Angkors Away

By Stephen Ewashkiw | March 19, 2014

11,380 km so far.

Most of the people we have met in Thailand who are travelling have already been to Angkor Wat, or are headed there soon. Since none of them are riding their bikes, they were either at Angkor Wat just a few days ago, or will be there in a couple of days time.

Not so for us.

The Long Haul

We are taking the long, slow, off-the-beaten-track, where tourists don’t bother to tread route, riding our Surly Long Haul Truckers slowly through the countryside of central Thailand. After leaving Chiang Mai today it will take us roughly three weeks of riding to arrive at Angkor Wat. We could do it faster, but our plan to average 60-70 km each morning, taking the hottest part of the day off, seems like the best approach.

I quite like our slow pace, and am happy we aren’t rushing between must-see tourist sites.

coffee beans thailand

Beans at Pangkhon Coffee.

Today we rode along a winding river for 30 km, with hardly any other traffic on the route. It seemed to be a popular cycling route for road cyclists from Chiang Mai, however, as we passed about as many of them as there were cars.

Sound Check

One thing we couldn’t avoid noticing today, which you would never come across if you’re packed into a bus flying along at 100km/h, was the noise. While there is hardly any traffic to disturb the silence, the forests are abuzz with the noise of insects.

Twice I thought I heard the sounds of a factory whining away. I imagined some unseen ancient industrial machine loudly being put through its paces. When we got close enough, I realised that it was a particularly clamorous mob of insects that sounded like an old, worn-out fan belt.

There seem to be three distinct kinds of critters singing their song today, but each had its own type of trees to live in. The sounds never intermingle.

I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here

We are only 66 km from Chiang Mai, yet tonight as we wandered around the night market in Ban Hong looking for dinner, it was, once again, as if we were celebrities. People stopped and stared at us, young girls squealed and made their friends turn around to see us, and ladies running stalls called out:

Hello! Where are you from?

This is one of the great benefits of being a cycle tourist. Although Chiang Mai is an hour away by car, and filled with tourists, here we are, the only two farang (foreigners) in the entire Ban Hong market. The place is jam-packed with people, but they are all locals.

These two were making the only veggie food in the market, Pad Thai with tofu.

These two were making the only veggie food in the market, Pad Thai with tofu.

As much as we like our comfort foods, and yoga studios, it is nice to be out in the “real” Thailand again. It is amazing to me that most visitors to the country really miss seeing life in these rural parts of Thailand.  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.

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  1. Comment by Scot

    Scot March 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Benefit of travelling by bike – getting to see where the real people live. That is always the best part of travel for us too, but not always possible on a boat. Often anchorages, marinas, etc., have already been coopted as part of the tourist scene.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen March 23, 2014 at 2:05 am

      We were just talking about how similar life seems to be for the people you are encountering as the people we are, even though we are on opposite sides of the world. Hope Guatemala continues to be interesting and enjoyable.

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