Let me start by saying, if you can survive a self-guided bike tour in a foreign country together, you can get through anything life throws at you. When we started planning out our trip to Bangkok, we realized that our hotel was within walking distance to everything besides the main temples. Of course, seeing the Wat Pho and the Grand Palace was a must, so we looked for ways that we could get over there for little money. We came across a company that does bike rentals, tours, and self-guided tours. We considered going on a tour, but we weren't crazy about the idea of being on someone else's schedule, so we decided to do one of their self-guided tours. The self-guided tour was perfect, we could go at our own pace and it went everywhere we wanted to go. Keep in mind, Forest and I aren't bikers at all, so the 17 mile bike ride was not easy.
The first obstacle we ran into was finding the rental shop. It turns out, the shop is a small building in the center of a food market. The owner set up the GPS on Forest's bike, because I had learned that Forest is apparently amazing at navigating (you learn something new everyday), then we started out journey.
30 seconds after we left the rental shop, we realized that this bike ride was going to be pure chaos. For starters, in Thailand, they drive on what us Americans would call the "wrong side of the road". Trying to adjust your brain from right side to left side was extremely difficulty. When you turn right you have to wait for the light to turn green and yield to traffic, which seems odd because that's the protocol for a left turn in America. Also, there are no laws for bikes in Thailand, and they don't have many bike lanes. If there were bike lanes, they were filled with motor scooters and tuk tuks. The thing with Bangkok is the roads are completely insane, but somehow there are never any accidents. Drivers are extremely aware of themselves and the things around them, so the streets somehow flow with ease.
Of course, I was terrified for my life, there was scooters weaving in and out of traffic and we had no idea where we were going. All of the sudden, Forest makes a sharp turn down a small alley way. The alley way was extremely small and was packed with people and junk. As we continued on the path, we kept going through alley ways that helped us get a pretty good idea what life in Thailand is like. We rode our bikes straight through alley ways that have houses, children sleeping on blankets, and people cooking food in their houses. It was a great experience to see the culture and see what living outside of the city looks like.
Next, we went through markets. We started with a clothes and trinket market. This section of the tour was extremely difficult to get through. The markets were filled with shoppers, scooters, trucks, and hand carts, so trying to push our way through with bikes was tough. The next market we went to was a spice market. Thailand has so many different spices. It's crazy!! They have huge bags of spices everywhere. Right after the spice market was a fruit market. The fruit market was fun to see because there were big baskets of whole fruit and tons of sliced fruit. They always slice the fruit in really interesting ways. For example, the pineapple (which is amazing!!!) was always cut in a star shape. It was so fun to see all the food and markets and it was nice to be on a bike since it would have been a lot of walking otherwise.
After the markets, we finally made it to the temples! We had biked 7 miles in the heat and we were extremely hot and getting tired, so taking a break to see the temples was really nice. The temples in Thailand are absolutely beautiful! The architecture of the buildings is unreal and the Buddha statues are a sight to see. The best statue by far was the reclining Buddha located in Wat Pho. This statue is massive. From the front side you can hear what sounds like rain drops hitting a tin roof. When you go to the back side, there is a line of boxes meant for donations. The sound we were hearing was a constant flow of coins being dropped in the donation boxes. Outside of the buildings are beautiful waterfalls and scenery. It was really fun to see the temples, they are so different from any religious building I had ever been in, so it was quite the adventure. Also, you can't show your shoulders or your knees, but it was also 90 degrees, humid, and we were bike riding, so I had to put a jacket on when we went in the temples, which was horrible because it was so incredibly hot.
After the temples, the GPS was telling us to go around a park and then across the river. Now this is where the real adventure starts. The king of Thailand passed away in October of 2016, and the Thai people have a one year mourning period. The funeral happened to fall on the same day that we were doing our bike trip. As soon as we pulled out of the Grand Palace, we saw swarms of people wearing black. We assumed it was for the funeral, but didn't think it would cause too many problems. Obviously we were wrong, because every road was blocked off, there were hundreds of cars, and thousands of people. Things got crazy and Forest and I were getting frustrated. The temperature got hotter and we kept going in circles trying to get out of the barricades for the funeral. After about 20 extremely stressful minutes of trying, I started feeling really sick. I hadn't eaten much, it was really hot, and we had biked 8 miles. I didn't think I would make it and we couldn't find our way to the river so we ended up turning back and going home the same route that we came. As we started going, dark clouds came over the city and I was secretly praying it would rain. All of the sudden I felt a large drop of water hit my head, and finally it was raining. The rain cooled things down and helped me get through the bike ride. We were both absolutely drenched. When it rains, it rains really hard. After 15 minutes the rain stopped and we finished our bike ride.
The bike ride through Bangkok was a crazy adventure. I am glad that we found this tour because we got to see a lot of really cool parts of Bangkok, but I also wouldn't mind if I didn't go on a bike ride for a long time. 17 miles through Bangkok in the heat was a success.
P.S. we have GoPro videos from the bike ride, but I haven't put them all together. I'll post the video when I finish editing it!
thanks for reading!