Went out on the bike a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t been out for a ride for a while as I’d bust a spoke, I’d done a little riding around the area where we live, to the club or the shops and back, but that was about it.
So I bought some replacement spokes and a few additional bits and pieces while in Bangkok, and I spent most of Thursday (we had the day off for Ashura) fixing up the bike – replacing the spoke, learning how to true a wheel, cleaning it (so much gunk), relubing it, adjusting brakes, gears, etc. The intention was to head out with a group led by Ken, who I’d been out with on my previous trips, but Nora wasn’t feeling great on Friday so I didn’t want to leave her on her own with the boys.
However, we met up for lunch with Mark and Sholu at the Bhaga Club, and he and I agreed to head out the next day. I’m so glad we did, it was great to get out of the city. It’s all traffic and construction and concrete high-rises and people and people and people and dirt and people everywhere and noise and dirt and grey everywhere. The whole place is a building site, it’s like there’s a major construction taking place on EVERY SINGLE ROAD. It seems like almost every time there’s a three-storey building somewhere, it’s being torn down to build a six-storey building in it’s place.
So it was great to head out into the countryside. It’s changed hugely since I was last out there maybe 2 months back. The water level has dropped maybe 3-4 meters, perhaps more, so where was once a trail with water either side now runs along a ridge with cucumbers growing down its sides. There’s rice fields everywhere, all in different stages of growth, some fields are dry, some still have water. There’s places where they’ve installed an electric pump by the river and build an irrigation ditch to take the water out under the road and across the fields. There’s fields and fields of gorgeous looking cauliflowers and cabbages. Greenery everywhere, every space is being used for something. And of course now the weather is quite cool it was lovely being out there. Not much of a breeze except that which we created ourselves as we rode along.
|People stop and stare at you as you go by. We paused on one bridge and this guy stopped behind us, we figured he wanted to get by so we moved our bikes but it turned out he just wanted to stare at us.|
|Digital cameras are great, as you can show people the picture you’ve taken of them. I love that, they get a kick out of seeing themselves. Later on, we paused on another bridge after a particularly bumpy section, and there were a group of old women coming along, I asked (via gestures) if I could take their picture and they all gathered together for it, then got a real kick out of seeing themselves on the screen. It was fantastic.|
|There’s a few more photos here|
We’d only intended to head out for maybe 2-3 hours, but it was about four hours by the time we made it back. We were never exactly LOST but there was quite a while there where we weren’t sure if we were going the right way. It’s fun trying to find your way home when you don’t speak the language. You ride through a village, just a collection of huts and dirt trails, trying not to kill anyone’s chickens, and trying to work out which trail looks reasonably well used enough to be a major route, and saying “Dhaka? Uttara?” with a terrible accent to anyone who looks like they might know. Some of them look at you blankly, like “Huh? What?”. Others nod and point the way you’re going, but you’re not sure if they’re really telling you you’re going the right way, or if they have the desire to please so they don’t want to tell you you’re actually going the wrong way!
When we started heading back we asked a biker who told us to go left, then straight on and we’d come to a river where we could get a boat across to get back to Dhaka. But a good hour later we still hadn’t found any river, and it was so much drier than last time I was out there we weren’t sure any boats were going to be necessary. There were paths we followed that were definitely under water a few months back. But eventually, yes, we came out by the river, and Mark recognized it as he’d been out that way on a boat trip last year. Finally we saw the landing area where they’d caught the boat, and there was a rickety flat boat ferrying people backwards and forwards across the river, so we waited until it came back, hopped on board and a few moments later were across the water and on our way back home.
About 25 minutes later and we were back in the (relatively) quiet streets in Baridhara where I live. The back wheel had held up fine, though I do need to review it before heading out again this weekend. And I was chatting to Mark this morning who told me they’ve found another route out which avoids the horrendous market we had to go through, so that’ll improve that aspect.
Excellent. Can’t wait to get out again.