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taipei, taiwan

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buying a bicycle in bangkok

     While in Myanmar I came up with the crazy idea of buying a bicycle when I got to Thailand, and it stuck with me for a good two weeks. I'd met quite a few bikers there who inspired me that no matter how lazy you are and how little you may know about bicycles (I could hardly adjust my seat a few days ago), cycling journeys are far from impossible. Also, you really won't know until you try. I was scared shitless but beyond excited for the adventure, and as soon as I arrived in Bangkok I began my search for my new mode of transport.
In the nude
     Department stores like Tesco Lotus often have bicycles but I decided that I wanted to invest in a half decent one, as a birthday gift to myself. So I headed to Worachak Street (and kept returning there every day for the following 3 days) and found the perfect bike for 6,600 baht. It wasn't the cheapest, but I comforted myself with the fact that I could've spent more than double the price on some of the other bikes there. I had to equip my new baby with a rack, get elastics, a chain, a water bottle holder, a light (which fell off today...) and an inner tube (which, of course, I have no idea what to do with - same goes for the pump, though I'm sure pumping a tyre will come much more intuitively). All these items can be found on Worachak.
     As you have probably already guessed, I know absolutely nothing about bicycles. So I was, and am, scared shitless, and I even delayed my departure for a day. Biking around Bangkok, even, proved to be incredibly rewarding in itself. Tuktuk drivers would tease me with the standard "you need tuktuk?" and the bike shop lady, disappointed with the spray paint job I did on my bike, reassured me that at least nobody will want to steal such an ugly bike! I think she was more concerned about my skin getting tanned on such a jouney, though. Bangkok on a bike can be scary, but you find some gems in the streets the you otherwise may have missed.



Dressed up & ready to go
     Despite my growing attachment to the city, I set out this morning, albeit a little late. By 11am I'd whizzed out of Bangkok and have unfortunately been highway bound since (and 7/11 bound during the hot noon hours). I was so worried that after meeting the amazingly kind Myanmar people I wouldn't be able to travel any other South East Asian country again, but so far my stay in Thailand is proving the goodheartedness of the people here. The whole day, people have been so caring and helpful that it was sometimes a little overwhelming (in the best way possible). I had people worry about my journey and call their English speaking friends on the phone for me to explain directions, or the two taxi drivers who insisted on carrying my bike up the stairs of the overpass for me... In fact, I am preparing for sleep at a road side gas station as I write, lying on a bamboo mat set out for me, belly full of apples and red bean buns and an incense "device" to ward off mosquitoes. Between Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram, I saw a small gas station and decided to stop before it got too dark for me to pedal, and I didn't know where the next station would be. I asked the people working if I could spend the night, as they are open 24 hours (yes, yes, despite the curfew). The woman was worried that she didn't have any room inside to offer, but I assured her that all I needed was her permission to lie down - anywhere - until the morning when I could ride again. Ever since, they have periodically been bringing me things to make me feel more comfortable - like mosquito repelling lotion, even. I have been saying this about Myanmar for the past month but it is true for Thailand as well: I keep getting astounded by the good in people, I love it, and it inspires me.
     We'll see how my legs feel tomorrow, but I'm gonna take this trip slow as a trial month, so kilometres don't even matter to me. It looks like after a short 20km or so tomorrow morning I'll be able to get off the highway and pedal on the coast, hopefully reaching a nice beach on the way so I can go flaunt my sexy biker tanlines of course.
     I have no expectations for this month. I don't need to be anywhere, and I don't have a time limit, so I'm optimistic about my bicycle journey. Whatever happens, it will all work out in the end. And if it doesn't - so what? I would have regretted it more of I'd never tried.

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