We’re done! Rolled into Phuket after an easy 90 KM from Khao Lak. We added up the various days’ exact totals from someone’s Garmin (the earlier numbers I’ve quoted were approximations), and it came to eight hundred and ten kilometers. The trip was originally billed as being about 850 KM long, but since they changed the hotel we’d be staying in Phuket, we gained about 30 KM. No one is complaining of course!
The day started with a group photo, here we are in our Spice Roads jerseys:
We cycled through Khao Lak, which is a very picturesque town, with cliffs on the ocean side (which immediately reminded me of Southern California, except of course everything else—the vegetation, the soil, the people—was different). Here is a view of one of the beaches, from the cliff-top road we were riding on:
Throughout the ride, I’d seen temples ringed with statues of tigers and rooster, presumably these animals are invoked to protect the wats. (I know that most wats have a Garuda on the top and Nagas all around the periphery to protect them, for instance.) I couldn’t get a picture of this earlier for various reasons, but today I got one: a whole wall of a wat ringed by roosters:
About 15 KM from the entrance to Phuket, we stopped for a break, right on the Andaman Sea. Here’s a random rider, whooping with joy:
It has been a great ride indeed! For me, it was a foray into a whole new world: that of serious road-cyclists, and in particular, of racers. It is a sport unto its own, with speed its only currency. Coming to cycling as I do from the environmental perspective, where the goal is to make cycling the dominant means of transportation, and from the cycle-touring perspective, where the cycle is intended as an ambassador of goodwill and as a symbol of being at peace and in harmony with one’s surroundings, the high-testosterone high-competition world of racing had never quite been my thing. But now that I have seen it up close and personal (and in fact, for over 800 KM, having been a serious road-cyclist myself), I’m at least partly persuaded that road-cycling and racing may have some merits as a sport unto itself. Certainly, my fellow-riders seemed to enjoy the racing, and enjoyment is just what sport is all about!
But at the center of what made this a great ride is Thailand. It is a beautiful country, with simply lovely people. They are kind, they are gracious, and they are forever smiling. Chalk it up to Buddhism, or chalk it up to good breeding, the Thai people are a delight.
A special shout-out to our drivers, Rin (on the left in the picture below) and Suwat. They drove patiently behind us, fixed our flats for us, made sure our water bottles were filled at all breaks, cut our fruit for us, and pampered us in general, smiling all the time. Along with Aum and Bottle (whose pictures I have posted earlier), Rin and Suwat made this trip run without a hitch, taking care of all our needs. Kapun Krop you guys! Thank you for a fantastic trip!
(Excuse me everyone, “Five Minutes.“)