(written by Nancy)
I couldn’t convince Dave to stay a few more days at Chris’s condo in Hua Hin so this morning we had to leave our luxurious digs and hit the road. I could have easily stayed several more days – we barely scratched the list of things to do in the area but Dave gets anxious if he is off the bike for more than a few days. Unlike our meandering in Malaysia (where we had a 90-day visa), in Thailand we only have a 60-day visa so unfortunately also have to keep that in mind and consider how far we can get in that time. We haven’t posted many pictures of the condo so we’ve put a few in the slideshow today. I am sure you will be on my side in understanding why perhaps we should have stayed a bit longer to enjoy it…
So, with the clock ticking (both the visa and Dave’s anxious energy) we hit the road for Ratchaburi today. There are some back roads we could have taken for part of the route today but because we were trying to get to Ratchaburi we rode the whole way today on or beside Hwy 4, the main north south highway. It actually wasn’t as bad as it sounds as much of the way there were frontage roads separated from the highway by a median and we had a good shoulder the whole way. Traffic wasn’t very heavy though we did have to pay more attention to the traffic coming at us in our shoulder lane than the traffic coming behind us! Motorcycles and scooters seem to treat both sides of the road as fair game so you have to keep a close eye out for what may be coming at you.
This area along the coast is filled with property developments with lots of ‘for sale’ signs, new property developments coming with lots of signs inviting you to invest in them, and lots and lots of factory outlet shopping centres. Obviously lots of foreigners visit this area and many come back enough times to drive the development. It is a pretty coastline and seems to be in a little weather pocket where it doesn’t rain too hard and most rain seems to happen during the night or early in the morning so it’s understandable why people would like to have a vacation home here.
Interestingly, the big property developments and factory outlets often sit side-by-side with Buddhist wats. These temples are generally very ornate – set back from the road with equally large and ornate gates over the roads leading up to the temples. We saw quite a few today along the road and could also see a few further out beyond the rice fields. A bit of a continual reminder about the uniqueness of Thailand despite the encroachment of the outside world.
Despite the interesting sights today we both struggled a bit with the ride. We had a headwind for much of the day and it got quite hot later in the morning. We stopped a couple of times for iced coffees and snacks but we both were pretty sore and tired by the time we made it into Ratchaburi after 115ks. We knew from other bike journals that there was a hotel in the centre of town somewhere but we also thought there was some kind of resort on the outskirts of town that might be a bit nicer than the hotel in town. Well, unfortunately we were not too lucky in finding the resort so ended up at the Numsin Hotel in town. Actually, it’s not that bad- even have a couple of English channels on the TV but compared to what we had at Chris’s condo it is a big step down! Back to reality I guess (hmm, perhaps we could just make a loop and head back to the condo?). It’s not a place you’d want to hang out for too long but it is bearable for one night and it’s hard to complain for $12.
And for those $12 you get a bit of a museum. Take at look at the photo of the room phone below. For the under-30s reading the blog, that’s what a rotary dial phone looks like. Try writing an SMS to your friends and you’ll be at it for quite some time.
For dinner we’re headed out to the local night market. It is right on the river (Dave just came back from scouting it out). He reports that the river doesn’t appear anywhere near flooding, though there is a lot of plant material coming down stream.
Tomorrow we head for Kanchanaburi, the home of the River Kwai legend. There are no reports of flooding there so we’ll get there and re-assess the situation. There are a lot of things to see so it may not be a bad place for a forced rest, should it be needed.