Every year our Luk Krueng Bro Michael and his entourage storms like the cavalry of fun to the Baan Rachavadi Foundation with their pick-up truck loaded with candy and toys to spend a great day with the kids and people there. We’ve joined him during the past two years and it’s been always a great experience and so we decided to join in as cyclists!! What does it mean? Of course it means a little, beautiful charity ride through Bangkok’s awesome suburbs, leading a group of people from Ratchadamnoen all the way up to Pak Kret (30km north of Bangkok) and turning them into biking enthusiasts in the process!!
Now why are you reading it? Maybe because you feel that you want to do something similar, maybe you want to give something back as well, you always wanted to but you didn’t know what, how, when, etc. now I think if you’re reading this chances are that we have something in common and that is trying to make the places we live a better place. Back to the questions: What? In this particular case raising funds, spreading good feelings, experiencing Bangkok, making a difference in other people’s and our own lives. How? By teaming up and combining our resources. When? As soon as you put your thoughts into action, the transition from considering to concrete planning, if you’re in this phase and you need support we’d like to help because collaboration is the way to go. Hence if you want to support, an underfunded project, a school, a museum, an orphanage, etc.then you can do it not only by mobilizing your friends but also by organizing a great bike ride, thus raising more funds and having an opportunitiy to get to know new, like-minded people and of course exploring and seeing your city in ways you haven’t done before. If that sounds interesting to you and you have nobody to support you feel free to get in touch with us. Feel free to post your thoughts and information on our Facebook page Thailand Changemakers so that people can add their suggestions and experience about it.
So how did we do it? First, we want to give our visitors a maximum experience and impressions, thus we’re leading them through diverse routes in this case covering Bang Kruay, Nonthaburi and Koh Kret Island. For that you have to prepare the routes, using maps, Google Earth, etc.
We don’t have a GPS, so we went old school using paper which is good since we can easily make notes, and draw routes into them. To set it all up up we had only a week left before our first charity ride since we set up “Bangkok Three Sixty urban orientation and exploration“ as a fundraiser and program for bangkokvanguards. Now within a week Tom and I saddled up to route a stunning and scenic 74km roundtrip. So if you want to set up charity 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 research.
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 IoI). If there weren’t dogs around there were elephants we had to share the road with and if it was not us who were puzzled it was the friendly local as we gently rode past their living rooms on stilted pathways or suddenly emerged from out of nowhere in their backyard. 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 your 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 surroudings harbors so many hidden jewels it would be great if you would share it with your friends.
The 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 with or without us.
In the process we thought of good ways to make these kids happy, we’re not the Belinda Gates foundation with vast budgets, so how can we create wide smiles even though may not be able to raise large sums of money? We also know that some people are uneasy to simply donate money thus we used our donations to buy toys and candy for the kids which we would distribute and this act of giving regardless whether you’re give candy, toys or books already puts a smile on people’s faces.
Of course the more useful the things are for the kids the better. If you have ideas on what to buy and where share it with us. We found that a great place to buy these toys is Yaowarat or Chinatown. Between the main road and Sampeng Lane you’ll find a lot of shops selling everything from inflatable beach balls, to action figures to blinking accessories and stuffed animals.
T-shirtz for 60B a piece are also available with nice pictures (such as the angry bird) which the kids love but these were bought around Ramkamhaeng road.
So the point is that one doesn’t need much money to make those kids happy. One thing is the act of giving that kids appreciate, showing that there are people out there who care, the other thing is giving doesn’t mean just placing something into their hand, it’s the interaction with these kids. Playing around, making jokes, and having a laugh together is a more than welcome change to everyone’s daily routine.
As mentioned it’s beyond our capacity to host a charity event every week at Baan Pak Kret but as I invited you to find other places to support and pull a charity ride off the ground with our help we could amplify the effort and combine it with a great day-trip. However for those interested in riding to Baan Pak Kret without distributing toys, we run a tour to visit Baan Ratchavadi and there you can buy souvenirs, creative items and postcards made by handicapped people in their workshops, this brings revenue which in turn is used to maintain these places.
Thus, combining an off the beaten track journey in Thailand, with sport and a little shopping spree whilst creating small positive impact is a great way to spend a day in Bangkok.
If you think that 74km are too much to handle just look at the faces of these participants how they thought they would feel once they arrive back in the city
but in the end when we arrived back in Bangkok, sweaty, dusty, and loaded with impressions, everyone was of course a bit – very tired but very happy as well and they say if they can do it – you can do it, so let’s a project started to make a small difference on a weekend.
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.