We arrived in Thailand, a place where many friends have been on vacation. In fact Maria and Aitor had already visited it in past trips. For Laura and for me it will be another new country to discover… how good!!
It didn´t take any time to approach the west coast, we wanted to relax a little and enjoy the beaches. Our idea was to go to some island Paradise, but we realized that in the rainy season many of them are closed. As always, there are other possibilities… we enjoyed the scenery, the sunsets and the tranquility of the coastal villages.
Continuing with the same feelings we had in Malaysia, we found very happy people, eager to greet and help us and give us a smile. We were surprised that even being a tourist country, most Thais don´t see you as a walking dollar, well, rolling in our case. It is nice asking for the price of anything and hearing that they´re charging you the same, or nearly the same price as the local people.
In Thailand we continue feeling that the southern provinces bordering Malaysia are Muslim. The situation is creating tension between the Buddhist Government and Muslim society… once more.
We begin to see rare or different animals, in many cases.
Thailand is so green and vivid. Nature brings all of its color at the time of the monsoon and that gives us the opportunity to cycle through incredible sites.
Trees are full of maturing fruit which we´ll eat soon. Coconuts, papayas, bananas, cajus (the fruit of the cashew nut) and pomelo, which connect us more to this tropical climate, so unknown to us.
Continuing with the culinary theme, we were eager to start enjoying the famous Thai cuisine with its variety of flavors and colors. We always stopped at noon to eat at one of the many food stalls you can find, especially in local markets, and the opportunity to feel the mouth, tongue and lips burning has been extensive. Me, after some attempts, I decided it was better to find something not spicy at all. Here,when you ask if is hot or not, and they say “a little”, you can be sure that it will cause fire in your mouth. If Maria, Laura and Aitor started making faces and beginning to sweat as if the world was ending, I can assure you that what they were eating was very, very, very hot.
We also were able to enjoy the vegetarian food offered during the vegetarian festival that lasts for ten days and when many Thais don´t eat meat, don’t have sex, don’t drink alcohol and dress in white. This holiday, famous among Chinese Buddhists, is celebrated in the South of the country and is in honor of Buddha.
We cannot forget the fish we ate with Susana and Ager, we are still savoring it. The experience and knowledge of a sailor have no price.
Aaaahh!! And once again… homemade sushi… ummmm!!!
It is impossible to come to Thailand and not experience the local markets. From the first day we enjoyed the people who sell directly the food which they produce. Markets become the centre of economic and social activity, although it is impossible to know what time they open or close. Some open during the night, others early in the morning, and by eleven in the morning were already closed… but hey, as almost all towns have their own, we have enjoyed it.
In Southern and Central Thailand people live off the land and the sea. Earth, being very moist and in many places swampy, doesn´t give much space for planting vegetables, and they have planted the Hevea, a tree that weeps juice which is transformed into latex. As in Malaysia, there are many plantations for palm oil production, and thousands of hectares for rice production. We saw areas where pineapple, coconut are exclusively planted and near Bangkok, areas of salt production. In the surroundings of the capital there is a lot of industry, and a lot of people work on the management of waste produced by the big city. We cannot forget that tourism is one of the main industries of the Thai economy.
But the basis of the economy in most of the places we´ve been cycling is fishing. Hundreds of people are exclusively dedicated to it with big boats, small boats, using either fishing poles or nets. Here most of the fish are dried in the sun. They are tastier and it is the best way of preserving it in this hot and humid climate.
Thailand is a paradise for sleeping without spending a cent. The country is full of Wats, Buddhist temples where the monks, mostly, and nuns live. The doors are always open to let you have a roof under which to place the tent and take a shower. We so appreciated this after all day sweating from high temperatures, humidity and pedaling. Monks don´t speak too much with you, just what is necessary to make your stay comfortable for enjoying your time and space. We have been able to enjoy incredible sunrises near the sea and we slept in a children´s classroom, dreaming, maybe one day, we will invite other cyclists to sleep in our classroom.
In Thailand, the official religion is Theravada Buddhism, and 95% of the population is Buddhist. Its motto is “Sanuk, Sabai and Saduak” which means “Be happy, stay calm, be content with what life gives you.” Not bad, eeh? In every village you find temples and images relating to Buddhism or its connections with Chinese and Indian culture. In the morning it is easy to see the monks going from house to house asking for food.
The unofficial “national sport” here is creative travel. Thais are specialists in carrying several adults, children, and/or dogs on the front or rear part of the motorbike, traveling with a zillion thousand in the back of the pickup, placing goods in an incredible way in the back of trucks or vans, selling all sorts of things that hang all over motorbikes, traveling by taxi as in “family” (how can you explain to these children the subject of road safety?) and placing the image of the King everywhere. But, if there is something they are very very good at, it is in taking a nap. I don’t know if we´ll find another country with so many people sleeping at any time of the day. And sorry for the Andalusians, but I think Thais invented the “siesta”.
We enjoyed the coast with its tranquility because we were there in low season. Bathing at incredible beaches, talking about our dreams, and leisurely reading on the lonely beaches was a relaxing time for us. Maria and Aitor have begun to make little wire bicycles… maybe one day you will find us selling them on a corner.
After three months travelling together with Laura and Aitor, we took different paths to Cambodia, because the next plans and rhythms are different.
It has been three intense months during which we´ve lived through lots of things and we´ve learned a lot. After so much time traveling as a couple, new situations emerged when traveling in a group. Sharing, deciding, compromising, imposing, laughing, crying, living and feeling become group situations where a big mirror is telling you who you are and the importance of knowing how to work in a group.
Eskerrikasko, gracias, thanks a lot to Aitor and Laura for sharing these moments and making us grow a little bit more.
I´m writing at the moment from Cambodia. We keep in touch with touch.