BruceStats - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

March 27, 2024




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"Adventure is but a collection of detours."
Andrew X. Pham
Catfish and Mandala

Duration of this, our 5th bike trip in SE Asia - 88 DAYS, including the 2 days gone to the wind on planes coming and going.
Number of days I was exceedingly happy - 88, including those 2 days gone to the wind.

Number of days riding - 41, maybe 42
Number of days exploring towns - 32+
Number of days taking other transportation - 8?
Number of days we rode in rain - 1.5
Number of days sitting inside a bungalow watching rain - 1
Number of days mysteriously missing from these calculations - 3.  We were probably sitting, mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean. 

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Distance traveled by bike - 1271 Miles (2045 Kilometers)
Distance traveled by boat - on the Mekong River from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh - 202 Miles (325 Kilometers)
Distance traveled in a minivan -  Kratie, Cambodia to the Lao border - 122 Miles (196 Kilometers)
Distance traveled in a pick-up truck - Thai border (Chong Mek) to Phibun, Thailand - 28 miles
Distance traveled by train -  Cambodian border (Aranyaprathet) to Bangkok - 158 Miles (255 Kilometers) 
Train - Bangkok to Hua Hin, Thailand - 138 Miles (222 Kilometers)
Train - Surat Thani, Thailand to Bangkok - 500 Miles (800 Kilometers)
We did not take one bus, which has never happened before. It does not mean we do not love the buses in SE Asia because we do.
Total distance traveled by means other than our bikes - 1120 Miles ((1800 Kilometers)
So glad the distance we rode our bikes ended up being more than the distance we rode on other vehicles!

Total distance we covered on the ground in SE Asia - 2391 Miles (3848 Kilometers)  (And then there are the 8,000 miles from Portland to Bangkok and 8,000 miles return.)

Reason I'm adding 14 miles to this post - I discovered a 14 mile entry in my little log book that was for riding  around a town that I forgot to add at the time.

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Total cost of the 88 day trip for both of us - $5240 including round trip airfare - Portland - Bangkok - Portland.

Airfare round trip per person - (Portland - Bangkok, Bangkok - Portland) - $1042.00
Travel Insurance per person - $39.00
On-the-ground total expenses per person - $1539.00

Airfare, like one year ago, was just over 40% of the total cost of the trip even though airfare had risen by a full 25% in that single year.

Total Cost by Country
14 Days 
$282 apiece or $20/day, each person
9 Days
$136 apiece or $15/day, each
11 Days
$162 apiece or $15/day, each
53 Days
$960 apiece or $18/day, each

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60 Day Vietnam Visa - $25
30 Day Cambodia Visa - $37.50
30 Day Lao Visa - $40 Plus a $2 Corruption Fee (Beer Lao Fund)
30 Day Thailand Visa - FREE
30 Day Thailand Visa Extension - $55.23 each
The Thai extension appears to be a lot of money.  If you leave Thailand to another country you can re-enter and get another 30 day free Thai visa.  You would have to pay the fee for the visa of whichever country you jumped into, plus transportation, lodging, etc.  It would end up costing more than simply getting an extension while in Thailand. 
Total spent on Visas per person - $159.73

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Transport Costs
Boat from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - 2 people & 2 bikes - $105.00
Minivan from Kratie, Cambodia to the Lao border - 2 people & 2 bikes - $55.00
Pick-up truck from a different Lao border to Phibun, Thailand - 2 people & 2 bikes - $17.14
Train - Aranyaprathet, Thailand to Bangkok - 2 people - $2.74, 2 bikes - $5.14
Train - Bangkok to Hua Hin, Thailand - 2 people - $2.52, 2 bikes - $13.14
(It seems like someone needed beer money, charging us way too much for the bikes that time.)
Train - Surat Thani, Thailand to Bangkok - 2 people - $29.94, 2 bikes - $9.14
Taxi in Bangkok from new train station to old train station without our bikes - $4.29
Tuk Tuk in Bangkok with 2 bike boxes from bike store to hotel - $2.86
Taxi to Bangkok airport with all of our stuff - $22.86
Total Transport Costs - $269.77 or $134.89 apiece

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Total spent on hotels - $1533 - ($766.50 each)
Lodging is 30% of the total cost of the trip but if airfare is not included in this calculation it comes to 50% of our total on-the-ground expenses.

Cheapest Hotels - by country

$6.25 in Can Giuoc 
$6.25 in Chhlong
$7 everywhere except in Champasak
$13 in Phanom Dong Rak and in Ta Phraya

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Most Expensive Hotels - by country

$29.50 w/great buffet breakfast - in Saigon
$17 in Phnom Penh
$12.85 in Champasak
$32 w/great buffet breakfast - in Bangkok. When we returned to the same hotel later in the season it was $27 but we had booked it a month in advance.

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Average cost of hotels:

Vietnam - $17.72

Cambodia - $14.14

Lao - $10.14

Thailand - $19.94

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Andrea BrownTo John SolemIt borders on terrifying, really.
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1 month ago

Overall average cost of a room - $17.84 which is almost exactly what it was a year ago as well as our trip four years ago.  Hotel rooms in Thailand have increased in price by 10-20% in only the past year, but the overall average price was kept down by some very cheap hotels we had in the other countries.   

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Bottom line on cost:
Airfare - 40%
Lodging - 30%
Food - 15%
On-the-ground transport - 5%
Coffee - 3%
All other expenses - 7%

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This is interesting.....we took 5 really nice ferries in the delta area of Vietnam which came to a grand total of $1.08.  
In Laos we also took 5 ferries but they were unbelievably different from the ferries in Vietnam, often bamboo or scrap wood and with motors that didn't sound too good.  We never knew if they would make it across even short distances in the Mekong River.  The grand total for those ferries came to $4.40.  I mean, it's still nothing and we absolutely needed to take the ferries and were glad they were available, but that is a huge difference in price especially considering the difference in quality.  

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John SolemSo happy. What a great spread. Best table in the World.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo John SolemWe have now found two places in Thailand that make incredible bread and this is one of them.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemThe coffee was great here too.
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1 month ago

Food and stuff

Number of times we ate our own breakfast (papaya/muesli/mango/banana/soy milk) in our room - 47
Number of times we ate in restaurants - 112
Number of times we ate from food carts on the street - many
On-the-ground expenses for food - approx. 15% 
Number of times we stopped for coffee  - 71
Number of times we fixed our own coffee in our hotel rooms - countless
Most expensive cup of coffee - $2 - in Thailand  Cheapest - $.42 - in Vietnam and Thailand
Total cost for coffee - $65 apiece
Coffee - 3% of our total on-the-ground expenses!  

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Papayas on tables out by the road in the countryside were far cheaper than in markets in towns, around $.50 or even less for enormous papayas.
Banana Index - 60 small ones for $1 - in Surat Thani, Thailand
Mangoes were better and more plentiful than ever and averaged around $.50 each.  I remember when you couldn't find mangoes in the winter in Thailand.  Not anymore.

Number of bananas we ate - 193 at least but down quite a bit from one year ago when we ate something like 240. 

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Rachael AndersonThose mangoes sure look delicious!
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1 month ago

So, our total cost for food and stuff was $381.00 apiece or $762.00 for both of us.   We saved money by making a lot of our own breakfasts in our room.  We never went to fancy restaurants because we love the food the locals eat.   We also didn't eat a lot of crap (chid).  

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The "stuff" is everything that we needed to make the trip a success like:  electrolyte powder from any 7-Eleven store, laundry soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, admission to museums or historical parks, beer, muesli, repair of a bike rack, moon cakes (2), sticky rice basket, coconuts, fried bananas, roasted peanuts (lots of them), peanut brittle, sesame brittle, 1 small bag of ebelskivers (No idea what else to call them but they were fried in a special cast iron pan.), some chid (minimal, such as only one tiny bag of potato chips), little tiny notebooks, more peanuts (I don't even eat peanuts at home!), a certain kind of glasses for serving old-time Thai coffee when we get home, 1 bungee cord, coconut scraper, ice cream, tin cups, table cloths, underwear, tiny brass Ganesha for Wes, cloth "socks" for making Thai and Lao coffee at home, bike boxes, bubble wrap, fine sieve, crude wood food grater, stainless steel cups, small spoons and more roasted peanuts (what's with all these peanuts?).  

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Total number of squashed snakes seen on the roads - 133

Number of live snakes seen on the roads - 1 but why do I think there were more?
Number of water monitor lizards on the roads - 1 - very huge and very much alive.
Deadliest squashed snake ever recorded - Malayan krait

Not related to snakes in any way but the number of foreigners as cycle tourists we saw on the roads - 11.  I mention them mostly to point out that even though Asia sees millions of foreign tourists every year it is still pretty devoid of cycle tourists.  I think every one of them we met were from Europe.  

Best elevator company name - Tu Dong Elevator

Number of bungee cords lost - 2
Number of bungee cords replaced - 1

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Number of times I've wondered why BruceStats has become so detailed.  I keep hearing a voice in my head, "Just wrap it up Lellman."

On all the trips I've had in Asia I've always recorded oddly written menu items.  A jackpot was hit on this trip by one single menu.  There are too many interesting items to list but I wish I had ordered like this, "Yes, I'll have the Boil the Whole Sea."   However, "Spit Rolls" and "Exploded Catfish" are right up there with my favorites.  Too many favorites really.   I will again post the photo of the best menu ever.  

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The words in Thai for Spirit House - Saan Phra Phuum
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Number of photos in this journal - a whopping 2145!
All photos were taken with iPhones.  

A one month phone data plan in any of the countries we visited was $6-10 per month and worked pretty well.  No complaints.  

Number of days 90 degrees F. or above - about 80 days of our 88 day trip.  That's possibly something to complain about.

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I love reading reviews for hotels on Google Maps.  Here are some of my favorites this time around:

"The front receptionist spoke without a voice at all."

"The room is broken."

"The hotel loses to the house of thought."

"The third floor does not have an elevator."  (This could be a line in a Harold Pinter play.)

"Does the employee in front of the counter have some kind of life problem?"

"The room is rotten, the bathroom is even more rotten."


As was the case for our last two trips the best things we brought along were the electrocution tennis racket thing to kill mosquitoes, the water heating coil for coffee etc. and the Sawyer Mini water filter.  Both the water filter and mosquito killer are items that could literally save a life or two or at least make a trip go a lot better.  The best new things we brought along were Air Tags.  They greatly relieved our stress when we were forced to put our bikes on trains that we were not on.  Also, it was nice knowing our bikes made it onto the planes we were on.  The tracking was accurate, timely and basically miraculous!

One day I saw a butterfly the size of a bird and later that same day a gecko fell from the ceiling right on my head.  It was quite a day.

Once again we experienced no illnesses, no injuries, no dog problems, no bike problems although mine often sounded as though it was either about to explode or cease up and Andrea's leaked oil for a time, there were no crashies, no flatties and certainly no whammies except for that time the very first day when Andrea's bike was somehow connecting with mine. 

The BruceStats Organization™ has once again met several times over more than five weeks and after much discussion, taking breaks, drinking coffee, munching chid and generally taking their sweet time about it, have finally concluded that this bicycle adventure of ours, despite being quite hot, was another PERFECT TRIP.  
And I do not feel old yet.


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John SolemI know it wouldn't be the same but I'm sure someone in Portland could make one of those for you.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemYou're right. Thank you for this link. But, it was more about the guy making this stool because he needed one and he just threw together what he had without thinking about it for more than two seconds. He never dreamed it was cute or artistic or had any value other than to sit on. So, it had all of this connected with it and therefore I kind of wanted it. But it would have been a hassle to carry it all the way to Thailand and then it would have cost quite a bit to ship it home from there. I don't trust the mailing of packages in any country other than Thailand. But I'm sure he would have been thrilled to have sold it to me for $3 because he would simply slap another one together in five minutes or less.
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1 month ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 4
Rachael AndersonI’m glad to finally see you post your stats! Very impressive! Andrea, I loved your comment about Bruce stats!
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltAlways enjoy your stats. Menu is great!
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1 month ago
Victa CalvoLove those stats. Should have brought that stool home....
Thanks for the ride, you two. I sincerely hope there are many more to come.
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Victa CalvoThank you, Victor, for following along and always having nice comments. Say, if you are in Ben Tre, Vietnam anytime will you go get me that stool for me? I can direct you to the place no problem. I'm sure it's still there and I'm sure if you give the man enough money he will gladly sell it. He has two of them so make sure you get the right one! Of course I wouldn't trust the mail anywhere other than Thailand so keep that in mind when you plan your itinerary. I'll pay you back someday. Thanks. I'll be watching for packages.
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2 weeks ago