November 29, 2004 GMT
Bridge on the River Kwai

Riding in Bangkok traffic is more or less as I'd surmised - no problem at all. It looks chaotic but as almost all the car/van drivers use mirrors and indicators, and positively expect bikes to filtering both sides of them, it's a doddle.

I went to Kanchanaburi, which is the town on the river Khwae near the famous bridge. Stayed in a stunning hotel called Bamboo House; it's right by the river, and the rooms are bamboo rafts floating on the river or en-suite bamboo huts on stilts on the lawn beside the river, about 200 yds from the bridge. Totally idyllic (there was cold beer as well), and all for 200 baht a night (that's less than 3 quid).

The bridge itself has been turned into a theme park; tacky isn't the word. And I had another scary mobile phone moment as it announced 'River Kwai Bridge' at me. Is nowhere safe?

On Thursday I rode nearly 500 miles up to Chiang Mai. At one of my stops I was engaged in conversation by a lady Scout (I nearly put lady Boy Scout, but given where I am you might have got the wrong idea) who was terribly excited about me riding a bike from England and demanding the name of the website so she could show it to her boys.

It was the weekend where the Thais celebrate the November full moon by floating lotus-shaped lights on the river, setting off fireworks and releasing thousands of home-made miniature hot-air balloons - a stunning sight at night.

Then on to Phitsanulok where I'm staying in the Youth Hostel. They've certainly changed a bit since I were a lad; lounging in a hammock in a teak house roofed with banana leaves, surrounded by lush vegetation and downing at least one cold beer.

A little light bike maintenance at Phitsanulok

Paradise, for 200 baht a night. I could stand a lot of this. On the way here I rode what must qualify as one of the World's Great Biking Roads - 100 miles of highway 11 from Lampang southwards through the mountains. Brilliant benderies, stunning scenery, superb surface; the sort of road that makes you want to turn
round and ride it all over again.

I'm slowly wending my way south-east towards Ubon, near where I'll be meeting the chaps from the BMW Club of Thailand on Saturday before setting off on our tour of Laos.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at November 29, 2004 05:35 PM GMT

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