Heading Home – and a Merry Christmas too!

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It’s in the detail: 50 Cent and the Buddha..

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And a rich man.

We’ve begun the first leg of our non-bike-propelled travels to get us home. Not quite in time for Christmas, but close enough to see all the Gilbert Clan. Perhaps that’s the best way to do it (-;

With this in mind, here’s out last post:

After crossing the border from Laos into Thailand, a night train whisked us to Bangkok in relative comfort and luxury. As sunlight shone in fingers across the cityscape, we chugged in fitfully for the last few kilometres, pausing at small stations as we cut through the urban sprawl that rings any Asian metropolis as big as this; under soaring concrete overpasses and glinting high rises, across stagnant canals and past squat, crooked and makeshift wooden homes. Segregated by the narrowest of darkened alleyway-tunnels, these houses opened out directly onto the rails and all the detritus that’s quite literally excreted from the trains. People wandered along the tracks to work, or sifted through garbage to see what new offerings the night had brought. Clothes hung out to dry in the humid air, between the dead-headed leaves of banana trees and under palm trees, combing the air in the breeze. Ladies pushed carts loaded with leaf-wrapped delicacies, plying their wares with drawn out, nasal cries – “Sa-ba-di-kaaaa”. Dogs and men yawned as they awoke.

Our last ride of the journey was from the train station to one of the backstreets close to Khoa San Road, the backpacker ghetto of all backpacker ghettos. Though we’d arrived before 7am, the market-lined streets were already gearing up for the day; fake designer T shirts, cheap bags, cosmetics, cartfulls of mangos and pineapple, their aroma rising above the sharp, unfamiliar tang of pollution.

Pollution that stung our eyes like chilli in a frying pan, as we shared the road with bright pink Corolla taxis and luminescent green hub-capped Tuk-Tuks, their exhausts crackling with throaty bursts as they gunned the throttle at each countdown set of traffic lights. Fat tyres and bright colours, Tuk-Tuk’s are as synonymous with Thailand as the omnipresent billboards of the king on every corner and roundabout – Long Live the King, they read, or celebrated his recent 80th birthday. Moped riders nudged and wiggled their bodies through gaps in the pandemonium, each vying for an advantageous position at the lights. Bike trailers aren’t always a good idea in cities as crazy and gridlocked as Bangkok, but the Extrawheel made for easy curb hopping, and drew plenty of strained necks and broad smiles from Tuk-Tuk drivers as they guzzled past in a blue-grey puff of exhaust vapour.

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The world’s longest running head of state and still going strong: HMK Bhumibol Adulyadej

We’re now flying back to Delhi to collect some bags, visit our friend Dickie and make a few arrangements for next year’s cycling season in the Indian Himalayas, before heading home. We’ve had several enquires for 2008; if you’re interested, please get in touch as we’re starting to draw up our trips and dates. We’ll be around for a chat anytime after the New Year.

Stats and Facts:

Exchange rate: 65 Baht to 1GBP

Quick and easy border crossing – no fees.

Sleeper train from Nong Khai to BKK, 2nd Class AC: 688 Baht

– we paid close to twice that as we booked it in Luang Prabang, but you need to book early as the train was full

– leaves at 18.20, arrives at 6.30am

Bike surcharge: 80 Baht

-take bike to the luggage area at the front of the train, no hassles at all.

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4 Responses to “Heading Home – and a Merry Christmas too!”


  1. 1 Michael and Josh December 24, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Merry Christmas Cass and Cara, Best Wishes from all at the Biketrailershop.

  2. 2 Ron and Annette McCartan December 26, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Cara and Cass
    Have a safe journey home and enjoy the New Year with the Gilbert family. Please give Dickie a big hug from us!
    We’re looking forward to seeing your plans for 2008.
    Ron & Annette

  3. 3 otbiking December 28, 2007 at 10:22 am

    That’s our next task. We’re figuring out possible dates over the next few days. So far, it’s look like we’ll be running:

    a Lahaul and Spiti trip jeep supported trip
    a Manali to Leh via Wari La jeep supported trip
    a Leh to Manali (with an acclimatisation ride) self supported trip.

    Dickie was in great spirits. Cara leant him her Catalyst until he gets his new Thorn Sterling.

  4. 4 Pedro Travers December 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Belated Christmas wishes and loverly to read such a colourful description of Bangkok. And not a mention of playing ping pong once.

    Cass, have you considered becoming a writer? ;o)

    Your words certainly flow better than when you’re mountain biking off-road…

    Give me a bell when you’re in Bristol.

    Pedro


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Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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