I've never had any burning desire to jump on a motorbike. I've always thought of motorbike riding as a dangerous, punked-up, reckless activity — not really my cuppa tea. And if I ever was to ride a motorbike, I sure as hell never imagined that I'd do it for the first time here in Thailand — surely, the craziest place on Earth in which to try it without prior experience! But motorbike riding is a very popular pastime in Thailand — not to mention the cheapest and quickest way to get around — and so, due to peer pressure from my friends Marie and Claire, today I threw all my fear and common-sense to the wind, and gave it a try. It was a terrifying and nerve-racking adventure, but there's no denying that it was absolutely wicked good fun.
Today was a momentous day in the history of my life. First proper day in Thailand. First proper day in all of Asia. First proper sightseeing in Thailand or in Asia. And first ever visit to a Buddhist temple. A momentous day: but in my sweltering and jet-lagged state, not an overly strenuous one. To kick off my exploration of the sights and sounds of Bangkok, I went and saw Wat Phra Kaew, one of the largest and most magnificent of the city's many wats (lit: "temples"). Lovely temple — and boy, never before have I seen so much, covered in such quantities of pure gold, in all my life. Buddha like his gold nice 'n' shiny.
Along with easy terrain and fabulous weather, today was also a day of only a short time spent on the road. The reason: I was too busy to cycle much, as I had so many of these Sicilian Greek ruins to see :P. From Eraclea Minoa, it was another two hours or so of pleasant coastal riding, before I reached the big city of Agrigento, and its neighbouring site "Valle dei Templi" (lit: "Valley of the Temples") — probably the largest, the most impressive, and the best-known of all the archaeological ruins in Sicily. And it was lucky I got there by lunchtime: because the valley is quite expansive, and I needed several hours to explore it thoroughly, and to really appreciate it and to soak it all up. For any semi-serious visitor to Sicily, the Valle dei Templi is not to be missed: it may be a bit crowded (even in November), but it really does blow you away.
To finish off my travels for today, this afternoon I stopped by the Greek ruins of Segesta. Located smack-bang amidst rolling countryside — near the town of the same name — Segesta is a large and impressively well-preserved temple (and ampitheatre), and is believed to be about 2,500 years old. It's also, as far as I'm aware, the first set of ancient Greek ruins that I've ever seen in my life; and it seems to be that it was a very good place to be introduced to it all. I reached the archaeological site rather late in the day (4pm), so I wasn't able to take the shuttle bus up to the hillside ampitheatre. However, I had plenty of time to explore the temple, and to admire both the ancient construction and its pleasant rural surroundings.