Riding to Prachuap Khiri Khan: backroads, village singletracks, national parks, a knife fight and butterflies today - Taking my life for a ride - CycleBlaze

July 24, 2015

Riding to Prachuap Khiri Khan: backroads, village singletracks, national parks, a knife fight and butterflies today

To Prachuap Khiri Khan


I knew today's ride would be fairly fractious and chaotic as the mapping apps showed no obvious single way north, but a fractured web of interlocking minor roads, back roads, tracks and pathways. And from previous experience on this trip I know that many of these will be either inaccurate or non existent - partly fact and partly fiction.

I had left myself with just over 70 km to get to Prachuap Khiri Khan (PKK). The combination of kms and the uncertain way forward meant a busy day.

My beach: at sunrise.
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The first 20 to 30 km was all lightly travelled back roads and pleasant cycling. At some point I somehow managed to run over the well decayed remains of some poor mammal and a strip of fur and hide wound itself up and into my rear cassette. It only took a few quick minutes to unwind the mess but it was a grizzly task, none the less - and one I hope never gets repeated.

Cows and coconuts on winding concrete laneways was the theme of today's ride.
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What struck me today was the variety of tourist and expat accommodation and activity. For the first time there were exclusive gated communities of luxury accommodation. They appeared to be for use only by specific nationality groups. I can't read German, Dutch or any Scandanavian languages, but my guess is this is who they are exclusively designed for. Most were empty, or near empty. For the first time there were also a fair number of resident expats buzzing around on a variety of 2 and 4 wheeled motorized vehicles. I think some have tired of the lifestyle as I noticed there were many hand painted "for sale" signs as I rode along.

Wandering down dirt tracks and through a number of small villages and small farm holdings, I hit numerous dead ends and made frequent wrong turns. I lost my cool at one point when chased by a villager's pack of house dogs. I slammed my bike down, got out my umbrella (the chased now giving chase), screaming at them that I was going to skewer the lot of them, end on end onto my umbrella. It was highly effective, as they all turned tail and ran off home yelping. I must have looked a real fool; certainly not how the buddha would have dealt with the situation. And certainly not how he would have deployed his umbrella.

How the buddha would serenely stroll through the packs of village dogs, no doubt. But do note that huge dog whacking stick.
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Just before PKK there is a national park that spans the distance between the beach and the national north/south hiway. My maps show no way through it, although I'm sure there must be. I got about half way through on a delightful small butterfly infested dirt track, but had to revert back to the hiway when it ended and I couldn't see any way forward. I'm sure there is a way through, I just couldn't find it.

Serious butterfly infestation. I felt guilty as the kept crashing into me as I rode along the track. It was a fantastic run while it lasted.
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Hitchhiking encouraged.
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You are suppose to pay a 100 baht entrance fee to the park, but the way I went in, it wasn't posted until you were well within the park boundaries. And the sign also warned of a 500 baht non compliance fine. Oops! Leaving the park I just sailed up to the border barrier (they could see me coming for about a mile) lifted the gate and waved me out with big smiles. I'm developing a real liking for this country.

That left me with about 6 km of riding the main hiway shoulder, in the wrong direction, before I could find a side road to get me out of my predicament. I've now ridden hundreds of km of Thai hiway motorcycle lane/shoulder, but always with the traffic, never against it for any length of time. It's a sobering eye opener seeing how many vehicles, heavy vehicles seem to sweep along it, using it as their preferred traffic lane. Yes, it was exciting, but not the good kind of exciting like zooming down a twisty downhill descent at 40+ kmph. It was more "oh shit this is deadly" bad kind of exciting. Gives me even more motivation to stay off the main hiways.

At possibly the worst possible location (a pinch point bridge crossing without motorcycle lane) a very stressed woman in a big 4wd stopped alongside of me, rolled down her passenger window and pleaded with me in Thai for some help. I had forgotten that I was fully covered with hat, sunglasses and bandanna and I guess she mistook me for a local. After pulling down my bandanna and replying in English, we both realised how futile and dangerous further communication would be and we parted ways. I think she was lost and heading the wrong way, but at least she was in a small armoured vehicle and heading in the proper direction.

Dog Lady: Riding down one stretch of road I noticed that all of the street dogs lined up eating rice and veg porridge. Then I passed the Dog Lady, dishing out her daily offering on her 3 wheeled motorcycle. For miles down the roadside, there were many more dogs patiently waiting for her arrival.
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Back on the backroads, I wound my way into PKK along a road that paralleled the hiway, found my accommodation (Dee Garden - very nice owners) and set to cleaning up and rehydrating. Several bottles of water, one small beer and a short nap later I was ready to hit the night market. A couple of us went with our hostess and we stayed late enjoying the scene, eating food and getting leg massages. Half way through the night an intense but very brief scuffle broke out between two street gangs. We didn't see it happen, but all of the market bystanders, ourselves included, had to leap sideways as the one gang ran off hotly pursued by the other. Someone was knifed, but I think not seriously because there was no ambulance in attendance and the cops took at least an hour to show up - at which point several other groups of youth made hasty retreat.

73 km on a variety of roads and one weary rider, who still hasn't learned to stay out of the midday sun. And once again, he didn't get much sleep last night. He hopes this doesn't turn into a habit... He needs his sleep.

Tomorrow? A midnight ride into Bangkok.

Bad monkey mountain. At one end of the PKK bay, there is the tribe of cheeky bad monkeys.
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Cute monkey mountain. At the other end of PKK bay,there is the tribe of nice monkeys. The babies are golden brown and hide clinging to their mums higher up in the trees.
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