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Thailand Biking

A colourful bike ride in the heart of the city of angels

Saen Sabai PB Air in-flight magazine - February 1, 2006

Resident and visitors to Bangkok can take a half day bicycle adventure in the unseen tropical plantation of the village “Prapradaeng” right here in Bangkok!

If you were to tell someone that you were going on a bicycle tour during your vacation in Thailand, or even on a day off from work or a weekend they would probably admire the idea and think pf joining you. However, if this bicycle trip was located in the heart of a thriving metropolis like Bangkok, they would think you were suicidal or possibly insane! As the old saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover”.

There’s a Dutchman that’s putting a new face on Bangkok for tourists and locals as well. Andre Breuer has been living and working in Bangkok for over 10 years now and he will not only tell you about it, but he will show you the inner beauty of this amazing and diverse city. After numerous years in the garment industry Andre decided to interact more with tourist, locals and the city itself through his bicycle tours that are so fittingly called “Colours of Bangkok”.

I was invited to join this “Colours of Bangkok” tour recently and was overjoyed. I have heard of these bicycle tours that were here in Bangkok, but I must admit, I was a bit skeptical myself at first. When I met with Andre and his staff of Tourism Authority of Thailand Guides, I was very impressed with their friendly and confident personalities. They sized us up for some of their quality bicycles and off we went.

It took Andre about 6 months to perfect his 25 kilometer route that winds through the inner city, across the river, through tropical forests, in and out of historical temples, and escapes into the solitude of a park that feels like its 100 miles away from the nearest traffic light. We started by traveling a few blocks on the smaller streets to visit some of the city housing projects in between the multi-million baht mansions. Bangkok has no shortage of contrast.

Not many tourists get to see where the majority of Bangkok’s population really lives, but we were welcomed with warm smiles and the famous “Hello’s” of anxious school children wanting to practice English. If the timing is right, you may get the chance to visit the kindergarten school that Andre’s company helps to support. Andre will stop many interesting sights to give insight and perspective to where we are, who we meet, and what we are seeing.

Making you way down to the famous Chao Praya River’s edge we are greeted by the locals who operate the long-tail boats for taking people across the mighty Chao Praya.

Thanks to Andre and his unique touring operation, the boat captains are smiling and wearing nice “Recreational Bangkok Biking” shirts. The load our bikes in the first boat and then we climb in the second for a safe but thrilling tide across the river.

Just across the river it is as though we were on another country. Sure there is some light traffic and you could still see and feel the big city just across the river, but we quickly ducked into the lush greenery that surrounded us. It was as though Andre had these special routes built just for us. We spent some lime riding on elevated cement paths that go through a jungle of banana, mango and papaya trees that one would expect to only see in movies. As a resident of Bangkok I was absolutely amazed, and so was the group of tourists that accompanied us.

This four and a half hour riding tour is filled with momentary stops for discussion and refreshment. We even stopped for a nice Thai lunch that is usually “Pad Thai Kung “or “Khao pad “from a local restaurant. There are many that take the tour that are definitely not “cyclists “, but they do not have any difficulties since it is flat and at a reasonable pace. As a seasoned cyclist I was not physically challenged by this ride. Yet I was continuously overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. I had discovered a part of Bangkok I did not know existed. I would say that most Thais would not believe it either without seeing it with Andre.

After seeing the historical temples and incredible jungle like trails we cross back over the river in a more commuter-styled boat that is large enough to comfortably carry 15 or 20 people with our 8 bikes. It’s not a long boat ride but it is relaxing and nice to see the city from the water. Once again we are in the thriving metropolis. But there is still more to see. We stop of at a local outdoor training facility where some Thais try to flight their way out of poverty “Muay Thai “is the Thai style of kick-boxing and the most famous National Sport.

Muay Thai offers a chance for young men to become champions. We are welcomed by the trainer to be spectators as the young fighters are thrilled to have an audience.

The day comes to an end as we take a leisurely ride back to the offices of Andre and his team of exploration leaders. We are greeted by the office manager (Andre’s lovely Thai wife) as she hands out cold wet towels and bottled water. The well planned trip takes just under 4 hours and ended with much gracious compliments of the wide-eyed guests who just had the most unique tour of Bangkok that exists.

When you sit back and think about the fact that we were almost completely harmless to the environment. We were able to go and see places that cannot be reached by vehicles, we visited with genuinely kind locals that aren’t hustling tourists. Everyone had a great time, and we actually got a little exercise. There really isn’t anything better in Bangkok. And there is plenty of time left over to take a shower, have a nice dinner and enjoy the nightlife that Bangkok has to offer. Thank you Mr. Andre Breuer and Recreational Bangkok Biking!

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