#31 from SE Asia. I made it back to Bangkok okay.

#31  from SE Asia
Bangkok, Thailand
March 16th, 2010

Arriving back in Bangkok, March 16th, 2010

I rolled back into the same guest house that I left from today, March 16th, at noon.  I had left here on January 9th.  So it was 65 days on the road.  I had no major disasters on the way.  A lot of challenges, but they were all solvable.
I was waylaid today twice in the terrible Bangkok traffic by the ‘red’ demonstrators.  I had to change my route and weave thru the barricades.  Apparently, the protesters shut the city down 2 years ago.  I thought about putting my bike in a taxi and being carried in.  But a taxi would never have made it thru the demonstrators at all.  I had a fine feeling returning today.  Before I left, I really was not sure that I ‘had it in me’.  It’s a high I am feeling now.
I rode every day for 6 days from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Thailand.  I took it leisurely.  Some days were only 70 kms.  I bucked winds almost all the distance back too.  I have figured that bucking strong headwinds cuts about 20% of my daily distance.  This was thoroughly off the tourist route.  I ran into no one who spoke any English.  I am rapidly developing excellent mimicry, pointing, acting out, and hand signal skills.
When I first left Bangkok, I really struggled to do 50 kms  a day.  I was more out of shape than I thought.  It wasn’t until I got to Laos, about 10 days into the trip, that I felt stronger.  My best days were 130 kms.  As I lost weight, it got easier.
Here are some trip stats:
This was a hybrid trip.  The total trip was around 5000 kms.  I rode about 70% of the whole trip by bike.  The other 1500 was by train or bus.  I also took about 700 kms of side trips on the bicycle.  So I think I rode about 4200 kms.  I like the flexibility of these types of hybrid trips.  The folding bike made it easier.
My high points:
Laos was my favorite place.  High mountains and isolated, but tough for me to pedal across on the Dahon.  The museums, archaeological sites, and battlefields.  Meeting really interesting people along the way.  Hai Long Bay in Northern Vietnam is magical, as are the mountains of northern Vietnam.  Hanoi, Saigon, and  the Mekong Delta are surely worth a visit.  I would definitely go back to Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos.  And now, I have 10 more days to visit Thailand.

Low points:
The street hustle and hassle in the urban areas of Vietnam.  The dangerous urban traffic in Vietnam, the noise level, and having to deal with the official, sanctioned corruption in Vietnam.  The rural people of Vietnam were wonderful.  I cannot say the same for many of the urban Vietnamese who deal regularly with travelers.

About my bike:
I rode a 20″, 24-speed Dahon foldable.  It mostly held up, except for the front axle collapse.  I had to get a new front wheel.  Because of the smaller tires, this Dahon was not adequate on rough roads or the mountains.  But in the end, it got me thru it all.

I just had one flat tire on the whole trip, which is amazingly few.  I think this was because I used knobby teflon tires for most of the trip.  After I wore out my two original tires, I replaced them with the knobbys I had brought with me.  Knobby tires are not for speed.  But at the speeds that I ride, it doesn’t matter so much.  They do whine on the road at higher speeds though.  Besides their thickness, they give me better protection by lifting the tire body higher off the road from glass and metal.

I went thru 6 brake pads.  This is easy to do when you are riding in the mountains.  I have worn out two of my Nashbar panniers.  It is time for me to pay real money for the best panniers in the market, the Ortleibs.

I used my leather sewing awl several times a week, constantly repairing and reinforcing everything made of canvas and  cloth.  It is a necessary travel tool for me.  I probably used every tool in my one pannier dedicated to bicycle maintenance.   I found that every morning I would have to re tighten my pannier racks and fenders on my bike.  The daily bounces and jolts would shake the tightest of bolts loose, even if they had lock washers on them.

Several people have asked me about how much money I spent on this trip. It is pretty easy to measure since I used my ATM card the whole way.

1.  For the 65 days I was pedaling, I spent $2200.  This includes all rooms, food, tickets, immigration fees, museum entries, and the paid side trip to Hai Long, the ferries and river boats, additional gear, and repairs.  The most I spent on a room was $28, and the least was $3.

2.  My plane flight was about $1150.

3.  I will probably spend $500 on gifts and clothing for myself.

Anwers to peoples’ questions about health:
First, I ate daily in the open markets, eating what the people ate and drinking their water.  So I was exposed.  Did I get sick, and if so, what, and how bad?
1.  I had bacterial dysentery in Thailand for one day.  I bought 25 cents worth of pills at the pharmacy, and I was ok within 12 hours
2.  I had a 12 hours of severe chills and fever in Vang Vieng, Laos that left me in a cold sweat on a hot night.  It caused me to stay another day.
3.  I had about 1 week of bronchitis when I was riding thru the cold rain from Hanoi to Hue.  I took antibiotics that I bought for about $10.  I believe they helped.
4.  This time I did NOT get malaria.
Health benefits:
1.  Weight loss
2.  I feel stronger and more full of energy.  I feel I have a bounce in my walk.
3.  My arthritis is almost gone from my knees.
I started the trip at 202 lbs.  As of today, I weigh 172 lbs.  I could still stand to lose 10 more lbs.  I feel much better, energized.  The big test will be to see if it stays off.  My personal history is that I put the weight back on.  It is really just a matter of self-discipline. We’ll see.

3 Responses to #31 from SE Asia. I made it back to Bangkok okay.

  1. You look great Dwight. Really!

    I think you missed post #31

    Have fun in Bangkok. Watch out for the ladyboys!

  2. The snow has melted and Mike is out digging up the backyard with plans to plant peas and spinach. The communist plot needs you. Come home soon.

  3. Keep up the great writing Prof. Worker. I almost fell out of my chair reading your grossest thing ever. I laughed my ass off!
    Take care! Glad you’re ok!

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Dwight Worker is an American professor, activist, adventurer, and fugitive. He escaped from the Mexican penitentiary Palacio de Lecumberri in 1975 along with the book and movie Escape about the story

Throughout his life he participated in civil rights, anti-war, and environmental movements. In 1991, Dwight volunteered to serve in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Worker is a former professor at Indiana University, where he created the Information Security program for the Kelley School of Business before retiring in 2008 to farm, write, and travel.….READ MORE