Three months ago, when we first arrived in Bangkok, the thought of cycling on the busy, fast multi-lane roads scared us, and we stayed off the bikes completely. We even pushed them from our hotel to the railway station!
A lot has happened since then. We’ve ridden the empty, mountainous roads of Laos, we’ve rode alongside thousands of scooters in Hanoi, we’ve experienced Vietnam’s notorious Highway 1, we’ve cruised around Phnom Penh on two wheels, and along Cambodia’s anarchic Highway 5.
So now the thought of cycling 8km to our Air BnB place in downtown Bangkok doesn’t frighten us quite so much. The ride is fine, it’s just the many one-way systems that are the problem, throwing us off the scent several times, but we make it to our destination eventually!
The following day, our last in SE Asia, we spend one final day on the bikes before our late evening flight. There are a few hairy moments, not least when we get lost in a bit of a dead end street and a huge but fortunately muzzled dog makes a beeline for my ankles but, by and large, cycling around Bangkok is actually not that bad. There are even a few cycle lanes, and they drive on the left, which takes a little getting used to after three months on the right.
We head to Wat Pho, lock up outside and spend a good couple of hours in this slightly surreal temple complex, home to the huge Reclining Buddha. When we enter the building that houses it – and the building was surely built around it – we’re gob-smacked at the sight of the huge golden face smiling down at us from somewhere near the roof beams.
From here, we head on to a local park via an indoor market, which we cycle through (the locals weave their through on motorbikes, so we feel absolutely fine trundling through on two wheels), to have some chill out time before Thip Samai opens at 5pm. Thip Samai does legendary Pad Thai for about £1 a dish, and we want this to be our last meal proper in SE Asia. Even at 5pm, there’s already a queue – that’s how popular it is.
We wolf down three plates of food (yes, it’s so good one each isn’t enough!) before our final, speedy ride back to our Silom apartment, where the only thing left to do is the sad task of packing down and wrapping up the bikes ahead of the flight back to the UK, via a 72 hour stopover in Beijing.
It’s been an absolute treat and a privilege to be able to cycle around Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for the last three months, and is an experience we’ll look back on fondly and never forget.