We met Rico during one of our usual stops at PTT tank stations (they have good coffee shops -Amazon Café- and convenient 7-eleven stores to refill our water and snacks supplies).
To be exact, we didn't meet Rico but his unusual baggage. A low wheeled cart with a hard suitcase attached and topped with a solar panel.
The curious cart was parked next to our car. We studied it for some minutes and then went to grab some food at 7-eleven.
We were somewhere between
It was almost noon, we were somewhere between Chiang Khan and the central plain and we were hungry.
We walked out of the shop with our food when we saw him. A tall young man eating an ice cream (it was nearly 36 C.
He was Rico and we can chat briefly.
Rico is a German young man who has been walking for two years. Yes you read well, 2 years and he's planning to walk another 3 before getting home.
In these 2 years he has walked from his native Germany to this spot in the middle of Thailand where we met. Most of the times he camps on the roadsides or if the conditions are bad he sleeps at hospitable people's homes or monasteries.
He told us that he only flew once to avoid walking in Afghanistan.
And also that the Iranian people are the most hospitable.
He crossed deserts at unbelievable temperatures, ancient rivers incredible wide, rainforests and mountain ranges all on foot.
Tropical depression Sonca also hit him as he walked in Thailand (as it hit us as well ) and he looked for shelter in a Buddhist monastery.
We were not told the powerful reason or the motivation that keeps Rico walking but we found he's admirable.
He plans to walk Australia east coast and also across Canada and USA before ending the walk back in Germany.
This is his website if you want to know more about him and support his long "long walk": www.ricoslongwalk.de or Facebook group: rico's long walk
- Being on the road always gets you to find weird things and surprising people.
The drive between Chiang Khai and Sukhothai (almost 350 km) was long but interesting, going from the riverside village through the mountains and into the plain.
We stopped a couple of times, once to have breakfast and then visit Loei and Phu Rua national park. At the park the weather was not good but at the peak the light was interesting to take some shots of the landscape.
Phu Rua is a small park, with a couple of waterfalls that you can also visit.
The world, walking:
At lunch time we stopped for a break and grabbed some food at 7-Eleven.
It caught our attention a suitcase attached to a sort of cart and topped with a solar panel parked next to us.
It was Rico's. Rico is a German young man who has been walking for two years, from his native Germany to this place in the middle of Thailand where we met. He only flew once, he told us, to avoid Afghanistan.
A nice story I will try to describe it in a separate post.
In the meanwhile, this is his website if you want to know more about his motivation and support this long long walk: www.ricoslongwalk.de and on Facebook: rico's long walk
- Roads in Thailand can hide many surprises
We spent this day in Chiang Khan and its surroundings enjoying fantastic views over the Mekong and mountains of Laos on the other side of the river.
We found a complete list of activities to do "in and around" Chiang Khan in an article published by Travelfish.
The views from Phra Yai were stunning. The picture featured in this article is one we took from there.
Then we drove through the rural roads to Phu Tok. These more than 20 km can be a heavy task if it is raining hard but is more local and interesting than the main road along the Mekong.
In the afternoon we head to Khaeng Kut Ku to have a drink and a boat trip in the Mekong.
- Local roads can be a little more difficult but far more rewarding. In our experience small roads are quite ok in a 90 per cent of the cases. If it rains you need to be alert.
We left Nong Khai and took the route 211 in direction to Chiang Khan in the west. The idea was driving the 190 km along the Mekong visiting some villages and temples on the way.
The morning was rainy as the tropical depression was affecting the area besides the usual monsoon season.
As you travel west, the landscape turns more hilly and rural.
We stopped in Si Chiangmai and Wat Hin Mak Peng with nice views over the Mekong. Then visited the waterfalls at Than Thip, Bang Muang and Pak Chom.
We arrived in Chiang Khan when it was dark. Then by some reason all our systems went offline at the same time. No wifi, no gps, no mobiles. We thought that there will be no way that we could find our hotel being all the signs in Thai and without a GPS. Then we stopped at a local small shop in a corner. Even though the people there spoke nearly no English they understood our situation and called to our guesthouse to explain exactly where we were. Our hosts picked us up some 15 minutes later (by the way our hosts didn’t speak much English either).
Tip of today
- Locals can be very friendly and helpful if you are friendly too 😊
This morning we found out that the super heavy rain that hit us last night was in fact a tropical storm as the Typhoon Noru came ashore.
It s said that this tropical storm called Sonca will last for a couple of days at least.
In the meanwhile, some provinces are severely flooded and the country had to open the dams due to the excess of water.
Main roads keep safe to drive, though we found some 25-35 cm water on some parts of Khon Kaen.
Even so, it s better than we expected. Only last night it rained 100 mm and it haven't stopped yet (being 11:30 am)
We drove the 175 km from Khon Kaen to Nong Khai visiting Udon Thani on the way.
It was fast and easy.
Sunset on the Mekong river was both dramatic and splendid.
- If you are doubting about packing or not that umbrella, please don't hesitate. Just do it. 🙂
Today was a combination of big roads and small roads.
Most of them in very good condition.
Though every big tank station has a coffee shop today it was hard to find a decent one.
We visited the Khmer temples of Phnom Rung and Hin Pimai on our way to Khon Kaen. Both are worth to visit. Even if you have been in Angkor before, these ones in Thailand are very beautiful and well restored.
It was hot and raining all day long.
At sunset the clouds in the sky were spectacular. Weather was very stormy and it poured harder and harder as it became dark.
We finally arrived at the hotel and found a fantastic place to have dinner with live music. It’s called Jimphony!
- By observation we came to the conclusion that for the locals of this area there is no difference between a continuous line or a dotted line at least in what roads are concerned.
- Shoulders are consider something in between bike paths, car lanes and parking lots no matter how narrow they are
- Animals on the roads. Dogs can be suicidal. Chickens too. And mopeds.
The story on the first day is about the car rental.
Though we booked the car with a GPS to assist us during our driving, the lady at the counter discouraged us from using their navigation system.
-They are not updated – she said- and you certainly will get lost. Everyone in Thailand use their smart phones for that.
Tired as we were after the long flight and having 2 iPads and 2 iPhones and a mifi device with a Thai data SIM card, we decided to follow her advice.
When we started to drive then we realized that we had no way to fix the SMART phone to the dashboard.
Then one of us have to hold it all the way to Ayutthaya. Luckily it was not that far.
About this first short trip:
- In Thailand people drive on the left side of the road.
- The 4-lanes roads around Bangkok are well congested.
- For this 60 km ride we paid 3 tolls, 30 bath each.
- The traffic is more or less normal and it’s much easier driving here than driving in Naples or India.
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Photo: Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya, Thailand. Author G2nfreeb. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution