Category: SE-Asia-2010-11

#7 from South East Asia — The ride south, wild elephants, pigs, monkeys, and tigers

#7 from South East Asia — The ride south, wild elephants, pigs, and tigers January 12th, 2011

Prachaup Khiri Khan

Sunk yacht along the way

We had the good fortune to head out of Bangkok on a Sunday morning. The traffic was still crazy, but just not as bad. Jeff and I struggled south through the maze of streets that arbitrarily shifted their one-way directions, with no clues from the maps. The maps did not show when there were two, or three, levels of highways at the same location.

When we finally came to the Chao Phraya River that divides Bangkok, we were relieved. We carried our loaded bikes up 6 flights of stairs to the bridge. Then we walked our bikes over the river. At least we knew where we were. How to get out of the city would be much more taxing. It is not enough just to ride away from the city. You must find the major road going in your direction in a script written on a map that you will never understand. Thai, you see, has 44 consonants and 32 vowels. None of them look anything like the western alphabet. At this point in my life, I am not going to learn them.

Eventually we got onto a road that was going southwest in the direction we wanted to go. We kept riding and following it until we realized that this actually was our desired road. What a relieve. It took 4 hours of hard pedaling to get out of Bangkok. We were still in traffic, but it was dropping off.

Drying and harvesting salt by hand

We worked our way along the western coast of the Gulf of Thailand, passing 100’s of kilometres of salt drying beds and shrimp farms. These are very labor-intensive industries. I watched large numbers of people working ever so hard under the sun. At times I wondered, ‘How can the US compete against people who work so hard, for so little?’ I don’t have the answer for for, and I can assure you that the US does not yet either.

Panhandling monkeys in trash

We were hit by garbage-picking beggars along the roadside. Macaque monkeys, going thru garbage, and asking for food. We kept pedaling.

500 miles of beach riding

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#6 from South East Asia — Kuala Lumpur, Bidets, and Islamic culture and architecture, where the US jobs have gone, and more food

#6 from South East Asia  — Kuala Lumpur, Bidets, and food food food  architecture
January 6th, 2001
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We had to fly out of Thailand in order to renew our visas.  Our cheapest choice was to Kuala Lumpur.  It turned out NOT to be our best choice.

The Koplex Dayabumi tower of Kuala Lumpur

arches within arches at komplex Dayabumi

wild, attention-getting archtectural designs in Kuala Lumpur

the cental broadcasting tower

The Petronas Towers

But what happens when you do not have central air...

The architecture of Kuala Lumpur is stunning. There seems to be no central theme.  Like Los Angles, one needs a car to get around.  It was not designed for humans walking.

The difference between Buddhist Thailand and Islamic fundamentalist Malaysia was startling.  The smiles were gone.  The people carried themselves with a gravity of seriousness.  Most of the Malaysian women were covered.  Some of them so that only their eyes were visible.  At night, one rarely saw a woman at night unless she was accompanied by her husband.  The price of beer was $3-4 per small can.
Having said that, the people were friendly and honest.  Again, I myself have never felt threatened or endangered in an Islamic country.  But it may be very different in some Islamic countries, now that we have invaded them and killed hundreds of thousands.

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#5 from Southeast Asia — New Year's in Pattaya. Blowing up the city…

#5 from Southeast Asia  — New Year’s in Pattaya.  Blowing up the city…
January 2nd, 2011,
from Jomtien, Thailand

Some are girls here, but you must find out for yourself

In front of my hotel door, the show goes on...

the Saint Vitus day's dance of frenzy

free street food all day long

I woke up to this.  It went on for 24 hours and got louder and louder.

I had heard about the New Year’s Eve party in Pattaya.  I thought that, before I die, I should see it.  So I did.   And it was unlike any other New Year’s party I have ever seen.
The New Year’s Eve party in Pattaya begins in earnest first thing in the morning.  The girls out on the street set up free buffets of delicious Thai food.  I could not walk by without them offering me free food.  Cant be free, I thought.  There must be a hitch.
“No.  Food all free.  Just come inside and drink beer with us.”  What do we say about no free lunch?

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#4 from SE Asia – white water rafting, the best cooking class of my life, and Christmas Eve blasphemy.

#4 from SE Asia – white water rafting, the best cooking class of my life, and Christmas Eve blasphemy.
December 28th, 2010
Back in Bangkok

Our fantastic Thai cooking instructor Duan, holding a bundle of pre-packaged herbs used for soup-making.

I wanted to go white water rafting and Jeff wanted to go back to the women’s prison for massage, so we split our ways for a day.

The raft run is on the Mae Taeng River to the north of Chiangmai. This river drains from the mountains in the Doi Chiang Dao National park. Most of the year, this run is rated at grade II to grade IV. But for 3 months of the year, during the rainy season, it becomes a veritable grade V river, with wild drops, flipped rafts, and drownings. But now is the dry season.
The trip was all Europeans and Canadians, and myself. All of the runners were first-timers. I have rafted a number of rivers, including a 7 day trip on the Green and Colorado Rivers. I have really enjoyed this in my life.

We drove for 2 hours up a narrow gorge that had Hmong villages along it. We saw the occasional domesticated elephants working with them. When we got to the launch site, we all took the mandatory safety class. The guides gave us good safety gear, proper life jackets and helmets. Can I take my camera along? Only if it is waterproof. Otherwise you will ruin it.
So I left my camera behind. The advice turned out to be good, for everyone and everything got thoroughly soaked. But I did not get any pictures of the trip.

The river itself was much better than I expected. Clean cool water, and some good runs. At one point in the 10 km run the water drops 60 meters in 1.5 kms. Good escarpment for some nice rides. Hold on, paddle, and get wet. We had no tip overs. I think only one person on the 4 rafts went overboard. They quickly pulled her back aboard. Thruout the trip we were accompanied by 3 kayakers who were there for the group’s safety.
We ended the run with a fairly smooth last kilometer. One could see high water marks on the trees along the shore that were 4 to 5 meters above our low current levels. The guides said that during the rainy season, our 2.5 hour trip is shortened to 45 very scary minutes and the river crashed down the mountain. I think I would pass on that.
As we drifted down to the finish point, we passed a female elephant wading in the river. Nothing between her and us except some water. I like that feeling.

The BEST COOKING CLASS I have ever taken

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#2 into the mountains

#2 from SE Asia
Lampang, Thailand
December 17th, 2010

Where the F! It should be perfectly obvious.

Maybe the language barrier had something to do with our 30 km mistake.

Jeff and I have ridden every day straight for the last 7 days.  We are hitting it steady and pretty hard for ourselves, traveling in areas where the tourists bypass from their buses or trains, and where English is not spoken.

We do not, obviously, speak any Thai other than the rudimentary marketplace communications.  It is a 5 tone language with its own script.  The dominant Thai culture emigrated from south China around 1300 years ago.  For westerners, Thai is a difficult language to learn.

Thai take out food in plastic bags

I snack on lychee nuts whenever I can

We love the naturally wrapped foods, banana leaf and all.

Durian is banned from hotels. It stinks too bad!

The pho bal in Thailand is better than most Vietnamese pho bal.

cutting the pomelo. Our citrus fix.

Such service!

After we complete the daily logistics of riding, finding a room, washing up and laundry, it is food time!  And are we hungry at the end of the day.  Off to the market to explore and sample as the Thai people give us bemused smiles.  They have not seen us ‘Farang’ foreigners in their markets before.  We point to the food and try it.  Occasionally we pass on what we get, but most of the time, it is just great.  And then, we pass out for 8-9 hours of DEEP sleep for the next day.

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Post #1 Heading out to the Golden Triangle

SE Asia 2010-11
post # 1
Kamphaeng Phet, Northern Thailand
In November, my buddy Jeff Mease came over to my farm and said “Let’s go bicycle South East Asia.”  A few days later, we had bought our tickets.  Now, how’s that for freedom for you?
I so enjoyed my bicycle trip across SE Asia last winter, that I am doing it again.  The only area of this trip that will cross paths with my last trip is the beginning point of Bangkok.

My goal this trip is to pedal up to the Golden Triangle of Northwest Thailand, and then work my way down to Indonesia.  So we’ll see.

I have a travel buddy this time.  My best friend Jeff Mease.  It’s really good to have a ride mate.  I have not had one since my son and I rode northern Mexico.

All Over the Place

Stories from five continents, over 60 years. With joy and wonder, innocence and horror, gut laughs and adventure.

A journey of Rastafarian robbers, diving for sharks, stranded in an Andes blizzard, driving a steam engine across Paraguay, taking yage in the Amazon, an execution in a Mexican prison, hippie doomsday cults, battling drunks atop Kilimanjaro, a cobra attack, sinking a whaling ship. It is all here.

Come along and read about another way to live.

The Wild Years

Dwight Worker The Wild Years A series of autobiographical stories about Dwight Worker’s life, running from the law…before Lecumberri. THE WILD YEARS is available in paperback and ebook.

Escape from Lecumberri

Dwight Worker Escape from Lecumberri Only two people ever escaped from the infamous Lecumberri Prison in Mexico City: Pancho Villa and Dwight Worker. This is the true story of Dwight Worker’s amazing escape. ESCAPE FROM LECUMBERRI is available in paperback or Kindle.

About the Author

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