Day 75 Songkhla to Pattani. No bombs.

105km/5hrs, 408 road leading to the 43.
A day in Songkhla would have been nice to see the museum and sit around drinking coffee and reading the sunday papers but by the time I hit the border I will be a day over my visa even now.
The girl working in the hotel told me she is from Chiang Mai and came here to find work. 1,800km.
She didn’t know how to get out of town towards Pattani so after waiting for the rain to ease I went to the tourist services which was a mistake. I think the woman was a little deranged. Our conversation went like this:
‘Can you tell me how to get to the 408 road to Pattani please. Is it to the right, left or straight at the end of this road? ‘
‘Mini bus to Hat Yai leave….’
(I had a bike helmet and gloves on and a bike behind me. )
No, I do not want to go to Hat Yai. I want to go to Pattani. Is it right, left, straight on at the end of this road?’
‘Pattani no good. Bang bang!’ (with fingers together as a gun)
‘Thanks but which way do I go at the end of this road?’
She got out a map and after me pointing a few times found the 408 and traiced it south until she came to the end of the map which was only of Songkhla. I pointed this out so she would stop looking for Pattani.
‘There is 408’ she said with satisfaction.
‘thanks but where do I go at the end of the bloody street?’
‘Over there’ she said waving her hand covering all three directions.
I thanked her still talking and guessed the direction correctly.
A bit strange seeing women in jilbabs and covered up again to help men resist immoral thoughts after the freedom of the Thais in shorts and short skirts.
Check points maned by young solders who grinned at me as I passed. Military also passing on motorbikes. Sighs saying end the violance and bombing. In Pattani I felt no threat but some military in the shadows and an armed police presence.
I stopped at a muslim beach shop and was charged double for water which of course means they are all dishonest.
Pattani is not an unpleaent place. Fishing boats moored in the river with washing and fishermen hanging all over them. I am probably the only western person in town but people only stare politely after I pass and I can hear the word ‘falang’ as I am pointed out to others.
Paradise GH is not but ok for a night at 400B. Can be hard to find. Go to the city pillar and cross the river. Immediately turn left and it is 10m on the right behind Sea Fresh shop. No english sign and set back from the road.
There is a night market with mostly food five minutes walk away and nice restaurant to the right when you cross the bridge which has changing coloured lights at night which is pleasant in a tacky way.
I tried speaking Indonesian but found people I talked to did not understand. There language is Yawi. Yawi language predominantly used in verbal and written language (Yawi has roots from the spoken Malay language and uses consonants and alphabets of the Arabic language one can see on the signs)
Managed to fix my bike lock clogged with mud and my right hand is loosing more sensation.

dark clouds seen from my GH in Songkhla

dark clouds seen from my GH in Songkhla

museum from holland House room balcony

museum from holland House room balcony

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mosque, chinese temple and wat

mosque, chinese temple and wat

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Bridge with colourful lights seen from a riverside restaurant

Bridge with colourful lights seen from a riverside restaurant

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Day 74 Ranot to Songkla. Puncture & friendly locals.

74km/6hrs. Bloody punctures and also rain held me up.

Nice people in GH lent me a pump to pump up my front tire to full capacity. I left feeling the bike was going at optimum speed until after 2km I had a bloody puncture. So much for getting to Songkla early and having a look around in day light. I stopped outside a cafe which had some shade and started repairs. Two old men came in and found it interesting so offered advice and wanted to prod and poke things. I think my body language stopped that. The restaurant owner brought me ice water and a smile which cooled me off. I fixed it and then fixed it again and then when putting pressure in the tire it blew a hole through the patch I had put on. I then used my spare, also patched, inner tube. that took over an hour and left me with no spare inner tube and as it is 27 inch wheel difficulty in finding one. A couple of km up the road I stopped at a workshop to get air put into the tire as a hand pump can not put enough in. I was greeted by the owner, his wife and two girls. They just felt like a nice family. One girl was very excited and practiced her English while the father inflated the tire to maximum and refused payment. Few foreigners pass this way and while I was just getting my tire inflated it was a big thing for them. nice experience for me also.

Knowing I was going to be late in Songkla I cycled the next 50km without stopping except once to see if a bike shop had an inner tube for my bike. It didn’t.
I saw lots of posters of a politician superimposed on photos representing presumably what he was going to do. Cable car seemed a bit over the top as it is extremely flat here.

A wat with a huge statue of an old monk which people pray to. In the west we have old people and the cost of homes while here they are monks.

I tent to forget that while normal for me to suddenly cycle into a restaurant is quite normal but for many people in this area they probably have not met a falang and having one appear on a bike is probably a bit of a shock. I mention this because I saw the shock on the woman’s face when I stopped for lunch. I told her that her pork noodles were very delicious and she grinned. The coffee that followed had three tables spoons of sugar and condensed milk with a hint of burnt coffee.

I had 26 km to go and then followed signs for a ferry that  for 3B took me directly to Songkka just in time for the daily downpour. My pannier covers are cleverly designed to collect water from falling rain or from puddles…

Tip: put a spare set of clothes in plastic bags (duty free ones are good), twist them closed, fold them over and tie them.

Songkla has a tourist help centre not far from the museum which gives maps and advice on accommodation. Holland House (350B) seemed the best deal. Three other hotels in same street. Night market has good food and better than most for food. First impressions are a nice town. A string of bars 5 in walk from the hotel with lots of oil workers. Usual Scottish and Texas accents. Some of the bars and restaurants and bars are not dominated by. ‘Hello you handsome’..Beach area looked good when cycled in even in the rain.

one presumes a politician. As Thailand is flat except for the north I am not sure about the cable car

one presumes a politician. As Thailand is flat except for the north I am not sure about the cable car

the lonely road ahead

the lonely road ahead

found a ferry that cut 25km off the day

found a ferry that cut 25km off the day

on ferry

on ferry

clever pannier covers that collect water

clever pannier covers that collect water

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museum

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painting

band in night market

band in night market

in centre not far from museum and helpful. maps

in centre not far from museum and helpful. maps

a previous presidents home

a previous presidents home

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the hotel behind it must have been a nuisance

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