Cycling Thailand: Off the Beaten Path


After entering Thailand, it was noon, the weather was hot and dry, and my phone lost the signal of the Cambodian base station. I could only rely on the offline map to find the way. We rode slowly along the road, looking for a place to eat. A few minutes later, we found a place to have lunch, and then bought two local SIM cards nearby.

Before going to Bangkok, we planned to make a detour to Pattaya first, and it was expected to arrive in about three days. The roads in Thailand are much better than those in Cambodia, and there are often pavilions along the road for travelers to rest. The pavilions are mostly wooden structures, not very spacious, with four rows of benches inside. Along the way in Thailand, the most impressive thing besides the ubiquitous 7-11 was the pavilion. The pavilion has various functions, besides resting, it can also be used for napping, camping, cooking, etc.

There are many factories carving stone statues beside the road, and the workers often pile up the waste products on the roadside. Along the way, I saw Bodhisattvas, Buddhas and Jesus, as well as Minions, Pikachu and American comic superheroes.

At one noon, after Jiapan and I had finished eating and resting, we saw a vendor riding a tricycle selling along the way. The staff heard the shouting and went out one after another. We were curious and followed them. The vendor mainly sold a kind of coconut ice cream, which was handmade. I saw him first open a hole in the coconut, pour out the coconut juice for the customers to drink, and then scrape off the coconut meat inside the shell layer by layer and leave it at the bottom of the shell. Finally, he mixed the ice cream ingredients and made them into ice cream balls. After making more than a dozen ice cream balls, the coconut ice cream was finished.

After the staff bought them, we also ordered two. The vendor repeated the above steps skillfully. In a short while, I got the finished product, fed it into my mouth with a plastic spoon, one by one, and felt very comfortable in the hot afternoon.

The day we arrived in Pattaya was already dusk. Somehow we got on a small road and could only ride a short distance and look at the map to find the right direction. We rode through villages, bridges, fields, and experienced the surrounding of people’s eyes and the greetings of children. Pattaya city finally appeared in front of us.

From then on, we left the small road and got on a big road. We were accompanied by bicycles and motorcycles that gathered from various small roads. We passed by the shops that were close to each other, passed by the men and women who were talking and laughing loudly, passed by the fruit vendors, and arrived at a railway red light intersection. In an instant, the sound of the surging crowd quieted down, and they looked at the place where the whistle came from, and then watched it rush to another direction.

The sky was clear at that time, cloudless, and the fiery red sunset was behind us, but the shadow cast by it was always walking in front of us.

We had booked our accommodation in advance and arrived at the hotel smoothly following the map. The hotel was in a quiet alley, not very easy to find, but very quiet, and the environment was very good. We locked our bicycles together and parked them on the first floor, took off our backpacks and brought them to the room. After settling down, the first goal was to fill our empty stomachs. After a stroll, there were a lot of food nearby. We chose a big stall, ordered some dishes, and I went to the next-door Family Mart and bought a few bottles of beer. With the unfamiliar language, things and country, we had an unforgettable memory node.


Pattaya is famous for its seafood, ladyboy shows and resorts, but I was not interested in these things. On the first day, we went to the floating market, which was not very big, but there were a lot of tourists, and the shops were lined up. There were food and drinks everywhere, and some small items with not very good craftsmanship. While wandering around, I bought a skewer of crocodile barbecue. After eating it, I couldn’t tell the taste clearly. Later, I realized that there were no other details to remember except for the fact that I ate crocodile meat.

After leaving the floating market, I followed Jiapan to a beach, which he said was also a recommended attraction on the guide. It was noon, and the sun was shining. The two places were not very far apart, so we decided to walk there. Walking on the road, I underestimated the intensity of the sun. When we arrived at our destination, we were both sweating profusely and quickly found a place with a large parasol to sit down. The parasol was provided by the nearby vendors, who charged by the hour. They also sold some drinks and snacks. A few minutes later, everything was ready. We sat under the parasol, drinking fresh coconut juice and eating snacks, feeling very comfortable. Jiapan also went into the sea for a swim.

The next day, Jiapan planned to go to see a ladyboy show, and I prepared to go skydiving. The skydiving trip was booked online, and the club’s car would pick up the tourists one by one in the city, and then send them back after the skydiving.

The club was about 20 or 30 kilometers away from the city. The buddies who went with us in the same car were all Asian faces. When we talked, they were all Chinese, and they all bought tickets on Taobao. After we got there, the club invited a Taiwanese coach who could speak Chinese to receive us. After signing the agreement, we got a pager and waited in the lounge.

Most of the people in the lounge were also Chinese, and basically they were all skydiving for the first time. A guy came back after jumping, his face pale, and he ignored everyone’s greetings. He lay down on the sofa in the lounge without saying a word.

Skydiving is usually done in groups of two, plus two coaches. If you buy a third-party photography service, you add two more people.

“Beep beep beep beep…” The pager on my hand kept flashing and ringing, thinking that it was finally my turn. I and another buddy went to the training room first, where the coaches would help us put on the equipment, and then explain some key points one by one. The main thing was to pay attention to the posture at the moment of jumping off the plane and landing.

After everything was ready, we took a small truck and went to the runway. After we got to the runway, a coach observed the clouds and measured the wind, and told us that we couldn’t jump now, and we had to go back the same way.

So we went back to the club, and waited for half an hour, but there was still no notice of skydiving. I asked the coach to take off the equipment first. I waited for nearly two hours, and finally got the notice that I could jump. So we repeated the previous steps and came to the runway again.

This time it went smoothly. We climbed onto the plane in the roar of the huge engine. I took a look and saw that there were no seats on the plane. Where should I sit? The coach pointed to the floor and gestured to sit on the ground. The plane was very small, and it could basically only accommodate a few of us. The coaches all wore headphones and chatted with each other in the radio. I looked at my buddy and smiled.

The skydiving height was about 4,000 meters. Maybe because of the small plane, it couldn’t climb to the predetermined height at once, so it had to climb for a while, fly for a while, and then climb again. Sometimes it would suddenly drop sharply during the flight, and then my heart would jump a few times.

The coach looked at me and made a gesture, indicating not to be nervous. Then he opened the hatch with one hand, and a gust of wind poured in. The coach grabbed my hand and waved it outside the cabin. I thought this was the way to relieve the tension.

When we reached the predetermined height, the plane was flying and circling. The coaches checked the skydiving equipment again, and after confirming that there was no problem, they prepared to jump. The coach asked me to move to the outside of the cabin step by step, and he followed closely. The coach sat on the floor, but my butt could only touch a little bit of solid space, and my feet could only be nailed to a small pedal. The wind came on, and my heart beat wildly. I involuntarily shrank in, and didn’t dare to look down.

The coach’s hand was in front of my eyes, counting down with his fingers, three, two, one, jump. The two of us jumped out, and our bodies fell rapidly. Looking at the bigger and bigger ground and buildings, I felt like I was going to hit them. Suddenly, a pulling force came from between my legs, which hurt a lot. It was the coach who opened the parachute, and the parachute took us back to the high altitude.

The speed of descent slowed down a lot at this time. The coach took me to compare various postures, and also pointed out the position of another buddy. A few minutes later, we landed smoothly. The coach unlocked the buckle and turned around to put away the parachute.

After returning to the club, I waited for half an hour and got the skydiving disc. Then I waited for the people behind to finish jumping, and we all went back to Pattaya together.

When I got to the hotel, Jiapan’s ladyboy trip was also over. We told each other our experiences, packed up our luggage, and prepared to leave for Bangkok early the next morning.


The day I rode to Bangkok, my mental and physical state fluctuated, and so did my speed. The weather was hot and unbearable, and I wanted to stop and buy cold drinks whenever I saw a 7-11 at a gas station or a small shop on the road. That night, I recalled a little bit, and I drank more than a dozen bottles of drinks along the way.

When I reached the outskirts of Bangkok, the night had quietly risen, and there was no starlight in the city, only various artificial light sources shining in front of me. At this time, I felt that my physical state had reached a critical point, tired, very tired, didn’t want to ride, didn’t want to move, I could only follow Jiapan’s footsteps, he went forward, I went forward, he turned left, I turned left, he turned right, I turned right, I didn’t want to bother to look at the map.

At a certain intersection, I told Jiapan that I needed to rest for a while, so we parked the bike on the side of the sidewalk, Jiapan opened his phone to find a place to stay for the night, and I dragged my exhausted body, looking for a relatively clean ground and sat down without caring.

I took off the hanging kettle from the bike, drank water in big mouthfuls, leaned my body against the wall, sweat ran from the top of my head, across my forehead, over my eyes, through my face, and gathered on my chin, and then dripped to the ground.

Looking out, the lights of the passing vehicles flickered, the signs of the shops were colorful, the horns of the motorcycles beeped, and the hurried pedestrians glanced at me, and then moved to another direction.

After resting for more than ten minutes, Jiapan had also found a place to stay, and I followed him around, walking and stopping, passing through a residential building, and another residential building, turning to a small road, and entering an alley, and finally arrived at the place.

Parking, unlocking the backpack, and then carrying them hard to the third floor, as soon as I entered the room, I threw them on the ground, and didn’t care. I sat in the chair and rested for half an hour, took a shower, and regained some strength, and then I could go out with Jiapan to find food. There were not many food shops nearby, and I happened to meet a 7-11, which solved our dinner.

After that, I went back to the place and slept until dawn.

The place was still a distance away from the downtown area of Bangkok, and the transportation was not very convenient. We discussed and decided to change to another place, and find a place closer to the downtown area and more convenient for transportation.

After checking out the next day, we rode more than 20 kilometers in the scorching sun and arrived at the new place. That day, I was still exhausted, so I stayed in the hotel and rested, while Jiapan went out for a stroll.

In the evening, after a whole day of rest, I slowly came alive. After dinner, I met with Jiapan, and he accompanied me to find an Internet cafe, and copied the skydiving video from Pattaya to my phone, leaving an extra backup.

The next day we acted separately, Jiapan went to the downtown area, and I chose to start from the surrounding area. I went to the Erawan Shrine first, in the middle of the downtown area, surrounded by shopping malls and crowds, believers and tourists still worshiped the Buddha and offered incense, looking at the golden Buddha statue, I suddenly remembered a sentence: It is not the Buddha who loves gold and luxury, but the people who love gold and luxury; it is not the Buddha who loves the hall, but the people who love the hall; it is not the Buddha who loves chanting, but the people who love chanting…

After leaving the Erawan Shrine, I walked to Chulalongkorn University, strolled around the playground, met a guy who was testing a homemade four-winged flying device, saw a 360-degree freely playing water faucet, and then went to the centennial exhibition hall of the founding of the school and took a look.

When I entered the exhibition hall, there was no one inside, no visitors, no staff, only dim lights and faint music. The exhibition was narrated according to the timeline, from the founding of the school to today’s achievements, and from the royal origin to the foreign cooperation. I saw some celebrities, some royal children, and also saw the replica of Thailand’s first computer and some precious exhibits.

After leaving the exhibition hall, I went to the library, followed the instructions and got a visitor pass, and entered with a QR code. I went to the top floor first, where there were Confucius Institute and Royal Library, and then from top to bottom, I wandered around each floor, and finally left Chulalongkorn and went to Bangkok Chinatown.

Chinatown still retains the appearance of a traditional Chinese community, with many Chinese characters, temples, and arcades. Tourists from various countries are endless, on the adjacent streets, shops are lined up, voices are boiling, and traffic is rolling. There are countless gold shops, pharmacies, watch shops, and Chinese restaurants. The huge traditional Chinese characters signs compete for attention, marked with Chinese and Thai, and they arbitrarily snatch the tourists’ eyes in the small area.


After Bangkok, Jiapan and I parted ways. He went north to Laos, and I went south to Malaysia. That morning, we packed our luggage at the hotel door, and after loading the bikes, we took a photo together, and then went on our own ways.

Riding a bike in a big city always gives me this feeling, that I have been riding for a long time and still in the city, feeling like I never got out. Riding a bike in Bangkok also gave me this feeling, I could only ride hard, pedal non-stop, and after two or three hours, the surrounding high-rise buildings gradually disappeared, cars were gradually replaced by trucks, and motorcycles became the main characters.

This season in southern Thailand is always prone to heavy rain, often one moment it is clear sky, and the next moment it is thundering and pouring. In the more than a week of cycling in Thailand, I basically encountered several rains every day. These rains came and went quickly, and when the storm came, I often didn’t have time to put on a raincoat, let alone stop and put a waterproof cover on the bike. The rain chased from behind, and I rode desperately in front, and when I saw a small shop, I hid in the small shop, and when I saw someone’s house, I hid under the eaves, and when I saw a pavilion, I was the happiest, I rushed in, parked and rested, and by the way drank some drinks, ate some fruits, and brushed my circle of friends.

While resting in the pavilion, I saw a nice attraction in the guide: Mae Klong Railway Market. I liked the picture, so I decided to go there.

After arriving at Mae Klong, I stayed in a hotel, and most of the bosses knew why the guests came, so they kindly posted the train schedule in a conspicuous place, so that people could plan the time to watch.

The next morning, I arrived at the railway near the time according to the train schedule, and took a position in advance. This town is not far from Bangkok, and a day trip is enough, so it was packaged into a classic one-day or two-day tour, attracting a large number of tourists. If you don’t occupy a good position in time, you will only see a bunch of back heads later.

The railway market is a traditional market in this town, where vendors set up stalls on both sides of the track, selling all kinds of chicken, duck, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits. The track is part of the market, and when the train is about to arrive, the sound of the steam whistle will sound from afar, and the vendors who hear the sound will often get up unhurriedly, first put away the awning hanging outside, and then move a basket of vegetables and fruits, a bucket of fish, and a pile of dried goods back to the shop. When these things were done, the train had arrived, but there were always a few local old men and women who didn’t care and walked back and forth on the track, and by the way harvested a bunch of surprised eyes from tourists from various countries. After the train passed, the vendors orderly repeated the previous actions, spread out the piles of dried goods, buckets of fish, baskets of vegetables and fruits, and hung up the awning, waiting for the regular customers to come and the next train to come.

After Mae Klong, it was solo travel again. Thailand went south, and the population density decreased accordingly, and the traffic was not heavy. Riding along Highway 4, I always traveled through the mountains, and the convenience of food and accommodation was much worse than before. Several times I couldn’t find a place to eat at mealtime, so I had to continue along the road until I found a place to eat.

Accommodation was the same, I had to find a suitable hotel on the map first, and then estimate the approximate distance and arrival time to be safe. Judging from the cycling experience at that time, if I missed a hotel, there might be no place to stay for 20 or 30 kilometers before and after. This is also why I have been carrying a tent with a broken connecting rod, and when there is nowhere to stay, it is not difficult to deal with it for one night with a tent.

After Mae Klong, the next place worth going was Hua Hin, which has always been a favorite resort for the Thai royal family due to its climate and location.

Hua Hin is not big, but there are many tourists. In the night market, various seafood stalls are lined up, and they often lay a row of ice-covered boards along the street, and spread their most proud ingredients on them, usually with huge lobsters and scallops, as well as squid, crabs and oysters. When night falls, a few warm lights hit the seafood stalls, and they can catch the tourists’ eyes from afar, and quietly arouse their appetite.

In addition to the night market, there is another place to go, which is Hua Hin Railway Station. Hua Hin Railway Station is one of the earliest railway stations in Thailand, with red and yellow colors, creating a unique architecture. The railway station is still in operation, but tourists do not need to buy tickets to enter and visit. I parked my bike outside and took my camera and walked in.

There are many photos of the king and queen visiting in the station exhibition room, and local people and tourists sit on the oval benches on the platform, and a small golden bell hangs under the corridor. When the train starts, the staff on the platform will shake the bell, ding ding ding, ding ding ding, urging the passengers to board the train; then blow the whistle at the mouth, woo woo woo, woo woo woo, indicating that the passengers have boarded the train; finally, they wave the flag in their hands vigorously, sending signals to the driver, and then the train slowly, slowly leaves the platform.

The later cycling was monotonous and repetitive, riding south, riding south, and finally reaching the Thai-Malay border.

The original text of this article is in Chinese, translated by ChatGPT-4).