This section is a snapshot into interesing and helpful people we’ve met along the way. We’ll update it in a cronological fashion with every new person we meet added to the top.
We stopped at a small restaurant for lunch on a day when James wasn’t feeling particularly happy. It gets hard to see so much poverty and, at times unhappiness, before you feel like your rubbing your wealth in their faces. While we were eating a quite nice offal soup (we’re getting used to it) this man asked if we wanted to eat lunch with him. He was a businessman from Phnom Penh who sells construction supplies and he was heading north on business. He was very interested in our travels and we learned a lot about Phnom Penh and Cambodia from him. Like that the traffics like Bangkok but with less rules. Eish. Such a friendly and jovial man. Was really uplifting to meet him.
Bill used to be a commissioned officer in the US army. When he heard about an ex Khmer Rouge child soldier in Cambodia who was clearing mines using a stick and some pliers he headed over to see what this man was about. He met Aki Ra and in 2007 sold up his business and him and his wife moved to Cambodia to help. Aki Ra as well as his helpers such as Bill run the Cambodian Landmine Museum in Siem Reap as well as clear landmines and run a home for children affected by landmines, disabled at birth, crippled by disease or coming from struggling families. We hitchhiked on Bills tour for a summer camp group and talked afterwards about his efforts. Exceptional work done by a lot of people. Such an unbelievable amount of landmines and unexploded objects left all over the country that these small pockets of selfless people are working so hard to make safe. More information can be found at www.landmine-relief-fund.com or read about Aki Ra at his Wikipedia page.
This Cambodian family
These people were super friendly. We’re still getting to grips as to what is a roadside restaurant and what could possibly be eating arrangements for a large family. However they catered for us as if they were a restaurant so good enough. After ringing a friend who spoke english we communicated pleasantries and they served us a fish soup. With only the heads and tails of the fish. Was surprisingly delicious but we swallowed a lot more tiny fish bones than generally reccomended. They also gave us some super spicy crab. With difficult to get at meat. As our bowls got slightly low they were topped up again and again before we politely refused more. Great to meet families like this from the countires we visit.
Parn and Neemo
These two do an amazing job running the Granny bike and bed hostel in Bangkok. The initial vision of their house was a guesthouse upstairs and a bike shop downstairs. But the bike shop recently outgrew it’s area and they’ve moved that into a great space in town. This has freed up a lot of personal mechanic space for Parn and all his bikes. These two were exceptionally helpful in getting us supplies to ensure our bikes were ready to go. Including helping put new chains on the bikes at 11.30 the night before we were leaving. An exceptional accommodation option for anyone staying in Bangkok but especially geared for cycle tourists. Will see you again when we’ve finished our indochina loop.
Sinothai completed his PhD at the Otago university department of Biochemistry at the same time as we were studying/working there. Since his completion he has taken up a lectureship position at a university in Bangkok. He showed us around Wat Pho, the public transport and the malls on one of our exploring days and the outrageous sized Chatuchak markets on another. He was also super helpful in that he had an address we could get supplies sent to, including a box of tires and chain lube which just said ‘lubrication’ on the customs forms. Was great to see him again and of course we’ll see him when we’re back in Bangkok.
Eleanor and Dans
A friend of Bryony’s from their studies together , Eleanor and her fiance had been in Bangkok at the time we were there. Just. Eleanors flight back to NZ was 2 days after we got there. We spent a lovely yet busy evening exploring the ever popular tourist area Khao San road. Was great for Bryony and Eleanor to catch up and to finally meet Dans. Look forward to catching up with them in Nepal when we finally get there.
Carly and Ryan
These two were staying at the Granny bike and bed when we turned up. They had ridden to Bangkok from Taiwan which sounded like a beautiful trip. After a good rest up in Bangkok I think they were heading west. Wish them the best of luck with their travels.
As we left Prachuap we didn’t feel so much like riding so we stopped for a coffee at a wee cafe shack just out of town. Just as we finished our coffees we heard music and looked up to see Georgie riding. She was heading south. We called out, she mistook us for some other riders, and once we introduced ourselves we encouraged her to have a drink and chat. She is British but lives in Bangkok teaching maths at an international school. Has been there one year and has another year on her contract. She was heading towards the islands to celebrate the full moon party. A pretty popular festival. Especially amongst foreign youths. She has been considering the possibility of cycling home to England when she’s finished. Hopefully she gives it a go.
Pan runs the pancake bed and breakfast in Prachuap where we stayed. She was a great help for us getting to know our way around the place where we spent a few days rest. Ever knowledgeable and super friendly. A reccomended accommodation option for anyone in the area.
Ton Sai climbing special.
Maya and Robert
While we were getting ourselves ready for a full days climbing, Robert introduced himself and was interested in joining us for some climbing. They were similar level climbers and we hoped they would join us, however lunch and other things meant we didn’t climb together but we did catch up after (they had the bungalow over the walkway). We had dinner together as well as the rest of our breakfasts. They are from Sweden but have been travelling the world for a while, including a stint in New Zealand where they lived and worked in Lyttleton (Maya worked at Roots, a degustation restaurant where we had dinner once). They started travelling Thailand with Roberts family but stayed on to find climbing and surfing spots. Our final night in Tonsai we had a few beers at one of the bars and including some slack lining. Hopefully they come biking with us or maybe just meet us in Sweden in the future.
This German couple
While climbing at the Muay Thai wall at Railey beach we were joined by a lovely German couple (whose names I have forgotten sorry. If you read this, contact us and we’ll edit it) who were climbing a similar level to us. They had taken a climbing course a month ago and were staying around Railey. After talking a bit and telling them we were cycling they revealed we had eaten at the same restaurant for lunch a few days earlier. He’s always been keen in cycle touring so hopefully they can join us for the last leg through Europe. We suggested getting a beer that night but they were heading back to Krabi that night for a flight the next day. Really good day climbing and hopefully we can do more some day.
James and Dan used to climb together when James was in high school. He travels a lot of the world chasing the beautiful climbing spots so we contacted him about where in Thailand was good for climbing. He told us he was in Tonsai bay and it was the best for climbing so we headed there. Has a great life half spent in Rotorua working and saving money and then travelling to great climbing spots around the world with his partner.
We met Andrey as our 2nd warmshowers.org host in Ao Nang. Originally from Russia he has lived in Thailand for 3 years and travelled a lot too. He lived in a lovely house with his daughter Anya and they recently spent a while touring China, Myanmar and other countries. He tours on this folding bike where Anya has ridden on the back but they have just recently bought her a bike so she can ride herself. 4 days after they hosted us they left their house and are now touring Malaysia and Sri Lanka before moving back home to Russia.
Cynthia and Mike
As we got into town after a long day complete with an early morning flat tire and a stop for the monsoon rain, we tried to decide which of the many accomodation options would fit our needs. Not too gross and hopefully cheap. First place we checked was ok but a little pricey however when checking the room out Bryony saw the room next door had bikes outside. After checking a dodgy cheap place and a hideously expensive one we opted for the one with potentially people to talk to. This couple have been on tour for about 14 months and have ridden from Switzerland. We had a lovely dinner together and got on well. We share a common view of how bike tours should be completed which is however the riders please. And there was none of the usual competing for km per day or weight of gear. They’ve ridden through Oman, Turkey and India before touring South East Asia. They’re heading into Malaysia and then into Perth to bike across Australia. Some great stories and advice to add to our evergrowing memory bank. Favourite story, getting hassled via email after having their story published in a Swiss paper for “not cycling the full way around the world” because they flew over Pakistan and Myanmar. We’ll hopefully see them in Switzerland and then in NZ when they tour there in a few years.
This lovely Thai family
This beautiful family took us in when the day took a drastic turn. Riding through rural Thailand when the clouds got dark, the day generally darkened and the locals priorities changed from smiling and waving to us to a more serious get everything indoors, quickly. So we pushed on knowing we didn’t have too much time to find shelter. When it started to rain a little bit we stopped at the next little shop and the man beckoned us inside. We bought some snacks and watched as the rain went from generic NZ drizzle to outright chaos. So much rain. We tried to talk but neither spoke each others language. But Bryony showed them her album of family photos and James tried desperately to explain, using google translate, it was his first monsoon experience. They shared with us a fruit neither of us had tried. Spiky red fruit with 3 segments inside with little amounts of flesh and huge pit. Heavenly, mildly sour flavour. Was so good. They even boiled the jug for a coffee and after an hour and 10 mins of crazy hard rain things settled down and we got back to riding.
While biking to the seven wells falls on Langkawi we caught up to this man who was biking back to his boat with some shopping. He is originally from Ireland but seems to live on his boat following the nice seasons and seeing the world. Uses his folding bike to get around on land. He spends a lot of the New Zealand summer living in the bay of islands which is understandable. Sounds like a wonderful life.
This gentleman was getting a new tire when we stopped in to a bike shop to get Bryony a shorter stem and we got talking. Went out to get a coffee and spent so long yarning we ended up getting dinner as well. He’s done a lot of touring in the past. This trip he started in Thailand and headed north basically doing the reverse circuit of indochina that we plan. Started out with his girlfriend but she since returned home for work while he pushed on. We came away with a page of useful tips for Thailand and some of his favourite places to visit. Favourite quote was talking about race bikes and he said that’s the only thing he’s looking forward to going home for. Bryony asks what about your girlfriend and he said. Her too. I forgot about her.
Claude took us out to dinner with his neighbours, Xavier and Celine, who are cycle tourists from Switzerland. They rode to Malaysia 3 years ago and had their child Nayla in Malaysia. Since then they have traveled a lot with their daughter in tow. She’s already had to get a new passport because she ran out of pages! Very interesting to talk to. Most memorable story is from when they travelled across the Nullarbor Desert. They carried 60 L of water and his bike totalled 150 kg (including child) and hers 120 kg because it was so barren.
Claude and Lena
Claude was our first warmshowers.com host while we were in Panang getting visas for Thailand. He is from France but has lived in Malaysia for 7 years. His condo is in Batu Feringghi around the coast from the city. He and his daughter Lena are lovely hosts and the house has a lovely view. Took us out to dinner at a local chinese restaurant and even bought James whiskey. He’s done a lot of travel and has recently bought a new folding bike, which was due to arrive the week we stayed, to tour on and was on the lookout for one for Lena so they can do short tours together. His wife works in tourism and was away working for 3 months in Mongolia with a tour group. Favourite travel story was having a police officer keep him awake in a restaurant in Myanmar for the whole night because he was in a place which didn’t have tourist hotels so he wasn’t allowed to sleep there. Hopefully we’ll see him on the road somewhere.
Pedalling around peninsular Malaysia group
These 3 riders were travelling around the circumference of peninsular Malaysia. Taking a very similar route to us. However we only met them at the top of the east coast as we headed toward Jeli from Tanah Merah. They were from Kuala Lumpur and were riding on folding bikes! The next day was a massive day from Jeli to Gerik and as we neared the top of the hill we saw one in the distance and caught up to her. But she wasn’t one of yesterday’s 3. Up the road were another 3 people. Again none of yesterday’s 3. We asked how many riders they were and they said 9! We made it to the top to a restaurant for lunch and enjoyed the success of climbing the mountain together.
The 3 we met the previous day were doing the whole thing but other friends were meeting them for various legs. After most of the flatness of the east coast I don’t know why people would choose the 130 km day with 1900 m climbing! But they were fun and very motivating to have company on our hardest day so far, especially on the second hill where the car crew would cheer us on as we passed. They offered to carry our bags from the top to Gerik in their support vehicle, but after lugging them all the way up the hill we wanted to take advantage of that weight going down.
This German man
This man was on the final leg of a long journey from Germany. He was very surprised to find we were heading to Europe and seemed a little disbelieving in our style of touring. I imagine at this stage we looked very green.
This Chinese man
This gentleman was the first cycle tourist we met on our travels. He was coming the other way as we battled our hottest day so far from Sedili Kecil to Mercing. He was from China and spoke very little english but admired our bikes and we managed to work out where he’d come from. Lovely guy. And because there is no facebook in China he was new to it. So we became friends.
Tatyana was our host in Singapore. We hosted her and her husband John when they were touring NZ early 2016 and they kindly offered for us to get settled in Singapore at their appartment. They had only been living in the place 4 days before we arrived and John was yet to see the place, having been sent to Chicago for work for ages (2 months I think). Beautiful place and Tatyana is a wonderful host. Showing us the intricacies of the Singapore food markets and public transport. Wonderful person and it was so hard for us to leave. Thank you very much for your kindness and hopefully our flights home go through Singapore so we can show you our photos.