Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Chaam & North

I hopped on my bike for an hour and zoomed up the coast from Hua Hin to Chaam. I decided to grab some lunch and as I was walking along I saw some roast chickens looking all tasty. Then the guy came across and asked if I wanted pork and pointed at the large splayed pig on a spit above a charcoal burner. Looked good as well, so I had some of that. The guy asked whether I wanted 1 kilo or 1/2kilo, I chose the smaller. I kinda assumed that I most be getting ribs as 1/2kilo of just meat sounded a lot. He soon had the pig of the spit and quickly hacked off the leg. That was pretty much mine, no bones just a big piled plate of meat. After a lengthy time I gave up with a good portion eaten. The next two days I didn't feel so good! Spending my time in close vacinity to the bathroom.

After that I headed on North to Petchaburi. I was looking for a guesthouse when I went down a lane and the dogs started barking, and then a woman came out and told me it was a hotel. Even the one I was looking for, good stuff. After shoving bike & bags away I went for a butchers to see a few of the thirty odd temples that cover the town. There was a nice old teak building and also lots of buddha statues inside the main bot. I was taking a few photos (the monk said I could take photos inside) when some people come in and start praying, so I just wander off out their way.

The next temple had some nice stone carvings outside with scary faces and then one face looked strangley out of place, looked like Harry Potter! Not sure how that got there, one of life's little mysteries.

The next day continued on towards the town of Samut Songkhran. I was unable to find much info about here as the only hotel mentioned in my guide book was pricey. I stopped for lunch and asked somebody about accommodation and they just shook their head and said no hotel until Bangkok. Hmmm, that's not good! Another 80km and it would be very dark and very tiring! Still not too worry, they didn't know of what they spoke. Samut Songkhran turned out to be a busy little town with at least a couple of hotels, maybe more. I shacked up at one for the night, getting some rest before the big ride tommorrow -- Bangkok!

Hua Hin

As I cycled into Hua Hin there seemed to be a lot of police and miltary lurking about. Turned out it was the opening day of the Kings Elephant Polo Cup, and some bigwigs were out hobnobbing. I had missed the opening ceremonies on that day, but I went along later to catch a bit of the play.

I just jumped on a motorbike taxi as I didn't recall seeing any signs on the way down. I must of cycled straight past it previously. Anyway, there were 32 teams playing in the tournament. First up were the All Blacks who started off with the Haka to frighten the opposition, who responded by signing some French ditty. Then everybody was up on there elephant with their mahouts(drivers) and polo sticks. And then the referees drops the ball and Action. The elephants lumber about while the players weild their sticks with abandon, all the time the commentator is trying to make it seem fast and furious. And then some poor guys get the jobs of pooper-scooper, gives you muscles hefting all that dung! The people and the players seemed a bit hoighty-toighty. I was almost expecting to get asked whether I went to Cambridge or Eton, haha.

The commentator mentioned that Chivas Regal team is apparently the best team in the world. They started against the Australian team at 0-3. However at least one of the Australians had only ever been on an elephant for 30 seconds. By half time it was 4-3 to Chivas Regal. Not much of a match, though.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


I woke up in the morning to find my tyre flat. I pumped it up again, but after a few km (in the wrong direction) it was flat again. Grrr! So I got the tyre off and put in a spare inner tube. However, getting the final bit of the tyre onto the rim was proving a whole lot more difficult. After much stretching and groaning, still no further. Then a guy with a pickup truck drove past, reversed and offered me a lift back into town to the "bicycle shop". I didn't expect to find a bicycle shop out here in the middle of nowhere, and I was correct. Turned out to be a mechanics. Still, helpfull mechanics though! I just about managed to stop them from tearing off the tyre again, miming that I wanted it back on. Within a few minutes, with four pairs of hands and a couple of feet. The tyre was fixed. Huzzah!

So I continued on my way, after asking directions this time. After about another three kilometres, it started raining. Heavily. Shortly followed by a psssss noise, eerily similar to that of a tyre deflating. Yep, another puncture! I saw a sign for a hotel a short distance away, so I trudged along through the puddles pushing my bike. But when I arrived it was full of trimmed lawns and posh little buildings and they wanted 1200baht for the cheapest room, eek! As I contemplated walking all the way back to the mechanics, the manageress, Na, asked if she could help. Then she mentioned she had a pickup truck and could give me a lift. So back to the mechanics (who all snickered at seeing me again so soon) and the inner tube was patched, and my second spare inner tube used (who would of thought I had two spares!). And the price, for me, was free!

I had mentioned earlier to Na that I was planning to go to Bang Saphan, and she offered me a lift across there. Cool, I was kinda fed up with the bike by now. So I got a lift to the next town, and found a hotel with a reasonable price. A bad day into a good day, thanks to the friendly folk of Thailand!

Although, the guesthouse was literally in the middle of nowhere. I looked down the road to the right, nothing as far as the eye could see, and on the left a small shop, and then nothing! I tried to get some food at the guesthouse, I seemed to be the only person there. Lots of pointing involved. In retrospect I think, I must of gave them the idea that I didn't want Thai food, saying "No Thai" when they talked to me, meaning I didn't speak Thai. I ended up with a plate of rice and a deep fried omelette, then off to the shop for some donuts!

Monday, September 05, 2005


I set off from Chumpon a bit later than planned, but I never did like getting out of bed. After circling round a bit, I found a road heading out (somewhere!). I thought this would be the road on my map which follows the coast, but eventually I got pushed back onto the main highway. After a bit more cycling, I went past a sign saying shortcut to Chumpon. I most of taken the long road. I headed back towards the coast and onto the minor roads. The surface isn't as good as the highway, but a lot less traffic. I bounced along through orchards and fruit fields and rubber plantations. Then tried to continue north. It was getting a bit late, so I stopped at the next place to see if I could find somewhere to stay, but no look. They pointed me off to the mysterious Bangburd resort. I saw a sign where it said KM but no number! After more cycling down minor roads, I asked some people, ah only 5km. After 5km I asked more people, 10km further on. After about 15km and getting dark I finally came into town. But not before all the dogs intown realised a stranger had entered. Now, I used to like dogs, but put me on a bike and dogs HATE me. Turning from Andrex puppies into huge crazed, rabid, slabbering hounds of hell intent on ripping off your leg at the armpit. I usually tried and whizz pass them before they realise. One time going up a slight hill I came across a placid looking beast, and thought I would try and amble past peacefully. It almost worked and then it went crazy and I was right beside it. Strangely, some music started blasting out from somewhere at the same time and it ran away. I'll stick to whizzing past in the future, god help me if I encounter a deranged whippet. Well, I finally found the hotel, and quite nice and quite pricey it was too. I got them down from 900baht to 600baht. I wasn't going to be going anywhere else at 19.00 and I was knackered. So much for a gentle re-introduction to the bike, after all the detours and hotel hunting, I'd done over 100km.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I got the boat across from Ko Tao to Chumphon. Had to wait till everybody was off the boat until I could take my bike off. Another couple of German touring cyclist had ridden from Chang Mai in the north down to Chumpon, but now flying home. After eventually getting off the boat, I followed the bus to the main road into Chumpon about 7km away. It was starting to get dark. By the time I found a place to stay it was dinner time, off to a resturant for some Rad Naa. The next day, I tried to find a bike shop and after a while I found two, unfortunately neither could replace my spokes. Oh well, I found a travel agency and arrange to go over to Mynamar the next day. This will allow me a bit more time in Thailand, as my visa is a double entry, 2 month one. I need to exit and re-enter after the first sixty days, and then I get another sixty days. You need to pay $5 to get the visa for Mynamar. I dug around and came up with $4, so close! Still, I gave them some extra baht and I got rid of my $4. After a couple of hours on the mini-bus across to the other side of Thailand, we arrived at Ranong, where a car picked me up and took me along to the immigration office to get a Thailand exit stamp, and then onto the boat. The tour guy takes all the passports, and we trundle across to Mynamar, when we arrive, the guy hops out to the paperwork place and stamps all the passports and then after ten minutes jumps back on the boat. So I didn't even step foot on Mynamar soil. In that ten minutes Mynamar guys jump on the boat and try and sell cheap cigarettes and booze. Then back to the Thai Immigration office, then a car to the busstop and the minibus to Chumpon. Well, at least I got my visa extended.

Ko Tao

I bumped into Dan, Marko & Nako at the boat departure, they were also going to Ko Tao, so we joined up. They were going diving, I was planning on some hectic reading under a palm tree. I did borrow Daniel's snorkel once, to go out and have a look. At first it was really sandy, but once you got out a bit further it was clearer and saw some fish. I think the times I went in Malayasia were better, but maybe if you jumped on a boat to once of the dive sites and snorkelled there it would be good. Still I saw some strange fish and corals. I was going to only stay for a few days, but a pleasant place, so I ended up lounging about for five days. All this sitting about doing not a lot but eating, drinking, chatting and reading is going to make getting back on the bike a lot harder!

There was good book shop, run by the slightly crazy Mr J. who has signs all over the island. "Mr J. buy anything!", "To be good tourist tip Mr J. Everyone happy!" etc. I bought The Curious Incident of the dog at night-time (or whatever it's called) and Mr J. deemed the purchase worthy of a couple of free rambutans. Another time some free bananas. I read "Rule of Four" also. Another hard day at the office :)

Ko Pha Nga

After jumping on the boat from Ko Samui, I headed to Ko Pha Nga. From there I struggled my bike the 10km to Hat Rin. It was really tough going. I never seen roads that go straight up like that before! They go from flat to what felt like 45degrees. Needless to say, I spent most of my time pushing it up, and rolling down. I got to another big dusty hill, over the other side was the place I wanted to stay. But this was too steep, combined with the dust meant that when I tried to push my bike up I just slipped straight back down! As I was struggling with this a pickup from the guesthouse came along and gave my a lift the final 200m, good timing. I settled into my small bungalow towards the top of the hill, a scramble up and down. I went down to the restaurant for a beer and met Daniel, Marko and Nako. Dan and Marko were both French chefs, while Nako was Marko's Japanese girlfriend. Daniel had spent some time working in a restuarant on the west coast of Scotland, so he could understand my accent well! This is the kind of place where days are for sleeping and nights are for drinking. A week here was long enough. I watched the Old Firm game here, in a pub full of Celtic supporters, and none of them bought me a drink at the final whistle! I probably should of written this blog more recently as I can't remembered much about what happened a few weeks ago. Must be my age...