Please take "Planned" with a grain of salt.
There is more than one way to skin this cat.
When coming up with a potential route for our trip, there have been many iteration upon iteration of our itinerary. Mainly because:
- We have a limited period of time to play with due to our jobs. 3.5 weeks of holiday in one sitting is generous yet restrictive in this context. Since Bagan is our holy grail and we want to spend at least 4-5 days there to soak it in, plus three days at the start in Mae Sot to get our bearings before crossing the border, that already reduces our active cycling window to two weeks. Two weeks to cycle 1,200 km. We better get the ball rolling every day.
- We have to stop in places where there are guesthouses for foreigners. We aren't bringing any of our camping gear with us due it not being possible there anyway. We know there's perma-tourers on the road who have that stuff and may use it when necessary regardless, but for us, it is a conscious choice not to. Not only because it's against the law, but also because it negatively impacts the innocent people who live there (they might get into trouble for having us sleep on their land, even if they didn't know about it) and the cyclists who come after us (they might be scrutinised and prejudiced against by the government for something they had no hand in doing). It's not fair and we don't want to contribute to that.
- This means that there might be days where we have to ride 90-100km just to find housing. Or, if we take a slight detour (i.e.: visiting a monument close by), we could break it up into two easier days.
HOW ARE WE GETTING OUR TANDEM THERE?
From Berlin to Bangkok, we are flying with Aeroflot. They've been our preferred airline since our trip to Southeast Asia last year (sans bicycle that time) and are also one of the most affordable, direct flight options (with a short layover in Moscow) out there at the moment.
Once you book your flights, email Customer Service [email@example.com] and make a formal request with flight date and bike dimensions. The bike must be either folded down into a box or taped together in a heavy tarp (a mattress bag works wonders), with its front wheel taken off. Cost is the same as one standard piece of checked luggage.
Aeroflot flies into Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is right in the center of the city. Since we're then taking a domestic flight to Mae Sot via Nok Air, which flies into Don Mueang Airport, we're going to take advantage of the free airport shuttle between the two. All you need is proof of your outbound flight.
Nok Air allows one bicycle per person for free, which we happily accepted. Having a tandem has actually proven to be a cost saver at times because technically speaking, it is just one bicycle, much to the confusion and eventual resignation of the airport staff.
Of course, we already know there's no way this trip will go exactly as planned. We might get bad weather, the bike might break down, we might get sick. Something will go wrong and we'll have to adapt. We know this, we're ready for it. But by having a plan, we have a path of least resistance. We know we can ride from this town to that and find a place to stay, and we're pretty sure everything in the plan is a feasible day's ride, all being well.
No matter what happens, we'll have a laugh.