A short update about yesterday’s Krabi Trail Run, and whats happening next..!
Since leaving the UK back in July 2018 on our bicycles from Manchester, 1 year and 8 months later, saw us cross the border from Cambodia into our 27th country, The Kingdom of Thailand.
Several weeks earlier before entering Thailand, we had cycled across China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and due to the way we usually travel, we are not always up to date with global news, as we really only ever look to see if there’s any problems at land borders, or unrest in each country before entering.
Back in December 2019, we’d heard a few things about a virus starting in China, in a place called Wuhan, we’d actually cycled in the area just before, in late October, but we’d recently arrived in Vietnam so didn’t think too much about it, and we always plan our routes taking us through the remote areas, most of the time passing through small rural villages, but the way people live in those parts is like going hundreds of years back in time, so no one really cares about what’s going on in the rest of the world, but that all changed for us a couple of months later, just as we arrived in Saigon, the news of the Covid-19 pandemic was everywhere!
We heard of how all neighbouring countries were going to soon be closing their land borders, and stopping international flights and boats!
In 2016 we cycled the whole of Southeast Asia, a huge loop starting in Bangkok Thailand, taking us through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, we finished our tour back in Thailand on a small Island in the south called Phi Phi Island, its also where I proposed to Gabs, so getting to Thailand, especially Phi Phi island was very important, but with the rapid increase of Covid and borders closing, we found ourselves in a race against time, which meant cycling fast across Cambodia to arrive in Thailand before they closed the border, but once we had arrived, we then heard the news that all boats would soon stop running to islands, so that they could control the spread of Covid.
So to make the story very short, we arrived on Phi Phi Island on the 22nd March, and 2 days later all boats stopped running, borders were closed and no international flights were allowed in, the country was in full lockdown, and we were locked down in paradise, just as we had planned!
After 4 months of Covid lockdown on Phi Phi Island, and once restrictions were lifted in Thailand, we decided to head to the mainland, which was just over 5 weeks ago. We sailed from Phi Phi Island to a place on the mainland called Krabi, and are currently living in an area called Ao Nang.
When we arrived in Krabi we saw an advertisement for something called the “Krabi International Trail Run” it was only 5 weeks until the big event, which meant it wouldn’t give us much time to train, but we decided to enter anyway, so we spent the next 5 weeks training.
Training was difficult due to the hot and humid temperatures here, we had to run in the early hours of the morning through the jungle, but its still hot at 6am, its just always hot!
After being on a small island for so long, where there’s no roads, it meant we could no longer cycle, this was a big concern as we needed to stay ‘cycling fit’ ready for when we could continue back on the open road, so we had to try and find new ways of keeping in shape.
The type of life we lived on the island kept us in fairly good shape, as it was a daily physical challenge to go and find the basic essentials, such as finding fresh drinking water and catching fish, we often had to trek 10km over the mountain through the jungle, just to get some rice and potatoes, in extreme heat whilst being attacked by mosquitoes.. its not always the paradise it looks on the photo’s!
We also went for regular runs on the beach, which isn’t the easiest on a small island, theres hardly anywhere to run, especially when the tide comes in, so the easiest way to get daily exercise, was by swimming.
We arrived at the Khao Phanom Bencha National Park the day before the race, as we were camping in the jungle due to the early morning start, the National Park is about a 1 hour ride to get there. Once we arrived we started to erect the tent, and I (Chris) had left half of the tent in Ao Nang, so had to go all the way back.. what a great start! anyway, I eventually made it back 2 hours later with the other half of the tent, and a cool box full of ice and bottles of water, which was a result!
That night there was many people camping in the jungle, and some very noisy people! plus all the strange noises coming from all the different wild creatures, its also extremely hot in the tent, theres many mosquitos and other insects, and then came the rain, and lots of it, after all, its still the monsoon season, but it was so heavy, which made the humidity even worse. The rain continued throughout the night, and we managed to get about 3 hours of broken sleep before having to get ready for the race at 4am… “so tired”
I’ll keep this bit very short, as I appreciate it can be boring for many..
..the race was a fantastic experience, Gabs did the 20km Trail and I did the 40km, and yes, its called a Trail Run, but most of the time we were running through rivers, balancing on fallen trees spanning sheer drops, scrambling through swaps and ditches, and the mountain climbs were so tough, they were super steep! everyone was climbing on all fours for mile after mile, it was near on a vertical climb, and due to the amount of rain we had throughout the night and still on the day, everywhere became a mud bath, so you spent half the time slipping back down the mountain and climbing back up again, it was difficult for everyone, although the Thai people are naturally very fit and strong, some of the Thai’s will run down a mountain whilst grabbing hold of a tree and using it to swing to the next, so that they could get down without falling, it was so amazing to see the skills of these people.
We both finished with a respectable time, but never thought it would be as tough as it was, I know we only trained for 5 weeks, and we never expected to finish with a great time, so long as we completed it within the cut off time, which we did with plenty of time to spare thankfully! but even if we’d trained for a year, there’s no questioning, that was one of the toughest things we have ever done.. (apart from cycling over the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan) but we both love that feeling of putting our bodies through physical pain, the type where it almost makes you sick, there’s no other feeling like it, its makes you feel alive, its all about “Life Achievement”
So we look forward to the next one somewhere else in the world.
So our time here in Thailand has come to an end
Its hard to comprehend that we have been in Thailand for almost 7 months!
In one way it doesn’t seem that long when we consider how much we have done, especially whilst living on Phi Phi, we’ve had some once in a life time experiences on Phi Phi, from being locked down living from our tent in a cave, to living with Sea Gypsies, where they taught us how to survive off both ocean and land, to helping over 300 local struggling families with food parcels, clothing and medical supplies, and then theres been the recent project where we rebuilt a families Longtail boat that was struck by lightening, the boat is now back on the water and supplying fish to the families in the village, the fundraising was that successful, we’ve been able to repair a storm damaged boat and supply fishing baskets to the local fisherman. You can see all this by CLICKING HERE
So there you have it, time goes by so fast, and thats the scary part for us, we’re not the sort of people that are happy to stay in one place for long, thats half the reason we chose to cycle the world, but the world is suddenly a very small place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and its not a world where adventure cyclists, or any other type of nomad can move around as freely and easily.
Thailand, and all surrounding countries borders remain closed, we did plan to cycle into Malaysia and Indonesia next, but Malaysia won’t open their borders until sometime next year, and then there will be conditions. Our route was also taking us to Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, but the Covid in these parts won’t see it opening for a long time. When we left China into Vietnam we put all of our winter equipment into storage in Hanoi, as we wouldn’t be needing it whilst cycling around Southeast Asia, we had planned to head back and collect it before making our way to Nepal, hopefully we will see it again one day, as its all incredibly expensive equipment, but for the time being, it will have to stay there.
Its very tough times for people out here, as the government still won’t allow tourists in due to the ongoing control over the spread of covid, many businesses have closed, and continue to do so on a daily basis, many of which will never reopen, this is causing more damage to peoples livelihood’s and their health than covid is, there have been more suicides, like a recent lemon farmer that killed his 52 year old wife and his 20 year old daughter, just before shooting himself.
If you asked the local people, they would rather take their chances with covid, instead of having their lives torn apart by a third party… but in Southeast Asia the people have no voice.
Theres still several hundred thousand tourists in Thailand, but the government won’t be extending the visa amnesty, so on the 26th September they want all tourists out, and they have made it very clear that if you’re still here after this date then you will be faced with fines and prison.
Just think how much money say 400,000 tourists are spending on hotels, food etc.. another major blow to the countries people. Why the government just don’t allow people here to pay for a visa extension, especially when there’s no one coming to the country is beyond me.
So far we have been on our world adventure for 2 years and 2 months, and as much as we never wanted to go to an airport and get on a plane, we have decided to take control of the current situation, so we will soon be flying to another country, we have lots of work ahead of us over the next few months preparing to continue with our world adventure, and also some exciting news!
We have loved every minute in Thailand, and the people here are so friendly, its a beautiful country and it is sad to leave, but it’s time for a new adventure.
Thanks for reading – Chris & Gabs