Unfortunately, my trip to Vietnam was not as planned. The first night I wanted to camp at a school. Just as I had set up my tent and lay exhausted in the sleeping bag, the police appeared.
The cops claimed that tourists in Vietnam needed to stay in a hotel. I told them that this was absolute nonsense and I had no money to stay in a hotel. After a long discussion, the cops paid me the night in a shabby dump.
Even at this time I had no desire for this communist system. I still spent a few days at the Mekong Delta in Can Tho and wanted to take a look at Saigon after that. However, I did not like the city at all and after a short time I was already back in Cambodia.
In Phnom Penh I had to wait another week until I got my Thai visa and then drove directly back to Thailand. The trip through Cambodia was much more pleasant than in Vietnam.
Immediately after crossing the border in Poipet I stormed the first 7eleven I saw. Finally I was able to eat chocolate again after several months of withdrawal! Every true Swiss knows how you feel at such a moment.
In Bangkok, I was able to stay in the Spinning Bears Hostel again (www.spinningbearhostel.com). There I spent almost 2 weeks so I could recover really well.
After this recovery phase, it was time for me to continue cycling southwards. Since I’m not such a beach boy and trying to avoid tourist spots whenever possible, my decision soon fell on the Asian Highway 2 (AH2).
Asian Highway 2 (AH2) is a road in the Asian Highway Network running 13,177 kilometers (8,188 mi) from Denpasar, Indonesia to Merak and Singapore to Khosravi, Iran. Here in Thailand I found the highway ideal, as it has a wide side strip.
I usually camped in one of the many rubber tree plantations that stand on the side of the road. Thailand is head to head with Indonesia the world’s largest producer and exporter of natural rubber, accounting for about one-third of global supply.
The country’s rubber production has more than doubled from 1.6 million to 3.8 million metric tons in the past two decades, about 90% of which is for export. Natural rubber is mainly used for tires, surgeons’ gloves, condoms, balloons and other relatively high-value products.
Because of the heat, I changed my daily routine a bit. I got up at 5 in the morning and an hour later, at sunrise, I started cycling. Thus, I was able to make good progress in the cool morning hours.
You can never really get used to the heat here in Southeast Asia. More about the fact that one constantly sticks the clothes on the skin. So most of the time I spent the warmest time of the day in the shadow of a bus stop.
There I usually cooked a hot meal, wrote a diary entry and slept a little. I did not cycle until around 2:00 pm. One hour before sunset, about 17:30 in the afternoon, I then searched for a campground. That’s how I got on pretty well.
One morning there was suddenly a blow to the rear wheel. At first I could not find out anything special, but noticed that the wheel felt strange when driving. At a closer inspection, I then found the damage: a spoke was broken.
Luckily I had the right tool with me and the damage was soon fixed. What I really like about Thailand is the good infrastructure. at a distance of a few kilometers, you will always find petrol stations with 7 eleven shops.
In these shops, I could always get the ingredients for a really good cereal. A comfort that I haven’t had for an extremely long time. Finally enjoy a really good breakfast again!
The landscape along the highway I did not find very varied. Most of the time you can see palm oil, coconut or rubber tree plantations and in between there are always a few villages.
I felt extremely safe on the broad side stripes and had time to let my thoughts wander. This is really relaxing if you do not always have to concentrate on the traffic.
In addition, the locals here in Thailand are very reserved and respectful, which I appreciate enormously. So you are not permanently addressed by any people and have to answer the same questions again and again.
I usually set up my tent in one of the many plantations along the way. These provide good privacy and a pleasant shade. Something that you can use well in this heat.
In the south of the country, I made the decision to cycle through the provinces of Pattani and Narathiwat. The authorities actually advise against traveling through the emergency states in the south of Thailand on the border with Malaysia (Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani and parts of Songkhla).
I had asked some local cyclists in Bangkok and they had assured me that I could travel through it as long as I stay on the main road. Of course, I followed this advice. Striking were the many checkpoints on the track with armed police and soldiers.
My motto was: as long as they let you through at the checkpoints just keep going. I have already been able to test this method enough in Africa and have made pretty good progress with it.
Only at the very end was I stopped by a police car. The five-member troop, armed with machine guns, escorted me to the next gas station. Once there, they gave me drinks, took a few photos and finally thought that I should not drive alone through the area next time.
Thank you very much for the great service! You do not meet such friendly policemen every day. In Tak Bai I reached the border crossing Taba. I took the ferry to the other side of the Golok River and was officially in Malaysia.
Cycling in Thailand was very pleasant. Especially because of the good infrastructure. However, in recent years, traffic has increased sharply. The people here are practically only using motorized vehicles.
So many overweight people like here in Thailand I have not seen in a country for a long time. A little more exercise would be good for many. In addition, I had so many dog attacks here as in no other country before.
I had to arm myself with sticks and stones to keep those stupid dogs off. Thailand definitely has a huge dog problem and that’s why cycling was not always that easy for me. What I will remember is the friendliness of the people here in Thailand. ขอบคุณประเทศไทย!