To Chumphon and beyond: I'm sticking to the east coast for a while... - Taking my life for a ride - CycleBlaze

July 23, 2015

To Chumphon and beyond: I'm sticking to the east coast for a while...

To Chumphon


Now today was a great day of cycling. Several crazy people on this site and also Mr Pumpy (Google him) have said they liked cycling on the east coast and I can see why. Leaving the hotel at Pak Nam Langsuan was simple, just turn right outside the gate. And the rest of the ride, although it may not have been simple, was a fun adventure. 2 hours of light rain in the afternoon helped to break up the day and the wet season cloud cover meant the temperature seldom went over 30. And most of the riding was on the flats along the coast looking out to sea and I was constantly fascinated by the people, the countryside and the culture. Amazingly, there was little traffic right up to the outskirts of Chumphon.

Seriously Big Buddha: on the main hiway, I ended up here when my phone GPS went on the fritz. They are adding another statue to the left of him, but right now it just looks like a big rubbish bin.
That would be a good message here: Buddha recycles. The Thais are not as bad as their Malaysian counterparts, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
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Single tracking it occasionally, picking my way north. The bike just loves this kind of work. I got a lot of surprised looks, waves and hellos on this track. And a lot of attention from the local dog population. Seriously, you need a good strategy for dealing with the dogs here.
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There is no set and simple way north along the east coast, you have to pick a path and wander along. I had a couple of dead ends and had to retrace my path, but it was always fascinating where ever I ended up, so it was hardly a bother. My mobile phone now has joined my cycle computer in its dislike of the wet weather. Several times today the GPS has failed to give an accurate reading and led me astray. I’ll turn it off tonight and take the back off and let it dry out. That’s another reason for always preferring a room with aircon. If I take a cheaper fan only room, my gear never dries out by the next morning. After a couple of days of that, everything starts to get a bit funky, even the electronics so it appears.

If the phone dies on me I’ll just have to go and buy another one as it is turning out to be my #1 communication and navigation tool. I’m using Locus Pro and OsmAnd offline mapping software for navigation on the mobile phone. Google maps also gets a good thrashing once I’m in a town and looking for accommodation or landmarks. I’m also carrying a Garmin GPS, but it’s now permanently buried in the bottom of the pannier as it just doesn’t compare. If and when this phone dies, I'll go for a Samsung S5 as they are supposed to be waterproof to a degree – hopefully waterproof enough to withstand a wet season.

I’m really enjoying riding this bike. It’s all dialled in to my body now and is still comfortable after 6+ hrs in the saddle. The Modolo Dumbo handlebars are turning out better than expected and I can ride all day with minimal stress or strain to my hands, arms and back. And the bike tracks fantastically on the fast downhills and difficult dirt tracks. Hats off to Mr Kuwahara, he made great mountain bikes.

I’m staying at a cheap hotel, of the 24 Love Motel variety, the Nora Guesthouse – 400 baht for a room. The room comes with a round bed, a full length mirror, red pulsing led lights and definitely very used sheets. The manager very sheepishly and quickly agreed to change the sheets. I didn’t get much sleep though. I was still wired from too much iced coffee and too much fun riding during the day and couldn’t turn the brain onto sleep mode. Plus I had some late arriving neighbours who were quite noisy and took a while to settle. (I would pay for this the next day…)

I was planning to put the bike on the train to Bangkok from here; I have no desire to ride any hiway into any big city anywhere on this planet, let alone Bangkok. I think I’ll keep riding north up the east coast for another day or two and catch the train from Prachuap Khiri Khan.

There were hills here too, but only short ones. This one was quite steep and I had to dismount and push to get over it.
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Looking forward to it…

90 km and 5.5 hrs in the saddle – a very good day.

To Bang Boet Beach

The next day started with 2 paracetamol from the first aid kit and muffins and soy milk drink from the 7/11 down the road. Things went downhill from there. Nothing wrong with the people, the road and the countryside; again, the coastal back roads on the east coast are absolutely fantastic. I had ridden a long day the day before and instead of sensibly riding a short day today, ended up pushing myself way beyond what was good for me. There was a great bay and about half a dozen beach resorts at about the 40 km mark and I should have stopped there… I was certainly not feeling very happy at that point but like the stubborn idiot that I can be, I kept going – through the midday sun. Bad decision: there was literally nothing between that great spot and Bang Boet, another 45 km down the road. Several paracetamol and a lot of hard slog later, I was fairly well overcooked by the time I got there.

Didn't stop here: should have!
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One grumpy monkey. They train them to run up the trees and toss down the coconuts - monkey slave labour. This guy was seriously grumpy, didn't like his picture being taken (smart grumpy monkey) and let me know it when I passed him.
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I stopped here: Bang Boet. Couldn't have got much further if I tried...
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I met another Dutch cycling couple at the resort I stayed at. They started riding south of Bangkok and said they had seen several touring cyclists, so I guess the drought is over.

Seriously, if you’re looking for an interesting short cycling break, then catch a flight to Bangkok, take the train about 50-100 km south of Bangkok, get off and get pedalling. Just stay off the main Hiway (#4), stick to the coast and pedal. When you feel like it, hop on and off the train for a bit of variety. When it’s time to go home, take the train to your point of departure.

84 hard km for the day – tomorrow will be a short ride.

To Ban Thung Ruea Yao

Now today was another treat. I kept it short and even had a short nap at midday just to make sure I didn't overcook myself today. No pharmaceuticals required, just a quiet day of pedalling along back roads, heading north. I had the coast and sea views on my right for most of the day and hills to the left, winding along a network of back roads.

Beach views and typical road today. And there was a great tail wind...
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I pulled the plug at km 45, mindful that I said I would keep it short today and also mindful that km 45 was when I should have stopped yesterday! In reality I think I could have kept going for another 20 km without a worry, but yesterday's hard earned lesson is still fresh in my memory. It's just one empty coastal resort after another out here. This one is a bit more upmarket. At 1000 baht, it's the most I've spent on accommodation in Thailand to date, but it certainly is one big step up from the cheezy Love Motel in Chumphon. They don't have a restaurant, so I' will pedal down the road in a few minutes and see what I can find. No one here speaks English, so they couldn't help.

Again, I have the entire beach and resort to myself. It's mine, all mine!!

45 easy and restful km. Tomorrow it's 65 km to Prachuap Khiri Khan.

No umbrella for this buddha - he has cobras - that will keep the dogs off, too, come to think of it...
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The view from a bridge. I could have taken several more photos like this this during the day, it's that good.
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