Every year our Luk Krueng Bro Michael and his entourage storms like the cavalry of goodwill to the Baan Rachavadi Foundation, their pick-up truck loaded with candy and toys ready to spread smiles among the residents of Baan Rachavadi. We’ve joined Michael and it’s been always a great experience. The overriding question as cyclists is whether we can combine a great day of charity work with an amazing 80km bike ride to explore the diversity of Bangkok and bringing happiness to people.
Often people want to do something similar, biking is awesome but they asked us whether it can be connected to a good cause. Or people who venture out to support a project but want to have an adventure attached to it have to look no further. There’s no better way to reach a destination in Bangkok then on an adventurous bike ride. For those who want to do both supporting an underfunded project, a school, a museum, an orphanage, etc. in and around Bangkok with a day out on the bikes we are happy to support. Mobilize your friends, raise some funds and learn about and support the good work of countless people in your city. Not only do we expand our horizon on the issues in our society, create opportunities to meet like-minded people but to explore and see your city in ways we haven’t done before.
So how did we do it? First, we want to give you a maximum experience and impressions, thus taking you through diverse routes in this case covering Bang Kruay, Nonthaburi and Koh Kret Island. If you want to design a route for your yourself and your friends, all the options to research trails are out there, Google maps/Earth for satellite images, GPS, etc. Of course you would need bike so for an extensive list of bike shops check this link:
At the time of our routing we neither had GPS nor smart phones so we went old school using paper which is good since we can easily make notes, and draw routes into them. Within a week Tom and I saddled up to route a stunning and scenic 74km round trip. So if you want to set up ride it’s always better to have one outside of Bangkok since inner-Bangkok locations can be dangerous to ride but you also may find ways through back-alleys, it’s all a question of how much research you invest.
The preparation for the charity ride was great fun though I was always pressed to reach home early to make it to work on time. If you’re into sport or cycling then this is for you since during four days we cycled over 240km and once again realized how interesting, fun and challenging it is to explore Bangkok’s vast suburbs with their countless canals, mega villages,massive highways,countless temples and pockets of serenity and beauty.
All in all, we’ve lost weight as a result of being chased by dogs but better than being chased by elephants ;-) Friendly locals all the way as we rode on stilted pathways only to emerge minutes later in their backyards. We’ve run into countless dead-ends, smacked our heads for the detours we made and went after every question mark that I’ve jotted down on the map. We’ve been to almost impassable areas where carrying your bike was the order of the day while trying to shake of the ants that entrenched themselves in our socks. We searched every single corner of secluded temples to find back doors that would lead to short cuts to our next destination.
We’ve created a route that brings you through pompous neighborhoods, swamps, Buddhist and Muslim communities, through tiny, little trails and back alleys that you wouldn’t find on your GPS. So if you want to organize a charity ride we can work together on this and venture out for the trails with you. One big question is bike rentals where do we get the bikes? Click here.
We experienced and shared the serenity of Thai lifestyle in abrupt transition to Bangkok’s relentless development visible along dusty super highways and in the mushrooming of new, sprawling housing estates. Bangkok has so many facets and each part of Bangkok’s surroundings harbors so many hidden jewels which makes exploring Bangkok all the more rewarding.
Canals are the natural barriers that we had to cross, looking for the few bridges available that wouldn’t boast much traffic and often what looked like a bridge on a satellite image was in fact yet another dead end. As we tried to bypass and cross-pass canals and major highways we made incredible detours and learned a great deal but in the end we succeeded in bringing 12 people on a fantastic ride, to see the west side of Bangkok and to put smiles on the kids faces and you can do just the same.
In the process we thought of good ways to make these kids happy. As for preparation it’s important to contact the foundation beforehand and see whether the foundation plans any events and how they look at outside support. Especially if you want to visit an orphanage or engage with people, it’s better to consult with the organization beforehand and see what sort of support would be best. The act of giving is commendable but we have to take into account that if there was a daily influx of people donating goods and engaging the children which implication it has. It seems often better to have a bigger event endorsed by the administration already happening and supporting that one or if it’s an organization that indeed lacks exposure and support than your own event can be of value.
If the condition and circumstance allow support in terms of in-kind donations one place to go to buy toys and covering a large amount of children is Chinatown. The quality of good varies thus you have to do a bit of research but overall there’s such tremendous choice that you will be able to fulfill a whole range of needs for children.
Beware that giving out goods should not be at the center of your activities and often cash donation have greater value for the organization as they have a great number of expenses to cover. Often it is possible to support organization by taking their services or buying their products. Engaging people, being genuinely interested and spreading joy and fun should always the baseline of every visit.
Thus, combining an off the beaten track journey in Thailand, with sport and a little shopping spree whilst creating small positive impact by supporting people working hard in the service of the marginalized is a great way to spend your time. Even if your butt might hurt half way through the route…
…at the end the pain will be gone with the memories you will take from this amazing day.
For more Pak Kret Action click here
Oh and if you don’t have the time to do a bit of charity then there’s always other ways to put smiles on people’s faces. Just watch the video below.