailand, Laos and all about 2,500 km of pedalling. Now Mick and Rob have done a bit of cycle touring but Jude is a complete 'newbie' and has been training hard (she says) in Australia so that she doesn't embarrass herself. A joint effort, this blog will enable our friends and loved ones to follow our adventure and keep in touch.

28 October 2016

Three days to go and Rob takes his bike for a 15 mile test run......panniers loaded with golf balls!