(written by Nancy)
Another quiet night last night, at least until about 2:30 when we were awoken by a car pulling up outside and then someone trying to open the door to our room with a key. Dave yelled at them and they quickly left – we think we heard them drive into the space next to us so we think it was a case of mistaken identity as to the room they had booked and that they were lost. I am sure they were quite startled hearing someone yelling at them in English!
I should also make a quick mention of dinner last night. It started to rain again just as we were heading out (about a 1k walk to town). Dave offered to check on a taxi and take away so I didn’t complain, happy to hang back in the room. He returned later with some yummy pork fried rice and a story of the little brother of the hotel receptionist giving him a ride on the back of his scooter. I understand that they drove on the wrong side of the road for a while, without helmets, in the dark and rain – and best of all, were followed back to the hotel by a police car. All pretty normal I guess as nothing more came of it and as I mentioned, the rice was good.
We packed up this morning to the sound of rain falling outside – bummer. By the time we were ready to head over to reception to check out it was only very light rain. At reception they invited us in to have breakfast – they had instant coffee and the little donut-like things that Dave loves to eat. As we sat there eating and drinking with some of the other guests, in came one of the staff members with a tray with a fried egg and sausage (hot dog again) for both of us. Very funny! We ate them of course, scooping up the eggs with the little donuts. Nutritious, I am not sure, but it was quite tasty and a nice way to wait for the rain to ease. I am sure we were the envy of the other guests.
We rode all day today on Hwy 1 – again, not as bad as it sounds as the traffic was very light. You wouldn’t know it was a major north-south highway from the traffic level or the condition of the road. We had a huge wide shoulder and at some points it felt like we were on a country road. We did get the inevitable downpour though, not too long after leaving town, just to make sure we were nice and wet for the whole ride. We stopped for an espresso refresher after about 20k and didn’t have any rain after that, though still had to deal with the wet roads.
We saw more evidence of flooding today, with houses marooned out in flooded fields and sandbags lining driveways and doorways. A boat would be essential here – we saw one house that was fortunately built on stilts but was surrounded by water and there was a longtail boat sitting near the roadway where their driveway disappeared under water. Lots of waterlogged rice fields as well – the news here indicates that the floods will cause damage to over 25% of the total Thailand rice crop.
We also saw a pretty big snake on the side of the road today – dead fortunately (okay, that’s not nice, but I wouldn’t have wanted to get close to him while he was alive). I did not see it when it I rode by it and Dave yelled at me to turn around and come back and see it. I am sure it must have washed up in the water and perhaps gotten hit by a car. Not sure what kind of snake it was, but it was big – long and thick. Makes me glad we are not camping here!
The road is in pretty bad shape along this stretch – lots of potholes and clearly disintegrating in places. As a result, many of the cars and trucks drive on the shoulder to avoid the big potholes. It was a bit of a shock to look in your mirror and see a big truck driving in the shoulder behind you. They were always polite though and moved out of the shoulder when they saw us. We also saw some funny things today – at two different service stations we saw big trucks parked in parking spots right in front of the stores, with the tail end of the truck sticking way out into the parking lot. Then at one traffic light we pulled up to see a big truck that seemed to be having problems. There were about 5 guys at the back of it that appeared to be trying to push it to either get it started or get it of the road. Crazy, as the truck was absolutely packed with stuff – and several of the guys were barefoot! The truck did rock a little bit but I don’t think they were going move it on their own. Would have been fun to watch for a bit to see if they kept trying but the light changed so we had to keep moving.
We rode into Kamphaeng Phet about noon and headed to the ThreeJ’s Guesthouse, which we had read about in several bike journals and in Lonely Planet. It was a bit tricky to find but we eventually did find it. It is kind of a unique place, with rooms and bungalows set around a garden area. It is a bit “rustic” and I think is frequented by backpackers generally but we are the only guests here now and from the register I saw it doesn’t look like they have had many people the last few weeks. I am sure all the dire predictions in the media about the flooding is affecting the tourism up here even though most of the bad flooding is down south. Anyway, it means we have the lounge area all to ourselves…
On the recommendation of the staff I went across the street to a food stall and got some pad thai and chicken fried rice – which the little old lady cooking hand delivered to us here on plates even! It was delicious and only 60B (about $2). There is supposed to be a good night market here but it is raining again so I think dinner may be from the BBQ stand up the road.
Tomorrow we plan on riding to Sukhothai where we will take a day off riding. Sukhothai is supposed to contain Thailand’s oldest ruins, dating back over 1,000 years. Rain is forecast but the lowest percentage is on Wednesday, the day we hope to tour the ruins.