Since Tak, we've ridden lots - 12 days of 50-100km stretches with two break days to check out Sukothai UNESCO Heritage site of the 13/14th century temples and Huppatat limestone mountains and its secret garden which was discovered by the local monks only in 1979.
We crossed the 1,000km milestone rolling into Ayutthaya, where I'm writing from today.
On the road life forms fast. Everyday we take care of our basic necessities... food, shelter, and happiness... and somehow life in this raw form is more intense and significant than it ever can be experienced in the city.
Travelling by bike, 100kms ago feels like a world apart from now. My mind wanders a million miles per minute powered with every revolution of the cranks and when I expect it least there creeps up a moment of absolute clarity.
Biking is meditation to me.
Biking is freedom to explore at my own pace on my own schedule with all my senses alert.
Dariya and I sit across the table from one another today, with deeper respect and understanding for each other and even more importantly for ourselves.
All the stuff I wrote up there, about biking being freedom ... Well it's different when you try to share it all with a friend. It didn't take long for Dariya and I to realize we have common interests, but different priorities for fulfilling those interests. So we took on the challenge of the road and learning how to work together as a team all at once. I'm sharing this here because our dynamic together is a very important part of our daily life and the whole purpose of blogging is to allow a resource to exist about what an experience like this might entail. So I hope that you can take away something from this post to your own relationships and interactions.
For example... I like biking just for biking... I'm immediately happy as soon as my foot hits the peddle. so I want to ride everyday, and I want to ride hard so to make my shower at the end of the day count. Whereas, for Dariya, she loves to bike, but the bike is simply a mode of transportation for her. So she had to adapt to my desire that we ride at least 50-70km on our riding days.
Also, our pace might be different, so sometimes we ride together, and sometimes we say we will wait in the first shade in 10km for the other, and one time we rode the whole morning apart and set a date to meet at the entrance of the market at the town 50km down the road (we found the picture of our rendezvous entrance on Google Images and had a plan B to find WiFi and email each other if we get to the town and the entrance gate doesn't exist!)
My Middle Eastern blood doesn't mind riding even at noon, but for Dariya's Ukrainian genes the heat here is intolerable between 11am and 2pm. So I suck it up and wake up early (still with joy everyday because it means we get to ride a longer day) so we gain some ground before the sun angle gets too steep. We take a siesta in a wooden shed on a rice field, or hang our hammocks for a nap in the woods for a few hours. Then Dariya toughs it out and rides in the afternoon sun, even though it's still too hot. We'll be trying out a new strategy from here... to be on the road first light, arrive at our destination for the day by midday and have the whole afternoon off to do whatever we want, together or on our own. This way Dariya gets her sunset light shooting in at her leisure also without me stressing out about finding accommodation before dark!
So the past couple of weeks were trying at times, but we've had some good talks and at the bottom of it some good laughs. We know that we are each responsible for our own happiness. We know that expectations really get you into a deep dark hole sometimes.
The secret to our joyful coexistence thus far has been communication and genuine love and compassion for each other.
Sometimes we show so much love and care for each other that at three different occasions we've been mistaken to be in a relationship together!!!
So we're thinking of making a shirt that reads "we just bike together, that's all!".
Looking forward to reading this post in 5months to see how far we've come along :)