I definitely should have been more switched on, for there sure were a lot of clues. First of all, the rock bottom price of 100 Bhat ($3) should have left no illusions to the quality of room. Secondly, the owner simply sat in his jocks watching Muay Thai as he pointed in the direction of any room down the hall. And finally, the non-descript stains on the bed sheet should have been the final nail in the coffin. I paid the price. Bed bugs were crawling all over me at 2am in the morning. I was quite taken back when I switched on the light to see my bed resembling a murder scene. Blood spots were scattered around the bed; indicating a healthy serving of my blood. By the time morning came, I rode out of hell and paid my way into heaven. AUD$10 gets you a king-size bed (minus the bed bugs), air conditioning, cable TV, and a fair slice of privacy. These two nights would be the only accommodation I paid for in the eight days it took me to reach Myanmar.
Thailand would have to be the perfect place for cycle touring beginners. The roads are immaculate, well signed, and always have a generous shoulder. Food is cheap and tasty, and a 7/11 convenient store is always close by if all other eating options have been exhausted. Cycling became pure joy as I could once again listen to music without having a constant fear of getting squished by a car. As the sun started to sink into the horizon, I would timidly enter a Buddhist monastery, with roaming packs of ferrel dogs alarming the monks of my presence. From nowhere, 10 monks would appear in their bright orange robes with a look of confusion hidden beneath their friendly aura. There would be no issues with me pitching my tent for the night, and I would then sit in awe watching everyday life unfold. The novelty of seeing a monk chop down a tree with a chainsaw will never be lost. Nor will watching ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ in English with Thai subtitles in a giant hall with 6 monks.
My biggest concern was that I knew very little about how to conduct myself. Was I committing any faux pas? My timid knowledge climaxed with me watching television with three monks one evening. I watched a mosquito land on my bare foot. I turned to the monks. They also saw the mosquito land on my foot. We all watched the mosquito in quiet unison whilst a bead of sweat fell from my forehead in stress. Never have I wanted to squish a mosquito more, and knowing my luck this would be the one to give me malaria. I backed out like a wuss, the mosquito flew away happy, and we all went back to watching TV again. Thailand came and went as quickly as a South East Asian rainstorm, and after 10 days I was crossing a river on my way to Myanmar.
A Monk Who Gave me a Room - Thailand
Police Officers Who Also Gave me a Room - Thailand
he 300km stretch from Kawthaung to Myiek has been off limits to tourists for a long time. There had been a few reports that some cyclists and motorbikes had snuck through coming from the north. My plan to try from the South was over before I knew it. I’d arrived at the immigration with bicycle in tow, with a well rehearsed story about how I was staying at ‘Penguin Hotel’ that night, and was getting the bus to Myiek the next morning like a good foreigner should. Of course I knew I wasn’t able to cycle outside of Kawthaung; a sign saying the exact same thing was placed on the wall behind his head. The immigration officer asked me directly, “You aren’t going to cycle are you?” I then blatantly lied to his face. We shared eye contact for a good 20 seconds, and he then rang a friend. Ten minutes later an English speaking Burmese man arrived with joyous rapture, knowing that he can practise his English for a while. For me, I was pissed off because my plan had been foiled before it even began. The man escorted me to the bus station where I would buy my ticket and leave that day.
The bus was scheduled to depart at 4pm, and my Burmese escort informed me that the bus takes five hours. With time up my sleeve, and a wallet bulging with Burmese Kyat, I did the most sensible thing and headed to the bar across the road. Seven longnecks and a one hour delay later, we were on the road to Myeik. Had I known my guide meant 5pm the next day - not 5 hours in total - beers probably weren’t the best idea. 300km in 24 hours.