Touring – The Journey Is The Destination

We are done the cycling portion of our trip and are enjoying a little beach time before returning to Canada on April 02nd.

In the past, we have commented on how we tour. Now a brief summary on why we tour. The reasons are many, and they change day by day.

It is an amazing way of slowing things down that are being presented to you. From there your senses take over and digest what is in front of you, the sights, the sounds, the smells and the cornucopia of other snip it’s of a culture right before your eyes.

One could look at travel and see an evolution of methods of travel. All are good and serve a different purpose. In the past we have flown to a country, done the all inclusive thing and flown home with a new sense of understanding of that nation.

Next one graduates to flying to a nation and booking your own hotels and fly from center to center.

Next you buy a back pack and take the VIP bus or train between cities and maybe start to stay in guest houses instead of Sheraton hotels. Now things start to get more interesting, and you start to get a better feel for the locals, and you meet travelers with deeper travel stories. While you are on a bus in a foreign nation you go through a small village and you see two cyclists with their bikes fully loaded, on the side of the road spending time with the locals. That is when you get the touring bug.

We actually met a guy, Michael who halted his 12 month around the world backpacking trip, bought a bike and is now finishing it on two wheels.

Now that you have slowed your journey down to under 20 km per hour, you can see and feel where you are. It gets one more into the moment. You see a sight you want to absorb more of, you simply stop and have at er. No agenda, no timetable, let the wind blow you where it may.

What about the crappy beds, with questionable cleanliness, squat toilets, no TP provided, little or no recognizable food to be offered, no hot water, and even no water once, 45 degree temperature, mountains, broken road, no roadsigns, and worst of all no coffee in the morning. None of that matters, it is all worth it.

As a new friend we met, Stephen mentioned, “STAY CURIOUS”. That seems to be a key ingredient in seeking to see the off the beaten path’s of the world.

Oh ya, just behind us at one point was a Lady who was walking from Paris to Singapore. Who knows, if our biking days ever end…..

Signing off for now, as this is the end of this blog. Thank you for taking time to read this journal.

We did a summary video from our trip (below).

Janis and David

Pong to Song

This was a hot and hilly day. We did 95 km to Song. We had lunch there and then took a taxi tuk tuk to Phrae.

The road was great with little traffic but lots and lots of aggressive dogs. We have been chased three times in three days. We didn’t encounter aggressive dogs in Vietnam (they eat most of them), Cambodia (too hot for them to bother running) or Laos (too sickly and scrawny to run).

In Thailand they have pet food stores, so the dogs have energy. Also, 10% of Thai dogs are rabid.

We saw lots of temples along the way.

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We also passed some cotton fields.

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Taking a break along the way.

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We were cycling in a national forest when we came across a deafening sound of insects in the trees. This went on for over 15 km’s.

Bye for now
Janis and David

Massages In South East Asia – Lessons Learned

Well, we have had about 10 massages so far. Some include hot towels, hot stones, hot oil, hot glass jars and even one that had something like A535 rub.

And then there was the massage in central Vietnam. After a long hot day of biking, I booked us each a massage. This was not unusual, but what happened next was. We were at a relatively expensive hotel (the only one we could find). In the basement was a Karaoke /spa massage. We were taken to our perspective rooms. Part way through Janis’s massage, the young lady asked Janis to open here eyes. From there she gently touched Janis’s nose and asked “was yer name”. In a motherly stern voice Janis cut off the advance and the massage was finished.

Meanwhile, in my room, the young lady asked if she could crawl into the bed with me. I refused and that ended my massage early. I waited in the lobby until Janis came out. We paid for the massage but things got ugly when there was no tip for the hookers (our massage ladies).

We were at what was called a karaoke/massage parlor with HAPPY ENDING.

From then on, we always carefully checked out the type of massage parlor we entered. Boy were we ever naive.

In Peterborough when we go to Karaoke with Lynne and her posse, our idea of a HAPPY ENDING to the night is a group sing and dance to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.

Janis and David

Top 10 Foods We Encountered So Far

# 10
Here we have a wonderful internal organ soup.

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# 9
Giant Snail.

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# 8
That old family favorite – Duck Pizza.

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.
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# 7
You can’t go wrong with a little chicken.

# 6
How about some bats. These were at a market we visited.

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# 5
From the same market (Anna, Iain & family, you will recognize this). TREE RAT.

# 4
Pig brains. Doesn’t it make your mouth water.

# 3
Liquid from Buffalo intestines (we think). They marinate the raw buffalo meat in this and serve the whole thing raw. We were at a celebration and were offered this dish. We declined.

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# 2
We don’t want to bug you, but next up …

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# 1
The number one food item… HOt DOG.

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And to wash it all down how about some rice wine with cobra head.

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Or some weisle poo coffee.

Janis and David.

Thoeng to Pong

We cycled about 75 km today. It would be more like 82 but we started 7 km out of town We climbed 460 meters and had 535 meter decent.

Again good road condition and little traffic. Not much to see along this leg. Whenever we see people along the way they are friendly.

Here is a load of workers heading to work.

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We found a guesthouse in Pong and were glad to get off the hot road and have a cool beverage.

Janis and David

Chiang Khong to Thoeng

This was an 84 km trip as we went 7 km past Thoeng. We climbed a total of 444 meters up and went down about the same. Road condition were great and we got the hang of riding on the left side of the road.

While we bypassed the really bad smoke there was still Haze.

It was a bit of a warm day.

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When you ride in 45 degree weather you drink like a camel and the water is often times warm from being in the bike bottles even for 30 minutes. We carried 3 full bottles, with extra in the saddle bags. Whenever we came to a hut selling water we would stock up.

That is why we went 7 km past Thoeng. Janis knew of a B&B with a pool. This was a real treat.
Lanna Thai Villa.

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What a relief, and Sermsri and Steve were great hostess and host. They had a amazing garden.

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Chillin in the pool
Janis and David

Chiang Khong Thailand

We had to give up the three day ride from Luang Namtha to the Thai border as neither of us were feeling well for about a week. We got a van ride to the border. It looked like we missed a good but difficult three days of riding.

The border crossing included a 5 minute boat ride across the Mekong and a 15 minute visa acceptance process.

It only took a few minutes in Thailand to notice many differences. They drive on the left side of the road. The dogs are more aggressive. There appears to be more wealth. We even saw a 7/11 store and all the amenities we hadn’t seen in nearly a month. We even heard song birds. In Laos, they kill and eat everything including birds the size of a sparrow.

We saw people engaging in leisure activities.

We came across a parade.

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There was also a little midway.

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They pushed the merry go round to start it and then a fan kept it going.

If you are ever in Chiang Khong, be sure to got to the hub resteraunt. It is owned by Alan Bates. He is the current world record holder for cycling around the world. He did the 29,000 km’s in 106 days clipping the old mark of 160+ days. He did it in 2010 in his mid 40’s.

Alan joined us after dinner and brought out his record setting bike.

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He also spent time taking us through his 92 bicycle museum. It is quite an impressive collection.

If you wish to read more about this amazing guy and his amazing achievement Click Here

There is something that happens in South East Asia each spring and that is the “Slash and Burn”.

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For several reasons they do a lot of burning of fields and makes for dangerous levels of smoke.

We were planning on doing the north of Thailand; ChaingRai, ChiangMai and Phi, except the pollution is so bad (European danger level is 50 and ChiangRai has readings over 300) we decided to abandon this portion and do it next time in SE Asia.

We picked another route to get a bit of biking in before we put the bikes away for some beach time.

Janis and David

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