18TH MARCH 2012
DAY 352: BATTAMBANG, CAMBODIA – ARANYAPRATHET
START: 6:00 FINISH: 15:00 DISTANCE: 122 KM – RIDE TIME : 7H 10
The border with Thailand closes at 5 p.m. and since my visa expires today I wanted to make sure I made it. So at 6 a.m. on a quiet Sunday morning I got the legs moving and the wheels turning. It was so nice cycling out of town at that time of morning. I was able to watch the locals setting up their stores for the day. It was such a nice temperature. Knowing what’s to come later in the day, the 5 road to the border was a busy road but not in the way of traffic.
The road was lined with lots of houses and shops. So as soon as you left one village you would enter another. At 8:30 a.m. and after 40 km I stopped for an iced coffee and a quick break. Now it was starting to get hotter and hotter. I saw my first train in Cambodia…..it was working on the new line which runs next to the road all the way to the border. I was making such good time. I had told my friends I would cross the border around 3 p.m. At this rate it would be more like 1 p.m. At 11:30 a.m. and after 92 km I stopped for lunch and another cold drink. I did get to Poipet at 1 p.m. It was a horrible horrible border town. I tried changing my Cambodian reals back into USD. But they wanted to charge me commission. So I told them to get stuffed. Passing the Cambodian customs was easy. Entering Thailand took a bit longer. There were lots of long queues.
It really wasn’t too bad. When I was in Iran I met two girls from Thailand Liu and Kim who had worked for the Emirates and were now back home. When I told them I was coming to Thailand they said they would come and welcome me at the border. They were true to their word. When I came out of customs they were waiting holding a «Welcome Adam to Thailand» sign. It was so very kind of them to come and meet me. They had had to travel 250 km at least from Bangkok. It was great to see them. We then stopped for lunch and a drink and a good catch up before walking 2 km away from the border to a very nice guest house. It was very chic. Shower and change of clothes and a short rest and then it was time for dinner and to try some traditional Thai food. I had a chicken dish that was just full of flavour and so tasty……………..that I will be back again tomorrow.
DAY 353: ARANYAPRATHET – REST DAY
This morning Liu and Kim helped me find a bike shop and I was able to get the elusive inner tubes I couldn’t get in Cambodia. With local knowledge to hand, the girls took me for a very traditional Thai breakfast. Hard Boiled egg, runny rice and pork. We had a little wander round Aranyaprathet.
Before the girls headed back to Bangkok, I changed guest houses because they wouldn’t give me discount because the girls were not staying as well. My new guest house is $2 cheaper and just as good. It has a very nice swimming pool and I have already had two dips today. This little border town has a Tescos supermarket which I paid a visit and stocked up on junk food and a nice yoghurt. I then stopped at the night market for some duck and noodles before retiring for the night.
DAY 354: ARANYAPRATHET – ANG RUE NAI
START: 7:30 – FINISH: 16:30 – DISTANCE: 88 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 40
Instead of heading straight to Bangkok along the busy main road in two and a half days, I have decided to take my time spending 10 days on some quiet back roads. I am going to make the most of my 60 day visa. It wasn’t long before I was out in the country surrounded by lots of fields, sugar cane and other plantations.
It was all so nice that there were lots of tall trees close to the road that offered some nice shade. The 3067 road runs close to the Cambodian border and because of this there were police checkpoints every 500 metres. I never stopped.
I would just wave and cycle on. The Thai drivers get the thumbs up. It is so wonderful that they seldom use their horn. At 3 p.m. I stopped on the side of the road for an iced coffee and discovered I had missed the turn off for the coast by 30 km. I also learnt that there was a national park 5 km up the road. So I decided to visit the national park and return to the turn off tomorrow. Signs for elephants have appeared beside the road……………..I really want to see an elephant in the wild.
I cycled into the national park and went straight to the office and asked if I could camp. No problem and I could also have a shower. I put up my tent on the lawn in front of the office and I then went and did a 3 km nature trail. Flip-flops are probably not the best footwear in the jungle. The trail was nice. Some really tall trees, lots of birds and butterflies. I saw elephant dung but no elephants. I did see a very small snake cross in front of me……..That’s when I thought flip-flops are not a good idea.
DAY 355: ANG RUE NAI – DAM
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 17:00 – DISTANCE: 122KM – RIDE TIME: 7H
I had a terrible night’s sleep in the tent. The insects and the frogs were making a horrific noise. I hardly slept at all. It didn’t rain in the night…………….. but the tent was sapping wet with dew. I cycled back 26 km to the missed turn off for the 317. It was a very busy road with lots of traffic. The road itself was a lot more up and down. By mid-afternoon I found myself right up in the mountains before a steep descent. It surprises you because you don’t realize you are climbing so much.
In the last few weeks I have seen so many snakes. Today I saw about 15. Fourteen of them were dead. Five of them were large including the live one which I think had just been run over and lay laying in the hard shoulder. It just lifted its head and looked around as I cycled passed.
I stopped 4 times for a meal today. The last time was at 4 p.m. Saw some signs for a dam.
Was told the dam was 14 km…………..didn’t realize it was at the top of the mountain. The road was steep. The last 5 km were all up. When I got to the top there was a nice lake with a few islands and very green with a few more mountains surrounding it. I took the first dirt track down to the lake’s edge and camped next to some small fishing boats. I sat on one of these boats writing this blog as I watched the sun go down.
DAY 356: KHI RI TAM DAM – CHANTHABURI
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 10:30 – DISTANCE: 38 KM – RIDE TIME: 2H11
Last night I lay in my tent and watched the stars and fire-flies with their bright flashing lights. In the morning I packed up and headed back down the mountain…………I had wild dogs come out of the bush and chase me. So far Thailand has the most aggressive dogs of any country I have been to.
Yesterday I got chased by every dog I saw and today was no different. Most of the dog’s bark are bigger than their bite. Most of them don’t have the courage to start barking until you pass them.
I wasn’t going to stay in Chanthaburi, but I thought it might be a nice town to look around. There was a 100-year old cathedral, a city park and lake and the French were here too. Walking back from the lake………I had my head in the air, when I stepped on something…………I looked down and it was a bloody dead snake on the footpath.
Chanthaburi is currently hosting firemen’s games. I found a bike shop in Chanthaburi…………so I took my bike in to get the boogie wheels on the Derailleur replaced. At the same time I asked them to correct a stiff link in the chain. The remedy was to take the stiff link out and replace it with a gold link………..shame was that while they were doing this they broke a link which means my chain is a link short now and I lost the two top gears for now. I guess the solution is to add another gold link.
DAY 357: CHANTHABURI – AO KHUNG KRABAN
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 14:00 – DISTANCE: 56 KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 52
Wasn’t sure what road to take leaving town so I just switched on my GPS and headed South-West. Went half a km before I spotted a good-looking restaurant down a small street.
It was a good spot because the food was good and cheap. I ended up having two plates full, at 20 Bart a plate. One was spicy beef with rice and the other was pork, rice, lemon grass and vegetables. 9 km from town was the sign for the Nern Wang old military fort. I left my bike at a shop at the bottom of the hill and headed up to the fort and wandered around for an hour. Some of it was a bit overgrown and made me a bit nervous with the thought of all the snakes that are around.
There were lots of old cannons pointing out through the wall. Some parts of the wall had collapsed. My theory of just cycling south till I hit the coast and then cycling west beside the sea failed after 9km when I got to a small seaside town and it was a deadend. Had to return to the fort, head over some mountains and then back down to the sea. When I got back to the ocean, the 6002 was a very new and modern road with a cycle lane.
I followed it for about 20 km till I left the main road and visited a quiet nature reserve designated for camping. I set up my tent on a bank overlooking the beach. I had a swim in the afternoon and a short walk along the beach. Apart from a toilet and bucket shower there is nothing here.
DAY 358: AO KHUNG KRABAN – LAEM MAE PHIM
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 17:15 – DISTANCE: 95KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 52
At 6 a.m. this morning I sat and watched the sun come up and a steady string of fishing boats coming back after a night’s fishing. It started off as a nice morning then the big black clouds rolled in. I had to stop 4 times to avoid heavy downpours and getting completely drenched.
I kept diving into the roadside shops for shelter. The 4th time I stopped for an early lunch. I tried to keep following the coast and keeping in sight the sea. Twice I ended up cycling into a small seaside town and then have to cycle back out again. The second town had a large warship on display. I was going to have an early day……………..but the only guest house wanted 800 Bart………….so I flagged that idea and kept going
The coast now is overrun with resorts……………it is such a shame Thailand is not going to be left with any unspoiled coastline soon………….and they are still building. When I cycled in to Laem Mae Phim its massive long beach was just resort after resort. I checked out a few and they wanted 1800 Bart. So in the end I just cycled to the end of the beach and set my tent up on the beach next to a resort. There were lots of people about……..a few said hello.
But no one said anything. As soon as it started to get dark the beach quickly emptied. Only the stray dogs remained. The dogs were hanging around and did not bother me too much…….I had one dog pulling on the guide rope while I was in the tent. I quickly got rid of them. Couple of them slept next to my bike and they barked if anyone was around. They were keeping an eye on it for me. There was a little bit of rain and I sat in my tent and watched and listened to thunder and lightning out at sea.
DAY 359: LAEM MAE PHIM – BAN PHE
START: 6:30 – FINISH: 9:30 – DISTANCE: 22 KM – RIDE TIME : 1H 46
Camping on the beach has its down sides. Sand seems to get everywhere. With the humid conditions you sweat and the sand sticks to you. I did not shower last night so this morning I am feeling all sweaty and dirty.
I know there is an ocean to swim in……………I won’t swim unless I can shower afterwards to clean the salt off. So today’s priority is to find a cheap room by the beach somewhere to relax. I tried a lot of places along the coast. Still too expensive and some of them for nothing but a dirty room. In the end and just before arriving in Rayong I spotted a sign for a room. 450 Bart. Aircon, cable and wifi. So compared to what I had already seen. I was sold. First thing – shower and washing……..then out for a walk around. A few tourists around. Found a big Tesco’s. Brought some yummy food……………then sat in cafe and played on computer.
In the evening I went to a very nice night market which had a variety of lots of different food stalls as well as other bits and bobs. At the end of the market was the car club. Showing off their very spruced up cars with over the top sound systems. Didn’t swim today…………criminal when the beach is so so close. Will definitely do so tomorrow.
DAY 360: BAN PHE – REST DAY
Yesterday I said I would definitely go to the beach today. More importantly go for a swim. I was leaving it late………at 4pm I headed down to the beach. I was in for a huge disappointment. The beach was filthy and so was the water.
It just wasn’t safe to swim with all the rubbish floating in the water. Dead fish, dirty plastic bags and other food scraps. I thought it was best to give it a miss for another day. I heard there are a lot of scams in Thailand……………..I found one of them today…………every time you use an ATM machine the bank will charge you 5 usd. What a rip-off. You could take out 3 usd and it will cost you 8 usd. I will be taking out 300 tomorrow. I will push on tomorrow. I still have just over 200 km to get to Bangkok. I will continue to follow the coast
DAY 361: BAN PHE – PATTAYA
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 14:00 – DISTANCE: 101 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 02
It’s still a few hundred kms to Bangkok so I wanted to make a good day of it. Instead of trying to follow the little roads I just stuck to the 3 Highway. It was a good fast road. It’s completely built up now and Mc Donald’s, KFC and Subway have all started appearing. There are 7/11 stores every 500 meters if that.
I got to Pattaya about 1 p.m. It is a big tourist town. I checked out a few guest houses just to see what the price was like. It was more than I want to pay………..but cheaper then the last two days. So I took it. Nice guest -house with swimming pool, air con, fridge, TV, hot shower and toilet.
The beach is about 1.5 km away. I wandered down the hill. Massage is big business here. Every fifth shop. Loads of dentists and plastic surgeons as well. Pattaya is another hang out for Russian holidaymakers as well. The beach was a welcome change from yesterday’s experience. It wasn’t too busy. The usual rows and rows of deck chairs, sun beds and umbrellas. I did not waste any time and was straight in. The water was pretty warm. I must have been in a funny part of town because when I left the beach in the little square was just full of foreign old men. It was odd. Too many in one place at one time………and there wasn’t a football game going on either. Heading back up the hill I went to the super market which was huge……….the biggest one since leaving Europe last year. You could pretty much get whatever you need.
DAY 362: PATTAYA – BANG PLEE
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 17:00 – DISTANCE: 100 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 45
I won’t make Bangkok in one day 140 km is too far to push it. The last thing I want to be doing in the early evening in a very big and busy city is to be looking for somewhere to sleep. So the plan is to do about 100 km……….leaving roughly 40 km for an easy run into Bangkok tomorrow morning. Shortly after setting off the 3 highway jumped from 2 lanes to 4 lanes one way and the 3 highway was divided by an elevated motorway above that.
It didn’t make for a pleasant day’s cycling…………..being on the constant look-out for traffic is stressful and very tiring. Even before 100 km I was looking for somewhere to sleep. Camping was not that appealing. Industrial sites and rubbish were everywhere. There is a lot of fly-tipping beside the road. The stench of rotting rubbish in the hot sun is not nice. I started asking for a place to stay and was getting told Bangkok………….40 km away which was a bit disconcerting……………I dreaded the thought of having to cycle in to Bangkok tonight. I found one place……….they wanted 900 Bart. So for that price I kept cycling. I asked again and was told there was a hotel 2 km back…………………I broke the rule and cycled back the 2 km on to an industrial site. 380 Bart for the room was a lot better. I tried to haggle the price down. In the end the girl rang the owner who spoke very good English and I tried to haggle with him……………in the end I settled for complementary cup of coffee. I sat in reception drinking my coffee and joking with the hotel staff when the owner turned up. After telling him about my trip……..
I was really taken aback when he said I could stay for free and if I wanted to rest I could even stay a few more extra days. The kindness from people is unbelievable. On top of that I got a cold beer. A load of washing done, Free internet hotspot which I guess means I can use it anywhere. So I guess it is ok to go back sometimes……..because it certainly paid off today.
DAY 363: BANG PLEE – BANGKOK
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 14 :00 – DISTANCE: 52 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H
It is always the way, when you think you only have a few easy hours to cycle you are a little slow to get moving. When I did get started, it was heavy traffic all the way and it was pretty intense for the 40 km cycle into Bangkok. Did I mention it is really hot here as well. It is always fun riding into big cities. At one point the road I was following ended at the river and to cross I had to join the locals for the 5 Bart ferry crossing.
Then it was difficult to get my bearings. Cycling over a busy bridge I got a bloody puncture. I wasn’t actually supposed to be cycling over it. There was no hard shoulder so I had to cycle as quick as I could to get over it. I then stopped straightaway. I was only a few km from the guest house I was looking for. I wasn’t in the mood to fix the puncture there and then so I just pumped it up. I had to do this about 3 times before I got to the back- packing part of Bangkok. Couldn’t find the place I was looking for and all the hostels I tried were all full.
So I ended up just taking anything…………….well a rubbish guest house at that. 300 bart for dirty room with a fan. It’s a small world as soon as I went out onto the street I ran into a French guy, Gauthier, who I met in Kashgar, China. Was also cycling and has now just finished. I am in Backpacker central………………….why do I do it…………because it is always going to be the cheapest accommodation……….The room I had tonight. My tent would have been better.
DAYS 364,365,366, 367, 368, 369 and 370: BANGKOK – REST DAYS
DAY 364: FRIDAY
I had a terrible night’s sleep. Even with the fan it was so hot. I had already decided I was going to move. So straight after breakfast I grabbed my bike. I had to wheel it down a very steep staircase.
I then went around the corner and checked into a dorm room for $4 and free Wi-Fi which was much better. Anne who I had met in Cambodia is in Bangkok. So I met up with her this morning for a day of sightseeing. We spent the morning in the hot sun walking a little and taking boats on the river to get around. We went to the Royal barge museum which houses the ceremonial long boats.
We then had a bit of a river cruise before we visited Wat Ahun which has some similar qualities to Angkor Watt. We climbed to the top, up some very steep steps, for a very nice view of the river and the surrounding area. The food in Thailand is pretty good. There is lots of variety and with all the diffrent spices it has lots of taste..
DAY 365: SATURDAY
Despite moving guest houses, it was another very restless night because it was so hot. Today I meet Anne again and we went to the Royal palace.
The streets around were all closed as they were having a rehearsal for next month’s cremation ceremony of the late princess. Police and army on every corner. Cannon fire, Brass Bands and marching soldiers. The palaces were packed with tourists. There were a lot from China. We spent a few good hours looking around. The palace itself was a grand European looking building surrounded by lots of nice temples
after lunch we went to Watt Pho and the sleeping Buddha. To finish the day we walked a good few kms to the Sky Rail seeing many sights along the way, old forts and monuments. Anne went home and I took the Sky Rail to the end of the line (Bearing) for a bit more of a look around the city. The Sky Rail is elevated so you get a great view of the city. Afterwards, I took the metro crossing the whole city.
Then the city experienced a bit of thunder and lightning…………was nice because it brought the temperature down. With the rain I couldn’t walk back to the hostel so I finished the day off by taking a local bus.
DAY 366: SUNDAY
Today I meet my local Thai friends Kim and Liu who were so good to come and give me such a warm welcome at the border. They continued their great hospitality by coming and collecting me at my guest house and then taking me on a bit of a mystery tour.
We got the bus a short way out of the city to visit one of the only few remaining old communities still remaining in Bangkok. Most have become part of the concrete jungle. We ended up in a village that was a maze of canals and at its centre was a big temple. In the canals were massive fish. It is forbidden to fish so close to the temple and they make the most of this. We visited an artist’s house and had coffee on the canal.
There was supposed to be a puppet show. But unfortunately this was cancelled. We went to the temple where many of the villagers were dressed traditionally. They had a parade along the streets with dragons and lions accompanied by the drums that come with them.
DAY 367: MONDAY
It is exactly 1 year today……….being a leap year I had to wait an extra day , since I set off from London on what has been a fantastic experience of meeting some wonderful people, visiting some new and exciting countries.
It has been a very nice life-style. After 10 000 km the tyres are getting pretty worn again. Thought I might change them before they start popping this time. It turned out to be a struggle………….one bike shop said it would be 3 months before they would be in . I will have to hope and try again in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.
After one year my cycling shoes have completely had it and so have my gloves and helmet.
On the way to the first bike shop I walked through Lumphini park. Very nice city park with lakes and trees. I saw a big big lizard crawling through the park. It was an impressive sight. Walking all the way back to my guest house near Kha Sain road passed many big, big new shopping malls.
DAY 368: TUESDAY
I haven’t met too many crazy people on this trip……………………But this morning I meet one crazy half Japanese/Balinese man. Shame – I am sharing a dorm room with him. I had breakfast with the Chinese girl Lee and I came back and was just lying on my bed when the Crazy burst into the room and came over to my bed and confronted me. At this point I gathered he didn’t like me. His gripe was the Chinese girl didn’t want to go to Chiang Mai with him and it was my fault. His other gripe was the day before I had asked him what he does at night. He goes out at 10 p.m. and comes back late. I was told I shouldn’t ask these questions. I listened to his gripes before I jumped off my bed and we had a bit of a shouting match. He then told me he didn’t like Westerners. Then I am sure purely for my benefit he got out a large knife and sat on the floor and cut up a plastic bottle into 100 pieces. At this point I thought with this crazy my life could be in danger……………he could go off the deep end any time…………….I thought maybe I had better change guest houses…………….The thought of having to pay more somewhere else…………….I’m staying put. To try and calm the situation I did ask him if we could put our differences aside……………this was only possible if I apologized for asking bad questions………….so I did. It was still hard to get a handshake out of him and afterwards he refused to talk to me………..He was truly crazy……….other guests in the dorm had complained they had come back and found him sitting on his bed completely naked.
DAY 369: WEDNESDAY
With the rain in the night I was a little worried I would be cycling over to Liu’s to drop off my bike in the rain Will leave it with her while I go to Chiang Mai for the Thai New Year and water festival.. Thankfully it was only a cloudy morning but no rain. I left at 8 a.m. right in the middle of peak hour traffic. I spent my whole time crossing Bangkok as I made my way out to the north.
Weaving in and out of traffic. Liu gave me very good directions. But was still surprised when I turned up at 10 a.m. without having to call for help. Just the cycle out there was worth the home-cooked lunch Liu’s brother made. Going back to the hostel on the bus took longer than the cycle out. In the evening two Chinese girls invited me to join them to visit the national gallery. They had been earlier in the day and had been invited back to attend the opening of a new exhibition in aid of the flood appeal……Shamefully I was a little underdressed with my ripped shorts and tank top.
That was evident when dignitaries started turning up with police escort. We got there at 5 p.m. and was actually able to have a walk around before it was officially opened. Most of the artists were present………..in fact they all looked the same with their long hair and goatee beard. Out of 100 artists there was only one woman. We mixed with the artists and the girls got their guide book signed. There was a very nice buffet put on as well and I stuffed myself with everything……….
DAY 370: THURSDAY
Going to Chiang Mai with Lee….one of the Chinese girls from the hostel on Saturday. So this morning we walked down to the Station to buy our tickets. It was a good walk and on the way we passed the very interesting China town. We planned to go in style to Chiang Mai……..Fan……3rd class for the 17 hour journey…………..about time I roughed it again.
On reaching the station we learnt that for this seat you can only buy the ticket on the day…………so I will come early on Saturday and we will return later for the 2:30 p.m. train. Near the station red mats had been laid out on the footpath and then these were covered in rose petals. After enquiring we learnt that 1500 monks and novices would be passing on their 51 km walk to a temple marking the arrival of a golden Buddha statue. Waiting…….we ended up joining the many lining the way and we joined in to help place the rose petals. The way back we walked through one of the universities. They had a canteen so we stopped for a very good and cheap lunch. Will be going back for dinner because it is close to the hostel.
DAY 371: BANGKOK – CHIANG MAI
At 7 a.m. this morning Lee and I went to the train station to get our gold ticket. You can only purchase a ticket for 3rd class on the day of travel for the 750 km/14 ½ hour journey. The ticket was even cheaper then we thought only 234 Bart instead of 271 Bart. We later discovered why. Golden ticket in hand………..I thought I would head up to some of the many big shopping malls like MBK to see if I could find a tent………..no luck nothing opens till 10 a.m.
So instead I went to the big Tesco and stocked up on food and water for the train and I then went and got a haircut, first one since China and first for this year. We checked out of the hostel at midday and headed back to the station on public bus. Very slow with all the Bangkok traffic. Grabbed some Chinese takeaway before finding our carriage. When we found our carriage………..there were people and luggage everywhere. Found our seats. Facing forward…………good. Window seat…………….good. Seat size. We now knew why they were cheap seats.
They were the last two seats in the carriage and had a good chunk taken off them making them smaller than all the rest. The train was late leaving and we got off to a flying start. Only 7 stops before we even got out of Bangkok. Ventilation on the train was good with big windows completely open creating a nice cool breeze. The scenery was interesting at first leaving the city with all the houses and shacks backing onto the line…….then countryside and industry such as big factories, car plants, power stations and chemical plants lined the line. Going into the evening there were large bright orange flames from the farmers burning. There was a large thunder and lightning storm and when the rain came in it was a struggle to get the window closed before getting drenched. It was a surprise when I pulled the window down and there was only half of it. The over half was hiding above. Life in first class……..sorry 3rd class was lively. Half the train was occupied by students heading North. They had drums and did a lot of singing. It was cool. For 14 and half hours I didn’t move once from my seat…..The time went quickly. I didn’t sleep. My head was above the head rest and it was difficult. At 6 a.m. the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. We all got off and wandered around. We had to wait 1 ½ hours. Was told two stories. One the engine was not strong enough to pull us up the mountain.
We had got halfway up before the train started going backwards. The second story was that the track had been washed away in the rain and we would have to continue by bus. At this point we were still 3 hours away from Chiang Mai and two hours late. The train ended up going another hour before we stopped in a large town and continued by bus.
Day 372: Saturday
The bus got into Chiang Mai about 10:30 a.m. I walked into the old town. Found a reasonable guest house for 170 Bart. I then went walkabout. In Asia footpaths are anything but for walking. You spend more time on the road because the footpaths are always full of parked-up motor bikes, tables and chairs, rubbish bins and anything else you can store on the footpath.
I walked around the outside of the old city along the moat and past the crumbling old city walls and its old gates. I went too far because after some dinner I started to walk back through the city and got completely lost. To make things worse the daily thunder and lightning show arrived and the rain with it was intense. I had to seek refuge in a shop and even that was leaking. With rain like this I wonder about my tent. In the end I bit the bullet taking my shirt off and putting everything into a plastic bag to keep dry. In the rain I set off for my guest house. It wasn’t easy because there was a power cut and very dark. It was a relief after a good hour and I found the guest house again.
DAY 373: Sunday
This morning I was eating some fruit when my Chinese filling fell out. I knew straightaway it wasn’t going to be good. This was confirmed when I visited the dentist the guest house recommended in the afternoon. It was flash with lots of extra comforts in reception. They saw me straight-away. Outcome is I will need a $600.00 crown.
Still I am sure that is cheaper than getting it anywhere else. I am back tomorrow for the moulding. In the meantime I went for some retail therapy. Why is that when you don’t have money to spend you just want to spend it. The big 4 level shopping mall with its small aquarium was a 40 min walk out towards the airport. I didn’t end up parting with any more cash………..18000 Bart was enough for today. I checked out new tents which along with new tyres are very urgently required. With all the storms of late, I know I would be silly not to be sleeping in a good tent. The rain is just so hard. It would be no match for my little green tent..
DAY 374: Monday
I did very little in the morning before going down to the dentist for my 1:30 p.m. 2-hour appointment of pain. The only real pain was in my pocket……………and then after when the injection wore off.
In the evening I walked up to the posh part of town to meet Tom a guy who I had met in Iran. He is the 4th person I have recently met again from Iran. After Liu and Kim and Nino who I saw again in Cambodia. On the way up the usual afternoon storm arrived and I had to dive into a coffee shop and wait 30 mins for it to pass. The rain was just so intense. It would be crazy to go out in it. It was good catching up with English Tom for a quick drink. My toothache really kicked in so I didn’t stay out long. On the walk back, a stretch of the footpath was infested with cockroaches running everywhere. I couldn’t see them in the dark. Every time I took a step one would start moving and I could see them then.
DAY 375: Tuesday
I took it easy for most of the day…………… late afternoon I thought I had better start seeing some of the sights so I went on a bit of a Temple tour. Chiang Mai is full of many temples. Parts of them are old and unrestored.
One of the temples had a cable running up to the top of it. You filled a canister with water and then wound the cable until the canister reached the top of the temple and a release mechanism was activated dumping the water on the temple for good luck. The big temple was massive in size. Nearby in a smaller temple was housed the embalmed body of a top monk.
After dinner I went to the night Bazaar……..thought it might be good to pick up some new shorts. I soon realized it was a market purely for tourists and a bit of a disappointment. With big dark clouds I hotfooted back to the guest house before the heavens opened.
DAY 376: Wednesday
With Songkran fast approaching it was important to go out today and get a good water gun. I walked up to Tesco’s with Rob and Glen two Aussie guys I met in Bangkok.
I had breakfast with them this morning and they moved over to my guest house after spending a night in a dorm room full of mozzies. I have two more friends arriving tomorrow. Elodie from France who I have met about 5 times now along the way is coming to the festival with her friend Marie who has come out to travel for a month.
DAY 377: Thursday
9:30 a.m. this morning I was back at the dentist for the fitting of my new crown. 1 hour later and $600 poorer. I headed back to the guest house. Along the way I was shot at more than once with a water gun. This pretty much signalled the start of Songkran and the world’s biggest water fight. I went back and got my water gun and headed out to join the fun.
I would not fire unless fired upon……………………but come the afternoon it was in full steam. You could not walk down any street without getting wet. Anybody is fair game whether they are armed or unarmed. The festival centres around the water moat that surrounds the old city. Most of the action is by the main gate where there are stages and entertainment. It is one crazy water fight. Everyone drives round the old city on the backs of utes, on tuk tuks with barrels of water to throw over the crowed and the streets are lined with people and buckets of water to throw back. There is music and live bands playing making for a great atmosphere. Loads of people have masks and some are in costume.There is no police and a alcohol ban around the moat. But there is a really great fun atmosphere. It is great to see alcohol is not necessary for people to have fun.
DAY 378: Friday
Today is the official start of the Thai New Year………………and the main day of the festival. A continuation of yesterday but on a much larger scale. 10 a.m. we headed back to the city gates and it wasn’t long before things were back in full swing.
I met the French girls Elodie and Marie. We then did a 5 km tour of the old town along the moat. It was just a continuous drenching………….and the locals placed talc on our face in an act of good luck. In the afternoon there was a big parade of golden buddhas and locals in traditional dress. The women had very very long fingernails. The Buddhas and the person holding them in place on the float got drenched as the locals sprayed the float with water. The Coca-Cola stage had a foam machine to add to the fun.
Tonight I visited the French girls at their guest house…………very nice found them lying by the pool. We went across the road to a bar for a beer and a free BBQ with some very nice marinated beef. I do enjoy the socializing aspect of my trip………….when often I have had long, long stints of no socializing at all. I was a lucky man…………..joked the girls because in total we were six. 5 French girls and me because we were joined by another 3 French girls Elodie and Marie had met on the bus.
DAY 379: Saturday
Today is the 3rd day of the festival and it is just as good as yesterday. In 41 degrees heat the water was spraying in every direction. The atmosphere is great. Everyone is in such good spirits. There are a few lady boys running around. Some like to be noticed more then others with outrageous costumes.
DAY 380: CHIANG MAI – MAE SARIANG
DAY 381: MAE SARIANG – REST DAY
This morning it took 1 hour to walk to the bus station. It is day 4 of the water fight and I got a light drenching along the way. I am heading away from the beaten track today. I have a 5 ½ hour bus ride for 193 km up into the highlands next to the border with Burma.
I was the only tourist on the bus. It was a very scenic ride up into the mountains. It was very steep. I was happy not to be cycling at the time. Seeing the beautiful scenery it would actually have been very very nice to cycle and camp.
We followed a river for a while………it was full of people swimming and picnicking. Many people still lined the road and were ready to throw water as we passed. When I got to little Mae Sariang I checked into the first guest house I saw. 100 Bart for a box and no Wi-Fi so I had to go round the corner and sneak into another guest house to use their Wi-Fi…………in the end I had dinner there with two ladies from Seattle. From the guest house we watched a parade marking the end of Songkran.
I hired a dodgy bike today to cycle the 7 km to the national park. It was a girl’s bike and a bit small. When I got to the national park I just lay by a small lake for a few hours on some grass under some shade. It was well over 40 degrees and when I cycled back into town it was like a ghost town. Every shop was closed and there was no-one around. Once the sun goes down the town comes back to life.
Day 382: MAE SARIANG – MAE SOT
Catching a shared taxi this morning. It was a really fantastic 225 km journey heading south along the Thai/Burma Border. It was very mountainous. We constantly stopped to pick up and drop off people
At some points we had 33 people in the back of the taxi.
Some hanging off the back. Many catching a ride were from the hill tribe villages and were in their traditional dress.
and many were with babies. When we left Mae Sariang, it was just a middle-aged couple and myself. The husband jumped straight in the front leaving his wife and I to sit in the back. No man would get up for any woman. I had to get up for a woman who was standing and struggling to hold on and hold a baby in the other hand. We passed a massive Burmese refugee camp
DAY 383: MAE SOT – SUKHOTHAI
DAY 384: SUKHOTHAI – REST DAY
I was going to have two nights in Mae Sot. Apart from being a border town to cross into Burma there is not much to the town.
So after a quick breakfast on the street, crumbed chicken and rice, I shot to the bus station to get a mini-van about 90km to Tak. From Tak you get a bus the rest of the way to Sukhothai.
The road to Sukhothai was again winding and mountainous. There were another 3 police checkpoints and at the first checkpoint the police pulled a guy out of the minivan. They are looking for Burmese who have come over the border illegally.
Arriving in Sukhothai I had a 3 km walk to the new town in the heat of the day. Was happy to find the Happy guest house after firstly finding some not so Happy guest houses.
150 Bart for a brand new room was good value. Sukhothai is famous for its ancient ruins in the old city and is a Unesco world heritage site. I met up with the Aussie guys again and we went to the night market for dinner. Only 30 Bart for chicken ginger.
What an awesome day. I was up at 6 a.m. Went on the street for some breakfast and then got the first 7 a.m. shared taxi out to the old city. Idea was to start early and beat the heat. When I got there I hired a bike for 30 Bart and that also included a good map. It was a beautiful clear sunny day.
Great for photos. There were hardly any other tourists which meant a lot of the time I had the ruins to myself. I really enjoyed cycling around to all the different temples. Some had old Buddha statues. Others were surrounded by moats and water.
DAY 385: SUKOTHAI – AYUTTHAYA
DAY 386 &388: AYUTTHAYA – REST DAY
It’s over a year now since I last worked so I am having to watch the pennies a little bit more closely. So to save a dollar it was worth the 3 km walk back to the bus station……………….only to be told the 9 a.m. bus was full and I would have to wait 2 and half hours for the next 2nd class bus.
When I finally did get on the bus, 6 hours in second class was fine. The bus doesn’t stop in Ayutthaya. You have to request it to stop and it drops you off on the highway 6 km from town. I was warned by the Aussie guys who took the bus yesterday and ended up going all the way through to Bangkok and they then had to get a 800 Bart taxi back. After being dropped on the highway, I started walking and straight away was picked up and given a ride to the railway station. From here I had to get a short ferry across the river to Ayutthaya which is on an island surrounded by 3 rivers.
It was also the ancient capital of Thailand and there are still a few ruins from the old city to see. Got the usual 150 Bart fan room. Met the Aussie guys in the evening and we did the usual go and check out the night market and cheap feed of noodles and duck.
I was out before 7 a.m. for breakfast. Then had to look around to find a place to hire a bike……..8 a.m., map in hand and already with the heat of the sun I was on my way. Plan was to leave the island and visit the furthermost temples and then work my way back into the city. As I cycled there were just ruins everywhere and most of them were not even on the map. I had to cycle about 7 km out to find Wat Chaiwathenar which was one of the better and most impressive ruins built on the opposite river bank to Auttahaya. Further along the river bank was an old French church and dozens more temples.
I cycled even further out of town reaching the modern Queen’s monument situated in a big park with lakes and trees. Down the road and on the way back to town was the King’s modern monument and behind that was the very old and more impressive white Wat PhuKhao.
I was out till 2 p.m. I then headed back to the guest house for two hours rest from the sun. It was another hot day. I then went back out when it was a bit more pleasant. Cycled to the market, then the railway station to check trains for tomorrow and a few more random temples.
DAY 387: LAP BURI DAY TRIP
Today I did a day trip North to Lap Buri. I heard there is a temple there full of monkeys.
It cost 6 bart to cross the river with the ferry. It was then only 20 bart for my 3rd class ticket for the 1 hour journey…………..Thai Rail never runs on time. The train was 30 minutes late.
The train is nice. It cuts through the very lush rice fields and there is a lot of birds to be seen ( Storks and cranes I think).
I started by just walking around Lap Buri and just came upon the old ruins. As I got closer to the old city I saw a monkey run across the road and up a power pole where he joined another two monkeys. Then I just started to see more and more monkeys. They were swinging from power lines, sitting on roofs, hanging off buildings and I even saw one jump into the back of a van and hitch a ride. I went down a small residential street and the monkeys were everywhere just sitting around. That was until a local came out with a big gun and the monkeys scattered everywhere. They obviously knew what the guy meant. I soon saw lots of things had been monkey proofed. Some houses had electric fences to keep the monkeys out.
Aircon units were caged as well as some small trees. The guy watching the parking lot had a big whip to keep the monkeys off the cars. It was a good day in Lap Buri…………very hot again. The last thing I did was to visit an old Church in ruins.
All templed out now. So I took it pretty easy to day. I went out of town to the big shopping Centre………..off the tourist track because the prices were better. In town a 4G USB stick is 350 -390 Bart. In the computer shop I got 8G for 190 Bart. That’s why I wait…………………….I have been looking for new shorts for 4 months. Today I got a pair of Gap shorts for 100 Bart.
It was a real shopping day………and boxer shorts went in the basket to replace the cheap ones from China which are now quite worn. Was so excited to get back to the guest house and try them on…………….large is not so large. Disappointingly, it will be a struggle to wear them. The best pair of flip-flops I got were in the UK for a pound and lasted a year. Flip-flops here are twice the price and only last a few weeks. I am already on my 4th pair for the year. I was tempted to buy some cheese today…………..but at $30.00 a kilo I resisted……………..Why is it that New Zealand cheese is cheaper in China and it is further away.
Day 389: AYUTTHAYA – BANGKOK
This morning I was late to the train station. But I wasn’t worried because I knew the train would be late as well. I didn’t hurry to have my breakfast before catching the ferry across the river to the train station. There was an interesting sight as I passed the market. At 20 Barts the train is slower than the bus……..but a third the price…………ok the bus is only $2 compared to 0.70 cents. I enjoy the train as it cuts through the fields and in the rice paddies there are always a lot of birds to see.
I met up with Elodie and Marie again and I was able to leave my backpack in their room. Saved carrying it around all day before meeting Lui my Thai friend who said I could kindly stay at her place and where I have been storing my bike for the last few weeks. With Elodie and Marie, we took the boat up the river to the grand palace. I have already been to the palace so I continued on to the other side of the river and went to the Forensic museum at Saigei hospital. This was recommended by my sister and I don’t think too many tourists know about it. It was a very graphic museum and after my visit I was feeling a little off colour. The first section contained siamese twins in embalming fluid. The next section was full of hearts and livers and other organs all in embalming fluid. Some of the organs were dissected and you could see this. Things got even worse. The photo section consisted of mutilated corpses due to traffic accidents, bomb blasts, plane crashes, factory accidents, injuries caused by crushing, stabbing and bludgeoning by blunt instruments.
There were 4 or 5 bodies in a case. They were shrinking over time and underneath was a tray to collect a horrible brown and red fluid leaking from the bodies. This museum must be part of the school programme because there were primary school kids running around on a school visit.
DAY 390: BANGKOK – PATTAYA
REST DAYS – 391, 392, 393
This morning I headed back to Pattaya and the beach. Was going to meet the Aussie guys Rob and Glen. But they ended up staying in Chumburi for the ANZAC day service. In 4 days I did very little. It was also very hot in Pattaya.
I go to bed tired, I wake up tired and during the day I am tired. My daily routine consisted of getting up about 8 a.m., going out and having breakfast…………….walking the 2 km through the town to the beach. Having a quick swim………….then walking back up the hill to the guest house. Calling in on the way at Big C to buy some treats. I would shower – sleep – shower and then at about 6 p.m. walk back down the hill stopping for dinner and then walking along the promenade through all the market stalls with some interesting food options and past all the bars. The promenade is just heaving with people.
One evening I walked all the way along the promenade to the walking street which is just full of bars, sex shows, lady boys and girls. There are so many Russians in Pattaya they have their own bar completely staffed by Russians. For two evenings there were some stages set up with live music as part of an international music festival.
DAY 394: PATTAYA – BANGKOK
REST DAYS – 395, 396 & 397
Heading back to Bangkok I was changing Sky trains and as I got to the platform there was a young woman who had collapsed and fallen off the platform and two guys were trying to drag her up. It took them a while but they finally did it. The next train had stopped half-way in the station. It was quite frightening to see.
Back in Bangkok I went and stayed with my Thai friend Lui and her brother. Over the next few days I spent a whole day crossing Bangkok looking for a new tent and two new tyres for the bike. The following day I cleaned the bike, changed the tyres, re-tested my gas stove (last used in China), put on a new bell and back-light. I have noticed that on some buses they have hand sanitizer by the back door and also that on buses there are seats reserved for monks.
DAY 398: BANGKOK – AMPHAWA
START: 6:14 – FINISH: 17:15 – DISTANCE: 141 KM – RIDE TIME: 8H 03
Well, finally after a good long break I am back on the bike today. Heading South for the border with Malaysia which I must cross by the 16th May. I got a great send off with Liu, her mother, father and brother all getting up to see me off.
Liu’s mum got me a flax-woven lunch box filled with sticky rice and marinated meat to eat on the way. I was a bit daunted with the prospect of having to cycle across busy Bangkok to get out of the city. It went surprisingly well until I cycled off the Bangkok CITY MAP and I then got a little bit lost which resulted in cycling an extra 40 km as I weaved in and around fish farms on red dirt roads in the heat of the sun. After being off the bike for such a long time I wasn’t feeling too bad. Come 1 p.m. I had done 90 km and found the main road I had been looking for. I then really started to struggle with the heat…………..and my legs had had enough. I just plodded on, stopping at regular intervals. At 3 p.m. I was exhausted but still 20 km short of Amphawa. I had to pull over and have a 1-hour sleep and give my body a chance to cool down. I fully intended camping tonight with my new tent
However even though Amphawa is famous for its floating market it didn’t really have a good camping spot. So I ended up getting a 300 Bart dump of a room near the river. Walking along the canal I was alarmed when I saw a 1.5 metre lizard swimming in the canal. It came out of the water and it had its lizard’s tongue working overtime.
DAY 399: AMPHAWA – CHA AM
START: 8:15 – FINISH: 16:00 – DISTANCE: 113 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 36
I was up early this morning. I was going to try and visit the floating market which was about 13 km away………planned to get a bus up there and have a quick look before heading off. After waiting 45 minutes. I cycled it because I couldn’t afford to waste too much time. It was another hot hot day. I followed the 3rd to the even more busy highway 4. Come 2:00 p.m. I had to have a roadside sleep in a bus stop. 30 minutes was enough. Just after 100 km I pulled off the main road and headed 1 km to the beach in search for somewhere to camp. The beach wasn’t very nice and there were lots of people around. The road ran close to the beach as well.
So I headed back to the main road and continued south. Then it was just resort after resort and no access to the beach. Then I found a small road that took me right up to the beach between some apartments. The view was very nice. Nice clean beach running for miles in both directions. Only a handful of people, a few horses being walked and some small groups of fishing boats moored just offshore. I pushed my bike 10 metres on to the sand and I set up my new tent for the first time at the end of a nice green lawn of a group of 2-storey apartments.
It was perfect. Pretty sweatie after a hard day’s cycling…….I chanced it and went for a nice swim. I then went and asked one of the gardeners of the apartments if I could use their hose to wash off the salt water and sand.
I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. I had a local retired architect come and say hello. Afterwards he showed me to a small shop where I could get some cold water…..he kindly bought me some Thai treats to try.
DAY 400: CHA AM – PRACHUAP
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 16:00 – DISTANCE: 117 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 02
I didn’t have the best of sleeps. It started to rain so I had to put the fly on the tent. This made my little tent very hot and humid. When camping on the beach you cannot help but get sand in the tent. Then this starts to stick to ya and you feel grotty. I got bitten pretty badly as well and I woke up with my legs itching really bad.
I couldn’t help but scratch them. I cycled back the 1 km to the main road to continue south. I pulled into the first service station for a morning wash. At 1 p.m. the sky became very dark and just in the nick of time I was able to duck into the porch of an abandoned building. Then it just opened up with a heavy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. I sat it out for 30 minutes before setting off again in a light rain. The 4 road pulled away from the coast and steady headed up. I then had to put the foot down to make sure I could get back to the beach tonight. Along the way I passed two guys from Indonesia…………cycling home.
I chatted to them before leaving them behind. Just on 4 p.m. I came into Prachuap a small normal seaside town in the middle of a bay. Only a handful of guesthouses and hotels. A bay full of fishing boats and a couple of small jetties. It was great not to see any deck chairs or umbrellas on a very nice clean sandy beach. After the rain I was filthy from the road spray. I was going to camp on the beach…………….in the end I got a 200 Bart guest house. After a walk along the shore, I had an early night.
DAY 401: PRACHUAP – RADAR HILL
START: 7:00 – FINISH: 15:00 – DISTANCE: 114 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 43
This morning I left the guest house just before 7 a.m. not seeing a soul. I cycled along the promenade appreciating the seaview before heading 2 km back to the 4 Highway. At 8 a.m. I stopped for a chicken and rice breakfast. 2 hours later I stopped for another breakfast. Being back on the bike has increased my appetite. The terrain today was mostly passing through coconut plantation after plantation. There were coconut trees as far as the eye could see. For long stretches the road was flanked by tall trees which gave some nice relief from the hot sun. Today I cycled through the most narrow part of Thailand. On one side the border with Burma about 10 km away and on the other side the beach at 5 km away if that. My legs were aching from the little hill climbs from yesterday and it was very similar today with a few small hills to pass over. I always keep a good eye on the cloud Mid-morning, there was a short shower and I dived into the bus stop without getting too wet.
Like clockwork, there seems to be a major daily electrical storm at 1 p.m…….I saw the black clouds coming and called into the service stop. Within minutes there was heavy rain and wind and the counter on wheels was getting blown across the floor of the restaurant while the staff watched and screamed. The rain was heavy and lasted 1 hour. I grabbed the chance to have a sleep. Every day the first 90 km is easy. But after that I hit the wall and every km is an effort. I am too far from the beach tonight…………so at 3 p.m. after climbing another hill and with the roads wet from the rain…………….I am in the service stop writing my blog, having some dinner……….before I will go out and put my tent up as this is where I will stay tonight. Safe and handy with all the facilities.
DAY 402: RADAR HILL – PITAK ISLAND
START: 6:30 – FINISH: 16:00 – DISTANCE: 140 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 53
My new tent is too small. I had a very uncomfortable sleep. With the rain the temperature has come down but not in my tent. It is like an oven. Hot and stuffie. I opened the door and that only let in all the mosquitoes.So I ended up getting bitten all over. I have a long way to go today. I am going to try and find a small not so touristy island Liu recommended to me. If I make it tonight, I can have a cycle free day tomorrow as I will be just about half way to Malaysia. This morning I cycled 30 km in an hour and half – only stopping a few times I made real good time. At 2:30 p.m. I had done 110 km and I took the turn off for the beach. It was 10 km all downhill. Getting closer to the beach it was just coconut trees and the odd house.
Through the coconut trees you could see a few islands off shore. Cycling 1 km along the beach I reached the small town. Asking here for directions to Pitak Island I was told I needed to cycle another 20 km around to the next bay. No time to lose I cycled out through a narrow street of wooden houses on stilts. Arriving in the next bay was a small bamboo jetty. I wheeled my bike out to see what the chances were to get a boat out to the island with my bike. For 70 bart it wasn’t a problem. The tide was out. So you needed to use a ladder to get down into the small narrow boat. So I got the boat driver to push his boat up on to the beach…….well as close as possible. We then had to ferry the bike and all my luggage out to the boat. On the island live 17 families who offer home stays. I ended up pushing my bike down to one end of the island where I set up my tent for the night. I left the fly off to try and make the tent cooler. Camp site all set up I sat down to relax and update my diary for the day. I then realised I had lost my GPS…………….I thought it must have fallen out of my pocket when I was on the boat……………….It put me on such a downer……………..It made me feel so low. With my GPS I have recorded every km I have cycled and have a record of everywhere I have been. I felt so low.
I walked along the beach hoping to find the boat driver who had brought me over. It was late in the day and he was long gone. So I just walked back to my tent. I walked around the tent and was delighted to see my GPS lying on the ground. It had fallen out of my top pocket when I had bent over to put in a peg.
DAY 403: PITAK ISLAND
START: 17:00 – FINISH: 17:55 – DISTANCE: 12 KM – RIDE TIME: 0H 55
I slept a lot better last night. It was hot…….but in the night I woke up cold. The tide was well out. So I realise it might be a problem when I try to leave tomorrow morning. It will be a long way to carry all my stuff to the boat
I think I will leave now this afternoon on the high tide and just camp on the beach on the mainland. The island is pretty quiet, not much beach and lots of coconut trees and lots of fishing pots. The night before I watched the locals walk their pots out into the ocean. They camouflaged them with palm leaves to trick the fish. Before it got too hot I set off to walk around the island. I started on the rocky beach but ended up on the path past half a dozen cows. I then saw a guy getting coconuts. He was holding a small rope and talking to his mate…………then a coconut would drop down. His mate never talked back. Then I realized it wasn’t a guy on the end of a rope but a monkey………….doing all the hard work. It was a nice walk around the island shaded by the trees. There was a small sandy beach on the back of the island. I was round in 30 minutes. I then had some breakfast and grabbed my towel and headed back to the beach for a swim. The water was cold, nice and refreshing. After my swim I am now sitting in the shade updating my blog. There has been quite a lot of noise in the trees behind me……………….I now realize it is a troop of wild monkeys playing…………….I left my backpack under a tree while I swam………….I was lucky that a monkey didn’t run off with my passport. At about 3 p.m. I packed my tent up……………….just before it started to rain.
So I waited for the rain to stop and I then got a boat back to the mainland. There’s no set service…………you just have to grab someone. It was the same process again wading out through the water carrying all my gear………….and same again at the other end. Once ashore I realized I was missing one of my bungee cords. But more importantly my Tua Tara mascot which was tied to it. I checked my bags but couldn’t find it. Me and my wing man have been through a lot……………so I left my bike on the pier and got a boat back to the Island. Unfortunately no luck in finding him
I think some kids took a shine to him. Gone but not forgotten……………so the rollercoaster continues. Feeling pretty down again tonight…………A grown man and I was nearly in tears.
I only cycled 12 km from the pier to where I found a restaurant had some dinner and put up my tent on the beach in front.
DAY 404: LANG SOUN – SURATHANI
START: 7:15 – FINISH: 17:30 – DISTANCE: 126 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H
It is still very hot during the day……..but at least the temperature has come down at night, making it a lot more bearable to sleep. In fact last night I actually slept well. It was a lovely morning for cycling along the coast watching the ocean through the palm trees. For such a hot country Thailand is so very green…………I cycled hard out in the morning and did 80 km by mid-day. I now have a routine of stopping for a 2 – 3 hour lunch break in a nice air-conditioned coffee shop where I can use the WiFi, have some lunch and give my body a chance to cool down.
It is over a year now and not surprisingly all my equipment has taken a real pounding. Now everything is starting to break or fall to bits. The cycling shorts I started with are now ripped beyond repair. My panniers are all full of holes. The zips on my backpack are broken as well as the zip on my handlebar bag, the zip on my shirt pocket and cycling gloves are ripped. Now the on/off switch on my notebook is broken and causing me lots of problems. All the rubber on my GPS has come off after the glue melted. I am going to arrive home in rags.
After my 3 hour lunch break I set off again…………the highway pulled away from the coast so I knew I wouldn’t be able to camp on the beach. After my long lunch I actually felt really good…………..and wanted to keep cycling, but with the sun setting I had to look for somewhere to camp. I was looking for a temple…….in the end I called in to Caltex. I set my tent up under the band rotunda/picnic area at the back of the service station. The staff later came over and put the lights on for me and invited me for dinner.
DAY 405: SURATHANI – SONG TAXHIAN
DAY 406: SONG TAXHIAN BEACH REST DAY
START: 6:15 – FINISH: 16:00 – DISTANCE: 113 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 33
It was a cool night and I slept well again in the service station. Today’s aim is to get back to the beach………firstly I had to cycle 80 km up and over some little hills. Was very hot again and I was having to stop at regular intervals before I reached my lunch stop in the town of Suchan.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find WiFi so I just had my lunch and pushed on…………..20 km on I found a roadside café with WiFi………..so I was straight in. Having done over 100 km……..I decided I would head straight for the beach which was only 5 km away. Firstly I stopped in the village for dinner as I expected there would be nothing at the beach. Cycling along the single lane road weaving through the palm trees I got to a police army checkpoint with about 10 guys with machine guns……………..they just quickly waved me on. The South of Thailand is experiencing unrest between the Muslims and the Buddhists. In recent months, there have been a number of bombings and murders. The coffee shop recommended a small resort where to stay………….so I went and paid them a visit. As I expected I thought it would be too expensive for me. At 1500 bart a night it was. I asked about camping…………….most say no because they don’t like it.
So surprisingly they said yes. For a few barts I have set up camp on a wooden platform next to the beach. I am shaded by palm trees. I have a fancy boat-shaped table to sit at and admire the ocean view. Toilet and shower is 20 metres away. I have WiFi and they gave me a kettle to use. I am also the only person staying in the resort………It is so nice. I am staying 2 nights to make the most of it. I had an evening swim and my first real shower in 5 days.
This morning I was up at 5:30 a.m. to watch the sun rise…………..while drinking my coffee. I then had a 6:30 a.m. swim and at a leisurely pace a shave and did some washing…………………It wasn’t until 9:30 a.m. that I actually got on my bike to head back to the village for breakfast.
I am losing the plot………………I took all my panniers off the bike and I knew there was only one pannier I hadn’t checked the other day when I was looking for my Tua Tara mascot……………….So surprise surprise when I opened up the pannier and there it was…………………boy I am having some good luck. It was the one place I didn’t expect to find it, in with the biscuits. The time I could have saved if only I had looked properly. After all that I am very happy to have it back.
DAY 407: SONG TAXHIAN – HUI SAI
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 17:00 – DISTANCE: 128 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H
I was up at 5:30 am again to watch the sunrise. I then had a lovely morning swim. The sea was dead calm. I continued on the 41 to Nakhon Si Thammarat before turning on to the smaller 408.
From here it was 80 km to cut back to the East coast. Since leaving Bangkok over a week ago I hadn’t seen any dead or alive snakes on the road. Today I saw lots. I stopped to take a photo of one snake that had been run over. I didn’t get too close in case it was still alive because it looked like a very recent casualty. It was stinking hot again so at 1 p.m. I stopped for a few hours for internet and coffee in the comfort of an aircon room. When I finally got back to the coast I was ready to camp straight away.
I cycled out of town and straight to the sea. There was only a pier and a rocky coast. So I returned to the main road and continued for a few kms before turning off again. I ended up cycling through a Muslim village right on the beach with goats and chickens running around. Was a little busy for my liking so I moved on till I came across a temple. I cycled through it to the beach………..which was nice and empty…………..just a few fishing boats at one end and nothing else. I put the tent up and the lovely yellow attracted some massive hornets. Tent up it was straight in for a nice swim. I am now drying off and writing this blog in the grounds of the temple while utilizing a table and chair………..much more comfortable then sitting on the sand. The monks have come over and invited me for tea and to wash which I will be very happy to do. Later in the evening I joined the monks for coffee while they made homemade cigarettes and smoked them. Something I thought was completely against their belief. The monks didn’t speak much English so it was difficult to communicate……………so soon after my coffee I left. There was a lot of thunder and lightning out to sea. I counted it to see if it was coming my way. My new tent hasn’t been tested yet……..and I’m not that confident……………….I think there could be problems. It might look good but I have noticed some design faults.
DAY 408: HUI SAI – SAI KHAO
START: 6:45 – FINISH: 15:00 – DISTANCE: 100 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 09
Being a Sunday the road was nice and quiet this morning as I cycled along the coast past the fish ponds and small wooden houses on stilts surrounded by palm trees…………….best of all you could still see the ocean. On the 408 there are no more flash service stops.
These have been replaced with a one pump and a dirty toilet…………I’d rather go in the bush. I have been making good progress heading south even with a few detours. My days in Thailand are numbered. I am now only 85km from the border.
Tomorrow I will cycle up to the border town. Then the following day its Malaysia. I stopped early today so I could camp near the water of a big inlet. There is no beach to swim in……………but a lovely spot to watch the sunset. I had some visitors last night who brought food and drinks and as quickly as they came they were gone.
DAY 409: SAI KHAO – SADAO
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 13:30 – DISTANCE: 73 KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 58
I woke late this morning because I was camped in the shade………..so I never noticed the sun coming up. I cycled back 1 km to where I had dinner the previous night but this time for breakfast. Though I did have the same chicken fried rice and an iced coffee. Sitting on the water I got very comfortable………..but I did get moving around 8 a.m. Cycled 37 km to a mid-size town Hat Yai which had a massive Tesco supermarket. I went in there and had a big spend up with some of the Thai Barts I would have had left over after I had crossed the border tomorrow. I was stopped and had the bike quickly searched going in o the Tesco carpark.I was pushing my luck when I took my bike into the mall because they weren’t having any of that
I have camped 8 out of the last 10 days. But tonight I will stay in a guest house so I can do some washing and clean myself up. Arriving in Sadao I have found the typical dirty border town and the typical run-down hotel to go with it. I am glad I am only staying one night……………….I often say it but I wish I was in my tent………it’s a lot cleaner. Looking forward to a new country……….and one I have never been to before. Not sure what to expect. But don’t think I will have it as good as Thailand where you were never far from a 7/11. Come 10 p.m. the market quickly cleared and the streets became empty with no-one……..except from my hotel window I watched some rather large rats roaming the streets.
DAY 410: SADAO THAILAND – KOLA SALA MALAYSIA
START: 8:00 – FINISH: 16:45 – DISTANCE: 92 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 30
I still had a few thousand Bart left over so I took it to the bank to change. They only directed me to the back of a chemist shop. How strange you can’t change your money in a bank! Money changed I headed for the border, just 15 km away. It turned out to be a fantastic border to cross. It took a whole 4 minds to cycle up to the Thai customs to get stamped out and to get in to Malaysia was just a stamp as well. No paper work and no money.
I wish all the borders were like this. I am so glad I didn’t bother going to the Malaysian embassy in Bangkok to get the visa in advance. That would have been a waste of time. As soon as you enter Malaysia there is a tourist office. Here I picked up a map of Malaysia and other helpful brochures. So glad I couldn’t buy a road map because from 50 km to the border I had been going into every 7/11 or service station. With the tourist office map no need to buy one now. There is only one road from the border and it is the highway. The roads in Malaysia are very good. I took the highway for about 50 km before pulling off and visiting Alor Setar, the old capital city. I had a quick look at some important building such as the old Mosque, the clock tower and the 250 year monument. After a flying visit to Alor Setar I headed west to the coast. In two days I have gone from the East coast of Thailand to the west coast of Malaysia. From watching sunrises to watching sunsets.
Getting to the coast there was no beach to find……..just a sea wall that went for miles and was built to stop the rice fields from flooding. As I cycled along the gravel and sometimes muddy wall I passed through a small fishing village. I got far enough away from the village before I camped. Some young guys found me………….then disappeared coming back again with food and drink. They had come to smoke marajuana………….which they did. From the sea wall were mud flaps that went out some way to the start of the waves. To the South was an island and strangely leading to the island was a 2 km long bridge. Cows and goats came wandering past my tent.