Blast From The Past: First Bicycle Tour, August 12, 2003
In 2003 I started working for Khiri Travel, taking over the renovated shophouse in Rambuttri Road which previously was the main office. All staff moved over to Khiri’s brand new office in Nonthaburi and together with 1 new Thai staff I ran the old office as a ‘walk-in’ shop. The idea was good, but the timing not as in those days Rambuttri was just another quiet road, not a 2nd Khao San Road like it has become now. Potential clients consisted mainly of tight budgeted backpackers who were only focussed on doing cheap activities by themselves. Nothing wrong with that, but as customers.., hopeless.
Anyway, to stand out we teamed up with Co van Kessel, the originator of cycling tours in Bangkok, with a couple of his bikes parked in front of the shop. Again the same problem, right place wrong time, as popular as those kind of tours are now, then they were absolutely not, I was very lucky to sell 1 tour per week…
To give me a better idea Co offered to take me along on a ride, together with a friend of his, Andre Breuer (nowadays the head of Recreational Bangkok Biking!). I had no idea what to expect and was wearing new shoes that day, not exactly suitable for cycling as I discovered afterwards.
Co was very strict with his rules, no helmet but a cap/hat was a must, no water because we would have drink stops and absolutely no talking, concentrate on cycling and your surroundings instead!
He was in many ways an amazing character with strong opinions and an inbuilt GPS between his ears. Remember in those days there were no detailed maps available and mobile phones were just phones!
As a new gadget I took my Dolphin VGA stick digital camera along which could take the astonishing amount of 107 low resolution pics, unfortunately at a very low resolution!
The tour was an eye-opener for me, we crossed the Rama 8 bridge, carried our bikes across footbridges, cycled through alleys, temples, people’s back-gardens, semi-jungle, over footpaths and rickety bridges, and at 1 stage had to walk through mud, because Co was testing out a new route at the same time.
We cycled up to Taling Chan, crossed a canal by boat and returned to the office, I was covered in mud, tired and suffered from muscle aches days after. Overall still a memorable experience but which did not translate in an increase in sales…
The photos are nothing special (some appallingly bad to be honest) but give at least some idea of what it looked like in those days…
A year later or so we closed the Rambuttri office, I moved to the head office, Co to New World Hotel where he met Khun Nong and the rest is history; after New World they moved to the Grand China Princess and became very successful!
Nowadays Co’s cycling through heavenly pastures and without doubt giving the angels occasionally hell if they talk too much!
His legacy is continued by his partner, Khun Nong, and can be found at River City nowadays.
Khiri Travel of course has grown successfully and expanded as well, with offices in various countries in the region.