Friday, November 13, 2009
Korat: night-markets, fruit smoothies and smooth-riding
Total km: 731km
We are officially loving Thailand! The roads are really well maintained, the language is easy to pick up, and the food and drink is so, so delicious (and hasn't made us sick!).
We cycled a cruisy 50km to Buriram, from Surin, and then a longer 130km on to Korat (Nahkon Ratcharisma).
About 50km out of Korat, we met anoth cycle-tourer, Mark from England. He was on his own and had six months to make his way around SE Asia. He had only just started our from Bangkok on his first cycle-tour, so we were able to offer some advice about the road we had come from, and about Cambodia and Vietnam (which we toured in 2007)
Because we are cycling almost daily, we are trying to keep distances under 100km per day to a) ensure that we don't become exhausted b) try to get to our destination around lunch-time to re-fuel and have a decent look-around the town and c) limit exposure to extreme heat and sunlight. So far, we have only had a few 100km+ days, so things are going very well.
While it is definitely still hot in Thailand (some would euphemistically call it "beach-weather"), it is very pleasant compared to Cambodia, which was likened to "living in a furnace" by Vanessa ; )
Also, the food is much yummier in Thailand and hasn't made us sick (we were mildly sick most days in Cambodia) so that has been really helping with energy levels. Although local-restaurants are always tasty and cheap, the last two nights, in Bariram and Korat, we have had dinner at the local night-markets, which provide a great opportunity to buy little samples of a many things (noodles, BBQ meats, coconut-sweets etc) and have fun mixing with the locals. Luckily, we have both learned to count in Thai, and are pretty good at understanding how much stuff costs.
Because we know how to be polite and count, Thais always ask if we speak Thai. When we reply "mai chai" (no) they nonthless act impressed that we know how to say no! Thais really do make tourists feel lioke stars ; )
Ohh, and the fruit-shakes! Basically, you just point at the fruit you want, and the store-holder cuts it up in front of you, throws it in a blender with a whole lot of ice and blends the lot into a delicious and healthy icy-slush. Mmmmm! A big one costs about 15Baht (~50 cents). There are a lot of people selling iced coffees and iced tea on street-carts too, so we have never gone thirsty.
So, basically, we have been having a really great time cycling, eating, drinking our way through Thailand. We only have ten days left on our visas, before we need to move onto Laos and, while it will be great to see a new country, I want to stay in Thailand a lot longer! The people, roads, and food are all such a joy in the "kingdom of smiles".