Saturday, January 13, 2018

Chennai to Bangkok

Sampson performs at an annual colony community celebration, Chennai, India.
Mr. Varadan, myself and Amelu.  These are my in-laws in Chennai, India, who planned numerous events for us in our final two weeks in India.  Mr. Varadan led us by motorbike the 14 km to the airport on our final bike day in India, allowing us to savour our last kilometers of Indian streets and safely navigate the potholes, cows, speed bumps and traffic without worrying about the route to the airport.

End of a long day lining up visas in downtown Bangkok.  Pop in a bag - the perfect extreme cool-down.  Take a bag, fill it with a big scoop of ice, pour in the bottle of pop and stick a straw in it.  The shirts Sampson, Markos and Tarn are wearing were tailor-made for them in Chennai, India, a gift from Mr. Varadan.  Perfect for our visits to the China and Vietnam embassies today.

This is an interesting one, don't know what it's called!
Helliconia - We are surrounded by amazing tropical plants and trees, as well as interesting birdsong here in Nachida Thani, a planned community that houses the international school where our friends work.  Colleen is supervising Sampson, Markos and Tarn's semester one final exams for their distance learning school courses.
Rick and Markos build up their bikes after the flight to Bangkok.  A trip to a bike shop landed us several needed bike parts.  We have bought new, stronger front racks for three of our bikes.

A farewell to India and a welcome to Southeast Asia.  Our transit went smoothly and we were passed from the care of our relatives in Chennai to our friends in Bangkok.  Pretty wonderful.  Colleen Coady is a friend from my last years working as a camp counselor in northern Minnesota.  For the last 20 years she has taught and worked in the administration at international schools.  It was our luck that Bangkok is her current home.  We've looked forward to this point in our trip and Colleen has pulled out all the stops.  Apple crisp, fresh brownies, and her daughter Kate (16 years) organizing the teen scene - tonight it's the swimming pool and going to a movie at the mall with 7 other teens.  Graeme, Colleen's husband, is a retired teacher and has been helping us with our various supply and business needs.  We are housed in an available teacher-housing townhouse, more than accommodating!  We'll head out Tuesday morning, back on the road and beginning our Jan-Feb-March tour of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.  The jury is still out if China can be included.  The requirements of an approved travel itinerary with agency-made accommodation each night make the visa a bit of a challenge.  Riding across the border as an independent bicycle tourist is not allowed.

What am I excited for?  Getting back into the rhythm of the road.  It's been a couple weeks of RnR and  all of us are ready to explore a new country.  The food - Thailand is known for it's tasty and ever-present street food.  We can't wait! Seeing the green-green of the countryside.  When I cycled in Thailand in 1999 I remember being sad to leave the lime-green hue of the rice-paddies and jungles behind, after that three month tour of full green immersion.  Stay tuned!  Adventure is ahead.

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