Cycling has been my passion since I was around fourteen years of age. Now at the age of fifty, cycling is still my favourite pastime. On New Year’s Eve, I decided to cycle to one of my favourite places in my part of Thailand.
One of the reasons I like cycling to this place is because the roads are mostly rural, meaning the traffic is light. I am aware that it might not last forever. But seeing orchid channels, interesting new housing resorts and deserted khlongs is all part of an interesting cycle.
Firstly, I come across a khlong. The water hyacinths have colonised this canal system. Somebody had cut a narrow channel through the virtually impassable growth.
I cycled on and soon I came across what looked like a recent tourist development. This was a place that I’d not recognised before, but it showed that somebody was hoping for business. The chalets looked quite impressive.
Orchid channels were everywhere in one area of my cycle. This was a fabulous way to grow several crops from bananas, coconuts to vegetables. They probably best situated where the soil is clayey.
Yes, I was on the 3059 rural road, with quite a few lily ponds around. I came across another khlong, this had an elevated footpath attached to it. I use these to cycle on sometimes. Sometimes they lead to dead ends, but other times they can be intriguing to explore.
Now cycling down the 1011 road, I passed the Villiagio estate. This had an excellent imitation water wheel on display. This was a relatively new estate. My wife and I tried to gain access to this place but we were turned away. They suggested that there was nothing available.
There, across the murky, looking flooded rice fields was the university coming into view. I was still on a rural road, with the much busier 3004 road yet to come. Thankfully, I was only going to cycle on this road as far as the 4006 road junction, then I would cycle straight across the road and head into Mahidol University.
This was New Year’s Eve, for some reason the security was pretty intense. As I entered the university complex, I got questioned by two delightful, bubbly females. They asked me what I was doing? After explaining to her that I was cycling across the campus to get to the Buddha Park, she let me continue.
Mahidol University probably had more cyclists there that any other university in Thailand, just purely because of its size. There were cycles parked up all over the place. Plus, it had the cycle lanes too.
As I cycled through the campus, I came across two other cyclists. They like me looked like they were about to do some serious cycling too.
The exciting thing about this university was, was that it’s all set up for cycling. The campus roads have cycle lanes all over the place.
More interesting is the fact that they have constructed a several over the fast-flowing Borommaratchachonnani Road, the 338 road. It’s a type of road where you don’t have to get off your bike. You just keep double back on yourself as it raises up.
I then cycled off to the Buddha Park. The park has designated roads running around it. These roads comprised off one very rural road, the ring road and the Borommaratchachonnani Road. The rural roads however where the most interesting. These are quiet roads with impoverished communities running along the side of them. One as to remember that this park is around 2km² There are also many snakes. Most of what I see are dead snakes, but most of them are harmless non-venomous snakes.
The straight roads at night can be worrying and at times, awfully quiet.
I hit the ring road and here everything changes. The traffic is frighteningly deadly and the roadside traders are out in force but so are the police.
Eventually, I enter the park. One of the many places that I know I simply can get lost in with getting worried about never coming out again alive.
This is Phutthamonthon, the Buddhist Park. There I came across, kept gardens, Buddhist gestures and loads of wonderful people.
Even one person tried to get a little friendly with me in English. She was funny and I am sure she thought the same about me too.
Later on, I came across a solo saxophonist learning his scales in a secluded part of the park. Maybe he’ll become the next Parker Bird?
All around the park, they were getting ready for the count down towards the New Year. Buddha structures were out and so was the banter.
Buddhist mantra was playing as expected and it gave me the feeling of something very spiritual was going on.