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Sleep of the Week: Thai Road-Block

August 2, 2010

I have had ten months to come up with a weekly blog theme, so after ten months of answering questions relating to my nightly search for a spot to lay my head, it seems obvious that this should be the theme.

When you’re on the move, rarely spending more than a night or two in the same valley, village, town or city, the search for a place to sleep becomes a regular ritual. Sometimes it’s fun and at other times it’s a bore, or even a chore. But it is always necessary. Mosques, churches, under the stars, roadside ditches, abandoned petrol stations, guest houses and friend’s houses – I’ve slept all over the place, so…..

First up, this week’s Sleep of the Week is a Thai Army Military Checkpoint. (More photos from my time there are on my photostream on my website homepage.)

I was cycling south from Ranong, a provincial capital that is only separated from Burma by a narrow stretch of water. It was 5.30pm and I had just started looking for a good camping spot when I came across a military checkpoint – there had been many that day, partly because of the proximity to Burma. I spotted buildings in a clearing in the forest (I call it ‘jungle’ – sounds cooler), and decided to pull over. They didn’t speak English, so once I had gauged their mood (it was good – they were all smiles and high 5’s), I gestured, using a series of universal hand signals, that I wanted to camp outside their buildings. Without further questioning one of the soldiers led me to a bed made of tree branches and told me I could sleep there.

The atmosphere was much friendlier than at the Turkish military base outside Adana, where I was questioned for an hour about my identity. The younger soldiers seemed delighted to have me there. They were moderately impressed that I had cycled from London, but all they really wanted to talk about was football. When I told them I was English, they all laughed and a few of them chirped up in unison’ “Michael Owen!” I told them he hadn’t been much cop for years and that Torres was now the man, but they wouldn’t have any of it. Happily they were all ardent Liverpool fans (as most Thais are), and they remembered his glory days. I spent the next hour with a soldier, who had a bullet around his neck, tattoos of guns all over his back, and too much time on his hands, getting thrashed at FIFA Soccer on the Nintendo.

Although I had picked up an extra portion of pad Thai in a cafe earlier in the day, and stuck it in a Tupperware, they refused to let me hit the sack without devouring a few corn on the cobs in front of a surprisingly enjoyable Thai war movie.

Frogs are causing me a problem at the moment. There are thousands of them, and the noise they make at night, especially on this night when it was coupled with the soliders’ constant movement as they rotated their 2 hour shifts on the road, isn’t conducive to a good night’s kip – not even after 120 kms on the bike. So I was up at just gone 5am the next  morning. I thanked the soldiers, bid them farewell and was on my way.

It turned out to be the third day of almost constant rain in succession. The monsoon has hit, and hard. Today it is raining too hard to move anywhere, so I’ve got myself a day off. The locals tell me it’ll rain for the next week though, so I guess I will just have to get back on the road tomorrow and try to keep moving. I’m hoping to hit Malaysia by the end of the week.

If you liked this blog you can receive the next one by email by clicking here. Please keep the donations rolling in. The Naked Cycling Campaign is still very much alive………

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Becca permalink
    August 2, 2010 10:28 am

    Glad to see the brown cycling shorts are still going strong!

    • August 2, 2010 10:30 am

      You can barely see them against the darkness of my legs, surely? But yes, they’re going still – not sure about strong, but they’re going…

  2. Chris Austin permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:31 am

    Aren’t they the blue boxer shorts, 292 days later….? (And yes mate, I am being Sarky!) Keep on peddlin’

  3. Brendan King permalink
    August 2, 2010 11:41 am

    Hi Oli,
    I thought you had to salute with your RIGHT arm only!
    Wouldn’t want to upset the local soldiers, especially not in Thailand near the border with Myanmar where I bet they can be a bit twitchy!!!
    Cheers,
    Brendan

  4. August 2, 2010 12:37 pm

    There is no way I would have gotten a second of sleep on that “bed.” But, what generosity those soldiers have! Nice memory…

  5. Barbara permalink
    August 2, 2010 4:00 pm

    I never thought you were cut out to be a soldier, but then I didn’t think you were an adventurer either!
    Love Mum x

  6. Robin Wilson permalink
    August 5, 2010 3:33 pm

    Hello Oli,

    Just curious to see how far you’d got. Heard your interview with the Test Match Special team when they were in South Africa and you were in Turkey, I believe. My word, this is some epic you’ve undertaken! What on earth will be in your thoughts when the players walk out for the first morning in Brisbane? How about: no batting collapses, please……it’s a long way back

    Cheers for now, Robin.

  7. August 10, 2010 3:17 pm

    hello oli broom

    how are you ‘fon tok dee’
    today is fon tok (raining) alot
    i love good customer as you oliwer broom

    i waiting to read story on road from you

    goodluck my friend
    alex thailand

  8. August 28, 2010 3:16 pm

    Well done with reaching the end of Asia. My sleep of the past week was staying with the UN Pakistani battalion in the Liberian jungle. The chaps had a sense of humour http://www.flickr.com/photos/petergostelow/4934427279/
    Other memorable sleeps on the road http://www.flickr.com/photos/petergostelow/sets/72157608513122277/

    All the best on the road in Australia

    Peter

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