Biking out of Bangkok


This metal bridge is parallel to an elevated highway and six lane freeway.
This metal bridge in Bangkok is parallel to an elevated highway and six lane freeway.

This morning Eric and I woke up at 6:00 am, loaded our bikes and rode to the train station by about 7:20 for an 8:00 am train. Even though we’d enjoyed our “rest” in Bangkok with two movies, McFlurries, pizza delivered to our hotel room, taxi, tuk tuk, and sky train rides (no bicycles), we were antsy to get out of the city and pedaling once again.

Here’s the scene at the ticket counter:

Me: Two tickets and two bicycles to Nahkon Prathom at 8:00 am, please.
Ticket Seller: No bicycles at 8:00 am.
Me: 9:20 am?
TS: No bicycles at 9:20 am. Bicycles at 13:00

Darn! We could have slept in, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, visited another temple, and used free wi-fi for another 4 hours. Instead, here were were dressed in spandex and laden with kilos of clothes.

Eric suggested we return to our favorite, close-to- the-train-station breakfast joint and regroup.

As I was mopping up the last of my fried eggs with white-bread toast, Eric gingerly offered up his idea of a good plan.

“We could cycle out of Bangkok right now and skip the train altogether. What do you think about that?”

I was imagining dangerous traffic, narrow overpasses, crazy motorcyclist, bridges with no shoulder, getting lost, and stress….lot and lots of stress…

And, I was thinking that this four hours could be the ticket to the “personal space” I’ve been craving because I’m not used to this 24-7 retirement togetherness. I could escape in a book, watch people at a hip coffee shop, or window shop at something besides a bike shop. Instead, I tried to reply as a good, loving, supportive wife.

“Ok. If you want too. Sure. We could try it. But first we need to figure out how to cross the river, avoid the elevated superhighways, and locate some backroads.”

With the encouragement and assistance of our friendly restaurant owner and his assurance the Rama VI bridge would be a great option for crossing the river, we pedaled away…naive, energetic, confident, and (speaking for myself) a little scared.

The ride was everything I’d imagined and more. We carried our bikes up and over three separate overpasses. To picture this imagine portaging a canoe between calm Minnesota lakes in beautiful, cool forests across relatively flat trails with a sleek canoe that fits easily above you and your strong canoe buddy.

Now imagine a bicycle loaded with 50 pounds of “stuff” and sharp pedals that dig into your calf if you step the wrong way and your biking buddy holding his portion of the bike at an awkward angle so you feel like you’re going to fall, and the sun is baking the hole where your brains should be but obviously your brains are not there today and noise from the ten lanes of bumper to bumper traffic and four flights of stairs up and four more down and you do this three times so you basically climbed to the top of the Empire State Building carrying your bicycle and then you repeat it because two people can only carry one bike at a time, so you really climbed to the top of the Chrysler Building as well.

This ride was actually worse than I could possibly have imagined.

This is the end of our 2nd overpass bicycle portage....
This is the end of our 2nd overpass bicycle portage….

We also cycled on overpasses, merged across four lanes of traffic on the AH2 superhighway, rode on five kilometers of dirt roads due to construction, bounced through pot holes, avoided gravel, and breathed lots of air pollution.
Now that I’m safely tucked in bed, with my muscles relaxed from a great Thai foot message, my tummy happy from a chocolate brownie Magnum Bar, and Arctic air, blasting from the AC, I can honestly say that I’m glad we didn’t wait for the train…Who knows if we’d even have gotten on. (see previous post)

But, I also do thank God we’re safe.