Bangkok to Paris Videos

July 2020: A Flashback to 2009
Like most of us, the pandemic has kept us at home. As retirees, we’ve had time to catch up on much needed sorting and tidying. We’ve done wonders to house and garden, and we’ve also sorted accumulated media, much it records of our travels. This has prompted reminiscencing.

Chris has reviewed all the video clips we took during our 11 month long trip across Central Asia. He has added those that he feels have some merit to the Flickr photo sets of our journey. For those who have the time or desire to peruse these, we link them here.

Golden clock tower in Chiang Rai (a domestic tourist attraction)

Tibetan dancing (For Tibetan community in Danba)
Tibetan Buddhist call to prayer (North of Danba, sound is from temples in the valley)

(Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding)
Adult panda eating
Babies bottle feeding
Red panda moving slowly
Young adult eating very lazily
Teenaged pandas on a jungle gym
More pandas slowly eating

Light show on the water in Fengxian (a domestic tourist attraction)

Donkeys ploughing on loess plateau (Loess is wind deposited soil parent material)
Ploughing with an ox (Integrated seeder)
Ploughing with a horse (Husband ploughs, wife seeds)
Bleak stony desert (getting further west)
Windy 360 degree view
Chris on straight road

Musical street cleaner in Hami (Is the song familiar?)
Dust devil crosses the highway (Don’t ride through it!)
Making noodles (Wheat noodles have replaced rice as we travel west)
Making flatbread in a Uyghur oven (The deaf mute baker explained well with his hands)
Margo and Leon pursue camels (Trying to photograph them)

Dancing in Saryozek (Victory Day celebration, Russian commemoration of end of WW2)
Steppe (East of Almaty)
Herd of horses grazing (Dominant stallion fends off would-be interloper)

Horses herded along road (Moving to high pasture in spring – mares are milked)
Cattle herded along road (Moving to high pasture in spring)

First campsite (Just after entering Tajikistan)
Near Lake Karakul (Formed by meteorite hitting the Pamir Plateau)
Woman spinning yak wool (Young mother in herding family who took us in when we were cold and wet.)
Top of Ak Baital pass 4655m (World’s second highest “paved” pass, just lower than Khunherjab pass on Karakoram highway, China-Pakistan)
Mamazir homestay (Building could not be warmed adequately so we were invited in to family house)
Pamir Highway (Between Mamazir and Alichur)
Blowing sand, Wakhan Corridor (Afghan border along Pyanj River)
Women finishing felt rug (the final stage involves squeezing water out)

Samarkand (Silk road monuments restored by Soviets)

Fairy chimneys (Tuff volcanic rock. Our room was inside one)

Tortoises mating or fighting (Naturalists: which do you think is happening?)

Dubrovnik (City state vying with Venice for control of the Mediterranean)

Grazing cattle (Late autumn)

Traditional Dancing (At a festivale du foie gras in Alsace)



2019/10/23: In Dieppe
Our choice of Dieppe as a final destination in France was a deliberate one.

For most Canadians, Dieppe is remembered for one thing: The Dieppe Raid of 19th August 1942. 6,100 Allied troops, of whom 5,000 were Canadian, landed on the beaches. 907 of the Canadians died.

We cycled out along the main landing beach and then to the cemetery. I understand the rationale for the raid: the need to divert Nazi effort from the Eastern Front, and an essential test for the later Normandy Landings. However, during the hour we spent in the cemetery, my thoughts were dominated by the fact that everyone of these men had a mother and family back home, and I cried.


Trip Photos

After a few weeks at home, we’ve sorted through photos and created a Flickr collection with albums as follows:






It was another good ride. We are lucky sods.

Logistics: Toulouse to Oslo

We returned to Oslo overland as planned, weaving together visits to family and friends as we went. We did this without dismantling our bicycles. We’d expected it to be an adventure in itself, and it certainly was. We took a total of 23 trains, 1 bus, 3 ships and 1 smaller ferry, arriving in Oslo with 1-2 ribs broken in England and aggravated old bicep tear.

2019/10/22: Toulouse to Dieppe
TGV Innoui to Paris, 5 euros per bike, reserved space on easily accessible rack. Seats reserved beside bikes. Death-defying 15 km commute across Paris from Montparnasse to St. Lazare station. Intercity train to Rouen with bikes vertically on hooks. No charge for bikes but hooks allocated. TER (regional) train to Dieppe. Bikes leaning in luggage area, panniers removed.


2019/10/23: Dieppe to Newhaven
Evening crossing, 4 hours. Loaded bikes lashed down on lowest car deck. Disembarked in dark and rain, cycling on left in search of a B&B. 

2019/10/24: Newhaven to Canterbury
Cycled 39 km in increasingly heavy rain to Eastbourne. Margo yelling “LEFT, LEFT, LEFT” as Chris drifted to right on bike path. 2 trains to Canterbury. No charge for bikes, rack space available, panniers removed. 

2019/10/26: Canterbury to Lincolnshire, no bikes.
Bikes and panniers parked in hotel’s garden shed. 3 trains and one bus north to see friend. Bus segment due to unusual flooding on rail line.

2019/10/28: Lincolnshire to Canterbury via Horsham, no bikes. 
Driven to Doncaster to avoid flooded rail line. 2 trains to London. Buy additional tickets to Horsham to see cousin, out and back from London. Fast train back to Canterbury, retrieve bikes. Glad we bought National Rail Senior Railcards! 

2019/10/31-11/01: Canterbury to Cambridge

Cycled 74 km to Gravesend, some on trail suitable for MTBs, then under and over busy highways. Night in B&B. Ferry across Thames. First attempted route was closed. Second attempted route ended at a garbage dump. Onto “A” road with terrifying traffic, roundabouts, and honking. Train from Brentwood to Cambridge via London. Rode at walking speed through Cambridge city park to C’s old friends. Unfortunate fall onto a bent metal fence rail while stopping. OUCH!

2019/11/03: Cambridge to Harwich
Bought more Ibuprofen and Paracetemol en route to train station. Direct train to Harwich cancelled, replaced by three, meaning two extra changes. Platform and train are never at same level. This means each loading of bikes requires strength difficult to muster with broken ribs. One of us loaded bikes, while other stood holding a bike. Bought tickets and pedalled onto boat to Hook of Holland. Given bag of ice for ribs.

2019/11/04: Hook of Holland to Hannover
Rolled off to peaceful Dutch bike infrastructure. Pedalled 30 km gingerly to Schiedham. (Maximum elevation 3 meters.) Helped to use ticket machine by cleaning woman with impeccable English. Train to Rotterdam. Bought more tickets. Ticket seller made us lattes using staff coffee maker. A relaxed and welcoming country! Made us want to come back to Holland with bikes in better weather! Conductor at departure evicted oblivious youth with headphones from bike alcove. Train to Amersfoort. Train to Hannover, Germany. Found hotel. Walked back to station after supper to buy tickets to Kiel. 


2019/11/05: Hannover to Kiel
Positioned ourselves correctly on platform according to bike access diagram. Train arrived. Diagram was incorrect – we were at wrong end!! Moved as quickly as injury permitted to other end. We delayed train’s departure, and took a later train from Hamburg to Kiel. Still made boat departure. Lashed bikes in hold. Asleep in our cabin by 2 p.m. sailing, and did not wake till following morning. 

2019/11/06: Kiel to Oslo
Made good use of buffet breakfast. Minus 5 Celsius in Oslo. Rolled off boat carefully at 10 a.m.. Chatted to customs officer who clearly thought we were very odd. In the distance, we saw a familiar figure waiting for us with a minivan. Olav to the rescue!!! The non-injured and less-acutely-injured loaded everything into the vehicle. 

Oslo may not quite be home, but it’s a very welcoming base camp. 


Final Days of Cycling

2019/10/14-15: In Millau and 89 km to Bedarieux
After a quiet day hiding from rain, we met Belgians Karel and Yvette for a relaxed dinner. The following morning, we slogged uphill in mist, to emerge on top of one of the causses that makes up the southwestern part of the Massif. We were in Parc Naturel Régional des Grands Causses. These raised chalky plateaux are cut by rivers to form canyons.

The wind helped us make progress across the top, an open moorland grazed by sheep. Before we began our descent off the plateau, there was a group of modern windmills. “Stop les éoliennes” had been spray painted onto the tarmac nearby. We need to read and explore further to try to understand the basis of this protest movement against what one would think is a move toward a renewable energy source. We fell into a basic hotel, and rode to find dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

2019/10/16: 80 km to Mazamet

As planned, we followed another voie verte on old rail bed. The day took us very gradually up to a 750 m long tunnel at the top, and a very gradual descent across Parc Naturel Régional du Haut Languedoc. The only surprise of the day was when Chris ran over a fairly large (60 cm?) garter snake. Judging by how quickly it dove into long grass, I don’t think he seriously injured it.  

We rolled up fairly early to a two star Logis to find it unattended. After making a phone call to the posted number, we were cheerfully instructed how to check ourselves in, where to park our bicycles, and which key to take from a hook so as to let ourselves into our room.

2019/10/17: 90 km to Lauragais
The early part of the ride put us in heavier traffic than we’d have liked, but from Revel, we were on a suggested cycle route on small roads. We soon found ourselves on the distinctly off road cycle path that follows the Rigole du Canal du Midi. This is the feeder channel which brings water, collected in the relatively rainy high area to the east, to fill the canal at its highest point and allow the locks to operate. 

Having ridden along the Canal du Midi in 2014, we found it interesting to now follow the rigole or supply channel, and to arrive at the partage des eaux or watershed boundary, the highest point on the canal. 

Having followed the rigole on 40 km of path more suitable for mountain bikes, it was pleasant to ride along the familiar canal to Lauragais. This was our final night before arriving in Toulouse, and we marked the occasion by having hearty cassoulet for dinner.  

2019/10/18: 40 km to Toulouse
We started early, gliding along the familiar canal toward Toulouse. Ducks still slept, heads tucked under wings as they floated. A territorial goose challenged us. Were we taking photos of the same bridges we’d passed in 2014?

Our intent was to take the train north to Dieppe from Toulouse. This was to be a slow few days of overland travel, and a test of the bike-friendliness of France’s regional trains. At the station, we bought tickets for what we thought would be a northward departure the next morning. We settled ourselves in the nearby Ibis hotel, and made an outing to the laverie, or laundromat. This was the first such outing since Norway, and much needed.


2019/10/19-20: Still in Toulouse
The next morning, we loaded our bikes and rolled to the station. Our departure wasn’t shown on the board. In fact, there were very few departures shown.

The trains are on strike. Welcome to France.