Day 72 Sichon to Nakorn Sri Thammarat. Rain

after70km/4hrs

Flat 401 road all the way with places for food and water. Racer would be more effective on these roads in central and south Thailand.

Woke late due to phone alarm not working. Wanted to stay the day but the pile driver dissuaded me. I wanted to decide over breakfast which facilitated the decision. A kathoey (lady boy) walked up with the menu with an excessive swing of the hips and said,’ where you froom’. ‘Fried rice with pork’ I replied not in the mood to be chatted up before breakfast. He swung off and sat with the cook for a while and she then wandered off towards the kitchen. She returned after 10 minutes with a piece of meat in each hand asking staff to smell it. I left.

 

More mosques, jilbabs (head covering) and Malay faces as I go south.

I stopped at a 7/11 to demonstrate how to eat 4 choc bars in 2 min while dripping all over the floor. Then came a Tesco Lotus where I stocked up with porridge. As I walked in covered in mud, dripping with squelching shoes land saw a girl cleaning the floor. I smiled at the situation but she did not see the humour. I had lunch and wondered at the lack anything that was real in the store except the food that was once alive and some of the customers who seemed to be vaguely living.

Thai Hotel, Nakorn Sri Thammart 350B for fan room is good hotel with staff who let one put ones bike in the hotel office. No town looks good in the rain and this one is no exception. I found chicken soup to help my cold and went back through a dripping town.

it didn't play. just opened up and let it all fall

it didn’t play. just opened up and let it all fall

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now seeing a lot of mosques.

now seeing a lot of mosques.

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monks in was opposite my hotel

view from hotel window

view from hotel window

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Day 71 Surat Thani to Sichon

77km/4hrs

Heavy cold and didn’t sleep well with AC that only knew freezing or off. I turned it off and woke in a pool of sweat. So not too keen to leave but couldn’t stay in that room. Heavy rain delayed departure but the hotel has a Chinese restaurant downstairs so got breakfast. Asked way to Sichon but people in restaurant did not seem interested and others kept trying to direct to direct me to one of the tourist islands. That’s why people come to Surat Thani. Rain stopped but was only fooling as usual and started again 15 min after I left and continued all day. Dirty water from road sprayed up on me from back and front. Guess that’s why they invented mudguards.

Getting more Muslim. Mosque across river in Surat Thani, jilbabs (head coverings) and Muslim restaurants with Islamic script and large photos of Mecca.

Expected expensive resorts in Sichon but Prasarnsarok Resort gave an old bungalow for 400B rather than the others for 1,600 and above. Beautiful crescent beach and friendly staff. Went for swim and am now listening to a tubby grey haired westerner playing a guitar on the beach for himself as the sun sets. Could be worse.

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bike looking wet and miserable

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old bungalow at Prasarnsorak resort

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beach from Prasarnsorok resort

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Prasaransorok resort

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tubby westerner playing guitar well at dusk

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Day 70 Lamae to Surat Thani

107km/7hrs

Country roads most of way (4112 & 417 into Surat Thani). Flat but few slight hills. Good road. Food and drink available. Ban Don hotel 400B is fine and good friendly service. Even got bars on the windows to hang ones washing.

I got the impression that the youth managing the resort was not too sad to see me leave. I gave him a cheery hello and thank you while offering him the key but he just nodded at the counter and turned his back. No matter, I don’t think  we were destined to become close friends.

I didn’t get lost for a change but did have a dog attack. Two women were chatting at a road junction and as I passed their dogs rushed me. I managed to out run them when expressing my disapproval to the women. ‘I would appreciate it if you could keep better control of your lively dogs’ or something very similar. I have a respiratory infection so left a trail of phlegm in my wake today.

Paddy has made way for plantations. Rubber but mainly palm. People beeping and waving encouragement and generally very friendly. Lots of places for food and water.

Lonely planet guide made Surat Thani sound very sleazy. They suggested getting here and leaving the same day and if one had to stay not leaving the hotel. It is not so bad. A few nice coffee places, a good night market with better food than in most other places and a Cool club. I imagined girls mobbing you as you left the hotel shouting, ‘Hello, you handsome’. Actually the town is a bit dead after 9pm.

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garbage picker, Surat Thani

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street from my hotel

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not a nice road going into Surat Thani for last 20km

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motorbike mechanic

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quiet country roads for most of the day

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roads in south are a bit too straight

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obvious large Chinese community in Surat Thani

obvious large Chinese community in Surat Thani

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I didn’t see much other night life around

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Doesn’t look a bad hotel just up the road from Ban Don hotel

 

Day 69 Champhon to Lamae (total 3,038 km so far)

105km/6.5hrs

Small roads and highway (AH2). Little hilly in places. Plenty of places for food and water but gaps of about 20km.

Veg breakfast with Ralf. Then he wanted to rent his second motorbike so I drove it from his place to my hotel. Thus left late. Local road for first 10km. Turn right out of Sri Champhon hotel and keep going straight and diagonally across the highway when meet it. Then highway until Lang Suan after 70km and then took 4134 to signed turn off to Lamae (25km).

Lang Suan is a reasonably sized town but didn’t seem anything special and actually became boring as I tried to get out of it. Turn right straight after going under the railway line and keep going.

Light showers until about 5km before Lamae and then opened up where there was no shelter. Why does it do that? Arrived at Lamae soaked to a sour faced cow at the resort and a youth that had obviously just woken up and didn’t appreciate it. Only thing he said to me was, ‘Money!’. I showed how I was soaking wet and tired and would give it to him after a shower. He replied, ‘money!’ and I closed the door. Some resorts and hotels have very pleasant staff while others have studied being surly and rude.

Lamae has a railway station, few shops and few places to eat and one resort in town and one just before. First impressions are not too positive which are correct. Got accommodation (no wifi again) food and beer so not so bad for a night. There are also statues of the famous Thai wallaby at the garage. That is about as exciting as it gets in Lamae.

However, even one horse towns like this have a restaurant where people gather at night to eat, drink and socialize.

river and cables

river and cables

most foreigners do not know about the Thai wallaby

most foreigners do not know about the Thai wallaby

Day 67 Prachuap Khiri Khan to between Bang Saphan Yai and Bang Saphan Noi

 

 

This was not planned. I planned to have a nice bungalow on the beach and to take a late afternoon swim not sit in a resort besides the motorway and listen to trucks passing.

 

119km/8hrs. Flat but some small ups that made it interesting. Highway a duel carriage way rather than motorway and tree shaded for lot fo the way. Also managed to get on the coast road and then lost it again. More on that later.

 

Day started well with a visit to the Ao Manao air force beach just south of town (not 6km as LP says). Take a bike as best beach is a few km past the check point. I signed in but then left at the south exit which did not seem to be manned. I doubt they will bother looking for me. Good beach, food, drink and accommodation available. Then found myself on the coast road for the first time and kept on it most of the way. Quiet, often close to beach and tree lined. Bit further is an aquarium which I didn’t visit.

 

Tip: dont park your bike on a red ant nest.

 

Saw a wat on a hill so to remind myself what it was like climbing a hill I visited it. A Disney array of turrets and spires with all the glitz but still impressive.

 

Lot of resorts on the beach road but more the western idea of resort rather than the simple places I have stayed in. These are plush with lots of style. Took a few dead ends but only lost a few km. Was happily on the coast road until Bang Saphan where I stopped for noodles and water. Always better to arrive fed and watered especially if the accommodation has a dog. Makes one more peaceful. I must have taken a wrong turning out of Saphan, on the way to some nice beach accommodation, because I ended up on the main highway again. Not so many resorts now. Nearly stopped at one resort but fumbling in my pocket for a stone, peddling hard and growling at an attacking dog made it impossible. Eventually found one as it was getting dark. Basic room with AC for 400B take it or leave it. I tried to ride down the wrong way on the hard shoulder but trucks coming straight at me and a pack of dogs changed my mind. But the owner had an old frozen packet of fried rice and no beer. It was horrible. The sink has a dranage hole at the side (see photo) so one can wash ones feet at the same time as ones hands.

 

Tip: don’t wear shoes when washing ones feet.

 

Not the way I intended to end the day but it was the most interesting days riding for a while.

beach near Phecuap Khiri Khan

beach near Phecuap Khiri Khan

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fishing village in contrast to the resorts. Real holiday resorts

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happy cyclist on beautiful beach road unaware he was going to get lost

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fishing boats

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Buddhist Disney land

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bigger fishing boats.

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railway station

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you can wash your feet as you wash your hands

you can wash your feet as you wash your hands

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resort some where on highway south

 

Day 68 Somewhere to Champhon. Frustrating but ended well.

120km/9hrs. Flat and frustrating as got lost a lot trying to stay off the highway. Palm and rubber plantations. Bit hilly the second half of day just when one doesn’t want it.
Lot of dead ends but meant I discovered a number of beautiful beaches a secluded resorts.
Day started after 1km with a bloody puncture. Tire came off so could not even push it. Stopped and some men came out from a community party of some sort. They were looking for entertainment rather than the desire to help. Then prodded the inner tube and squeezed the tire and discussed the gears and generally got in the way. After fixing the puncture under the close scrutiny of the audience I was not able to pump up the tire. After a while of watching me dripping in sweat they got bored and wandered off. I then dismantled and greased the pump. Becoming a real mechanic. Then managed cycle to the nearest air pump with a very helpful and friendly woman and a disinterested man who seemed disturbed from his soap opera. A common occurrence. Woman working and man lounging.
Although delayed about an hour due to the puncture I still decided to get off the highway and get lost for another hour trying to find the route. When busy cycling north instead of south met Willy on a motorbike wearing an American Air Force uniform. It wasn’t his uniform but good for riding bikes but strange that the name and rank was still on the uniform. He speculated it was from Afghanistan. Did the owner loose it or are uniforms sold when a soldier dies? Willy had been in Vietnam which he considered as much of a mistake as future American wars. We discussed US foreign policy for a while and then he gave me poor directions and I got lost again. When eventually on the correct road and feeling good after a good lunch and thinking I only had 70km to go I went around a corner and saw a sign saying ‘Champhon 98km’. When on the highway hours earlier had only 85km to go. This was impossible and would have made 150km day so I resolved to cycle until 6pm and then try and find somewhere to change. As often happens my luck then changed. I think it was karma for living such an exemplary life. I found a new road that reduced the distance and then later a sign saying ‘Short cut to Champhon’ so I arrived before dark having cycled 30km less than feared and it didn’t rain.
When studying my town map German Ralf stopped and gave directions. He said, ‘Pity you did not arrive an hour earlier. We could have cycled up a mountain’. I suggested that after 120km I may not have been too enthusiastic.
Hotel Sri Champhon (440B) is conveniently on the road entering Champhon and  not bad. Friendly, although the room boy looked a bit shocked when I rode my bike into the hotel and up the corridor but he still waved friendlily.
Met Ralf later for a drink outside his friend’s shop. His friend is seriously sick and has no insurance and thanks  to the new 7/11 two doors away little business. He lay on a bed at the back of the shop looking very pale. Ralf had been in Thailand 20 years and speaks fluent Thai. Not the usual expat. He first came to Thailand as a student with his to be wife and they fell in love with it. Their son was born here and speaks without an accent. Ralf is fully integrated with no western contact and lots Thai friends. He makes money from buying and selling old bank notes which used to be a hobby. Lovely to meet someone who does not want to be here just for the women and cheap drink.

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Ralf

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A pleasant dead end

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another pleasant dead end. Many more and they would loose their appeal

 

 

Day 66 Prachuap Khiri Khan

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Food poisoning last night meant waking up late and  feeling a bit weak.

While Hua Hin has made a lot of nothing much Prachuap has not made much of what it has and it has more. It is a nice small town with attractive beach and coast line.

Went to veg cafe next door for brunch and met 70 year old hyperactive American who had escaped twice from a Colombian prison in 1970s. He has written a book on his drug smuggling, prison and escape. One does not tend to meet drug smugglers and prison escapees in the local cafe at home.

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town at night

Thought, unwisely, to adjust the gears to stop some slight rubbing I should have learnt from previous experience at anything even remotely mechanical. An hour later the gears did not work at all but after watching a few utube videos on how to adjust gears and another hour I managed to get the gears back to as they were previously. and went out to celebrate. I met two more English teachers. I wonder how many are in Thailand. One was from Ireland and the other from Yorkshire but with a few, Sorry, what was that’ I understood most of what they said. Paul told me about the Rohingya extremist coming from Burma to southern Thailand and causing problems. There are not any as far as I know! Barry had just build a house with three bed rooms for £25,000 which was lucky as he and his wife were not getting on.

Later watched a Frenchman try and teach a Chinese girl English. ‘ I have name