Monday, 13 December 2010

Week 6 - Sawankalok to ChiangKhan 295kms cycled.

Highlights: Pinapples, coffee, great scenery, friendly people.

Low blows: Dotty thieves, disc brake falling off, cheap crappy bust spokes, 

Music of the week: Buena Vista Social Club 

Sawankalok to Utaradit 71kms

Up at 6am and had the cheapest food ever for brekkie, only 15baht but bloke mustve charged me wrong surely? Had a hot coffee in mkt then picked up some papaya and bananas. On the road by 8:30.

Feeling distracted and not able to get into ride, maybe cos Ive done bugger all for last week? Highway not too busy. Arrived historical park an hour later, had a break sat on old city walls over-looking river.

Cycled along small quiet roads until rejoining main highway. Then long straight, mainly flat sections, rice, sugar cane, tree lined sections all way to Utaradit. Very hot by 11am. Several home-made tok tok lorries loaded with rice grain heading to a big depot, some sugar cane trucks, and funniest of all, tok toks loaded with hay with a tarpaulin sheet on top. Looks like a mobile haystack with 4 wheels poking out of the bottom, whizzing along chug chug chug chug.

Arrived there at 12:30 and decided better to stop here than end up going miles to find a place to stay. Soon found GH aided by friendly mototaxi driver. 180baht, bit of a dump but ok.

 Showered, ate, read book till 3pm then went for a spin in town when a little bit cooler. Not much to see here. Nice seating area with big sala near main market overlooking river.

A display outside a home in honor of His Majesty the King of Thailand's birthday

Scenic snack spot on Sawankaloks old city walls

Utaradit to Utaradit Round trip 80kms then Sukothai by bus

A right F**ing saga of a day! Slept badly, nightshift on reception had TV blaring which echoed upstairs and over the old style parapet wall you get in these old places, asked them to turn it down at 12:30 which they did and made it more bearable. Bed also right lumpy and bloke next door snoring and mumbling in the night. Put pillow on head which blocked most of it. 

Woke at 5:30, old boy had taken over from nightshift downstairs and cranked up TV to ‘normal’ volume  ie LOUD and bloke next door was singing in the shower. Cocks crowing outside didn’t bother me in the slightest compared to this noisefest. Got up 6am, light just about to start up, showered and went to market. Kao mung gai, bought a bag of satsumas, then coffee from 7/11. 

Packed and on road by 8am. Songtheaws packed with students heading to schools, and rush hour in the town. Got through all that and onto quiet road. Steady uphill, treelined in parts and easy going. Several people giving me thumbs up in encouragement. Stopped off at 30kms for a rest outside a house as there was an empty stall set up that provided shade. People from house soon came out - 2 identical sisters early 50s one a bit odd. Gave em an orange each as I got my snacks out. They disappeared so took opportunity to have a pee out of the way. When I came back a glass of water had appeared and 2nd sister eventually came back. 1st sister nowhere to be seen. Chatted a while then set off again. 

Starting to feel good and put on some music to complement the feeling. Just getting to top of hill when summat didn’t feel right. Got off bike. Noticed my lock wasn’t on there, mustve left it on table when I took it off straps to get oranges out.  That was 11kms back down the road so stood a while thinking. I decided to leave it there, but when I got back on back brake wasn’t working. Had a look, all the nuts had disappeared and the disc was just sitting there. Definitely going back now! Trying to think about how it could happen – someone try to steal it last night? But unlikely cos they would’ve just taken the quick release wheel off and had the lot. I reakon that the bloke who put new wheels on last week didn’t put nuts on tight enough. Called ahead to Sukothai shop to see if he had parts and he had, hurrah. Ok, already done 39kms so just turned around. Went down carriageway looking for the nuts and found one, but after 15mins gave it up. Not too bad cos downhill most of way. 

Stopped off to see if Id left my lock at the rest stop, but those people acting weird and saying theyd not seen it. Asked if they were sure and if 1st sister had it, but she was in her room and not coming out. Ok, said forget it and rode off. Definitely a nut job and funny too – what sort of thief nicks a locked lock! Shiny things shiny things. 

Rode all the way back into Utaradit. I am getting very hot, despite getting water along the way. Hungry too but will eat at bus station. Some more mobile haystacks passed me by along the way. Turned out bus station near hotel so double checked Id not left it there – no! they definitely nicked it at rest stop. Arrived bus station, bus ready to leave. Loaded stuff on, grabbed some mini-pasty things and a bottle of water and jumped on. Relief to sit under a/c. Ate my pasties quickly, and began to feel better. Have a fine layer of salt all over my skin. 

Back in Sukothai by 3:30, showered then took bike in for new nuts. Bought a new lock and a padded cover for seat which is going to rip open soon. Very strange day indeed for all this stuff to go on. Lucky I didn’t get into the hilly mtn stretch before this happened or it wouldve been a pain in the arse/dangerous. 

Sukothai to Ban Yeang by bus then cycled to Dan Sai 76kms

Got up 6am, had breakfast then headed up to bus station at 8. Chatted with a friendly old monk while the bus came. Woman who sold tickets had been fretting thered be no space for my bike, but this bus had the biggest cargo hold Ive seen yet so slotted it in easily, drivers mate also knew exactly where I wanted to be dropped. And was dropped there by 11am. Sat in shade and slapped on suncreme while chatting with a woman who made and sold bbq sausages. Got some water off her and set off. 

Rolling hills so low gears to get up em, but easy enough as they gave out to a down bit just as it was getting tiring. Gorgeous scenery, rice fields being harvested, stubble burnt off, all golds and yellows. Several convoys of tok toks (a tok tok is a home-made vehicle made using a rice paddy tractor engine and then whatever chassi or frame is needed to make the vehicle you want. The engine costs about $200US and it is the cheapest way to have a vehicle. The engine makes a took, tok, tok, tok sound as it chugs along) laden with freshly harvested rice making there way to grain stores along the road. 

After rolling road it eventually entered a flat section and town of Nakhon Thai 30kms into ride. Ate lunch and had a laff with workers there till I felt fresh to carry on. They said only 44kms although looked further on map and didn’t know if it was just Thai good will or not. Carried on. Land getting more hilly with lots of little gullies and bumps. Sand/mudstone rock. Enjoying scenery. Eventually came to a down hill to a wall of big hills and could see the road going up a tight valley, started to go up for next 15kms. 

Nice to be riding at late afternoon with softer golden sunlight and long shadows making the scenery even better. Lots of large molehill hills some with craggy outcrops amongst forest and bamboo. Later on a weed/plant with indigo flowers lined the roadside for a long long way. 

The last 7kms uphill was very demanding, just stuck on Buena Vista Social club and chugged along, walking in parts as speed down to 5kmh (can push at 4kmh and good to stretch the legs). Really knackered towards end, but had a real treat with a 6km downhill stretch right into the town. 

Couldn’t help thinking how lucky Id been having my brake fail yesterday as youd be in a right pickle coming down this and having no brakes. Picked imaginary spots where I could bail into bushes as I whizzed downhill. Nice old man running gh and he let me have a room for 300baht instead of 450, good too cos 6pm and getting dark. Had food in local resto then had 2 rotis in nightmarket chatting with stall holders. Nice people around here. Good ride.

Harvesting rice in the hot hot sun

This road leads to them thar hills and the start of a big uphill

Still time for a photo on the eagerly awaited downhill section

Scouse fashion week?? No, its Phi Ta Khon in bicycle riding pose

Totem poles in the gardens of a  posh resort
Pinapple for breakfast. Went and ate that in local park (yes a real park in Thailand away from major roads with trees and everything!!) and watched the fresh water fish goad and fight each other. Found a fresh coffee stall and had 2 coffees, chatting with stall holder and 2 policemen. People really friendly around here. Took bike to shop and got front spokes tightened too. Mooched about town, had a massage, cycled around park a bit, then to night market for dinner. Hopefully thatll be it for bike problems? Lets see how we get on in Laos eh……if I get that far.

Loei to Chiang Khan 50kms.
For breakfast, pinapple in the park, then coffee and cake again. Packed up and on the road by 10. Busy highway, dual carriageway for all except last few kms. Signs along the way for Luang Prabang 400kms+. Easy up and down all the way. Stopped off for lunch and chatted with workers for a bit.
Arrived CK at about 2ish. Followed small soi onto street next to Mekong and surprised to see hundreds of Thai tourists wandering about. Found out it was bank holiday weekend so the place was inundated. GH I wanted to stay at was full (as were all the others) but owner kindly took me and a girl who’d just arrived down a soi to a locals home. Here we were offered a screened off area and beds made from quilts on the floor. 200baht. Accepted immediately cos no chance getting anywhere else.
Showered and had a wander. Lovely to be next to river, Thais all posing up and down and taking hundreds of photos in front of old things and cute things. All a bit much for me as too packed. Couldn’t find cheap food on river front so went to main street and eventually got something there. Everywhere heaving and loads of minibuses and coaches turning up. I reakon every house in the town took people in. Went back to home at 8:30 as bored and it started raining! Typical – ditched tent and poncho and today I need accommodation and its raining. Lucky I didn’t camp though, as some people did, cos would’ve got soaked.

Thais arrive en-masse

Crumbly old stucco fascade

Old wooden buildings along the riverside street

Chiang Khan
Slept pretty well, mozzies kept nibbling at anything that touched the nets sides so kept waking with itchy fingers and feet. Other visiting Thais staying in teh house got up at 6am ,but I managed to doze in till 8. Showered, had bananas and coffee then went to gh to get a room. Sat and chatted with owner. Looks like most of Thais are heading home en-masse today. Washed some stinky clothes, then rode down to beauty spot Kaeng Kut Koo 6kms down river. Busy with people there too but got a quiet table in pricey restaurant and admired the view over a beer.  Back in town a lot quieter now and far more my type of place. Chatted with a cycling group who’d come up from Nong Khai and guide gave me details about the bit in Laos I am going to do next week. Lovely spot now the crowds have gone.
Peaceful view over to Laos from guesthouse balcony

Great spot for a beer downriver

Poinsettias - indigenous to Central America but in abundant in Thailand, just in time for christmas too

Monday, 6 December 2010

Week 5 - Sukothai to Sawankalok via MaeSot. A massive 41kms cycled

Highlights: Twisty windy mountain roads and great scenery.
Low blows: Front mud guard fell off somewhere. Not rainy season so doesnt really matter.
Music of the week: Louie Louie – Toots and the Maytals

Mae Sot
Had pinapple again for breakfast and a superstrong cup of expresso. Packed stuff then went to bus station. Ate lunch, lots of cheeky sparrows clearing up leftovers when people have left. Took bus to Tak (no charge for bike) and then got a shiny brand new van to MaeSot with bike strapped to roof. Mad road, everyone going too fast through the twisty steep forested hills, Arrived Mae sot 3:30 and got my bearings when I saw the police cells for illegals. Checked into place I stayed when I came here 3 years ago. Lovely room 300baht. Wifi, hot shower, cable tv, garden outside. Only downer is they have several cats here so its a bit wiffy of cat poo when you walk down the driveway. Found a pot stall for dinner, 2 scoops and a hor mok. Aroy. You can tell you are near Myanmar border as lots of women with yellow sandalwood powder on their faces and exotic looking people wandering about. One  bloke eating in the food place I was in  had a colourful headscarf, lunghi and shirt – very non-Thai.

Next day had a wander around busy market in morning, big pinapple for breakfast and not so good coffee (they don’t seem to care for coffee around these parts – lots of ready mix and Nescafe  ‘its the best’). Was in search of the betel nut stuff but not many places doing it. Cycled up to border area, very quiet compared to Mae Sai, and very little movement over bridge. Further up stream came across what I assumed to be a sweatshop- big factory all sealed up but with the klack klack klack of what I presumed to be looms Inside. Went to quieter section of river and people being ferried across in canoes at one point and on rubber inner tubes at another – motorbike taxis waiting under tree so obviously a regular crossing. Lads selling cartons of fake Marlboros and sex potions, Viagra etc. Next to bridge a huge market full of tat and ‘gemstones’. Cycled back, hot sun. Read book in afternoon and decided to hire motorbike tomorrow to go to Umphang.

Burmese vendors in market

Alternative means of crossing the border

 Goods for sale at the border, 'best quality guaranteed'

Mae Sot to Umphang by motorbike
Hired motorbike in morning and set off by 11am. Soon discovered the front part of the seat had had its padding taken out making it very uncomfortable. Had to use a jumper for padding and cursed whoever owns the bike’s (probably a youth) ideas of sporty looks. Had a massive bug splat into my left eye- lucky to be wearing sunglasses. Road soon started going upwards. Lovely countryside and surprising what a little bit of altitude and change in climate can do for crop growing. I smelt out large fields of spring onions, planted in tight rows. Also sugar cane, cabbages, and other veggies. Lots of irrigation systems on the go. Worried about fuel as don’t know where the fill ups are, so kept putting gas in every time a station appeared. (Neednt have worried cos theres a station bang mid way at 80kms.)

Road starts climbing into hills, good fun on motorbike and glad Ive got a 4 stroke. Awesome scenery, pine trees, deciduous and lots of gullies, ridges and mountains. Very twisty windy road. Everyone had said that this road was dangerous, but its not the road but the drivers coming round on wrong side of bend that are the problem. Road eventually came down and along a valley. Stopped at gas station km80 and filled up. Bunch of monks all there having ice creams (bit naughty cos already 2pm). Chatted a bit with workers there and rested my bum. Bit of a settlement here and further up road is a big refugee camp up and along the hillside. Doesn’t look too crowded and housing looks decent too. Annoying to see a few churches in the settlement, why cant they just help people instead of having to convert them? Carried on, road getting bendy again and sign warning of curves ahead peppered with bullet holes, just to add confidence to the ride! Next section of road very windy and mountainous and rather cold in the shady sections so I put on my jumper. Lots of workers putting in new concrete poles in for the electricity cables.

Eventually made it over mtn range – great view over field below, and onto lower farmland. Surprised to see outcrops of limestone (bit like Krabi) amongst the fields. Lovely scenery and glad I decided to make the trip, although it would be awful stuck in the back of a songtheaw. At bottom of one section of hill the crash barrier completely buckled and ripped apart where a truck laden with building materials had gone through (just bags of cement and bits n pieces left, no truck), Eventually got to Umphang, small town with tourists being the local industry. Found a place to stay once the old lady that ran it had woken up, and got a wooden chalet near to river and in a lovely garden for 300baht.

Wandered about town and found a pot shop to eat at. Took a small bottle of sangsom back to room, drank half while reading book, then decided to go for a beer. Bought a take out from small shop that was just closing and got grabbed by some local women who’d been drinking Lao Lao so had fun with them for a while until a bloke who’d been sitting with us suddenly went weird, ordered his girlfriend to go indoors then grabbed her by the hair, punched her. She fell on floor screaming and he started to boot her. A big bloke from house next door appeared and calmed it all down. Decided time to leave em to it so wandered back up road.Pretty cool in the night, 2 blankets needed.

Mtn road

Mtn road, with bullet holes in sign

Almost at Umphang

Umphang and around
Had a potter about town, chatted with a girl who’d been in that refugee camp for 3 years and now worked in a shop in the town. Not really anything to do in the town, think they must get a lot of Thai tourists, although Ive seen a few farangs about. Went for a spin on motorbike. Lots of cows in road.  Ended up going down a dead end road which took me through an unmanned check point and then the road just ended with a sign saying this is where Thailand starts, beyond it was just a field with a track. Thought about going down it, but dunno what the Burmese army would do if they caught me having a nosey, probably ok, but you never know. In a village on road coming back from border looked pretty  lined with bamboo poles with long red silk flag things  with elephants on them. Back into Umphang and spent afternoon reading by the river. Went out for a beer. Chatted for a bit with ladies from yesterdays excitement and theyre all ok, bloke has buggered off somewhere.
Thailand ends 1 metre in front of motorbike

Around Umphang

View from Mtn road

View from Mtn road
Around Umphang

Back to Mae Sot
Enjoyed the scenery on the way back, although lots of empty trucks whizzing round corners so gotta pay attention. Stopped a lot along the way for the scenery. Found out that the gas attendant at km80 lives in the refugee camp so gave him the shorts Id been planning to donate there. Ate lunch at big roadstop area and briefly chatted with a group of microlite enthusiasts from ChiangMai, 10 microlites altogether in the back of their pickups. Stopped off at the lovely little Tararak waterfall on the way back, timing my arrival perfectly with the departure of about ten songtheaws full of Thais all whooping it up and heading to Umphang. Sugar cane being harvested and trucked out. Arrived back in town at 4:30. My hayfever is getting realy bad, itchy eyes, incessant sneezing, runny nose and itchy throat, must be a lot of pollen about and its harvest time so reakon lots in air too.

Tararak waterfall

Had a look around local temple with a Burmese type stupa (like a large golden chess pawn). Funny to see a dog sprayed with purple, I think it was iodine spray, looked like a purple tiger. Wandered down to police station and took sneaky pic of Karien whod crossed into Thailand illegally and were now in the cells. Read book in afternoon and didn’t do a great deal in evening either, used google earth to attempt plotting a route in Laos. Should be interesting to see if it works or not! Getting bored just hanging about but Im tied to the entry date on my Vietnam visa so must bide my time till 14thand then into Laos.

Burmese style stupa
Exceedingly rare purple tiger
Detainees who'd crossed the border with no papers
A new add on to my bike for when I get tired!
Gem and other shiny stone traders in MaeSot

Inside the temple

MaeSot to Sukothai, then cycle to Sawankalok 41kms
Took van to Tak, bit worried cos had to strap it to a big box upright on roof. Driver was an old boy taking his time so not too scary. Had an hours wait in Tak so ate lunch and loaded bike onto bus, had to remove front wheel and use ropes to secure it inside. Reassembled bike at other end and it wasn’t until Id set off that I noticed front mudguard missing. Went back and flagged down bus that was just leaving but nothing in its hold. It either fell off while it was on the roof of the van, or had done so in the bus and got chucked out when a bloke took his rice sacks off. It might have got damaged just before I got on van bike fell over onto floor. Either way, its gone, so hopefully its not gonna rain and I wont need it anyway! Was worried highway 101 was gonna be busy, but it was a flat straight road with not too much traffic on it. Farmers getting fileds ready for the next plant of something- sugar cane?. Big surprise when I got to Sawankolok, town centre blocked off and a huge parade going through it – it’s the kings birthday!- military marched through first, then a lot of people dressed in white holding photographs and pictures up, then traditionally dressed people, decided it would take ages to wait so I found a clear spot up the side and went slowly alongside the parade going the wrong way. Quite a few floats, marching bands, interspersed with people in pink king shirts waving flags – very impressive! Managed to find a soi which took me to a parallel road and aske for a hotel. Was directed to a posh hotel which I eventually found after having to negotiate the tail end of the parade waiting to get going. Cheapest room there was 1000 baht! So got them to tell me where cheaper places in town were, turns out a cheap one was just around the corner so I brought up the rear of the parade till I got to hotel and checked in. Only 220 baht a night! Really good place too, miles better than the crap hole I stayed in 10 years ago. Showered and then eventually found a place to eat. Had a nosey in centre of town, very busy with everyone wearing pink and not a lot to see so back to hotel. Glad Ive got the bike cos everything is very spaced out here and a bit of a maze. Has the feel of a really nice Thai town here.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Week 4 - Bangkok to Sukothai, 235kms cycled.

Highlights: Great scenery, friendly people.

Low blows: The 6 month visa Id been promised turned out to be a 30day visa.   
                  .     Discovering a road you’d cycled a long way to get to doesn’t exist!

Music of the week: Sodade – Cesaria Evora


Went to pick up visas only to discover theyd only given me a double entry 30day and not 6 months as Id requested. After lengthy discussion it turns out you cannot get a 6 month without an invitation letter. Woman eventually gave me back 700 baht and apologized.
Back to hospital for final dose of Cholera vaccine then onto bike shop to get a new cycle computer, some new bar grips and a bottle cage. Spend, spend, spend. Loads of monitor lizards sloping around the park, really tame. Some huge crows too! Changed money into US dollars, Dong and Yuan then popped into art museum. Met with Glen and Steve for farewell beers at night.

Caution lizard crossing.

Bangkok to Nakhon Sawan by train.

Rode to train station in about 10 mins, ate lunch and lazed about till time to put bike on train. Got there and workers taking all cargo off it – problem with the engine. A new one was found and we set off 40 mins late. My carriage right at opposite end of train so humped all stuff down there to reclining fan chair – loads of leg room too!!
Great to be leaving Bangkok – Im really fed up of the place just cos its really hard to find decent and reasonably priced food in backpacker area and all Thais there are really jaded with it all. Saw some pigeons at SamSen station all perched on the ends of vertical steel wire in the concrete column, rather than the tree opposite. Lovely scenery along the way – loads of birds in the wetland/rice paddy areas around Ayuthaya, storks, egrets, drongos, doves. Further on rice ready to harvest/ been harvested/ stubble burnt, and paddies prepared/replanted. Big limestone mtn in distance with a cement factory at the base. Arrived Nakhon Sawan an hour late at 19:30. Ask bloke in ticket office where a hotel was. He started to tell me but then just beckoned to follow him so I went into carpark and he pointed 100m into corner. Had to call number on sign as no one there (a bloke staying here helped me and he was instructed to show me a room). Nice little room 200 baht (so he said) with tv, fan bathroom. 

Hualamphong train station

Waiting for the new bits of the train to arrive

Trees not good enough for Bangkok pigeons

Nakhon Sawan to town on way to Umphang 130kms

Slept well. Easily found breakfast in a large food market set up outside train station in a long strip. Had thai food over rice and then went and sat at stall across from there to have coffee. People very polite here and can feel a more harmonius existence in this place. Pleasant to sit and watch and be part of it. Cant beat real Thai style. An old man arrived singing and in good spirits, who sat with me. 2 of the old mans friend arrived so talked with them a while until time for off. Went to pay for coffee, but one of the men had already signalled he was gonna pay for it. Said thankyou and left. Still no sign of gh owner so left key and money on table in room. Set off, wide busy road, passing army base training helicopter pilots, some hovering and maneuvering in the field, others out over the town. Probably quite dangerous around here? Hit the main highway, and glad to have hi-viz bands on, which I leave on all the time now, as fast busy road (but didn’t seem too bad after my Bangkok conditioning). 25kms in stopped for snacks at 7/11, then turned onto quieter road. Lots of bird life, drongos, storks, egrets, the odd heron too, and some kestrel-like birds of prey hovering looking for victims.
Heard a twang and a rear spoke had gone. Few minutes later another twang and another spoke. Wheel now got a wobble in it and Im imagining the whole thing collapsing in a heap beneath me, so took it steady for rest of ride. Beautiful countryside, mainly rice paddies. Stopped at Ban Lak for lunch and looked for a bike shop but no one had spokes for my ‘super’ bike. Lathered up with sun screen, hat, long sleeved shirt, and carried on. Grain warehouses and some vast areas of concrete for grain drying, set out in pretty swirls.

Harvested rice drying in the sun

Friendly folks along the way

Had a rest stop and chatted with a bloke and other people in village until ready to carry on. At 78kms got to a crossroads with a few shops motel, and gas station. Bloke in gas station said there was accomodaton 25kms further up the road so carried on as not tired enough yet. Nearer the hills now, road undulating gently, and crops becoming mixed – some tapioca too. This area has so many wats, literally one every 10kms. Must be peaceful to be a monk out here. The village where Id been assured there was accommodation had none, so would have to continue to next town. Road has been smooth as a babys bum all day and after lunch, virtually deserted- very pleasant after Bangkok! And scenery beautiful – sun going down over silhouette of low hills and flooded paddies in foreground- which kept me going. Eventually arrived in a town. Asked some people for gh, but turns out all resorts are out of town, arse. On my last legs and did the 8kms (locals said 4) to a resort. My dream of nice chalets and a food place were misplaced as it was basically some rich persons grounds with a few bungalows in it. A/C starting at 600 and mattress awful. Only other alternative was going back 16kms onto other side of town. Asked bloke if I could have it for 400 with no air. He went and asked and they put me in a room down the bottom, toilet outside for 300. Room clean and nice sheets. Had refreshing shower and then Mr O the lad that worked there sorted me out with some dinner – a plate of pig shins, with boiled eggs, vegetables and a huge portion of rice. Cant say Ive eaten pig shins before, but they were ok after such a long ride. Knackered.

To Kampheng Phet 65kms and onto Sukothai by songtheaw

Slept like a log, although had to put net up as mozzie munching on my knuckle. Turns out the road that used to go from here to Umphang no longer exists – despite it being a think yellow line on my map! Thanked Mr O for helping me out, then breakfast in towns market. I like out of the way places cos you get farmers size portions!! Called probike in Bangkok and they said there was a bike shop in Sukothai so that’s where Im headed. Farming more mixed here, rice, sugar beat being harvested and some corn and tapioca fields too. This area has the longest straightest roads! Hayfever making me sneeze a lot. Hit main highway and thought Id be clever by taking a shortcut into the town away from busy road. Ended up doing a circle and probably up highway about 2kms from where Id been  to bus station (should have learned from Chumphon that bus stations aren’t in the town!)  Had dinner then got a songtheaw to Sukothai, a lovely tree lined road and chatting with woman driver in front. Sky hazy from burning off stubble. Found farang gh 250 baht for cute little bungalow with bathroom. My sandals are stinking! Gave them a wash.

Around Sukothai 40kms

Dropped my bike in to the shop, then sat by the river and ate the pinapple Id bought from market. Lots of ants appeared as they sniffed out this sweet tasty treat. Let my sandals dry properly in the sun. Picked up bike, wheels straight as a die. Went to have a look round World heritage park in afternoon. 12kms away. Sat and watched people feeding catfish in a big lake, there was a large turtle in there too jockeying for position but he kept getting sunk by the mob. Had a cycle round ruins, but looked more like a building site to me as all that remains are the laterite foundation blocks, no stucco or murals or anything. Bagan wipes the floor with this place! Not impressed. Somehow Id managed to bypass the toll huts, who now want 100 baht per section. Pleasant to ride around the shady tree lined roads and large lake things. Had a big plate of food in nightmarket for only 25baht -aroy aroy.

Sukothai world heritage site

Sukothai world heritage site
Catfish freeding frenzy! Anyone for a fish spa and foot massage?

Probably the best looking building in the whole heritage site - the tourist office.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Week 3 - PrachuapKiriKhan to Bangkok. Only cycled a bit around Bangkok.

Highlights: BBQ king size prawns and beers with buddies.

Low blows: Bangkok traffic.

Music of the week: Divers – Boozou Bajou

Caught bus up to Bangkok 120 baht for me and 100 for bike. Arrived 1:30pm. Quite unnerving to be amongst such heavy traffic and past closely by cement mixers and other nutters at high speed. Glad to arrive at gh 45 mins later. The woman who owns place I stayed at keeps lots of dogs and birds in cages, so it smells a bit like a petshop, but is quite a quirky place and right enough for 200baht. Put passport in for 6month China and 1month Vietnam visas (3200 and 2200baht). Already 3pm by time I got organized so just bought a 30litre drybag so make things a bit more organized on back of bike instead of lots of plastic bags. Had a few beers later on the infamous Gecko bar which certainly helped me to sleep while the Chinese festival around the corner went on till 2am with blasting music and wailing karaoke.

Some local had their phone on full blast so kept getting woken up by a Thais mobile phone song on full volume in night and early in morning. Thai mobile phones have enough volume to rival a motorhead gig. Had a western breakfast for a change, then cycled to the bikeshop. Lots of big monitor lizards in Lumphini Park swimming about. Bought new rear light, handlebar bag, pump, innertubes, gloves, waterbottle, tube levers, tube repairkit, and got new chain and rear set fitted aswell. 100quid altogether. Went and had my vaccinations done in nearby red cross hospital while waiting for them to put on new chain and rear set on bike. Some boats in the yard recently arrived back from flooded areas. A load of construction workers of to Middle East came in to get vaccinated too. 
Wandered around doing a bit of sight-seeing and shopping, weird how walking around Bangkok makes you just as tired as cycling long distance. Met with some friends in evening and had a few beers and game of pool.

Around Bangkok's markets

Around Bangkok's markets

Around Bangkok's markets

Around Bangkok's markets

Around Bangkok's markets

Around Bangkok's markets

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around Bangkok.

Around the ChaoPhraya river.

Around Bangkok.

Around Bangkok.

Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.

Around Bangkok.

Strange junction.
Strange junction.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.
Around Bangkok.

Later in the week packed my bags and cycled up to Steves house in BangYai. He’d given me decent directions so just had to brave traffic, which wasn’t too bad at mid morning. Worried about getting rear ended by some twat on mobile phone etc. Hot sunny morning. Went to supermarket on motorbike and bought some supplies, including a case of beer, which became a bit of a balancing act having it perched on seat and wedged between my knees on way back.

Mental Health cereal!

Curry night at Glen and Preeya’s new house. Had delicious king Prawns and squid on BBQ and then a few curries all washed down with the booze Id gotten earlier. Aroy Aroy!!

Next morning turns out Federbrau is a miracle beer as felt absolutely fine!! Glen made comment too so must be the Bavarian purity laws that make it so clean. Went and bought a hi-viz jacket to modify for the bike. Went in search of a seamstress and got them to knock up a couple of hi-viz wrap around things, that will fit around top of pannier bags and make me more visible. I realised when looking at the fully loaded bike from behind that it was just a black mass. Now its lit up like a Christmas tree – Hope it helps!
Saturday was Steves birthday so had a few beers in afternoon and then went off to a restaurant followed by Karaoke.
Can't let all that ice cream go to waste. 


Girls 'n' boys.

 A good laugh and decided to drink the magic potion Federbrau again and avoided drinking tequila despite peer pressure. Matt did a quality comedy routine at the end!! Bed 1:30.
Sunday Morning – Federbrau is now my favourite beer as you can drink as much as you want and feel ok the next day, the exact opposite of drinking beer Chang (elephant beer), which makes you feel like an elephant has walked over your head.