My first reaction was: Chinatown? Narrow congested lanes and alleyways, hardly room to move, let alone cycle. And so hot too. But I was so so wrong.
We met Art, our diminutive but lovely guide, at the Grand China Princess Hotel in Chinatown, donned our helmets, mounted our smart SpiceRoads bikes and we were off, weaving in and out of gridlocked traffic and bustling pedestrians. Perfect and surprisingly cool when pedalling. First port of call was the local Chinese hospital with its infinite array of Chinese powders and potions (not tempted). A quick visit to a splendid temple but spoilt by the swarms of camera wielding tourists. Then leaving our bikes outside we ducked into the covered Chinese market and were engulfed by the noise, the sights and the smells of a vast array of products and produce. Chicken feet imported from Europe and other parts of the world are piled up on counters as are other interesting parts of animals, birds and reptiles. We stopped at a tea stall, sampled various teas, some very expensive and we settled for a medium priced but delicious jasmine.
We returned and remounted our bikes and head down to the Chao Phraya waterfront and took the local open boat ferry across to quieter Thonburi, with a relaxing cycle along the waterfront pathway and then along alleyways to the serene and cool memorial to the King’s Mum “Srinagarindra, the Royal Grandmother”. A remarkable woman who was deeply involved in social welfare and craftwork. We visited less crowded temples and other sites including sampling cakes hot from the Portuguese artisan bakery before heading back to the ferry and the hotel.
Bikes in Chinatown? Yes, I am converted: it is easy, fun and a quick way to get around. And cool too! And our guide? Superb: Art was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, good company and always helpful. This is a half-day tour that I would recommend to anyone, who can ride a bike, to go on. Well done SpiceRoads!