Still dead from yesterday’s 140-odd KM ride, I took off today for an almost as grueling 128 KM ride to Khuraburi. However, I made an important decision: today, and for the next two days, I’m going to ride the way I like my rides to be—relaxed, lots of short rest breaks and camera breaks, and with as much mingling with the local people as possible—instead of the full-fledged preparation for the Tour de France that we seemed to have been indulging in. Not that there’s anything wrong with training for the Tour de France of course, but it was just not my thing. Now, exactly one other person thought like me, Michael, a retired university administrator who lives in North Carolina, so Michael and I rode a very leisurely ride today, securely positioned at the back end of the pack, most of the rest being typically a good half hour at least ahead of us. One of our guides Bottle (bless his heart) and one van (driven by Suwat, bless his heart too) stayed with us.
It was the right decision to have made, and today’s felt more like the ride I’d done with my buddy Partha in Malaysia a few years ago, only much longer. The scenery was gorgeous, we were once again going up and down rolling hills with dense vegetation on either side. And 128 KM later, we pulled into a lovely wooded resort hotel, set in jungle-like surrounding, with its own lake.
More in pictures:
A major boulevard in Ranong we spent time on this morning before we hit the open road.
The roadside looked like this much of the time.
A typical cottage one would see by the side of the road; sometimes you’d see several together. Typically, plantation workers live in these houses, Bottle tells me.
Bottle! His real name is Chanwit. He’s really looking forward to the baby girl that’ll be born early next year!
The rearguard. That’s Michael on the left
We were not far from the coast, and there were these mountains on our east whose lower reaches we were passing through, so fairly often we’d see rivers like this run down from the mountains towards the sea.
A small settlement on a road perpendicular to our road.
Another sample of the scenery that accompanied us throughout.
We are now far enough south that we are starting to see Muslim communities. This picture was taken at a snack shop by the first mosque I saw: it had a school adjacent to it, and the kids had just been let out. This kid wasn’t shy, she was charming actually. She was older than the others in that snack shop, and may be related to the owner.
At our lunch stop. This 13-year old is the daughter of the owners. She came over to practice her English with me, goaded on by Bottle, our driver Rin, and of course her doting mother. We had a great time together. The restaurant the family runs must be doing quite well, since this girl is being sent to Singapore soon for a short stay for some tutoring. (I met her cousin outside, who’d done a similar stint in New Zealand.)
The scene from my room window, at the Khuraburi Greenview Resort. Very beautiful place. But lots of walking up and down steep garden paths to get to and from our rooms, and after three days of hard riding of well over a hundred KM a day, my legs were looking around for an elevator.
Tomorrow we go to Khao Lak, 80 KM away. After this intense riding, I’d hesitate to call tomorrow’s ride a “short” one: it is quite possible that my legs will refuse to pedal that long. We’ll see…