By Hamish Wilson
Every student looks forward to the summer holidays, the stresses of exams are over and its time for a well-deserved break, (some more than others). Plans for the summer probably started months ago, whether is was deciding where to go to catch some sun, filling out CV ‘s in preparation for a summer job or meticulously scanning all the music festival line-ups. Summer internships are another option but opportunities for internships are hard to come by and the opportunity to get one abroad is even harder.
That’s why when I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to work at Spice Roads, a cycle tours company based in Bangkok I jumped at the chance to live and work in one of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities renowned for its eccentric nightlife, “unique” massages, fascinating culture and of course, it looks good on the CV.
On my first day in the Bangkok office I was told that the best way to understand what SpiceRoads is all about is to actually go on one of their tours. I was swiftly booked onto my first cycle tour, which happened to be a trip to the famous floating markets.
10 weeks down the line, I have now been on 6 one-day trips that SpiceRoads currently operates in Bangkok and 2 in Chiang Mai. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Although working in the office, learning how SpiceRoads operates and hopefully being of some use have all been enjoyable and rewarding experiences the real highlights of my time in Bangkok have been the cycle tours I was lucky enough to go on. Although all of the day trips offer a very different experience some trips in particular really stood out for me. The first was the very first trip I went on, The Floating Markets cycle tour, and the second the very last trip I went on, The Historic Ayutthaya bike trip.
These two tours in particular stood out for me as I felt they perfectly blended together fascinating historic and cultural content with cycling in stunning scenery. It was a welcome change from hustle and bustle of the city centre and offered an escape to the paddy fields and fruit orchards of Bangkok’s countryside. Cycling is in my opinion the best way to do this as you escape the worst of the heat with the breeze created when cycling but you are also free to explore the areas where cars simply cannot go. A perfect example of this is The Bangkok Jungle half-day tour. This was one of the first tours I went on and it takes you to an area known as the lung of Bangkok. It is a relatively untouched area in the centre of Bangkok, which you can explore by cycling along the narrow raised pathways that snake through the island.
Toward the end of my time working and living in Thailand I decided to book a trip to the Northern city of Chiang Mai. Surrounded in picturesque mountain scenery Chiang Mai has a completely different feel to Bangkok with a relaxed atmosphere it was the perfect place to explore by bike. The Chiang Mai half-day tour seemed like the logical tour to start and was a gentle cycle around the old city taking in all the historic sights. After enjoying some of the other activities available in Chiang Mai I decided to venture a bit further from Chiang Mai with The Ancient Lamphun day tour. The 30 or so km cycle took us through the stunning countryside I had been eager to explore with welcome stops at Temples along the way. Once reaching Lamphun we stopped at an impressive with the shining tiles used to pave the walls glistening in the sunlight it was probably the most eye-catching temple I had visited in my whole trip, which is saying something because I have seen a lot of temples!
Having completed my 10-week internship at SpiceRoads I have now returned to sunny Scotland and I can honestly say that my trip to Thailand has been the best way I have ever spent a summer. Working for SpiceRoads gave me the opportunity to experience Thailand in a way that most travellers visiting the country never get to experience and I would like to thank SpiceRoads for giving me the opportunity to do so.