Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back in communication ...

Well Dad is back in communication as he has a new mobile phone - a tenner from Tesco.  Thanks to Asda all the credit from the lost/stolen phone has been transferred to his new phone as well as his original phone number.  So if you've got Dad's mobile number drop him a text as he's lost all his contacts!

He had a bit of a learning curve and almost gave upon  texting for good as couldn't get it to work.  He said it had a mind of it's own and it was using the phonetic alphabet!  Since found out what he meant was I'd left predictive text on !

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dad's blog on Thailand

Well Dad has left me some notes on Thailand for the blog.

Weight: Neither lost nor gained any weight. Three decent Thai meals a day and not the usual high mileage on this trip so not surprised.

Accommodation:  25 hotels or bungalows. Average price was £10.00 for the room, ie £5.00 each.

Travel: Took three train journeys, one bus and four ferries.  Next time would leave my own bike at home, as nearly everywhere you can hire a bike for 200 baht (£4.00) a day.

Flight: Singapore airlines were very good and food was excellent. Heathrow - Singapore - Phuket. Cost £590 return. Would have worked out cheaper if flown to Bangkok.

Bagage Allowance: In the hold 20 kgs and the bike weighed in at 19.5. The rest of the luggage was just one pannier and that weighed in at 7 kgs. Definitely travelling light this trip !

Cost of Holiday: £720 for all the accommodation, internal travel, food, daily spends, a couple of beers a day and he trouble fighting off the offers of the odd Thai massage on those old legs :)

Mileage: 1200 kilometres (around 750 miles). Not a high mileage trip as quite a few days were spent travelling and sight seeing. Could have spent longer in all the place travelled through as there was so much to do and see.

The machine (bike): Very little trouble with the bike on this trip. Roads in Thailand are of a good standard with no frost to make pot-holes. Roads had a good hard shoulder for biking. The Thai drivers are a bit mad but majority of the time felt safe on the road.

Travel Guides:  Took the Rough Guide to Thailand and the Lonely Planet. For travelling independently probably the Rough Guide was the better choice.

A couple of mentions ..,. Dave King my cycling partner on the trip. His expertise on mobile phones, GPS and Skype couldn't have been better. Nathan Smallman who lived and worked in Thailand for a year in the Pottery industry for his help in picking a few places to visit

Lastly thanks to Kendal, my great daughter with out her there would be no blog and no base camp manager ! In the last month there have been over 2,000 hits on the blog (a RT from Mark Beaumont helped), so thanks to everyone for taking an interest and following me on my trip.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

He's back !

Dad got back early into Heathrow this morning. They must have had a good journey back as he popped round mine for coffee about 12.00 ish.  He's had a great time but if he was to do the trip again, he'd leave the bikes at home and hire them out there. He said the country is not geared up for moving bikes around. Most of the time they took a journey on public transport it costs at least double (some times triple) the cost for the bike than it did for Dad - I wonder if he got pensioner rate and the bike didn't!

To fill in a few gaps ... no he didn't have an elephant ride, he said it was too expensive as he was not in a group and would have to "hire" the elephant to himself!  When he went swimming in the River Kwai what he hadn't told me was how fast the current was. Apparently he'd jumped in off the balcony of the floating bungalow but when he surfaced he'd float way down stream! Dad said he had a struggle swimming back up stream and then trying to get out of the water back onto balcony!

Apparently to get back to Phuket had turned into quite a journey. They'd first had to hang around most of the day for the train to Surat Thani. They got in to the station at 2.00 am and then had to hang around hoping the bikes would be on the next train. It had crossed their mind that they had lost the bikes and panniers completely but they eventually turned up on the 5.00 am train. They then had to get the local bus to Phuket. The first bus was at 7.30 but it was full, so they hung around and got the last two tickets for the next bus. They then had problems finding space on the bus for the bikes. Eventually they got them on and they headed off. Dad said more and more folk got on the bus as it headed back to Phuket.  They were standing in the gangway and sitting three to the seats.  The journey took 6 hours and it was not air-conditioned!  At one point the bus broke down on the top of a mountain but they topped it up with some water via various methods, cups, containers and hose pipe running into it, and eventually they were on there way again.

The first aid kit got used as well ... not by Dad falling off his bike but by him falling off a bench in the railway station. He'd decided to get his head down for an hour or so while waiting for the bikes to come on the next train. Found himself a station bench, lay down on it and it tipped over. Dad said he went a right clatter on the station floor and knocked his arm up a bit.

Paradise Mansion in Phuket didn't quite live up to it's name. Dad said they made sure when they returned back they still had the bike boxes in store before they booked in.  Dad said on the last couple of nights they were there there were arguments between the staff and the owners and eventually a fight broke out! Not really what you want in your hotel !

Dad's mobile hadn't been returned back to the hotel either so I'll sort out putting a stop on the SIM.  Will have a look at the Nokia he's found to see if we have a charger and whether it's SIM free, if not he'll have to have a new phone.

Dad will fill me in on some stats, like how many miles, etc which I'll post soon.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Currently in the air ...

Dad, Dave and hopefully two bikes are currently en-route from Singapore to Heathrow airport.  Been checking the flight status and it looks like it's running about 30 minutes late. By the time I get in up the morning they should have landed and yes I've got the right day this time!

Not had any updates today, Dad is probably out of credit again. Will fill in the missing blanks when I catch up with him tomorrow.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The final countdown ...

Dad's phone ran out of credit again ! Apparently he tried to send me a long a text but it wouldn't send. Who is ringing/texting to use up all this credit. Not me that's for sure.

They've had a day of packing up everything and I assume the bikes are boxed up ready for the return journey. Dad said he's been out and had his last swim in the warm sea.  They then went out for an evening meal - some sort of prawn dish and yellow chicken curry!

They'll be heading home soon ...  in fact they should be landing at Heathrow at 6.00 am Sunday morning!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Got a text off Dad earlier. Think we've sorted the communication blip now! I don't know who he was texting but it wasn't me !

They are now back in Phuket. A bit of a recap over the last couple of days. They cycled 100 kms to get to Nakhon Phanom which is just north of Bangkok. From there they eventually got a train at 4.30 pm (the first train not having room for bikes, the second being full of passengers) and arrived Surat Thani 2.00 am (local time) but unfortunately their bikes didn't!  The bikes should have been in the Guards Van. Dave remembers seeing them on the platform before they left but they both thought they'd been put on the train. I can imagine the panic of them being separated from their bikes. They had to hang around at the station and their bikes arrived on the next train at 5.00 am !  So quite a bit of the last couple of days has been spent hanging around railway stations - I wonder if they had a thermos and a notebook with them!

They got themselves a bus from Surat Thani back onto Phuket.  Will get more of an update once they get back on Skype.

An update on his lost mobile. Since it was lost at the start of the trip it's been getting switched on just on a Tuesday. Why Tuesday !!   I know this as I've been texting it regularly and I send delivery reports to the mobile and I get an alert when they are delivered. I've rang it each time it gets switched on! Once they hung up on me the other times it's already been turned off again.  Well this week as well as Tuesday it's been turned on today and I rang it and they answered!  Slight language issue and they eventually hung up on me!  Not sure if it's kids who have it.  I've text and asked it to be returned to the Paradise Mansion Hotel as this is where Dad and Dave will finish their trip as their bike boxes are stored there. I doubt it will get returned but I have fun texting things like "I'm watching you", "I know what you did last summer!" :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Surat Thani

An update at last !  It has come second hand but from a reliable source!  Dad and Dave are now at Surat Thani ... and guessing by the text I've just received they've not long ago arrived.  In fact they are probably still sitting on the station! 

Their plan was to catch a train today down through Thailand. The first one they tried had no compartment for the bikes, the second one they tried was full! So they hung around all day and they eventually got on a train at 4.30 pm (local time).  It was due to arrive at Surat Thani station at 2.00 am.  Not sure how they'd go on trying to find any accommodation at 2.00 am in the morning! I got a text off Dave at 10.00 pm (GMT) which would be 5.00 am Thai time to say they were at the station and the reason Dad hadn't text me was he'd let his phone battery go flat!  I doubt he'll find anywhere charge a phone on a railway station!

They've managed to cover quite a bit of Thailand, but still got some miles to cover to get back to Phuket. Their flight home is Saturday evening so they got a couple of days of pedalling to go.

Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Somewhere in Thailand

Well there seems to have been a communication breakdown ... and I'm not getting the usual updates from the Thai Two!  I'm assuming they have no Wifi as I've not seen Dave on Skype. I text Dad earlier after I got the elephant photo to say "assume you've got no credit on your Thai sim as I didn't hear from you yesterday". I got a text back almost immediately to say he'd sent a text and it must have got lost ! He updated me with what he'd been up to yesterday. He been on a boat ride around Ayutthava and he had also visited three more temples off, shoes on, shoes off, shoes on, shoes off, shoes on!  He also went back to the Night Market and had a good (and probably very cheap) evening meal.

I'm still non the wiser as to whether or not he'd had an elephant ride or just stopped and had his photo taken with it. I'm still jealous either way.

They were on the move today and heading south back down through Thailand. I know they had planned on getting a train or bus at some point as they need to cover a lot of miles, but with no text/wifi update I have no idea how far they've travelled or where they've ended up.  I'm kind of thinking Dad is forgetting to press the send button and he's got a couple of messages for me sitting in his draft/out box!


Just a quick update. Got sent this photo late last night and just had to share !

I love it and so want an elephant.  Made me smile that Dad had still go his cycling helmet and gloves on! Now I'm wondering if he went for an elephant ride and kept them on as a safety measure.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lack of update ...

Well I've not heard from Dad today. He's either not been able to get any credit for the Thai sim in his mobile or he did take that elephant ride and they have both run away to the jungle !

As far as I know they are still in the Sena/Ayutthava. They will soon need to start heading south and back down through Thailand for their return fly from Phuket.

Hopefully I'll have something to update you with tomorrow ... until then, he's a photo of the Reception in Sai Yok where they stayed a couple of days ago.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sena Part II

Well I did manage a Skype call with Dad this afternoon. He'd tried texting me with a LONG text (I say long, that's probably 160 characters!) and then found he'd run out of credit and it wouldn't send. Hopefully they'll top-up the Thai sim tomorrow.

Yesterday they had the first rain of the trip. Not bad as they have been there three weeks now.  They'd just got dropped off from their ride in the posh pick-up. They had it all - rain, thunder, lightening.  Luckily they'd been dropped off at a petrol station so they sought shelter in the garage where they fixed the cars. The storm lasted a good hour. They then had a three hour cycle ride to Sena.

They are currently staying at Baan Lotus guesthouse. According to Dad they have very nice room with twin beds, air con, shower and a balcony all at a cost of £6.00 a night for the pair of them. They are staying here for two nights.

Today Dad has been out on his bike this morning and stopped off at Tesco (yes Tesco !) for a coffee.This afternoon he gave his legs a rest and has been exploring in a TukTuk around Ayutthaya . Dave took the day off to recover from something he'd eaten last night.

Ayutthava is famous for it's temples and the TukTuk tour took in some of the many temples. Hope Dad was suitably dressed (probably in his cycling gear)and that he'd got clean socks on as he would have had to keep taking his shoes off to go in the temples!  Following the TukTuk tour Dad got dropped off at the night market with a fellow Brit and they both headed to the food stalls for something to eat. Dad had a seafood platter but this time it came ready cooked !  Also got himself a bottle of beer

Dad had during the day been watching the Elephants at one of the sanctuaries. Instead of taking them down to the river to bathe they take them through an elephant wash which Dad described as being like a huge car wash!

Tomorrow they are planning on doing some more touristy things. Dad is planning on going on a boat trip as Ayutthaya is an island surrounded by three rivers. I've also told him to get himself on an elephant ride.

Thanks to a re-tweet by Mark Beaumont we've had over a 100 hits on the blog today !


Got a text off Dad yesterday to say they'd had a lift with the owner of the resort in Sai Yok to just north of Bangkok. They then got on their bikes and cycled along route 9 and they are now in Sena which is just to the west of Ayutthaya. Looking on Google Maps they probably did around 85 kms on the bikes so will let them off having a lift! They are planning on having two nights in Sena as there are quite a few tourist things to do.

Tried a Skype call earlier but Dad was out in a TukTuk doing the "tourist" things and then out for a meal. Possibly missed chatting to him now, but I've sent him a couple of texts to let him know that Brad had won the Time Trial and Paris-Nice so he'll probably be having a pint to celebrate that win!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sai Yok Day 2

Had a text and a Skype call off Dad today. They are still in Sai Yok. Today they have cycled 65 kms (without panniers) on route 323 to Nam Kok and then caught the tourist train back to Sai Yok.  Nam Kok is the end of the Death Railway. In Nam Kok they did the museum and then headed down the steps to see Hellfire Pass  where prisoners of war had blown a passage through the rocks to build the railway track..

Dad says the train journey back was a right bone-shaker and that they'd had to pay the "tourist" rate which at £4.00 was VERY expensive!  He's going to be a nightmare when he gets home ! He was chatting to a couple of the tourist guides on the journey back who were asking Dad and Dave what they had been doing. They then asked Dad how old he was and then said he'd not got many wrinkles!

They've got a very nice bungalow in a new resort - I did ask what it was called and Dad said he didn't know as it was written in Thai!  Bungalow had air con, TV, fridge and hot and cold water, but Dad did say it's mostly cold showers they've been having as it's so hot.  The resort has a bar (not completely finished), swimming pool which looks out over the River Kwai.  Dad said they have been watching the elephants from the Elephant an elephant. At the end of the day they either come down after they'd finished doing the tourist rides and take the tourist for a ride in the river or come down to the river to bathe with their young !  I asked if they'd got an photos ... unfortunately not !

There is lots to do in Sai Yok and Dad said they could have quite easily have spent a week there and gone caving, rafting and riding the elephants but being on the bike they need to move on!

Tomorrow they are heading for Ayutthaya, another tourist area which is north of Bangkok. The owner of the holiday resort is going to Bangkok tomorrow so is giving Dad, Dave and the bikes a lift in his pick-up!  That'll save them a couple of days cycling.   They'll have just a week left so after Ayutthaya they will start heading back through Thailand to Phuket.

Dad was telling me the tale of the raw food last night. They'd had a struggle to find the restaurant initially but it had come recommended. Dad decided to have the seafood platter. All the fish and vegetables came out on a plate and Dad started tucking in!  A couple of Thai people rushed over and stopped him (he'd already eaten some fish!). Then out of the kitchen came a pot and charcoal.  The restaurant owner's wife came over and helped Dad with the cooking !  Dad said the seafood platter and beer was £4.00 !  Dad has decided tonight to be on the safe side and he's going for a Thai curry and rice.

Dad said they've been having Thai fruit shakes - banana, pineapple, melon, whatever fruit was available. At £1.00 a shake they are classed as a luxury!  Also the emergency food on the bike is a bunch of bananas which for a bunch of 10 bananas cost about 10p !  Bargain.

Pick & Mix method ...

The pick and mix method off the menu doesn't always work!  Dad text this morning to say he selected - when I say selected, I mean pointed, to some words on the menu last night and they delivered to the table raw fish and vegetables and a bowl to cook it in.  Help was on hand and some Thai people helped Dad to cook his own food!  Hope he was taking note as he can add Thai cooking to his extensive list of other meals he can cook, ie a roast dinner!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sai Yok

Got a text off Dad earlier. They are now in Sai Yok. They've got a great bungalow with all the mod cons for £12.00 a night. Apparently it has a cave and a swimming pool. Also close by is an Elephant sanctury!

They've done the Bridge over the River Kwai today. Dad said the museum there was the best so far.

Dave sent me a couple of photos earlier
Bridge over the River Kwai

Bridge over the River Kwai
Yesterday they were staying in a floating bungalow in Kanchanaburi and here is a photo of the bungalow.
Rear view of the floating bungalow - they stayed in the one of the left
Dad went for a swim from the balcony at the front.  I wouldn't have fancied pushing my bike across those walk-ways ! Saying that I wouldn't have fancied walking over them after I'd had a beer or two !

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Got a text off Dad. They are now in Kanchanaburi. No Wifi unfortunately so we are limited to 160 characters! They've managed to get themselves a "floating" bungalow in the Riverside Guest House area. I'm wondering what the difference between a floating bungalow and a boat is! Apparently Dad has been for a swim in the river ... not sure if that's the only way to get to the bungalow or if he took a wrong turning!

They've managed to do two museums (probably Thailand-Burma Railway Museum and JEATH War Museum) and the Bridge over the river Kwai. They are planning on having two nights Kanchanaburi as there appears quite a bit to do and see according to Let's Go.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ban Pong

Got a text off Dad this morning. It didn't make a great deal of sense. I gathered from it that they had caught the train to Ban Pong. However just had a Skype call with him and I've now got all the details!

They are in a place called Ban Pong which is about 90 kms west of Bangkok.  The train was a local train which stopped at every station, so it took 6 hours for the 300 km journey.  No air-con, just the open windows. However it cost Dad, Dave and the two bikes a total of £6.50 so they shouldn't complain!  They even had the guards/police helping to get the bikes into the guards carriage.   At every stop local people would get on the train selling drinks and food. Dad had a drink and some savoury snacks (which he thought were sweets!)

When they got off the train they asked (well did the international mime) that they wanted a room for the night and the guy said "I come from Derby ... I'll sort you out some where to stay".  They are now staying at the Park Hotel in Ban Pong. Pretty posh by Dad's standards. TV, air con, twin bedded.  The Porters even carried their bike panniers to their rooms - now that is posh. In total it's £10.00 for the pair of them.

Dad and Dave have met very few other tourist cyclists.  They met a German couple, a French lad who was also carrying camping gear and also an American lad.  The roads have been pretty good on the mainland for cycling, with wide verges for cycling but they were getting a bit bored of cycling along route 4, hence the train journey today.

Weather is still a steady 32 degrees day and night.  Dad was saying when they had an evening shower they would also take all their cycling gears into the shower to wash it. They hang it up and usually dries within the hour.

Tonight they are off out for a meal. If the menu is in Thai Dad just points at a couple of things! You have to love his style.  He's done ok so far with no upset stomach.  However they always buy bottled water but at 10p for a two litre bottle it comes cheap.

They had a nice little bungalow (or Wendy House) in Bang Saphan last night.

Wendy House

It was about 1 km from the sea front. They headed down to the coast on their bikes looking for an evening meal. Found a nice little place and Dad had squid for tea which together with a bottle of water and a couple of beers came to six squid (£6.00 !)

Tomorrow they are off to Kanchanaburi which is where the Bridge over the River Kwai is.  They are hoping on cycling out there.

To update the lost/found list.  Nothing else lost and nothing else found but Dad says he's always on the lookout!  His Nokia phone he lost early on in the trip has been turned on again so I rang it but they had turned it off. I've text it again to say "the phone has a tracking device and I know when it's being used" :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bang Saphan

Got a text off Dad this morning. They are now at Ban Saphan. They've got themselves a bungalow by the sea.  Looks like the roads are getting busier, so they are hoping to get a train to Ban Pong which is west of Bangkok.

Not much to report today !

Sunday, March 4, 2012

North of Pathiu

Spoke to Dad this morning on Skype ... really good to see and speak to him! I don't think it will convince dad to move up a gear in his technology though! I was having to shout from here as Dad kept saying "I can't hear you" so all the neighbours probably heard me! Turns out Dad had not got his hearing aid in! There are just somethings technology can't help with :)

They are now just north of Pathiu heading along the east coast to Bangkok. They've done around 50 miles on the bike today. They were on the road for 6.30 to avoid some of the heat. Cycled for two hours and stopped for breakfast. No full English breakfast today. Instead it was Thai chicken noodle soup which cost around 30p. They've been having banana or coconut milkshakes for drinks on the islands but now back on the mainland they've not been able to get any. So Dad asked for a coconut drink. They just took the top off the coconut and gave him a straw!

Got themselves a great little bungalow, sea view, air con, TV, hot water and two single beds for £10 a night (for the pair of them!). He did say that on this trip they had had to share a double bed a couple of times!  I wasn't sure if that was with Dave or his bike.

Food has been good. Dad has been having the Thai curry and rice for around £2.00. Dave has been sticking with chicken and cashew nuts.  Weather is a steady 32 degrees day and night.  I told him it had been trying to snow here this morning!  They managed to catch some of the Liverpool v Arsenal game yesterday live on TV while they were having their evening meal.

Dad said he was glad to be back on the mainland as they were not able to do much biking on the islands as there weren't many roads and those they found weren't very good.  They are now going to head up the coast, hopefully doing around 50 miles a day. They'll go as far as they can and then the plan is to catch a train/bus back down to Phuket. 

The cow Dad was swimming with the other day was actually a water buffalo that a guy had taken down to the water on a lead!  Dad was giving swimming in the sea a miss today as in his words "it's a bit like Southport here, there is a lot of beach before you get to the sea!".  Used the goggles he's found a few times but he says he needs a snorkel now!  What's the betting he'll find one!

Asked him about the phone he'd found. Apparently they were on a ferry and they could hear ringing. Both of them checked their phones and it wasn't either of them. They looked between the seats and there was a mobile phone. It must have fallen from a pocket. They answered it but the caller spoke Thai.  No charger and the one he's got doesn't fit. Assuming it's sim free he'll have to get a charger when he gets back to the UK. Saying that I've had a few Nokias in my time, so I might have a spare charger.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Got a text and two phone messages off Dad today. They are now back on mainland Thailand in a place called Chumphon. Can't believe I managed to miss both phone calls!

They caught the ferry back to mainland. Biked straight off the boat.  Found themselves a bungalow by the sea with air con, fridge, TV and en-suite and twin bedded rooms for 600 baht (£12.00) for the night! Can't be bad. It must also have wifi as they called me over the wifi!  They were just heading out for an evening meal.

Tomorrow they are heading north along the coast and heading towards Bangkok. Early start around 6.30 hoping to miss some of the heat.  They said they would try ringing again but I'm off out so probably won't get to speak to them !

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ko Samui again

Got a text off Dad this morning. They are back on Ko Samui. Apparently they got sold the wrong ticket for the ferry, so I don't think it was planned to return to Ko Samui!  They are also at the same bungalow where they stayed a couple of days ago. Dad was off to try out his new swimming mask (or they could possibly goggles?) in the sea!

He finished off his text by saying he's found a Nokia mobile and not to bother getting him a new one to replace the one he lost earlier in the holiday!  What are the chances of that. I wonder if it's an upgrade on the one he lost. I have visions of my Dad coming back with a touch screen top of the range Nokia.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ko Tao

Dad and Dave have moved off Ko Pha Ngan and are now on the island of Ko Tao. Got them a nice little bungalow for the night. Apparently it's not in as good a location as the one on Ko Pha Ngan. Looks pretty good to me!

Dad relaxing on the veranda
Dad has apparently found a mask in the swimming pool.Very nearly couldn't use it as he almost left his trunks behind this morning! Mind you that probably wouldn't stop my Dad going for a dip!

Both Dave and my Dad have been for a dip in the pool.