As the title hints it has stayed hot, also back here in Thailand and close to the sea. We are on our way South to Singapore. It is our last month in Asia. I (Julia) have received a visa for the US and therefore we are happy to be able to continue our journey. Mid-July we are going to fly to San Francisco and we will spend a few months cycling through the States before heading South. We are very much looking forward to it but for now we are enjoying our time here in Asia.
The hot weather has long ago smothered our desire for camping and that meant we had to look for alternatives. Since it had already been very easy to stay in temples in Cambodia we now tried our luck again in Thailand. Most monks seemed a bit shy at first but they were always hospitable and offered us a place to sleep. We’ve grown very accustomed to the luxury of showering regularly (albeit under sometimes very simple conditions) and to have a fan for sleeping. Showering has become an indulgence during our first year of bicycle touring. Oftentimes we had to do with a washcloth and some water from our bottles for many days in a row. In Thailand people often gave us things. In some temples they offered us a place to sleep and then later showed up with water bottles, food and snacks – one time an elderly lady even wanted to give us some money and it took a lot of gentle refusal to convince her that we didn’t need it. One time we met a monk in one of those temples with whom we shared English as a common language. He lived in the US for a while and returned to Thailand. He told us that many young men in Thailand become a monk at least once throughout their lives. Contrary to the Christian tradition Buddhism allows for temporary monks as well. Unfortunately our time was too short to linger since we now had made a plan for our remaining time.
An beautiful highlight was our visit to the Kao Yai National Park a bit North of Bangkok. It is mainly well-known for its wildlife (including elephants). In Vietnam and Cambodia we cycled a bit quicker than anticipated and therefore we had some time for this side trip before I had to be in Bangkok for the visa appointment. We grit our teeths and struggled up the long climb into the hills of the national park. Luckily it was a cloudy day but still we were soaking wet when we arrived at the top. It hadn’t rained (that would be later) but the humidity was very high…
…the hope to see a wild elephant in Southeast Asia kept us going though, otherwise we might have given up halfway.
We spent our two days there with a few small hikes. Very quickly we realized that hiking in a jungle can become tricky fast if the trail is not good and clearly visible so after a first attempt in the bushes we resolved to stick to the well-maintained paths. On the first day we followed a little trail by a stream and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the wild nature around us. We’ve read of rumours that there might be still a crocodile around and so we kept our eyes and ears open and alert. When we heard some noise up on a slope we decided to sneak up there. Slowly and gently we approached, not knowing what we would encounter… What we found was a huge elephant! It was wonderful to have the chance to be close to such a majestic animal but probably we were a bit too close and can only advise people to keep a cautious distance when encountering wildlife. The elephant was munching on some leaves and knew from the beginning that we were there but wasn’t much disturbed by it at first. After some time though he had enough and snorted loudly with his trunk. We took the hint and left.
We came back to the campground just in time before a thunderstorm hit. When we had set up camp we hadn’t anticipated so much rainfall and despite a lot of experience we had chosen the wrong place for our tent. The rain didn’t only inconvenience us but also a porcupine didn’t seem to like this wet surprise. It ran through the campground and tried to find shelter under a parked car only to realize that there were still humans around and took off running again.
The next day we ventured out again and hiked on another trail to a look-out. Unfortunately this time the only animals around were leeches who were only waiting to feast on us. It was a bit of a struggle and rather bloody to get rid of them.
After so much nature our arrival to Bangkok came with a bit of a culture shock. A lot of traffic, people and huge shopping malls. It didn’t feel like our world. Still it was convenient to spend some time in such a developed city. We could organize a few things and also repair my bicycle. A big Thank You to Bok Bok Bike who is a bicycle mechanic with lots of experience and who did a wonderful job with my bike. The days were filled with planning and organising the next part of our journey and we are excited to see what awaits us!