Look at the roadside of a country, is like watching the refrigerator of a person: you can see in it a way of life, a way of thinking and almost, almost, you could guess a medical report about the state of health .
To move by bike, roadsides are something with which we have a close relationship, a continuous interaction which is revealing to us from the privacy and the silence, small truths through which we can read roughly the reality of the place, of the country we are passing through.
In Thailand again we found something that we didn´t see in a long time: trailing bits of food, remains in containers at the middle end, without having been eaten until the last crumb, to the last drop. And something else, an overwhelming variety of containers, wrappers, plastics, cans, bags, boxes, jars and a long etc…
In most parts of the world is not possible to find this wealth, a good recent example: Nagaland.
All we could see in those roadsides, was chewing tobacco wrapper and the plastics of the two types of cookies that are consumed: a salty ones and other sweet, and of course, always all consumed until the end, without a single crumb or rest within the paper.
In this return to Thailand we realized how and how much the world has changed. It happened in Bangkok but before I have to tell you the plan, our plan for Thailand.
This is a country that already we crossed from South to North and from West and east in 2013, just before being invited to Dubai.
Aitor alone, when he began his cycling adventures back in 2007 he crossed it whole, from beginning to end.
Unlike for example Nepal (which we never get bored after having crossed it many times), Thailand as we already wrote in the post of 2013 in this blog, always end up bored, fondly, it lacks spark, adventure, unexpected situations. After Myanamar for us, the following new it will be Indonesia, the rest is already so known and is so untasty that, it made us sit down and rethink the sacred rule for us: “Everything by bike ” and we decided by an absolute majority to make an exception, yes people, we caught a train…
We must be ready for anything!!
For us this time Thailand meant dentist and train. I guess that someone of you already know that this country is a place where many people come on vacation to visit the dentist: the quality is very good and the price compared to Europe makes that even included the vacations the treatment is cheaper.
After crossing the border with Myanmar the vision of the first shopping Mall was something that shocked us. Seeing that huge, huge building, full of shops, advertisements, sounds, lights, cars… It happen that in the first moment of “contact”, the first moment when we saw it…. a breath of air enter suddenly and sharply in the lungs, at once, the mouth and eyes opened one centimeter more than normal, and there remain, fixed, fixed everything: the air, the eyes, the mouth… and the building. Everything fixed for a few seconds after the shock received by the senses to such a view
The abundance of stores and endless menus of the restaurants also make us feel somehow confused and uneasy.
-Ey… Let’s see… that we only are a bit hungry and have come to eat something, nothing else, we don ´t have to become so crazy… we need … we want just … a little of… something, whatever.-
(We had the desire to tell when the waiter brought us the menu card, which appeared to be longer than Don Quixote).
This first sensation of fright to the abundance, of feeling overwhelmed with the excess, newly arrived as we were for a long time submerged in shortage, made us feel the world again as a blunder. It also made us to remember, the memory of the time of entering in South Africa after having crossed the east coast of the African continent, going to buy bread at the first big supermarket… a moment of shock, almost we could qualify it like collision, even accident, because for the mind… It was.
Of course that one gets used to the good things so easy and that we appreciate to be able to choose, and once submerged in it and after the first time of ”frighten”, then one normalizes it and even thanks it but, at the moment of passage from one to another…. personally we both were considered many things and what we give for good, stops being it so clearly ,maybe, for us, an middle way would be healthier, better, and would also give to every human being the posibility to savor it and enjoy it.
As I said was in the 4 days of stop in Bangkok when we received another head-on collision with the world as it is now, which made collapse the world so far we had known, which apparently no longer exists.
Being self-sufficient, most of the time we don ´t go to the sites where the most of the tourist go, and because we prefer to know the life and peoples of the country rather than the museums and architecture, we tend to be away from the tourist places.
We select them carefully when it comes to visit them, but this time in Bangkok we went inside, right in the middle, falling like a bomb!
We went to what was traditionally the place where the so-called “backpackers used to go.
Those, in the world that we knew, were often people aged 16 to 30, 40 (and sometimes even more) that they traveled spending little, bringing with them the least, they used to mingle with the local people, trying to live the reality of the country, eating where they eat , traveling with them, side by side, intending to mingle, learning from them, just being one more.
They used to be awaken people who wouldn’t let other to cheat them, used to learn some basic words in the language of the country, knew the real prices for locals in the first few days in the country therefore were respected without having to ask for it wherever they were.
Normally there were united between them with a great exchange of information about new routes, interesting and authentic places and was normal to mingle at the time of travel or share a transport or route.
Arriving at Bangkok we discovered that all that, has gone down in history.
It was really another moment of scare, another clash and even brought us for the first time in our lives the feeling of belonging to another generation, another world that… already is gone.
Is still called by the same name the one who travels with a backpack hanging on the back, but now, the most of them carry another bah hung in front and even many a suitcase with wheels!!.
The places where they go, they find them in internet and before having arrived to the city and even to the country, the most of them has already decided where to stay.
They arrive concentrated looking at their phones, and then looking up every now and then to see if the reality matches with what they see in their screens. Others arrive by taxi to the door itself.
Local buses and vans packed with people are things to picture but not for being experienced.
Most of them don’t know even how to say “thank you” in the native language and local places, are just that: for locals, the new backpackers move in “business class”.
The taxi has become the way to travel, from the door of the hotel to the train or to the bus (bus for tourists of course).
The organized trip to the place that the hotel recommends is what all do and the only variation is what they have been able to read in a blog. Everything is consulted before hand with the “God phone” and his godfather “Google” is the source of all wisdom.
The secondary streets, to get lost around, to try the unknown, the small corners, the venturing… It seems that everything sounds unsafe, uncertain and this curiously and to our surprise has become synonymous of… danger.
Prices of what were once simple hotels now they sound like great hotels, the hostels that were once the most simple and inexpensive option now have chill out area and some even including spa, and of course, price is three times that it what was before. Now the hostels have 3 stars.
The new backpackers now, in a surprising majority have stopped to comparing prices, it seems that is real what the Angolans told us that in the West we get money from the walls (referring to the ATM) and that the Government support all of us economically for traveling. It really seems that money grow on trees and even with all that is worshiped, it had ceased to have any value.
Really, I promise, that we could not believe what we saw around us.
The pace of travel, the rhythm of the people was what finally left us with the feeling of belonging not to another planet, but to another far, very far dimension.
A continues race in diferent transportations to visit the greatest number of places in the shortest possible time, we have not understood finally what are the importance of this for them, if it is the number of places, the number of km, of countries, if there is maybe a mysterious type of obligation to do a number of things per minute or, if perhaps, what is intended in this time is to get the largest and most varied number of selfies for somehow become better or more appreciate or… or… we do not really know.
About this we are still confused and if we confess it, with a bit of melancholy for what it was, those characters that one used to met while traveling, those meetings that were so enriching, surprisingly, but secretly we do not lose the hope to have those meetings again.
The train ride was something that we used to sewing saddlebags and tuning the material because, with Indonesia on the horizon we knew that everything should be ready for all terrains, rain, heat…
We crossed Malaysia cycling with an eye on the horizon, pedaling as machines wanting to reach the next, it was this time for us, a simple meanwhile, no more.
This time also it was a place where to leave our winter stuff that we were not going to use the next four months in Indonesia, like this we would go much lighter like butterflies, flying more than rolling.
We left everything in the North, in Penang, at a place called “Tititeras”, there through warmshowers.org we met a group of new friends with wich we stayed for some days and they offered to take care of our material. A group of nice and special people of the Chinese Malaysian community, a community that makes us feel a preference clear by their forms, their treatment, their customs and their delicious culinary culture.
There, we left much of our material and the rest, we packed and make ready to be leaded in the bus that took us to the airport, ready to cross the little piece of ocean that separated us from North Sumatra. Eager, with expectation and a special eye glitter we felt the wheels of the plane taking off from the ground and with that, begin a new adventure.
Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere wweeeeeeeeeeeeee gooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!