WILD AND FREE #2- THAILAND by Taylor Collins


Last year my lover/wife/business partner and I took a trip to Thailand and rode bikes around the entire country! This formative experience will forever be one of the greatest adventures of my life. Unknown to us at the time, this trip would also help shape the latest and greatest innovation of EPIC bar flavor profiles! Aside from incredible ecosystem bio-diversity, Thailand offers wonderful variety in food and drink. In order to absorb as much of this fantastic culture as we possibly could, we opted to ride bikes from Central Thailand and head North towards Burma. After experiencing the North, we caught a plane South to the coast and rode from island to island. Touring Thailand on bike had two purposes. First, we rode 6-10 hours a day and that naturally lead to a ravenous appetite! Relying on local fresh food was key to fueling our bodies and expanding our own palates. Secondly, seeing a country like Thailand on a bicycle allowed us to slow down and absorb much more of the culture and environment.


Starting in Central Thailand we visited breathtaking temples, shrines, and absorbed the energy of the countries largest cities. We spent 3 days in Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Not fans of larger cities, Katie and I blitzed through the busy street markets, museums, and temples. The energy here is fast paced and most locals carried the common wear and tear associated with larger cities. Asides from questionable air-quality, the roads in this part of the country are super sketchy and commuting on a bike felt like a suicide mission. Needless to say, we were ready to head to the Northern Region and experience rural Thai culture.


Traffic in Bangkok was anarchy. Perhaps most stressful was the language of honking horns and the rapid moped missiles that weave their way through traffic at maximum speeds.


We made our way to Chiang Mai, Pai, and Mae Hong Son while riding on some of the most beautiful mountain roads in existence! Much of this trip was spend riding through large national parks and nature reserves and each day the landscape became more lush and green. The mountains are full of rain forrest canopy and the air is crystal clear. The outdoor markets provided much needed fuel in the form of fresh fruit and copious sums of coconut juice. People in Northern Thailand are obsessed with food and the cultural traditions of exceptional culinary creations is ominous. We feasted upon fresh basil infused meat dishes and terrific crispy pork belly. Northern Thai food was the spiciest we experienced and frequently accompanied with red pepper and turmeric. We quickly learned that when ordering food, we needed to say "mai pet" (no spice). Futile in nature, even dishes with "no spice" were often too hot to eat!


Organic turmeric picked from the jungles of Norther Thailand! This was so flavorful that we ate it raw from the root!


Eating adventurously in Thailand is easy to do. They practice a snout to tail approach and are masters of utilizing the entire animal. We ordered fried intestines, organ medley, bone broth, and other meat dishes that had no translation. We took peace in knowing that the animals served in the local markets were slaughtered fresh each morning. We also observed the large majority of animals foraging throughout the lush country side! In Northern Thailand we became obsessed with fresh batches of sriracha and frequently added this to all dishes. Our favorite combination was to add sriracha to fresh barbecue chicken! Dominate notes of red pepper, cumin, onion, garlic, and paprika fueled our daily rides and carried us over enormous mountain passes.



We must have consumed over 100 coconuts on this trip. The routine was for me to drink all the juice and then pass the shell for Katie to scrape out the flesh! Win-win synergy.


The mountain passes from Pai to Mae Hong Son were EPIC! Some were beyond categorization and represented a true test of our spirit. One climb had over 300 switchbacks and we average 3mph for 3 hours! Quad juice was exploding everywhere.

katie36Stoked on sriracha, Katie and I took our supple minds straight to a master of cooking. We enrolled in a crash course at the Pai Cookery School. Our instructor taught us how to create flavorful bases for yellow and red curry, coconut pudding, and of course spicy sriracha chicken. Unknown to us at the moment, this formative experience birthed the brand new EPIC Chicken Sriracha Bar as an ultimate homage to the sacred herbs of Northern Thailand!



On this particular day Katie and I rode on a dirt road that crossed the boarder into Burma! It was beyond hardcore and one of the most intense rides of my life. We were both convinced that a Burmese Tiger would emerge from the jungle and pounce on us at any moment. Our sriracha spiced bodies would have made a nice meal.


After dominating the mountains and jungles of Mae Hong Son, we flew with our bikes to the famous Coastal Region of Thailand. Here we visited Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Krabi, and Ao Phang. The Coastal Cuisine of Thailand was our favorite. We slammed papaya salads each meal and ate copious sums of fried fish and squid. Like Northern Thailand, the food here was fresh and infused with herbs. Lemongrass, sweet basil, mint, and garlic are well represented as the basis for all masterpiece creations. After spending the last 2 weeks crushing our bikes up mountains, we started ordering 5-6 entrees each night. At an average cost of $3/dish, we ate like royalty while saving money.



Embracing her spirit animal, Katie befriended a beach lion.


The abundancy of food and wildlife is nothing short of EPIC! While visiting the coast, Katie and I quickly developed a passion for "crabbing". In order to become a master "crabber" you had to have the heart of a lion, speed of a hawk, and strike of a cobra. Luckily we have these traits and stayed up for hours honing in our crab catching skills.


These crabs had no chance after Katie connected with the beach lion.


To our surprise, riding bicycles across the Coastal area presented quite the test of human strength and determination. We expected flat lands with cool coastal backwinds, but were instead greeted with torrential rains, 20+ mph head winds, and brutal humidity. Couple these conditions on already shredded legs and you experience a little bit of suffering. The only thing that helped us get through these tough days on the bike were cold coconut drinks, iced thai coffee, and sesame stir fried chicken.


This photo was taken shortly before Taylor cramped uncontrollably in front of an elephant. It was hour 8 of a long day and the quads could no longer tolerate the demand.



The sesame barbecue chicken consistently brought our quads back from the dead and lead to a resurrection like the phoenix rising from the ashes. Fresh pastured chicken, garlic, onions, sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper are the ingredients of Gods and thankfully the Thai people have mastered this combination of heavenly ingredients. Again, unbeknownst to us at the time, this combination of ingredients was destined to become an EPIC bar! The new Chicken Sesame BBQ Bar will always have a special place in both my heart and quads. It will fuel many future adventures and kickstart the recovery process for many moons to come.


Perhaps acting a little bit like pigs, our table frequently ran out of available space.

katie31Like all adventures in life, we visited Thailand with an open mind and kind heart. Not knowing what we would find, but being receptive to the elements that made us feel like champions consistently creates the greatest rewards with all our travels. The people, culture, and food that energized us for 3 weeks would lead to the inspiration for two of our brand new EPIC Bars! We hope that you enjoy the new Chicken Sriracha and Chicken Sesame BBQ Bars as much as we do. We also hope they inspire you to seek adventure and embrace the unexpected and formative moments of daily life.

May your life be full of adventure and love!

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