Bike for MOM- or how I became part in the Guiness book of records

So here I was. In front of the government office in Phrae, Thailand-amongst all cyclists who gathered here to participate on the nationwide event called “Bike for MOM”.

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But let me start at the beginning.

I had heard that this event would take place on Sunday 16th of August 2015 from a friend of mine and I thought it would be a good idea to participate. All I knew was, that it would be a distance of about 30 km and that with registration you would get a free shirt. And of course, that it was held to honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 83rd birthday, only later did I learn that the whole event was launched by the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn himself who together with his daughter Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha led the cyclist in Bangkok.

Information about the registration was hard to come by, everyone had a different piece of information, and after I heard that you could participate anyways I skipped it and bought myself a light blue “Bike for MOM” shirt which was easily available in many stores in and around Phrae.

I was offered to get a professional bike from a friend of mine, but opted against it, I thought it was better to use a bike I already knew. So we had to get my bike proper and shiny before I could use it.

And then the day finally arrived. At 2:00 p.m. I arrived at the gathering place and someone gave me a “barcode”. No idea what for, but I took it. As always in such a small city, I met lots of friends from school work or from different clubs. And we wouldn’t be in Thailand if I didn’t have to take several photos with all of them. Even strangers came to take photos with me, as I was apparently the only foreigner in Phrae participating. Pictures where taken with drones passing over our heads and powered parachutes were flying above us too.

The atmosphere was stunning thousands of people with their light blue shirts gathered together to affirm their respect, love and loyalty to their Queen- and I was amongst them.

The waiting in the heat had finally an end and at 3:30 p.m we started. It was rather difficult as we could only cycle very slowly. Estimated 5000 people participated only in Phrae. As we came to the highway which we had to cross on the way to our first stop in Cho Hae, it was getting better and by the time we were on the road to Cho Hae we had a 4 lane road and it was a little more comfy. On this road was also a “checkpoint” where we had to drop our barcoded papers. In front of Cho Hae temple was an official stop, with water and cold napkins provided. As most people coming from the city had arrived, 2 lanes were opened and we could start cycling part of the way back we had come from. Then along the highway again- of course closed for regular traffic- up to the police station in Sung men district, where we took a U-turn and cycled towards the city centre again.

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It was amazing how we all were cheered by spectators also wearing the light blue shirts with the “Bike for MOM” print. As I was the only Foreigner there the people were showing special interest in me, waved and many policemen on the way gave me a thumbs up and said “Great”

I personally have to give a thumbs-up to the police in Phrae. They did a great job in blocking streets, re-directing cars and making the way save for all of us cyclists. THANKS.

At around 6 p.m. I arrived at the start and finish point. It was not as crowded as before as some of the cyclists had only participated in parts of the tour. A little speech by the Judge of Phrae provincial court, the royal anthem and then it was over.

I had achieved what I wanted and that was to show myself that I am back to my former health after having had breast cancer last year. I am high with proud of accomplishment.

Later I learned, that I had actually cycled over 40 km and also participated in an event which gave Thailand a listing in the Guiness book of records as the largest bicycle parade ever. Nationwide more than 294,863 people had participated.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS

 

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Phrae the Gate to Lanna

Phrae is still one of the true insider tips for all travelers who want to explore the Northern part of Thailand.
There are only a few tourists who find the way to this precious small town, which lies about 200 km southeast of Chiang Mai. Most tourists only visit Phrae -which lies in a plain and is surrounded on four sides by mountains – as a stop-over going or coming from better-known tourist destinations.

About Phrae
Phrae, founded 1371 B.E. is one of the most historical cities in Northern Thailand and is often referred to as “ The Gate to Lanna”. Only few people know, that until 100 years ago Phrae had its own ruler and did not belong to the Kingdom of Thailand.
In the late 19th and the early 20th century, Phrae was the center of Thailand’s teak industry and this reflects in the street scenery of the town, where one will come across imposing old mansions and newly built teakwook houses.
Phrae city features a vast number of protected forests ideal for hiking, cycling and spotting exotic wildlife.

How to get to Phrae
By bus:
From Bangkok Mor Chit bus terminal there are several busses per day leaving to Phrae.
The best way to travel to Phrae is to take one of the many busses that stop in Phrae. The bus station is in town and busses from far away destinations such as Bangkok or Nong Khai can be reached as well as from nearby cities.

Alternatively mini busses can be taken from neighbouring cities.

By train:
People who prefer to take take the train have to get off at Den Chai station. From there you can take a Songthew (pickup) to Phrae city. They run from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

By plane:
For people who prefer travelling by plane, Nokair offers a daily flight to and from Phrae.

How to get around in Phrae
Getting around in Phrae is a bit of a problem, as there is a lack of public transportation, but there are a few options.

Bicycle (jàk yaan – จักรยาน)
At the municipal administration (tâyt-sà-baan – เทศบาล ) located on Chai Boon Road, bicycles can be borrowed free of charge. If you stand in front of the municipal administration building, keep to the right. The booth is in the yard about 15 metres from the road and very close to the fire station.
It is open daily from 7:00-17:00 hrs. Make sure you go there early as they only have a limited amount of bicycles.
Some hotels provide bicycles for their guests too.

Rickshaw ( rot laak – รถลาก)
What is in other cities of Thailand merely a tourist attraction, is still to be considered as an everyday life transportation in Phrae. You should definitely take the opportunity and travel around in a rickshaw at some point of your stay in Phrae. The easiest way to find them is going to one of the local markets or at the bus station.

Motorbike rental:
Whether you want to explore the waterfalls, caves or some of the many national parks or just want to have a look at the beautiful scenery with its’ lustrous rice paddies, the mountains, teak wood forrests, bamboo or banana groves or if you rather want to go to Cho Hae temple or for a shopping spree at the nearby located Thung Hong village, it is definitely a good idea at some point of your stay to rent a motorbike.

There is one motorbike rental shop in Yantarakitkosol Road ( near Piriyalai school). This shop is specialized in renting out motorbikes and offers a very good service.

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Phrae

Phrae is a charming little town, surrounded by mountains on all four sides with plenty of marvellous sceneries.The ideal place to go hiking, fishing or cycling.
It is located about 555 km from Bangkok and 200 km from Chiang Mai but most tourists just pass by while visiting other more known cities in the North.
Phrae contains one of the largest reserves of teak forests in the country and is located on the banks of the Yom River

Phrae retained its  old city, while the new city grew around it. The old city contains sleepy alleyways lined with teak houses that are outstanding examples of traditional Thai architecture and a number of beautiful temples. Many of these  teak mansions were constructed by European traders who were engaged in the teak trade back in the 19th century.In the surrounding province, there are several national parks, some remote hill tribe villages.

Phrae is one of the most ancient cities in Thailand, an old establishment having been founded in the same period as Sukhothai and Chiang Mai. The town was built over 800 years ago, allegedly by Thai Kern and Tai Lue people. The former name was “Pol Nakorn”, then it was changed to “Wiang Ko Sai” which means “Silk Cloth”.

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