Monthly Archives: November 2013

Day 70 Lang Suan to Kapoe 105 km 805m total vertical

We left our humble quarters in Lang Suan and headed over the ridge of the peninsula.  Nice ride over rolling hills on a relatively quiet, wide, two lane road.  Maximum altitude just about 100 metres, but lots of up and down along the way.  Legs were feeling a little tired from the previous day, but short climbs followed by descents were fun.  Legs both have a right to be tired, and they should be in shape, given that we are approaching the 6,500km mark on this ride.

image

Looked like hill country; still lots of plantations, but a back country feel to it.  A big market was going on as we rode through one intersection, even though there was a light rain at the time.  Definitely a moist ride, with sprinkles and rain from time to time, but no downpour.

image

On this side of the peninsula, aparently the muslim religion is stronger; definitely seeing lots of men with caps on and women in full dresses; no veils, just covered heads.

Day 69 Bangburn Resort to Lang Suan 155 km

Took off from the beach full of optimism that the weather would hold, nice early start for the long ride.
There had been a torrential rain overnight, everything was soaked.  The local rivers were running high and fast, so this must be a relatively unusual occurence.
image

One of the counties we went through must have an election coming up, because there were billboards up within a relatively small area. 
image

We made it to our “lunch” break at 10 still relatively dry, but after lunch we rode through a couple of thunderstorms.  Once our distination was within reach, it did not seem worthwhile to pull over and get cold waiting for the rain to stop, so I pedalled on along a big highway.  Not ideal conditions, and the weather forecast is not promising…
image

Day 68 Prachuap Khiri Khan to Bangburd Resort 128 km

We had to ride through an air force base first thing this morning, so we had to ride out in convoy through that base.  Waiting for everyone to assemble, we had a lovely view of dawn over the ocean.
image

The morning ride was a lovely cruise through palms, rubber plantations, and along beach roads past a lot of very empty looking “resorts”. 

image

I stopped to get a picture of roosters in the lovely basket-cages they use here.  The owner told me they were “boxing roosters”.
image

After lunch, the thunderstorms rolled through, so we had to dodge under cover whenever it started to pour.  I spent half an hour with Gerhart in a restaurant during the biggest storm; at one point it was blowing so hard that the owner invited us into the kitchen to stay drier and warmer.  It was a very primitive road-side restaurant, with limited facilities, but we were glad to be inside.  On the way through the next town, I was surprised to see a group of our riders standing in a huge puddle, but apparently one of them had fallen, so they were helping her get going again.
image

Tonight, we are staying in a basic “resort” on a small corner of a huge beach — must be 10 miles long– also a very basic little group of modest tourist operations.  The total opposite to Hua Hin.
image

Day 67 Hua Hin to Prachup Khiri Khan 120 km

Lovely dawn start after a healthy breakfast.  Most of our ride was along the coast or near the coast on small, quiet roads.  Only a brief stretch on the big highway, and even that was tame.  Lots to see on the beaches.  One beach had been washed away by a recent storm; nothing much left between the road and the sea.  There was heavy machinery working to put down big rocks, and pile sand on top of that, but it was a mess that would make the resorts along that stretch relatively unattractive to sun seekers.  Note the Christmas tree light structure in the picture.  Not feeling Christmassy here at all.

image

Another beach was very busy with men pushing nets along under the water, collecting some seafood that was stringy and white; I was only able to see it bagged up; possibly some form of roe.  Lots of activity in a relatively small area of  a huge beach.

image

Inland, we went by a lot of shrimp farms, including a couple where they were harvesting the shrimp.  There would be a big tent set up on the road, where people were sorting the shrimp and packing it.

image

Of course where there were people hard at work, there was someone selling snacks!

image

Lots of fishing boats wherever there was a protected anchorage or an inlet.  Various types of fishing gear on the boats, from lights to nets.  All very colourful.
image

As I look at those pictures, I think the photos look more idylic than the place did while I was there, probably because I cropped out the plastic garbage and other mess.

image

We saw monkeys (macaques) along the road in a couple of spots, but were advised to steer clear, because they can get nasty.
image

Our hotel tonight was right on the sea, with an older design which allowed us to open our doors and let the sea breeze blow through.  It also had a lovely — and fully functioning — swimming pool, which was a lovely way to cool down.  The sea was at high tide, so there was little or no beach available to make it easy to swim down there.
image

Day 66 Hua Hin rest day

Went out to the Hutsadin elephant foundation today.  What fun. 
image

We were taken for a ride around the back lot on a big 24 year old male, who was being handled very gently by the Mahoot, even though he would stop and tear up the adjacent greenery for a snack as we went lumbering along.  A gentle rolling pace when he moved along.
image

Then we watched a 5 year old small female demonstrate her tricks, including playing the harmonica, dancing, putting a hat on our head and taking it off, shooting a ball toward a soccer goal, giving hugs and kisses.  This elephant was tame enough that we were allowed to get close and she was encouraged to approach us.  What a treat.
image

At the end, she brought out a basket and approached us each in turn for an additional contribution to the foundation, which she took from our hands, placed in her basket and put the basket back in its place.  A nice, gentle atmosphere around the place, and we were lucky to be there at a slow time, so lots of contact with the elephants and the mahoots.
image

Tonight, another dinner on the beach, a walk through the — rather touristy — night market in the square below our hotel, and then lots of sleep to prepare for another series of riding days.
image

Day 65 Hat Chao Samran to Hua Hin 55 km

A leisurely start in honour of the short distance.  First part of the ride is down a quiet small road, a good portion of it had a bike lane painted onto the paved shoulder, and stopping places with panels describing local activities and geographic features.  

image

Saw one shrimp farm, although there is not much to look at; very similar to fish farms, but covered with nets to keep birds out.
image

Went into a fishing town when there was a lot of unloading going on; mostly small fish, being put into plastic baskets.  Some people working with chopped ice, but I didn’t  see it actually going on the fish.
image

There was one amazing sign by the Hua Hin airport; got to wonder what this is about; hardly a country with a shortage of rain….
image

Got to our hotel which is located a little far from the beach, and walking around noticed this sign;  who goes looking for Dutch food?   Apparently they offer mayo with their fries.

Ended the day with a Thai dinner at a beach restaurant.

Day 64 Bangkok to Hat Chao Samran

Again, the TDA team made arrangements to get us out of Bangkok by bus so that we would not be riding through the city traffic. They took us about 80 km, and started us on a small road that followed the coast.
image

This ride made up for the lack of birds along many of the other daily routes. At the start I saw kingfishers, cormorants and ibis, later in the ride, there were lots of swallows and a variety of other small, fast birds. A great deal of chirping and the swallows were doing flying stunts around me.
image

The most evident economic activity was “salt farming”, which was not making any progress today, because it rained a fair amount (for the first time on this ride), and there was also shrimp farming, as well as ocean fishing.
image

Lots of places to stop set up for tourists. At one stop I saw this post in the sea which appeared to be occupied by fish climbing out of the water…
image

We only rode about 55 km, and then arrived at our hotel on the beach. It is quite a modern but modeast hotel along a beach with a mix of neighbours including tourist facilities and locals.

Took a swim in the Gulf of Thailand; lovely warm water.

Day 63 Bangkok rest day

We decided to head off in the opposite direction from the palace, so that we would explore new country, so we set out to visit the Jim Thompson House museum.  Tik, our local guide, told  us how to catch a canal ferry to get there.  What a ride; this was again a powerful boat, but with many more seats for passengers, and on a narrow canal.  We stood in line at the pier, climbed onto the boat, and after a turning around manoeuver, it blasted down the narrow canal at a great speed.
image

Very efficient transport, compared to taxis which were stuck in traffic on the roads.  We looked into the back porches of houses as we shot along, and the conductor worked his way down the outside of the boat, collecting fares.  This is a job which requires being very aware of where the bridges are, because the boat has about a foot of clearance under normal circumstances, and the possibility of bumping if there are big waves building up from traffic in both directions.
image

The Jim Thompson museum was a delightful spot, dedicated to both the silk trade, and to Thai building and decoration traditions.
image
image
There was a small store full of lovely silk products at the museum, and we walked over to the main store some distance away, checking out this part of Bangkok, which is where the flashy set live/shop and the big brand hotels are set up.  A world of high rises and fancy stores between four lane roads; a very different Bangkok
image

Lots of political rally activity in Democracy Square as we went by; looked peaceful at our end, but got rowdier elsewhere in town.
Maureen, Holly and Paul headed out to catch their flights home after a humorous dinner at the hotel, where we had to urge the staff to bring us some food, given that they really weren’t expecting anyone to eat there!

Day 62 Chachoengsao to Bangkok

We travelled by van, because the entry into Bangkok did not promise to be a nice ride. A few people chose to ride in, and did fine, but it was a very urban ride.  Bangkok is a car-oriented city, even motorscooters are not common on the big roads; bicycles are very rare.  The city planners must have deliberately made life difficult for scooters, and easy for cars, because it is hard to believe that cars would win over motorbikes in a crowded city, but it has happened in Bangkok. This is a city which is veryhard to get around any way other than by car.  Walking was difficult, but still possible.
image

Our hotel was in the older part of town, fortunately. Our local guides had proposed a ride on the river by boat before a tour of the National Palace, and the four of us signed up.  The boat ride was fun.   We rode in long, relatively narrow boats with very powerful motors connected to propellers on long shafts sticking way out the back to negotiate shallow water.  As we headed out into the main river, when the driver pushed on the accelerator, the heavy boat with its load of passengers shot forward like a lightly loaded truck.  Amazing acceleration up to a certain speed. 
image

The boats generated a huge wake, so there was lots of wave action to negotiate in the river.  Second highlight of the ride was feeding the “catfish” bread; we passed by a vendor who supplied loaves of bread for us to share, and we were told to hold the bread in the water, where the catfish would pluck it out of our hands.  What a hoot!  Most times, although it was a feeding frenzy involving dozens of fish, the fish would very carefully take the bread in their mouths, sometimes the motion of the water would   result in lip-contact to the fingers, where the fish would be sure to get the bread, but without causing any biting sensation.
image

After a tour up and down the river, with lovely air flow, we were dropped off at a pier near the royal palace.  What an amazing place; it is a ceremonial and religious site with a richness of decoration which is a feast for the eyes; lots of gold finish, shiny stones and vivid colours.  A mix of meditating buddhas, garudas, nagas, and characters from Hindu stories.  All beautifully maintained in relatively tight quarters.
image

image

image

image

We also toured the museum about the queen’s work to revitalize traditional textile production activities and create jobs by promoting Thai textiles abroad.
image

We were getting hungry, but the only cafe in the palace grounds offered just drinks and ice cream, which did not carry us far, so on leaving the palace we went looking for a rather late lunch.  This proved frustrating, because there was a big opposition demonstration going on, but finally we found a couple of carts selling banana crepes and dumplings, so we refueled before heading back to the hotel.