Day Five: Ban Grood to Chumphon

I said something wrong yesterday: today was not the day we proceeded to the east, that will be tomorrow.  Today we headed down south around one hundred and twenty kilometers from Ban Grood to Chumphon, which is still on the Gulf of Thailand coast.  Not complaining at all: this part of the world is simply gorgeous. Kilometers of unspoiled coastline, wide sandy beaches, and hardly any people.  Here is the scene as we cycled off in the morning, a lovely ride along the coast:

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We didn’t take our first break till about 40 kilometers into the ride, about an hour and a half after starting.  Strangely, after resting for a day, it didn’t feel super strenuous, although we were obviously cycling at a pretty rapid clip.  I kept up with the main crowd for about an hour (that group seems to always cycle at an average of 30 KMPH), and then, when there was some small climb, fell back.  But soon our guide Bottle came along, and I and one other cyclist fell in behind him and drafted off him.  Now Bottle’s wife is expecting, and there’s going to be a baby girl in the family soon, so Bottle is generally pretty relaxed about cycling (he even thinks this may be his last long trip). But this morning, he was in a tearing hurry, and I think we were back to a 30 KMPH average cycling behind him.

During the second stage it started to rain.  Poured quite heavily too.  I found myself cycling alone, the main group having long since taken off and with one or two behind me.  The route was a bit inland now, and there was dense vegetation all around. I found it quite very enjoyable: cycling in the rain with greenery all around. This was the road after the rain:

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Lunch was at about 90 KM into the ride.  Gorgeous restaurant, built on stilts on the beach.  Here is a view of the sea from the restaurant:

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and here is a random rider lying after lunch on the hammock the restaurant provided on the beach, looking towards the ocean:

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Hammocks to me are the height of civilization!  They seem a common feature in much of south-east asia (Vietnam had them all over the place too, as did Cambodia), with road-side restaurants routinely providing hammocks for their customers.  They signify a relaxed approach to life, a philosophical attitude that eschews hustle and bustle, recognizing that in the end nothing matters, and that there is no point getting uptight about anything!  The west may have its wall street and its venture capitalists and loads and loads of frenetic, soul-deadening activity, but south-east Asia, in its infinite wisdom, has the hammock.

Twenty five odd kilometers after lunch, we pulled into a gorgeous hotel on another gorgeous beach.  Here are a couple of scenes right outside our hotel:

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Tomorrow is the longest day: about 140 KM. I hope to survive!

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