SpiceRoads Blog

Rider of the Month – Kim Seldon

Posted on: October 25th, 2016 by Sally Hoare



– Tell us about your earliest experiences as a cyclist…
I first began riding bikes at age 5. From then on you basically couldn’t get me off a bike. I continued riding all through my schooling and used my bike as my first form of transport for work, and later rode as part of my job as a police officer in a bike patrol unit. In 2001, I watched the final stage of the Tour de France and the next thing I knew, I’d bought a road race bike which kicked off cycling racing for me.

– Tell us what you most enjoy about cycle touring and why you like to see the world by bicycle?
Currently I’ve only ridden in Thailand with SpiceRoads. Although I’ve planned for other countries in the future to ride, I can’t stop booking Thailand cycling trips because they are always so good. I find that cycling tour holidays are always unique and totally different experiences than you would get non cycling.

– How many cycle tours have you been on with SpiceRoads and which has been your favourite?
So far I have completed 4 SpiceRoads tours in Thailand, with my 5th one booked this year for November which I am very excited about. 3 of the tours have been the Bangkok to Phuket tour and also a Chiang Mai to Bangkok tour. All have been excellent tours with great SpiceRoads guides and staff and new friends along the way. It’s now actually become an annual thing with 4 friends and myself to meet up to cycle Thailand.

Although every tour so far has been great, I think for me the most enjoyable tour was back in 2013. Myself, 4 friends completed the Bangkok to Phuket tour along with other cyclists before my wedding in Phuket which was planned at the completion of the tour. For me it was the best of both worlds, being able to cycle through beautiful coastal Thailand and then marrying my beautiful wife in Phuket.

– Where would you like to cycle next?
I next plan to cycle Chiang Mai and the surrounding area, and am hoping to learn to love the hills more 😉

– Do you have any special diets for cycling?

I don’t normally have any special diets or nutrition for my cycling, other than trying to be healthy. When cycling in Thailand, my secret to nutrition is a lot of Boat noodle soup, mango sticky rice and Char nom yen.

– In your opinion, what is the benefit of travelling by bicycle?
I feel like travelling by bike is so much better than a conventional holiday. You get to experience more of the real Thailand and enjoy everything at a slower pace.



The Trouble with Animal Tourist Attractions

Posted on: October 18th, 2016 by Sally Hoare

Each year thousands of tourists to Thailand tell their friends and family about their experiences with the culture, delicious food,  and beautiful scenery. They bring back photos of stunning Buddhist temples, and shots of themselves with exotic animals like tigers and elephants.


Unfortunately, few stop to consider how it was made possible for them to pose with, pet, or ride these normally wild animals.dsc06450_23449246040_o_resized

Asian elephants are an endangered species. Experts say that Thailand now has less than 2,000 wild elephants in the whole of the country, and the population is rapidly declining because of illegal capture and trade for use in the tourism industry.

A wild elephant must be tamed before it can be ridden, but the taming process is very brutal and cruel. Phajaan or “the crush”, is performed on young baby elephants until its spirit is completely broken.

Additionally, elephants are not designed to carry weight on their backs, so riding them causes pain and discomfort, and spinal damage in the long term. They are also worked to exhaustion, and many die every year as a result.

Many places claim to handle their elephants “responsibly”. However, keep in mind how they obtained the elephant and what happened to turn it into a a docile adult. Likewise, captive tigers are abused and heavily drugged to keep them calm and docile enough for tourists to pose with them, and cubs are taken away very young for illegal trafficking.


Another popular tourist attraction has been Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno temple, better known as the “Tiger Temple”. On 30th May, 2016, over 500 officers, wildlife officials, vets, and police raided the temple. The 137 drugged tigers were taken into protective custody and the temple was closed.

tigertempletiger_temple_6032441172Among finding violations of regulations on animal attractions throughout the Temple, the authorities confiscated preserved carcasses of tiger cubs, evidence of animal trafficking.

The case of the Tiger Temple proved that trafficking in endangered species and animal attractions were inextricably linked.


The United Nations Environment Programme released a statement saying these things represented “only a tiny proportion of the enormous extent of an illegal trade in wildlife that is pushing species to the brink of distinction.”

For animal-loving tourists, these examples are heartbreaking, and there seems to be no scenario in which they can enjoy animal attractions that are safe for the animals themselves.

There are animal-friendly options, however. For example, elephant sanctuaries that genuinely protect and care for rescued elephants, where tourists can safely interact with the elephants in a respectful manner.

By choosing businesses that support elephant-friendly tourism, and avoiding parks and shows that do not, you can help protect animals from a life of suffering and abuse.


SpiceRoads Cycle Tours is such a business. We have officially signed the elephant-friendly tourism pledge with World Animal Protection (formerly WSPA) Thailand, on May 4, 2016. Our pledge ensures our commitment to offer elephant experiences from only those operations with a high standard of elephant welfare and conservation, with responsible viewing of elephants in wild or semi-wild habitats, as well as pro-actively communicating this commitment to protect elephants to their customers, and encourage elephant-friendly tourism.

Cycling Bike and Hike Wilds Madagascar

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by Sally Hoare


madagascar_BLOGBy Herb Kavet

Madagascar has never been on my short list of places to tour. But then a 58 years old friend, getting married for the first time, invited several friends to come along on his honeymoon. How often do you get invited to come on someone’s honeymoon? Before I considered just how far away Madagascar was and how difficult it was to get to I signed up for the trip. It turned out to be one of my favorite bike tours…

The country is an island off the east coast of Africa and a former French colony. It’s an impoverished country. People live on under $2 a day, many go barefoot and backbreaking human power moves most of the goods. People push carts or bicycles up hills with enormous loads of rice and other agricultural products. Going downhill some cyclists tie branches to their loaded bikes to drag and slow their descent. The government is corrupt and the former French administration left them woefully unprepared for independence.Education is poor, averaging only 5 or 6 years and improvement in the lives in the countryside is further limited by tribal traditions. One of the 18 tribes, for example, living in the hot wastelands of the southwest, refuses to move to the fertile and available lands in other parts of the country. Their tradition is to die in the place where they were born.

MDG4Potentially Madagascar is a rich place. There are extensive agricultural resources. Rice is a staple of their diet but wheat, corn, potatoes, cassava, coffee, tea and every kind of fruit and vegetable is grown. Much like a cow, the Asian Zebo is grazing everywhere and used for pulling carts as much as food. Chickens are in every yard along with pigs. They have oil, gas, iron, coal and are the world’s main supplier of sapphires.

madagaracas22111Most roads are unpaved. This made for excellent off road biking but the lack of infrastructure contributed mightily to the poverty. Children in the countryside cannot start school until the ages of 9 or 10 when they are old enough to walk the miles to the nearest school. Teachers and doctors are uninterested in working in the countryside where there is seldom electricity or piped water, further limiting education and medical care. In the villages indigenous plants are used for medicine as well as building material.

MDG3Despite the poverty the country is a magnificent place to visit. We spent many days cycling on car free dirt and poorly paved roads at 3,000 to 4,500 feet of altitude. This was their winter and the climate delightful. The lakes, mountains, forests and rivers were beautiful. The people were amongst the friendliest I have ever encountered. Not a single person neglected to wave and greet us even when we were speeding by in a van.

In a country where labor is inexpensive we had 3 guides and 2 drivers for our group of 7. We were very well taken care of and were taught endlessly about the island’s ecology. The isolation from other continents resulted in an abundance of plant and animal life found nowhere else. Most interesting to tourists is the enchanting lemur with long tail and magnificent leaps from tree to tree. Madagascar has over 300 species of birds with 60% endemic to the island. The place is an intriguing ecological center encompassed in a beautiful natural setting with poor but magnificent people.

As it turned out my first communal honeymoon trip exceeded all my expectations. The bike riding was delightful, traveling with friends was a joy and a far away country, barely on a Westerner’s radar, was an intriguing and educational experience.

Indian Spices and Where They are From

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by Sally Hoare
Posted in: Uncategorized


India is the seventh largest country in the world and as a result, its climate varies greatly in different parts of the country. This changing climate means that a wide range of spices is produced all over the country, many of which are native to India and some which have been imported from countries with similar climates.

Indian spices are used in some different forms. They can be used whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sautéed, fried and as a topping. When cooking, they are mainly used in dishes to enhance flavour and give the dish an extra ‘kick’. They are also used in medicine, magic and cultural traditions.

Even before the Roman and Greek civilisations came into being, spices were being traded with neighbouring lands and many armies have fought with each other over centuries for access to the trade routes. Indian spices have been exported around the world for centuries, and they are as popular today as they have ever been.

There are too many spices to mention them all, however below is a guide to many of the most common Indian spices:

Cinnamon derives from the bark of an evergreen tree. It is native to India in the eastern part of the country, and as well as its common use in food it is also used regularly for medicinal purposes.
In cooking, it is used in some curries with Biryani being the most common and it is also used as a flavouring in sweet products such as muffins due to its distinctive aroma and non-spicy properties.

Ginger can be found all over India, and its pungent taste distinguishes it from many other spices. In addition to its more common use in various foods, it is also used for medicinal purposes such as ginger tea. In cooking it is mostly used in its grounded form to give an extra ‘bite’ to curries.

Black Pepper
Black pepper is arguably the most common Indian spice used in cooking. Grown mostly in Southern India, it is most commonly used as a condiment throughout the world and is regularly used to give additional flavour to some savoury dishes and snacks. Pepper is derived from the berries of the pepper tree, and whereas white pepper is just the seed, black pepper is the dried berry.



Native to India, cumin can be found in a variety of curries and is mainly used as a flavouring agent and a condiment in certain dishes. Cumin seeds are usually used at the beginning of a dish when preparing a meal, because as the seeds heat up, the flavour and the aroma is given off.



Saffron is mostly used as a colouring agent as well as a seasoning one. Often used as a colouring agent in sweets, the use of saffron also varies around the world. In India, where it originates, it is always added at the end of the preparation of a dish, however, in Europe, it is usually added at the beginning or midway through preparation, such as in a paella.



A member of the ginger family, Tumeric is used to add flavour and colour to dishes. Bright orange in appearance, it gives the dishes that it’s used in a distinctive appearance. Like many other Indian spices, it is also used for medicinal purposes, and it has been proven to help with arthritis, stomach pain, heartburn and loss of appetite.



Coriander can be used both ground and whole and its seeds are commonly used as a condiment in dishes. Deriving from the dried fruit cilantro, coriander leaves are often used as a garnish to finished dishes, and they have been proven to help aid digestion.



Fennel seeds are small, oval and greenish brown in appearance. The plant they come from is part of the parsley family, and they have a somewhat sweet flavour to them. When preparing a meal they are used sparingly as this gives the meal a warmth and sweetness which would be spoiled if too much was used.

Cycling Tours with a Little Extra Something

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by Sally Hoare


Cycling Tours (1)

Cycling tours are an adventure by themselves, and they offer a wonderful opportunity to explore new places and view breathtaking scenery. However you may find yourself wanting to experience a different mode of transport, even just for a couple of hours. If you do fancy taking a break from the bike, then there are plenty of other activities that you can combine with your cycling tour. Most of the activities below are fast, wild and exciting adventures which will ramp your cycling tour up a notch and give you some extra thrills on your adventure. There are many more activities that you can take part in but here are just a few examples of some of the great activities that you can include with your cycling tour:

Helicopter Tour


If viewing your spectacular surroundings on two wheels isn’t exciting enough, then why not take a helicopter tour and view them from the air. Helicopter tours give you the chance to view places from a completely different perspective and see things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see on the ground.

One of the most beautiful helicopter tours is in the mountains and valleys which inhabit Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Taking your bike on board the chopper, you will reach peaks up to 3,5000m and then after disembarking you will make your descent- on your bike- of 1,300m through the grasslands which cover the vast landscape.

Helicopter tours give you a great chance to easily reach heights that would otherwise be very difficult to get to and to soak up the surroundings from a better vantage point. They also offer the chance to take a well-earned break from the bike for a short while as you cruise through the sky. This experience, Mountain Biking Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, offers a once-in-a-lifetime heli-biking combo that’s not to be missed.



Just like the helicopter tour, the zipline is a great opportunity to get off the bike for a while and take to the air, albeit in very different circumstances.

A zip line gives an incredible adrenaline rush and allows for a very different perspective of the area you’re in. If you’re heading to Chiang Mai, then the Chiang Mai Bike and Zipline Adventure tour is highly recommended and fun way to experience this popular activity!

There is nothing quite so exhilarating as zipping over a river surrounded by the lush and green mountains and valleys of Mae Taeng. As adventures go, this one’s very exciting and certainly one for the adrenaline junkies.

Make a big splash on your cycling tour by throwing in a rafting experience. If cycling through the vast green trails of Thailand and taking to the skies isn’t exciting enough then how about adding a water experience that is exhilarating, exciting and a little bit frightening?

The rafting experience on Chiang Mai Bike and Raft Adventure is a superb way to see the Mae Taeng mountains and valleys while having a great adventure down the grade three and four rapids. If you think this will be a relaxing break from your bike though then think again, because it’s a real action packed and physical adventure which isn’t for the faint-hearted. Another option is just around the neighborhood in Dalat, Vietnam with Biking and Rafting Dalat.

Rafting is not only a fun and exciting adventure, but it also builds teamwork, leadership skills and confidence. It’s also a very sociable activity to take part in if you are looking to meet new people and forge friendships.

Horse Riding
As if cycling, flying and rafting weren’t adventurous enough then how about adding horse riding to the mix? For thrill seekers who are looking for a bit of variety try heading to Mongolia where horses outnumber people in their native beautiful, natural and unspoilt habitat.

The Mongolian Steppe Adventure consists of cycling, trekking and horse riding and it is a fantastic way of exploring the diverse and vast landscape that Mongolia has to offer.

If all of the activities above sound is a bit too exhausting, then cruising is the perfect antithesis to all of the above adventures on Ha Long Bay Cycle and Cruise tour. Explore the beautiful rivers and waterways which cover large parts of Asia at a leisurely pace. There’s no need to pedal, paddle or saddle up on these trips as you sail serenely through the stunning nature and beautiful backdrops which surround you.

Apart from those fun activities mentioned above, there are also hiking, trekking and paddling. Check out the list of tours below:

Bike and Hike Wild Madagascar

Caucasus Mountain Bike and Hike Adventure

Mystical Bhutan

Chiang Mai Pedal and Paddle Adventure