Rice Paddies

2009/01/10: to Chainat 48 km
We did a short day out of Ayuttaya on Saturday, reaching Ang Thong by noon to find an adequate hotel near the centre of the town. The strong winds were truly buffeting us, and we had tired quickly. Also, gathering ourselves to start was slow, as Chris had been in no condition to assemble himself his gear the night before.

After resting in the hotel, we strolled in the busy markets, found an internet cafe, ate a delicious Pad Thai supper, and found a pharmacy. We bought calcium supplements which have helped relieve muscle cramps. We can take calcium now that we’ve stopped taking the malaria medication. Upon carefully checking our malaria maps, we don’t need to consider taking these till we near the Laos border. Furthermore, according to Alistair who has lived and travelled extensively in the tropics, Australian travel doctors advise against taking anti-malarials because you can still get the disease but the symptoms are masked therefore making a diagnosis is more difficult. Without anti-malarials, he says, the disease can be diagnosed and treated quickly and effectively. Canadian travel doctors have a more conservative approach. We find ourselves uncertain whose approach to take. Knowledgeable and thoughtful comments would be welcome.

2009/01/11: 99 km
Starting from Ang Thong at 6:00 a.m., we rode nearly 100 km to Chainat today. Our route has been essentially dead flat, but the winds create a challenge. We eat fruit as we pack to leave, and then find roadside food an hour or so later. Today we had some rice and coconut milk creations served in a banana leaf.

We’ve started to photograph food, as many cyclists seem to do. Food is such an important part of travel, both as fuel for the engine of travel and as part of enjoying local culture. We have no qualms about photographing food we have ordered and are clearly about to savour, but I would feel impolite photographing food in a market because it appears unusual to falangs like us. I can tell you a few things, however. We had what I think were poultry hearts on a stick for breakfast in Ayuttaya. I got them by accident, but they were pretty good. And there are grilled skewered frogs in the market that are as big as small chickens. The fried locusts at a roadside vendor did not appeal to me.

We travel by endless canals where small groups of Brahman cattle are herded along the banks. The rice paddies stretch on for miles and are cultivated mechanically.

Chris has plotted our progress so far on google maps.

We are planning to head onto smaller roads soon, now that we have a bit of a feel of things. This country feels so safe that our Plan B is to bivouac in any of the roadside bus shelters if we are not near accommodation as night falls. We are considering doing a leg by boat on the Mekong Rover from the Laos border to Luang Prabang.

M

5 responses to “Rice Paddies

  1. I love your blog! It’s fantastic to be able to share your trip vicariously. It’s clear that you’re starting to settle into the “routine” of the trip. Food descriptions are great.Best, M.

  2. Margo and Chris,It is great to hear about your northern progress. I thought that you might want to hear my side of the malarial discussion….I usually recommend antimalarials from Chaing Rai northwards, as the Thai border, Laos and lower elevations of Yunnan province are malarious, housing a strain which has multiple drug resistance. Doxy or Malarone are the usual recommendations. Antimalarials work by stopping or hindering the replication of the malarial parasite(in us),not by masking symptoms. The rare cases of malaria while on antimalarials usually result from missing tablets, but even then (3-9% failure) the resultant malaria is EASIER to treat because of a lower parasitic load. (Fewer critters to clear out of one’s system results in a better survival rate) Thailand medical officials recommend antimalarials for the northern border areas. I hope that this info helps you.Ross and I look forward to hearing more about your trip! Trisha Beaty

  3. Thank you for an authoritative answer Trish. We’ll start popping pills again soon.Margo

  4. Colin, our family’s insect expert, says that he prefers termites to meal worms ’cause the former are a bit minty and if you crunch them between your teeth they don’t cause trouble, however he agrees that you should draw the line at locusts.

  5. Thank you for your input, Colin.I fondly remember when your parents went through a delicious phase of dipping anything and everything into chocolate, and giving the result as Xmas presents. Perhaps your family should experiment with chocolate-covered locusts? I wonder which of larval, nymph, or adult stages taste best?Please experiment and report to me.Margo

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