Biking with Nok outside Bangkok

We don’t even know how to begin to tell our story of this fantastic day! But let’s be conventional and start at the beginning…
We wish we could write that we woke well rested but if you have read our last post you know why we did not :-(. The annoying “stop-knocking-on-my-walls-guy” was of course outside our room by the reception. However, today he was very remorseful and apologized hundreds of times. It was a very special person with a tragic background that we don’t really want to bother you with in detail. Although, he was quite insistent to tell us about it in great length and detail while we waited for our bike guide. A quick summary: He was from the US, he was bisexual, had been using drugs and prostitutes (yes, different kinds…), he was getting away from overprotective parents, he was paranoid about having his phone hijacked etc etc. It was a very tragic story and we mostly felt sorry for him and tried our best to make him feel better and be supportive.
Right on time Nok () showed up with her van and driver, her trainee Bo and Steve. Nok was just the most amazing person we had ever met! She was so happy, enthusiastic and above all genuine. Her good mood and ever present smile spread to every person we met that day, and we met quite a few :-). Nok’s sidekick Bo was also a very sweet and great person (we hope she stays with Nok as we think she will become a great guide one day). Finally, Steve was a typical American senior citizen. He was an outgoing and a nice old man with a very heavy American accent.
It was going to be a long day with both biking and riding in the van between places. We started off with a pitstop for Steve who also wanted to change clothes when he saw us wearing “adult diaper pants” and other functional training clothes.
During our drive Nok first taught us some basic thai:

  • Hello and good (morning/day/evening): Sawasdee ka/krab (“ka” – if a woman is saying it and “krab” if man is saying it)
  • Thank you: Khobkhun ka/krab
  • No: Mai (ka/krab), this is a very handy word on Khao San Road (and quite a few other places).
  • It tastes good: Aroy ka/krab (this is used very often 🙂 )

The rest we forgot…
Nok also taught us some Thai history and when we came close to the coast she told us about how they made sea salt and how important it is for the country. After an hour or so we started to come out to the country side. It was of course an immense contrast to the city. Our first stop was a coconut sugar farm. Here they both grew the coconut palm tree and produced the actual sugar. It felt like we were part of a live episode of “How it’s made”. Nok started out by showing us where they grew the palm trees and how they harvested the coconut nectar from the trees. They actually cut the long flower stems and bind a plastic container around it. After some time they collect the container that is filled with nectar. The coconut sugar is than created by heating up the nectar and adding normal cane sugar to the mixture. Then the mixture is centrifuged for a period of time and poured into containers to cool down. Finally the chunks of finished coconut sugar are chopped up into smaller pieces, put in plastic bags and finally into transport boxes.

Our next stop was “crazy market” according to Nok. It was a market that was basically placed on top of a railway track the last few hundreds of meters to the station. The train made six return trips during the day which meant that the sellers had to put away their stand twelve times a day. These days it was quite easy as they just pulled up the hangover roof. The simply left the wares closest to the tracks as the train passed over them… It was very nice to see this market and they sold most kind of Thai vegetables, fish and meat. Nok also found us some sweets that was made from the coconut sugar, it was actually very tasty 🙂
On to our next stop we got pulled over by the police not once but twice within a few kilometers! They only wanted check Nok’s permit. Finally we got rid of the police and continued on to our next stop which was a floating market. It was a very busy day at the market with a lot of people and boats. Now we definitely got to practice our “Mai khobkhun ka/krab”. After a not too long wait we found ourselves in a market boat and our driver took us up and down the canals.
After getting of the boat and we left the market it was finally time for some biking! We biked up and down the street a couple of times and then we all left with Nok in the lead. 
We could really tell how much Nok loved this and she greeted everyone she met and we received a lot of smiles and “Sawasdees” 🙂
Nok stopped and started to talk to some coconut farmers on the way and we could watch them work and were offered a nice coconut drink as well.
It would not have been easy to find our way back if we got lost (without our phones of course) as all signs on the countryside were in thai. We passed a recycling station which looked really out of place in the middle of the jungle.
We stopped for lunch at a nice little place by the river. The view was nice, the refreshing ice cold towels were even better but topping them all was the food – it was excellent!
After lunch we headed for more places where they produced and used different parts of the coconut. First off was a organic virgin coconut oil producer. It was very interesting to hear the owner talk about the process of making the oil and what the use of the oil was. We think it’s easier to list the things the oil is not good for… it’s believed to be a cure and ailment for many conditions. We thought it smelled very nice at least!
The next stop was a factory where they produced coconut meat. First off a couple of guys stripped away an outer soft layer of the nut. Next in line were a few ladies that chopped off the hard shell and drain the nut from the coconut water. Last off was a couple of giggling girls that with a tool shaved off the last thin layer of brown from the meat. It was cute when as soon as they saw Fredde taking a picture of them they just giggled and stared down at their work.
At the next place we visited they performed a very hazardous work. They pealed of the outer most layer of the coconut on a half buried spear. The worker throws down the nut a little sideways on the spear head, pressing it down making part of the shell come off. He then repeats this procedure a few times until the outer shell is completely gone. It’s very hard work and therefor the workers become so warm that they disregard their safety gear. A few impaling accidents have happened…
The next place was a little less dangerous all though a few fingertips have been lost… Here they produced growing pots for orchids out of coconut shells. As we were leaving the owners came by and offered us some oranges. Such wonderful people and the fruit tasted excellent!
We continued biking for a few kilometers and finally stopped at an old temple that is completely grown over by trees. Basically the trees are what is holding everything together. The temple plays a very important part in Thai history and it’s were the Thai army held off the enemy and founded Bangkok as the capitol.
Our last stop was another market that on the weekends is so busy that it’s hard to walk there let alone ride a bike. Luckily today was a week day so we could easily bike along the river where all the sellers are normally standing. When we came back to the van the temple nearby played music so loud our ears started to actually hurt! We had a two hours ride back to the hotel and we were so tired that we basically slept the whole way.
Back at the hotel we were once again impressed with their towel skills, wow! This time it was elephants. We took a very needed and nice shower and headed out for some dinner. We ended up near Khao San road and had an uneventful meal.

If you’re heading for Thailand and have some time in Bangkok we really recommend Just Nok Tours, they also have more tours to choose from.