Enjoying Retirement - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

January 9, 2017

Enjoying Retirement

Khlung to Laem Sing Beach

Enjoying Retirement

I really enjoy seeing the old teak houses and shophouses of which Khlung was full of but I never get to see their insides much. There is a town way in NE Thailand called Chiang Khan where the residents have capitalized on their antique houses and made them into guest houses. Our last bike trip two years ago we stayed in one. More than anything I love the feel of old teak floors polished by thousands of feet. There is no wood quite like teak. It has natural oils which make it forever slightly pliable and supple and after a century of bare feet it takes on a smoothness and warmth I’ve never felt in other wood. It’s also gorgeous when it’s so smooth.

We rolled out of Khlung having to be satisfied with the realization that there still are the old buildings in Thailand here and there and with Chiang Khan’s success with tourists (mostly Thai tourists I might add) maybe more places will follow in the preservation of their heritage buildings.

Leaving Khlung, Thailand
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We knew it would be a pretty good day because for the first time since we entered Thailand we knew we didn’t have to be on the big highway at all. There were plenty of small roads not too far from the ocean. We wound around on them enjoying every mile. We entered tiny communities where everyone was a bit surprised to see us but also had big welcoming smiles.

Noodle soup lunch.
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At an ’S’ curve around a big temple we heard old time Thai music. I immediately wheeled around and entered the compound because I wasn’t sure if it was live music or not. There were people congregated in a far corner in a meeting hall so it might have been a funeral. I saw the loudspeaker from which the recorded music was emanating.

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Little tiny dried fish are tasty.
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Every house has a spirit house for the spirits of the land who were displaced.
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We continued down the road but for only a block or two before several bicycles caught our attention. They were all outfitted with various whimsical wind whirlygigs, propellers, fan blades and other found junk. A man was busy outside his house/workshop making more odd things. We stopped and he greeted us, glad to see we were touring on bicycles. We told him where we had come from but other than that we were frozen by communication shyness on all our parts. He went back to work. We peered into his house for a few more minutes to see all the other odd “inventions”. He was obviously having a lot of fun in his retirement.

Entrepreneur in his retirement.
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A bit further down the road we came across another temple and another funeral. More nice mellow music. There were lots of people attending this funeral but the temple grounds were enormous and the congregants were all sitting in a far corner leaving open the possibility of my entering the old, smaller temple without being seen or disrespectful. Andrea stayed with the bikes.

I love the old small temples that have not been restored because they seem even older than maybe they actually are and have character. I didn’t know what to expect when entering, never do, but this one was particularly nice with worn old paintings on all the walls. I photographed the scenes as quickly as I could trying not to make Andrea wait too long. I was hoping she would just leave the bikes and join me but later she told mef she was concerned because the caretaker’s house which looked like a junk pile was right next to our bikes and she wasn’t so sure about him lounging inside. He looked like a collector of just about anything.

After I had photographed quite a lot of the murals I then realized how nice the music sounded inside the temple. I decided I just had to make a little video of the paintings as well if only to record some of the music. Again, it was not live music but it was quite nice. It’s not everyday I get to see the old paintings accompanied by beautiful music.

Being in such an old temple looking at the artwork on the walls is one of the greatest enjoyments for me in this life. I’m pretty sure it stems from my art professor, A. Malcolm Gimse, at St. Olaf College when we traveled to Italy for one month to study art and architecture. Mac, one of the most intelligent and interesting people I’ve ever known, would stay up until 3AM every night learning all he could about the artists and cathedrals we would visit the next day. He was a wealth of knowledge and I stuck to him like glue. We visited dozens of churches, basilicas, cathedrals, galleries, etc. It was the first time either of us had been overseas so it was quite an inspirational time, every minute jam-packed. A few years later I studied ancient temple architecture and art of Asia as a whole.

To stumble upon an old temple that is not in any books I’ve ever seen is akin to the best birthday present ever. I’m completely content gazing at the brush strokes someone made who knows how long ago. In my opinion there was better talent, better artistry back then. I don’t care much for the modern refurbishing the Thais have done to 95% of their temples but to find a little gem out in the country just makes me wish my professor Mac Gimse was with me. I guess in a way he still is. As long as he comes to mind whenever I have these experiences he is there and I am grateful to have had him teach and inspire me long ago.

Unusual placement of the chedi or stupa. Normally the chedi is directly behind the temple. But it could predate the temple by hundreds of years too and the original temple is no more.
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Very simple on the outside.
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These wood carvings are simply wearing away from weather and age.
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After that we made a stop at S.J. Coffee, a rather expensive coffee shop. But we deserved it! The owner was retired from being a professor at a technical college. Since she retired only two years ago she has traveled the world. She dominated our coffee time, which is usually a special time for us each day, showing us photo after photo of her standing in front of this famous place or that. It seemed to us she was doing ‘checklist traveling’ which we take a rather dim view of. But she was enjoying her retirement. I liked her cat.

Coffee shop owner who is enjoying her retirement by traveling the world.
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It was a rather easy going day ambling on nice quiet roads hearing beautiful music. The first beach we came upon we decided it was time to stop. We had only ridden 15 miles. The nice bungalow we found had a lot to do with our stopping so soon. We continued to relax on our porch until it was time to go find dinner. We were lucky and found some delicious curries to take away in plastic bags from the central market a short walk from our bungalow. It had been a day of respecting the old but in the end we certainly enjoyed our very modern, new, air conditioned bungalow. This is cycling at its best in Thailand. One could have a day like ours anywhere in Thailand, I’m quite convinced of it.

lovebruce

Our bungalow in Laem Sing Beach. Not right on the beach however.
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Retirement living.
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Today's ride: 15 miles (24 km)
Total: 1,469 miles (2,364 km)

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