After a month’s absence from the roads, I picked up Markus at 6:00 am Sunday for a bike ride. Instead of just doing lazy circles in the park adjacent to Queen Sirikit Convention Center, we packed up the bicycles and headed east to Minburi, a large and prominently Muslim community north of the new airport. This is where I went on my first bicycle ride in Khrungthep, about two-and-a-half years ago. It was where I learned that you can indeed bicycle in this thriving metropolis.
We found a well-located temple to park at and headed off, but not ten minutes into the ride I hit a wet patch of pavement while making a full-speed turn from a main road onto a secondary one. The front tire slide out from under the bike, twisting 180 degrees, and I went flying forward and towards the curb.
Thankfully, I did not extend my arm to break my fall or else I’m sure the arm itself would have broken. Instead, I landed on my right shoulder and rolled over. My right knee and elbow were grazed, my right palm has a small bruise as it skidded across the pavement (and that is with gloves on!) and my left wrist is a little tender but has full range of motion.
Imagine Alex’s surprise if I showed up at her wedding in a cast in two weeks!
I was back up immediately, checked the gears and brakes, and we were off riding fifteen seconds later. The abrasions were not bleeding, so there didn’t seem to be any reason to scrub the ride. And I’m glad we didn’t because we put in a very good 35 kilometers, tracing some routes on back soi and through rice paddies that didn’t appear on my (what I thought was very detailed) map.
At one point, we wound up at a small temple at the convergence of three khlongs. Checking my map, the temple was nowhere to be seen. I went inside the temple and kneeling before the head monk, asked him where the temple was located on my map. He studied it carefully, following the contours of the khlongs and finally marked the temple’s location, some half-kilometer away from the nearest road on my map!
I was happy to have enough language skill to be able to ask him those questions and understand him. Thanks, Khruu Kitiya! He was also pretty impressed when, after asking him the name of the temple, I wrote it in Thai on my map.
If any of you are visiting Thailand and want to really see the country, consider doing some cycling through the countryside. You’ll see a view of the country that cannot be found at tourist sites, in the big cities, or in a tour van.
Sunday evening we held the Bon Voyage party for Todd. He’s heading back to Texas on Tuesday morning. It will be a shame for him to leave but I suspect he’ll be back soon.