This was probably one of the most educational cycles that I’d done for some time, but from an experience point of view. The idea was to explore the 3394 road, starting from the 323 and finishing at the 346. Why I chose this road, I don’t know probably because it was simply there to be explored.
I got up at half-past five all raring, everything had been meticulously prepared the night before, except for the fact that I discovered that my memory card in my cycle video camera was full. Luckily, I had another one, but for the life, in me, I couldn’t find it at first.
Once already, I set off in earnest, thankfully the meal Sizzler the night before and set me up for today’s adventure.
I had done this cycle the week before, just to see what it was like. I’d even taken my cycle video camera with me that malfunctioned early on, rendering any filming useless, which is the conscientious cyclist wanting to record everything, this had prompted me to film parts of this route again.
It was six o’ clock when I started cycling the eastern sky was navy blue, just beginning to change colour. I made steady progress heading west averaging between 26 – 32 km/h as I cycled along Phetkasem Road. I reached Nakhon Pathom at around half past seven. I cycled over a khlong, the sun was just beginning to rise in the east looking incredibly orange. Just along the road was the Phra Pathom Chedi, standing at 120 metres tall, making it the tallest stupa in the world. It is believed that the stupa was one of the principle stupas of ancient Nakhon Pathom, which was one of the largest settlements of the Dvaravati era between the 6th – 8th century.
Once the sun was up the temperature started to soar. Up to press, it had been a comfortable 19 degrees, but as the day went on the temperature shot up to 35 degrees. It was just after half past eight before I reached the turn off for the 232 road, which could have led me to Kanchanaburi if I had so wanted to cycle there and eventually it continued on towards the Three Pagoda Pass on the Myanmar border. A place that I had not frequented yet.
It took me a further thirty minutes to reach my turn off for the 3394 road. It was from there that I started my filming from, minus a script. At first, the road was quite busy, but soon it meandered its way into the agricultural heartland of the Kanchanaburi Province.
Kanchanaburi always gave me the impression of possessing dense forests as immortalised in the 1957 film ‘Bridge over the River Kwai,’ directed by David Lean and starring Sir Alex Guinness and Jack Hawkins to name but a few, but here the terrain was flat and any trees in sight were far from being virgin territory, more teak plantations than anything else.
The further I cycled up this road the more I came across small hamlets and villages, but the thing that played with my curiosity was the faint but distinct sweet smell, as first I thought it possibly might have been tree sap from felling of trees, but then I saw the main crop grown in this area was sugarcane with their inflorescence or tassel at the top. Then I saw lorry after lorry thundering along the road one after another carrying this precious harvest, leaving a trail of sweet permeated scent in the air.
Kilometre after kilometre these sugarcane plantations ran and where it had been harvested was now just scrub land waiting to be cleared.
Now I’d never seen sugarcane being harvested before, but this was all mechanicalized and seemed very efficient, just like in the west with our combined harvesters for wheat. These strange looking machines with their four vertical spinning spirals drew the crop in. Seeing these machines in action was quite an eventful occasion. Every now and then a lorry would pull up beside this monstrous looking beast and the cane would be deposited without the flower or leaves. The residue was deposited on the field waiting to be broken down to act as next year’s compost or to be burnt.
Further on in my travels I came across labours tirelessly culling the cane with a machete. This looked like a tedious task considering the yield in question and the temperature. The labourers were obviously young and more than willing to be up for the task in hand, so I nicknamed this scene ‘Cane and able.’
I also came across marigolds flowering no doubt serving the Buddhist culture with its offerings. A new temple was also being constructed or being renovated.
At around eleven o’clock I completed the cycle in question, by reaching the 346 road and with the temperature now climaxing to around forty degrees in the sun. I now carried two water containers which consisted of electrolytes and water equally mixed.
The 346 road took me past the Kasetsart University Kamphaeng Sean Campus, then after some way past the Dynasty Golf Club. Before coming to the end of this road I caught the sight of an old Boeing 747 parked up surrounded by a lake. ‘Now this is not something you come across every day.’ On the tailfin, it advertised KCF, yes, that was KCF, not KFC, as I first wanted to read it as; shows you what dyslexia can do to you in the sun.
The 346 road took me onto the 340 road and then onto the ring road. From here I cycled onto the Nakhon-in-Road which got me onto the Ratchaphruek Road which finally led me onto Phetkasem Road and home.
I had cycled 209.42km (130 miles) in 9 hours averaging 26 km/h. I didn’t feel too bad considering what the temperature had been. I ached a little but nothing out of the ordinary, but in the evening I discovered that I was off my food and just for the record, I started with a fever of 38 degrees and was violently sick. Obviously, the temperature had finally caught up with me.