Chris and Gabs provide their March update from Phi Phi Island, as they continue on their World Cycling Tour in aid of Prevent Breast Cancer
Author: Gabs – April 6th 2020
Cycling for… 648 days
Through… 27 countries
Currently… on Phi Phi Island
Raising so far…£11, 221.00
This month we’ve visited
When we entered Thailand, we were on a mission to get to Bangkok for the 4th March, so we had to cycle each day to a set mileage if we were going to get there on time. The reason for this was my cousin Ian and his wife Sue were coming to Thailand for their holiday and would be in Bangkok. This was perfect timing for us as they had kindly offered to bring my medication out with them which was fantastic as I was due to run out in May. Our route to Bangkok was along the coast to Chanthaburi, Rayong and Pattaya. From Bangkok we followed a lovely coastal route called the Royal Coastal Road all the way to Pak Nam where we got the ferry to Koh Samui. This took us back over to Surat Thani and then we cycled coast to coast across to Krabi where we got the ferry to Phi Phi Island where we currently are now.
The most beautiful area has been
We cycled Thailand four years ago and cycled a loop starting from Bangkok into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and back to Bangkok. It was the first time we had done a long bicycle touring trip; I think it was over seven weeks. We fell in love with Thailand and we have been desperate to get back here ever since. We have had an incredible time cycling the coast. There are so many untouched beaches and small islands with extraordinary shaped mountains in the distance. We fell in love with the country all over again, and were able to camp on some beautiful beaches and swim each day in the clear water of the sea. The Royal Coastal Road took us through lush green forest areas with many palm trees on a very quiet route clinging to the coast.
The things we love this month
We just love Thai food and you can get tasty street food everywhere here. Chris is in his element as there are many street vendors selling green, spice curry – his favourite. We are also living off vegetable noodle soup which they make so well, and I just love the pepper they have. We are also enjoying the many grilled and steamed whole fish that is popular here, which is very tasty and cheap. We are still buying passion fruit by the kilo and you can get plenty of watermelon and pineapple already prepared in little bags from many street vendors.
The most challenging part
Apart from cycling in the intense heat and making sure we drank and had enough water; we had a few things to organise and places to be for certain dates. That sounds easy but with the heat you are stopping more to shelter and to cool down so the mileage you could normally do in a day becomes a struggle. Also you don’t know what mishaps are going to happen along the way like flat tyres or heat stroke which we try very hard to avoid getting. Firstly, we had to get to Bangkok to meet my cousin and we had also arranged to go to Vejthani Private Hospital just outside Bangkok as they had kindly agreed to help me with a year’s supply of my medication. We are so thankful to both my cousin Ian and his wife Sue. It was lovely to meet up with them and have a good catch up as we hadn’t seen them for five years. It’s terrible how time just goes so quick, but we were then lucky enough to meet up with them again on Koh Samui and we had another great night out. (If you ever want time away in the future they own a lovely resort in Hambelton, called Brickhouse Farm Cottages with a hydrotherapy pool and the Lakeside Bistro. There is an amazing and touching story on why they came to build and expand their resort which you can read on their website – https://www.brickhousecottages.co.uk)
We are also thankful to Vejthani Private Hospital because due to the current situation I would have had no medication now and no way of getting any. They arranged a consultation at their breast cancer department which included a health checkup which always puts your mind at rest. Then I was able to get a prescription for my medication which I could get from their pharmacy in the hospital. It was all very straight forward and professional. The hospital was just amazing.
Our other decision to make after we left Koh Samui was either to go off route and extend our visa in Swiathani or wait till we got to Krabi and then decide what place was best to get to before a complete lock-down. We needed somewhere we would be safe from the virus and comfortable to live for the next few months as we started to notice places closing, popular towns had far less tourists and main tourists’ routes were empty. There was however no information in Thailand about what was happening so we just had to predict what could happen. We were heading to Phi Phi Island anyway and planned on being there for Chris’s birthday, so we decided to stick to that plan.
Next, we are heading to
At the moment because of the Coronavirus, we are staying on Phi Phi Island. The current situation from the 30th March was that all tourists will have left the Island and all ferries to and from Phi Phi to the mainland will be stopped for the time being from the 1st April. With a lot of deliberation, we decided it was best to stay on the island away from the mainland where there are many tourists, with lots of people still coming to the main popular towns. We thought it was best to stay away from the crowds and keep ourselves to ourselves on this small island.
At least here on Phi Phi no other people can arrive now. Left here are just the handful of people that live here normally so we don’t come into contact with anyone. All the resorts, hotels and anything to do with tourism are closed and the island has basically shut down. It is so sad to see as for the Thai people living here this is what should be their busiest time of the year with tourists but now they are all out of work. Many have left to go back to the mainland to live with their families. As all the surrounding border crossings are closed, we will remain in Thailand.
Thoughts and feelings
Before we boarded the ferry to Phi Phi we were in a town called Swiathani, where there is an immigration office. We decided to cycle the extra ten miles of route to extend our visa for the thirty days you are permitted. This was because we were uncertain what was going to happen in the next few weeks, and we didn’t want to be on the island and get caught without a visa. We are so relieved that we did this as we would be in a difficult situation being here on the island and our visa running out. We now have a visa till the 26th May.
Each week in Thailand there is different news on social media about the current visa situation for stranded tourists. They are still making people go to the immigration offices, but hundreds of worried people are turning up all at once and not being able to social distance themselves. All our information is from social media as you don’t get any official statements or have anyone official come to the island. It is difficult to believe what is happening in the world and all the difficulties. Where we are is like paradise, living by the ocean on our own private beach, able to swim each day with no one around. We would not know all this bad was happening. We are thankful and wish everyone to take care and pray for this to end soon.
Remember you can watch all Chris’ wonderful ﬁlms he has made about our adventures on our website.
Read last month’s newsletter here.
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