Goodbye Cambodia, Hello Thailand…..
Many changes in coming to Thailand – obvious is driving on the other side of the road.
It’s a lot cleaner – we were often shocked and disappointed in Cambodia and Vietnam to the amount of litter that was everywhere – some of the most beautiful beaches were full of empty water bottles, plastic bags and goodness know what else. This was much less the case in Thailand – where continuous signs also reminded everyone not to litter – plus there were numerous garbage cans and places to put your litter along the way.
Thailand is a lot more westernized also – numerous western chains (or western-imitations) made for much fewer surprises, and more reliability in expectations. The 7-eleven chain was every where, and we went gladly in, sometimes just to cool off – it always felt like the inside of a fridge in the stores – a shock to the system going into the stores (and coming out again).
The roads were also (mostly) in much better condition – with lots of construction going on.
Crossing the border was not quite as complicated as getting into Cambodia, but timeconsuming nonetheless. But there are lots of people there pressing their help on you (for an expected tip afterwards) even if you don’t want their help – I got into quite a discussion with one gentleman who insisted on helping me (well, he only showed me in which lineup to stand – that I would have figured out for myself given 2 more minutes) and then insisted on a tip that I refused to give him….
Exit Cambodia with all the “Helpful” gentlemen
Changing from Left-hand to right-hand drive happens here
Day 1 in Thailand saw us cycling up the coast on a narrow strip of Thailand. Mostly there was only one road to take – the major highway, which seemed to be a continuous construction site the entire time they were in the process of widening the highway, from a simple 2 lane highway, to a massive 4+ lane highway, with wide green divider, wide shoulders, etc. The result was that very often, that the shoulder was not present, and was often actually a huge drop (we sometimes had a 2+m drop off right next to us), meaning we were cycling in the only traffic lane with a huge dropoff right next to us…..scary. Fortunately, we were here on a Sunday, so traffics wasn’t soooo bad, but still….
Where possible, we took parallel roads, and some of these were a dream to cycle on – they seemed newly paved, empty, and even had cycling paths (though goodness knows why, there was nearly no traffic on these minor roads). But we enjoyed cycling on them and made good time on these roads, cycling through small villages, next to seafront homesteads and run-down old resorts, and past multiple beaches (it seems that every beach in Thailand is signposted on the roads (even the major highways).
Along this stretch of roadway, there was not much in terms of accommodation that we found online in advance (though there seemed lots of old resorts that probably would have put us up – not sure how nice they would have been though), so we ended up about 10km off the main highway, on a beachfront resort at the head of a small peninsula. Actually, a really nice location.
The resort itself had definitely seen better days – they had wonderfully new container-style bungalows (that we were not in), but the rest was old, broken, run down and just past its prime. The bungalows themselves were OK, and the food was somewhat expensive, but it was MORE than enough for us – we had HUGE portions of fried rice with additional curries – more than half the fried rice we left because it was so much….
But the sunset was stunning…