Well, you must have read the first part of my blog which is about how Bikepacking is the new backpacking and how my journey, cycling in Thailand started and all about the essentials of a bicycle tour.
Now, become a part of my journey of cycling in Thailand, specifically Southern Thailand and cycle along with me!
Cycling in Thailand: Phuket to Khao Lak National Park
This was going to be my first 100+ km of cycling in Thailand and I was quite excited about it. But then I really need to learn to sleep before long rides. I always end up having a sleepless night which is definitely not good.
I started my ride at 5, after saying goodbye to my friends. The first hour of the ride was very nostalgic and I kept thinking about the time spent in Phi Phi Islands and Phuket. I kept riding and soon the sun was up and traffic on the highway increased, I was getting back in my grooves with every passing kms.
The total distance to Khao Lak was approximately 140 kms and for most of the time, I was riding next to the beach. This was the only time I decided to use maps.me, a mobile app used by cyclists to navigate and it was amazing in a weird way. I was suddenly in the middle of no roads, riding on farm lands, trekking trails, village roads with almost no traffic, next to lakes and waterfalls. It was insane. But since I was on a road bike, the dirt track was not comfortable for me and I had to move back to highways.
I reached Khao Lak around noon and the very first thing I did was going for a Thai massage. It was immensely relaxing and exactly what I need after such a long ride. I probably started snoring immediately and woke up only when had to turn or massage was over. Haha ?
In Khao Lak, I met Frida, a fellow cyclist, from Hungary, who was also cycling in Thailand. After setting up our tents on the beach, we headed for some food, beer and catching up on cycling stories. She was riding all the way from Chiang Mai down to the south and listening to her stories was sheer joy. Her plans were to ride down to Phuket and I was supposed to go up to Ranong but we both wanted to ride together and therefore found a new route to Khao Sak National Park instead ? It was insane how my plans changed everyday.
Camping at the Khao Lak National Park was an experience I will never forget. It was perhaps the best location to camp, right on the beach all to ourselves with no one even in close proximity. The sunset here was gorgeous and so was the lights coming from the boats parked far away after dark. The experience was beautiful till we woke up at 3 AM with loud sound of waves, rain and strong wind.
It was pitch dark outside but we can feel the sea couple of meters away from the camp site. The sea was rough, rained heavily and winds were strong enough to unsettle our tents. We had no other option but to pack our stuff as quickly as possible and move to some place elevated. I didn’t have a good sleep that night and even caught cold the next morning.
But then it was a brand new day next morning, the sea was calm and sun was up too. Everything around looked so beautiful, calm and postcard perfect. I was ready to start my ride to next destination keeping the experience of camping in Khao Lak National Park inside me forever ?
Cycling in Thailand: Khao Lak to Klong Phanom National Park
Rode my bike from Khao Lak to Klong Phanom National Park covering a total distance of 85 Kms. This time the ride of quite challenging with steep climbs one after another and I would give up after every few kms of the climb. Especially during one of the climb, I was so tired and exhausted, that I dropped my bike on the side of the road and took 10 mins power nap on the road itself.
Every time I use to give up during the climb, I reminded myself that every further step will bring me closer to the destination. And after every climb, I will be rewarded with a downhill which use to be sheer bliss.
Riding downhill after a steep climb used to be an experience which can’t be expressed in words. Besides downhill, I was also rewarded with an incredible view of beautiful Thai mountains and forests.The entire route of full of rubber plantation which simply looked splendid.
At the end, I did complete the 85 km ride till Klong Phanom National Park. Felt amazing! Like on top of the world. I did pat my back once again and smiled as I set up my tent once again in the National Park. Only this time it was in middle of the forest with mountains kissing the clouds on all sides.
Looking forward to – Klong Phanom National Park to Surat Thani
I woke up early and it was still raining at Klong Phanom National Park. I was supposed to ride from National Park to Surat Thani covering approximately 110 kms. But my mind has other plans. I had given up by now and was all geared up to take a bus to Chumphon and skip riding.
Then we met a local Thai Guy for coffee at his place and he convinced me that there are no more climbs ahead till Surat Thani and it is mostly downhill. I decided to ride till the next bigger village 20 Kms away, have breakfast there and then decide. The climbs never stopped haha. But this ride was so beautiful. The mountains were all covered with clouds and forest was lush green. There wasn’t much traffic and roads were more to our self. I was so happy riding that I ended up riding all the way to Surat Thani.
I realized that there is a very thin line between going forward and giving up. Giving up is always an easy way but taking a step forward gets you a closer to your destination, it makes you explore more, experience new things, meet new people, shower now happiness. Glad I took the step forward. Felt so happy and had such beautiful experiences in the route.
Only think I missed today was a stop at Chaiwala I would generally take while riding around India. The Chai keeps you refreshed and is perhaps the best way to connect with locals while on road. But then the yummy Thai food would make up for almost everything ?
When the tyre got bursted, a Thai family took us to the Bike Shop in village 7 Kms away without even asking for any help. They just dropped by and asked us to load the bikes in their mini truck. Locals are the soul of every holiday. And I have come to believe that people at large are generous and good hearted. You just need to keep smiling.
Reaching Surat Thani and getting to stay in 300 Bhatt room with big bed and warm shower was the luxury at its best for me. I had been camping for past 4 days and didn’t get to have a shower all this time. So the moment I entered the room, I headed straight to the bathroom, switched on the shower and stayed there for the longest possible time. These small moments might sound nothing to many but for me these crazy moments which spilled a million emotions inside me and shall be cherished forever.
I was overwhelmed with the amount of love showered on me from all sides. They kept surprising me every day with new faces and with a new act of humility, kindness, and love.
Cycling in Thailand: Surat Thani to Krabi
The ride from Surat Thani to Krabi was definitely testing my limits. I started early as had to ride alone covering over 140 kms to Krabi. It was a gloomy day and kept raining for the almost the entire route. I couldn’t even break the journey midway as every village I crossed was flooded. It seemed as if roads were the only safe place but could get flooded any moment considering the amount of rain happening.
I kept riding with few short stops for food and to hydrate myself and reached Krabi around 4 in the evening. My test wasn’t over yet. On reaching Krabi, I found that every hostel around the Ao Nang Beach was sold out. I kept moving with my bike from one hostel to another, getting more and more wet with no positive news on rooms availability. My head was already making plans to find a camping place in corners of the beach but even the thought of it was scary in this bad weather. I finally managed to find a room in Zabawa Hostel later in the evening which was such a relief.
The result of being in rain for past 12 hours left me with no dry clothes to wear and even my passport was washed out ?
It was one of those not so good rides for me as it rained all the time, riding on the highway was scary and I stayed wet for the entire stretch of 11 hours. The rain covers were of no good either.
However, the most satisfying thing for me was the sense of achievement and the fact that I completed the ride against all odds. I finally called off my ride in Krabi. It has been fabulous last 2 weeks of cycling across Thailand.
Traveled over 800 Kms on my bicycle, touching islands, beaches, mountains, national parks and more. Exploring places on the bike is way more fun than any other means. You connect with better people, enjoy better food & see unexplored places. I camped in a national park, next to the beach and in a temple. Each one was an experience in itself. Made some amazing friends & met some really happy souls. My first Bicycle tour. Definitely the best trip so far.
The best kind of Journey is the one where you don’t have any destination in mind when you set off! And this is what exactly happened with me every time I was on my bicycle. I would think of some place a night before but end up going to someplace totally different next day when I start riding. I loved how my own plans kept surprising me every time.