The build-up to this cycle could not have started any worse. In the early hours of Christmas Day morning, I went down with chronic food poisoning, along with all the frills of gastroenteritis and high temperature; whatever had hit me had certainly got the better of me. I concluded that this had been a result of eating food from a roadside kitchen.
All Christmas Day I was doubled up in agony, but I insisted on going into work regardless. I would probably have gone in on my death bed if I’d have had half the chance.
On the 27th December, I’d agreed in advance to go cycling down to Cha-am, 163km away, with my friend Jonathan, who had already organised a guesthouse for us. It had been arranged that I would meet him down there. Still feeling very much under the weather and not really wanting to let him down, especially after everything had been booked in advance, which wasn’t cheap owing to it being New Year holiday season.
I started on my gruelling cycle journey. I must admit I certainly didn’t feel up to this long exhausting cycle. I’d been hoping that by today, I would have fully recovered, but that was not to be.
Jonathan, my newly made friend, worked at the Rongreiyn Chalard School, near to where I’d bumped into him while out cycling a few weeks ago. He was tall, around fifty, of average build and going white on top. He’s got quite an expansive and interesting personality and came across as the kind of person who seemed to search out a hedonistic lifestyle whenever possible.
My concentration skills for cycling were certainly not at there best, for some unknown reason once after venturing passed Bang Bon, I somehow managed to make a u-turn and headed going back towards Bangkok. My sickened state had put me back almost an hour by the time I realised where I had gone wrong. As you could imagine I felt extremely annoyed and disappointed with myself not to mention being depleted of energy after the error of judgement.
No point in crying over spilt milk, I thought. I immediately turned my bike around and cycled back on myself in rather a dreamy lethargic state. I knew that cycling in this blistering temperature would soon get the better of me, and it did.
As I began to pedal after wasted time, I introspectively began to consider that this was going to kill me. I now didn’t feel up to carrying on, one bit. Even if I’d have been feeling OK, it would still have been an arduous challenge, especially cycling in and amongst the racing traffic and in this punishing inferno heat. There was little if any shelter, on the way.
Miraculously I made it to Samut Sakhon. I remember passing all the salt fields on the way. That is something that I can clearly remember seeing. Later, I cycled through Samut Songkhram and headed into no man’s land.
As I cycled, I became tired and more half-hearted, which was not helped by the sizzling sun. The remnants of my fever were still evidently there, making their presence well and truly known as if they were not in any great hurry to dissipate from my body.
Despondently, I carried on, cycling as if I’d become a slave to the cause. The perishing, cruel, exhausting sun just relentlessly beamed down on me, showing me no sign of clemency whatsoever, making any progress more intense than anything. My progress seemed lethargic. Sweat, for more reasons than one, poured out of me, as if it was eager to desert me. This dishevelled, reclusive cyclist carried on, regardless.
I felt utterly shagged out, I thought I was starting to recognise landmarks that were actually much further away than they actually were, but it was my mind playing tricks with me.
My sickened delirious state was taking advantage of me too, as the road markings passed me one-by-one, by the time I had counted to 10,000 I should have arrived there, I thought, but where would my final destination actually be? Cha-am or the local hospital?
I reached a point where I could go on no further. This was becoming a parlous cycle but from a different dimension. My vision seemed to be impaired and was faltering, so I called into a place where I could purchase amples of refreshments. This shop was in the middle of nowhere. It sold almost everything. A milestone at the roadside signified that Cha-am was actually 32km away; I was so near, but yet, so far. I purchased a Coke and watched intensely, as the bubbles rose to the top before the mini explosions frantically spat at me from the surface. I sat there in the shade, facing the road, feeling like I was about to collapse. I was expecting to see my dreary life begin to flashing past me at any moment, not that it would have been worth watching.
I then anticipated in being approached by the Grim Reaper. Instead, however, I witnessed a beautiful, pale green snake, no more than 60 cm long, possibly a ‘White Lipped Pit Viper,’ Cryptelytrops Albolabris: a bite from one of these could lead to necrosis. This snake wriggled its long, graceful, slender body within a foot of my feet. It had come from one water feature and was heading off towards another. It just ignored my presence completely. I reckoned that, if it had struck then that would have been the end of me, especially in the state of health that I was in.
After resting, but feeling half dead, I decided to continue my attempt to make ground. Jonathan met me just outside Cha-am and we went for something to eat. He later told me that I looked green as if I was about to have a heart attack – but thankfully I never did. That night I didn’t half sleep, considering how tired I was. I literally could have slept quite happily into the New Year.
A cycle jaunt that I did took me up into the mountains of Hua Hin to where the Black Mountain Golf Club was and where they play the Kings Cup Asian Tour. Most of the golfers there had sweet looking caddies driving them around the golf course in golf buggies.
It was a great experience, this was the second time that I’d cycled to Cha-am.
Cha-am is a beautiful place, clean and relaxing. Anyone coming to Thailand should attempt to visit there.
During my Stay in Cha-am
I enjoyed myself down in Cha-am. During the following days, my condition seemed to improve. As usual, I refused to see the New Year in and I’d been quite adamant about that.
Jonathan and I went cycling together. It didn’t take me long to discover that he knew quite a few females down in this area. I was sure that if it hadn’t have been for me, he would have spent at least an hour or two with them and I’m sure that it wouldn’t have just been for a bit of crumpet and a cup of tea.
‘There are loads of girls that would do anything just to climb into bed with me.’ I was sure that this was just braggadocio, but whether it was or not, he showed no impenitence about what he’d said.
‘Really?’ I replied, not quite knowing who was the more desperate, him or them. I bet he thought I was a right boring prune, but I’d got my principles, regardless of how old fashioned they were. Jonathan and I cycled down to Hua Hin from Cha-am one day.
‘This is snake country,’ Jonathan announced and sure enough, sooner rather than later, we came across a dead, eight-foot python at the side of the road. I couldn’t understand why someone could run over such a wonderful creature as this, especially when the road was so straight and the visibility so good.
It was on this day that Jonathan told me that his father had fought in Burma during the Second World War and he claimed he’d known Lieutenant General William Slim (Uncle Bill) who had headed Britain’s forgotten 14th Army. He told me many tales, one of which I’d heard before from a veteran of that conflict when I was still living in the UK. How true and accurate it was, I didn’t know.
At the end of the New Year holiday, I cycled back to Bangkok, Jonathan had suggested catching the train, but as usual, I was stubborn in my thought process and was adamant in cycling back again. On my return trip, I clocked an average of 29 km/h, not bad for 163.6 km. At one point I’d even clocked 65.4 km/h. Thailand yet again had offered me a fantastic experience, another interesting cycle with lots to do and see – fantastic.