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If you find yourself with half a day in Bangkok, then get with Intrepid Travel tour operators and sign up for their biking tour of Thailand's capital city. The event will undoubtedly become a trip highlight.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Aussie-based Intrepid has led the industry in working with locally owned outfits, and the cycling tour is no exception. It's run by Velo-Thailand, which is owned by 38-year-old Thai local Ae Thagoon.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Ae saw his first mountain bike while leading a birding tour through Northern Thailand. He approached the couple, two Swiss who were cycling through the country, and ended up teaching them how to spot birds in return for learning to mountain bike. Years later, while waiting for a bus that never came, he decided he had to buy a bike. And thus, Velo-Thailand was born.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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In a city where the traffic is so cogested that the king's branch of the traffic police have been trained to assist in childbirth in case a pregnant woman can't reach the hospital, cycling the city can sound like a daunting prospect...  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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But Ae's route avoids almost all the main roads, cycling instead through narrow alleyways that interconnect the massive city. You zip past laundry drying on the line and steaming food carts, swerving around cats and dogs, and smiling at the accommodating pedestrians (the bell on the bike does help).  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The two-hour tour swaps alleyways for vistas, small communities for Thai iconography. On the right, a fellow cyclist on the tour pushes his bike up the Rama VII Bridge, reinforcing that the city itself is (somewhat) bike-friendly.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The Rama VII is the newest bridge to cross over Bangkok's Chao Phraya River, named after the last absolute monarch and the first constitutional monarch of Siam.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Mid-ride you'll stop for a quick, simple lunch, typically soup purchased from a neighborhood street vendor. We dined on one of the little docks that jut into the canals linking Bangkok 9 District.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Ae mixes the unusual (like a quick stop at Bangkok's oldest hospital, where he was born), and the typical tourist locales, like Wat Suthat. Construction of this royal temple started in 1807 by Rama I, and was completed by King Rama III in 1847, though it was King Rama II who helped carve out the stunning wooden temple doors.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The temple interior is rich in artistic detail. Ae gives you a bit of a history lesson and an introduction to Thai Buddhism during the tour's many stops.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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This huge red teak arch sits across the street from the temple, and served as the staging ground for a ceremonial swing that was attached to the top of the arch, where participants attempted to grab a bag of gold coins with their teeth. Due to injuries, Ae told us, the swing was dismantled in 1932.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The cycling tour of Bangkok is merely one of several half- and full-day outings organized by Intrepid, from tuk-tuk tours and boat rides through the canal to a gastronomic tour of Chinatown (pictured) paired with visits to the city's night markets—each led by a local to evoke a truly genuine view of the city. But if you have to choose just one…I say, go with Ae.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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