Day 73 Naorn Sri Tammarat to Ranot. Not wet

110km/6hrs

Very very flat. 408 then left onto 4013 to Pak Phanang, Hua Sai (77km) and Ranot. Mostly followed the coast closely. A stretch of about 35km without much food or water possibilities. Tippawan GH in Ranot (350B) is az good deal with nice garden and lake for mosquitoes.

I noticed the Wat outside my window was not completed. Perhaps the monks gave the money to the poor instead.

Had to stop at the famous Wat Phra  Mahathat on the way out of town which looked better in the day light but not much. The wat is the largest in Southern Thailand. Founded by Queen Hem Chala over a thousand years ago. What does a queen become when reincarnated? A king? Her spirit looks after the town so not sure how she could be reincarnated. The gold spire weighs several 100kg but no one has weighted it.

After spending half the night  on the internet trying to understand the various reasons for a   slipping chain I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and cleaned the gears and chain with a screw driver and solved the problem. Perhaps I should put it on utube.

With straight flat roads averaged over 20km per hr. with little effort. Forecast is thunderstorms until July but only a little drizzle today until 7pm when it poured. More and more jilbabs and  mosques. Strange seeing women due to conditioning, desire to conform or religious belief and covering up in contrast to Thais who are very free. For example a boy in kindergarten may show his sexual orientation and play with the girls. No pressure on him to conform. An Afghan friend of mine went with his wife to study in Japan. She then stopped wearing the jilbab.

Now lot of goats also. From what I understand God asked Abraham to kill his son Issac as a test and t the last moment told him to kill and eat a goat instead and Muslims have eaten goats ever since.

Thought I was cleaver having a guest house next to a nice looking restaurant which of course closed at 6pm so had to walk 2 km in rain to find food in a bar where the girls all wanted to tell me they loved me and stir fried veg cost three times the usual.

 

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my place

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Tippawen GH and mosquito pond

 

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shrimp fishing

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Wat Phra Mahathat

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the queen and her brother

 

 

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a couple of peregrine falcons would sort those out

 

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seems like Shiva starting the Ganges

 

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no rain and fixed the bike

 

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can never have enough Buddhas

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cold cure

 

 

 

Day 58 Wat Sing to sing Buri

Day 58 Wat Sing to sing Buri
79km/6.5hrs (lot of time lost due to rain and punctures)
3183 road all the way. Flat, not too busy, hard shoulder and not too interesting. The centre of Thailand is the rice basket of the country. Paddy fields and now the rain has started water pumps along the canals and rivers irrigating fields.
Woke to another puncture. A veranda overlooking a lotus pond and sink with a plug was not a bad place to repair it though.
Saw a resort at 18 and another at 20km that both looked ok.
No rain for two days so was expecting a storm and not disappointed. The temperature dropped and the wind started. I ducked into a nursery (plants not children) with a cafe as the rain started. A SUV drew up and a monk with a helper and a driver came into the cafe. The helper handed the monk a piece of saffron cloth to sit on and served him while the driver sat at a different table. Buddhism is about giving up material things and being humble and serving. After 40 min of only light rain i decided to move on knowing what would happen. Within 300 metres it opened up and poured in bucket loads. I found a bus shelter and sat there for an hour until the storm had passed and it was only English rain. First time on the trip I used my old gortex jacket bought for $5 second hand in Malaysia in 2008. It socked up the water.
The rain stopped and with only 3 km to go I looked forward to a shower food and a cold beer. Then I had another puncture. This was the third in two days while previously I had one in two months. The guest house owner in Kampeng Phet gave me a lucky charm which may have been a clever revenge for me barganing down the price of the room. It will have to go. While pumping up the tire hoping it would get me to Sing Buri a local came over. My pumping the tire furiously and cursing was probably more interesting than sitting and staring into space all day. He told me the tire was flat, poked it and generally got in the way. However, he did point me in the direction of a puncture repair place. I walked a few hundred metres down a small lane and just as I was going to give up I found a wooden house with a tire on the gate post. A nice old man in Thai fishermen trousers looked a bit apprehensive but we were soon laughing and joking offering to swap his bike for mine. A great job for 20B and a pleasant experience from an unpleasant one. He looked ok in his Thai fisherman trousers which backpackers also favour in the effort to go native. They just look silly especially as the trousers are usually brightly coloured and of material such as satin.
I left the old puncture repair man in better spirits were further lifted when cycling around Sing Buri to get orientated I found a cafe selling papaya salad grilled chicken and sticky rice. The sun started to shine.
Sing Buri is a nothing special but I liked it. There are a number of hotels around the centre which is convenient. I chose the worst but still had bed, AC and shower that all sort of worked. I also spotted a tap and hose at the back of the hotel so washed the bike. The hotel guard/helper suggested I might want a women come to my room for a massage, saw my look and left smiling weakly.
Sung Sing Bar had live music and friendly staff. Don’t think they get many falangs. The singer welcomed me in English.

woke up to a flat tire but nice place to fix it

woke up to a flat tire but nice place to fix it

second puncture fixed by a very nice profesional

second puncture fixed by a very nice profesional

puncture fixer's wife

puncture fixer’s wife

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the lucky charm that brought storms and punctures

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my hotel in Sing Buri. not the best

 

Day 36 Phayao

Day 36 Phayao
Tip:
if you want to get up early and ride up a mountain don’t pop out for a quick beer at 9.20pm especially when there is an impending storm that could trap you in the bar for hours.
The owner of the bar was obviously a football fan who mercifully did not want to talk to me about it. Large photos on the wall of men tugging at their shirts with their mouths open and in large print, ‘Fearless and proud together’. Not sure what they have to be fearless about. Getting hit in the face with the ball or slipping up on damp grass? Proud of being able to make ludicrous amounts of money kicking a ball?
It took OAA until he was very pissed until he realized he spoke English and joined me. I had noticed his group earlier when a loud crash resulting from his wife making a sweeping gesture ending the existence of an empty bottle of whiskey and a large porcelain pig displayed on a shelf. This caused some amusement but the owner seemed to miss the funny side. We established where I came from a number of times as Oaa kept forgetting he had asked me and it was his best English sentence. Also that his wife’s name was Kai which did not mean egg or chicken as I pronounced it. He had two daughters of which the youngest was three months and this was the first time he had managed to escape her since she was born. Grandmother was baby sitting. Both daughters looked like him rather than his wife who was particularly attractive. This gave him some amusement but perhaps less to them later in life. He worked for the government and liked bodybuilding. He loved his friends who he had known for 20 years and who all would take a bullet for him as he would for them. This became a bit of a theme with big gestures of jumping in front of a bullet and me saving few ornaments and glasses. Apparently one has to jump sidewards with ones arms stretched out. Concerning the problems in the south of Thailand he felt strongly that Thailand was Buddhist and loved his king. He emphasized this by punching his chest. It was heart warming. He stressed that he was not gay and just wanted to talk to me. These topics revolved but the storm stopped and the bar closed after a few revolutions. I told him where I was from again and left.

Oaa

Oaa

I sat eating rice porridge and drinking coffee looking out at the mountains I should have been riding up and felt no regret. Later with explosive diarrhea from something at breakfast I had even less regrets.

Visitors like to have picnics besides the lake and locals arrive with mats and all the food and drink on motorbikes. Dried squid is also sold. I don’t recommend it. Some people react badly to it and I still shudder at the memory of the polluted atmosphere when a friend innocently ate one. It caused a bad atmosphere over a surprisingly large area.

Listened to nice music in the evening and watched a drunk policeman, gun bulging from T shirt’ drive away. Also got the chance to watch the women dance to the kissing fish again. Don’t think I fully understand the religions significance yet.

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lake from breakfast

lake from breakfast

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Everything you need for a picnic arrives on a motorbike

Everything you need for a picnic arrives on a motorbike

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Heroes shouting a lot

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A hero that is worshiped. Not sure what he did but suspect it was killing and conquering for personal benefit rather than helping the poor. Still the Uzbek national hero is Genghis Khan.

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Day 3 Kantharak to Ban Phum Saron

Day 3

04/04/13

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49 km.

Arms burnt and back painful. Lot stretching for legs also which are used to being under a desk. Covered all exposed bits in factor 50 and left at 10am. Not keen on the early starts. Flat, straight and hot again. Paid 100B for the ticket for Khao Pra Wihan national part which has the famous disputed temple complex and after some discussion with the border police it was decided I could cycle 8 km to the visitors centre and then walk the remaining 100m to the view point. The temple complex was closed to visitors. Everyone was smiling and friendly. Then the terrain changed and I struggled up hill. High military presence with dirt roads with check posts from previous conflict over the temple. Reminiscent of the dirt roads and check posts in Northern Sri Lanka. At Mo I Dong cliff people smiled and nodded to me and an old man came up and shock my hand. A border policeman offered to guard my bike while I went to the view point. The cycling down hill and back to Ban Plum Saron was good and the border police asked if I wanted a lift as he passed. Drank litres of water but not pissing at all. Leaves my body as soon as enters. Recorded 43 degrees today. The typical Issan lunch of grilled chicken, sticky rice and papaya salad again. This time not a whole chicken.

Stayed in the only place in ‘town’ which I later realised is a ‘resort’ (Lisat resort) meaning a place for sex workers or illicit sex with girlfriend or someone else’s wife. The giggling of the women showing me the rooms and the mention of another price should have given me the clue. The free condoms with the usual soap in the room clarified things. So saying it was comfortable and the only hassle I had was an old skinny man with a north of England accent who tried to get in thinking it was his room. I went in to ‘town’ , a few small shops and grass roofed eating places. Not even a 7/11. The place I went in to served food and had barbers at the back. A woman invited me to join her. She spoke English due to a previous American air force boyfriend. Besides the language he also gave her a son and was now with a younger woman. She felt no bitterness and boasted at his ability to drink until 4am. We discussed the disputed wat and she agreed that as good Buddhists they should form a committee and share it rather than fighting. We also agree that this was very unlikely while more fighting was. She said that people come from Bangkok for the day and go away and locals have to face the circumstances to the local economy and injuries due to shelling. A good friend of hers died from a Cambodian shell in the last outbreak of fighting.