Monks blessing makes for a great ride to Chumphon (68/7771ks)

(written by Dave)

We started the day with coffee on Aungkana’s front porch – what a great host she is. She even does a morning hula hoop workout that she shared with us – we declined trying it out though she did offer us a try. Then Nancy gave her a quick computer lesson to make sure that she could follow our blog while I packed up the bikes.

We then got to experience another interesting Thai activity. Everyday the local monks walk a loop of town collecting food for their subsistence. Aungkana makes regular donations, but in particular she gives them food on Thursdays as that is the day of the week on which she was born. Today she was at the ready with her food offerings for the monks but she gave us the food so that we could make the offering. The food is packaged in plastic bags – essentially take-away food that people go get to give to the monks.

The monks stopped at the end of her driveway and waited for us to come out with the food. They uncovered their bowls and we put the food packages in. Aungkana motioned that we could kneel down and the monks then chanted something (hopefully a blessing) over us. Both of us were a bit worried that we might touch them or the food incorrectly, or make some other tourist faux pas. We probably did but as the offering was really coming from Aungkana and is actually the way that the monks sustain themselves, they were most gracious. The blessing was nice, only I tried to stand up once when I thought it was done and it wasn’t quite finished. The monks did not linger to chat or the like, they were gone in a flash, moving on to the rest of their route. And the blessing must have worked as we dodged and skirted rain showers all day, only once getting a couple drops but missing the major downpours throughout the day.

We rode from Aungkana’s down to the Kraburi pier. From here, it was only a short hop over the river to Burma/Myanmar. There were lots of folks milling about and quite a few long boats. Of course, we did not make any further progress towards the border, we are not sure if any of the boats made a run for the border. There were no visible tanks or gunships – really, it was just a boring old river from what we saw.

The highway took us up river along the Thailand-Burma border before turning right and sending us across the Isthmus. Just at the corner there was a big monument to the Isthmus of Kra. This is narrowest part of the Malaysian peninsula at 53k, or so the sign claims. We read earlier at one point that there was also a 44k wide part further south but Kra was good enough for a park/monument. We got one last look at Burma (still no hostile forces spotted) and headed towards the other coast.

We were told that the ride cross country was flat. We had a tailwind and made good time but there seemed to be a bit of uphill all the same. There was no summit sign, rather the top was graced by a massive monument to some stones where the king’s initials were carved. The stone and initials were pretty small, as was the shrine just in front of them. The sign marking the site on the other hand was quite large.

From here we had a slight down hill and a nice tailwind, making the trip to Chumphon pretty fast. We stopped on the edge of town at a servo for snacks and an iced latte. The newer servos here are quite nice. They have 7-11s, little coffee shops, clean bathrooms and gas if you need it. They have become a bit of an oasis for us. We had iced lattes today, as it was starting to get quite warm.

It was only 9k from the stop to town and the hotels. We rode 8 of those k’s then Nancy got a flat rear tire. We had a couple flats on a rest day back in Malaysia but this is our first flat tire during the actual riding day so neither of us are complaining. (I think that the monks’ blessing only extended to rain, not to our tires). It looked like a small wire cause the flat as I couldn’t find any glass. While I changed the tire, Nancy cleaned some of the grime off the bikes and the bags. While we missed the rain today, we had plenty of wet roads and our bikes and bags were too dirty to try getting past a hotel front desk.

We rode the last k and found the hotel pretty easy. We are staying at Panatara hotel, a nice new hotel on the edge of town. We have a great room all for only 700 Baht ($21). Our towels were artfully arranged on the bed, in a dual swan pose (No it is not one of those hourly hotels but I still could not resist the photo opportunity). We finished cleaning the bikes so that we could get them in the room. To get them upstairs, we had to stand them on end in the lift but at least there was a lift. As we were taking the bikes up to the room it started to pour down rain with a strong wind – we were very lucky today.

After showers we headed out for some food and found a great market surrounded by little noodle shops. We lingered in front of one of them before the owner of one motioned us in. As per normal, there were no English speakers so we had to mime our order. Again, we were treated to a fantastic meal and even learned (and quickly forgot) how to say noodle soup w/ pork.

For dinner we headed to the Chumphon night markets. Quite surprisingly, the busy streets we found in the afternoon were a lot quieter at night. The markets were pretty small, mostly just one street lined with various folks making one dish. If you like that dish, you buy it and sit at little tables just behind the cart. Or you do as many folks do, ride up on your scooter, order a dish, pay and throw it in your handlebar basket for later consumption. We managed to dodge all the cars and scooters at the pad thai booth where we had a great plate of noodles for $1 each, delicious and an excellent value for money. On the way home, we stopped at the banana pancake cart for a fantastic dessert, also prepared for you on the spot. Both stands were quite popular and we had quite a group of locals to contend with.

Tomorrow we are taking non-riding day. We’ve had 5 days in a row and been getting up pretty early. The hotel is so nice and we need a day to get all the dirt and grime from the last few rainy days cleaned up. The forecast doesn’t seem to be calling for an end of the rains but it still seems like a good idea to do some preventive maintenance. And we’ll just hang out a bit and take it easy.

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5 thoughts on “Monks blessing makes for a great ride to Chumphon (68/7771ks)

  1. Good Morning! So glad that you had a day w/o rain! The word “carved” is misspelled on the BIG sign. No worries. I think a week from Sat. (Oct. 8) is your 6 mo. Ride Anniversary! Any big plans? Love, Mom

  2. Hi it sounds like a nice place for a well deserved rest. Not sure if it is just me or my PC but the written part of your blog today was cut off with the last couple/few words in the right hand margin.

  3. I noticed this too and it was too hard to read the e-mail, so I just went straight to the web site. Today’s entry, Friday’s, however was back to normal. Happy Travels!

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