Thursday, 25 October 2007

Welcome to the Geography of Thailand

It was wonderful to log into the tracker earlier and find that leg 3 is under way...The first problem for those of us who are following the tracker is that place names in Thailand on Google Maps would appear to be written in the Thai alphabet . I may, therefore, have to cross reference with Google Earth as the place names there appear to be in 'English'.... and there is the added benefit, as explained in this posting, of extra layers of information including some excellent photos. Let's hope that road signs in Thailand are at least partly written in the Roman alphabet and easier to understand! The second problem is that the area with high resolution imagery seems to be more limited than in India and Pakistan.

I think Thailand is in the time zone which is GMT plus 7 hours but for the next three days until we change our clocks, Mark will be 6 hours ahead of us.

As we embark on our geographical learning journey through Thailand, it is probably useful to set the scene with a map which sets the country in its context within SE Asia. As Mark has flown into Bangkok and will be cycling down the connecting isthmus towards Malaysia from there, he will only be travelling through the southern part of the country. As the map shows, most of the land area of Thailand is to the north of Bangkok. The isthmus which joins Malaysia to SE Asia is shared in its northern part by both Burma and Thailand. In fact, the first part of Leg 3 takes Mark to a point within 30km of the Burmese border before entering the southern part of Thailand which has a coast on the Indian Ocean (Andaman Sea) and the Gulf of Thailand.

The relief map shows that the Burmese/Thai border follows the mountain spine in the centre of the isthmus and as Mark's route will take him along the coastal lowlands to the east of that, there should be none of the arduous climbs he encountered in leg 2. There will, of course, be other difficulties such as much higher humidity and its attendant problems.
Shortly after leaving Bangkok airport, Mark was cycling south close to the coast through an area with linear land use patterns... it was difficult to decide exactly what they represented until a look at a similar area with high res imagery produced evidence that they are rice fields with various degrees of flooding...
A little further on, Mark crossed a river which flows out into the Gulf of Thailand. Just a few miles upstream is the location of the fabled Bridge over the River Kwai....

P.S. have just read yesterday's web diary. I am sorry to hear Mark had such a traumatic experience at Calcutta airport but immensely glad he and Ted bear made it through - even if they didn't quite manage that cappucino in departures!

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