Run for the Border

We left the city with eight days left on our visas. We risked a fine – or less likely, jail time – if we didn’t exit Thailand by the fifth of August, so we shoved off, moving happily away from the hum of density. Continue reading

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“Nobody bikes in Bangkok”

The stark contrast between Cambodia and Thailand was evident the minute we walked into the air-conditioned passport control office on the Thailand side. Outside, a large sign warned that anyone possessing drugs will be sentenced to life in prison or executed. But after 2 weeks of eating ants, crickets and snails we were ready for something different, even if it meant giving up the ‘happy’ pizza (look it up). Fighting the habit of 14 years of right-hand driving proved to be difficult and we narrowly avoided oncoming traffic before swerving to the left-hand side. As a general rule, car exhaust is slightly cleaner here. However, the extra volume of traffic more than compensates for the stricter air-quality standards and we were quickly overwhelmed by the constant stream of diesel trucks and buses belching black smoke. Continue reading

Cambodia – a farewell gallery

Chasing the Sun West

A border awaits again. This time it’s not a line we cross, but a zone. On our side: dirt, dust, the smell of burning plastic and human excrement. Prostitutes wander about seeking eye contact in the busy, dilapidated streets that are lit only by the flashing neon signs of businesses with confusing identities. In the border zone sit extravagant, towering air-conditioned casinos. Fancy looking Thais and Cambodian families come here for the scene and the chance to win big, though the gaudy scale of these cheesy buildings seems proof enough that they won’t. And across the border, on the other side, we know nor expect nothing besides the fact that we’ll be riding on the left side of the road from then on. But hope grips us. Continue reading

Phnom’non

— empty Cambodian roads make for enjoyable riding

So. Cambodia, holy sh*t. We had a soft beginning, we’re starting to realize. As soon as we crossed the border, the world changed. No more traffic, and the countryside was visible from the road – there were breaks in development! Cambodia is blessed, in our opinion, with a tenth of the population of Vietnam, and the reduced traffic very much compensates for poorer road conditions. Continue reading

Sweat stains and anticipation at the Cambodian border

Day 10 – Ha Tien, Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam

It’s time for a quick break. We’ve been biking for five days and our bodies are worn down from the road. Long days have added up to about 500km on the odometer, several days we’ve biked into the dark, and traffic is taking its psychological toll. Heat rash is beginning its slow march up our legs – which one of us thought that bike touring in the tropics during the monsoon was a good idea? Our first impressions of the motorbike culture were positive. Nimble, everyone has one, they take care of everything on them, and infrastructure is built to serve them. The curbs are even built with a slant so that motorbikes can be driven onto the sidewalks. Continue reading

Getting Lost in the Mekong

Day 7  – Can Tho – Mekong Delta, Vietnam

We left HCMC 2 days ago. Signs of the delta are everywhere – houses and paths, soccer fields and roads built just above water level, rice fields lining the highway and in the central median. Ducks and aquaculture ponds litter the countryside next to banana plantations and cassava fields. A strip of development follows the highway in most places, preventing views out across the delta and ensuring that traffic stays heavy and constant.

Curious Vietnamese children on one of the hundreds of bridges we crossed


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Spoke ‘n Word

This blog is about bicycles. No, it’s about adventure. What is this trip really about anyway? As with anything in life, we’ve chosen to do this because we feel we need to. Simple. After three years of grad school – stress, intermittent social lives, the deadly combination of forced inactivity and the dull, boring glow of a computer screen – we felt compelled to take a journey. In fact we’ve been looking forward to this adventure ever since we started the landscape architecture program at UC Berkeley. Any design school graduate will sympathize with this. Continue reading