Issue 48 / July 2015
CYCLE TOURING IN THAILAND 8 WARDROPE MUST-HAVES FOR THE RAINY SEASON
LOMPRAYAH CUSTOMER CARE
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Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Talk Hello, July
Hello July, and welcome to the rainy season.
Now, the cycle touring is very popular in both of Thailand and oversea. Lots of people are love to travel by bicycle and enjoy the nature and country by it. So, this issue, Lomprayah Magazine will talk about the cycle touring in Thailand and give you the information about the routes and details of this type of touring for those who want to do a cycle touring in Thailand. We hope that you will get the useful information, and also enjoy other interesting stories in this magazine. Thank you for your kindly support. Good bye.
Lomprayah Team Editor in Chief Photjanard Kantiwong
Executive Editor Wanitcha Sukchet Tinn Chacalanuwattanapong
Editorial Staff Vorapong Vongvarothai Juntiya Laoniyomthai Areeya Pichittanabordeekul Jiraporn Boonta Kitthawat Chaisingthong
Art Director Methakritsada Wanngoen
Graphic Designer Seattakit Meunnak Annop Sawatdipol
With quiet, well surfaced roads meandering through a picturesque landscape and generally courteous drivers, Thailand is a great place to ride a bicycle. In fact, there is surely no better way to get to know the real Thailand than by taking a cycling tour through it. The vast majority of visitors will take a one hour flight from one tourist hotspot to the next, missing out on all of the hidden treasures in-between. Instead, consider taking several days to make that same journey, cycling through the unspoilt Thai countryside. Travel along jungle-lined roads or through a rural landscape of rice fields discovering magnificent sites unknown to the tourist hordes and meeting genuine and friendly locals who will remind you why Thailand is known as â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the Land of Smilesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Best of all you will be travelling at a pace that allows you to truly absorb and appreciate all the wonderful things you come across.
WHAT IS THE CYCLING LIKE? The short answer is â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;fabulousâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Away from the major towns and cities the roads in Thailand tend to be relatively free of traffic compared to those of western countries and the drivers tend to be a lot more considerate than you may be used to. It is usually possible to find an alternative to the major highways (even travelling between two major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai for example) but if your route does take you on a major road you can expect a lane dedicated for use by cyclists and mopeds. The terrain will depend on the route chosen but there is something to suit all abilities and tastes from easy rural flatlands to vertiginous and winding mountain roads.
WHERE SHOULD I
The cycling is particularly good in the north of Thailand, especially around Chiang Mai which has a thriving local cycling scene and is used by some of the professional Asian cycling teams as a base for training camps. However, the riding is really good throughout Thailand. Choose a start point and a finish point and you are reasonably sure to have great cycling between the two. There are some established routes with well documented itineraries and if you are going solo and it is your first time touring by bicycle in Thailand, choosing one of these routes would make the planning a little less complicated.
ESTABLISHED ROUTES Chiang Mai to Bangkok (or vice versa) This is a generally flat route with all of the climbing packed into the very beginning or end of the tour, depending on which way you go. You’ll ride through the rice-growing heartland of central Thailand and can visit historic sites such as Sukothai, Ayyuthaia and Kampaeng Phet along the way.
The Mae Hong Son Loop This is a very challenging but spectacularly scenic ride setting off from Chiang Mai and taking you through the northern Thai highlands close to the border with Myanmar and visiting places like Pai, Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang before skirting past the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon and then returning to Chiang Mai. Riders doing this loop often take the opportunity to ride to the top of Doi Inthanon but this is purely optional.
The Golden Triangle Strictly speaking, this isn’t a route but the point where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. There are several possible itineraries departing or ending in either Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai that will let you explore the ancient Kingdom of Lanna, most of which will visit this spot and then take you back to one or the other potential start points. With rice fields, tea plantations and the Mekong River, the scenery can be spectacular. The riding can vary from the rolling to the challenging depending on the route taken.
Bangkok to Phuket This is probably the most established of all the routes taking you from Thailand’s capital city, hugging the coast of the Gulf of Thailand before crossing the isthmus of Kra to the border with Myanmar and then following the coast of the Andaman Sea to the touristy island of Phuket. The riding is rolling.
Where should I stay? That is entirely up to you and your budget. Most hotels and guesthouses will be only too happy to allow you to keep your bike in your room overnight or will store it in a locked room for you. Do check before you book and make sure you do this ahead of time. The last thing you want after a hard day in the saddle is to turn up at your planned destination to discover there is a convention of sunflower growers in town and all available rooms have been taken.
Doing It Yourself
If you are sufficiently adventurous and well prepared it is perfectly feasible to cycle tour all over Thailand either on your own or as part of a small group travelling without any back-up. Doing it this way does require serious forethought and planning. For a start, you’ll want to carefully consider your route beforehand. You’ll need to ensure that you can realistically cycle the distance and terrain planned for each day and that there will be suitable accommodation awaiting you on your arrival. Try and figure out in advance where along the route you can get food and water and make sure you take on refreshments when you need them rather than when they are available. You’ll be carrying your own luggage so think carefully about what you bring. If you don’t absolutely need something then you’d be advised not to bring it, especially if you are likely to be encountering hilly terrain. Do though make sure that your bike is well maintained and that you are carrying a reasonable level of spares and tools. Finally, make sure that you have the time and resources to deal with the unexpected. If you are adventurous in spirit, are not tied to a strict schedule and are prepared to forego some of the finer comforts in life, then this is a highly recommended way of doing it. It will also generally be cheaper.
For those who do not have the time or the inclination to go it alone, those on a tight schedule or those that want a little bit more in the way of comfort, there are a small number of tour operators who specialise in providing supported road cycle tours in Thailand. All the operators provide a similar level of service with only minor differences between them. All of the planning and logistics are taken care of leaving you to simply turn up, ride your bike and enjoy the scenery. A support vehicle will follow behind carrying your luggage, providing refreshments, allowing you to take a break from cycling if you wish and ready to respond in case of an emergency.
There are currently three tour companies based in Thailand offering the kind of road cycling tours described in this article. In alphabetical order they are:
CROUCHING TIGER CYCLING TOURS
Based in Chiang Mai, this company offers owner-led tours predominantly in the north of Thailand. All tour briefings are conducted in English by the guide who is a native English speaker. All meals are included. Maximum group size is 12.
SIAM BIKE TOURS
Based in Phuket, this company offers owner-led tours throughout Thailand although their main area of concentration is the popular Bangkok to Phuket route. Briefings are conducted in German although the Swiss owner speaks excellent English and will summarise in English for non-German speakers. Meals are not included. Maximum group size is 16.
Based in Bangkok and much bigger than the other two companies listed above, Spice Roads offers road cycling tours throughout Thailand as well as mountain bike and standard â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;adventure cyclingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tours in other parts of Asia and indeed Europe. Local Thai guides are employed to run the tours but the official tour language is English. All meals are included. Maximum group size is 18.
ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S HEALTHY TOO However you decide to make your tour, whether solo or as part of an organised tour, your health will benefit too. As well as being fun, cheap and environmentally friendly, cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that gives your heart, lungs and blood vessels a good workout and burns plenty of calories. Someone weighing 60 kg riding at a steady 25kph on the flat is likely to be burning about 25 calories per kilometre. That would equate to a whopping 22,000 calories burned on a tour from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
HAAD TOOB AND JUHOY CAPE
Haad Toob, Juhoy Cape is an interesting point during the months of November and December as Thousands of birds from Siberia and the North Pole getting away from the cold, come to stay in Juhoy Cape. Visitors often come here to have a look at the various kinds of birds. The most popular bird is the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Crab Ploverâ&#x20AC;?, which once used to be a bird of the Royal Family in England. Presently, there are of them which have never returned to the North, and have become part of the Juhoy Cape.
THE CHUMPHON NIGHT MARKET The Chumphon night market is located in the central area of town, not far from the train station. There is a large number of street stalls which offer a variety of Thai foods and seafood, fruits, juices and shakes among other things. It is a good place to explore on foot. Try a new Thai snack, pick up a pizza or enjoy a coffee at one of the many shops and street outlets. During the day, there is some street vendors along the road where Chumphon Hospital is. Then make a right going towards TMB bank and there are more street vendors catching the kids during and after school. before TMB bank and before 7-11 there is a covered produce/meat market that is opened daily but is more of a morning/early afternoon market. More street vendors near the same 7-11.
KO PII SHOP AT TRANG
Try the typical Trang “Dim Sum”- many very small delicious dishes, you pay only what you did eat. Both the top shops for coffee (Ko Pii; Hokkien word) and the less popular ones, lie on every road, and also a combination of noodles and many rice dishes. The most popular aspect is that a drink of Ko Pii is always accommanied with many delicious Dim Sum filling the table- all of which are carefully prepared from traditional recipe which are completely different from others. The time for Dim Sum is early in the morning, late afternoon and midnight. Typical dishes you will find in Ko Pii Shops: Paa-thong-ko - fried sweet pastry Salapao - Chinese bun Kanom Jiip dumplings Muu Yaang - Trang-style Roast Pork Jok - thick Chinese rice soup When you order coffee in these Ko-Pii Shops, be sure to use the Hokkian word Ko-Pii rather than the Thai Ka-fae, otherwise you may end up with Nescafe’. Coffee is usually served with milk and sugar - ask for Ko-Pii Dam for sweetened black coffee or Ko-Pii dam, mai sai naam-taan for black coffee without sugar.
BANGKOK “BIKE FOR MOM” MOTHER’S DAY RIDE 2015.
Ref: http://www. bicyclethailand.com/events/
Event type: Casual city ride for all participants – Families with children encouraged to attend. Location: Cycling route along Sri Ayutthaya, Paholyothin and Vibhavadi roads in Bangkok. All roads will be closed to automobile traffic from 9am until 9pm. The “Bike For Mom” ride will be the biggest of its kind, and the Royal Thai Police are preparing for more than 50,000 cyclists to hit the streets, for which they’ve decided to shut down several major roads all day. Starting from Dusit Palace on Sri Ayutthaya Road, the round-trip route will run past Victory Monument and up Vibhavadi Road before turning back at the 11th Infantry Department (Royal Guard) on Paholyothin Road back to the starting point, for a total of 43 kilometers. About 10,000 police officers and volunteers will be deployed along the route, handing out water and monitoring safety.
THE CITYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S HIGHLIGHTS Ref: http://www.alexinwanderland.com/2015/02/27/best-bangkok-viator-tour-citys-highlights/
As a Bangkok veteran who has made almost twenty trips to the city, I love that I never seem to run out of new things to do. This round, though, I was showing around a first timer — and I felt very responsible for making sure he saw the traditional highlights of the city in addition to our offbeat nightlife discoveries. How to cram it all in on our final morning? We settled on a Viator Exclusive showcasing three special sides of Bangkok — the Morning Buddhist Almsgiving, Grand Palace and Flower Market Tour. In spite of the 5:45am pickup time, I was pumped. My only other experience observing an alms ceremony was in Luang Prabang, and while stunning it was frankly a bit of a circus. I’d never heard of observing one as a tourist-oriented activity in Bangkok before, which gave me high hopes that we’d have a very authentic morning. I wasn’t disappointed. We arrived at local monastery Wat Benchamabophit just as the orange orb of sunrise lifted over the dark city. Our guide, Niran, led us inside for a quick tour of the temple, where groundskeepers were just starting to sweep up for the day. Interesting as the information was, I was distracted by the wisps of saffron that continued to flash by the corner of my eye. We made our way back to the entrance, where rows of monks were beginning to greet alms-givers. A bag of food was pressed into our hands and with a quick explanation of proper protocol we were pushed ahead to participate. I was a bit flustered by this, having not realized that we’d be doing anything more than observing.
Interesting as the information was, I was distracted by the wisps of saffron that continued to flash by the corner of my eye. We made our way back to the entrance, where rows of monks were beginning to greet alms-givers. A bag of food was pressed into our hands and with a quick explanation of proper protocol we were pushed ahead to participate. I was a bit flustered by this, having not realized that we’d be doing anything more than observing. I was somewhat relieved when I was able to sulk back into the corners and quietly soak up the scene. I’ve never been so grateful to have my Canon 70-300mm zoom lens — I felt like I was able to really capture the experience while keeping a respectful distance and without being intrusive. We watched transfixed as car after car and motorbike after motorbike pulled up to the temple. Policemen, students, office workers, a dude with dreadlocks to his knees — they all came, popped their trunks, slipped off their shoes, and doled out offerings to the monks with a respectful wai for each. This, Niran had explained, was a daily ritual much like the Western tradition of attending church each Sunday. Most prepared their offerings the night before, and dropped them off on their way to work or school. I was fascinated.
Niran appeared, two fresh coconuts in hand, and continued to quietly explain more about the practice of almsgiving. For those who give, it is a way of “making merit” in their Buddhist beliefs. For the monks who receive them, it is a way of receiving sustenance that allows them to focus on their studies and meditation. Most male Thais become monks at some point in their lives, for at least a short period — Niran had done it it twice; once before getting married and once after his father died. Once and for all, I was able to settle a question that had burned at me for years: Do monks pay for cab rides in Thailand? Typically, they do, was the laughing reply — though they pay only half price for the BTS and MRT, two of Bangkok’s public transportation systems.
I left the alms ceremony totally satisfied — we couldn’t have asked for a more authentic or education experience. Our next stop was one I’d been to before, the Pak Khlong Talat flower market, Bangkok’s largest wholesale and retail flower bazaar. However, I’d only ever been late at night — I was eager to see the twenty-four hour market in the daylight. Unsurprisingly, I spent most of my time with my camera glued to my face, unable to stop snapping off shots of the colorful blooms all around us. Along the way Niran pointed out fruits we might be unfamiliar with, and continued to answer our ever-bubbling up questions about life in Bangkok and — as I’m obsessed with other people’s professions — life as a tour guide. As we rounded the corner to where we’d once again meet our driver, we realized we were actually running early (very much a first for this perpetually late traveler). I paused to shuffle through my bag and when I looked up I was being handed a bouquet of white roses from Ian in one hand and a glass of cha yen — a milky Thai iced tea — from Niran in the other. What a lucky girl, I thought. Eventually we made our way to The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The gates had yet to open and a crowd was forming around them. While we waited, I tried to determine how many times I’d been inside — this would be only my third, but somehow it felt very familiar. Yet, notably, this was my first with a guide — and I was looking forward to hearing his insights. Already conservatively dressed from the alms ceremony, we were able to bypass the line for modesty sarongs and be among the first to enter the grounds when the opening hour struck. Those first moments were precious. Not long after, a swarm of fellow camera-toting tourists would buzz around us, but right then, we had the breathing room to truly be awed by one of Southeast Asia’s most impressive palace complexes. One of my favorite moments of the tour was Niran’s earnest explanation of the Thai people’s love for the precious Emerald Buddha, to which he attributed Thailand’s safety from colonialism, communism, and other societal ills. While I might not share his reverence for any religion or religious icon, I found his devotion both fascinating and touching.
The Emerald Buddha in question, one of the holiest religious figures in all of Thailand, is carved from just one piece of jade, and is dressed in various ceremonial outfits based on the season. The outfits can be changed only by a member of the royal family, a change that is done to great fanfare and pageantry. We were actually astounded when we made it back to our hotel by 10:30am — early enough to nab hotel breakfast! While waking up before sunrise is admittedly somewhat painful, I loved being back at our hotel so early and realizing how much we’d already accomplished, even with the whole day ahead of us still — I also mused that this would be the perfect tour for jetlagged travelers who just rolled up in Thailand and are wide awake at that hour anyway!
Overall I’m not sure who enjoyed this morning more — Ian, the Bangkok first timer, or me, the long-time Bangkok fan. I do know that I’m adding it to my roster of must-do recommendations for friends and family who make their way to Thailand. As as a Viator Exclusive, there’s only one place they’ll be able to find it.
Top of the World
WORLDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BEST LOW-COST AIRLINE Ref: www.aviationfigure.com/worlds-best-low-cost-airlines-in-2015/
World’s Best Low-cost Airline Award is a quality distinction award that is based upon the customer satisfaction assessment of product and staff service standards supplied by the airline in both the cabin and airport environment that indicates the global ratings achieved by all low-cost carriers. AirAsia has been once again named the World’s Best Low-Cost airline and now it is for the 7th consecutive year. Travelers from across the globe take part each year in the world’s largest airline passenger satisfaction survey to decide the award winners.
HERE ARE THE TOP TEN WORLD’S BEST LOW COST AIRLINES FOR 2015. 1. AIRASIA 2. VIRGIN AMERICA 3. NORWEGIAN 4. EASYJET 5. JETSTAR AIRWAYS 6. AIRASIAX 7. INDIGO 8. WESTJET 9. JETSTAR ASIA 10. SCOOT
NATIONAL THAI LANGUAGE DAY July 29th every year is observed as National Thai Language Day. On 29 July 1962, the King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama 9) visited the Faculty of Arts of Chulalongkorn University, the oldest university in Thailand to join experts on the Thai language in a discussion on problems with using Thai words. During the discussion, His Majesty urged people to be aware of the proper use of the Thai language. His participation in the discussion reflected his interest in the preservation of Thai cultural heritage. He also gave advice on the preservation of the language. He emphasized the importance of using correct pronunciations and local dialects. In year 1999, Ministry of University Affairs. Chulalongkorn University submitted the proposal to the Government to appoint July 29 National Thai Language Day to to honor His Majesty the King on the occasion of his 72nd birthday celebrations, and shows awareness of the importance and value of the Thai language.
8 WARDROPE MUST-HAVES
FOR THE RAINY SEASON Ref: http://www.kinowear.com/40-common-mens-fashion-mistakes-to-avoid/ Ref: http://www. http://8list.ph/clothes-for-rainy-weather/
If you rocked one in the 90’s then it’s time to dig through your closet and unearth it. Bucket hats have made quite the comeback in the last couple of years, so if you can’t find yours, it’s time to reinvest. It’s important to keep your head dry.
WATERPROOF OUTERWEAR Ever thought about how dirty rain water could be? Save your self from germs and catching a cold with some waterproof outerwear. Uniqlo has a number of options in a wide range of colors and styles for you to choose from. The best part? Their parkas are lightweight and easy to roll into a case, making it easy for you to carry around in your bag!
BOOTS As firm believers in footwear, a good pair of boots will be your best investment this rainy season. While the last time you may have rocked a pair of Docs was in your pre-teens, a pair can now double as shoes for the office and as a comfortable staple in your wardrobe. A good pair of boots, like their 1460s, will help make you ready for anything!
Banish Seasonal Affective Disorder and battle the rainy day blues with a light, easy to use umbrella. No one likes getting caught without one in an unexpected downpour.
Some people believe that knitwear has no place in a tropical country like ours, but we beg to differ. Zara has a few choice pieces that aren’t too bulky (breezy, in fact) for hot days, and cozy ones for bad weather. A nice oversized sweater is just the thing for some comfort without sacrificing any of your chic. Knits also allow women to don skirts and dresses without fear of the wind sweeping our clothes up with it!
NEUTRAL-TONED UNDERGARMENTS The truth is that no matter how prepared we are, getting drenched is inevitable. Whites and khakis tend to get a bit transparent when wet, which means strangers will know that you wore your lucky red underwear that day. Avoid awkward situations by stocking up on neutral-toned underwear.
DARK JEANS As mentioned, certain colors and fabrics just don’t work with getting wet, so make dark jeans a wardrobe staple this rainy season. Dark jeans are durable, easy to pair with your other clothes, and don’t stain easily from mud and dirt.
NON-COTTON SOCKS Nobody likes wet socks inside their sneakers. Keep this from happening to you by heading down to your nearest sporting supplies store like R.O.X. or A Runner’s Circle and grab a couple of pairs of non-cotton socks, like ones from Asics, which are guaranteed to keep your toes from getting squishy with all the rain and puddle water.
Global News AirAsia flies to the Maldives AirAsia has announced plans to launch direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Maldives. Commencing on 22 October 2015, the low-cost carrier will serve the route three times a week using a 180-seat, all-economy class Airbus A320 aircraft.
TAT and THAI mark 55th anniversary with an educational tour for Thai youths The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in partnership with Thai Airways International (THAI) has hosted 100 Thai youths from the northern and southern regions on the ‘THAI – TAT Take Youth to Fly: Educational Tour to Discover Thainess” in Bangkok during 21-23 July, 2015. TAT and THAI are both celebrating their 55th anniversary this year.
Unique trekking and camping tour launched to India’s tiger country Adventure and wildlife specialist Gane and Marshall has announced a new tour to India, offering a unique chance to explore, trek and camp in the pristine wilderness of Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve.
Thanks : http://www.traveldailymedia.com/224583/airasia-flies-to-the-maldives-2/ http://www.tatnews.org/tat-and-thai-mark-55th-anniversary-with-an-educational-tour-for-thai-youths/ http://www.traveldailynews.asia/news/article/59241/unique-trekking-and-camping-tour
Tip to Trip
5 SMART TIPS FOR STRESS-FREE BABY TRAVEL
New parents tend to overpack, says J.J. Levenstein, M.D., a Los Angeles-based pediatrician. “Unless you’re traveling to a third-world country, you can buy diapers and formula anywhere,” she says. “And don’t take more than a three-day supply of baby clothes. You can always do laundry at your destination.” Whether you’re going by train, plane or automobile, allot one diaper per hour of travel time. Bring a solid supply of baby wipes or cleansing cloths for quick head-totoe clean-ups, adds Levenstein -- diaper blowouts and spit-ups always happen at the worst possible time. A couple other musts if you’re flying: “Be prepared to nurse more if you are exclusively breastfeeding in order to keep baby hydrated. If your baby is over 6 months old and bottle-fed, sips of water or formula can accomplish the same thing,” she says. To avoid ear pain from cabin pressure, offer a pacifier or bottle during takeoff and initial descent.
Make sure baby’s vaccinations are up-to-date, and ask your pediatrician about giving baby a flu shot before traveling. “Especially if you’re flying, the flu vaccine offers a layer of protection,” explains Levenstein. “No matter how careful you are, shared air really can’t be avoided in a plane.” If you’re traveling abroad, keep in mind that the strains that cause the flu in the United States may be different than those in other countries. Another smart move: Bring any medications your infant takes, plus three or four extra days’ worth in case your return is delayed. If a medical problem (i.e., a whopping double ear infection) forces you to cancel travel plans, call the airlines and hotels to see if they’ll negotiate on nonrefundable fares, suggests Levenstein. “A faxed letter from your pediatrician may help. People can be surprisingly understanding when it’s a true emergency.”
ADJUST YOUR MIND-SET
Know that road trips will take twice as long with a baby, warns Rivoli. “You need to build in lots of little breaks, stopping every two to four hours,” she says. “Let baby stretch and wiggle; maybe roll on a blanket even if he’s not crawling yet.” If possible, break your trip into a couple of days. “It’s helpful to arrive at your destination early enough for baby to adjust to a new setting before it’s time for bed,” Rivoli adds.
LEAVE THE BIG STUFF BEHIND
In many cities, rental companies (babysaway.com, rentittoday.com) will deliver the big-ticket items (crib, car seat, swing, high chair, etc.) to your destination. It beats schlepping baby gear through the airport or trying to cram it in your trunk. Many car rental companies also rent car seats for a small daily fee, so check with them before you begin your trip. Whether you rent or bring your own, a decent stroller is a must, says Rivoli. “There are so many situations where you need to strap the baby in for a few minutes: a restroom, or a hotel room that needs baby-proofing. Sometimes it’s handy just to be able to stroll her to sleep in a strange place.”
LAYER THE DUDS Dress baby in easy-on, easy-off pajamas for travel, recommends Levenstein, and then add layers for warmth if need be. “When you’re going through airport security or just changing a diaper, you want to keep everything simple. You don’t want to be taking her shoes, socks and jacket on and off.”