Welcome to Thailand  (February 28th - March  5th)
Welcome to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Distance biked so far:  8,503 km
The flight from Chennai to Bangkok on Thai Airways was uneventful. If I had to pick one thing I dislike the most by travelling by bike it would be flying. It is now almost impossible to get from India to Thailand overland with the Myanmar border closed and China requiring those in Tibet to travel in groups. With winter in the Himalayas, cycling was not an option but I managed despite paying the equivalent of another full fare to take my bike.

I arrived at about 4:00 am eased through immigration and was given a 30-day visa on arrival. That will give me enough time to get to Laos without having to extend and then I can get another visa when I cross back into Thailand later.

My first impression of Bangkok was the relative peace. It's hard to believe a City of 10 million people and one known for its crowded roads can be peaceful, but compared with India, it is like being in a mountain retreat. I rode a taxi down a very modern highway with marker lanes, traffic lights and cars that obeyed them. Our taxi even stopped at a pedestrian walk. So that's what the lane markers and flashing yellow lights are for, I almost forgot. I was able to ride the entire distance with my eyes open.

My second impression is the heat and humidity. The mornings are relatively comfortable but as the day progresses, even walking becomes a chore. Thankfully, at least here in Bangkok, the malls and ever present 7/11's (there are over 5,000 in Thailand) provide a nice refuge from the heat. Bangkok is very modern with all the familiar Western stores and to my delight, coffee shops. McDonalds is everywhere and it seems even Ronald McDonald is a more gentle version of the one back home, posing in the very pleasant and disarming Thai greeting.
I find myself thrilled and excited to be in Thailand. As much as the people of India were wonderful I feel a bit of relief getting out of the chaos. There is a certain comfort being in familiar territory even if I am in a completely different culture. After months in the Middle East and India I feel much closer to home being in Thailand.

Some of the restaurants have odd combinations advertised.
As is my custom in large cities, I tend to avoid most of the major sites but just wander around and explore the sights and sounds. Bangkok is another feast for the senses with the main attraction being food. A staple of the diet is of course rice with Thailand being the world's largest exporter. I enjoy rice and will have to get used to eating it regularly for when I stay with a family in the Philippines. So to prepare had some for breakfast. I was hungry again in about a half hour but with so much food around, solved that problem with another breakfast or two.
The street stalls have great food and as much as I have to exercise caution in terms of getting sick, they are often difficult to refuse. Here is a vendor cooking me up a delicious pat tai, thin rice noodles with bean sprouts, shredded carrots and some spicy sauces.