Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cycling South Thailand 2016

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling South Thailand 2016
South Thailand: 11th - 22nd April 2016
Small Group Cycling Tour of South Thailand - Kuala Lumpur>Hat Yai>Songkhla>Ranot>Thale Noi>Phatthalung>Trang>Wang Wiset>Khlong Thom>Phuket.

Our cycling tour of South Thailand added another feather to my cycling cap, and was also a milestone in my cycling career. This will be the tenth foreign country I will be cycling in:
Some of the above were cycling tours, some were just day stints, but at least I did get to see or catch a glimpse of those countries from a cyclists point of view.

It was by perchance that I did this tour as during the same time I was suppose to go on a cycling tour of South Korea; but somehow that tour did not pan out. Again I was fortunate that Yong Sin was organising a tour of South Thailand and invited me in..... needless to say I was most happy to stretch my cycling legs and joined him and his friends. During our tour, an emergency cropped up and we had to seek critical medical help. It was quite an intense and unnerving experience, but from that we did learn something on how to cope with emergencies.

For some tips on cycling in Thailand, go to bottom section of this blog. Hope they will be helpful to you.

Below are the blogs of our cycling tour of South Thailand together with some other related blogs, click on the respective photos to read:

Next - South Korea

Hat Yai To Phuket South Thailand Cycling Route Map
This is the consolidated route map of our overall tour from Hat Yai to Phuket.


Here's, some general tips on cycling in South Thailand, more detailed tips will be included in the day to day blogs:
1. Communicating with Locals
    For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English).
    This could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Memory-resident translation apps like a English-Thai Dictionary which can downloaded from Google Play Store are also useful; they give translations of basic terms.
    In Thailand, doctors and pharmacists speak relatively good English. Seek out clinics or pharmacies for help when necessary. A friend who regular tours South Thailand even carry cards of crucial personal and medical details printed in Thai, basic daily terms, etc.

2. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost. Most countries have pre-paid tourist phone sim-card packages, look out for them as soon as you arrive at the airport or railway station, or visit the nearest phone shop as soon as possible (... click here to see prepaid sim link). Save up each others local phone numbers once that is done.
    Create a chat group so that general communications can be broadcast, eg. where and when to meet to start the day.

3. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads with the relevant tools. We even carried one spare 16" tire as we were concerned that these were not easily available in the small towns of South Thailand that we are riding through.    

4. Navigation
    Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS unit (good ones are available from the Garmin Edge series) and pre-plot daily destinations points into it. Even if he is familiar, a GPS unit allows for some exciting detouring to unexplored territories. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    For the others, install Google Maps or some offline navigation apps (... click here for some). Google Maps is good, although it may not be perfect, roads are frequently updated. It even has options to avoid highways, toll roads & ferries; OR one can set it to walking mode (careful here though as under this mode, sections of the route may go against traffic). 

5. South Thailand Road & Traffic Conditions  
    Generally, the road conditions of the highways and main roads in South Thailand are in excellent conditions with few pot-holes. Most towns have some cycling lanes and highways have wide emergency/motor-biking lanes.
    Motorists are quite considerate of cyclists and often give way. But do watch out for the motor-cyclists, they come zooming zig-zagging through even when you are indicating turning.

6. Accommodations
    Accommodations are relatively easy to come by in most towns, just look out for blue signages with the numbers 24 which indicate that they are opened twenty-four hours. These are motels for travellers; some are small having only two to five rooms, while larger ones have up to fifteen rooms.   
In small towns, cost per room ranges from 350 to 500 Bahts for these motel-like accommodations. In larger towns, hotel rooms can be obtained between 500 to 700 Bahts.
    If one can speak Thai, it would be possible to pre-book these rooms, otherwise accommodation is not a major worry.

7. Food
    Food is easily available, there are eateries offering various Thai food. Small shops can be found along highways. Thai food can be somewhat intense in terms of flavours. Food and drinks are on the sweeter side and rather spicy; do ask them to tone down if this is too strong for you.   
Many petrol stations have small convenience shopping sections; while in most towns there will be at least one 7-11 shop which do stock up a wide range of pre-packed food (i.e. if one is not up for street food) and other convenience items. Tesco Lotus Express also operate 24-hours outlets, although these are not as common as the 7-11's.

8. Emergency Numbers
    1669 - is the Emergency Medical Service contact number for Thailand (nationwide).
    1155 - is the contact number for tourist police (applicable for holiday resorts only), they may not be able to render medical assistance but most of them can speak English.

9. Budget
    Allow around 350-500 Bahts per night for accommodations, and about 300-400 Bahts for food per day. So an overall budget of 1,000 Bahts per day should be adequate for the budget concious traveller. A budget of 1,500 Bahts per day will be comfortable.




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