(written by Dave)
With 100k planned for today we tried to get an early start. Getting up early was easy as we are still on Malaysia time. And brekkie in the room was oatmeal, easy. Only problem with the morning was the weather. It started bucketing down about 7:30, just before our planned 8AM departure. We sat ready to go, watching the rain for about 30 minutes. The rain let up a little at 8:30 and using “scooter-net” we decided to head out. You can tell when the rain breaks are real because all the scooters in the vicinity start up. Locals always stop when it rains hard and head back out when it is stopping. Trusting scooter-net, we made our move. We had light rain for the next 1.5 hours and wet roads, but no more downpours. Score one for scooter-net.
We stopped at a “rustic” petrol station for a comfort break. Rustic is the word, the gents stand-ups were on the back wall of the toilet block, right out in the open. And there were a half dozen stalls. Not sure when there would ever be call for that many at one time. Nancy reported that the ladies was “not as bad as some” we’d seen on the trip so far. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Once the rain let up, we were treated to nice scenery. We rode through more coastal rock formations with lots of trees and hanging plants. There were even a few steep hills, giving us full use of our granny gears. Traffic was much lighter today and there were not so many towns. The shoulder was generally wide making for a pleasant ride (if not a little dirty from the rain).
About half way we stopped at 7-11 for water and hoped to find something to eat. And what a find. We’ve found a fantastic new food source (if other 7-11’s have the same products). This particular 7-11 had all sorts of instant heat rice dishes, plus best of all, fresh pork buns. We are no longer in Malaysia, so pork is ok to eat. It’s hard to go past a nice BBR pork bun, even if it is from 7-11. More research on this topic will be completed in coming days.
A little further up the road, all other traffic (including us) were forced off the highway on a diversion for about 500 meters. There was something going on in the village on the main road. We couldn’t read the name of the village, couldn’t find anyone who spoke English to tell us what was going on and if there were any signs, they were illegible to us. So… As Nancy mentioned yesterday, not being able to read/speak Thai puts us in a bit of a tunnel. The Thai phrase book we picked up in Singapore is already coming in quite handy.
To complete the “what the heck” moments for the day, at the top of a small hill we came upon a shrine (of some religion), that was surrounded by 100s, if not 1000s of little zebra statues. The shrine was small, as were the statues and we have no idea what it was about. Many cars honked as they passed, and because they couldn’t see us, I’m certain that they were honking for the shrine. Guess we’ll have do some more net research.
We arrived in town before 2PM and stopped at a recommended coffee shop for some lunch/snack. Unfortunately, their kitchen was closed so we had to have toast (with sweetened condensed milk, sugar & jam). Odd as it sounds, all three were tasty. From here we made our way to the planned hotel, My Friend Guesthouse. Unfortunately, Nancy found it fully booked so we had to go across the street to another hotel, called Ban Aythong though they had a sticker on their door referring to My Friend – not sure which is the correct name and if they are related. At any rate, we have a great room, with everything we could ask for; nice bathroom, English TV and even a fridge and kettle.
For dinner we went downstairs to a joint that Lonely Planet suggested called Sin Ocha Bakery. It was not much of a bakery but they had a nice Pad Thai. We wandered town a bit and retired to the room. We are both a little tired tonight and we have a big day planned for tomorrow. We hope to make it to Krabi, some 130ks up the road. Right now the bicycling world championships are on TV – in English no less – I may not be able to stay up for the conclusion, we’ll see…