Here I go again! - Frankie goes to.....the North of Thailand (2019) - CycleBlaze

October 17, 2019

Here I go again!

2019 saw me having another long break from serious bicycle touring, once again due to my miserable left shoulder. I have only been able to do a fraction of my normal cycling routine over the last 12 months while in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and back home in Europe. Mostly day trips with just a couple of longer rides down in the South of Thailand (Andaman Sea to Gulf of Thailand) and along the Polish border in my home country Germany. But certainly nothing the rest of the world wanted to know about. Now I am back in Thailand for 3 months and feel good enough to have a first test-ride up in the North. 

Why up there while I have a permanent apartment down in Trang in the very south? Well, Thailand is just at the end of the rainy season and the Northeastern monsoon (= winter/dry season) obviously picks up in the North first, while the South is still rather wet. It brings very moderate, sometimes even cool temperatures to this mountainous region of the country from October on.

So hopefully ideal conditions in general and -given my shoulder holds- I wish to cycle down the centre of the country from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. No detailed plan for the route so far but very likely with a final stop at Ayutthaya, the last historic park I haven´t been to yet. But before I fly up to Chiang Mai and do start my actual ride on October 26 I wish to visually summarize my activities/destinations over the last few months:

December 2018: Alor Setar/Malaysia. A regular stop on my way from Thailand to Penang from where AirAsia takes me to New Zealand.
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January 2019: Being restricted with my cycling, I had to look into other exciting activities...... Eskdale, New Zealand
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February 2019: Surrounded by sheep on the Hawke´s Bay Cycle Track near Napier/ New Zealand
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March 2019: Cockatoos frolicking in the backyard while staying with my very close friends Brenda and Glyn in Australia (Bowral / New South Wales)
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April 2019: Back in Thailand. When the problems with my shoulder spoilt my mood, the Thai food reliably managed to cheer me up again
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Bruce LellmanThe food in Thailand always makes me happy too.
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3 weeks ago
May 2019: Stopping at the Andaman Gate, the hilltop between Phattalung and Trang while crossing from the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman side. Not a serious climb at all but the impact of that ridge on the weather is stunning. Almost different seasons between the popular islands of Phuket and Samui, in the months of November and December in particular
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June 2019: Highly impressed with my first visit to the North of Myanmar (Mandalay, Bagan, Minwa, Innwa, Sagaing)
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Andrea BrownIs this in Mandalay?
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3 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenYes it is, Andrea. The Shwenandaw Monastery. If I had to pick my favourite out of the many temples I visited during my time in Myanmar it would probably be this one.
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3 weeks ago
July 2019: Great to have some family-time if you are away from home as much as I am. Here my 86-y-old mother and my niece Ronja are hypnotizing the famous Heidschnucken-sheep in the Lüneburger Heide, south of Hamburg
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August 2019: Along the Oder-Neisse cycle track on my 28" Stevens Sovereign. As the pillar indicates the River Odra is the natural border between Germany and Poland.
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September 2019: Cycling my home turf. The statue of the first German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm I at Koblenz where the rivers Mosel and Rhine merge
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Bruce LellmanMy great grandfather came from the little town of Lehmann near Koblenz (on the Mosel) and I've always wanted to visit this part of Germany.
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3 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenI am always home at the end of September, Bruce. Ideal time to visit the wine growing areas like the Mosel!
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3 weeks ago
October 2019: Me and my 83 kgs of luggage have safely arrived at Bangkok´s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The cardboard box contains my Patria Rohloff bike, which will remain down here in Thailand and accomplishes the process of placing a touring bike in each of my three favourite countries
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Andrea BrownFrankie's baaaaaaack! We always love where you go.
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3 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenTo Andrea BrownKob khun khrab, Khun Andrea! Same counts for me. Funny coincidence we are starting again at the same time and not really that far away from each other....
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanWelcome back Frank! I'm very much looking forward to wherever you go and whatever you write because I always find your perceptions interesting.

As for Ayutthaya.....me too. I have been all over Thailand but never to Ayutthaya. I love Sukhothai though. By my rough estimation we will be in Sukhothai around Dec. 12th, maybe too late to meet you there.
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3 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenYes, unfortunately I will be back down in the South then, preparing for my departure to New Zealand, Bruce. Please check whether you come past Si Satchanalai on the way to Sukhothai. Much smaller, much less people. I always enjoyed spending a whole day on the immaculate compound.
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3 weeks ago
Chris WeeI say Frank, we are sorely tempted to follow in part or meet up with you by a yellow sala, across from a 7/11 in a small forgettable town that Bob has ridden by 25 times.

We met Bruce n Andrea in 2017, in Chiang Dao.

Would be such a nice reunion.
Who knows, will Bob and Andrew show up?

Lets see, as we will in the midst of moving into a new apartment that requires some remodelling, as well as space for 14 bikes.

Eagerly awaiting your ride PDF, or any rough version. :-)
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3 weeks ago
Chris WeeTo Bruce LellmanHi Bruce,

Ayutthaya is worth a few days visit. Lovely temples and places to stay facing some river, a tributary of the Chao Phraya.

We were there in May with 40C temps.

This year's end should be nicer and the prediction for Bangkok is cold 16 - 19C. Single digits for the northern provinces. Bundle up !
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3 weeks ago
Frank RoettgenTo Chris Wee"Influencer" Bob has had a lot of negtive impact on my routines, Chris. Cycling without a detailed manifest - unheard of! He will not take the 6 panniers away from me though..... Talking about Bob: He is on the road up in the North right now, we will be in touch about a possible meeting. Andrew has been in the workforce back home in Australia and will not be able to make it this time. Andrea and Bruce will be rolling down the Irrawaddy at the same time so poor Frankie will be left alone again. Is that small forgettable town down in the Yala Province? I will only roll down as far as Bangkok and take a train back to Trang at the end of November but certainly do some more shortish rides in the South before I leave for NZ at the very end of the year
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3 weeks ago