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We call uncle on the way to Ranong and hop a local bus (17/7644) (+40 in songthaew)

(written by Nancy)

After kind of a restless night we awoke to the not-soothing sounds of rain on the metal roof of our bungalow. We decided to get things ready for a departure and have some breakfast to kill some time to see if the rain would let up. By 8:30 or so it seemed that the rain was easing so we decided to take make a run for it.

We took a quick ride down to the pier at Bang Ben Beach to see the beach area. It was a lovely spot despite the grey clouds and mist and I am sure on nice days it is very beautiful. The area was hard hit by the 2004 tsunami as there are no islands or other natural barriers to stop large waves and high water from reaching the beach. There were apparently several other resorts near the beach before the tsunami that have not been rebuilt, but you can see evidence of rebuilding in the many newer looking houses along the road. Many, not surprisingly, are built up off the ground and the flooded fields we saw today are evidence of how much water runs through the area.

The resort we stayed at was also partially wiped out by the tsunami but the owners elected to rebuild in the same spot just as many of the other homeowners in the area have done. There are lots of tsunami warning zone signs and we could see loudspeakers on the power poles along the road, which are used as part of the tsunami warning system put in place after 2004.

We had just a little bit of rain on the 10k back to the main highway so were hopeful we could get some riding in without getting too soggy today. Unfortunately as soon as we hit the main road the rain started to get heavier and we got caught in a major downpour. We soldiered on a bit but eventually pulled over into a covered area when it got too hard to see. We sat under the rest area for about 30 minutes watching the water pound down, hoping that it would lighten up. Dave kept looking out saying “Oh, I think it’s getting lighter over there,” as if saying it would make it true but it wasn’t really making a difference.

Finally it did seem to lighten up a bit so we figured we had to get back out there so we could get to Ranong and try to dry out. We started riding and of course the downpour started again. It was raining so hard we could hardly see and there were rivers of water running down the road. As if we weren’t wet enough, cars and trucks going by us would hit those rivers of water and send water streaming over us – lovely. There wasn’t much to do but keep rolling, trying to avoid the rivers as much as possible.

I was riding in front and heard Dave yell behind me to stop. I turned around to look and Dave had stopped one of the ubiquitous local buses and was motioning me to come back. He had gotten us a ride! These ‘buses’ are not what you normally think of as a bus. They are essentially little trucks with benches in the back, covered with plastic and called songthaews. People stand along the side of the road and hail them down and crawl in the back. Often times you see them go by packed with people, especially when it is raining.

The songthaew that Dave flagged down surprisingly only had 3 people in the back so there was just enough room for us to squeeze in. I leaned in the window on the way to the back of the bus and said “Ranong?” several times to try to make sure he would take us in that direction. He seemed to understand what I was saying even though I am sure I was saying it all wrong so we said what the heck let’s get on. Squeezing in the back meant we had to lift the bikes up and kind of crawl in alongside the bikes while trying to keep them from falling on the other passengers. All the while dripping water all over everything!
We were both laughing at our good luck as we sat in the back dripping water and trying to hold on to the bikes. It got funnier as the bus stopped to pick up more people who tried to squeeze in around the bikes to find a place to sit. We tried to watch the highway signs to see how close we were getting but we could hardly see outside through the rain and the fogged windows and plastic. The bus would occasionally stop to let some passengers off and pick more up. We couldn’t quite see how the passengers communicated to the driver that they wanted to get off so we hoped that some of the other passengers were heading to Ranong too and that we could just hop off with them.

We finally saw the sign marking the turn-off to Ranong and after a couple of attempted communications with the bus driver he pulled over and all the passengers got off so we did too. We were right in the middle of town and could hardly believe that we had made it without having to pedal for 40k through the monsoon. The bus driver charged us 120B – essentially $4 to carry us and our bikes for 40k. Money well spent.

We had a list of a few hotels so we set off to find some place to stay. We ended up at the Le Ranong Bistro Hotel, mostly because as we rode by it we noticed the coffee shop on the bottom floor advertising espresso. I went in and checked out the room – it was pretty nice and only 690B so we didn’t see much point in wandering around in the rain any longer. It felt great to get out of the wet clothes and pour the water out of our shoes.

We ate lunch downstairs in the cafe then went back up to the room to relax. We hadn’t actually rode that far on the bikes but the stressful morning had really worn us out – Dave’s snoring was testament to that! For dinner we headed to the night markets but only made it as far as the corner where we found an open air restaurant and pointed our way to two different dishes, which both ended up being vegetarian. Tasty though.

Provided we have some decent weather tomorrow morning we are going to try for Kraburi (which I know sounds very similar to Khuraburi, where we stayed a couple of nights ago but it is a different town!). If the weather tomorrow looks like it did today we will just stay another day in this nice hotel and perhaps sit and drink espresso all day. Hmm, maybe I should wish for rain…

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2 responses to “We call uncle on the way to Ranong and hop a local bus (17/7644) (+40 in songthaew)

  1. HAHAHAHAHA, funniest post yet! Like camping on the Oregon coast, never dry and no place to go. These days make the best memories….enjoy and stay safe!

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