(written by Nancy)
A very quiet night last night meant a good sleep though we both woke up sometime during the night to hear the rain pelting down outside – fortunately it had quit raining by the time we got up just after 6. It was a bit foggy and the roads were wet but nothing falling from the sky.
Breakfast was included in the lodging so we headed over to the reception area where a massive feast was already set out for us. So much food – there was no way we could eat it all! Eggs, toast, sausage (hot dogs), ham, salad, veggies, breakfast cake and ½ a watermelon. We did our best to make a dent in it but had to leave a lot of it on the table. We chatted a bit with Aranya, the owner of the resort. It is such a beautiful place – the setting is amazing, surrounded by these big steep rock faces. It would be easy to sit and stare at the mountains all day. Aranya said the resort is about 5 years old and though it was quiet while we were there she gets busy starting in December for a few months. Thanks to Aranya for making our stay so pleasant – we hope she has continued success with the resort.
We started the day with some nice back roads to a little town called Lan Sak where we caught road no. 3456 heading north. So far so good. Then we hit a snag. We were trying to find a smaller road that continued north and linked up with another road, no. 3473 that would take us toward Highway 1. We came into a little village and using Google maps found what looked like the road. As we were pulled over to the side of the road looking at our maps some folks from a little store on the corner came running over to see if they could help. One of the women spoke pretty good English and said that yes, we could take this road to 3473. We tried to ask if the road was okay to ride and she said yes, no problem. So, off we headed, expecting back roads like we had yesterday.
Well, today’s back road was a little bit different. It was paved for the first 2k or so and then turned to dirt and progressively got worse and worse as it went from dirt to mud. We were essentially riding through the rice fields and cornfields on a dirt farm road and given the rains the last few weeks up here it was a bit of a quagmire. Sticky red mud soon filled the space under our fenders and started spewing everywhere, on our bags, our chains, our legs. Occasionally we would go past farmers working in the fields who would turn and stare at us in amazement. It was very hard to ride in particularly as the wheels were now trying to get through the mud under the fenders and there may have been a few swear words uttered.
We had gone far enough that it seemed better to keep going to try to get to the other side than to try to turn around so we persevered and finally hit pavement. We stopped to try to dig out the mud from the fenders so the wheels would turn and try to dig it out from around our cleats so that we could get in and out of our pedals. Gaack, what a mess. It was really stick mud – you couldn’t just flick it off, it really stuck to everything. We finally gave up and continued on, hoping that we were done with the mud. Dave was worried now about his end of day cleaning job, it was looming large.
The pavement was actually concrete and looked fairly new – it was a raised roadbed above the surrounding rice fields. A few kilometres up it became clear why it looked new – there were a bunch of guys laying concrete up ahead! We rode on the concrete as far as we could but eventually noticed that our tires were leaving marks in the relatively fresh concrete so we dragged the bikes down off the concrete on to the other side of the road (more dirt) and continued on passing by the road workers as they looked at us and laughed. Fortunately it wasn’t far to the main road, No. 3473, that we were searching for and we were well and truly back on paved roads.
So, now that we’ve had our mud spa treatment the next thing of course is the water treatment. We could see some pretty black clouds ahead in the direction we were heading and sure enough down came the rain. Dave had actually made a comment that it would be nice to get a bit of rain to try to wash off some of the mud but we got a bit more than a bit! It really poured and there was no place to pull over so we just kept riding. Once you get wet there’s not much point in pulling over and we were sopping so we just kept riding. At least it did clean the mud off the bikes a bit.
We made our way to a little town called Latayo, where there was another road that would take us over to Highway 1. There was quite a bit of traffic coming through town and it became apparent that the diversion from Highway 1 to take people around the problems in Nakhon Sawan went through here. So, it wasn’t difficult to find the road to the Hwy – just follow the traffic. We first stopped at the local 7-11 to get some food and water. They were out of pork buns so Dave came out with these pork rice burgers instead. Sounds weird but they were actually pretty tasty. Basically a flavoured pork patty between two patties formed from rice. Interestingly they were also out of big bottles of water – pretty unusual for a 7-11 and probably evidence of people hoarding water or of the difficulty in transporting goods around the flooded areas.
We made it to Hwy 1 after getting another deluge (no point in getting dry I guess, spa treatment number 3 I think) and turned north. We had expected a bit of traffic on this road, given that it is the major north-south highway but there was very little traffic. The road was in pretty bad condition in many spots, with gravel and debris covering the shoulder and out into the left hand lane. There was a lot of water along the road and we saw quite a few houses that were still covered with water – pretty clear that it would have been hard to get through here a few days ago.
We had some hotels marked on our map along Hwy 1 so the plan was to try to get to one of those today. We rode for about 25k or so before we saw the first hotel on the other side of the road – it looked pretty rough so we kept going, hoping that there would be something better up the road. We knew that there were some towns or small villages along the way so surely there would be something decent on the major north-south hwy. We finally rode into a small town called Salok Bat – the town doesn’t really show up on our maps but it is a decent size and when we went by a 7-11 with some food stalls set up we pulled over to get something to eat and assess our options.
We had just ordered noodle soup when a woman stopped by our table to ask us, in very good English, if we needed any help. When we explained to her that we were trying to find a place to stay she rang one of her friends that run a resort and they had a room available. So after our noodle soup and a tasty dessert (some kind of sweet coconut milk soupy thing) we headed down to the resort. I don’t think we would have ever found this without help – no signs in English and it is off the main road. We were definitely lucky there. Decent room and a nice carport out front where we could clean the bikes up.
We’ll walk back into town to get some dinner soon (as soon as it stops raining…). Tomorrow we head to Kamphaeng Phet – should be a relatively short day. And we are staying on the highway so we should stay clear of the mud! I think my next spa day should be at an actual spa.