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Costs for cycling from Sweden to Thailand

One of the big questions before heading out on this journey was how big costs to expect. Various internet forums and other blogs suggested a budget frame of around 10-20 USD per day and person depending on country and type of accomodation. We had no clue if those figures were realistic or if we would be able to stick to such a budget. Out of curiosity we decided to note all our spendings in order to follow up on it afterwards. 

We have now gone through all our notes and can conclude that our total spending is slightly below 12.500 USD. The trip lasted 280 days including restdays and that means we have spent 44.5 USD per day together or 22.2 USD each.

A return ticket from Göteborg to Bangkok usually costs around 8000 SEK or 1200 USD. Our total costs for the cycling trip was roughly the same as the price of 10 individual return flights to Bangkok. Or if you put it in another way – cycling here together cost us the same as flying here together 5 times. Guess what we think has given most bang for the buck…. 😉

The chart below shows how the total cost were split among our different “accounts”.

Total traveling costs in USD

Total traveling costs in USD

The purpose of this blog post is to try to give a picture of how our costs for the 9.5 month long journey were distributed and we do hope it will be of some help to other cyclists who are in the planning phase. Before digging deep into the figures for each country it is necessary to give some relevant background facts.

Wej and I are in our mid-forties, have no kids and have worked for a very long time. This means that we have been able to allow ourselves a rather generous budget, or to be correct – we didn’t really have a budget, we used some of our savings and our only concern was to not spend all of it…. 🙂



As can be seen above accomodation and food have been our highest cost and thus need to be elaborated on. One important thing to note is the ratio between paid vs unpaid nights that didn’t really turn out like we had planned to. Why it turned out this way is discussed in the sections below.

Skärmavbild 2014-03-08 kl. 13.03.40

Our expectations was to ride in sub-zero temperatures for maximum 3-4 weeks before the arrival of spring and then we hoped to enjoy warmer weather. We thus made the strategic decision to only bring a light tent and summer sleeping bags which meant that we had to stay at cheap hotels or guesthouses until night temperatures were above 3-4 degrees. Unfortunately the winter of 2013 in central Europe was extremely cold and we coulnd’t start camping until we reached Bulgaria.

We have done a few more longer stops than we had first planned. We stopped for about a week in Istanbul, Batumi, Tbilisi (due to injury), Osh, Chengdu (visa extension) and Kunming with 3-4 day stops in Baku, Sary Tash and Hami. During most of those stops we stayed either in hotels or hostels.

We don’t mind to stay in lousy guesthouses or camp behind a bush 10 meters beside the road, but since we haven’t had a too tight budget we have also sometimes allowed ourselves to opt for more expensive hotels with high standard rather than always going for the cheapest available option.

In Uzbekistan the rules requiring foreigners to register with the authorities by checking in at hotels forced us to stay more often at hotels and guesthouses than we actually would have preferred to.



We are both very interested in local food culture which has meant that we have eaten more often at restaurants than what has been necessary. Of course we could have saved a lot of costs here, but to travel is to eat and we never wanted to cut back on trying interesting local cuisine.

We have noted all our costs for what we have consumed. In the early part of the trip we spent a lot of money on coffee at central european gas stations. After a month or so we understood that we should split prepared food that we buy in restaurants from snacks and drinks we buy along the road and stuff we buy in stores to cook by ourselves. This means that the pie chart below isn’t completely trustworthy and is a bit biased, but as anyone can see, there is a lot of money to save by not being too interested in local cuisine 😉

Distribution of food costs

Take a look at the chart below showing the average daily spending in each country. We have cut out things such as when we bought new equipment for our camera in Bulgaria and the tickets to the ferry rides across the Baltic and the Caspian Seas. Our two home countries, Sweden and Thailand, were the cheapest but that is mainly due to the fact that we have so many wonderful friends in those countries. The very high average for Azerbaijan was due to a short stay and a high visa fee and lots of taxi rides across the city of Baku to collect other visas. If we would have had to wait for the ferry for a couple of more days the average daily spending in Azerbaijan would have dropped significantly.

Daily expenses per country



Below you will find a few charts for each country. They will show the ratio of paid vs. unpaid nights and the distribution between nights we have been invited to someone, camping, staying in hotels or guesthouses. Remember that the pie charts show the average cost for accomodation split on all nights in each country including nights when we have camped which brings down the average. As a service and clarification I will under the notes for each country also tell our average cost for each paid night.

There will also be a chart showing the distribution of the total cost and one how the cost for food was split in each country.

All costs that are shown are for two people. If you will travel on your own I think you can divide most of the figures by half to get a good approximation. When it comes to accomodation it will be harder since we can fill up a double room while a single traveler would have to pay for it by himself.

We have passed 15 countries using 15 different currencies so which one to use for these charts?  As I see it, it could be either US dollars or Euro and I opted for US Dollars. In the notes for each country I will state the exchange rate we have used when calculating.

The piecharts are made in excel and I have uploaded a print screen of them. They are rather small as they appear on a screen, but click on them and you can see them in a larger size.



  • 1 USD = 6,7 SEK
  • Our total costs for 12 days in the country was 240 USD (1600 SEK)
  • Cost for ferry ticket across the Baltic Sea is not included in the daily average spending but it included in the total summary

Our two weeks in Sweden were a bit different to the rest of the trip. We visited friends along the way and didn’t spend anything on accomodation. Our only spendings were food along the way and some wine and food we brought to our hosts.



  • 1 USD = 3 zloty
  • Our total cost for the 12 days spent in Poland was 654 USD (2310 Zloty)
  • Average cost for each paid night was 47 USD
  • We never cooked ourselves

Pie charts Poland



  • 1 USD = 0,77 Euro
  • Our total cost for two nights was 124 USD (95 €)
  • The hotel room cost us 33 Euro and the Guesthouse was 30 Euro.

Slovakia was the smallest country we passed. It took two hours in one afternoon, one full day and then two more hours the third day before exiting to Hungary. We spent two nights in the country, one at a hotel and one at a backpackers guesthouse.  One of the nights we treated ourselves to with a great dinner which drove up the average daily cost.



  • 1 USD = 220 Forint
  • Our total cost for 4 nights in the country was 292 USD (64300 Forint)
  • We never cooked ourselves

Hungary is also a small country which could have been passed in three days. Unfortunately we got stuck in a massive snowstorm and had to check in at an expensive hotel, then move to a cheaper B&B to wait for the roads to get cleared.



  • 1 USD = 3,25 Lei
  • Our total cost for two weeks in the country was 630 USD (2045 Lei)
  • Average cost per paid night was 28,5 USD
  • We never cooked ourselves

Cost distribution Romania



  • 1 USD = 1,52 Leva
  • Our total costs for the 5 nights in the country was 192 USD (292 Leva)
  • Average costs per paid night was 30,5 USD

In Bulgaria we finally started to camp and cook for ourselves.

Pie chart Bulgaria



  • 1 USD = 1,53 TL (Turkish Lira)
  • Total costs for 5 weeks in Turkey was 1752 USD (2680 TL)
  • Average cost per paid night was 46,1 USD
  • Visas not required for Thai and Swedish citizens

We spent five nights at a rather expensive hotel in Istanbul which brought up the average cost for accomodation. When staying at small hotels or motels we usually paid around 40-80 TL. We also turned in our bikes for a thorough and expensive service and technical overhaul.

Pie charts Turkey



  • 1 USD = 1,79 GEL (Georgian Lari)
  • Total cost for 24 days in the country was 944 USD (1690 GEL)
  • Average cost per paid night was 18,5 USD.
  • Visas not required for Thai and Swedish citizens

We stopped longer than planned in Batumi to apply for visa to Azerbaijan and arrange for our chinese visas. On the way between Batumi and Tbilisi Wej fell and hurt her knee which forced us to stay an extra week in Tbilisi to let it heal. All this meant that we spent a lot longer time in cities than we planned and thus got far less camping nights than expected.




  • 1 USD = 0,81 Manat
  • Total cost for our 10 days in the country was 781 USD (632 Manat)
  • Average cost per paid night was 46,6 USD. Most of those nights were spent in Baku waiting for visas and the ferry.
  • The visa fee was 168 USD for both of us together
  • The cost for the ferry tickets across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan was 220 USD (110 each) but it is not included in the cost for transportation in pie chart 3 below.

Pie charts Azerbaijan



  • 1 USD = 149 TG (Tenge)
  • Total cost for our 9 days in the country was 242 USD (22.700 Tenge)
  • The visa fee was 90 USD for the two of us together
  • Actual cost per night at one of the two nice hotels in Beyneu was 35 USD. There are cheaper options located close to the railway station, but after a week in the dusty and extremely hot desert we were desperate for AC and a proper shower.

Kazakhstan is an expensive country to visit and our greatest cost must have been water in the desert. It would have been interesting to see how much we spent on buying water but now that cost is included in the “cooking” part rather than snacks & drinks, which is mainly coke and tea at the occasional tea houses we visited.




  • 1 USD = 2700 Som at black market rates. The official rate was about 1 USD = 2100 Som
  • Total costs for our 27 days in the country was 1040 USD (2.808.000 Som)
  • Average cost per paid night was 22,8 USD
  • The visa fee was 150 USD for the two of us together

Uzbekistan has a weird rule that you have to register with the authorities every third night. This is done by checking in to a licensed hotel or guesthouse. Camping in Uzbekistan is easy and people are friendly and helpful so it wouldn’t have been a problem to camp most of the nights. However, we decided to play it safe and checked in at guesthouses more often than required. Needless to say, nobody checked our registration slips from the guesthouses when we exited the country.


Cost distribution Uzbekistan



  • 1 USD = 50 Som
  • Total costs for our 13 days in the country was 494 USD (24.700 Som)
  • Average cost per paid night was 30,6 USD
  • No visa required for Swedish citizens. We think Thai citizens can get a visa on arrival

When we arrived in Osh we had done 50% of the trip and we decided to stay a few extra days at a nice hotel (44 USD/night) to celebrate. When we arrived in Sary Tash we found out that the border to China was going to be closed for 4 consecutive days. We checked in at one of the simple homestays and paid 17 USD/night.  All this meant that we camped far less than planned in this country which is actually ideal for camping since it is sparsely populated and it is easy to find flat areas and water. 

Pie charts Kyrgyzstan



  • 1 USD = 6,08 Yuan
  • Total costs for 85 days in the country was 4309 USD (26.200 CNY)
  • Average cost per paid night was 23,1 USD
  • Visa fee in Sweden was 179 USD and the extension in Leshan was 59 USD for us together.

Camping in China is easy so it should be possible to get a lot more unpaid nights than we had. We stopped for a week in Chengdu waiting for visa extension, one week in Kunming to wait for better weather and the arrival of my cousin and for 4 days in Hami to do maintenance and planning. Camping is not really an option when staying in big cities and those long stops added to the very low level of camping. Small hotels in the countryside is also very inexpensive and we just couldn’t bother to go pitch the tent when the price for a double room was just 40-50 CNY (7 USD).

After a while in China all the kilometers ridden from Sweden started to take its toll on our bikes and we needed to replace a lot of components as well as tires which can be seen in the third pie chart below.

Pie charts China



  • 1 USD = 7800 Kip
  • Total costs for 2 weeks in Laos was 467 USD (3.412.000 Kip)
  • Average cost per paid night was 11,1 USD
  • Visa fee was 33 USD

We have been to Laos before but couldn’t remember the price level but we thought it would be cheap. Unfortunately we couldn’t be more wrong…. There were plenty of cheap guesthouses along the way, but to buy food at restaurants was unexpectedly expensive. First we thought we were ripped off, but after studying menues and talking to locals (thai and lao languages are very similar) we understood that those high prices were not only for tourists, but for the locals as well. However, most locals seemed to prefer to eat at home in the evenings rather than eating out – I do understand why….

Wej is Thai and since Thai citizens don’t need visas, the cost for visa in the piechart below only reflects the cost for one visa (all other costs are for the two of us).

Pie charts Laos



  • 1 USD = 31,8 Baht
  • Total costs for 2 weeks in Thailand was 272 USD (11.900 Baht)
  • Average cost per paid night was 13,8 USD
  • Visa fee was 31 USD for 60 days and 56 USD to extend for another 30 days.

When we are in Thailand we are on our home turf and have lots of friends everywhere. We have only stayed a few nights at hotels or guesthouses and that has only been for logistical reasons (to not arrive too early). We stayed with my former host family 65 km NW of Bangkok for a week before doing the final ride into Bangkok.

Thailand has good food everywhere and there is absolutely no need to cook on your own which can be seen on our costs for food. Since Wej is a citizen of Thailand the cost for visa below only reflects my visa cost. Our plan is to stay for a while after finishing this journey so I applied for a 60 day entry visa (1000 Baht) and recently extended it with another 30 (1800 Baht) which makes the total visa cost per day throughout the visa’s validity 31 Baht or roughly 1 USD.

Pie charts Thailand



Edit March 7, 2016.

If you have read this far, then you are probably very interested in the costs for cycle touring. I then recommend you to check out the cost breakdowns of the “wandering wheels”.

Edit August 4, 2016

Daves Travel pages has an interesting article about the costs of bicycle touring. The article is about the costs of a trip between Greece and England.


Why this journey – a tribute to Saeng

While we still cycled in Sweden we took the opportunity to visit friends who live along our route. One day we stayed at our friend Ulrika’s place and when having dinner together I couldn’t avoid taking a look at the blackboard on her kitchen wall where some words of wisdom were written above a shopping list.

I couldn’t stop looking at that motto that so clearly put words on why we set out on this journey. Why worry about what comes after this life – isn’t it better to focus on the life we are living here and now???

When we made our project to cycle from one home to the other official, people usually told us they also have dreams they wish to carry out some day, but also how they are prevented by the many obstacles in the everyday life. I know how this sort of arguments work because I have also been seeing obstacles rather than possibilities.

While we still were in China we put the order for our new cycling shirts and Wej asked Saeng, a friend in her cycling group, to pick up the shirts from the print shop and send them to us. Saeng liked our shirts so much that she told her other friends who started ordering shirts for themselves. Orders came one by one and everytime we had access to internet Wej and Saeng talked to each other over skype or line.

Saeng and her partner and soulmate P’Nop are both 1000 % cyclists. When Wej spent a year in Thailand they were all in a group that did cycle tours all over Thailand. Since then Saeng and P’Nop have moved on and started to focus on training and competing in road cycling. Even I have cycled with them and I can tell that both of them have legs of steel.

Saeng and her soulmate P'Nop before a ride in November last year

Saeng and her soulmate P’Nop before a ride in November last year

For a while the plan was that Saeng, P’Nop and some of the people in the photo below would come and meet us in Luang Prabang and ride with us to Bangkok. Since both Saeng and P’Nop have sold their MTB:s we even discussed that Saeng should borrow the MTB I have at Wej’s house. Their plans to go to Luang Prabang had to be cancelled for various reasons and later Saeng told Wej she didn’t feel well and couldn’t cycle anyway.

Last weekend were very happy since we first finished our trip to Bangkok and then Wej’s trip from home to home. We looked forward to happy times while relaxing and seeing friends in Thailand and everything was good until Tuesday morning…..

When I came out from the bathroom after my morning shower Wej looked at me with a pale face and said that she just got the information that Saeng had passed away. It felt like time froze until we got it confirmed that she had succumbed to a very rapid disease.

The funeral rituals are carried out in Saeng’s parents home in Suphanburi province some 130 km NW of Bangkok. Wej and I went there yesterday together with friends in our cycling group. We will go again on Friday and then to the cremation on Sunday.

Ton, A, P'Ben, Joakim, Wej, P'Nop and P'Wichit in front of Saeng's coffin

Ton, A, P’Ben, Joakim, Wej, P’Nop and P’Wichit in front of Saeng’s coffin

Yesterday night when I was sitting listening to the monks chanting prayers with my palms put together in a wai position, I could see the coffin with a photo of Saeng sprinting fast on her race bike. At that very moment I remembered the words of wisdom written on Ulrika’s note board and connected it to the thai saying that we all know when and where we were born, but nobody knows when it is time to leave this world.

Although sad over the loss of a friend I am at the same time glad that we got ourselves together and carried out this journey of our dreams and I would like to tell you all to not wait to live your dreams later. Live them now 🙂

See the opportunities and not the obstacles – one day it will be too late to live the dream.

Day 167-168 (Banglen – Bangkok)

PLEASE NOTE – the journey is over but the blog is not. We will update it with a few more articles before closing it.

When I first arrived in Banglen back in March 1987 the place was much smaller and very unlike what it is today. There was for example only one phone in town and that was in a house at the market and a man clocked all calls with a stop watch. Roads were not good, there were no cyclists and certainly not any bread or coffee available.

Today the situation is completely different. Banglen has grown from a large village to a small town. There are a number of factories around and traffic lights at the main intersections, people run around with smartphones and there are a couple of minimarts where for example bread and dairy products can be bought which would have been very exotic in 1987. Early this year a nice bakery and coffe shop was opened where pastries and coffee as well as pork chop with french fries can be bought.

If I hadn’t followed the development in Banglen and Thailand continously during the 25 last years I would certainly not have recognized the place by now. It is amazing what a big change that has been put through in such a short time.

Riding on small roads between rice paddies

Riding on small roads between rice paddies

In the western world it is not at all uncommon to take a sabbatical year and do something else for a change. Cycling across a continent is maybe an odd way to spend such a year, but as said it is not at all unusual. In Thailand the situation is different. People work hard, have short vacations and it is hard to get visa to at least the western world so very few Thais make long distance cycling tours in foreign countries.

Apart from this blog Wej has been writing on a thai cycling forum and when we were about to enter Thailand she made an open invitation for anyone to follow us. One friend followed us from the border to Ayuthaya and we have also met a few other cyclist along the way.

Leaving Banglen

Leaving Banglen

When it was time to leave Banglen for Bangkok a cycling club announced they would escort us to the city. We made an appointment at the café and I bet the workers there must have been as surprised when 30 cyclists turned up a Saturday morning as I would have been by finding a loaf of bread at the Banglen market back in 1987.

The club leader had visited Banglen a few days earlier to check what route to take and he must have done a good job. The road we cycled on was very small and went past green rice paddies and orchid farms.

Riding on that sort of road is much more interesting than going on the big roads. Since there was so few cars on the small roads it was possible to cycle side by side and Wej and I tried to talk to as many as possible of our fellow cyclists.

Riding with a well dressed lady

Riding with a well dressed lady

Curious cyclists asking questions and checking out our equipment

Curious cyclists asking questions and checking out our equipment

After some 10-15 kilometers another group of cyclists from Nakorn Pathom joined us and our escort had now grown to around 50-60 people. It was an amazing feeling to ride in such a big group knowing that they had come all the way to ride with us – or perhaps mainly Wej – into the finishing line in the midst of the mega city. Some cyclist had to return before we reached Bangkok and some parted to go to their homes, but we were around 25 people who rode into Wat Arun on Saturday at 3 PM.

I have never been photographed so many times in one day and once at the official finishing line at Wat Arun the photo spree continued.

At Wat Arun (temple of dawn) together with the group that escorted us into Bangkok

At Wat Arun (temple of dawn) together with the group that escorted us into Bangkok

Thailand’s biggest cycling magazine have interviewed us a week ago and turned up to take photos on our arrival to Bangkok.

Wej and the journalist from the thai Cycling Plus

Wej and the journalist from the thai Cycling Plus

Klättermusen have been so kind to sponsor us with a jacket and a pair of pants each. These clothes are usually seen on Mount Everest, Greenland or the south pole, but now they have been spotted in downtown Bangkok too. We have had very good use of these clothes that have protected us from wind, sun, mosquitos, snow and even rain to a certain level. Thanks a lot Klättermusen.

Klättermusen Einride jackets - a rare sight in Bangkok

Klättermusen Einride jackets – a rare sight in Bangkok

We then had to rush to the dinner we were going to host for our friends. Since we were a bit late we had to sprint as quickly as our legs and the traffic allowed and when we finally got there most of our guests had already arrived and received us with applauses and hugs.

P'Mam, Wej and Bartek - our brother in arms in the central asian deserts

P’Mam, Wej and Bartek – our brother in arms in the central asian deserts

It was a nice dinner and although not everyone could come due it was great to finally see our friends. Wej’s mother is getting older and doesn’t want to go out late so she didn’t come to the dinner. After mingle, dinner and a slideshow Wej and I stayed the night at a nearby hotel so that we could arrive to her home when her mother was awake.

We finished my home to home trip in Banglen a week ago, then it was another 70 km to Wat Arun where we finished the Göteborg-Bangkok trip. The distance from the hotel to Wej’s house is about 4 km. When we left for the last ride to her house we didn’t really want our journey to end so we made a little detour and ended up on Silom Rd where we had lunch.

Wej bringing her bike back to its birthplace.

Wej bringing her bike back to its birthplace.

Wej’s bike has now done about 50.000 km and was bought in Bangkok 8 or 9 years ago – we couldn’t resist the temptation to take a ride to her bike’s birthplace…..

The distance we have cycled from Göteborg to Bangkok is roughly 15.000 km and luckily we haven’t had any more accidents than Wej’s fall in Georgia when she hurt her knee. When were cycling through Lumpini Park with about 2 km left to Wej’s family house I almost got involved in a wildlife accident in the midst of Bangkok. It was broad daylight and we were biking very slowly when I heard Wej shouting loudly STOP….

Mr. Lizard - if you were a cat, we would say that you only have 8 lives left now ;-)

Mr. Lizard – if you were a cat, we would say that you only have 8 lives left now 😉

I braked quickly and discovered I had stopped about 30 cm from a large lizard. They are often seen in the park and I don’t know why I didn’t see it. That lizard now owes Wej a big thank you….

Riding through the Lumpini Park

Riding through the Lumpini Park

After leaving the park and a frightened lizard behind us we rode for about a kilometer on the huge Sathorn Road, before turning left into Soi Suan Plu into the area where Wejs house is. The first ones to spot us was Wej’s nephews who were playing outside the house. Soon everyone who was at home came down. Wejs mother presented us with jasmine garlands and lots of photos were taken before we could enter the house.

Finally together with Wej's mom and the rest of the family

Finally together with Wej’s mom and the rest of the family

This was the endpoint of Wej’s journey from home to home. It isn’t however the end of this blog…. We still have a few articles to write where we sum up things so check out the blog every now and then the coming week.

Most of the photos in this post is taken by Sakkapol Tungsongpaiboolya who has also designed our shirts together with Araya Ponkhumheang. Thanks to both of you for all your help.

After publishing this post we got the link to a 4 minute long video from our last cycling day made by Ugrid Milintangkul who rode with us from Banglen to Bangkok. Enjoy

Cycling towards Bangkok

Today is the day when we will finish our cycling trip from Göteborg to Bangkok. Our plan is to start from Banglen at 10.00 and arrive at Wat Arun in Bangkok at 15.00. Our original plan was to finish in front of the Wat Phrakaew and Grand Palace, but due to the large demonstrations going on there we have decided to move the endpoint to Wat Arun.

If you are interested in seing us while still on tour then come to Wat Arun. We will be there around 3 PM today (Saturday Nov. 30).

After finishing cycling we will go to a dinner for friends and family and since it will be late we won’t cycle to Wej’s house tonight. The plan is to stay at a hotel tonight and cycle to her home tomorrow morning.

Wej writes on a thai cycling forum and there she has posted an open invitation to anyone who is interested in cycling with us this last day. About 30 cyclists from Bangkok have accepted the invitation and will meet us very soon here in Banglen.

We will update photos from today’s ride as we go and it will be possible to follow us almost live.

Packing to leave Banglen



Leaving Banglen

Lots of cyclists have come to Banglen to cycle to Banglen to ride to Bangkok with us.



Waiting for green light in Banglen.


Passing the road to the family house.


Passing the school I went to as exchange student.


Wej and Lung Netr who win todays competition for coolest outfit.


Lunch break at a temple


Group photo

Passing narrow lanes in a village


And abridge


And rice paddies



Small backroads not far from Bangkok



In Bangkok now, right outside Taling Chan skytrain station


There has been many pepole cycling with us today. For a moment there was more than 50 cyclist who cycled with us.


Bangkok here we come


Almost unbelievable bu now we have arrived the end point of our journey at Wat Arun, Bangkok.


Day 166 (Ayuthaya – Banglen)

This day was an one of the most important days of our journey since It was the last day of my journey from home to home. We split the day in two halves and the first half was the 53 km ride from Ayuthaya to Pathum Thani to visit P’Ya and her family.

P’Ya used to be a teacher at the school in Banglen that I went to during my exchange year. She was my counsellor and Thai teacher and she and her family became my close friends and we have kept the contact ever since. P’Ya and P’Aeks daughter Araya and her friend Kong are the ones who have designed our new cycling shirts. Unfortunately Araya wasn’t at home to see the shirts she designed in real life, but we will come back later to show them to her.

P'Ya, P'Aek and myself back in 1987.

P’Ya, P’Aek and myself back in 1987.

We stayed at P’Ya’s house for about three hours before we set out on the second half which was the 55 km to Banglen. Technically P’Ya’s house isn’t in Bangkok but since the city has grown a lot in all directions her suburban town is surrounded by big and busy roads that aren’t fun to ride a bicycle on. Nowadays one has to get almost all the way out to Banglen before getting a sense of being on the countryside.

When apporaching Banglen I couldn’t stop thinking of the first time I went there. It was a day in mid March 1987 and I was only 17 years old and jet-lagged. My host family had picked me up at the exchange organizations arrival camp in Bangkok and we were 7 people squeezed into the family’s car when I got my first glimpse of Banglen from the top of the little bridge over the Tha Chin River that flows through the at that time very small town. I remember when crossing that bridge the penny finally dropped that I had a great adventure ahead of me.

The bridge is certainly not any Golden Gate – it’s just a simple white painted concrete bridge which there must be several thousands of in Thailand. I have crossed it uncountable times since the first time but now when it was time to cross it this time I felt similar emotions as when crossing it 26 years ago. First time it marked my entry into Banglen and the beginning of a great challenge, adventure and new relations to people I still hold dear.

The bridge that marks the start and end of great adventures

The bridge that marks the start and end of great adventures

Passing the bridge this time was emotional in another way. If my first passage of the bridge was the start of something great, then this latest crossing marked the end of a great adventure. It is hard to understand that what we have been through and experienced between the gates to our home in Göteborg and passing that bridge. I think we both will need some time to let it all sink in.

In front of the old house

In front of the old house

Before going to my host family’s present house we had to do a tour of Banglen and visit some important places. First stop was in front of the family’s old house where I stayed as an exchange student. I haven’t been inside the house for many years but seeing it from the outside still feels like looking at a home.

The mother and the father in my host family who have welcomed me into the family and let me come and go as I wish for over 25  years.

The mother and the father in my host family who have welcomed me into the family and let me come and go as I wish for over 25 years.

Next stop was at the local temple to pay respect to the deceased father in my host family. He was an active layman in the temple and I have spent many hours with him there to see and learn how life is going on at a thai buddhist temple. Where ever he was going in Banglen he did it by bicycle with his dog sitting on the rear rack and I am quite sure that he would have approved of our mission to cycle from Sweden to Thailand.

20 meters to go and the family waiting at the gate

20 meters to go and the family waiting at the gate

It was late in the afternoon and after the visit to temple we headed straight for my host family’s house 2-3 km away. The journey isn’t over yet – we still have the ride to Bangkok left – but for me the feeling when cycling the 1 km from the main road along a small local road to the family’s house was something like the participants of the Tour de France must feel when they cruise along the Champs-Élysées towards the final goal.

Parts of the family  (Joseph, Tonsak&Tonsai, Ploy, Wej, P'Jum, myself and Tonkhao)

Parts of the family
(Joseph, Tonsak&Tonsai, Ploy, Wej, P’Jum, myself and Tonkhao)

The family was out at the gate waiting for us and after lots of hugs we stepped through the gate and discovered that the kids in the family had used coloured chalks to write welcoming words on the ground – just like the cycling fans do on the roads in the alps during the Tour de France.

The ground painted with welcoming words

The ground painted with welcoming words




I had been in contact with the family throughout the day and they had promised that it would be a barbecue dinner that night. It tasted lovely and we had a lot of food, a few beers and long stories to tell each other. It was a Sunday evening and the children had to go to bed early but as usual Mat, P’Ngoan and myself stayed up far too late discussing both serious and crazy matters. It feels great to finally be here with all of them.

Cycling towards Banglen

We woke up at 5.15 and 6.30 we were ready for departure.


First destination today is Pathum Thani to visit old friends


It’s far to cycle 50 km. Maybe we should take a bus…


or the train.


Stopping at a gas station to have a coffee and a sandwich. 40 km and tailwind so it looks good 🙂


After 53 km we are at the gate to the street that leads to our friends house.


We are a bit early and Our friends are out buying things to eat so they told us to wait at the motorcycle taxi stand.


Maybe time for a cheat and go with the MC taxi


And we recieved a very warm welcome by P’Ya and P’Aek


And they had even made a beautiful sign to welcome us with


On the road again after spending a few hours visiting P’Ya, P’Aek and Ohm.
We just crossed the ChaoPhraya river going west. Seems like we are getting a headwind. Reports from Banglen says that itis raining there.


Touching the outskirts of Bangkok. The traffic is intense even a sunday afternoon.



First sign of Banglen. 15 km to go


Back on the countryside again. Green rice paddies is much more nice to look at than concrete buildings.


Outside my host familys previous house.


The father in my host family passed away 5 years ago. First thing to do in Banglen is to visit his toomb at the temple.


Day 163 -165 (Baan Taen – Ayuthaya)

I have said it before and I am willing to repeat it – I do prefer mountains to deserts. A mountain has a highest pass point somewhere and after that it is downhill. A desert has an end too, but while the a pass point on a mountain usually is reached in a day, it can take a month to cross a desert.

This said, when we left the hilly section between Luang Prabang and Vangvien in northern Laos, we started to look forward to the huge plains in Thailand. Of course there are big mountain ranges in Thailand too, but they are easy to avoid and that’s what we have done.

Cycling across the plains of Thailand’s northeastern Isaan region has been a pleasure. Gone are the days of hard physical endurance and we have got our pay back in the shape of a flat landscape, a steady tailwind and cool temperatures in the morning and not too hot in the afternoons.

We have crossed Isaan with our good old friend P’Ben who took one of his two weeks of annual vacation to come and meet us and join us on our ride towards Bangkok. P’Ben is a teacher at a university and is a busy man and he gets to cycle less than I’m sure he’d like to so it was great to see his big smile when he cruised with his bike along the roads of Isaan listening to old thai pop on from the mini loudspeaker he has mounted on his handlebar.

A spirit house by the bridge across the dam in Chaibadan district

A spirit house by the bridge across the dam in Chaibadan district

Traveling across Thailand has been different from all the other countries that we have visited before. Not that Thailand is very different in itself, it is we (at least Wej and P’Ben) who fit in here. The language barrier is completely gone and we can stop and talk to people who are usually very curious about our journey. I bet other people we have met in other countries have been just as curious but the difficulties in communicating have limited the conversation to the bare minimum.

Where are you from, where are you going, how many kilometers and when did you start are questions we have learnt to answer in many languages by now. When traveling in Thailand we get the same questions but since there is no language barrier anymore those questions are quickly answered and we can continue to discuss more deeper and interesting issues with people we meet.

Wej and P'Ben making a photo stop on the bridge across the dam

Wej and P’Ben making a photo stop on the bridge across the dam

One interesting thing with traveling through a familiar setting is that we take less photos – far less to be correct. I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, we don’t find things as exciting or exotic here and secondly, we are busy talking to each other or people we meet.

A B747 fuselage used as a store room. I'd like to get such a section to use as a summer house. Anyone who knows where to buy it - at the airport???

A B747 fuselage used as a store room. I’d like to get such a section to use as a summer house. Anyone who knows where to buy it – at the airport???

Cycling is a growing sport in Thailand and there are increasing numbers of Thais who travel overseas to do cycle touring. Apart from this blog, Wej also writes short notes on a thai cycling forum and when we started to approach Thailand she started to get questions what route we would take and when we would pass certain places.

When we passed a small town in Chaiyaphum province we met an old man who was waiting for us along the road. He knew that we were coming and wanted to join us for a day. This man is 70 years old and cycles around some 300 impressive km a week. It was great to get his company for a day. We did 135 km that day, but this gentleman did 175 before he got home. I hope I will be that strong when I am 70 years old.

A fisherman at dawn

A fisherman at dawn

Thailand’s capital used to be in Ayuthaya some 70-80 km north of Bangkok. The city was destroyed by the burmese around 250 years ago. It has lots of ruins and the city has a special meaning for all thais. Since we came from northeast and are heading to visit my hostfamily west of Bangkok Ayuthaya was straight on our route.

P’Ben had to leave us in Ayuthaya and return to Bangkok. Some local cyclists who read this blog and follow Wej’s thread on the thai cycling forum were curious about our trip and took us to a very nice restaurant on the riverside. We had a great evening together and we do hope we will meet them soon again.

Having dinner with a great view of one of Ayuthaya's temples

Having dinner with a great view of one of Ayuthaya’s temples

The short distance and the very good roads between northern Bangkok and Ayuthaya attracts lots of cyclists and during the weekends the roads are filled with different groups that are training in the area. Some groups are hard core racing teams while other are more recreational cyclists who want to ride together to some place where they can have a cup of coffe or a bowl of noodles before returning home.

The cyclists who came up from Bangkok to have lunch with us in Ayuthaya today

The cyclists who came up from Bangkok to have lunch with us in Ayuthaya today

Today two separate groups cycled up from Bangkok to visit us. One was a minigroup consisting of two of Wejs close cycling friends while the other group was a larger group of senior cyclists who wanted to come and meet us. We had lunch with them before we split up and they returend home. We will see them soon again since this group will ride with us on our final cycling day into Bangkok.

We have camped in every country since Bulgaria and we have pitched our tent at many different places. Some have been extra ordinary beautiful while others have been boring sites just out of sight behind a bush somewhere. The night before we entered Ayuthaya would be the last possible night for us to camp so we had to make something extra out of it.

Camping in front of a Buddha statue

Camping in front of a Buddha statue

In Chaibadan district in Lopburi there is a large dam with a low bridge leading across it. On its western shore there is a line of fish restaurants and when we arrived there to have dinner we asked where we could camp. The restaurant owner pointed to the Buddha statue that faced the water just across the street and told us to pitch our tents on the platform.

It was just a great way to conclude our long trail of camp sites. After a great fish dinner at the restaurant we showered in the restaurants bathroom before going to bed. We felt safe with Buddha keeping an eye on our tents and the stray dogs that would ensure that we would wake up if anything happened.

Too stingy to pay the entrance fee the ruins of Ayuthaya, or maybe is it because I've been here several times before....

Too stingy to pay the entrance fee the ruins of Ayuthaya, or maybe is it because I’ve been here several times before….

The name of our journey is ”Cycling from home to home” with the subtitle Göteborg-Bangkok by bicycle. Many people have asked where the trip will end and we can now say that it has three ends….. The journey from Göteborg to Bangkok ends in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok while the trip from home to home has two ends. Wej ends her home to home trip outside the blue door to her home in Bangkok while my home to home trip ends in Banglen where I used to stay as an exchange student many years ago.

When I write these few lines I sit in a guesthouse in Ayuthaya. It is late and time to go to bed so that I am prepared for the cycling tomorrow which is a special day since it is the day we will ride to Banglen and I will conclude my home to home journey.

We will try to update with some photos and short comments during the day so it may pay off to check our blog a few times during tomorrow (Sunday 24 nov.)

Video of Day 162

We have taken thousands of photos during the 9 months we have been on the road, but as soon as we entered Thailand the number of photos we have taken have dropped dramatically. Maybe it is due to us feeling so at home that we forget to take photos.

However, yesterday we took a lot of videoclips with our iphone. Now we have edited the clips and we are rather sure that this one minute movie will never earn any Oscar

Day 161-162 (Udon Thani – Baan Taen)

Thailand is home to many Swedish nationals and one thai-swedish family in Udon Thani who follow our blog invited us to come and stay at their house. After having left the checkpoint at the border we decided to hurry to Udon some 55 km further south. Chawee and Sven welcomed all three of us and brought us to a restaurant to meet some more people in the Swedish community in Udon. We have met less Swedish people along the way than we expected so it was great to meet some Swedes again.

Loy Krathong is a traditional festival that is celebrated during full moon in November in Thailand and Laos and probably some more neighbouring countries. In thai the word for river is literally translated as ”mother of water” and the festival is celebrated to thank the mother of the water for the water that she lets us use. Small and beutifully decorated floats carrying flowers, candles and joss sticks are released on the river. It is a very beutiful sight to see a river that is lit up of thousands of such floats.

This year Loy Krathong was celebrated while we were staying in Udon. Our initial plan was to take part in the festivities in a public park in Udon, but in the afternoon ut turned out that all of us were too tired to go out so we decided to stay home. We have celebrated Loy Krathong many times before and don’t feel we missed anything more than a good opportunity to get some nice photos to post on this blog…. 😉 The internet is full of Loy Kratong photos so if you are interested, then google it…. 😉

We love cycling on dirt roads. It's much more fun than riding on ever so good highways

We love cycling on dirt roads. It’s much more fun than riding on ever so good highways

We stayed with Chawee and Sven for two nights and when we left the first thing to do was to cycle into to downtown to try to buy a road map and reactivate my thai SIM-card for my iphone so that we can navigate by using google online maps.

It wasn’t hard to find our way out of Udon – what was hardest was to get three people to agree on which way to take… Once outside Udon our plan was to stay away from the big roads and try to spend as much time as possible cycling on the small back roads in Isan (Thailand’s northeastern region).

We cruised across the Isan landscape and passed numerous small villages. The small road got smaller and smaller and soon we found ourselves on a narrow dirt road which surface was covered of a very soft mix of dust and sand. It was a bit tough but when we wanted to complain we reminded each other that 30 minutes in sand is nothing compared to the endless days we spent fighting the loose sand in central asia…..

The pavillion where we pitched our tents

The pavillion where we pitched our tents

Soon we realized that we wouldn’t be able to get as far as we had planned to and when we cycled into a village we decided to stay there. There was a temple and a school that would provide good camping opportunities, but we decied to ask around anyway. A shopkeeper told us to go to the ”phuyai baan” – village headman (head woman in this case) who had a big field behind her house.

The village chief welcomed us and when she found out that we came from Sweden the welcome became even warmer since her daughter is married to a Swede and lives there most of the year. We were offered to pitch our tents in their ”sala” (pavillion) by a pond behind the house. The pavillion had electricity. lights and water boilers and next to it there was an outdoor kitchen where we could wash ourselves. We couldn’t have asked for more…

Saying good bye to our hosts

Saying good bye to our hosts

Even if it is winter in Thailand now the afternoon sun is still strong and we try to start as early as possible in the mornings. The family told us which way to go but warned us that the road was bad. It was indeed a dirt road, but the dirt was packed and we had no problems to cycle. After 2-3 hours a steady northeastern wind picked up and since we were mainly going south or southwest it was going to be our day….

P’Ben has a tiny little MP3 player mounted on his handlebar and it contains lots of classic thai hits. A flat beautiful landscape surrounded by hills, golden fields, no traffic, tailwind and thai hits from the time I was first in the country – could it be any better…?

We talk too much and cycle too little and didn’t make it to where we had planned to the second day either. When we approached the small town of Baan Taen we decided it was time to stop for the day. People in villages we had passed on the way told us there would be plenty of accomodation in this town. We found one simple hotel that was full and when we continued through the center we cycled past the local police station. Wej and P’Ben have stayed at police stations before so we went in to ask if we could pitch our tents on their lawn.

Posing outside the police station with the very welcoming police officers

Posing outside the police station with the very welcoming police officers

The officers said it was OK to stay on the lawn but thought that we would get a better sleep if we stay inside the station instead. We accepted that kind offer, and no – we aren’t staying in the arrest – we are staying on the floor in the police chief’s office using his internet connection to update this blog post….

Staying in the police chief's office

Staying in the police chief’s office

Arriving Thailand

It was a morning that was just like any other morning when we stay at a hotel. We went up early, packed our stuff and loaded our bikes. But there was something different – it was the last morning on foreign soil. Although we have spent the last days in an environment that is very similar to Thailand, spoken Thai most of the time and seen Thailand on the other side of the river, we were very happy but also nervous when loading our bikes to ride the last 20 km to the border crossing.

Outside our guesthouse in Vientiene and ready to go the border

Outside our guesthouse in Vientiene and ready to go the border

Crossing into Thailand would be our 14th border crossing and we stuck to the same routines as usual. Try to get rid of all remaining currency before leaving and we did this by having a wonderful breakfast of grilled baguettes and traditional laotian coffee.

The ride to the border checkpoint was smooth and took less than an hour. We were wearing our brand new cycling jerseys and we felt like a small professional cycling team in our uniforms….
Going to Thai border

The border procedures were dealt with quickly. In this photo I have entered no mans land while Wej is still technically in Laos.

Wej talking to someone at the border. Our Polish friend Bartek is seen in the background

Wej talking to someone at the border. Our Polish friend Bartek is seen in the background

All the countries we have cycled through have been countries where you drive on the right hand side. In Thailand the traffic is on the left hand side and right after the border check point on the Laotian side, there is a strange intersection where the lanes cross each other and the traffic continue on the left hand side.

Intersection for changing from right hand side traffic to dito left.

Intersection for changing from right hand side traffic to dito left.

We passed the border on Saturday at 10 AM and there was not many cars at all. We didn’t bother to wait for green light and carefully crossed the intersection against the red light.
Skärmavbild 2013-11-18 kl. 00.27

We had been warned by local cyclist about the train tracks on the bridge. They had told us they are very dangerous, but we are used to tram tracks in the midst of the streets in Göteborg and didn’t think a single train track was much to worry about.

Wej smiling as she crosses the actual border in the middle of the Mekhong river.
Skärmavbild 2013-11-18 kl. 00.23

At the end of the bridge on the thai side.

Saluting the flag of the motherland

Saluting the flag of the motherland

Our cyclist friend P’Ben had taken a night train from Bangkok and met us after the border checkpoint on the thai side. He had ordered a grilled baguette and the delivery lady came with it all the way from Sweden.

We will cycle together most of the way to Bangkok and try to re-live some old cycling memories together.