When we decided to spend two months in Bangkok finishing our journals, we imagined we'd be holed up like a pair of recluses for the duration. That has been the case for the majority of our stay, but we haven't been nearly as isolated as we thought we'd be! For much of the time we've been living here, Bangkok has been a travel hub through which many friends, new and old, have passed.
On the day of our arrival, we were surprised to see Guy and Freddie. After chatting with them for an hour or two, Tyler and I dashed over to the train station in order to meet a young woman named Julie with whom we'd been emailing for a few weeks. Julie was just leaving on her first-ever bicycle tour, (solo!), and wanted to know if we could meet before she left.
Last night I learnt how to change a break cable and a gear cable, so I am feeling more prepared!! :DExcerpt from an email from Julie
We were exhausted from our long bus journey, but we agreed, feeling honored that she would want us to send her off. So, we managed to find Julie at the station with just minutes to spare. As we accompanied her to the train, lending a hand with her panniers, she nervously asked with a chipper smile, "So, do you have any advice?" With a laugh, we wracked our brains, trying to come up with some words of wisdom on short notice.
Tyler "Don't feel bad about going slowly!"
Tara "If you start feeling like you hate everything, eat something!"
Tyler "Leave really early in the morning so it's not so hot!"
Tara "Drink a lot of water!"
Us "Have fun, and don't worry, YOU'LL DO GREAT!!"
…and with that, we hugged goodbye and the train chugged out of Bangkok with Julie in tow, in search of adventure.
As we cycled out of the station, we sighed happily, feeling uplifted by the infectiously sweet and enthusiastic Julie—Tara even said she was inspired to embark on her own solo cycle tour someday! The next day, this quick email from her made us grin from ear to ear:
Hi guys!!! It was SUPER to meet you!!! Gave me such energy and a great vibe. The train journey was long ish but today was amazing!!!! Rode slow, covered 50km in 4 hours. Then slept for 4 hours hehehehehe managed to just miss the rain. Early start tomorrow with hope to avoid rain. I love it!!!!!!!!
I hope we meet again!!!!!
Big massive hugs- you guys are an inspiration!
When we returned home from our whirlwind meeting, we found the lobby of our hotel considerably more stuffed with touring bikes than it was when we left. And thus, we had a cycle tourists' dinner with Guy and Freddie, Melanie, a solo cyclist from Oregon, and a Belgian couple who had been on the road since leaving their home in France.
We had a blast sharing stories, hearing about everyone's travels and travails, and laughing about lots of little things that probably only cycle tourists can really appreciate. Melanie and the Belgians cleared out the next day, but Guy and Freddie stuck around for several more, during which we had a lot of fun. When it was time for them to go, we hugged goodbye and they left to finish up their journey home, cycling all the way to Australia!
After that first day, our first month of writing was peppered with pleasant meetings. Our friend Kris happened to be in Bangkok, getting ready to head home. Once again, our paths were intertwined for a fantastic night of food and conversation, just as they were several months ago in Cambodia.
A few days later, we went to dinner with Phil, a British cycle tourist we met in Savannakhet. Then came a Spanish man named Guim, and his Vietnamese wife, Thuy Anh, of the Electric Bicycle World Tour. Tara's brother's friend from high school, Katy, came to hang out with us for a day, and we went to see Jim Thompson's house.
Most recently, we had the pleasure of meeting Jesse and his partner, Greta. We'd been emailing back and forth with Jesse since he first wrote and said that the two of them were coming to Southeast Asia and would love to meet up with us. We happily agreed, and the date was set for tonight, just a couple of days before we leave to fly home.
Jesse and Greta arrived at our place, and we met with hearty hand shakes and much smiling. Then, we took them down to "our place" for dinner. Sitting in our little hole in the wall restaurant, and then over beers back at our hotel, we spent many, many hours talking about life, love, faith and the universe—it is such a gift to find finds friends with whom we can connect.
Over the course of the evening, we learned that Greta had teasingly described Jesse as our "screaming fainting fan", and to our astonishment, he (albeit neither a screamer nor a fainter) was. It was very sweet, and we told him we were flattered, but that we didn't need super-fans. We could be super-friends instead!
And, as a very kind and thoughtful gesture from our new super friend, Jesse brought us presents—these flashy, colorful motion-sensor bike lights, and a big pack of extra batteries! Thank you Jesse! Once we get home and get our bikes all put back together, we'll definitely add them to our wheels. :)
After a wonderful evening, we said goodbye with huge hugs and promises to keep in touch. Luckily this won't be that hard—we share the first leg of our flight home (Bangkok to South Korea) with Jesse.