A new start in Bangkok

A boat going past Wat Phra Kaew templeIt’s a whole new world. Just a few hours in a plane have zipped us away from remote Central Asia to lively Bangkok, where we’re feasting on spicy Thai curries, power that stays on, water that’s always running and truly high speed internet for the first time in months. At first we felt strange boarding the plane but, now that we’re here, we’ve no doubt that it was a good choice. After so long fighting red tape we were feeling a little worn down and Southeast Asia seems the perfect antidote.

Our good mood has been helped to no end by a flight that went smoother than we dared hope. Full marks to Air Astana, who only charged a modest fee for our 35kg of extra luggage. On the other side, we were astonished to see all our bags and both bikes in perfect condition as we emerged from immigration. When we lived in London it seemed every trip ended with an interminable delay before our bags appeared. We’d forgotten airports could be so efficient.

A quick ride into the city centre by taxi (no point trying to brave public transport when you’re as loaded down as we are) and we arrived at the home of Michael, a welcoming American we’d met in Tashkent just a few weeks earlier. We’re going to stay in his flat for a week or so, trading cat-sitting duties for a pad in Bangkok while we get our bikes fixed up and buy a few things for the next leg of the journey.

We’ve done very little research on this part of the world but our inclinations are to head north from here, along the Burmese border, through at least two of Thailand’s national parks and past some stunning waterfalls. It should be a good introduction to our first cycle trip in the tropics.

While you’re waiting for us to start pedalling again, why not listen to our latest podcast. We put it together just a few days before leaving Bishkek and it features an interview with David Berghof, the owner of the Stantours travel agency. We’ve used them a few times and always had great service. David has a wealth of information about Central Asia so his thoughts are a good starting point if you’re considering a trip to the region.


  1. Nicisme
    23rd June 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    I’m really looking forward to reading about this part of your trip!
    Hope you have a good week resting,
    Take care,

  2. Becky
    23rd June 2008 at 11:22 pm #

    Glad to hear it you made it to SE Asia OK and your bikes made it safely too 🙂 – after our 3 week shakedown cruise we have developed a whole new level of appreciation for your blog. I’m not sure how you manage to keep it up-to-date while on the road.
    We’ll be watching your blog for suggestions on where to go when we are in Thailand next spring.

  3. friedel
    24th June 2008 at 3:40 am #

    Hi Becky! Updating the site is a challenge sometimes, especially in very developed countries like Canada where internet cafes barely exist (try looking in libraries and tourist information centres) and in remote places like Central Asia where the connections seem to be run by hamsters in wheels. In many countries, though, it’s pretty easy because there are cheap internet cafes everywhere. Good luck as you set off!

  4. Dad
    25th June 2008 at 3:14 am #

    Glad to hear that you have made it to Bangkok. Have just downloaded and listened to your latest podcast (about Central Asia)

    I guess that you loaded on the pictures from Kyrgysztan in two stages. One time I looked there were very few, but the next time there were more.

  5. Brad Davies
    25th June 2008 at 4:07 am #

    Hi guys – am heading to Kyrgyz soon and thanks very much for your tips. I have been in SEA a bit and would highly recommend you ride north in Thailand and then down through Laos. Take the slow boat to Luang Prabang. Here is a link to a recent trip I did in Laos and Vietnam that might be useful…. Lots of luck – Brad


  6. friedel
    25th June 2008 at 5:46 am #

    We still have yet more Kyrgyz pictures to go, not to mention the Thai photos we’ve started taking! Uploading photos has been a very slow, often impossible, task for the past few weeks. It should go faster now that we’re in Bangkok and with a constant internet connection for the next week. What luck that we were able to arrive just as our friend needed a housesitter.

  7. Sam
    26th June 2008 at 4:31 pm #

    Oh! Have fun! I miss Southeast Asia already!

    I just heard your amateur traveler interview on Iran, I wish I had dual citizenship somewhere else so I could go more easily (am USA).

    Definitely spend time in Laos its so charming, even if a bit hilly and hard to cycle – be careful on the roads!

    Malaysia and Indonesia are also lovely, as is Cambodia and Vietnam, which way are you heading? maybe both!? Good luck!

  8. Sjoerd
    6th August 2008 at 8:12 pm #

    thanks for the good podcast, travelling in september to almaty 🙂

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