On The Road

Day 77 – Nong Wua So, Udon Thani to Erawan, Leoi via Mueang Nong Bua Lum Phu

Distance 75.6km – Elevation 377m – Time 03:52:54.

We cycled from the edge of one province to the next, crossing the whole of Nong Bua Lum Phu in only 76kms. Nong Bua Lum Phu is a fairly new province, having been created around 20 years ago. I don’t understand Thailand’s desire to keep making new provinces, but it’s their system and who am I to complain.

We started with 5 kms of uphill followed by a lovely downhill that led us into a plains area, it was a nice start in the morning to get the hard part out of the way and have a nice flat ride ahead of us. We visited the Amphur Mueang and posted our mail, found the bicycle shop, and then headed off.

Our pace was a bit slower after 10am because of headwinds as we cycled west. Our progress was much slower than on previous days. I think it was about 4km/h slower and it felt like harder work overall. The last 15km of the ride was all uphill, which we didn’t really notice visually, but my legs could tell something was not correct.

Most of my riding time was spent thinking about the book that I would like to turn this experience into, something that Natt can use for her Your Thai Guide tourism business, something that sets her above the rest and gets her noticed.

Each time I think about it there are two markets: Firstly, the larger Thai market which we would love to motivate towards cycling more, and secondly, the overseas tourists who we would like to demonstrate Natts’ knowledge of Thailand to as well as communicate her drive to lead tours a little bit different than others.

I don’t imagine the book being a copy of our journals. I don’t imagine the book being a massive list of locations. I don’t imagine the book becoming a novel, but I would like it to be interesting to both markets and be able to give people a good feeling about Natt’s attitude towards travel and tourism in Thailand.

We have not collected a lot of high quality pictures, we are not great photographers. We have not visited hundreds of typical tourist attractions, but know there is so much information about them already on the internet. We HAVE met a lot of cool people. We HAVE seen the country’s landscape change and have experienced it’s cascading cultures, from its vibrant food to its peoples’ sundry attitudes towards life. MUCH HAS BEEN LEARNED.

How do we put all of this into a book or magazine? 20,000 words in each of 2 languages, with hand-drawn artwork rather than photos is something that come to mind. More of an inspirational book about the people we’ve met and places we visited? Something that you don’t have to ‘read’ to get a feeling for, but rather something to read if you want to gain more information. These are just some of the thoughts that come into my mind.

How does one condense 150 days, 77 provinces, 9,000kms, and hundreds of people and places into a simple and concise story that is worthy of a bookshelf? Anyway, we have a couple more months and many people to chat to about this idea. An answer will happen and hopefully it will be something that does everything we want.

Amazon Coffee Shop – There is an amazing difference in the level of professionalism between its outlets. They look the same, they sell the same limited products, and therefore you would think the service that you would receive at each store would be relatively the same. I mean, it’s a CHAIN coffee shop. (A) CLEAN YOUR TABLES. Three staff in a shop which would normally have one or maybe two workers in Australia. All of them are standing around chatting and no-one does a quick sweep to clean all the crap off of the outside (and sometimes even inside) tables? (B) TIME TO MAKE COFFEE. So many staff and it takes so long to get a coffee, sometimes when they are not even busy. Often times, we are the only people there. These two things should be the first 2 lessons in the training program. There is little consistency and it’s just not right. Why pay 2-3 times the price of a local Thai coffee if the place looks like a dump and takes forever to serve you a coffee? I expect that from cheap outlets.

Found a brand new room, 350 baht… they’re always nice and clean when they are new. The only down side to this room was the exposed wiring next to the shower… CRAZY. Thais put the electric hot water heater in the shower cubical and obviously the box is waterproof-ish, but not when you can see the terminals of the ‘safety switch’ only 10 cm from it. One could easily point the movable shower head at it and DIE.

Give this place 3 years and it will probably end up looking like crap. At the 3-year point some of them look like they’ve been around for 10. Nothing gets fixed, nothing gets cleaned properly. We were at a resort the other day, it was old, the room was shocking, but it was really nothing that a new exhaust fan in the wall, a new coat of paint, and a decent cleaning up could not fix. I mean, since labour is so cheap here, then why not have someone work on this place for 2-3 days and have it looking so much better that people might actually want to visit, or extend their stay. Granted, the grounds were lovely, only the room was shit. CRAZY.

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