It’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.