Day 57 Nakhon Sawan to Wat Sing: flat but ups and downs

95km/7hrs. Flat roads. A little directionally disadvantaged at times. A 50c day. Things do not always work out the way one wishes but sometimes that is better. Today was one of those days. After the 130km day yesterday I decided to do far less today and give myself time to explore my destination. I rode 20km more than intended and went to another destination.

If one has not had enough coffee in the morning I find the best way to wake up fast is a dog attack. It gets the heart going and focuses the mind very effectively. I was not sure how to get out of Nakhon Sawan but definitely wanted to. A bit of a business hub with lots of Chinese and Sikhs. I followed the river knowing that was the right direction and found myself riding along a small pleasant road. While enjoying the quiet and I heard a bark and five dogs ran at me. I moved from 22km to 33km in a few seconds and out ran them. Soon I reached a dead-end and realized that I would have to go back  the way I’d come. While collecting rocks for the battle a farming woman came out of a house and directed me to the road I wanted. I could go through her property to get there. As I started she said, ‘No, dog!’. They were her three dogs but she could hardly stop them from attacking me by waving a large stick. Don’t people have cages or chains to stop these cures from attacking strangers?

I got on the correct road that was large and boring so followed my nose and sense of direction and got quickly lost. I cycled a small road besides the river. In fact the wrong side of the river but it was beautiful so didn’t care. Thais are very helpful with directions but not too accurate. When I thought I had reached a dead-end I asked two men for directions. They alternatively pointed me in the three possible directions with equal conviction before changing their minds. They then discussed them at length before telling me to continue the way I was going. Eventually the dirt track turned back to a small pot holed road with lots of dogs hiding in ambush. When I stopped to try to work out where I was people often stopped and offered help. even if it added to the confusion.

Then my bike let me down with the second puncture of the trip. Try finding the hole by sound or feel in a breeze besides a motorway. When I managed to fix it my pump could not put enough air into the high pressure tire. I am a patient man but messing about with the puncture in the heat for nearly an hour would have a saint biting his tongue. I think I said a few ‘oh bother’, ‘what a nuisance’ and ‘darn it’ while I kicked the tire along the road. A kilometer after blowing the tire up enough to just about ride it I found one of those lovely oily workshops with an equally nice man covered with grease working on a bit of an engine but very happy to blow up the tire.

I managed to get slightly directionally inaccurate a couple of times further and then at 5pm when on the right road but with 35km to go decided to stop at the nearest accommodation. Easier said than done. The Thai direction giving problem kept me riding around for  30 min and then on reaching the resort suggested had a strange encounter with the owner. ‘Have you got a room please?; ‘Yes, but it is very hot’. ‘Have you got a room with AC then?’ ‘Yes but it is closed.’ I then asked her where another resort was and she directed me along a small road where there was nothing. A man waved vaguely at a paddy field when asked directions. Eventually riding up a road in a vague hope of finding something I came across a beautiful resort with bungalows in a lotus pond. The lotus is of course the Buddhist plant because it comes from the murky bottom of the pond to bloom into a beautiful flower just like the progression to enlightenment. Unfortunately some Buddhists prefer to wallow in the mud as in Myanmar.

away from the big roads and a bit directionally confused

away from the big roads and a bit directionally confused

looked like the end of the road but wasn't. Often the case

looked like the end of the road but wasn’t. Often the case

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fortifying the river for future floods

not too much traffic on this section

not too much traffic on this section

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on a road besides the river that is not on the maps. Not much of a road which is perhaps why

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still happy with the ride

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not so happy now. bloody puncture

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house boat

living on the river

living on the river

my accommodation for the night

my accommodation for the night

my veranda over the lotus pond

my veranda over the lotus pond

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sign for the resort in Wat Sing for anyone trying to find it

Day 56 Kamphaeng Phet to Nakhon Sawan

130k/7.5 hrs. straight flat roads. 1048 road which is quieter than 101. Last 40km more interesting on smaller road most of the time.

Had my first dog attack for a few days last night. I shouted at one dog as it made a move but another came out of no where with intent. I put on a spurt and its run failed.

One can tell when not slept well. I could not find the padlock for my bungalow door. I searched the room, went through how I had come in last night and looked through my panniers. I racked my brain for some place it could be. I apologized to the owner who looked puzzled and pointed out that the door did not have a padlock.
Boring flat road but with a few interesting distractions.

Three Js GH in KP gave me a present when I left and wanted a photo with me and my bike.

Passed on resort of brightly coloured bungalows and a windmill. I suspect a Dutch influence.

Khong Khung town, after 40km, looked nice and had a Tesco Lotus shop which is the only place I have found that has porridge. A definite plus.

Met the first cyclist on the road after 56 days. Met four previously but in cafes. This one was French coming the opposite direction. We exchanged information and I admired his gear. No panniers held together with zip ties and karibinas for this man. I also doubt his stylish cycling shirt was bought in a charity shop sale. Nice bloke though. We went through how we deal with dogs and when he said, ‘and I don’t want to use it but..’ we both pulled out our tear gas sprays.

Nakhon Sawan seems just another city and not too exciting. The French cyclist said he had spent two hours trying to find a reasonably priced hotel and  showed me where it was on a map. On entering the city it was clear I could spend two hours trying to find it especially as he did not know the name. I stopped to examine the map in front of an emergency medical centre and then thought that they should know the city well. After a group discussion they worked out which hotel it was and one of them then led me through town on his motorbike.

During the last 40km today the bike became sluggish . I checked the tires but they still had plenty of air and the brakes were not rubbing so I stopped a couple of times to give it time to recover and cool down. Also getting to places after 5pm does not give time to look around so I think I will try some shorter days and stay in smaller towns and see how the bike preforms then.

to big to ignore

to big to ignore

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now typical SE Asia paddy fields

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somewhere to wait for the bike to cool down

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demonstrating the eating of the famous banana and honey sandwich as previously mentioned. If you also drink soya milk it is a bit like a smoothy, but I didn’t have any soya milk

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Danger!! This may not look like much of a problem but if a cyclist is trying to open a chocolate bar it can be a serious hazard.

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what an intrepid cyclist looks like after 130km

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hotel corridor. Not strong on style

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Durian seller

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to help future cyclists to find the hotel in case they do not have the emergency medical services to take them there

 

Day 55 Sukhothai to Kamphaeng Phet

80km/4 hours. flat busy road. Less busy and more pleasant in 2nd half of journey.

One can see the historical park from the road around it and it costs 100B t enter. That’s two meals, five ice creams and one and half beers. Historical parks are great but one needs some perspective.

Seems to be a lot of fighting in south of Thailand. Only targeting security forces but may get a train to miss it out to avoid the wrong place at wrong time scenario. Activists complying of security forces rapping Muslim women. The other news is Thailand is bracing itself for potential floods such as in 2011.

Nice town with some action in the form of night market, coffee shops and live music bars.

A couple of days ahead of over 120km a day.

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No idea what this is. Buddha’s mother?

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Shiva and Ganesh statues with Buddhas

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Kampheng Phet historical park UNESCO.

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city moat

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city pillar. cars beep when they past it to show respect

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city pillar housed in this

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ancient clock tower from twelve century

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Chinese don’t hold back

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intrepid cyclist with ping river in background

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my accommodation. another wooden hut

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Day 54 Sukhothai

Not feeling 100% and Sukhothai is nice place so spent day.

Bought an MP3 player and then spend hours tying to put music on it. Idea is that when flat and boring I can listen to music or New Yorker magazine fiction pod casts. Took it back to the shop and a girl there patiently spent over an hour trying to put music on it. She eventually downloaded software to convert my music to MP3 compatible. Impressed with her patients and desire to help me. I later tried it myself and everything became corrupted and now I can only listen to Alice Cooper, Dirty Diamonds‘ album.

Why do Americans often wear caps with names obscure American sports teams when they travel. I would have expected then to pretend to be Canadian rather than advertise their nationality. The only team I recognize is The Lakers but no idea if it is American Football, Basketball or Baseball.

Met Greg and his wife Daun in evening. Nice couple. Greg is still grieving for his monkey which died a few months ago. ‘The hardest thing that happened to me; it was my life’. He has commissioned a carving of the monkey and already changed the artist once because they did not capture it properly. Now he is on the way to Chiang Mai to sort out the present carver. As many expats he told me horror stories about a friend who got into trouble with  Thais and did not know how to walk away and was killed in the last fight. Apparently there are a lot more guns in Thailand than people.

motorbike with seating in front. Happy to take you anywhere where they can get commission.

motorbike with seating in front. Happy to take you anywhere where they can get commission. They sleep the rest of the time.

my accommodation in Sukhothai

my accommodation in Sukhothai

what every Thai man wants. A couple of silly yappy toy dogs.

what every Thai man wants. A couple of silly yappy toy dogs.

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Day 53 Sawanhalok to Sukhothai

Thailand‘s first capital and a golden age meaning a lot of other peoples suffered.
40km 2hrs. Then further 25km going to the historical city site and back. Took 1195 not the busy 101 road. Flat and fast. Just top gear and head down.
In the morning on extracting my earplugs I could hear the traffic waiting for me. Hotel staff (Saengsin Hotel) very nice and let me put my bike in a dinning room. In fact they suggested it as opposed to one hotel I remember where the receptionist told me to put it outside and then complained when I chained it to the stairs when she wasn’t looking.
Sukhothai new town is ok and has a string of cheap guest houses in one street. Stayed in Garden House in a nice wooden bungalow in a garden (350B) with pleasant English speaking staff. I left immediately after checking in for the old city about 12km away. I have been there a few times as a tour guide in 1990s but it was definitely worth returning especially without a herd of wining tourists.
The style, as my more educated readers will know, is considered the most classic of Thai styles at a time of great resurgence of religious and architecture. That’s what the guide book says anyway and the ruins are not to shabby or rather are shabby of course as ruins should be but also impressive. The 9 kings in 13 and 14 century were very busy directing their slaves. They expanded the Thai kingdom which in other words means orchestrated a good deal of stealing of land, rapping and pillaging and subjugating the local population. I won’t bother naming the wats and chedis in my photos because you don’t care and I don’t remember and would prefer to go out for a beer than look then up in a guide book.
Almost as exciting as the temples was the smell of marinated chicken barbecuing at the side of the road. A lovely jolly fat lady gave me chicken, papaya salad and sticky. It brought back memories of Issan.
I discovered that the statue I have seen in various towns is of King Ramkhamhaeng who reigned from 1275 to 1317 and is famous for the subjugation and stealing of a lot of peoples land so expanding his kingdom. I watched Thais pray to his statue.

Poo Restaurant has great Belgium beer but probably the worse food I have had in Thailand.
In evening met some Englishmen who were of course teaching English. Nothing wrong with Birmingham or Geordie English but wonder if the students know that most people will have trouble understanding these accents especially with a Thai accent thrown into the mix.

straight road ahead

straight road ahead

fat jolly lady cooking marinated chicken. Beautiful!

fat jolly lady cooking marinated chicken. Beautiful!

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first of a number of photos of wats

first of a number of photos of wats

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If the donating of tat gave one credit there would be a lot of enlightened Thais

If the donating of tat gave one credit there would be a lot of enlightened Thais

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monks arrived with their driver and SUV. I seem to remember something about abandoning material goods and austerity.

monks arrived with their driver and SUV. I seem to remember something about abandoning material goods and austerity.

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Ex Hindu temple in Khmer style

Ex Hindu temple in Khmer style

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obvious Sinhalese influence

obvious Sinhalese influence

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the famous king who expanded his empire

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how he expanded his empire.

Rama V was obviously a bit of an archeologist. These kings. often have great talents from art to quantum physics.

Rama V was obviously a bit of an archeologist. These kings. often have great talents from art to quantum physics.

In respect for Rama V a furn tree was planted which has been useful for electrical instillation and shading rubbish bins.

In respect for Rama V a furn tree was planted which has been useful for electrical instillation and shading rubbish bins.

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heavy rain in the evening

heavy rain in the evening

live music in choppers bar

live music in choppers bar

Day 52 Thoren to Sisawankhalok

95km (cycled around Sisawankhok to get it to 100) in 5.5hrs. 1048 road all the way. Left out of hotel and first left. One 30 min hill but after that undulating and no problem. last 25km flat and bit boring. Plenty places for food and water except about 20 km around hill area. There is a resort at about 53 and 55km from Thoren.

Shinny wooden houses and lots of butterflies. Some killed by careless motorists.

Sisawankhalok is ok but not the charming town Lonely Planet talks about. Also no need to go far out of town to find the Chinese restaurant they recommend. LP used to be written by travelers but now it is by journalists used to a different standard and have gathered some information without visiting the place. The Saengin Hotel (360B) is fine but not on the main road as LP states.

When one is very thirsty and hungry and after managing to order and is about to stuff it down a nudge on the leg and, ‘Hello friend where you from’ is not always welcome. One is apt to forget normal decorum but I politely conversed with him through mouths of chicken and rice. Glad I did as his interaction with other customers made it clear that he was a simple friendly man unaware of some of societies customs.

On the way a stopped in front of me and a woman got out of the passenger side and waved me down. In many countries I would have immediately been on alert and passed but as it was Thailand I stopped. she asked me if i was ok because she had seen me holding my side up in the mountain. I assured her I was find and we parted with smiles and thanks. This puzzled me and only later did I realize it was probably when I was wondering why I had not lost that ring of fat from my guts.

Not a lot of nightlife in town but my hotel does have a coffee shop until midnight where there is karaoke which requires a beer or two to deaden the pain. But today is Vesak:
‘This festival celebrates the Birthday of Buddha. In one day, the Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This festival takes place on the first full moon of May.’ Quite neat really but means in respect the hotel coffee shop does not sell alcohol.  Luckily the reception five metres away is happy to sell as much as one wants and the singing reaches my room.

jungle again

jungle again

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If only car drivers know what they did

If only car drivers know what they did

empty road

empty road

worth rushing to get to

worth rushing to get to

a cyclists favorite

a cyclists favorite

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a special rock with an interesting story about how it got there. Think I've seen it before

a special rock with an interesting story about how it got there. Think I’ve seen it before

another rock with a story. Usually it is said to look like an animal it has no resemblance to.

another rock with a story. Usually it is said to look like an animal it has no resemblance to.

Sawankhakok railway station

Sawankhakok railway station

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they really trust their customers

Feel a bit achy so a fairly short day tomorrow and around Sukhotai historical park should be good.

Day 51 Li to Thoren

Day 51 Li to Thoren
50km. 2.5hrs. Up over bit of a hill but steady climb and very little traffic. Then down hill through jungle. Beautiful couple of hours cycling. Thinking of it if I had been coming the other way it would have been hell up a large never ending hill through humid jungle. All depends on the angle one sees things.
As going south should be all down hill now which will be nice.
Day started as many with me debating over breakfast whether to go or stay. Today especially as bit sore after the ride yesterday. But us cyclists do not give up easily so after rice porridge and coffee I set of at 10am and at 10.10 was sitting chatting to Sugar in the coffee shop she works in. 10.45 I eventually left expecting a hard slog up a mountain. Instead had enough of a climb to hurt a bit but nothing special and a beautiful down hill to Thoren. Just after leaving Sugar (great name) I nearly had an incident with a dog but luckily saw it lining me up with speed and direction for a lunge and mitigated it with a stone from my pocket. There is the occasional truck coming the other way and the odd scattering of unexpected pot holes so not a good time to relax and blow ones nose. I had a bit of a nasty accident in London once trying to blow my nose riding over a speed bump. They don’t mention dangers like this in the cycle proficiency course.
Thoren is pleasant enough especially the rice and fatty pork with a vaguely edible source seller who after seeing me go the wrong direction to the hotel she had directed me got her motor bike and led me there. One has to go through the town, cross the A1 and it is then slightly to the right (500B). There is another place 2km before town but I always like to cycle around town to get orientated or lost first and entertain the locals.

Heavy rain at 16.00. It’s sneaky. It rains a while and then stops until one goes out and then pours it down again. Rained almost constantly from 4 to 7. Rainy season has arrived.

Had a hair cut. I said, ‘Nit noy’ (a little bit) and she laughingly said, ‘Nit noy’ as she sliced chunks off. Still only cost 60B ($2). As it got a bit cold I decided to have hot lemon and honey. I asked a cafe if they had it and they said, ‘yes but no lemon’.

entrance to wat in Thoren

entrance to wat in Thoren

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my hotel

Sugar and her friend

Sugar and her friend

Sugar. Children are taught how to pose at a young age here

Sugar. Children are taught how to pose at a young age in Thailand

the rice porridge seems to be distorting the usually slender physic.

the rice porridge seems to be distorting the usually slender physic.

there can not be enough glitter

there can not be enough glitter

empty road a head

empty road a head

surrounded by jungle

surrounded by jungle

cyclists are at their happiest going down hill with no traffic

cyclists are at their happiest going down hill with no traffic

more jungle

more jungle

river on entering Thoren

river on entering Thoren