Rolling To A Stop

posted by: Emma

At 4am I’m wide awake. I stare at the ceiling in the last cheap hotel in nameless small town of our trip willing Justin to wake up with the same urge to get going. Sensibly he doesn’t stir. By a slightly more reasonable 5:30am we haul our panniers down a flight of stairs one last time and clip them onto our bikes on a dark street. I wave goodbye to the half asleep security guard. He has no reason to suspect that this day will be different to any other.

Emma before early morning start Emma cycling in dawn traffic

Turning left onto the multi-lane highway which will lead like an arrow into the heart of Bangkok, we have almost an hour before the sun will pull above the skyline. The sky starts to lighten on the scruffy edges of urban sprawl. Justin stops to capture light trails of buses and trucks. There is a delicious coolness to the air and it reminds me of many other pre-dawn adventures.

A few hours later I call us to a stop at a roadside stall, even though I suspect Justin would ride the entire 95km to our hotel without breakfast if I let him. I’ve spied a vendor making the gold elixir of Asian breakfast – rice porridge – and its with the finely honed instincts of a seasoned cycle tourist that my brakes are pulled. As we sit down we’re offered ice in big stainless steel mugs in which we pour weak brewed tea. The ice melts instantly.

Justin checking GPS

Our chosen dining establishment is set against a drainage ditch filled with dirty water. A swarm of mosquitoes is barely kept away by burning coils placed at our feet and the benches have a thick layer of grime. We watch the cook crack an egg into Justin’s bowl and are a little surprised that it appears to slide out perfectly poached. We too are feeling a little poached, our foreheads are already slick with sweat before we bend to the task of eating our boiling hot meal.

After nailing a few more kilometres we stop for one last roadside coffee at a coffee shack incongruously placed across the parking lot from a strip joint. We sit in the shade to drink luxurious blended ice drinks while playing a game of quick fire ‘remember when?’ about the past two years. We’re a long way from the wobbly exit from London, the freezing cold passes we climbed in Spain or those amazing moon-like landscapes of Turkey. Today we’re thankful to have easy access to water and to no longer be concerned about our bicycles falling to pieces. I can’t believe that we’ll be done by lunch time.

Before long we’re in the middle of Bangkok, seemingly one big wall of high rises and concrete overpasses. To us the city is a blur as we concentrate on a road fraught with danger – the worst are drainage grates running parallel to the road which look like they might just be able to jam bike tires. Aided by our GPS, Justin leads us towards our hotel via gated roads and back streets where traffic is surprisingly light.

Emma by breakfast stand Justin cycling into Bangkok

I’m wise enough not to expect ticker tape lining the streets or a marching band heralding our arrival but I can’t help but feel a little bit of elation when we finally turn into the road to Shanti Lodge. This will be our base until our flights back to New Zealand in just over a week. We lean our bikes up, then I slip off my sandals and go in search of reception. Aside from a week of clothes buying, bag packing and preparations for our return to New Zealand, we’re finished. That’s it. We’re done.

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11 responses to “Rolling To A Stop”

  • Hey guys… i’ve been keeping a eye on your trip for a few months… I guess living vicariously through your wonderful posts! What an inspiring journey. I can imagine that you must be bewildered and overwhelmed by your emotions.
    Anyway, well done guys. You are truly inspiring. My sincere congratulations and best wishes.

  • Steve on March 15th, 2012 at 11:28 am
  • wow! All over. You made it! What will fill me e-mail void? Blimey what’s next for you though….I’m no psychologist and when i was travelling once it was for only 4 months, but i guess its going to be hard. Be there for each other. Like you have been…

  • Rich G-J on March 15th, 2012 at 12:37 pm
  • Congratulations guys!

    We were so excited to meet proper cycling tourists before we set off on our adventure. Your pre-departure tips of peeing around the tent to keep the animals away and ensuring that we actually knew how to re-attach our derailleurs before we set off were most appreciated and I’m sure the next beginning tourists that have the good fortune of sharing a beer with you before they take off will be even more wide eyed at your adventures than we were!

    It’s been wonderful following your adventures and look forward to seeing where your next adventures take you!

    ~Kate

  • Kate on March 15th, 2012 at 1:00 pm
  • The end of one adventure will, I hope, be the beginning of another. I would love to hear your feelings regarding readjustment to life off the road.

  • Kalilileth on March 15th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
  • WELL DONE YOU TWO…… I have tears of emotion as I read this last descriptive entry.
    Your courage ,tenacity, resourcefulness, inspiration ,humility, and love of our world family shines through .
    The soul-filled stories of your adventures, the highs and lows and the AMAZING photos have opened our eyes and have been the highlight of our week over the last 2 years.
    THANKYOU , THANKYOU ,THANKYOU
    Go well special friends, celebrate your success and we look forward to catching up soon.

  • Kay and Richard on March 17th, 2012 at 12:10 am
  • What a great adventure! I’ve enjoyed your blog so much – thanks for sharing your journey. I hope you are both very happy back home in NZ. If the wanderlust strikes again, make sure you blog about it! :)

  • Jo on March 17th, 2012 at 10:38 pm
  • Wonderful emotional last post Emma. Hope you guys going well in welly. Did you get the te papa gig ? Was so cool to run into you like that! Please get in contact next time yr up in aucks. I’d lOve to cook you guys dinner and carry on the interesting funny chats. Xxx lise

  • Lisa on March 18th, 2012 at 2:31 am
  • Wow – thanks everyone for your amazing comments. We’re really chuffed that both old and new friends have gotten so much out of our journey. Its apt to say that the responses we’ve had to this blog post are worth a thousand marching bands and the most lavish ticker tape parade. It has been harder to re-enter ‘normal’ life than it was to leave it and we’ll try to share a few short posts about our thoughts on returning (and occasional new bike / ride posts) once the final loose ends have been tied up.
    Kate – we really enjoyed meeting you two as well. Whats this we saw about a broken leg from a flying accident?
    Lisa, Kay & Richard – we’ll be in touch when we find ourselves up your way and equally look forward to catching up.

    Cheers,

    Emma and Justin

  • Emma + Justin on March 18th, 2012 at 6:12 am
  • Congratulations you two!
    This post captures that anticlimactic, part wistful, part satisfying feeling of ending an adventure so well. Do let us know if ever you find yourselves in Melbourne, we would love to catch up again.
    All the best settling back into non-nomadic life
    -Jenny & Matthew

  • jenny & matthew on March 19th, 2012 at 4:49 am
  • Jenny & Matthew – your msg just reminded me that I need to buy lentils to repeat that yummy dinner you made for us in Istanbul. We’ll definitely be in touch if we head over to Melbourne and same to you if you head to Wellington.
    – Emma

  • Emma on March 21st, 2012 at 1:57 am
  • Awesome guys, perhaps you cold come home and tell us all about your stories and then ride back!
    Looking forward to seeing you both and hearing your incredible tales. Congratulation!

  • sarah on May 25th, 2012 at 2:55 am

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