As Easy As Riding A Bike

By Jane Mountain | March 20, 2014

11,444 km so far.

For the next 10 days or so, we’ll be riding through the countryside of Central Thailand, stopping off each night in small towns which, I suspect, will become a blur in our memories. It’s a funny way to travel, and I expect we will see very little besides endless stretches of rural highway, some scrubby trees alongside the road, and a same same but different guesthouse each night.

Today’s ride takes us from Ban Hong to Li, both small towns set along Highway 106, with nothing much to distinguish them from other small towns in this part of Thailand.


We are slowly getting used to what Thailand has to offer us. The atmosphere of the country is very different than that of Laos, Vietnam, or China. After spending so much time in these three countries, Thailand seems a little… easy. It feels far more Western and far more middle class.

The roads we took today reminded me a little of country highways of my youth, running through the farmland of the Canadian Prairies.

Could be a highway in Canada, near Li, Thailand.

Could be a highway in Canada, near Li, Thailand.

It’s hard to put our finger on exactly why Thailand feels different. There are still plenty of ramshackle wooden houses and people working hard in the fields. There are lots of chickens and feral dogs running around, and food is sold from markets and small street side stalls.

garlic drying thailand

Garlic drying by the road.

Then again, there are Tesco stores in every town, not to mention 7-Elevens. There are lots of stucco’d suburban houses and many beautiful traditional houses constructed entirely of polished teak. The roadsides are far quieter than we’ve grown used to. All the children seem to actually be in school, and we get far fewer shouts of “hello” following us down the road.

This makes quite a nice change, letting us just zone out a little as we ride. We don’t have to be “on” every minute of the day.

Another nice change is the proliferation of fancy coffee bars. One always seems to spring up just when you most need an iced latte.

Tempest in a tea cup, at a roadside coffee bar.

Tempest in a tea cup, at a roadside coffee bar.

Illiterate Again

The only tough thing about Thailand is the written language.

thai language sign

Something is to the left.

We decided we needed to learn the Thai word for hotel, since many guesthouses around here don’t have signs in English.

In China, it was easy. Almost every hotel and guesthouse we stayed at had these two characters on their sign:


We just looked for a roof over a little bed, next to a roof over some bunk beds, with a wall in between. Easy.

But we haven’t seen anything consistent on the signs for the places we’ve been staying in Thailand.

Should we be looking for “hotel”?


Or is it “guesthouse”?


We’ve been staying at a lot of places they call “resort”. Should we learn this?


Then there are B&Bs, homestays, inns…

The sign for the Palm Resort, where we're staying tonight.

The sign for the Palm Resort, where we’re staying tonight.

How will we learn all these squiggles?

This is one we understand. Excellent advice, too.

This is one we understand. Excellent advice, too.

So it seems, even in modern Thailand, there is still room for a couple of cycle tourists to have a little adventure. I’m sure it won’t be long before we walk into someone’s living room, thinking their house is a hotel.

Bonus sunset shot in Li.

Bonus sunset shot in Li.

Soundtrack: Neil Finn, One Nil | Liam Finn, FOMO | Radiolab podcast | Jane’s iTunes on shuffle  

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

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