Asia, you blew our minds

Oh Asia.  What an adventure we have had!  How we will miss your incredibly kind, friendly and delighted-to-see-us people, your delicious (and CHEAP!) food, and your (mostly) sunny skies.  If you could sort out your issues with single-use plastic, too many kids not in school and treatment of animals, our love would be virtually unconditional!  Oh, and maybe start providing roast potatoes. 

So.  Many.  Memories.  It’s impossible to name the ‘ best bit’ or our ‘favourite place’. Instead, here are a few(!) of the most unforgettable moments from the last five months.

  • Cycling 26km through central Bangkok and its crazy traffic. Without dying.
  • Finding a bike shop in Uttaradit to fix Cecil’s bent rear mech hanger…for the princely sum of £1.25.  And having our photo taken with the lovely owners for their Facebook page.
  • Deciding to go out for a walk in Lamphun when we really didn’t feel like it, and finding ourselves the only visitors at a beautiful temple, complete with chanting monks. 
  • Braving a very local restaurant in the tiny town of Mae La Noi for lunch, and encountering a friendly teacher who spoke perfect English, in addition to a beautifully laminated English menu.  And the food was excellent 🙂
  • The wooden windmills outside all manner of establishments.  Why?  ‘Because they look nice’.
  • Cycling up Chiang Mai’s local mountain, Doi Suthep, on our day off.  WHAT were we thinking?
  • The birth of our fascination with the local agriculture, and the ability to grow crops on a sheer hillside.  Mountain cabbage, anyone?
  • Stumbling upon a celebratory night market in Mai Hong Son with traditional music and dancing, tons of delicious food and everyone out enjoying themselves.  What an atmosphere.
  • The sight of the ‘backwards 17’ sign signalling the presence of a fully vegetarian restaurant (yumtastic).
  • The day we cycled to Pang Mapha, and encountered Devon-style gradients for kilometres on end.  #shutuplegs #shutupkaty
  • The first time we saw the Mighty Mekong, and looked across it into Laos.  Then sat next to it while eating our dinner at the wonderful night market.
  • Trekking through the jungle on Ko Mook with Marie, and literally being EATEN ALIVE by mosquitos.
Yummy veggie food served here!

  • The process of entering Laos – AKA general confusion.  We soon learned that this was the norm, and to just go with the flow!
  • Our first day cycling, involving encounters with free range children, chickens, pigs and goats, and seeing people washing under communal taps in the street.  With big trucks hurtling through at (fortunately) infrequent intervals.
  • Cycling in the hills up to Kiew Kacham and down again, including a night in the tiny mountain town.  Not sure they see many funny western tourists…..
  • Eating lunch with chickens wandering around under the restaurant tables.
  • Finally meeting a few other cyclists, and having a good old chinwag.
  • Arriving in shiny, cosmopolitan Luang Prabang, where there are croissants-a-plenty.  Is this really Laos?
  • Bathroom sinks emptying directly onto the floor.
  • Getting stuck in the tiny town of Phonsi due to high winds, and the fear of flying corrugated iron from nearby roofs.  No window, squat toilet and cold shower?  No problem.
So cool to meet like-minded souls!
  • The weird, post-apocalyptic no-mans land at the border.  Made weirder by dense fog.
  • Our incredible first meal (fried rice, quite the staple) in a tiny restaurant in a tiny town.
  • Hot taps and sinks that don’t empty onto the floor…..but baths that do(!)
  • Exceptionally loud karaoke in the middle of the countryside at 10am.
  • Stopping at the friendly MOC coffee shop with the proudest owner in the land.
  • The coffee.  Full stop.  
  • The free tea that comes with the coffee.
  • The entirely uninhibited people.  Happy to holler, to stand and stare, to follow, to touch, to selfie.  Always wanting to help (think tiny ladies carrying Ed’s massive panniers up three flights of stairs). Overwhelming at first, but we learned to love them!
  • Hiking up the side of a waterfall in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.  Health and Safety, what’s that?
  • Going in search of veggie banh mi sandwiches in Hue and eating them sitting on teeny plastic chairs in a building resembling someone’s garage.  And THEN finding veggie bun noodles next door and just having to try those too.
  • The large, modern towns that look somewhat Western and yet feel totally Vietnamese all at the same time.
  • Mopeds (and cars) living INSIDE the houses
  • Cycling the Hai Van pass in the pouring rain, accompanied by shouts, waves and beeps of encouragement (incredulity??)
  • Mopeds carrying pretty much anything.  TV?  Washing Machine?  Plate glass?  No problem.
  • Getting happily lost in the heart of the coconut industry in the delta, and stumbling upon the most wonderful veggie restaurant for lunch.
  • The sheer plethora of veggie restaurants in general.  Google for ‘chay’ or just keep your eyes peeled – they are everywhere!
  • Ferries instead of bridges.  A dying lifestyle.
Cafe vong (hammock) AKA cyclist heaven

  • Arriving in lovely Kep with its beach and warm sea.  Bliss.
  • Having a much easier time of it in general, thanks to the kind, gentle people.
  • Incredibly noisy weddings right by the side of the road.  ‘We play the music loud so that everyone knows there’s a wedding and can come and join in’.
  • Red coolboxes full of cold drinks outside every other house.
  • Cycling in the craziest, most lawless but surprisingly considerate traffic in Phnom Penh.
  • Exploring Bayon Temple after the crowds had gone home with Nixie and AJ.
  • Unexpectedly pretty scenery.
  • Unexpectedly pleasant towns.
  • Unexpectedly good roads
Cambodia. Pretty countryside and chillaxed cows.

  • Oh the food.  Once we’d cracked it, we couldn’t get enough of the veggie Chinese buffets and the fried rice / roti canai / lemon tea at the 24 hour Muslim eateries.  
  • Not the roads.  Or the traffic!
  • Being back in the mountains.  With the promise of elephants….we saw some poo!
  • Wild camping up a tower.
  • Actually being sad to leave a country that we really took a while to warm to!  This short list is unrepresentative 🙂
Wild camping with a view

  • The absolutely wonderful Tree in Lodge hostel which looked after us so so well (spoilt us rotten, in fact!) and allowed us to meet so many other cyclists, with so many stories to share.
  • parkrun with Emilie.
  • Watching the Marina Bay Sands light show from entirely the wrong vantage point with the Morgan-Forsters.
  • Eating delicious food in Chinese veggie restaurants with Mum and Dad.
Singapore. Not too shabby.
And that was that.  New Zealand here we come!
PS last lot of Malaysia photos here: 
Singapore pics to follow!