The Novelty of Bicycle Touring

We’ve had many amazing experiences with the people we’ve met on our j0urney so far. We might say that these specific experiences were never our intention, our doing – they were  what we hoped for but never dared to expect. Instead, in the wake of these experiences, we attribute them to chance, coincidence, to God, or to the kindness of humanity. I realised however, that we give ourselves less credit than we deserve. I think we have crafted, or at least put ourselves in the position to receive these experiences, simply through the act of bicycle touring.

Ratchakorn saving us and our chakrayans

Ratchakorn saving us and our chakrayans

We have cycled for 13 days and if all our eyes served us well, I can safely say that we have not encountered even one other touring cyclist on the road. We are rare, a novelty, maybe even a specimen that the locals take around to show off what they’ve found. We are foreigners touring on chakrayans.

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Selfie on a moving Rescue vehicle

Rao khon Singapore, kii Chakrayan bai Hanoi (We are from Singapore, cycling to Hanoi). 

Singapore naksiksa (Singaporean students)

Phom khon India (I’m from India)

Chan khon America (I’m from America)

Each of these phrases are always greeted with raised eyebrows, an exaggerated “ohhhh”, and a quick repetition of what we just said by whom we addressed to the other locals gathered around. Amazement, curiosity, intrigue, wonder, surprise, excitement. They smile, and each to their own degree, shower us with food, water, lodging, conversation, joy and friendship.

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Kungten’s Birthday Party!

We’ve gotten used to the sight of ourselves, rolling into town sweaty and grimy, with fully packed panniers strapped onto our bikes, reflective vests, good morning towels, yoga mats and sleeping bags. But for anyone else, we are a sight to behold.

Rest stop - eating maggi mee mammee mee style

Rest stop – eating maggi mee mammee mee style

This novelty is what attracts such experiences and such kindness; we chose this, consciously unwilling or unconsciously willing. They might be amazing people, but they definitely do not shower all of their kindness on just anybody. Amidst all our gratitude, we must not forget to thank ourselves and our bicycles (Gio, Trudy, Martha, and mine yet to be named) for going the distance and crossing that bridge that leads to people’s hearts.

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P.S. forgive my bad Thai

2 thoughts on “The Novelty of Bicycle Touring

  1. Andrew Johnson says:

    What amazing pictures!

    Your bad Thai doesn’t seem all that bad, although as your teacher I’d like to point out that “student” is “nakseuksaa” (rising tone on the end there).

  2. Jane Koe says:

    Hi Marcus. Came to know that you are on this
    cycling adventure and so happy to see your blog
    and photos.

    All the very best to you and your friends.

    God bless

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