Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thailand

(This is my 2,000th blog post. Woo?)

I haven't mentioned my Bicycling Trip in Asia in a while. (This is my fake bicycling trip across Asia in which I translate my actual bicycling distance into a trip from Singapore to Delhi to Istanbul.) But, it's still going strong. I've ridden 985 miles in 23 weeks, and I'm currently somewhere in Thailand.

I've actually learned a lot about Thailand as a result of this trip, at least as far as what you can learn from looking at a map, and a few Google Street View snapshots. Speaking of those snapshots, most of the ones I've seen look similar to this:


View Bicycling Trip in Asia: Part 1 in a larger map

It's tropical, as you'd expect, given that my trip started just north of the 1st parallel, and is still only as far north as the 12th parallel. And, lots of old-looking buildings, even though the part of Thailand I've been fake riding through so far - part of the Malay peninsula - is mostly rural. There are also very few "cities"; just lots of small settlements scattered about that barely register on a map. Down here, only the capitals of each province can really be considered "cities", for the most part. From a statistical standpoint, it's actually a pretty boring area to fake ride through. (Although it is nice that Thailand has some Google Street View coverage. Still waiting on India, though.)

Not too much farther to go to Bangkok, at which point the provinces get a LOT smaller, and so I'll be crossing a provincial line every 20 miles or so. Since there aren't too many cities to track, in Thailand I've been settling on provinces. My current province, Prachuap Khiri Khan (just one of many fun place names throughout Thailand!), is the "longest" Thailand province on my route: 130 miles. Then, over my last 421 miles in Thailand, I'll be passing through 14 different provinces. If I wanted to take this farther, I would also track districts (the next level down from provinces) and subdistricts (the next level down from districts), but, nah. I do figure out the exact district and subdistrict that I'm currently "in" each week, though.

I still have a while to go before I make it out of Thailand and into Myanmar/Burma/whatever, but that national border will be interesting, in that it's the first of three times along the route to Istanbul in which I switch from one side of the road to the other side of the road. Thailand drives on the left, and Myanmar on the right; there's a traffic light on the bridge connecting the two countries that controls traffic flow from one side of the road to the other. Once I get to India, I'm back to the left side of the road, and stay there until the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, where I switch back to the right for the duration of the trip, including through all of Europe. From my "fake bicycling trip" perspective, which side of the road the locals drive on doesn't really matter, except to make sure I put my Google Maps markers on the correct side of the road.

As far as bicycling goals for the next year go...I was somewhat motivated by seeing people ride their bikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway and other mountain roads. Not that I'm considering doing something that extreme anytime soon, but I am going to do a ride in a more hilly environment - Caswell County, near the Virginia border - sometime within the next few months. Then, if that goes well, I'll do another ride even closer to the mountains, and then get closer with my next ride after that. And then maybe in a couple years, I'll actually do a for real "mountain bike ride". (Not to be confused with mountain biking, of course. I'm sticking to paved roads.) We'll see.

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