Saturday, 21 August 2010
I (Mohan) worked and lived in Australia for 3 months primarily in Byron Bay with my good friend Max who recently moved to Byron from England as an Australian citizen, but also worked in north Queeensland picking pineapples which was a scratchy experience...
We then flew to Asia (Singapore) to meet some of our English friends, and slowly plodded north mostly via bus but also the odd train. I travelled through some of the places I'd cycled through (krabi, johor B, Alor setar etc) which was a bit of an odd feeling, bringing back lots of good memories!
We all made our through Malaysia, Thailand and then Laos where we all went our separate ways. I stayed on, on my own as I fell in love with Laos and got a job in a bar. But got very sick and after a week of being violently ill, I recovered in a tender state and decided to book my flight back to Australia (Max had already flown back).
Now here I am back in Byron Bay with a one year working holiday VISA, the plan at the moment is to move down to Melbourne, and rent a house with two of my friends Max and Tom.
We're now working hard to get the money back up after nearly two months of Asia.
All is well though generally!!! My bike is well serviced and with me here in Byron, operating like a stallion as usual!
Just want to express how much I appreciate everyone's help and generosity for all who contributed in some way to making this cycling trip happen, because there are so many people who helped and who it would not have been possible without, whether it was in the preperation, financial side, mechanical side, and people we met on the way who made our ride a perfect one (showers, accommodation, food, routes advice ETC). We've just had favours thrown at us and it's made me feel the need to give back to the world of lovely people!
Big thank-you to our Sponsors too!
Mayo Wynne Baxter solicitors
Gossypium fairtrade clothing
Terre à Terre one of Brightons leading restaurants
Fireworks paint your own pottery - Lewes
And lastly a big thank you to The British Red Cross www.redcross.org.uk
You can see our Donation page with the amount we've raised for the Red Cross on:
BIG LOVE TO ALL!
Max's car all packed with our stuff ready to leave Byron and head north in search of fruit picking work to fund our already booked one way ticket to Asia holiday
Beautiful afternoon views as we drove north to Queensland from New South Wales
Stuck in the mud! - We got caught in some sloppy grass while looking for a wild campspot
Max trying to get us out by wedging some carpet underneath the muddy wheel
Camping wild on our first stop on the drive after eventually getting out our ditch
Hervy Bay beach!
Thursday, 1 April 2010
Quite a noticable change in culture and general scenery. The most prominant was the large number of muslims in Malaysia.
The (roadside) food is also quite different, in Thailand we were mainly living off sasuages, and bbq'd meat and noodle soup, which is all very cheap. But here it's also roughly the same price but our main meals consist of a plate of rice and decent serving of good quality free range chicken! (together costs about 60p for a meal!).
We've powered ourselves off fruit a lot of the time, as it is a good, cheap, VERY tasty and efficient and broadly available way of getting places quickly. A common lunch time meal we have is a large amount of fruit such as 3kg of mango's or a big pineapple each, which have seemed to be the most effective way to get good energy.
We have also been drinking about a litre of soya milk each per day as it is cheap, and is avaible EVERYWHERE here. And it's a good source of protein.
We had a LOT of headwinds in south Thailand and north Malaysia, and they made it quite tough for us at times, not so much physically, but more psychologically, they demotivate you and make goals seem less achievable and generally make you feel a bit low, but it was always only a short term thing when it happened! You forget all about it when you get rewarded with amazing views and fruits etc.The west-to-east road was probably the toughest leg of Malaysia, while we were doing that bit it was the hottest weather, and this road crosses the tough Malaysian mountain range which is carried south from Thailand (which we'd already gone over in Thailand when we came from east to west). And also another big challenge was the fact that this area is so desolate. There are very few villiages (or even ANY houses) on the west-to-east road and we having to carefully plan our supplies of food and water.
We have been doing a lot of jungle camping and what can i say... its pretty sweaty.
My (Mohan) synthetic antarctica sleeping bag wasnt really designed for the Malaysian jungle, and i found when I lay on it it would be a big sponge of sweat after 10 min.
But we have acclimatised to the conditions as much as our genetics will take us I think, we always sweat in the tent when we sleep but it's lessened and we have learnt to deal with it.
After the long west to east cycle, we followed the "no.3" road all the way down the east coast of Malaysia to Singapore!
This road was very nice, and we had plently of good swims in the sea and we were also occasionally blessed with a tailwind after all the headwinds we were suffering up north.
It went reasonably smoothly, the main low points (which we're laughing over now but were pretty tough at the time), were all tent-related.
We got caught in a storm one night and ended up sleeping in a cafe entrance without the tent - which was a big mistake as we got completely eaten by various tropical and hungry insects - mainly mosquitos! and we were too hot to cover ourselves with our sleeping bags to stop them!
The worst experience we had was when we camped on the beach and there was a HUGE storm which started at midnight. Huge puddles formed in the tent and we decided it was the right move to retreat to the only bit of shelter which was the beach hotel we were camped near, in their terraced reception. We took our valuables which we didnt want to get wet and a few bits like a towel each and ran to the reception in our boxers which was about 200m away. We got SOAKED, and then were welcomed by a HUGE swarm of hungry mosquitos.
They tucked in well and we soon were stuck on what to do, we were determined to not pay the 7 quid each for a room and make it to the morning. We hung around helplessly trying to fight mosquitos for about 2 hours and then the rain finally reduced to light showers, and we decided to retreat to the wet, but insect free tent.
We poured the swimming pool of water mostly out the tent and the rest just at the foot of the tent so only our feet got soaked, and we put lots of layers down to absorb the water and lie down.
I pulled out my battery powered speakers which my sister got me for my birthday (thankyou!) and plugged in the mp3 player to try and make us at least a bit happier.
Unexpectedly we both managed to get a couple of hours sleep!
We got up early the next day and left the scene we never wanted to return to after a night of torture!
We had an amazing breakfast at a roadside restaurant about 20km away and that lifted our spirits and we actually ended up doing an alright distance!
If you've followed our route on the map, you will see that we've zig-zagged around a bit, this IS for a reason. We were lucky enough to meet someone in bangkok who'd cycled all around the Malaysia/Thailand area many-a-time and he advised us on our route, aparently south-east Thailand (the coast) is very built up and not a pleasant cycle, and the west on the other hand is beautiful, and the east coast of Malaysia has big, deserted beautiful beaches with cycle-perfect quiet roads. Which we all found to be true. It was definately a wise move!
I took a photo of his 1985 map which had his drawings of good routes highlighted on my camera before we left, and we enlarged the photo, and printed it off at a net cafe in colour so saved buying a map of Malaysia and it worked well!! Only a few things have changed...
So from now, we are going to stay in Singapore til the 7th in the VERY KIND hospitality of Jo & Chris Harrison - Finns stepdads sister and family.
Finn will be flying back to England where he will work for the summer and then head to Manchester Uni, and I will fly to Australia to look around and decide what path I'm going to take in life from here!
a big, dead snake
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
our view from the jungle hut we stayed in by the lake.
cycling past a beach near chumpon
us with the children at yaowawit school
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
We started off central Bangkok at about 8.am
The plan(ish) was to cycle out of Bangkok using a 3 page google map printout, which had the directions for us to get out of the city and onto the road which leads us to our next desired town, which our map of thailand shows (we don't have a map of Bangkok - only the whole of Thailand).
However, we ran into a problem (as you do). We'd assumed the road out would be small enough for bicycles to be permitted to use. But we were wrong. Traffic police shouted and whistled at us as we tried to get through the toll gates which led us onto the main road.
So then we were back to square one, but without the time of the night before to plan our route...
We decided to TRY to use our map... after about 1 to 2 hours of hopelessness - asking taxi drivers who pointed us in what we thought was the right direction until we followed it and got pointed in another direction by the next taxi driver, we decided to get the train to the next stop out of the city.
BUT this wasn't as easy as it sounded when we said it. We then had to find the train staion of course!
But luckily we were about 1 km away and we were given correct directions.
So we got the train to the next stop in that direction which was Phetchaburi, which was a really nice town! Nice people, nice scenery and no traffic or pollution.
After a couple of days of nice cycling now, we're in a town called prachuap khiri khan. Which is pretty nice.
On the first days cycling we did 60km to a nice town called Cha-am and then followed it by a 100km cycle to this town! We've had moderate headwinds on both days which isn't great as our legs are still re-adjusting to the cycling, after our break, but the roads are brilliantly smooth, and I have a new front wheel which I got in bangkok to replace my tractor wheel I picked up in India to replace my broken one. So now I have a new hub with new smooth bearing which makes it a lot easier to cycle! Finn also got a new front pannier rack, because it broke, and he was using it, bungee-corded to his handlebars. Mine is in a ridiculous state but the bodge should hold, I dont' think it's worth paying for a new one. But the wheel was important, because I couldnt even brake properly because the Indian rim was so wide it JUST fitted in between my brake pads, with about 1mm of leeway to use or not use the brakes.
Anyway on the whole, we're both happy to be back on the road and are enjoying the smooth roads, and jungle views and happy thai people, as we continue south, powered by the cheap roadside food of noodle soup with veg and meat.
Give it a week and hopefully we'll have adjusted to the intense heat here. After a days cycle we feel sandy from all the salt on our skin from the evaporated sweat (and yes dont worry we're eating lots of salty food to replace it).
We've already got a few good pics, but will upload them on the next post.
Hope you're managing to stay warm in England! ;)
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
But all this has made the Andaman islands all the more amazing and spectacular. we were planning to hitch a lift with a cargo ship or a private boat of some kind to thailand. But we discovered that the only boats going from the islands to thailand were small private yachts. We tried in Port Blair to find a suitable boat but most of them were too small and didnt want to cram us in their boat. We were advised to go to Havelock island, because most the private yacht owners anchor their yachts there, because it's meant to be the nicest. we spent a week on Havelock island (paradise island) lying on the beach snorkling the coral reefs and relaxing in hammocks! Was very rewarding after our ordeal on the boat from Chennai. We asked ALL the yacht owners in Havelock, by lying on the beach next to their dinghy boats which they use to get to their yachts which are quite far out from the land, and when we saw anyone getting in a dinghy we asked if they were willing to take us on. Most were not going to Thailand, but those who were didn't have a big enough boat, plus probably couldn't be bothered to take us on because it's not exactly a touch on the romantic mood having us with them (a lot of couples were sailing). We even braved it and swam to a couple of yachts, because we didnt catch a them off their boat at all. So eventually with no luck, we reluctantly decided to book a flight to bangkok. We are now flying tomorrow from Port Blair and are planning on spending a few weeks on one of the small islands off thailand before cycling from Bangkok to Singapore. This route is approximately 2000km long by main road according to google maps, but will probably end up at 3,000 for us as we will be on the smaller roads which are nicer but more zig-zaggy and have more hills. We have heard a lot (positive things) about the roads from Bangkok to Singapore and are both looking forward to it!!! Hopefully our legs will remember how to cycle. We are hoping to arrive in australia around mid April, but that is an estimation.
We will update the blog once again with pictures from thailand, we are all very sad to be leaving india and will be waggling our heads at everyone we meet in thailand.
Monday, 18 January 2010
We met my (Mohan) sister in Goa who is going to stick with us for the boat trips from here to the Andaman islands and finally to Thailand when she will fly off, and we will cycle on.
We got an internal flight from Goa to Chennai which costed us 50 quid. The next boat from Chennai to the islands is on the 22nd and we have been spending our time here getting our Thai visas (which we collect tomorrow) and getting our tickets for the boat which is a lot harder than it sounds here.
The boat takes 3 days to get to Port blair (the major town of the Andaman islands), and we've been told it's going to be pretty grimey. And of course we got the lowest class. Good times.
The plan from there is to enjoy the islands for a little, maybe try and hire a bike for Myvany (my sister) and go on a little mission around the small islands and then we're going to try and hitch a ride on a cargo ship or something similar to take us to Thailand, because there are no public boats which go from the islands to Thailand. We're not just doing this blindly - we've heard of people who have managed to do this in the past, so fingers crossed.
Here are a few pictures, as we havent put any up for quite a while!
Some nice locals we met when we were pitching our tent next to the below pic.
This was the next morning after camping, there was morning mist on the river and a beautiful sunrise!
A road safety sign on the road from Mumbai to Goa which made us laugh.
Very true though.
The 3 lads at the beach in Goa!
Anjuna beach, Goa.
Palolem beach, south Goa.
Palolem sea. View from a little wooden boat we were on which took us to a local mini island.
Anyway, all is well generally! We will update again when we get to the islands and fill you in on the gory details of the boat trip.