Off The Road Asia: An End in Sight?

The New Year camping session was the perfect escape for a few days. No phone signal or WiFi which meant no Covid news or conversation which was pure bliss after having it rammed down our throats for the past two years.

Unfortunately, Thailand’s draconian lockdown measures did not seem to have any end in sight as we entered 2022, the third year of Covid restrictions. The tedium continued into January, but at least it had stopped raining which enabled a few local weekend bike trips to some beach bars in the neighboring Chumphon province which were allowed to sell a beer to thirsty bikers.

After overindulging in December, and topping 80 kilos, I decided to embark on a Keto diet for the first three months of the year. It essentially involves avoiding carbs and sugar but was a lot harder than expected in Thailand where absolutely everything is loaded with sugar.

Jammin had left the area and gone to Phuket in search of tourist dollars, so his place remained empty and started to get run down. We’d still go there to enjoy the serenity on Saturday afternoons for a while to escape the screeching rooster plague that had taken over Suan Luang, but those visits also stopped after a couple of months as people returned to their homelands.

A few minor weekends away were enjoyed in Prachuap and Hua Hin which were both largely devoid of the tourist throngs that should have been there in high season. Bars and entertainment venues remained shuttered by the ruling regime that still blamed alcohol for Thailand’s surging Covid numbers.

In mid-February we decided enough was enough, we needed a road trip so packed up and ventured down to Khao Sok for a few days. We had been there before so it was disappointing to see the little village at the edge of the national park completely decimated with 80% of places closed. Still, we had nice treehouse accommodation and pool so made the most of being somewhere different for a change.

By mid-March, things started to open up a little on the Hua Hin nightlife front so a long weekend or two was spent there also sampling something I hadn’t seen for years – live music!

Dylan would be starting a new school in Petchaburi in May so we spent a few weekends there sorting things out. My 47th came and went with little fanfare but I had dropped a fair bit of weight from the Keto by then.

An ANZAC ride to Kanchanaburi via Cha-am in late April was also enjoyable as it was the first one in three years. The atmosphere was a little subdued compared to previous years, probably because there were a fraction of the people there and the morning service in town had been canceled indefinitely. That said, there was a very enjoyable day down the strip with some Aussie veterans.

By May the short-lived summer was over and the rains had returned making ‘Macondo’ a more suitable name for Bangsaphan for the amount of rain it now gets annually and seven-month wet seasons becoming the norm.

Writing this in mid-June, I had very little recollection of anything that distinguished any of the past six months from each other so needed to go through photos on the phone to see what went on.

We still hadn’t got Da’s UK visa back from the laggards in the British government two months later so the return trip via Istanbul (the only thing we’ve had to look forward to this year) was put on ice as the tedium ground on into a wet summer with no road trip in sight at the time of writing. On top of all that, we now had surging inflation and a cost of living crisis to deal with following the war in Ukraine.