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 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

Day 65 Hua Hin to Prachuap Kiri Khan. Rain and Vomiting.

96km/6hrs. As usual hard shoulder of flat boring road but better than western motorways as not separated from life of places passing through and can easily stop. Again could not find small roads which apparently do exist as an alternative to motorway. Didn’t want to spend an hour driving along a road to find it a dead-end and having to return the same way.
Started late as an Aussie gave me the ‘Top 100 Albums of all time’ to copy which took 1.5 hours. A Nepali works at the guest house and a Filipino is looking for work there. Salary is 9,000B/$300 a month with 6 days on and two off and 8 hour days. Seems that Thailand is at the stage economically when those from other countries are looking for work here.
Rained twice today. Could see the dark clouds looming and waiting. At the beginning the first down pour I ducked into a small cafe with friendly staff and good food. I tried to leave after the red curry but then they brought out a newly baked layered cream cake with blueberry sauce so I stayed a bit longer. Three solders sat for all this time on a table skimming through smart phone messages. When I left the rain had finished and I felt slightly noxious not knowing what was to come.
I tried to out run the darkening clouds but 1.5km before my destination the sky opened. If I hadn’t had that freshly baked layered cream cake I would have arrived before the storm. I tried riding through it but visibility became so bad that I couldn’t see the road properly and more seriously trucks would not be able to see me. I sheltered in a small closed restaurant and waited.
Maggie’s Homestay is the sort of place the guests run themselves to a great extent. The cheapest rooms (150B) are just a row of plywood rooms with netting on the top of walls for ventilation and a bed. Maggie told me proudly that the space used to be a car park. This was no surprise. I met the fellow guests which is almost compulsory. One interesting Indian woman gave me lots of sea food that she had cooked which resulted in food poisoning and an interesting night vomiting. Leaving tomorrow thus became very unlikely.

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my room Maggie’s homestay

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entrance to Prachuap Khiri Khan

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cafe with freshly baked layered cream cake and blue berry sauce

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banana stop

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arrived

 

Maggie's homestay Prachuap khiri Khan

Maggie’s homestay Prachuap khiri Khan

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deal with the monkeys to get to the top

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Day 64 Hua Hin

Needed to write a job application so strayed but internet down most of the day.

Aussie in my GH told me, ‘I am thinking of going to NE Thailand as it is still supposed to be poor and that means easier to get a girl. That’s what I usually do.’

Bought gel cycling gloves. Didn’t want to spend the money but the $1.5 gardening gloves were not giving me padding and my right hand has lost some sensitivity and is weak.

Coffee in second hand book shop reading about Australian drug smugglers suffering in Thailand jail. Buying rats to eat to keep alive and beating of prisoners to death by guards.

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drying squid

drying squid

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tourist and new girl friend

tourist and new girl friend

railway station. olderst in Thailand

railway station. olderst in Thailand

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painting the station.

painting the station.

motorbike taxis

motorbike taxis

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Hua Hin is an international destination

Hua Hin is an international destination

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