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Across the Chao Phraya

We woke up in Steve (may his beard grow ever longer’s) apartment and commenced the usual maneuver, making our way up to Dane’s room, where we found him plugging away on his Mono machine, pumping out crazy techno science music.

We promptly began making coffee and plans for the day. We would need to get food, and since most cooking was outsourced in this city, that would mean venturing out to a place. Today was also to be Karona’s last day in town. She was going back to Japan, and as you can imagine the mood was somber. Scott and I had been for some time without a wheel, and were badly, badly in need of one. That was the plan for the day, but first we needed to attend Karona’s goodbye luncheon. The luncheon took place at a local establishment called the Goethe Institute. It was an interesting German enclave, sporting, among other things, a very affordable cafeteria.


For less than $2.00 we piled our plates with rice, various curries, fried eggs, Thai sausages, and fresh vegetables. The food was delightful. Saying goodbye to Karona was not. She was such a kind and pleasant woman, and I dare say all at the table were sad to see her go. We climbed on the bikes with heavy hearts and vague directions from Dane.

It was great to be wheeling again. We got onto Rama IV and found ourselves filled with energy, soaring along at the speed of traffic, whipping around the overpass, pulling a vast uber-Rauschenburg and heading toward the port of Bangkok.

We were looking for the passenger dock, from which we would be chartering a small boat across the river. We successfully made our way to the port, and wheeled up to the guards at the gate. This didn’t seem right… certainly one would not need to enter a restricted zone in order to take a small boat across the river? Regardless, we rode up to the security checkpoint and engaged the guards. They spoke no English, but seemed to recognize our butchering of the Thai name for our next waypoint. They motioned to the interior of the port and explained a fair bit to us that we unfortunately could not comprehend. We figured then, it might be time to take out a certain business card from a local nightclub on which Dane had scrawled the name of the place we were looking for. When we handed them the business card, the two guards barely even looked at the thing, before instantly apologizing to us and inexplicably admitting us into the restricted zone!

We were quite sure that this was neither where we wanted nor where we were technically allowed to be, but with the recent error in our favor, it would have been quite the squandering of an opportunity not to wheel the interior of the port on Bangkok. So for the next hour, that was what we did.

The workers seemed thrilled to have us around, smiling and waving at us, as we meandered our way through the dockyards. On our way out, the security guards gave us their best, waving and wishing us well.

Not 15 meters later, a giant sign that we had somehow missed presented itself, indicating the way to our passenger dock.

We had no problem finding a fellow who was willing to drive us across the river in his long boat for about 60 cents. So we folded up the bikes and hopped on board. The engine of the boat was connected to a great steel rod, on the end of which was the propeller.

Our helmsman piloted the thing deftly, using the giant rod sometimes as a propeller and sometimes as an oar, swinging us perfectly up and alongside the dock.

We grabbed the Speed TRs and jumped ship, passing a few baht over the water. On the other side, we found ourselves in a thick jungle, where a smoothly paved road led us from small settlement to small settlement.

We just tore into it. Heading up one way, cutting across and then back down another, soon we had wheeled out of the jungle and into a small suburb of Bangkok, where we rode briefly looking for an entrance to a vast system of elevated roads that fed onto a large suspension bridge. The suspension bridge would be the most triumphant way to re-enter Bangkok after the day’s wheel, but, finally, after finding the entrance, it seemed too gnarly and fast to attempt without the help of a bike lane.

So we pulled an uber-licht and headed back, this time through the city, rather than following the raised expressway, back into the jungle. We got back to the main road just as a giant market was setting up. We could not resist getting off the cycles and taking a tour.

We encountered a particularly enticing stand frying sweet colorful pancakes and wrapping flavorful bits together in a swirl.

We ordered a dozen and quickly decimated them.

We came across a metal box of fresh fish, about to meet their fate.

As well as some fried fish, who had just recently met theirs.

We finally loaded up on drinking water and climbed back on the cycles. We were about to head back to the boat dock, when we noticed an inviting looking jungle road that we had not yet taken, so we decided to follow it. And, dear reader, we are sure glad that we did. What we discovered on the other side was a large village, the entirety of which was connected not by roads but by small raised concrete paths that wound their way over a swampy jungle.

It was one of the richest wheels of my life, so saturated was it with visual stimuli.

I am going to dare let the photos and videos speak for themselves.

Back on the longboat, making our way toward the city, we felt like kings.

So distracted by feeling like kings were we, that as Scott was climbing out of the boat,  he sliced his finger on the side of the dock. He was only mildly dripping blood, so we climbed back on the cycles and made our way to the nearest 7-11. Scott showed the woman his bleeding finger, and she promptly became very uncomfortable beginning to insist that they did not have any bandages or materials with which to aid his recovery. This seemed strange, so we hid the finger, in hope that it might snap her out of it, and began asking again. Still she indicated that there was nothing she could do. Finally, we gave up on her and found the band-aids.

Outside the 7-11 we made fast friends with a woman running a locksmith’s kiosk as we were cleaning and bandaging Scott’s finger. She later approached us with some tangerines and a big grin, offering them to us as a gift.

A fine type.

Back on the road, we made short work of the trip back to Dane’s place, thinking of that Das Racist lyric “People on the street eating chicken and meat.”

So we stopped at a street vendor outside his apartment building and examined the offerings.

The grilled beef looked especially appealing, so we ordered one up.

We retired to the vicinity of a certain street food stall that we knew to serve up amazing grilled meats, of which we procured many, with garnish.


Comments

  1. Henkes | April 21st, 2010 | 6:47 am

    Loved the music by Dane in the video. I wanted to here an entire song as a soundtrack to my reading of this latest entry… Dane! Where are all the jams?!

  2. Mark/Dad | April 23rd, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    I thought surely you were going to fall off the boardwalk trying to video the trip while riding! Scott–is your finger all healed up now?

  3. Scott | April 24th, 2010 | 8:34 am

    Mark/Dad,

    ‘Twas but a flesh wound. Healed in a jiffy. More carnage to come though…of the aluminum variety.

    Scott

  4. AsiaWheeling » Blog Archive » Landing in Luang Prabang | May 3rd, 2010 | 11:08 pm

    [...] merchants selling some of the same kind of universal battery chargers that we had seen during our wheel across the Chao Phraya, we decided to enter into bargaining [...]

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