Down out of the highlands – Phu Ruea to Loei (52/9701k)

(written by Nancy)

Our little cabin was quiet overnight.  No all night parties by the model crew, or at least any that we could hear.  We didn’t have far today so we had a relaxed brekkie at Cafe Amazon just up on the highway.  Cafe Amazon has signs in Thai that we think say “no outside food” – a burger with a slash through it and some Thai script.  It could be they are saying no junk food but our Thai skills are no help.  So, while Amazon sells almost no food we are still a wary eating our 7-11 yoghurt and fruit juice while we drink our espressos.  We can always play the “silly farang who doesn’t speak Thai” card should staff say something.  Most staff are actually way too shy for us to worry.  It’s very nice to be able to start the day with an espresso anyway.

We had a couple “huh” moments today that may indicate the need for a rest day.  I started by  taking the bags out to our bikes and got Dave’s bags all loaded up, on my bike, then returned to get more bags.  Dave came out and just burst out laughing when he saw this.  I came back out to see what he was laughing at and also started to laugh (our bikes and bags are both completely different colours).  Later in the day Dave suggested that we simply follow the signs to “city centre” for Loei where our hotel was located.  We have not seen an English “city centre” sign in over two months – we both burst out laughing once again at the absurdity of his suggestion.  I think that we are both losing our marbles.

We both had sore and tired legs as we started riding – I am sure it is a cumulative effect of the the last few days of climbing.  It was surprisingly cool this morning – in fact last night I was actually a bit chilly when we went out for dinner.  Phu Ruea is relatively high in elevation compared to other parts of Thailand and it felt like a bit of autumn mountain chill in the air.  No jackets required, cool by Thailand standards is still relatively warm for us.

Almost as soon as we started riding we encountered today’s product stall of the day.  Today again it was not fruit, rather golden gourds.  That is, some sort of gourd in all different sizes painted in bright gold paint.  There were the usual string of stands where we stopped for photos.  The two ladies running the stand in front of us both had young babies and a puppy was bouncing around as well.  They were very happy to pose with their kids when Dave took a picture.

We had heard about a great 15k downhill riding into Loei so we were surprised that the first 20k had so many ups and downs.  It may have been our tired legs but the granny gears got a good workout.  We were not sure where the downhill started so when we stopped at 20k at a viewpoint we had no idea that we were just at the start of a great downhill indeed.  The last 30k were much faster and as we dropped elevation it got a lot warmer.  We stopped a few kilometres from town for an ice coffee at a place called Coffee & Steaks – I couldn’t convince Dave to try a steak sandwich.

There were a few wats today and other Buddhist-related statues – some of them a bit odd.  It seemed like there was some kind of prehistoric theme going on.  At least two of the statues were under construction with concrete forms in odd shapes being formed over them.  A bit of random  concrete structures and Buddha.  The builder of one of the covered Buddhas was more than happy to pose for Dave and his camera, quite proud of his new structure.

We rolled into town about 11:30 and decided to check out the Kings Hotel first.  I looked at three rooms and found one on the ground floor that is pretty good – clean, a shower with a shower curtain (!), a fridge and kettle and English channels on the TV – and the bikes fit in the room.  Plus a bonus  – no ants, so far anyway.  Looks like a good place to take a day off the bikes and let our legs rest.

We headed out in the heat and found some chicken rice for lunch.  The chicken was just off the grill and delicious.  We then wandered town a bit, there’s not too much to it but we did find a place to do laundry – with a proper washing machine.  So one chore is already done.

For dinner I felt like a hamburger so we headed for the Lonely Planet noted farang restaurant in town.  We had to ask a couple locals for help finding it as it had changed it’s name.  They didn’t have burgers so I had a steak.  Dave had some curry sausage.  We’ll probably not go back tomorrow as the steak was not all that good.  At least they had an Australia license plate that made us think of one of our homes.

So, tomorrow we are staying put.  We need to do some bike maintenance, but will mostly be laying low and resting.  And watching some English TV of course.

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11 responses to “Down out of the highlands – Phu Ruea to Loei (52/9701k)

  1. I liked the colorful buddha. Maybe it isn’t a buddha.

  2. How far are you from leaving Thailand?

  3. You two still have it – what a week of riding-you deserve a day off. I’m looking forward to learning the differences in your next country. Not a word from you about feeling in danger or any crime, so I am assuming Thailand is very safe for foreigners? Is it due to their religion??? Enjoy your day off!

    • They say that outside Bangkok, there is little petty crime. Our experience has being nothing but good. We don’t hit the dark, dead-end alleys at night either. So far so good.

  4. Signs to city center… – does that mean you’re recognizing the words subconciously?

  5. The Buddhas always make me feel peaceful, ok, with the exception of the guy who is very colorful holding the flowers, I’m a little weirded out by him. 🙂 I am convinced that I need to get to Thailand, the people you have met have been amazing. I never expected the friendly, helpful people for tourist that can’t speak their language!

  6. Loving the Australian number plate!!

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