A journey in Don Khone

Here we are in Laos:) To acclimatize, we decide to go for a little trip on the 4000 islands, an archipelago that evolves according to the level of the Mekong. We stop in Don Khone for three days. Here are some shots!

On bicycles, but not only!

Our bicycles experiment great adventures in Asian transports. We wanted to tell you a little bit about our multi-modal experiences 🙂

Train

The cost of the train in Thailand is 100 baht (equivalent to 3 euros) per bicycle regardless of the journey.
An hour before the train departure, we have to check our bikes at the baggage counter.
The bicycles are then loaded into the specific car at the end of the train. The teams on board in charge of baggage management at each station must therefore be trusted. Bikes cannot be attached because they sometimes have to be moved when loading new packages.

At every small station, we check that the bicycles are not unloaded by mistake!

In Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos, we did not take the train because these countries unfortunately have (almost) no railways or they have been under renovation for several years.

Fun story: For our night train to Bangkok, we arrived 2 hours before departure, then waited another 1 hour due to a technical problem. When we got on the train, we were told “full full” and someone showed a phone on which Google translation displayed “bicycle later?” There was no question of separating us from our bicycles, so after a few short minutes of talks, we tool a look in the luggage car and saw space available between a few packages and 2 scooters.
Let’s go! We put the bicycles in the train, and quickly look for our place so as not to delay the departure of the train any longer.
Hell yeah, our faithful destrier are with us! This overbooking of luggage was weird…

Boat / ferry

To cross rivers, we sometimes use small boats to avoid bridges that are often unsuitable for cyclists and very busy. Those are often accepted for 5 to 10 baht (about 30 euro cents).
In Bangkok or Ayutthaya for example, the crossing with a bicycle is very simple, there are loading ramps and the crossing takes only a few minutes.

Express River Crossing in Ayutthaya

We have not transported our bicycles on island ferries, but it is also possible to load them on board for a few euros in order to reach islands off the coast of some countries (Malaysia, Thailand).
In Laos, we went to the island of Don Khone in the middle of the Mekong on a small boat planned for 4/6 people. Our bicycles were boarded without too much difficulty because the boat is empty. And indeed, we pay for the whole boat which is still accessible (5/6).

Bus

We have not yet tested the bike buses in Asia, this should happen soon in Laos to reach Vientiane.

Bike-free journey

Bicycles and saddlebags may seem cumbersome, but we find deposit solutions either for a few hours in hotels, or at local contacts or through knowledge. This allows us to explore other areas in “backpack” for a few days.
Bike-free breaks are beneficial because they allow us to rest our legs and travel in another way, often walking to explore cities or lush jungles.

Stop in a shopping mall bicycle park in Bangkok

On Khmers lands

At the entrance of Cambodia on July 26, we had only a blurry picture of our bike route in the country and of the shape that would take this part of the trip. The ugly border of Poipet passed, we reach Sisophon on a dusty road and then Svay Chek further north. The landscapes are arid, almost desert, it is far from the cliché of shimmering rice fields during the monsoon season. There, like an oasis, stands proudly the Farm OrganiKH and its hectare of permacultural greenery, held by a Franco-Cambodian couple Olivier and Darin for already 6 years.

One of the many plots of OrganiKH Farm

We put our bags there for a nice week of volunteering, punctuated by the collection of butterfly flowers each morning, weeding, transplanting, watering plants such as lemongrass or roselle during the day, other various tasks (compost, construction of brick plots of land, etc.) and evenings in the large and atypical common room. We meet beautiful people (3 French agrology students in internship here for several weeks, 2 Anglo-Saxon HelpX volunteers and a slew of Scouts), enjoy Darin’s exquisite mets and a healthy and pleasant setting to recharge, meditate and “work.”

Epilogue to a new beautiful week HelpX

On August 3rd we head back to the big town of Siem Reap, a few kilometres from Angkor. In a (sporty!) day of bike-visits, we tour the thousand-year-old temples, banners of the past power of the Khmers, slalom between drops and tourists and especially appreciate the anarchic vegetation that sublimates architectural ruins. Unesco obliges, the place is expensive and very busy (at least Angkor Wat) but still worth it.

Ta Nei, our favourite among the temples of Angkor
Birdsongs at Ta Phrom Temple

The urban comfort of Siem Reap is a trap that we want to avoid, so we are moving back to the east quite quickly, on the “rive” north of Lake Tonle Sap that we will unfortunately not see given the exceptional drought. We reach Kampong Thom after 150km. From there, we make the decision not to go down to the capital Phnom Phen and to spend more time in the North. So we’re on our way to Kratié, the sky is pouring a few capricious rains and the rice fields are starting to look great, the heart of the country seems more irrigated than the North East. The proximity of the houses also allows us to glimpse the local life, quiet and rural, between dogs, chickens, pigs and oxen. “Hello! Suo sadai!” are chanted as we pass by the countless children.

Atmosphere on our bikes!

It’s heartwarming, we try to answer every time and cross children gazes.

Sunset on the Mekong, the local children also enjoy!

On August 8th we arrive on the banks of the majestic Mekong. Between him and us, we will have to learn to live together for more than a month until Yunnan in China! We explore on foot the small island of Koh Trong, mainly populated by grapefruit, and then head back to Laos, 250km from Kratie.

In the ferry to Koh Trong

Attracted by the banks of the river, we take the road not carossable thinking to arrive slowly but surely to Stung Treng, 150km further. But our GPS and our Maps.me maps play us a trick and we end up getting lost in the dense and wet weather… cycling the muddy terrain quickly becomes terrific.

Lost?

Fortunately we turn back before night and manage to explain our “dismay” to the teacher of the nearest village who offers us to stay overnight in his home. He also tells us the way forward the next day. We accept and end up neither one nor two to share a chicken rice (freshly killed …) with our host, his wife, his parents, children and all the local pet shop. It’s great to live the daily life of a Khmer family for an evening!

The next day we finally reach Stung Treng after multiple river crossings and some showers…

Is the rain coming? Don’t panic, we’re taking refuge in a shop!

Finally, on August 12, we connect the remaining 62km to the Laos border. Ready for 4000 islands!

On the way to Mekong

Would you like a new Cycloclock video or do you prefer a good old summerday Fort Boyard at the TV :)? In this episode shot between Bangkok, Khao Yai, Angkor and the Cambodian shores of the Mekong, you will get a glimpse of our HelpX volunteering hours, our discoveries of ancestral temples and Khao Yai Park and some beautiful children’s cycling encounters in Cambodia!

On our bikes there are…

Since the beginning of the bike trip, all our equipment is hyper functional except… our crutches. 
Sylvain’s bike under the pedal does not allow you to maintain the bike without any other support. The bag at the front of the bike carries the handlebars inwards and knocks it over. In short, the anchor is too far back… A few height adjustments can compensate a little for the imbalance. Another trick found over the water: block the rotation of the handlebars by clipping the helmet between the wheel and the frame! Nevertheless a double crutch or a front luggage carrier would have been appreciable to use, despite being overweight … 

The crutch that teams Matcha, The Bike of Clea (yes it has a small name) requires a regular tightening every two days or so in the absence of a counter nut. Nothing serious but the risk of losing it in the middle of a path on a day of travel too hectic.

Our bikes were in good condition at the beginning, so we had few repairs to do during the first two months. Only regular maintenance, tire re-inflating, cleaning and mechanical oiling are required. Until then the brakes hold up well and use normally (the V-breaks gum is reduced and The Clea’s discs take the rust slightly). 

In terms of weight, we left with about 30kg each. 
Between 13 and 15kg for each bike and 15kg of luggage
per cyclist. Sometimes we have a larger load because of the food we sometimes carry. We avoid stocking too much anyway! The
combination of Cléa’s front and rear bags is more balanced, so the races of the day often end up on the sides of Matcha. For Sylvain, the handlebar bag has to compensate a little for the load of the rear luggage rack, the tools are stored there while some rather light but bulky elements occupy the rear bags (tent, pharmacy, camera, backpack, etc. ).

Here is a snapshot of our bikes with the general distribution of the material:

It is also an opportunity to thank Cyclable stores for their sponsorship through the supply of 2 pretty red Ortlieb rear bags. Thank you again!

Below is a Boris Vian-like list of carried away items:

  • Bicycle accessories:

2 helmets

2 pairs of mudguards (easily removable)

Carriers (adapted to the frame structure)

2 simple crutches

2 anti-theft (1 U light, 1 foldable and 1 reinforced cable)

2 mirrors (not forgetting to change sides: to the right of the handlebars to Thailand, left from Cambodia)

2 doorbells and 1 compressed air horn

  • Toolkit:

2 Flexible Replacement Tires 700x35c

2 Air Chambers (1 per valve type: Schrader and Presta)

1 anti-cracking kit

1 Multi tool with chain drift included

2 English Keys

1 Key

1 Small hand pump

2 Brake cables

2 Speed cables

1 Disc brake

2 pads

2 V-brake brake pads

Oil and cleaning toothbrush

1 Chatterton

2 roll tendors (already 1 misplaced!)

  • Camping equipment:

1 Gas burner (no hose)

1 Threaded valve gas cartridge (purchased in Bangkok)

1 Ultra-light PVC-free tent (cons: non-freestanding)

1 Compact inflatable mattress

2 independent seats

2 silk sheets

2 downs 3 seasons

1 Mosquito net double

1 Popote / 2 folding plates

Cove red / eco cup

1 glasses

Hammac two seats

2 Gourdes per person

1 filter water pump

1 waterproof bag

  • Clothing per person:

1 Short

1 bike short (used only by Sylvain)

2 Tee shirts (1 synthetic and 1 me
rino)

1 Light fabric pants (in case of m
osquito alert)

Socks /under clothing Sandals (daily, pretty tan)

Low shoes Closed Walking

1 Shawl (used by Cléa for some temple visits)

Cap

1 pair of emergency bezel

K way and waterproof pants (little used at the moment)

Doudoune and cap (used at altitude in Indonesia)

Tote bags (for clothing and food shopping, useful for fighting plastic bags)

Bags compartments  

  • Toilet Kit :

Dentifrice Toothbrushes,

Soda bicarbonate (to brush teeth)

Coconut oil (for skin hydration, sunburn and hair untangling)

Homemade Solid Shampoo

Soap Homemade (thanks Lu) and those of the hostels occasionally

For laundry, ditto (we probably should have brought a Marseille soap)

Oriculis

Coupe nail

BrushHair

Sunscreen

Anti-mosquito (organic but suddenly without DEET)

Travel and rescue pharmacy

  • Other accessories:

2 watches

2 phone holders

2 smartphones

1 compass

2 headlamps (1 usb and 1 batt
ery)

1 hybrid camera

1 Go-Pro
2 e-readers

1 solar external battery

Chargers and cables micro-mini-
usb

1 electrical socket adapter ( used only in Thailand at the moment) 

Well done you’ve come to the end 🙂

2562 frames/seconds

A video to retrace our first two weeks of July 2562 in Southern Thailand, between the east coast and the Sea of Andaman. You’ll watch cycling under the heat of course but also instants of freshness in the forest and in the seabed. And always beautiful animal encounters!

*The solar calendar is used in Thailand, 2019 corresponds to the year 2562 🙂

East coast 2×2

From South to North, not to mention the small island of Perhentian Besar, here is a video clip of our last 2 weeks in Malaysia. On air: cycling, a few jungle walks and of course new underwater excursions!

Selamat tinggal!

Last clip of our Indonesian backpacking adventures 🙂 In this episode shot in Flores and Sulawesi, we promise you adrenaline and threatening animals (almost)… Be very careful!

On the wild side :)

A new video clip of our adventures! In this episode shot on Gili Air island and between Lombok and Flores, you’ll find a new turtle having lunch, majestic manta rays not frankly frightened by the diving of Clea, a part of hide-and-seek in the corals and much more things 🙂