For my first full day in Bangkok I booked a bicycle tour with SpiceRoads Cycle Tours. The plan was to first hit Damneonsudak Floating Market, then ride around in the nearby palm tree farms for 30km or so, which is exactly what we did! …eventually.
Flashback to 8:00 that morning, where I had been patiently waiting since 7:30 to be picked up by the tour van. For most of the time that I was sitting in the hostel lobby, the clouds had been fluctuating between releasing a mild amount of rain and a steady downpour. At a few minutes past 8 I started to wonder if the trip was cancelled due to the weather. But then my poor tour guide finally knocked on the door, soaking wet after walking around for the better part of a half hour, unable to find the hostel. He apologized profusely and I assured him it was okay with a smile. Rain or shine, I was ready to ride! From there we dodged puddles and the splashes of passing cars as we scampered to a hotel around the corner where the van was parked.
Inside was a young Brazilian couple, both of them lawyers who specialized in child labor laws. It turned to just be the two of them and myself on the tour, but they didn’t seem to mind having a third wheel! The husband spoke English quite well but his wife, not so much. In addition to Portuguese, they both spoke Spanish, though, lo cual fue muy divertido para mi (which was very fun for me)! While pulling out of the hotel parking lot, we glanced gratefully at the sky for lightening up on the rain. Then before I knew it we were barreling down the highway and our tour guide was assuring us about our driver, “Don’t worry. He’s very safe! Good driver!”
At most a few minutes passed. Then our trusty driver slammed on the brakes and the van began to slide on the still-slick road. I looked up through the windshield from the rear left passenger seat just in time to spot the cause for the alarm: a large pick-up truck idling no more than 50-40-30 feet from us. Unable to stop us in time, the driver attempted to swerve, but only managed to get the left half of our vehicle to clear the truck. Bracing myself for the impact, I closed my eyes and–BANG! Silence.
I opened my eyes to the sight of the 30-something Brazilian man cupping his eye and nose, which he had somehow managed to scrape on the ceiling a few seconds ago. Other than very mild soreness and bruising around our waists, his wife and I were fine. We had been wearing seatbelts, after all. The tour guide, driver, and people in the stopped truck were also fine, fortunately. When asked what happened to his seatbelt by our tour guide, the Brazilian pulled it out from under his seat where it had been lying, completely detached and unusable, from the moment we’d left. And thus began our poor tour guide’s second round of profuse apologies that day.
For the next hour and a half, we waited by the side of the roaring highway for a replacement van. Thankfully by this point the rain had stopped completely. Our tour guide did his best to make sure we were okay and stayed hydrated. Though, in retrospect, the man next to me should’ve gone to the hospital to be examined instead of justing icing his face and continuing with the tour; not as much for the minor lacerations around his eye and nose, but for the sizeable swelling that had developed by the end of the day on his shin, which he’d also managed to hit against something in the van during the crash.
It definitely wasn’t how any of us had planned to start the day or our trips, but at least we were all (relatively) okay! The rest of the day went smoothly and was very enjoyable. The floating market lived up to its reputation as quite touristy but also worth it. Our boat ride through the nearby canals was fun and relaxing. The lunch included in the tour was a delicious array of authentic Thai cuisine. And pedaling through the palm tree farms was beautiful! All in all, the peacefulness and solitude of the rural environment was a welcome retreat from the chaos and noise of Bangkok, especially after experiencing such a big BANG that morning! Despite the mishap with getting picked up and the minor collision, I still recommend SpiceRoads, or at the very least bicycle touring in the outskirts of the city!
Moral of the story: safety first, kids! Always wear your seatbelt! And if ya don’t got one, GET one!