Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thai Muang

I continued heading North, as I edged near the end of Phuket I passed sombre signs "Death Body Container", "Thai Victims Identification Centre". Still a lot of rebuilding be done on the coasts. The more popular resorts are up and running but place like Ao Bang Tan still look like a building site. I think most of the places in my guide book, were washed away.

Over the bridge and back on to the mainland, I rode into Thai Muang. As I was idling through the streets looking for a hotel, a motorbike pulled along beside me. He said there was rooms on the beach at a restaurant if I wanted, so he gave me directions. I continued along and the guy, Santos, was at the restaurant. So I checked in and had a chat with Santos. He is a teacher here, and offered to show me about. I had a quick tour on his motorbike of the start of another National Park, passing a destroyed shrimp farm. He said that even if it was repaired the problem would be that nobody would want to stay here. Then along past some forested white ground, salt residue, killing any undergrowth between the trees.
He showed me the school where he was teaching. He is planning to build a catamaran, I had a look at the plans, very futuristic looking! A group of students were boat-building apply goopy lucking molten plastic to the boat, and smoothing other areas down. Japan had donated a couple of small motors for the longtails, certainly looked tidier than the boats I saw on Ko Phi Phi, I think those used discarded bus engines!

Santos dropped me back off at the room, and then later I went out for some food. As I was walking along I bumped into him again. There only is 2 other foreigners in Thai Muang, so you stand out. I had dinner with Santos. Interesting guy, he had cycled from Italy to Spain. He is a Sicilian. One of these annoyng people. who speaks this language and that. I asked him how may languages does he speak. Seven! Oh and a good bit of Thai. Also does a good human beatbox on the karoke!

Next stop was at Khao Lak. Seemed to be pretty deserted. Rained a bit. Ate pizza. Lots of diving shops here, just a quick stop and then continue North to Takua Pa. I was wondering if was good to find a hotel here, but after asking around, there was one behind the petrol station. I was glad I stopped here, if only because the next days ride was hard! It was one of those roads thats just seems to keep on climbing, around each corner you hope it will finallyfall away downhill, but no! Will okay eventually the downhill came about 7km from Khao Sok National Park. I barely had to pedal from the summit of the hill to the guesthouse.
Khao Sok

I got there about mid afternoon, and it barely stopped raining when I left. Okay it's a rainforest, what should I expect? I got some food at the guesthouse, and went for a look about not too busy here either. I stopped off at a bar and chatted with Lex, he used to work in England, so at least we could undertand each other, a couple of Austrians who were on holiday joined us later on.
The next day more rain, it abated after lunch and I decided to head into the park proper and put in a quick trek. The rain soon started again. The trail was wide, road-lik and muddy. After accepting the fact I wasn't going to stay dry, I happily trudged through the puddles. A couple of the routes were closed due to the weather, so I stuck to the easy ones. No fjording rivers, for me! The two treks follow the main path for the first 3km and then split up, supposedly to two waterfalls. The falls were really more like just tumbling over rocks, rather than anything majestic. Quite slippy near and on the rocks. I traipsed back, as my shoes were squelchy and being dry was appealing. I stopped off at the shop where two other trekkers were mildly dripping blood from there legs. I guess the rocks were slippy, maybe they tried the hard trails. Inside my room, all my clothes seem damp. My bags got a soaking from a thundershower on the way over. Not some much from the downpour as I managed to duck into a shelter, but from the surface water sprayed from my wheels onto the underside of the bags. After climbing over that big mountain, I had plan to go back the way I came and continue up the West coast, but a quick change of plan sees me continuing over to the East coast before heading north. Now I somewhere close to Phanom. The middle of nowhere basically! A nice ride flat ride through the limestone karts, I stopped at the top of a hill for a vaguely refreshing swig from my water bottle. I glance back over my shoulder, very dark and grey. I quickly zipped into a roadside shelter, and sure enough within five minutes it was puring down, again.Tomorrow I should hit the East coast and hopefully get my smelly clothes washed!

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